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Schoolhouse Review: At Home In Dogwood Mudhole


At Home in Dogwood Mudhole is an interesting title for a book if you ask me. Home, dogwood, mudhole, huh? It’s actually a place in Tennessee, yup, Dogwood Mudhole  is located in Wayne, Tennessee.

At Home in Dogwood Mudhole is the first book (you can preorder the 2nd book right now) of three. The book is actually compiled of newsletters that the author Franklin Sanders has written for the Money Changer.

The book begins in the year of 1995 and ends in 2002 so you really feel as if you know the Sander family. You’ll “attend” weddings, births, and read many humorous stories as they learn to raise chickens, cows, and pigs. Mr. Sanders writes as if you are sitting in his living room sipping a cup of tea with his family as he tells another story.

Mr. Sanders

It was a slow reading start with me because I was expecting it to be written like a novel or a flowing story. At times Mr. Sanders will take you back in time and history. Something may remind him of an era and you’ll get a little history lesson as well which I really enjoyed. So once I got use to this I was able to appreciate the history trails.

It wasn’t a rush read book for me. I didn’t want to stay up all night reading to get to the end of the book to find out what happens (thankfully too because it’s 379 pages long). No, it was more of like visiting some friends and to enjoy the moment of being together type of book. I didn’t feel rushed nor was I ignoring the kids which happens at times when I ‘hooked’ on a book. So it was a nice change of read.

There is a beginning and end to each mini chapter. I say mini chapter because each new adventure begins with a title and date (the Money Changer is a monthly newsletter). Some may be two pages long and others may be a few paragraphs long. Again, I loved this because I could put the book down knowing what happened that month and begin a new one when I had a moment.

I had planned to use this as a read aloud with my children but it was kind of a lot for the younger two to follow at times so I ended up reading the book by myself. By ‘a lot’ I mean it goes in and out of history (as I mentioned above), so I could be reading about the Sanders at the beginning but reading about another point in time or era toward the end. Annette who has been super busy with school was very interested in the book and plans to read it later this year.

I am looking forward to read the 2nd and 3rd books to read more about the Sanders and their many adventures! You can follow along as well, the book cost $22.95, Kindle/Epub/PDF cost $16.95. And there’s a guarantee too (taken from the website)------> “If you don't laugh, cry, gasp, hug your spouse or jump up and down, we'll refund your money and you can keep the book to use as a door stop.” I laughed, almost cried, and hugged the whole family, so my book is a keeper (I already pre-ordered the 2nd book).

Recommended age: Adult but I would let my 8th and 10th grader read it.

You can read more about the Sanders and see pictures of the family too at Top of the World Farms website.

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Quick “I’m Here” Post

Well it’s been a while since I posted, a while to me anyway. I know I keep saying how I miss blogging and I do, but life has been busy.

I did want to write about how school is going. Other than math and Latin most of it has fallen by the wayside. Next week I hope to be really diligent with Lance and continue to have the kids complete math and Latin (Latin includes grammar for Ethan, Brent, and Caleb).

The week after that (3rd week of Nov.) we will be taking a staycation. A whole week of and vacation at home. I’m not sure exactly what we will be doing. I know we will likely go to the zoo. I’ve been telling Lance for the past two years that we will go.

The fourth week we’ll be getting ready for Thanksgiving and then CHRISTmas break after that, so here’s what I plan to do. Regroup and start over in January.

During the month of December I’m going to get things ready for school. Clean out my kitchen school shelves and get all our books in order. Right now I have school books in the kitchen, my room, living room, and everywhere in between.

So right now I’m just going to continue with the basics and enjoy taking care of the little baby and spending time with the kids. We’ll still do school like watch an educational video or listen to audio books and of course read but I think for now we are going to just hang out. Maybe learn some hymns and did deeper in our Bible study.


Schoolhouse Review: French Essentials

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French Essentials is an interactive way to learn French. This program is very engaging and has your child reading, listening, speaking, and writing French, so it will appeal to the visual, auditory, and tactile learners. Your child will hear French words, phrases, sentences, etc. from native speakers (my son really thought that was neat!)

French Essentials Many Ways to Learn What I received was a full package which currently includes modules 1-5 (and more to come for a total of 10 modules).

