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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dive Into Your Imagination–Who Lives In The Sea?



  • Dive Into your Imagination and Annie Crawley presents: Who Lives In The Sea? DVD and Educator Guide
  • Available from the  Dive Into Your Imagination website or  the Annie Crawley website.
  • Ages Pre-K and Up
  • DVD available for $19.95.
  • Educator Guide (Print and PDF) available for $299 for all levels (Pre-K –K and Grades 1-3)
  • Special offer from Annie Crawley! When ordering a DVD, use the comments section and mention you are a homeschool parent and receive a PDF version of the  Educator Guide for FREE!

What does a sea lion sound like? How do dolphins form a bait ball? Do Blue Footed Booby birds really have blue feet? All these questions and more are answered in the DVD Who Lives in the Sea?

We found this to be a very informative, well done DVD. Using segments that focused on one sea animal at a time, Who Lives In The Sea? show children and adults the beauty and diversity the oceans have to offer. Annie Crawley has developed these DVD’s to teach children to love the oceans so they will protect those oceans as they grow up.

Featuring beautiful underwater camera work, catchy music and fun animals. Who Lives In The Sea? is a DVD that catches the attention of young children. The Educator guide expands on the fun in the DVD with many activities designed to extend the learning. The Educator Guide is jam packed with review questions, imagination play, and a multitude of activity station ideas complete with all printable pages needed to complete each station.

The DVD is divided into segments featuring a different animal in each segment. The Educator Guide is also divided into a 50+ page guide for each segment. We took a week for each segment. I would print off the Educator Guide for that segment. Then I would follow the guide and watch the relevant segment on the DVD and take the week to complete the activities. Then at the end of the week, we would watch the segment again to wrap up the fun.

We enjoyed using the Educator Guide and watching the DVD. I will say that Ben, at 10, is at the top of the interest level for the DVD. While he liked watching the ocean animals, especially the turtles, the narration is focused at a younger level. Rebekah, who is 8, loved the entire DVD and all the associated activities.

While we reviewed the DVD Who Lives In The Sea?, Dive Into Your Imagination produces many more children DVD’s with accompanying Educator Guides. Visit the Crew Blog to read reviews from my Crew Mates who reviewed a variety of Annie Crawley’s videos.


Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a Who Lives In The Sea? DVD, for free from Dive Into Your Imagination in exchange for my honest review of their product.  All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Heritage History—Ancient Greece

Heritage History Greece

  • Heritage History – Ancient Greece Classical Curriculum
  • Available from Heritage History
  • $24.99
  • Includes 46 books, 50+ maps, teaching aids, and a Study Guide

ClarkClan Thoughts

Sarah has been very interested in studying Greek History. The Heritage History Ancient Greece Classical Curriculum has been a tremendous blessing in helping her accomplish this goal.

The CD format is very well thought out. When you pop the CD into your computer, it opens and looks just like an internet browser. The neat thing is that no internet connection is needed, it just makes for a very user friendly product.

For the Ancient Greece Curriculum, there were 46 different e-books. Each book title was easily identified as Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced.  The e-books are presented in 3 different formats. On the CD you will find a PDF version, mobi version, and epub version.  The PDF version can be read directly from your computer or printed off, if you so desire. The mobi version is so you can put it on a Kindle. The epub version is for a Nook.

I own a Nook e-reader and was easily able to transfer the books to my device. Sarah and I were also impressed with the formatting of the books. We have used some older title e-books that were almost impossible to read the formatting was so bad. Heritage History books have none of those troubles.

The books on the CD are in and of themselves a great resource. I feel like I am in an infomercial as I say, “But, wait! There’s more!”. Comprehensive  study aids are also included.  These include: Timelines, Characters, Battles, Maps, and more. The images are fantastic. You can quickly look for illustrations that appear in the books using the images category.

This has been a perfect introduction to Greek History for Sarah. She has devoured the books with no complaints. She was even able to use the images and Ancient Greek knowledge she has obtained during a Venturing Camping competition. We would recommend this to anyone who would like to study Ancient Greece without having to spend a ton of money.

