Ephesus~a TOS Crew Review

Have you ever read the letters of Paul in the Bible and wondered what the locations of the recipients looked like? What temptations and trials they were facing? What lands Jesus and the disciples traveled into?

Over the years our family has enjoyed many such videos that focus on the physical lands mentioned in the Bible. There are SO many out there, many of them focusing on Jerusalem. We were excited to be chosen to review a video from titled “Exploring Ephesus: City of Apostles.”

So..with so many out there, what makes this one different from the rest? Follow us on our journey, with ‘tour guides’ Dr. Mark Wilson and Dr. Andy Jackson into the intriguing area of Ephesus, including the Island of Patmos where the apostle John was exiled to!

What We Received:

The item that we received for review was a physical DVD. Retailing for $14.99, is offering it for $11.99. If you visit the listing for Exploring Ephesus, there is the option of watching the trailer to decide if the product looks interesting to you.

What is it?

In this enlightening DVD, you will walk, take drives in a convertible, and even ride a boat across the beautiful Mediterranean to the elusive Island of Patmos where the Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation. Step back in time with tour guides Dr. Mark Wilson and Dr. Andy Jackson, distinguished historians who have made Biblical Turkey their area of special interest.

How we utilized it in our homeschool:

We currently have a 6 year old, 7 year old, 14 year old and 16 year old in our homeschool. Grade “levels” are getting harder to determine as they work above, at, or below level depending upon what is needed for each child. Roughly, they are Kindy, 2nd, 8th and 11th.

Friday’s are special days in our home. The basics are usually completed this day (language arts, math and Bible), as well as an afternoon discussion with the teens. However, on Fridays, we order take-out pizza for lunch and usually try to watch something educational while we eat. It also has to have some level of ‘fun’ to it as well.

On one such Friday, we put in Exploring Ephesus for all of us to watch together, and discuss. All of my children quickly became enthralled at seeing the locations that they had only ‘read’ about in their Bible, or ‘heard’ about at home and in church.

The younger girls were amazed when the boat ride was taken over to the Island of Patmos, and they immediately recognized the name as that of the place that the Apostle John was located! My boys particularly loved the archaeological aspect and seeing so many of the ruins. They also didn’t mind their ‘teachers’ because their voices weren’t boring or monotonous like we have found many documentaries to be. In fact, it’s easy to spot the friendship between the two as they take turns speaking about various landmarks and ruins, seemingly ‘teaching’ each other. We can say one thing: They DEFINITELY know their stuff about Biblical Turkey and their enthusiasm is contagious!

Bible verses are quoted throughout the film, and this often makes you feel that you are transported to the times of the Apostles. This was one of our favorite parts. My girls have been members of AWANA for quite a few years, so they have many verses ingrained in their little brains–of which I am deeply thankful for. So when a verse was brought up, sometimes they would say the verse along with the speaker, try to finish it before the speaker, or look on in amazement as the verse ‘suddenly’ came alive in context of the place that it actually happened!

Final Impression:

Top notch documentary that is entertaining and reaches a wide range of ages. Nothing inappropriate for younger viewers. I cannot wait to read Ephesians as a family and add this video along with that study! I am thrilled to have found a wonderful company like and plan to purchase from the site often–they have SO many wonderful choices! I also plan to purchase more titles featuring either one, or both, singly or together, of this ‘teaching duo.’ It was WELL enjoyed by every one of us!

Find out what the rest of the Crew thought!! Review

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The List: Freebie Round-up

The List

Free Summer and/or Homeschool sites:

  • Virtual Field Trips!

National Museum of the US Air Force

Tour the paintings of the Sistine Chapel!

Tour Plimoth Plantation!

The Museum of Unnatural Mystery

Kindle Freebies:

*affiliate links included, please see our policy

Christian Fiction

“Josh Jones realizes his family isn’t typical, but it’s the only life he’s ever known. Aunt Lou, Gramps, Uncle Charlie, Grandpa–they all have shaped the young man he has become. But as he grows into manhood, Josh begins to face important questions about life, love, and faith. Three million books sold in the series!”


Historical Fiction

“Book 1 in the “History Mystery” Series. Abby Thomas is spending the summer in a run-down old house with a bratty pre-teen named Merrideth she is supposed to tutor. Not a dream job. But it does come with perks. There’s John Roberts, a devastatingly attractive neighbor who is almost too wonderful to be real. And there’s the new computer program Beautiful Houses—also too amazing to be real. No one knows how it works, but with it she can rewind and fast-forward the lives of all the people who ever lived in the house, including Charlotte Miles. In 1858, the house is a train stop on the Alton & Chicago Line. And Charlotte is stuck there serving meals to the passengers, wondering if she’ll ever get to have any fun. And then she meets two travelers who change her life forever. There’s James McGuire with whom she falls in love. And there’s his boss, a young Springfield lawyer named Abraham Lincoln. His debate with political opponent Stephen Douglas catapults him onto the national stage. And it inspires Charlotte to take up the cause of abolition.”


