afternoon basket, curriculum reviews

By The Way: New York City Review

My husband and I grew up not far from New York City, but we haven’t been back since our high school days.  My seven year old daughter loves American Girl dolls and said she wanted to go to the American Girl Store in New York City.  I though for a moment and told her it was a possibility sometime when we go to Pennsylvania.  She was SO excited!! Very soon after that I was reminded that By the Way Book publishes wonderful travel books for kids such as the New York City from the By the Way Book Series.  We had the opportunity to review their book about Pennsylvania about a year and a half ago.  We loved that book!  Here’s a link to the review.

I am reading this book to my 12 year old son and my 7 year old daughter during our “afternoon basket” time after lunch.  This is the time that we have set aside to come together and do those activities that we just don’t ever get to and the ones we can do with multiple levels.  So far this school year, we have done geography at this time, Bible devotions and a few chapter books.  By The Way New York City was a great addition to our afternoon basket.  We have been reading a few pages a day and enjoying learning about New York City and planning for our possible trip.

This book is very unique in it’s approach.  It’s not just a story book or a travel guide, it’s both and much more.  We are introduced to a youth pastor and his youth group as they get ready to head to New York City.  This book is woven with Biblical truths and perspective.  It also shows the very diverse ethnic background of the group and the destination.

We learned some very interesting facts about New York City:

  • it has 175 zip codes and you can keep that in mind while planning your visit.  See all the things in the same zip code at the same time.  Sounds perfectly obvious, but I would not have thought to look at the zip codes in my planning.  I also had no idea there were that many or that my kids didn’t really know what a zip code is.  Hopefully they do now.
  • we learned about pigeons and their importance in delivering messages.  Did you know they can see over 26 miles?  Did you know they can fly 700 miles in one day?

We learned about the subway, the Statue of Liberty, immigration, Ellis Island, nature in the city, the 9/11 Memorial, food carts, Wall Street, The Brooklyn Bridge, The United Nations, our military, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Fanny Crosby, Staten Island, Brooklyn, turtles, Queens, squirrels and so much more!

We had just learned about Balto and how he helped get very much needed medicine to sick people in Alaska.  They kids remembered that a statue of him is in Central Park.  The book talks about it and has a picture of it.

We really enjoyed this book and will use this one and the Pennsylvania one in planning our next trip north.  I’m not sure when it will be, but we will have some great resources to help our planning!!

You can find By The Way Books on

Other families on The Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review this By The Way book and a few others, Ireland, Indiana and Alaska.  Click on the banner below to see what they thought of them and how they used the one they received.


By the Way Book Series: New York City, Ireland, Indiana & Alaska {By the Way Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

afternoon basket, Bible, curriculum reviews, homeschooling

Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith Review

My kids really enjoyed the comic book, Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith, from The Captain Sun Adventures.

I read this book to my 7th grade son and my 2nd grade daughter during our “afternoon basket” time.  This is the time that I have set aside for subjects that I would like the kids to do together.  I have gleaned some information from people’s “morning baskets” and made this a time for us to come back together, do those subjects that can span many levels and loop schedule some great new things like this comic book.  Our afternoon basket has worked well for the first 2 1/2 weeks of school and I’m looking forward to this time where I can add things that get so easily overlooked.

This was a read aloud while the kids colored.  They enjoyed the story and would, very often, stop coloring to look intently at the pictures.  I read it more like a storybook so they didn’t have to stop what they were doing.  This worked great!  I read it over 3 days, just reading a little at a time.  They looked forward to what was going to happen tomorrow.

My original plan was to hand off the book to my 7th grader in hopes that he would read it, then read it to his 6 year old brother.  That didn’t happen.  It was a beautiful picture in my mind though.  He got busy with other things and forgot he had it.  As my deadline loomed, I requested the book back and read it out loud.  I’m not disappointed at all.  If he would have read it I would have missed out.  I love reading to my kids and getting to enjoy their stories with them.  Reading to my kids has become such a precious time.

The hero in the story is Captain Sun.  He protects Capital City from the evil Black Out.  This is a classic story about good versus evil. Black Out comes to Capital Sun and blocks out all that is good.  Captain Sun rids the city of the evil with the help of a few others: Fogbank, Missile Man, Electro Lad and Landslide.  The story was great and parts were suspenseful as you hope the good guys to win.  But, my absolute favorite part was the newspaper looking article that appeared between chapters.  This brought the lesson of God’s love and salvation in.  God and Jesus are our Captain Sun and Satan is Black Out.  We all need salvation in this fallen world.  This was tied in so well.  I was very impressed with these pages.  The author could have skipped that and gone on with the comic and put in a blurb in the back, but he choose to make the lesson bigger and did a great job!

I had my kids make up and draw their own super hero or villain. I think they did a great job!

You can find The Captain Sun Adventures on these social media sites:


Many other families on The Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review this book also.  Click on the banner below to see how they used it and what they though of it.

Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith {The Captain Sun Adventures Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

curriculum reviews

Barbour Publishing: Who Was Jonah and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus Book Review

Barbour Publishing sent us two new titles Who Was Jonah?  and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus? which are part of their Kingdom Files series. These were two fun books to get our homeschool year off to a great start.

We started with the book about Mary.  I thought this would be a nice way to ease into schoolwork again.  I read this book to Evie, who is in 2nd grade this year.  This series is recommended for ages 8-12, but I thought I’d try.  This seemed a little bit more than her short attention span could hold on it’s own.  I thought she would be so enthralled with learning about Mary, that she would hang on my every word and beg for more.  She didn’t at first.  There were not enough pictures for someone just starting on chapter books.  She did enjoy the pictures that were there.  She was interested in the story though.  After a chapter I put it away for the day and brought it out the next day.  I gave her some coloring pages to work on while I read.  This was exactly what she needed.  I was able to read about half the book the second day and finish it the third day while Evie colored.  She listened and learned, but I still think it was a little above her level.  We will pull it out again in a few years, maybe at Christmas time.

I thought I was try something different with the Jonah book.  I decided to put this book in our “afternoon basket” (a morning basket done after lunch) and use it as a devotional for Evie and her 7th grade brother David.  I read one chapter of the story a day and then I jump back to the back of the book and read a “Power Up”.  This has worked out great.  It’s been an easy Bible study for them to do together.  It’s a quick and easy read and they have had lots of great discussion.

One thing I noticed in these books was that the author takes a little liberty with the story to explain how the main character is feeling.  The Bible doesn’t describe most of these feelings in such detail.  One great discussion we had was to always reference the Bible to see what it has to say.  Do you feel they match?  What’s different?  Do you agree?  Do you need to do more research?  Why do you feel the author added this?  Should you add or take away from the Bible?

These books were great stories to help us identify with the main character.  What did Mary think when she found out that she would be the mother of Jesus?  Why did Jonah feel so strongly about running away from where God sent him?  These stories pointed us back to the Bible were we had meaningful study and conversation. We liked them, but I would caution about taking each and everything mentioned as fact.  Look it up and see what you can learn!  We enjoyed the journey!

Here are other books in the Kingdom Files series:


The Kingdom Files website offers games and educator resources on their website.

Last year we read another book from Barbour Publishing: Imagine….The Great Flood.  Click on this link to read about that one.

You can find Barbour Publishing on these social media sites:


Many other families on The Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review these books also.  Click on the banner below to see what they had to say about them and how their family used them.

Kingdom Files {Barbour Publishing Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

curriculum reviews

Reading Eggs: Mathseeds Review

A new year has begun and Thomas is starting first grade.  This is his first really big, official year.  He can now proudly say he’s in school because he will be starting Cub Scouts.  As kid number 7 and the very last to be “a Scout”, this is a huge deal!!!  So now that he’s officially official, we have been focusing on the Mathseeds part of  Reading Eggs while using the 200 Essential Math skills for Kindergarten, one of their brand new workbooks.

We received the first of the math books in the series.  They are offering Kindergarten through second grade.

Reading Eggs is now offering reading workbooks too for Kindergarten through fifth grade.

We have used Reading Eggs in the past and have found it to be effective, but my kids have a true aversion to any school on the computer.  I was hoping the younger kids would just follow the current trend of everything, including school, on a screen. But no! Only fun things that they choose can be on a glowing screen!  I am happy to report that my older children have taken online college classes very successfully.  I’m glad not doing school on the computer is something they can grow out of and overcome!

Thomas did use the online version on Mathseeds.  It’s cute and he did find it fun and amusing, but he really didn’t like to stay on it long and didn’t like that it didn’t save the lesson if he didn’t finish it.  The next time he came to do a lesson he had to repeat everything and that was frustrating to him.

I love, love, love that there is a workbook available now!!!  These are short, colorful, effective lessons.  We are currently working through number recognition and counting.  Thomas can do a lesson, which is 4 pages, in one sitting.  He does prefer to split it up into two days.

He is struggling on his fine motor skills and holding his writing utensil correctly.  But that doesn’t stop him from doing his lesson.  I am very pleased that he asks to do the workbook every school day and the online version occasionally.

I use a version of workboxes for the kids’ school.  Each drawer holds a days worth of work in it.

I tear each day’s lesson out of the book and add it to the correct drawer.  The pages don’t seem to be perforated, but they ripped out pretty well.  This has worked out very well for us.  I am looking forward to working through this book and possibly the next.  I am looking at the second grade one for his sister.  These workbooks are $19.95.  I think that’s a great deal for a math curriculum from a respected company like Reading Eggs.

You can find Reading Eggs on these social media sites:


Many other families on The Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review this, other math levels workbooks and online.  Some families reviewed the reading workbooks and used the online site.

Online Reading Eggs Suite {Reading Eggs Reviews}Crew Disclaimer