Heritage History offers five Libraries as complete curriculums. We tried the Ancient Greece, but there is also a Young Readers collection, Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages and British Empire available.  Each of these CD’s are only $24.99, as well.


My TOS Crew Mates reviewed a variety of curriculums from Heritage History. Visit the Crew Blog and read what they thought about the products they received.

Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a Heritage History Ancient Greece CD, for free from Heritage History in exchange for my honest review of their product.  All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Write Shop

  • Write Shop Junior Book D
  • 3rd, 4th, and reluctant 5th graders
  • Students learn to write fiction, nonfiction, and poetry
  • Uses a variety of pre-writing games, graphic organizers and self-editing tools
  • Available both as a Print edition and an E-book version
  • Write Shop also carries writing curriculum for grades Kindergarten through High School


WriteShop Junior Book D Teachers Guide Print Edition  $39.95

WriteShop Junior Book D Teachers Guide E-book $34.95

WriteShop Junior Activity Pack, Book D Print Edition $39.95

WriteShop Junior Activity Pack, Book D E-book $29.95

WriteShop Junior Book D Time Saver Pack Print Edition $13.95

WriteShop Junior Book D Time Saver Pack E-Book $13.95

Write Shop is offering a 15% discount off any Primary or Junior product in the WriteShop Store. Use code CREW15 at checkout. This offer is good until June 15, 2012.

ClarkClan Thoughts

Write Shop has worked wonders in our family. Ben and Rebekah both look forward to writing lessons now. I have been amazed at how well they have taken to this program. We were able to complete three lessons during the review period.  After the third lesson, the kids were just as excited about the program as when we began. 011

I have two kids who used Write Shop Jr. Ben, who is 10, and Rebekah, who is 8. I had read before starting that Write Shop was great for kids with ADHD, like Rebekah. I have read that ADHD kids need some adaptations to do well, but that all kids will benefit from these same adaptations. Write Shop Jr. has proven this principle to me as Ben loved this program and benefitted from it  as much as Rebekah.


The lessons were broken up into nine manageable chunks and spread out over 2 weeks. There is a 3 week option, but my kids were able to handle the slightly faster pace with no problems. Each lesson keeps the same order for activities. For example, Day one is always working on a Grammar Fold and Go, day two is pre-writing activities, day 3 is model and teaching and so on. I liked this because order and structure is an important part of our school work.

Write Shop took away the “fear” of writing. The lessons are presented in a fun, engaging, hands on way.  The first three days the kids are not asked to write anything by themselves, only play games and tell you (the teacher) what to write. By the time that the kids are asked to write anything, they are having so much fun with the lesson that it does not seem like work.


A few favorites with my children.

  • Hands On Activities – Who knew that writing could be fun and have games? Each lesson had some type of hands on activity related to it. When we were writing letters of invitation, they learned the parts of a letter playing an “invitation mix and match” game. They also got to cut out and put together a robot with all the parts of a letter. These hands on activities, early in the lessons before any actual “writing” took place set their minds in gear for what we were doing.  They both loved the incredible shrinking machine, which taught us how to narrow down an idea. Each lesson had some type of game that they just loved.
  • Brainstorming—Ben and Rebekah liked this idea. Each of them had a sheet, with graphics related to the lesson, and we brainstormed together ideas for their own writing. By doing this together, they could bounce ideas off each other and mom could help out too.
  • Journal writing,—These were  based on the lesson topic. My kids loved this because they were told to write and not worry about mistakes. It was amazing how much Ben and Rebekah wrote willingly. I think this is due to having lot of laughter and fun during the lesson, which extended to the writing session.
  • Grammar Fold and Go’s. These were folders I made up using pages printed from the Activity Pack. There are 10 fold and Go’s, one for each lesson. These are grammar review items and focus on one topic at a time.  I made these up ahead of time and they were used for day 1 of each lesson.
  • Sloppy Copy—Ben and Rebekah loved this term, and were happy when it was the day to write their paper. Knowing that mistakes would not be looked at until the next lesson seemed to free them to write.
  • Self-Editing—This was made to be a fun activity as well. We had a special bag with highlighters and finger puppets we pulled out for editing day. First they would take a highlighter and mark all the good, correct things they did in their paper. Then they would put their elephant finger puppets on and the elephant would help them find mistakes.
  • Publishing the final copy—This was a fun way to make writing a final copy special, and not extra work. The kids would publish their final copy. One time we wrote it on paper and glued it onto a construction paper background. For their humorous stories, I had special paper with lines at the bottom and space at the top for pictures. Their adventure stories we typed up.