Inspiring Non-Fiction

“Don’t waste your pain,” says unlikely missionary Avis Goodhart. She didn’t – and neither should you.
Despite a background of childhood abuse, dyslexia, and marital infidelity, Avis took her first international mission trip at age fifty. The church, school, and orphanage she later founded in northern Peru, all products of both her pain and her radical obedience to the Lord, have brought thousands of others out of the dust. This compelling story of an ordinary woman who serves God in extraordinary ways will challenge, inspire, and empower you to:
• Eliminate excuses from your life
• Recognize that in God’s kingdom, availability matters more than ability
• Allow your pain to produce – not prevent – your obedience
• Serve the Lord with the same abandon shown by one unlikely missionary


One Week Devotional!

The 7-Day Prayer Warrior Experience is a free eBook from bestselling author Stormie Omartian, developed using excerpts from Prayer Warrior and Prayer Warrior Prayer and Study Guide. Are you equipped for spiritual battle? Take the next seven days to “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Join Stormie as she explains the pieces of armor, what they mean, and how they can help you be a prayer warrior in your spiritual battle. With devotional thoughts, suggested prayers, ways to dig deeper, and opportunities to connect with Stormie and a whole community of prayer warriors, The 7-Day Prayer Warrior Experience will empower you with the truth that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).


Free Kindle Children/Tween/Teen Books:


A classic story by Hans Christian Andersen presented with modern illustrations. The story of how a little bird endures the abuses and miseries as he was growing up not realizing he would mature into a beautiful swan. It’s a great tale about personal transformation for the better.

Meet Lily Lemon Blossom, a delightful little girl who loves adventures and playing with her friends. Lily invites you to see her lovely room and meet her many friends, including Bunny Rabbit and Josephine her kitten who is always by her side. A quick peek into Lily’s room will tell you quite a lot about her. The room comes alive with its vibrant colors and huggable plush toys. It’s a happy place for a happy little girl and her friends.


Finally a teen/tween freebie!

She plays from memory. Her memories.
The day after her sixteenth birthday, Princess Alia finds out that she’s been given away in marriage to a man she’s never met. The war has just ended, and for Alia’s protection, she must travel to her future kingdom disguised as a chicken farmer’s daughter. This princess-to-pauper story is filled with problems, prayers and plenty of piano. This is Part One of a two-part series. Part Two is now available for $2.99. Part One and Two are combined in paperback, which is now available. In 2016, the Counterfeit Princess series will continue with Alia’s sister, Wren.

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Homeschool Legacy: Forest for the Trees~~TOS Review Crew Review

As a family who loves unit studies, we were pleasantly surprised to see one that we had never tried nor heard of before! We were chosen to review Homeschool Legacy’s Forest For the Trees, a four week, once a week, unit study, as members of the TOS Review Crew. Our family loves the togetherness and cohesiveness that unit studies provide. They make combining ages and subjects a breeze. Sometimes we use them full-time, sometimes just to add “life” into our homeschool when it grows stagnant.

What it is/What is included:

Forest for the Trees is a once a week, no prep, four week unit study curriculum available either as paperback, or Grab-N-Go. We received the Grab-N-Go, which is a downloadable ebook PDF. This was super quick and easy to use! The only complaint was that it wouldn’t download to my Samsung Galaxy tablet. Usually we use that as opposed to having our laptop on our school table, just because my laptop needs a battery replaced and it has to stay plugged in. This in NO WAY affects the ability to use the curriculum. I just printed it out and went.

Forest for the Trees includes weekly book lists which also give library call numbers, (LOVE this feature!!), the lesson focus, and supplies, all on the front page of each week which is a huge help! Most helpful of all is the section with “suggestions for how to schedule your unit study time” complete with a 5 day sample week included (if you choose to spread it out). Also included, are ways/worksheets to use this curriculum to earn the Boy Scout’s Forest Merit Badge. Book lists for Non-Readers are included as well.

Perhaps one, but only ONE, of our favorite parts was the plethora of hands-on, easy to do, most supplies on hand, hands-on Science experiments. My girls LOVED these. Mom did too. We also chose to make this a family affair, and had my older boys join in at times as well.


The curriculum is labeled as able to be used for grades 2-12 and we found that to be so with our K-11th graders. It would require beefing up if you tried to use it as a primary source for credit but we just included him for fun!


The majority of the books on the book list were available at our public library. If not, there are many alternatives and this isn’t a book specific study–meaning you can substitute something similar. For example, one of the drawing books that Forest for the Trees called for wasn’t available at my public library. So, we found a book on how to draw State trees. This led to Geography and State History!! BONUS!!

photo 1

Another great find in this study is found in week 3. We are discussing apples, orchards and apple trees (a PERFECT study for Fall!!) Included for the week is recipes for homemade apple pie and easy peasy quick crock pot applesauce! We have our apples ready to make applesauce this week!

