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

Friday, September 30, 2011

“Not Back to School” TOS Crew Blog Hop

     It is now the end of September. School has been in session for a little over a month now. We have finally received all the materials that I wanted to use this year, as well as some really fun review items.

     To help our school day run smoothly, and to make sure we get everything done, I make up a daily schedule. So far this year, I can’t seem to find a schedule that fits. Dad’s retirement and new job, the move to a new state, new activities, only three kids to school instead of four have all conspired together to create more chaos than I like. I will make up a schedule that works for 2 days, then a day will come up that throws everything off.

     I think the main problem comes from my husband working crazy hours. With the job he has, there is no set schedule. He may go to work at 4 am one day and then the next day not go in until 2pm. With this kind of schedule, it is hard for the kids to spend time with dad. So if he is home, I feel it is important that they have time to play with dad. It is also important for Dad, who has some stressful days at work, to be able to relax and let some of the joy the kids bring with their smiles and hugs brighten his day.

     But, this does not solve the problem of getting school done consistently. So my plan is to make a new schedule every morning based on Dad’s work and our activities. This way I can make sure we get everything done school wise. The big reason that we have to have a schedule is because Rebekah needs it. She cannot just “switch gears” at the drop of a hat. When she is presented with a written down, “we are doing this subject at this time, and for this long”  schedule school is a pleasant affair and not a constant battle.

     I am determined that October will be the month that I finally figure this problem out one way or another.  That is part of the beauty of schooling at home. Being able to fix problems and do what is best for our family.

     This post is part of the TOS Crew Not Back to School Blog Hop. Click on the button below to find the Linky list and be able to read what other homeschoolers are talking about this month.

Crew Blog Hop

Monday, September 26, 2011

Read Aloud Challenge

     Here it is, almost the end of September. School is in full swing around our house. This means that quite a bit of reading out loud occurs.  I am once again joining Debra at Footprints in the Butter for her Read Aloud Challenge.

Sarah:    I continue to read Sarah’s history book out loud to her. As she gets older, she does more and more schoolwork on her own. Because of this, I really enjoy the time I have to just sit either beside her or across from her, reading and discussing.

Ben and Rebekah:     About a week ago, we started Sonlight’s second year of American History.  With this program there is quite a bit of reading aloud. We have read a book about Simon Bolivar. We are in the middle of Shoes for Everyone. Both Ben and Rebekah are enjoying this book. We have also started Moccasin Trail. This book has been a challenge for Rebekah’s listening skills. The book starts out by going back and forth between the past and the present. Rebekah listens, but then always has to ask, “Is this now or did this already happen?”

     One thing I have always allowed during our read aloud times have been quiet activities. Coloring or drawing pictures are favorites. Legos or blocks are allowed, except you may pick out the Legos you want from the box and use those. There is no rummaging through the big box to find the exact part you need. Mom cannot take reading over the noise. Rebekah will sometimes work on embroidery while we are reading out loud. I have found that the activity helps with their listening skills. If their hands are kept busy, they sit quietly.  When I finish reading, I ask questions about what we have just read. Each kid can usually narrate back to me with no problems.

     Make sure to visit Debra’s blog Footprints in the Butter to get ideas for other great books to either read aloud or just read to yourself.

Aletheia Writing Magazine



What Is Aletheia Writing Magazine?

     Aletheia Writing Magazine is a magazine written and illustrated by teens for teens. They are committed to publishing quality literary and artistic works with a Christian view. It allows creative teens to express themselves and be published in a quality publication. Along with teen authored work, a spotlight of an adult in the writing or illustrating business is  featured. The magazine is specifically designed for 13-19 year old teens.

      Each issue of Aletheia Writing Magazine includes the following:

  • Stories
  • Poems
  • Interviews
  • Poems
  • Book Review
  • Writer’s Challenge
  • Beauty of Nature
  • Featured Contributor
  • Ancient Ink

     The magazine is 40 pages in length, full color and printed on heavy paper.  It is published quarterly. The look of the magazine is clean and uncluttered with all artwork, both illustrated and photographic, being supplied by teens.  Aletheia Writing Magazine is published and edited by Nicholas Muzekari.

     Visit the Aletheia Writing Magazine website for even more information on this unique magazine.  A sample issue is available for download from the website as well. 


Aletheia Writing Magazine is published quarterly at a subscription rate of  $26, which includes shipping and handling. You can order the magazine by visiting the website Aletheia Writing Magazine.

