U is for Underwater

We have a year membership to our local aquarium which also gets us into 29313183_10155028183545683_5825407458033532928_nother places around the state for free. It is definitely worth the price to us as homeschoolers since we like to visit places when it is less crowded during the year and it allows us to just go somewhere fun for the day when needed.

Yesterday, my girls and I decided to go to the aquarium for the day. The boys are gone on a church trip this weekend, so I wanted to take the girls 29249547_10155028172945683_4102005084089483264_nsomeplace fun. It was such a beautiful day at the coast. I didn’t think it was supposed to warm up, but it did. We actually went to the aquarium, the fort, a park, and the beach. We had such a great time. It was a much needed girls day out.

We do go to the aquarium several times throughout the year and we love it each time. Even though not much has changed, it is still fun to look at all of the fish, turtles, otters, and other marine animals. Our membership is definitely worth the money for us.

Here are some more pictures of our day:



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Scripture and a Snapshot ~ 3/11/18

Scripture and a Snapshot _ 31118

Photo from Pixabay

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Scripture and Snapshot


T is for Trust in the Lord (Free Printable)

T is for Trust in the Lord

I have had a rough beginning to 2018. I really cannot believe that it is already March and that I have actually made it this far. So when thinking about what I should write about for the letter T for blogging through the alphabet, this verse came to mind.  In order for me to have gotten this far this year, I have had to fully trust in the Lord with all of my heart.

This verse has helped me get through the rough times this year. I do have to keep reminding myself to fully trust that God will handle all of my problems and that I don’t need to worry. He already knows the end, He is just waiting for me to trust Him fully.

The rest of the verse says “lean not on thine own understanding.” We are not to rely on ourselves to get us through the rough times. We are not to stand alone when trying times come our way. If we fully trust the Lord, we will have the faith needed to get us through and we will not be alone in our troubles. We will have God by our side.

Enjoy this free coloring printable I made for the first part of Proverbs 3:5. Remember to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.”

Trust in the Lord Free Printable

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Until I Knew Myself ~ Book Review

Until I Knew Myself Book Review*This post contains affiliate links*

Tammy L. Gray is a new to me author that I was introduced to by another author I follow on Facebook. I haven’t been reading much lately over the past several years because I haven’t really had much time. This year, I wanted to get back into the habit of finding good Christian authors who have good Christian books available.

 Until I Knew Myself is a story about friends. It’s a story about finding out who your family really is. Tyler was an orphan taken in by his best friend’s family. Ten years have passed, but he still longs to know about his biological family. Can a call following his grandfather‘s death tear him apart from his adopted family? Will Tyler trust his friends or his biological family? What will happen to Tyler’s relationships with his girlfriend and best friend? Will he see that they are his true family?

What I thought ~ I would consider this book a contemporary Christian28056109_10211353768295994_2321130705852523272_n fiction book. It takes place in modern-day Texas. It did take me a couple of chapters to get into the book. But once I started reading, I was hooked. There were some parts of the book that I was not expecting. Tammy Gray managed to keep me guessing what would happen next. Just when I thought I had it figured out, the story took a totally different turn. There were some parts of the story that I wished had gone a different way, but in the end, the story came together and it had a great ending. I'm glad to have been introduced to this author and will read more of her books, especially in this new series so I can find out what happens next.

*I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.* 


Magic Stix Markers ~ Review

Magic Stix Review
I am always on the lookout for great art products for my children to use on their projects. My kids love to draw, color, and make different creations with items from around the house. Over the past several weeks, our family has been enjoying Magic Stix Washable Markers from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

The Pencil Grip, Inc is a company that sells many products. We have reviewed their Kwik Stix in the past and we love using those since they dry so fast. We have also reviewed and used the pencil grips they have designed.

When I first saw that they had markers now, I was hoping to be able to review them or buy them for my children to use. One thing that I noticed was that these markers won’t dry out if the cover gets left off accidentally or doesn’t get put on tight.

Magic Stix 24 pack comes in a nice plastic case that also has handles for easier carrying. They are odorless, washable, and non-toxic. They guarantee that they will not dry out for seven days and I don’t know of any other company that has that same guarantee for their markers.

IMG_20180227_132631I started to do the 7 day test but would forget to test the marker, so I just left the cap off for 7 days and at the 7 days mark the marker was still working just the same as it had on the first day. These markers color in such vibrant colors and are so bright and bold. We love all of the colors that come in the 24 pack. There are several different variations of greens, purples, blues, yellows, and reds. There is also black, brown, and gray.

We have enjoyed using the markers on coloring pages. One thing we noticed is that they do bleed through, so we just IMG_20180227_132635put a sheet of paper underneath the coloring page. Also, if we colored too much in one spot the page would start to rip.  I tried using them on cardstock paper and they did not bleed through. I think if we were to do more coloring pages, I would print on cardstock so we wouldn’t have to worry about it bleeding through or the page ripping.