Each single module cost $69.95 and gives you 90 days to download the lessons and workbooks. You also have unlimited access to Unlimited access to online exercises, activities, lesson tests & Savais-tu?

The full package cost $149.95 which includes all the modules, unlimited access to the online exercises, activities, lesson tests, & Savais-tu (French culture), plus you have 1 year to download the lessons and workbooks.

Recommended age for French Essentials is 3rd-12th grade. There is a free placement test your child can take so you’ll know exactly where to place your child(ren). I used this program with Joshua 10th grade and Annette 8th grade. Both haven’t had any previous French lessons. They just started with Module 1, lesson 1.

Approximate grade level equivalencies per French Essentials site:

Pre-highschool - Grades 4/5 - 7/8 Modules 1 – 5
Middle school (junior high) - Grades - 8-9 Modules 5 & 6
High school Grades 10-12 Modules 7-10

My son Joshua has been asking for over a year now if he could learn French so he was more then excited to be part of the French Essentials review.

As soon as our email arrived we signed up and started poking around. First place you’ll want to visit it the Student area.

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Next click on the Download Area.

Download Area 22

Click the first module and it will take you to the lessons.

French Essentials Lessons 
Once you click on a lesson it will download to your computer. You will want to make a folder and save the file.

In the module area toward the bottom of the page (scroll pass all the lessons) you’ll find the pdf workbook, answer keys, and a very helpful checklist.
French Essentials Parent Corner French Essentials teaches the internationally accepted pronunciation of the French language which is international French. The program uses interactive pdf lessons, worksheets, online flashcards, audio, videos, tests, and more to really engage your child with the program. There is so much included in the French Essentials program.

How We Used French Essentials: Before Joshua and Annette started I printed the a workbook for each one and 3-hole punched them to fit in their binders. Both kids were able to use French Essentials on their own. They would log into the account, complete the interactive pdf lesson and workbook page. When they finished their workbook page I allowed them to use the answer key to check their work.

I sat with Joshua a few times to get a feel for the program and I was amazed at how much you get with this program. I watched Joshua click different parts of the pdf lesson to hear a native French speaker

French Essentials pdf  In this particular lesson Joshua would click the questions or phrases at the top of the page to hear how to say in French “How old are you?” in an informal and casual way or a more formal and polite way.

He could also see that it was time to learn more about the culture because of the globe icon. This is what we all liked about the program, it walks you through everything. Joshua and Annette always knew what was expected of them because of the step by step instructions.

Icons throughout indicated when they would hear an audio or watch and interact with a video.

French Essentials

Joshua is in 10th grade and most likely will not complete all the French Essentials Modules. He would really have to work super hard and fast to complete all 10 (6-10 are still in the making).

Annette, on the other hand has a good chance of completing French Essentials at a steady pace of 2 (3 would be best for grades 8 & 9) modules a year.

My final thoughts: We love French Essentials!!! Annette and Josh have both mentioned a few times how much they like French Essentials and are so happy to be learning French. They love that they can work independently and so do I!

As a homeschooling mom of 6 children I think French Essentials is very economical. You don’t need to purchase it over and over. I can use this with all my children (as long as I download all the modules).

The only change I would suggest is to be able to download 1 whole module at a time. Currently we have to download each lesson. I don’t know if it’s even possible because of the size of the modules, but it would be nice.

You can find French Essentials at:

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Schoolhouse Review: Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics (Apologia)

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I was thrilled to be chosen to review one of Apologia’s newest homeschool science book, Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics.

Apologia Educational Ministries has a whole series for elementary age children called Young Explorer Series: Astronomy, Botany, Human Anatomy, and Zoology 1, 2, and 3.

Science has always been one of those subjects that end up at the bottom of our homeschool  ‘pile’. It seems to get pushed behind math, phonic, reading, and grammar. It’s sad because the children love science. They really enjoyed Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics because it was packed full of science experiments.


In the first week of using Apologia’s science we had completed more science experiments than in the past few years. All of them requiring inexpensive items like corn starch, balloons, soda pop, etc.

What I received for this review:

The recommended age – K-6th. I used this with my 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade children (I purchased extra notebooks so they all had their own).