ClarkClan Cautions

I have just told you how much I loved this product. Did I like everything about it? Well, not exactly. There were a few items that I feel are important to know about.

  1. Teacher intensive – It sounds funny but one of the things that make this a great program, also can be a detriment. This is a very teacher intensive program. The teacher needs to physically teach each segment of the lesson. As well, there is a lot of preparation work.
  2. Preparation intensive—We reviewed the download version of Write Shop Jr. Level D. This means I received 3 PDF files. Initially, I was quite confused about how to implement the program. It was only after I printed out the teacher manual, then sat with the hard copy and the student file as well as the Time Saver pack file that I could make heads or tails out of it.  It makes sense once I figure out the system. Even the PDF files are slightly different in nature. I really like how they work now, but I was frustrated and confused to begin with. 
  3. Paper Intensive—Because I had the download version, I had to print out everything. While you can get by not printing the teacher’s manual, I prefer to have a hard copy, so I printed it. There are many student materials to print out and it is recommended that you use certain paper such as cardstock or different colors. This need for printing can be eliminated by buying the physical products as opposed to the downloadable product.


I would highly recommend this product, especially for kids who are afraid of writing or say they hate writing. The activities were a lot of fun and helped to eliminate fear and anxiety about what to write, while still allowing individual creativity to shine.

I feel very honored to have been able to try this product. Most likely this is not a product I would have purchased on my own. I typically avoid anything that takes a lot of teacher preparation. When I first looked at this, I made the decision to take a couple weekend nights and prepare everything ahead of time. I think this decision is one of the reasons that the program was such a success. Having everything ready for each day ensured that the lessons were completed.


Many other TOS Crew Mates reviewed a variety of WriteShop products. Visit the Crew Blog and read what their children thought about the program.

Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a WriteShop Junior Book D, Activity Pack and Time Saver pack E book versions, for free from WriteShop in exchange for my honest review of their product.  All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s

Saturday, May 19, 2012



  • CapJaxMathFax
  • All math types drilled (+,-,x, / )
  • $29.95 download or CD
  • Available from

CapJaxMathFax screenshot

CapJaxMathFax is a no-frills math drill program. The goal is to get the answer within 3 seconds and earn a “Super”.   Each operation may be practiced in any order and combination. There are 10 levels of difficulty that can be set. You can also choose how many problems are in each drill.

CapJaxMathFax  is different in that each problem is independently timed. Immediate feedback is given on the completion of each problem. Progress is presented in bar graph form, as well as personalized progress reports. Individual certificates showing student’s performance and current status are a part of the program. Certificates may be displayed and printed at any time.

We found this to be a very adequate math drill program. The simple no frills approach fit our family well. Since we were using a laptop computer, I  used an external keyboard with a number pad. This helped Rebekah with her speed tremendously since she did not have to hunt for the numbers.

I liked that I could tailor the program for each of my kids. Ben likes a lot of problems at once and Rebekah prefers fewer.  Ben also likes to to work on one mathematical operation at a time. Rebekah prefers to work on all operations. CapJaxMathFax makes this possible because the program can be set for each child and also can be changed easily each time they play.


The TOS Crew blog has many more reviews about CapJaxMathFax. Visit the blog to read what other homeschooling families thought about the program.

Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I received a download version of CapJaxMathFax for free in exchange for my honest review of their product.  All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Sometimes a parenting  issue comes up that can be divisive without needing to be. In our family one of these issues is my girls and their socks. Both Sarah and Rebekah like low cut, brightly colored socks. Sarah, about a year ago, took to wearing her socks mismatched. Rebekah quickly took after her big sister in wearing her socks this way too.