We have all enjoyed using the markers, even my 14 year old son colored with us girls.

Our favorite thing about the 24 pack is the variety of colors. There are so many to choose from for us to get our pages just the way we wanted them to look. We also liked that the colors are so bright and vibrant. We also like that these markers won’t dry out if left uncovered. My 6 year old IMG_20180227_115759sometimes has difficulty getting the cover on tight and we won’t notice until we use them again. With other brands, we were left with a marker that didn’t work if the cover was left off or not on tight. With the Magic Stix, we never had to worry about it. The markers worked every time!

We give Magic Stix Washable Markers 5 stars!

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Week in Review

Homeschool Week

I can’t believe it is already March! We have recently finished up our 3rd quarter and we are counting down the days until we are finished for the year. I know we are all looking forward to having a break.

27973572_10154966732030683_1095751420158368971_nThe weather has been so beautiful here and our daffodils have already bloomed. I love daffodils because that means spring is definitely on the way!

My kids have been enjoying playing outside and getting fresh air. My boys play soccer and basketball in the yard and my girls enjoy riding their bikes around the yard.


I have started using a new review product from Memoria Press with my 1st grade daughter this week. We are going through Traditional Spelling I and she is having fun with it. She looks forward to doing spelling work every day. The other spelling program I was using was not an every day type spelling program. I love that this program has something for the child to work on every day to reinforce the words. I feel like she is already learning much better with this program. Full review coming in April.

My 7th grade daughter has been enjoying reading through Little House in the Big Woods and I am hoping to be able to review a Laura Ingalls Wilder biography so she can learn more about the author.

IMG_20180302_080059And to end this post ~ Today is a special day! My youngest daughter turns 7 today so  everyone gets a day off from school!
She has chosen to go to Cook Out (a fast food restaurant here in NC) for lunch and we may go by the nature center also. She wanted to play at the park, but it is very windy and chilly here today, so we will have to go another day.

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S is for Soon

S is for Soon

*This post contains affiliate links*

I have three reviews coming up this month (March) and wanted to just give a sneak peak.  We have enjoyed the review products that we have gotten so far this year.

Magic Stix Washable Markers ~ These were a favorite. We have enjoyed coloring with these markers. My girls and I and even my 14 year old son have used these over the past several weeks. They are so bright and vibrant. Look for the review to post next week.

Another fun review is from Zirrly ~  My girls, my 14 year old son and I had a good time playing with the super beads and creating the animals that were included in our package. This review will post around March 20.

IMG_20180301_082311One last review that will post around the last week of March are books by Carole P. Roman ~ We have reviewed several of Carole’s books before and we still love reading through her books. This time we are reviewing a chapter book and the coloring book that goes along with it. So fun!

We love reviewing products and curriculum and sharing them with you.

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Hopkins Homeschool


Starfall Education Foundation ~ Review

Starfall Education Foundation _ Review

My youngest daughter has been having a more difficult time with learning to read than my three older children. We go through a phonics program every day and she has been catching on, but I felt she needed something more that could help her learn to read. I also look for educational programs and apps that have more to offer than just one subject. I love when I find out about fun products that will allow her to have fun while learning. Over the past several weeks, my six year old daughter has been using The Starfall Home Membership that is offered by the Starfall Education Foundation.

The Home Membership is a single account that uses the same email address and password for multiple computers and apps for your immediate family. Starfall is available to use on a computer or it is available to download ontostarfall songs a tablet through an app. Starfall covers many different subject areas that help children learn. Kids can learn math, music, calendar, and reading. There are also activities to go with the different holidays and seasons. Most of the activities children can play are on a first and second grade level.
The activities are fun and children are also learning at the same time. There are also several activities that can be spread out over several days so if you only want your child to play for a certain amount of time, you can have them go through one or two activities a starfall readday.

Math ~ Children can learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and even listen to math and number songs. They can also learn about shapes, patterns, and weights.
Phonics/Reading ~ Children can learn short vowel sounds, alphabet sounds, put the vowel into words, and have stories read to them or read the stories themselves.

The parent-teacher center part of Starfall has different supplemental starfall parentresources that you are able to use to help your child learn. There are different pages that you are able to print off and there is also a worksheet generator. There are many printable downloads available ranging in topics from handwriting to short vowels to grammar and journal writing. There are also math printable downloads available that help children learn greater than and less than and money.

Sara StarfallSince my daughter was more familiar with using a tablet than the computer, I downloaded the app onto her Kindle Fire for her to use the program that way. She played through many of the games every day. I did not realize that the app was a little different from the computer until I was looking at Starfall on the computer and my daughter mentioned she didn’t have some of the games/ activities. There were only a few games on the computer version that were not on the app.

My daughter did mention that some of the activities were boring to her, but I think it is because she already knew the material. Overall, she has enjoyed playing on the app and going through the different areas and learning some new things.  There is a lot of reading and phonics activities and that is where I felt my daughter needed the most help, so I had her spend most f time on the phonics and reading. She has been doing a lot better with her reading and has become more confident with her reading.