ClarkClan Thoughts

     Aletheia Writing Magazine is a beautiful, professional magazine. Sarah (14) and I both enjoyed reading the stories and articles contained within it. We reviewed the Fall 2011and a special electronic Summer 2011 issue.

     When I gave Sarah the Fall 2011 magazine, she eagerly took it and began reading. When I asked her about it later, she stated she really enjoyed it. She particularly like the Featured Contributor’s story called “Awake The Tale of Alatar the Blue”  Sarah is a fan of the fantasy genre and this story really resonated well with her. She also stated that she liked the opening story called “Ordinary”.

     Sarah has tried her hand at fiction writing from time to time. I think reading this magazine reawakened that longing within her. She has been jotting down little stories and vignettes since. She also has an artistic bent and I am going to encourage her to submit either one of her paintings or photographs.

    In the Fall 2011 issue both Sarah and I found the article “Into the Artist’s Studio with Joe Goode” to be fascinating. This article was an interview with Joe Goode who described the joys and struggles of being an artist. The interview was accompanied by Joe Goode’s illustrations and sketches.


     Sarah and I both feel comfortable recommending this magazine to others. As a matter of fact, Sarah is planning on loaning the magazine to a friend tomorrow who loves to write. Sarah thought her friend would really enjoy the magazine and may want to submit something herself.

     Aletheia Writing Magazine does have a disclaimer on the first page of the magazine.  It states:

At Aletheia Writing Magazine, we are excited about our contributors and the articulation of their Christian faith and experiences in writing. This magazine is geared toward youth 13-19. Because contributors’ ages vary, the maturity level of situational content may likewise vary.

     We did not find any material that was objectionable for our family. Instead we found a professional, well thought out magazine designed to inspire teens to further their writing goals. 


     We were not the only family reviewing Aletheia Writing Magazine. Many other members of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew reviewed it at well. To get a balanced picture of this magazine click on the flashing banner above. This will take you to the Homeschool Crew blog and give you a chance to read other families opinions.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a print copy and a download copy of Aletheia Writing Magazine for free, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Friday, September 23, 2011

News Article Thoughts

     I came across this article this morning on MSN and was floored by the title and the thought behind it? Is this really what is considered “news”?

Should You Teach Your Kids to Cheat at Sports? And is It really cheating if your team expects you to do it?”

     So here are my takes on this. Short answer: NO! You should not teach your kids to cheat at sports or any other event in life.  My initial thoughts are if we teach our kids dishonesty in one area of life, why would we be surprised if they are dishonest on other areas. This seems like a slippery slope to me. If it is okay to “cheat” a little at a sports game, then later it should be okay to cheat in college to get good grades to continue playing. Or thoughts of “what’s a little cheating on my taxes.?, can plague an adult.

     I believe we should try to be as honest as possible in all things. Is it hard? yes. Are we going to fail? yes. Can we be forgiven? YES. As I was reading this two of the ten commandments that apply to this article on cheating situation came to mind.

  • The Seventh Commandment says: You shall not steal. In Luther’s Small Catechism the explanation says:  What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.

     In my opinion, if we teach our children to cheat at sports we are “stealing” from the other team. We are getting points in a dishonest way.

  • The Eighth Commandment says: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.

     Cheating at sports is giving false testimony against our neighbor. We are betraying and slandering the other team.

     I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that I come across articles like this. Our nation is struggling with this very same question in the political realm. Where is the line? And When is it crossed?  The author does not even give a definitive answer, but asks for comments with other’s opinions. I read a few pages of the comments and was happy to read that most people agree teaching cheating is wrong. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Over seeding

     There has been a phrase rolling around in my head for the last two days. Over seeding. It comes from my devotion for Sunday. The devotion talked about how if you want to grow thick, lush grass, you will plant the seed, then when the seeds sprout, plant some more and continue until you have a thick, lush growth of grass. It then went on to talk about how you can do the same thing with your faith, over seed it. You can never read your Bible too much, every time you pick up scripture you are “seeding’ it into your life. This has stuck with me and periodically throughout the day I have been asking myself if I am “over seeding” my life with God’s Word.  I know I can plant a lot more seeds of God’s Word into my life. So how about you? Could you plant a little more of God’s Word in your life?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Read Aloud Challenge

     We have been still plugging away at our reading out loud this week. Again, it has been mostly school books. I have read Sarah’s History of US Book 8 to her during History. We have read chapters on Carnegie and  Rockefeller. Then we read about monopolies and Trusts and what the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was. It has been interesting, and I am learning even more than when I went through this book with Matthew.


