The crazy life of the ClarkClan. Living a life of grace through Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Frugal Friday Night Fun

             In our house, on a Friday night it seems that everyone has something fun to do except the two younger ones. So for their Friday night fun, we have a Frugal Friday Movie Night.  This time we made it a movie/play dough night.

     It started with the making of homemade play dough. Both Ben and Rebekah collaborated in making the play dough. We used one of our favorite craft books called The Ultimate book of Kid Concoctions and made a fruity play dough using cherry powdered drink mix. 

     Then we spread an old plastic table cloth on the living room floor. We pulled out the cookie cutters and rolling pins and let them have at it. We also put on a favorite movie, 101 Dalmatians (the cartoon version).


     These frugal Friday movie nights happen about two times a month.  Both Ben and Rebekah like to do something while they are watching TV. Some Fridays we pull out the drawing supplies, sometimes it is Legos or blocks. This time the play dough was a huge hit. They watched the movie, made many cookies, snowballs, pizzas and even a flip-flop.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ben is Ten!


Ben celebrated his 10th birthday this week! He celebrated with his Grandma and Grandpa, Great-Grandma, Mom, Dad, 2 sisters and his brother. He requested pumpkin pie for his birthday cake. I think he had a wonderful day.


Marshall Publishing–George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver video cover

     Marshall Publishing & Promotions, Inc. is a company that produces media suitable for the entire family. They are known for their Award –winning AS SEEN ON TV videos such as Lots & Lots of Trains, and Lots & Lots of Fire Trucks. Their goal is to produce quality programs to watch today and remember for a lifetime.

     I was sent the DVD George Washington Carver His Life and His Work.  We have watched this DVD twice now and enjoyed both times. This DVD tells the life story of George Washington Carver. The videography shows the beauty of the countryside and exactly where George Washington Carver lived, worked and played. It is narrated beginning with quotes from Carver and others who knew him well. The narration follows Carvers life from his birth until his death.

     I knew the name of George Washington Carver, and knew that he discovered many uses for peanuts but not much else.  This 30 minute DVD taught me much about this amazing man. From overcoming slavery and near death as a child to scientific achievements, I was enthralled with learning about his life.

     The DVD George Washington Carver His Life and His Work is available from Marshall Publishing and Promotions, Inc. for  $19.95. As a special Homeschool discount, they are offering a 15% discount off the normal price, which will bring the price down to $16.95 (plus shipping and handling). Just use the code TOSC1 at checkout. To order call 888-300-3455 between 9am and 7pm CST or visit the website at


     The TOS Homeschool Crew was given the opportunity to review two videos by Marshall Publishing and Promotions, Inc. Reviews of the  George Washington Carver DVD, and Lots & Lots of Fire Songs & Safety Tips DVD combined with Lots & Lots of Fire Trucks & Firefighters book are available on the TOS Crew Blog.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received George Washington Carver – His Life and Work DVD for free from Marshall Publishing, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NorthStar Games–Say Anything



  • Say Anything Family Edition
  • Ages 8+
  • 3-6 Players
  • Available from Amazon for $13.85. Also available at local retailers. Click here to find one near you.


   Game Overview

     The fun begins with the choosing of which color board to write on. Then, Rebekah, the youngest,  is given the “state-of-the-art SELECT-0-MATIC 6000”.  This means that she is the judge. She picks a question and reads it out loud to all players. As quick as they can, the players write an answer on their card and place it on the table. Rebekah looks over the answers and using the “state–of-the-art SELECT-O-MATIC 6000” secretly selects which one she likes the best. Now, all the players get to put their two tokens on which answer they think Rebekah picked. You can put both your tokens on one card, or if you are not sure split them between two cards. After all tokens are put down, Rebekah shows which card she selected and points are scored. Then the next player is passed the “state-of–the-art SELECT-O-MATIC 6000”.