We give The Starfall Home Membership 4 stars!

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R is for Reading

R is for Reading

I just wanted to share with you what we have been reading in our house.

Counted with the Stars Connilyn CossetteEarlier this month, I wrote a review for a book from a new to me author. Since I posted that review, I have ordered the books from the author’s first series and I am working my way through those. The first book is Counted with the Stars.

These books are Biblical Christian fiction that are based on a time period from the Bible. Counted with the Stars is based on the ten plagues and the exodus of the Hebrews out of Egypt. Kiya, an Egyptian, who was a slave, has taken refuge with the Hebrews and is now relying on Yahweh to protect her and help her.

I highly recommend these books if you are looking for a clean, Biblical fiction book to read.

My boys are reading The Red Badge of Courage for literature. This is one of the novels that is listed for reading in the Hewitt Homeschooling  Lightning Literature American Mid to Late 19th Century pack. They seem to be enjoying it so far.

thQZ4MIIBHMy 7th grade daughter is reading Little House in the Big Woods for her final literature book this year.

I also have the accompanying study guide from Progeny Press for her to go through.

In her free time, she is reading through some books I got her for Christmas, the Glimmer Girls series by Natalie Grant.

I haven’t been reading much to my youngest daughter, just little books here and there. She likes when we are able to read longer chapter books together. I just received a new review product in the mail from Carole P. Roman, so she will be happy to read through those books to have something new.

Are you reading anything? Share below in the comments. I love to read!

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Bytes of Learning ~ Review of UltraKey Online

Bytes of Learning Review

It has been a difficult task for me to try to find some curriculum for the different classes I want my children to learn or study. I research different curriculum and try to get the best or close to the best for my children. Even while doing research and trying to find the best fit for our household, it is easy to overlook some products that are affordable and gives you the best. Bytes of Learning is something I wish I had stumbled on when I was looking for a typing/keyboarding curriculum to use for my son.

Although my 10th grade son was using a different program for his keyboarding/typing class this year, I thought he could use something different that had more to offer. And the program I was using was geared more towards younger kids while UltraKey Online Family Subscription is geared for any age and does not use any childish features. With the family subscription, you are able to choose between 3 users, 5 users, and 8 users at an affordable price.

UltraKey Online is based completely online. There is nothing to install on your computer or download from the internet, it is all online. It is easy to set up a subscription and once you become familiar with the management dashboard it is easy to set up all of your users. From the manager dashboard you are able to create accounts for each person and also generate reports to see the progress of each student. This program is also self-paced so the student can work at their own pace. You are also able to repeat lessons and skill checks. There are also games that can be played to help learn the letters.

Ultra KeyWhen we received the information to set up our account, I went ahead and set myself up as a student so I could use the program myself and see how it all works. My 10th grade son also has his own account that he is working through. When you log in for the first time, you can just start the program or take an assessment that will tell you how much you already know like your typing speed and mistakes and will set a goal for you to try to aim for each time you take a skill check.

There is also a settings menu where you are able to adjust the settings of each user. This is the spot where you are able to pick a background you like, choose how you want the keyboard displayed on the settings and even change the skin tone of the hands that show you where to place your hands on the keyboard. You can also turn off the step by step learning that is automatic when you log in for the first time. If you don’t want to go through each step, such as posture and finger position before starting the lessons, it is easy to turn off that setting and just jump right into the lessons.

UltraKey Online is meant to be used each day for 20-30 minutes or less if you are using the program with a younger child. You start the lessons with the home keys and take a skills test after completing each lesson.

I tried to get familiar with the dashboard so I would know what all is UltraKey Reportsavailable there. There is an area where the administrator is able to generate reports. You can take a look at the progress each student has made and see when they passed their skill checks and what lessons they have completed. I’m not sure why when I generated the reports it only shows one user having completed some of the areas when both of us have completed them (for example, the home row line in the picture to the right).

Since my son had been already typing, he has gone through this online typing program fairly quickly with just a few more lessons remaining. I may have him go through again to see if he can improve his typing. After you complete a lesson, you are to take a skill check and a report generates when you are done telling you your accuracy and words per minute (wpm).

UltraKey Online

I didn’t go through the program as fast as my son (he was doing a lesson every day), but from what I have used of the program, I like it a lot. I also think that this program has helped my son increase his accuracy and wpm. He didn’t do well on one of the skill checks so he went back and tried it again to get a better accuracy and wpm that was at his goal or above his goal. I liked that I am able to generate a report that tells me his progress and what lessons he has completed. One thing I also liked about this program that we were able to take an assessment to help us move along at a good pace. My son likes that this program is not childish and that he has a goal that is set based on his own assessment and not a goal I set for him. This is a program that is affordable and easy to use and I will definitely use this for my other children.

We give UltraKey Online Family Subscription 5 stars!

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