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The textbook is absolutely beautiful with full color pictures. There are 14 lessons which can take around two weeks to complete. It really depends on how much you do a day. In the back of the textbook you will find a supply list and answer key to the questions asked through out the book.

Each topic within the lesson are in a bold blue font which makes it easy to have a start and stopping point.

After reading for example Viscosity Values, there is a ‘Try This!’ experiment and sometimes a prompt for an oral narration from your students. Each lesson can be read by the parent or if you have a good reader the child can read the selected pages and come to you when done to do the experiment and/or narrate what the have learned.

At the end of each most lessons (chapter) your child will have the opportunity to:

  • Create or complete a Notebooking Activity (depending if you purchased the Notebooking Journal).
  • Final Matters~relating what you’ve learned to God the ultimate creator!
  • What Do You Remember? which are questions to help your child flesh out what he/she has learned.
  • Project or final experiment.

You don’t have to purchase a Notebooking Journal to use Exploring Creation with Chemistry and physics. For me it’s the only way we would have completed any notebooking. I’m not a notebooking kind of homeschooling mama and probably would have skipped most of the notebooking with my kids. I’m glad to have had the two provided for this review and the two that I purchased so all four children will have a completed notebook.


I used the Notebooking Journal with Caleb and Brent. The notebooks have a 2 day per week schedule. Giving you the textbook pages to read and when to use the notebook so that’s a great feature if you are a box checker or just like having a schedule already made for you.

I usually prefer to follow schedules that are included but this time I chose not to use the one provided.

Apologia Science Each notebook lesson has What Do You Remember questions. With my kiddos we answered these together. I wrote the answer on the board and they copied it. You can also do these orally but I chose to have my kids write the answers down because one thing I want more from them is writing.

There is a two page spread for the child to write Fascinating Facts about what they are learning in corresponding lesson. There are also boxes to draw pictures too!

Crossword puzzles are included and a fun way to reinforce the vocabulary words that they will come across in their textbook.

Copywork, I love this. Each lesson has a verse to be copied and your child has a choice to either copy it in cursive or print.

Every notebook lesson has some sort of cut-and-fold mini books, pockets, or flaps. In the back of the notebook are full color fold outs and such for the child to cut and paste into the current lesson area.

The Test it Out is no ordinary test but fun way to increase your child’s knowledge with hands on activities, suggested research, and experiments.

With all the science experiments that your child will do they will also need a place to record them. The student notebooks have a section for that too (although I’d of liked more space to add pictures or drawing) called Project Pages. There is a section to write What I Did and What I Learned.

The Jr. Notebooks has coloring pages. I let Ethan and Lance color while I read from the textbook. The crossword puzzles are not has hard and the pages where the child write what they’ve learned have primary lines.

Jr. Notebook Pages

Ethan and Lance used the Jr. Notebooking pages. It was nice teaching my four younger children together. It did take us a while to complete a lesson though because the two youngest took forever to write. I know they could have done a lot orally but I want them to write, write, write. It’s one of my homeschooling goals this year. This is why I purchased extra Notebooks, to make sure everyone is writing.

The way we used Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics: I read the lessons to the kiddos. When it was noted to have the student narrate I had each child tell me what they learned. We did the experiments after the reading which the children really, really, loved.

I was really happy with using Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics because #1 my kids were excited to learn about matter, atoms, molecules, etc. In the past the children’s science learning has been about bugs, trees, and the human body, so learning about chemistry was something different.

#2 was the science experiments (Try This!). The kiddos really had a blast with all the hands on activities. We had one science experiment that was a bit messy but was really fun (pg. 33). I think it was the kids favorite because they played with it for at least an hour after our science ‘class’.

Science Fun

Most of the Try This are not so messy. My boys just had a lot of fun playing with the cornstarch and water mixture. They loved how it was both a liquid and solid. I’ll admit I had fun too!

And #3 I love hearing, “That was fun mom” when we completed a lesson. I think Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics is a winner here at Homeschooling6. We’ll continue using it this year and hopefully have some nice notebooking journals full of memories (which reminds me I need to print some of the pictures so they can glue them into their journals).

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