ClarkClan Game Thoughts and Recommendation

     Our family LOVED playing Say Anything. Over and over again, Ben and Rebekah would say, “Can we play Say Anything?”  I even woke up one morning to find them playing a version they made up for just the two of them. 

     The favorite piece to the game was the “state-of-the-art SELECT-O-MATIC 6000. This little round disc with the plastic spinner quickly became a favorite just because of the name. We had a great time hamming it up with the selector.  The hardest part of the game for our family, was waiting until the judge picked an answer before we all threw our tokens on our favorite answers.

     Great family game is the overall consensus from the ClarkClan. Just when you think you know what the judge will pick, they will surprise you. Great discussions occur over why someone picked the answer they did or why someone wrote the answer they did.

     Visit the NorthStar website to see all their game offerings. Wits and Wagers is another fun game by this company. You can read my review of that game here.


     I am not the only one to review Say Anything Family. Many of my Crew Mates also played this game and have given their thoughts on it. Visit the Crew Blog to read those blogs.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received Say Anything Family Edition for free from NorthStar Games, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NorthStar Games–Wits and Wagers Family

Wits and Wagers

  • Wits and Wagers Family
  • Ages 8+
  • 3-10 players

     “In feet, how tall is the world’s largest IMAX movie screen?” 

     Quick, write your best guess (always a number) on your mini white board and place it face down on the table. When all answers are in, turn the boards over and sort them from smallest to largest. Then the fun really begins. Is your answer correct, or does someone else’s answer look better? Place your “Meeples” on the answer you think is correct. Not sure? Then split your “Meeples” up among two cards. How many points did you score? Find out when the answer is read.


     We are a family of game players. Card games, board games you name it, we play it. Wits and Wagers Family has been a great addition to our game library. With various ages playing, this game does a great job at giving everyone a level playing field. Wits and Wagers Family  is always exciting and fresh each time we play it.  The questions are over a wide range of topics, some the kids know, some mom and dad know, and some nobody has a clue. We laugh the most over the questions nobody knows, because some of the wildest guesses occur. 

       2011-09-24 12.46.37

     The kids enjoyed all aspects of this game. Before the game starts they like  picking their white board and decorating the back. Deciding on whose guess to place your “Meeples” usually involves a great deal of laughter and discussion. 

     I asked each kid what they liked best about Wits and Wagers Family.

Sarah:  “I liked the obscure number facts.”

Ben:  “I liked everything about the game.”

Rebekah: “I liked the reading, the guessing, and when you put on the ‘Meeples’. Putting on the ‘Meeples’ is fun.”



     The ClarkClan would recommend this game. It is great for all ages to play together. The age recommendation is 8 and up. I think younger kids could play, especially if they partner up with someone older.

     Wits and Wagers Family is a North Star Game. You can visit the North Star Game website to find out more about not only Wits and Wagers Family, but a variety of games they offer.

     As of now, Wits and Wagers Family is available from Amazon for $15.23 as well as other online retailers. Click here to find a retail store near you where this game is available.


     Many of my Crew Mates also reviewed the Wits and Wagers Family game. Visit the Crew Blog to read what they thought of the game.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received Wits and Wagers Family for free from North Star Games, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Father/Son Cake Bake

     Ben’s Cub Scout Pack held a Father/Son Cake Bake. The idea was for Father’s and Son’s to bake a cake together to silent auction off at the Pack meeting.  Being our very first Pack meeting with this Den and having only attended one Den meeting, we had no idea what to expect.

     Ben knew right away what kind of cake he wanted to bake. When I asked him what he should do, he immediately responded, “Checkerboard Cake!”. 

     About 2 weeks ago Great –Grandma gave us a baking pan that has three round cake pans and a special divider. With this pan you make a chocolate and vanilla cake mix. Then you put the cake mix in the pans in a special order and bake them. They look like targets when they come out. When you stack the three cakes together with frosting and cut the cake, you will get a checkerboard pattern.

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     Ben thought this was the neatest thing.  I thought it was great fun to watch Ben and his dad puzzle out how to do this cake. When it was all done, it was beautiful. Ben kept calling it “his masterpiece”.