image   For Ben and Rebekah, the one I want to talk about is what we use for our Worship Time. Every morning we start school with a small time of worship. This consists of Hymns, Bible readings and prayers. It hit me the other day, that this is Read Aloud time as well. This year I have decided to read the Egermeier’s Bible Story Book  out loud again. I have gone through this before a few years ago and decided that it would benefit Ben and Rebekah better now that they are older. This is my favorite Bible Story Book.  I love that the stories are not “dumbed down” but very straightforward and true to the original Biblical accounts. I also like the pictures included in this book. The illustrations are not cartoon like pictures (my pet peeve for Bible story books) but realistic scenes. Having read this out loud once before, I know just how thorough this book is. Last time there were even times I went to my Bible to look up the original account of a story I did not know.

     Thank you to Debra at Footprints in the Butter for hosting this Read Aloud Challenge. It has really made me think about what I am reading out loud to my kids. I have also found many new books to look up by reading what other people are reading to their kids. Make sure you stop by her blog and let her know you are enjoying this challenge as well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Time for Learning


     My kids are always excited when they can use the computer for some of their schoolwork. Time 4 Learning gave Ben and Rebekah the opportunity to use the computer a little everyday for both school and fun.

What is Time 4 Learning?

According to the Time4Learning Website:

Time4Learning is a technology-based online educational program that teaches preschool to eighth grade curriculum using a combination of animated lessons, interactive activities and reinforcing worksheets.

A top selection of the "Top 100 Educational Websites" list year after year, the Time4Learning program has been refined through years of feedback from educators, parents, and students. The lessons are presented at the student's pace by an automated system in a sequence designed to build strong subject literacy.

Time4Learning is a great curriculum for families who homeschool. It is also a great after school skill sharpener and is often used for remediation and test preparation. Whether mainstream, gifted, or special needs, Time4Learning provides a flexible, student-paced approach.

Time4Learning includes the following:

  • Online curriculum for grades Pre-K through 8th
  • More than 1,000 interactive animated lessons
  • Self paced lessons that kids will enjoy working on
  • Math & algebra tutorials & printable worksheets
  • Language arts, phonics & grammar lessons
  • Interactive, project-based reading activities
  • Science (grades 1st - 6th) & social studies (grades 2nd - 7th)
  • Detailed reporting for easy record keeping
  • Extensive lesson plans & teaching tools for parents
  • and much more...

Time4Learning is web based, so there is no software to download, no CDs and nothing additional to purchase. Members can access the program 24/7 from anywhere with a computer and an internet connection.

The Subjects covered in Time4Learning include:

  • Math (Full Curriculum)
  • Language Arts ( Full Curriculum)
  • Language Arts Extensions
  • Science
  • Social Studies


Time4Learning is a monthly subscription of  $19.95 for the first child and $14.95 for each additional child.  To order, visit the website Time4Learning.

ClarkClan Observations

Time4Learning is such a complete, thorough program that it is almost overwhelming to me. There are many facets to the program. I will attempt to cover the parts of the Time 4 Learning program that we used.

     When you sign your child up, you assign what grade level they are to work at.  You can tweak the levels to customize for your child. For example, if your  4th grade child is at a 5th grade level in math, you can set the program  at a 5th grade level just for that subject, keeping all the other subjects at the 4th grade level.  

     Each child has their own log-in. When they log in, they enter lesson time. Then they can pick which subject they would like to work on. The pictures below show the home page for the lower level (PreK-3rd) and the home page for the upper level (4th-8th).

Time for learning Rebekah first screen

Time for Learning Benjamin home page

When the student clicks on Lesson time, they are then able to choose which subject they would like to work.  Arrows point the way to which lesson should be next. In general, the student works from left to right going from lesson to lesson.  If they so choose, the lessons can also be done in random order.   There are quizzes and chapter tests that record how the student is progressing. When an area of study has been mastered, a checkmark appears and the arrow points to the next lesson.

Time for learning language arts skills completion page lesson page

     The lessons consist of various methods of teaching. At times the students read the lesson and then have a worksheet or activity to perform. At other times, there are videos the students watch to learn the lesson. During a lesson, there may be “worksheets” on the computer to complete. On these worksheets, the answers are checked immediately by clicking on the checkmark beside or underneath each question. This way the student knows immediately when they have missed something or gotten it right.

Time for learning capitilization lesson page

     As a reward for the hard work of the lessons, the student’s can visit the “playground”. The playground is where many different computer games are played. A timer counts down at the top of the screen so a student only plays for a set number of minutes. There are many, many different games available to play.