To be totally honest, this drives me crazy! I prefer matching socks. I fought them on this for a little while, then came to the conclusion: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Really, having mismatched socks is no big deal. It has no lasting consequence. They may eventually outgrow this quirk and if they don’t, oh well.

So now it is much easier to fold my girls socks. We don’t. They just get put into one dresser drawer that they both share. When they need a pair of socks, it is quick and easy to grab two individual socks and put them on.  And now mom does not fuss over their socks. I just grit my teeth, smile and off we go!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Suddenly, I am jolted awake by a long, piercing sound. My heart is racing, my mind is racing, I am breathing hard. Is it the smoke alarm?  Are one of the kids crying?

No! it is my husband’s fire department radio going off. I lay there listening to the dispatcher calling Alamo West Fire Rescue out to a call.  There has been a car accident with injuries.

My husband is up in an instant. These days, my son, is knocking on our door.

“Dad, are you ready?”

Then they are off, driving to the fire station to grab a truck and race to the scene. Who knows exactly what they will find: a roll over with mangled metal and mangled bodies. Or is it just a car that slid off the road with no major injuries.  Today, it was the worst type of accident, a fatality.

I admire my husband and son, who give of themselves to help others in need.  Especially when the outcome is so tragic.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Homeschool Library Builder


As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I get the opportunity to try out many different curriculums and products. Today, I get to tell you about an amazing website designed to help you build up your own personal library.

Homeschool Library Builder is a website that sells books, both new and used. I really like their tagline, “Fill Your Bookshelves without Emptying Your Wallet”. As I was going over their website I was pleasantly surprised at the vast selection as well as the good prices.

Homeschool Library Builder is co-owned by two homeschooling families. Their desire is to provide good quality, wholesome, affordable books used in many literature rich homeschool curricula.


  • New and Used Literature Hard or softcover, like new or ex-library, good or fair condition all items are clearly rated by condition and priced accordingly.
  • Guidance Items are organized by categories and age level
  • Low Prices Helps to stretch already tight homeschool budgets
  • Free Membership Program receive monthly newsletters, a book rewards program, book search, a marketplace to advertise your own cottage industry and a Helping Hand to provide support of a child adopted through Compassion International.

May Special

The special or the month of May is 25% off all items. Yep, you read that right, 25% off of their entire website. If there are any books on your wish list,check out Homeschool Library Builder to purchase them.


Make sure to visit the TOS Crew Blog and read what my Crew Mates thought about the Homeschool Library Builder website.

Disclaimer:  As an Independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse and member of TOS Homeschool Crew I reviewed the Homeschool Library Builder website for my honest review of their product.  If I so desire, I have been offered a 10% discount on top of the sale prices for my opinion. All opinions given are mine and/or my children’s.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hard Lessons

My daughters have had to learn hard life lessons these past two weeks. Each of them have had  character issues we have had to work through.  I am never sure who cries harder or who learns more, my girls or me.

It seems like little daily kid infractions I can handle well. But when something comes up that is “big” I want to just fall apart. I begin to question everything about my parenting. “Have I been too hard?” “Have I been too lenient?” “Where did I go wrong?”, “What can I do differently?”

Giving me a week or so of prayer and time puts things into perspective. Yes, it was bad. Yes, consequences need to take place. But, grace and forgiveness are a part of the process as well. I tell my kids that no sin is too great for God (or mom) to forgive. Three are consequences to sin, and some consequences are more visible than others. Confessing their sin, bringing it out into the open is not easy. But, joy comes from being forgiven, no more hiding, no more fear of being caught.

My kids are not robots. They have wonderful minds and wills of their own. They are not sinless. They are human, just like me. It should not surprise me when their sinfulness rears its head. This is the process of growing up. Learning how to moderate their behavior, what consequences can or did occur, these are important lessons for life. If we do not go through these processes growing up, we can be blind sided as adults. But, I still don’t have to like going through these with my kids.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.