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     We took it to the pack meeting and put it on the table with all the other cakes. All the other cakes were highly decorated with candy or fruit or cookies or were in special shapes.  Ben’s cake did look a little plain. Then the boys were to take one parent and walk by the cakes and pick one to bid on. Ben, in typical, methodical Ben style, walked and looked at each cake. Then when I bent down to ask him which cake he wanted to bid on, he whispered, “Mine”.  I asked him again if that is really the cake he wanted to bid on and he whispered, “Yes, mine. I like plain cakes.”

     So I bid on our own cake. We won, of course (we were the only bid on the cake). Ben proudly carried his cake out and brought it back home.

     Then the next day, we went to Grandma’s house with Ben’s cake. Great-Grandma came up and we cut the cake to see what the checkerboard would look like. Ben was so proud to share his cake with not only his sisters, and mom, but Grandma, Grandpa and Great-Grandma. Great-Grandma was tickled that Ben used the pan and that it worked out for him.

2011-10-21 14.09.11

     It was a wonderful experience. Ben was able to do something special with his dad, and he was able to share the cake he baked with his family. This is what Scouting is all about, learning new things and increasing self-confidence in a job well done.

Educating the WholeHearted Child



     Do you ever wonder if you are homeschooling the “right” way? Do you ever wonder if all you have done is brought the classroom into your home? Would you like encouragement and help to change to a more relaxed homeschooling style, while still being sure that your kids are getting a complete education? The book Educating the WholeHearted Child, by Clay and Sally Clarkson is the book to answer all these questions and more.

   Way back in time, I was given a copy of the original Educating the WholeHearted Child. I had been homeschooling for about 4 years when I first read it. I loved the book. I found its practical advice and gentle approach to be intriguing, and I implemented some of the ideas. Over the years, I have re-read the book a few times and loaned it out to many people. Now it is 2011 and I have been homeschooling for 11 years. When this book came out for a review I was very excited to be able to review this Third Edition of Educating the WholeHearted Child.

     It did not disappoint. I have slowly devoured and digested the chapters in it. The book has been expanded quite a bit since my original copy was printed. It is now 376 packed pages. I am normally a fast reader, but this book just begs to be read slowly and savored. I have sat with my book and highlighter reading each chapter, and each sidebar.  One of the ways this book is set up is the main information is in the center of each page and down the outside edges are sidebars. These provide even more practical ways to implement ideas, or Bible verses and other quotes to back up what was said.

     Educating the WholeHearted Child comes from the premise that the biblical mandate is for parents to educate their children at home (Deuteronomy 5:16, 6:4-9, Psalm 78:1-8, Psalm 127:3-5, Ephesians 6:1-4, Titus 2:3-5) This theme runs throughout the entire book. 

      The first five chapters fall under the section of Home. This section focuses on the Christian homeschool, nurturing, and discipleship all of which take place in the context of the home.

     The second section focuses on Learning. The overall theme is The WholeHearted Learning Model. This model has five elements to it which can best be described in the form of a house. Discipleship studies are at the base or foundation. In the “interior” are Discovery Studies, Disciplined Studies and Discussion Studies. These studies while separate, also overlap to created a cohesive unit. The “roof” of the learning house is Discretionary Studies.

     The third section of the book focuses on Methods. These chapters are the why’s and how’s of  learning.   The WholeHearted Learning model is explored in depth within this section.

     The fourth section of the book is focused on Living.  These chapters focus on the family as a unit. There are two chapters on the daily structure and order in our lives.

     The book ends with an entire section of resources. Book lists and forms for wholehearted learning are included within the resources section.

     I truly enjoyed reading Educating the WholeHearted Child again. It is jam packed full of information and practical helps.  I like reading new ideas on how homeschooling can be implemented and I truly need to  read and re-read about this “gentle” approach to homeschooling more often.