Time for learning playground page

     Time4Learning also has a parent log-in. This is where parents can see how their child is progressing.  Reports can be looked at to see the child’s grade on each activity they have done. Certificates can also be printed out from the parent's page.

     A parent can change the time your child spends on Time4Learning. As a default, your child must spend at least 15 minutes working on lessons before they can go to the playground. When at the playground, your child can only spend 15 minutes playing games. These times can be re-set by the parents to their preferences.  For instance if you want your child to have to work for 20 minutes before they are allowed to visit the playground, you can set that. You can also set the time for how long they get to play at the playground.

ClarkClan Likes

     Ben and Rebekah both loved the program. They were eager to do the work every day to be able to go to the playground. They liked being able to pick the subjects they wanted to work on first, next, etc.

     Rebekah’s grade level (3rd) made use of quite a few videos. She really enjoyed watching them. “The Old Time Word Show” was a big hit. I would see her watching the videos, then working on the worksheets and quizzes. By her scores, I could tell she was understanding what she was being taught. There were a few language arts lessons we had not gone over, such a pre-fixes, and after watching the video and doing the lessons she understood them.

     Ben also enjoyed the lessons. He worked at the 4th grade level.  He had no trouble with working on the computer and liked the mix of lesson activities. Ben also really enjoyed the playground. He would tell me about the different games he would play when it was time.

     I liked that this was a full curriculum. While we primarily used this as a supplement to our school day, it is designed as a complete curriculum. I also liked that, as the parent, I could check on their progress from my own log-in. I could look up lesson plans, so I knew what they were working on and what was coming up next. Another feature of the program that caught my attention was the ability to change grade levels for each subject. This feature helps to customize the program for each child.

ClarkClan Dislikes

     The one main dislike I had with the program was that some of the interactive features were noisy and frantic. This did not bother Ben and Rebekah, but it bothered me listening to the lessons with them.

     Another problem we encountered, that I did not catch immediately was that to exit out of a lesson you must click an exit button at the bottom of the page not the x at the top of the page for the lesson to be graded. When I realized this I showed Ben and Rebekah and explained to them what they had to do.


     I would recommend this curriculum. My kids enjoyed it and learned from it. My only caution would be to parents, check your child’s work frequently so you can see how they are doing. I found it a little too easy to just assume they were doing well and not check up on them for days at a time.

     Visit the Time4Learning website for more information about this curriculum. You can also go here to sign up for a free demo of the product.


     I was not the only TOS Homeschool Crew member to review Time4Learning. Click on the Crew banner above or here and you can read what my Crew Mates thought of the program.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a 30 day trial of Time4Learning for free, in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Griddly Games–Civilize This

Photobucket Photobucket
  • Wise Alec: Civilize This by Griddly Games Inc. 
  • Ages 8 and up
  • 2-4 players
  • Travel game and Expansion set
  • $14. 99 from Amazon or click here for a retailer near you.

     Explore 3 different time periods and different cultures with Wise Alec: Civilize This game. 300 questions cover Ancient, Medieval, and Modern cultures.  Roll the included special die and choose your preference of questions: the 3 point level or the 7 point level. Draw a Wise Alec card and you may have to display your knowledge in ways such as tongue twisters, brain teasers or exercises.



ClarkClan Thoughts


     My kids love games of all types. This trivia game was no different. They thought this game was a lot of fun. They played for hours. I played with them at times and thought it was fun as well. I liked that each card contained two questions worth either 3 or 7 points, and I could decide which one I wanted to answer. The Wise Alec cards evened the playing field for kids (or mom) who did not always know the answers to the trivia questions. 

     Wise Alec: Civilize This is a travel game / expansion pack.   As a travel game it worked well. There were three decks of cards and one special die included. It was packaged in a narrow box with a magnetic closure, which made it easy to take in the car or throw in a backpack. While Civilize This is a stand alone game, it can also be used as an expansion pack for the original Wise Alec: Family Trivia Game, which is purchased separately.


     We really didn’t have any adaptations or dislikes or to this game. The only “issue” we noticed was that after a month of playing a couple times a day,  the kids began to memorize the cards. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I think it means I need to get the Wise Alec original trivia game for more of a challenge.


     We would definitely recommend this game. We had fun playing and  it was easy to learn with minimal set up and pieces.  The trivia questions are interesting and we learned quite a few facts about the 3 different time periods covered.


     I reviewed the Civilize This travel game/expansion pack. Other Crew members reviewed Griddly Games Nature Nuts travel game/expansion packs. Click on the banner above to read reviews on both games. Visit the Griddly Games website to see all the games they offer.