Another favorite portion of mine is the Family Devotional, especially week 3. We are discussing fruits of a tree, and the devotional is on the Fruits of the Spirit. The way it is tied in isn’t jerky, it flows really well. I love the application parts such as: “God tells us in the following passages that we can easily identify a true Christian by his fruits..” and “Discuss with each other how we can recognize those who say they are God’s children by their fruits, and how we can grow those fruits in our own lives.” LOVE this! An idea that I had for this, but ran out of time (and plan to revisit next week), was to use brown butcher paper to craft the ‘trunk’ of the tree, which we learned about in week 2. Then take green butcher paper, or lots of green construction paper to create the leaves. As we study each “fruit” of the Spirit–week long, we would add a “good fruit” (cut from construction paper), to the top of the tree. Then use black or dark paper to create the “bad fruit” (or opposite trait of the good fruit) and paste it to the bottom–as if it had fallen off and rotted.

Final Impression:

Overall, we absolutely loved Forest for the Trees! With so many choices, so many things to learn, I think it would be difficult to limit this to once a week. Especially the two weeks read-aloud of My Side of the Mountain. That said, I am so excited to add this to “liven up” our schooling and plan to explore all of the other titles!!

Crew Disclaimer
See what the rest of the Crew thought!!

Homeschool Legacy Review

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Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review

*We were blessed to receive this course to review as part of the TOS Review Crew.

Ever wish you could take a homeschool “how to” course at your own pace without having to be at your computer or on your phone at certain hours of the day? Are you a current “seasoned” homeschooler in the throes of burn-out and needing to revitalize your approach? Enter The Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course by Successful Homeschooling Made Easy.  What is included:

Twenty-six weeks of lessons delivered directly to your inbox. These files are sent in a PDF format. You can choose to print them off and put them in a binder (which I did for the first few), or dowload them onto your tablet and have a notebook handy. This is a very interactive course and Stephanie gives you “homework” after each lesson. There are worksheet(s) she refers to so it’s very handy to print those out. Also, many of the lessons include boxes and assignments directly on the PDF so if you don’t print them out, break out that notebook.

On the right side is a blank section for you to “take notes” in. Being a note taker by nature, I enjoyed this feature.

The costs:

$10/month or a one-time payment of $48.

What it covers:

Just a few topics covered include: schedules, lesson plans, organization, teaching, housekeeping, and how to use curriculum.


Each lesson is numbered and has a catchy title: Lesson 4 is titled Fireproof Your Homeschool. This lessons follows the homework assignments on building your schedule. The Succesful Homeschooling Made Easy Course walks you literally step by step, or I should say week by week, to build the perfect schedule for YOU and YOUR family–totally not a “one size fits all approach,” which I love, and is completely customizable. The introduction asks if things are going smoothly and then encourages you to just keep going. The assignment this week is to add something to your schedule that either you, or all of your family, enjoys. The questions in this section really get you to thinking, such as “Why do you want to home educate your children?” Book recommendations are also listed. Inspiring quotes are included at the bottom of many of the pages.


Screenshot of Lesson 4 from my tablet. I printed out Lessons 1-3 to put in a binder (preferred method).


How I used it:

While this course appears to target newbies in the homeschool realm, the truth is this ‘seasoned’ mama wished she had gotten her hands on this when she started. The good news IS, that you do not have to be a newbie to glean knowledge and add a freshness to your homeschool. This product will appeal, and apply to, those just starting all the way up to those who may have already graduated some from their homeschool.

Final thoughts:

What I love about PDF’s is the ability to save and print them, then mark them up to my heart’s desire. I can put them in a binder to refer back to. Then the NEXT school year I can print it out and start all over again seeing what worked and what didn’t. The tone of the course was very encouraging, inspirational, conversational and authentic. The author does not “talk down” to you, offer a zillion suggestions (most of which worked for someone elses’s family), or make you feel bad that you just can’t quite get it together. I love how she shared stories from other homeschool mamas in one of the lessons.

I cannot wait to return to this again and again throughout our homeschool career. It is most definitely a keeper!!


Crew Disclaimer
See what my Crewmates thought!

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review

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7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness~a Book Review

What do George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson have in common? According to author Eric Metaxas, each of these men profiled are, in the author’s opinion, 7 of history’s “great men.” From the description:

Each of the seven biographies represents the life of a man who experienced the struggles and challenges to be strong in the face of forces and circumstances that would have destroyed the resolve of lesser men.

Author Metaxas sets out to explain how today’s society of men, and those of the past, are different creatures entirely. He does so by providing deep history on the lives of these 7 ‘greats.’ In the introduction he goes into great detail of the woes many men succumb to today and how society and media portray men in unmasculine ways. The introduction, while lengthy, is a must read to understand where the author is coming from. I particularly found it very enjoyable compared to the “meat” of the book. It was often times too academic for this casual reader.

We attempted to use this book as a read aloud for my teen boys ages 14 & 16 as I really wanted them to see some of History’s finest role models. We started in Chapter 1 with George Washington. Not long out of the gate was a particularly gruesome, and very detailed, account of some “perils” encountered in George Washington’s life. Now while I understand the need for masculinity and not “shielding” our children from everything, I myself found this story particularly disturbing, so much so that from that point forward I had my younger children go watch a movie in the bedroom. That enlightening reading, and the heavy academic content which was at times way over even my head, (dates and stories started running together), and we ended this selection as a read aloud.

If you are a History buff, you will enjoy this book. However if you are a History buff seeking a more casual book, the themes may be difficult.

Review disclaimer

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