     As always, even though I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, I have found a few things I disagree with or that are not a good fit for our family. I think I find this problem in most non-fiction type books. But I try not to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” as they say.  I read the information and keep what is pertinent. I try what may be feasible and throw out what I just don’t agree with. While there was very little in this book that I did not agree with, I did come across a few items.  I also had to keep telling myself that the “In Our Home” sections were not there to brag, but to point out how the book’s principles were put into action in the Clarkson family.

     Apologia Educational Ministries publishes many homeschooling resources. From science curriculums for all ages to WorldView studies to online Academies you can find it at Apologia.


      I am not the only one of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew to read and review Educating the WholeHearted Child. Visit the Crew Blog and read what my crew mates thought about this book.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received Educating the WholeHearted Child  for free from Apologia Educational Ministries, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Friday, October 14, 2011



2011-09-18 18.23.58

     What’s for dinner, Mom? I get this question just about everyday. With four kids who all like to eat, this is a very important question in our house. To be honest, most times I do know what we are having. A lot of times it is already in the slow cooker. I learned how to make a menu and shopping list from my mother. I can’t remember a time when she did not have a menu plan with a list to go with it.

     Now we come to E-Mealz. When I was assigned this review, I was skeptical, I wondered how it could help me. I make a menu, I have a computerized list. I was in for a surprise. I have found that I really like this website and the concept behind it.  I have used this exclusively for about 4 weeks now and am very happy with it.

What exactly is E-Mealz?


     3 steps to easy, tasty meals 7 days a week.  Sounds too good to be true, but the system really works.

  1. Choose a plan. E-Mealz has a unique system that allows you to choose where you shop. For example, if you shop at Aldi’s, you can pick that plan. Then your meals for the week will be tailored to what is on special in the store that week. For me, I choose the Any Store plan. I shop mainly at a military commissary and wanted to see how this plan worked. On the designated day of the week I would go to the E-Mealz website and download my weekly menu (with recipes) and shopping list.
  2. Go shopping. The shopping list has everything you need to make every meal for that week. Pantry staples are printed within parentheses and then listed at the bottom of the page. All other ingredients are categorized by general store area on a one page shopping list. Each meal is numbered and the ingredients needed are given the same number as the meal. This makes it nice if you decide to not make a meal. For example, if you are not going to make meal number 1, you find all shopping list ingredients labeled with a 1 and cross them off.
  3. Cook. The recipes are printed directly on the menu. Each recipe is simple to prepare, yet a complete meal. Along with a main dish for every day, side dishes are also listed. On the menu, some recipes are labeled “Slow-Cooker” or “On the grill”. This gives you options for those days that may be busy and a slow-cooker meal might mean the difference between going out to eat and eating at home.

     Want even more detailed information. Visit the E-Mealz website. You can read about the founders as well as look at sample menus for each of the available plans. There are many plans available including Low-fat plans, Gluten Free plans and menu plans for 1-2 people.


     E-Mealz is available as a 3 month subscription for $15.00. This breaks down to approximately $1.25 per week.

     I also want to mention the option to give E-Mealz as a gift. There is an option to give E-Mealz for a 6 or 12 month period of time. I find this idea intriguing and can think of several situations it might be a useful, unique gift. Click here for more information on Gift subscriptions.

2011-09-19 12.32.33

ClarkClan Thoughts

      As I mentioned before, I was skeptical over whether I really even needed E-Mealz. I found out I loved having it around.  Not having to sit with my cookbooks making a menu and compiling a list was a tremendous time saver.  I could quickly glance at the menu, and start cooking knowing I had all the ingredients I needed.

      I choose the Family Meal Plan – Any Store. The plan says it serves 4-6 people. This was accurate for our family. We have six people in our family. Dad and Mom, Matthew (18), Sarah (14), Benjamin (9), and Rebekah ( 8). It is a rare night anymore that all six of us are together. Matthew is in college and working 30+ hours a week. Dad works a crazy, unpredictable schedule.  So most nights there are only 4-5 of us sitting down to dinner. We had enough food for everyone to eat the amount they wanted, and most nights there were leftovers.