As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received  Civilize This  for free from Griddly Games. in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Monday, September 5, 2011

R & R Games–Pig Pile

RnR Games 

    Product Information

    • Pig Pile: The Hog Wild Card Game
    • Available from R & R Games, Inc
    • Price: $15.95
    • Age Range: 7+
    • 20% TOS Discount available through 2011, Use code CREW20 when orderingRnR Games Pig Pile

         Pig Pile is a fast-paced card game designed for families. It is for 3-6 players ages 7 and up. The object of the game is to be the first one to get rid of your Slop Pile and be rewarded a pile of pigs. Trouble along the way includes Ewe Turns and being Hog Tied. But never fear, the more cards you have the better your chance of being able to go Hog Wild or of calling a Hog Wash. Be the first to get rid of your cards and you get a pile of 3 pigs to corral, go out second and you get 2 pigs, go out 3rd, 4th or 5th and you get one. Be the person to have the most cards left and you have no pigs.. When the Pig Pen is empty, count your pigs and if you have the most pigs you are the overall winner!

    ClarkClan Thoughts


        The ClarkClan is a family of game players. When I received Pig Pile in the mail I gave it to Sarah, Ben and Rebekah to try out. I purposefully did not play immediately, but observed to see how long it took them to figure out how to play the game. Within five minutes of opening the box, reading the instructions and dealing out the cards, they were off and running. I heard calls of “You have been Hog Tied and Hog Wash”.

         The cards for Pig Pile were really cute. Each card pictures a pig with a different  pig design for each number 1-12 and cute pig graphics for the Hog Wild and Hog Tied cards. The pigs that are rewarded as points are small, pink plastic pigs.

         When I sat down to play, I had as much fun as the kids did. I found the game to be a mix of some strategy as well as “luck of the draw”. I lost about 5 rounds before I finally was the first to go out. The trick in this card game is to remember to play a card with a number that is equal to or higher than the last card played. If you don’t have one you have to pick up the entire discard pile.

         We played this game with many different people this past month. The kids took it to church and played with other kids, who all had a great time. Then Great Grandma came over and they taught her as well as teaching it to their Grandmother who was visiting. I liked that the game was easy to learn to play and that multiple ages could play together easily. The game says ages 7 and up, but I feel it could be used with any age child who knows their numbers, with just a bit of help.


    ClarkClan Adaptations

         After the first few rounds of the game, my kids adapted it just a little. We ended up cutting out the pigs that are rewarded as points. We found that our family liked to play a round of the game and let the first person to run out of cards be the “winner”. We found the game bogged down when there were only two left battling it out for running out of cards and the first person who went out got bored waiting. Also, for a very fast paced game, it would take an hour or more to play enough rounds to run out of pigs in the pig pile. So we ended up just putting the pigs on the table while playing the cards and the kids could make cute pig noises and pig pyramids.  Sarah has been trying to work out a different way to incorporate the pigs into the game more than just to score at the end of a round.


         We would recommend this game to other people. In fact we already have by playing the game with kids outside our family. We found the game easy to play, fun for all ages to play together and the pig theme to be cute.


    Click on the banner above to read what other reviewers had to say about Pig Pile and another game offering called Flea Circus by R & R Games, Inc.

    As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received  Pig Pile, The Hog Wild Card Game for free from R & R Games, Inc. in exchange for my honest review of their product.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Read Aloud Challenge–Sept. 3, 2011

         Whew! It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks around here at the Clark house. I am finally getting back into reading out loud. Debra at Footprints in the Butter has been hosting a Read Aloud Challenge. She writes about the books she is reading aloud to her children and then other bloggers can link up to share what books they are reading. I have found new books to read aloud that I am excited to go to the library and look up, if not to read aloud at least to give to the kids for their silent reading time. 

         Since we started school this past Wednesday, we are just getting back into reading out loud. We were able to read Night of the Moonjellies and Grandfather’s Journey,  and The Rag Coat which are really good, touching picture story books. We also read some silly picture books. The most silly was Sesame Street characters singing the Twelve Days of Christmas. Rebekah and I have a lot of fun hamming it up and singing that book loudly.

         For Sarah, I read her history book out loud to her. I have found that she enjoys history a lot more when we read the book out loud together and talk through the questions This has been a change for me, because when Matthew went through this program, he preferred to read the books by himself and then just discuss the questions with me.

         Have you been reading books out loud to your children. Join Debra at Footprints in the Butter and let her know what you are reading. I am finding many great  books to read out loud through this challenge.