     Another big question is cost. By choosing the Any Store plan, it was not tailored to any sales. I found it to be a bit more expensive than what I was spending, but not enough to be a deal breaker. I tend to buy some things in bulk at Costco once a month. So when a meal called for a bag of frozen vegetables, I crossed it off the pre-made list and used what I had stocked in the freezer. Same goes for pantry items like chicken broth, or canned tomatoes. I could just use what I have stocked away and not buy these items week to week. I had also been trying to have more meatless meals each week, and E-Mealz has meat almost every meal, so I could easily see where the extra expense comes in. If you are used to flying by the seat of your pants and having no plan for dinner, I think this will definitely save money.

     I do not have a picky family when it comes to eating. While everyone has something they do not care for, on the whole we eat a wide variety. With E-Mealz just about every meal was a hit. We even had meals that I don’t think I would have ever made, yet we enjoyed the variety.  Matthew was especially enthusiastic about the BBQ Pizza meal and the Ribs in BBQ sauce (Can you see the theme in those two meals?).  Sarah and Dad loved a salad that had shrimp and bacon in it. One of my favorites was a Zucchini Hamburger bake.



     If you couldn’t guess, I am recommending E-Mealz. If you are skeptical like I was, just try it for 3 months. Better yet, Christmas is coming, tell someone this would make a good gift. This has turned out to be a product I didn’t  know I needed or that it even existed, but I have grown to really like it. I think what sealed the deal for me was being able to hand my husband a list on his way out the door to work, and have him come home with all the ingredients I needed for a week’s worth of meals.


     There were many Crew Members who tried various E-Mealz plans. Visit the Crew Blog to read what other Crew Members thought of the plan they chose.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a 3 month membership to  e-mealz  for free, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Always Ice Cream




What is Always Icecream?

      A website of  educational games, videos and fun, all designed specifically with girls in mind, combine to make Always Icecream a unique learning experience. Always Icecream uses learning, praise and recognition, and motivation to create this innovative website.

      Girls play educational (but fun) games like typing, math, geography science and more to earn “$coops” of ice cream. Girls use $coops to play fun games, decorate their homes on MiniWorld, and feed their virtual pets on Pet World.

A Picture Walk through Always Icecream

Always icecream


What your daughter sees when she logs in. She can choose what activity to do from this page.

Always Ice cream language arts videos


An example of being able to pick a language arts video to watch.


Always Ice cream math level 3

An example of a math facts drill. After so many problems your daughter can go to the next level. If she feels it was too easy, she can jumpAlways Ice cream pet world 5 levels up.

This is an example of PetWorld. This is where your daughter takes care of the pets she has bought with her $coops.


Always Ice cream mini world

This is an example of MiniWorld. You can buy houses, then place your pets in them. You can decorate the inside of the houses how you want.

always ice cream parents page

This is an example of the Parent’s page. This is where the parents gets a report of what your daughter has done, and what her accomplishments are.



Monthly Membership –$4.99 (1st month $.99)

Two Months Membership – $9.98

Annual Membership – $29.99

Lifetime Membership – $99.99

ClarkClan Thoughts

     The following is an “interview” I did with Rebekah (8) to get her thoughts about Always Icecream.

What do you like best about Always Icecream?

     “You can buy “eggs” that hatch. When they hatch, you get an animal to take care of. The animal is a surprise. I have three turtles, a kitten, a puppy, and a pony”.

     “You can upgrade your house from a small house to a mansion or a palace. You can design your own furniture or you can buy furniture. You can go into your house and add rooms. You can also change your rooms into a different design. You can put your animals into your house.

What was your favorite game?

     “My favorite game was the states game. You had to click on the states they named. I also liked watching the videos.”

    “I also liked the body game. You had to click on the parts of the body they said, like the gigantic intestine.”

What videos were your favorites?

     “I liked the Betty Crocker ones. A lady from Betty Crocker shows you how to make food like a cupcake ice cream cone, or a pony cake, and a castle.”

Did you earn any medals?

     “Yes. I earned bronze and silver medals and gold medals. I earned a gold medal in the states quiz and a bronze medal in the dog breeds quiz”.

Did you like the typing?

     “Yes. It showed you on the keyboard which finger to type. It gave you ice cream scoops when you typed things right.”

Was there anything you didn’t like about Always Icecream?

     “I didn’t like that, on the Mini Me, only the face color could be changed,not the ears, neck or arms. It made it look strange.”

Is there anything else you would like to say about Always Icecream?

     “I LOVED IT”  “Please put that in bold and all caps, Mom.”

Mom’s Thoughts

     I thought Always Icecream was a wonderful website for Rebekah. She enthusiastically played whenever she was allowed. We had to set the timer so she would know when to get off. This is unusual for Rebekah, as she tends to get bored of  computer activity after about 15 minutes.

     One feature that Always Icecream has that we did not use was the social networking feature. While I understood that all interactions were monitored and safe and secure, I did not think this feature was necessary for Rebekah’s enjoyment. I also did not want to have to monitor what she decided to tell other people. I liked that she could play on this website with minimal help. Being able to turn this feature on when I feel she is ready is a plus for me as well.

     Why a learning website for girls? On their website, Always IceCream states:

GENDER-SPECIFIC LEARNING FOR GIRLS - Within the target age group of 7-12 years, children’s preferences and ways in which they can be motivated tend to be influenced by gender. Examples of typical differences at that age are preferences for collaborative play (girls) versus competitive play (boys). Similarly, girls tend to be attracted by virtual goods that are “decorative”, such as clothes, versus “useful”, such as machines or armor. An overview of the development of girls and the core differences in their developmental path relative to boys can be found in the bestselling book “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco.
A practical indicator of different tastes of boys and girls are also the respective children's magazines (more of which are in the “girls” than in the “’boys” category) that are gender-specific and are catering to the interests of their readership. Notwithstanding the differences in brain development and socialization, Always Icecream is adamantly opposed to stereotypes such as “girls are not interested in science or math.” The site challenges its young members to engage in learning activities across a broad spectrum of subjects.

     In my opinion, they have hit the differences between boys and girls right on the head. I have both boys and girls and can see the differences between the two. Having Always Icecream tailored to my daughter and her preferences greatly enhanced her enjoyment of this website. In fact, there were times Rebekah's 14 year old sister Sarah would sit and play or watch videos with her. The two of them had a good time picking colors for different rooms and buying things for the animals.

     For more information about this unique website visit them at Always Icecream. You can find all the specifics about the program and even try out some of the games.


     Visit the TOS Crew Blog to read what my other Crew Mates thought of Always Icecream.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a Lifetime Membership to  Always Icecream  for free, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Visual Latin


      Visual Latin is an unusual Latin program. It uses humor, short videos and Latin reading to make learning effective and engaging.

     Each Visual Latin lesson contains three parts. A short video and worksheet go together to create part of a whole lesson, which teaches Latin in a fun, easy to remember way.

  • Part A is always grammatical concepts. The grammar concepts are taught in a clear, concise way. Watching the video covers two different modes of learning, visual and auditory. Then a PDF worksheet adds a third mode of learning, reading.
  • Part B is sentences. This is where the grammar in part A becomes real. Latin sentences are broken apart in the same way again and again. Then a PDF worksheet allows kids to practice what they watched on the video.
  • Part C is translation. Kids listen to Dwane Thomas read a passage  from the Latin Vulgate Bible. Then he reads the passage again slowly, and the kids read along with him. Finally a PDF worksheet has the same passage that the kids translate themselves. Because the text comes from a familiar source, kids have a known narrative structure  for the new language.

Age Range

     Visual Latin is recommended for ages 9 and up. The website says that kids need to be able to read. There are 30 lessons in Visual Latin 1.  For the elementary through junior high ages,this can be taught one lesson a week over the year. For high school level, it is recommended that Visual Latin 1 be taught the first semester, then supplementing with Lingua Latina Pars 1 and Lingua Latina Exercita 1  for the second semester. Visual Latin 2 is also available for a second year of Latin study.


     Visual Latin is available as a DVD or a digital download in iTunes M4V format. Because the program is through iTunes, (which is a free download if needed) it becomes a very portable program. It is able to play on any Mac or PC as well as iPods, iPhones, or iPads.

Visual Latin is available through The Compass Store. There are a few options on how to obtain the lessons. Visit the store for more complete pricing options.

  • A DVD  containing Lessons 1-30 is available for $80.  If you prefer breaking up the lessons and the cost, 3 individual DVD’s are available each containing 10 lessons for $30 each.
  • The download version of  Visual Latin 1 is available in blocks of 10 lessons. Each block is $25.

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Ben and Rebekah working on the worksheets after watching the video.



ClarkClan Thoughts

     Visual Latin has been a good program for our family. I primarily used this with Ben (9) and Rebekah (8), although Sarah (14) watched the videos as well. Ben and Rebekah have had no previous Latin experience and Sarah has had about a semester of Latin at the high school level. Ben has been asking to learn Latin, so he was very enthusiastic to start this program. Rebekah, being the youngest, always wants to do what the older ones are doing, so she was excited to start as well.

     Because Sarah has had some Latin, she mainly watched the videos, but did not use the worksheets. She really enjoyed the videos though, it was a great way for her to review vocabulary she has been previously taught. She enjoyed Dwane Thomas’s humor and found the videos interesting.

    Ben and Rebekah were the ones that truly used this program as it was intended. We would watch the video, then work on the worksheets. We did approximately one lesson per week with Ben and Rebekah. Each lesson is divided into three parts and we would do one part a day. The age range for Visual Latin is 9 and up so Ben and Rebekah are at the low end of the age range. This did not pose a problem for us, we just took things slower.

     I was impressed at how much the kids retained. Each lesson ends with a translation exercise, taken from the Latin Vulgate bible. The idea is that if the kids are familiar with the story being translated, it will make translating less of a daunting task. It worked in our family. Each week, I was surprised to hear both Ben and Rebekah going over their translations and saying “I don’t have to look that word up, I already know what it is.” Because they were able to be successful quickly, they enjoyed the program and have not complained at all about their Latin lessons.

     No complaining about the lessons also comes from the videos that begin each lesson. Dwane Thomas’s humor and presentation style makes what could be a dry and boring video into an enjoyable watching experience. Another plus for our family is the length of each video. Each one is between 8 and 10 minutes long. Complete information is packed into each video with no fluff, just gentle humor. The worksheets are also a good length. Each worksheet we have done is one page long and follows what was taught on the video.

     I keep mentioning the humor that is involved during the videos. This comes in the form of gentle “Latin” jokes or stories and just Dwane Thomas laughing at himself if he makes mistakes. I have enjoyed that about this program. When watching a DVD you do not always expect the teacher to make mistakes, but Dwane will at times and then go back to correct himself or the video will show words on the screen saying something to the effect of “this is what it should be”. I like that my kids see that they can make mistakes and learn from them. One lesson my kids found hilarious was when the video started and Dwane was not in the screen and then walked in apologizing for being late.  

     The worksheets are PDF files and with the purchase of the lessons you are given permission for an individual/family license so you are legally able to make as many copies as you need for your family. An answer file is also included to make grading the worksheets easy.


     I would highly recommend the Visual Latin program. In my opinion, it is a great program, simple to use but highly effective.  We were given the first 10 lessons to review and I have already bought the next 10 because I know this is a program that we will continue with all year.  The Compass store is offering the first 4 introductory lessons (no worksheets needed) and the 1st two lessons of Visual Latin for free. Click here to access the page with the free lessons. This is a great introduction to using the Visual Latin program.


     There were many other Homeschool Crew members who reviewed Visual Latin. Visit the Crew blog to read what other bloggers have to say about the program.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received Visual Latin Lessons 1-10 as a download from Visual Latin for free, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Monday, October 10, 2011


     We decided to go camping this last weekend. We went up into the mountains near us. We were pretty high, a little over 9,000 feet up. It was a beautiful weekend, 50’s during the day and 30’s at night, no rain only sunshine. We could hear Elk bugling and also were able to enjoy some wild horses that live up near that campground.2011-10-08 11.27.13 

    As we drove into the campground, we came around a bend to find horses. Quite a few horses eating grass at the campsites. We parked and got out of the car and the horses just looked at us and kept on eating. We were a little intimidated at first, not knowing much about horses. Then we decided that since they didn’t seem to mind us, we wouldn’t mind them. So we began unpacking the car and getting camp set up. Then about three horses wandered up to the site and just stood and watched2011-10-08 12.14.15. Two of them eventually lost interest and wandered around, but one stayed the whole time. Then I started making Ben and Rebekah a sandwich. The minute I opened the bread that mare walked closer and closer. She got so close she nosed the bread bag. I had to clap my hands like I do to get the dog’s attention. She backed off then. I think she must have realized that I was not going to give her food.


2011-10-08 11.30.16

    We were also able to witness  “herd” behavior with these horses as well. We had three to four horses that kept wandering over to watch us.  Then from behind us, a loud whinny made everyone jump. Down the path came a horse at a fast walk. When he got past us, I noticed he was the stallion. Almost immediately following his call all the horses in the area walked over to him. There was the group, one stallion, 6 mares and 2 colts. He “talked” to them for a minute then walked a little ways away. All the mares followed him, and then proceeded to stay farther away from us for the rest of the afternoon.

     It was a beautiful weekend being away from everyday life. The trees were just beginning to turn colors. Birds were chirping and flying, squirrels were running up and down trees and there were even a few flowers blooming. I was reminded of Matthew 6:25-27 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  If God cares for these horses, the birds, the squirrels, the flowers he will take care of me as well.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Clothesline

     I love my clothesline. I am so happy to live in a climate that makes using a clothesline very practical and do-able. With six people in our family we generate a lot of laundry. Actually, I should say with five people and a Rebekah we generate a lot of laundry. (Rebekah will try an outfit on, take it off, leave it on the floor and then put it in the dirty clothes. She uses twice the clothes of everybody else.)

     I love that I can put a load of clothes in, and then hang them up to dry outside and they can be dry within an hour. During the summer, when temperatures reach over 100 degrees, the clothes can dry within 35-45 minutes.  Now that it has cooled off down into the 80’s it is taking a little longer, but not much. Because there is no dew at night, we also can leave the clothes on the line overnight. But as Sarah and Ben found out, when you bring them inside the next morning, you may find a moth or two sleeping in your shirts.

     I also love the way clothes and linens smell when they are dried outside. It is a very fresh, sweet scent to me that no dryer sheet can match. Towels dried outside are very stiff, but they soak up a lot of water when used. I don’t mind the rough towels, probably because I grew up with line-dried towels. And I know, the burning question is: “Do you hang everything on the line?” The answer is “yes, I do.” I have a system where I will hang pants and shirts on the first outside line, then I will hang the “unmentionables” on the second line, then finish up with more shirts and pants. This way the stuff that could be embarrassing is hidden in the middle.

     Saving on my electricity bill is a big plus for using the clothesline. I like using the free solar power to do a needed job. Since the kids do their own laundry, I will usually help when they hang their clothes out. I like the time where no other distractions are around to talk to whoever is helping me.  The final reason that I love using my clothesline is it gets me outside during the day and I get a little bit more exercise. I have to carry the basket out, bend and stretch picking up the clothes and pinning them to the line,  and then reverse the process to take them off the line. Not too much exercise, I know, but every little bit helps.