The Conversation | A Book Review


I’m always excited about the items I get to review as part of the TOS Review Crew. There are so many great books and studies out there. However this book had me squealing with joy. I couldn’t wait to dig into The Conversation by Leigh A. Bortins, founder of Classical Conversations.

Why do you ask? I’ll tell you. But first, let me share the premise of this great read.

What is The Conversation?

The Conversation was written to challenge, inspire and encourage families with high school aged children. So many families quit homeschooling at high school. Some times there are valid reasons. Other times it’s out of fear or misconceptions about what high school requires.

For some, quitting at high school – just when our children are becoming critical thinkers and conversationalists – means we miss out on opportunities for deep conversations and stronger relationships.

Why Was I So Excited To Read This Book?

The Conversation

My answer is really two fold. First (drum please)…we’re starting Classical Conversations in the fall!!!! I am beyond excited. Classical Conversations is something I considered for my eldest, but never got around to “trying out”. Now, I’m jumping in feet first with my 8 year old, Bram. The Conversation is the peek behind the curtain I was looking for.

It gave me insight as to what to expect in our Classical Conversations journey. I could see the grand vision, of what I’m working toward. I loved that.

Second, I just came out of the fun but sometimes tumultuous years with our “first round” of kids. We had three teen boys at once. Hello. Did you hear me? Three teen boys.  Yes, I will gladly accept that glass of wine… 😉

While I loved my time with them, I know I could have done a better job. Two are now out of the house, and the third will soon be married and off on his own as well. I know I did a good job, but there’s always room for improvement, right? The Conversation gave me the encouragement and building blocks to up my game for the “next round” of kids as they grow into high school age.

There are a lot of amazing nuggets in this book!

Bits of Wisdom

Allow me to share some of my favorite quotes from The Conversation with you. Here is just a sampling of what really grabbed me and shook me as a mom and home educator. I love a good quote, don’t you??

We must teach our students to be both wise and humble as they attempt to separate truth from lies and persuasion from manipulation.

Hello? Does that not ring with truth? Especially in this day and age! I want, desperately want, my children to know the truth when they see it. And to have discernment so they won’t be lead astray.

When we have difficult days, I don’t give up and let someone else have the privilege of leading our children. Instead, I recognize that difficulties are promised to each of us and avoidance doesn’t lead to sanctification.

Ohhhh, my spirit is groaning with this one. Yes, yes and amen! I am 36 years old and I am just now learning this deep down in my heart. I’m finally (finally!!) beginning to understand that life challenges are just that. Challenges, not the end. And, that challenges don’t mean I’m an awful person, it means God is refining me in the fire.

Parents who have worked with their children in high school will agree: we have failed, we have won, we have died, and we have grown. We realize homeschooling classically as Christians had little to do with our children and much to do with our own sanctification, and we are grateful for all of it.

There isn’t anything I can add to that truth. It just is.

Why Should You Buy It?

Classical Conversations

Well, if the above wasn’t enough to convince you, let me say that if you are a Classical homeschooler, even a little bit, you NEED this book. It does a fabulous job of dispelling the idea that this style of learning is simply memorization, it’s so much more. It gives you hope for homeschooling the high school years and the road map to quality conversations with your children.

Not only is the Classical method clearly explained, The Conversation demonstrates how to weave this method into your everyday life.

If you’re one of those parents (like me) who often feels you’re not doing enough, you should read this book. It’s about Classical learning, simplicity, effectiveness and glorifying God in all we do. It’s about looking for Him in all we see.

Now, I’m even more stoked about beginning Classical Conversations this fall!!

If you’d like to see what others are saying about The Conversation, click the image below. Or, you can order your own copy now for only $12.00 (it’s on sale!)

Classical Conversations Review

Funtastic Units Studies | A Review

Science Unit Studies
I was given the opportunity to review Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers by Susan Kilbride. This resource from Funtastic Unit Studies is designed to best fit students ages 4-13.

First Impressions

When I found out I was on the review team for Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers, I was excited because I thought it would be a great addition to our now lighter summer schedule.

This book is designed so you can just hop right in, and select the experiment and topics you want. There’s no cumbersome syllabus to follow. Just simple, straight forward and fun units.

I think that’s what makes this great for interest led learners!

The Set Up

The table of contents is clearly set up with unit topics and suggested age ranges. With 20 chapters/lessons, Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers includes 10 units for ages 4-7, and 10 units for ages 8-13.

I feel the topics are age appropriate and they grow with the student’s ages and interests as well.

Units for ages 4-7:

Our Senses
The Human Body
Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life
Insect Life
Fun With Magnets
Stars and Planets
Beginning Plants
Animal Ecology

Units for ages 8-13:

Microscopes and Invisible Creatures
Atoms and Molecules
Chemistry Fun
Force and Motion
Simple Machines
Light and Color
Plants II

Each unit chapter gives you a comprehensive list of all the materials you’ll need for that topic’s experiments. Many of these experiments are multi-step projects. So, you could easily spend several days, to a week on each topic – just with this book alone.

Admittedly, some of these chapters require quite a bit of materials. BUT, almost every experiment only required items we already had around the house, like peanut butter, velcro, sandwich bags. hammer, marbles, tape, cotton balls…those easy types of things.

The Experiments Themselves

Science Unit Studies

I’ll admit, when I first flipped through Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the experiments go. This is a book written by a homeschool mom for other homeschool moms and teachers. It’s straightforward in design and decoration. But, I have to tell you, I was pleasantly surprised with the experiments!

My 8 year old son wanted to hop right into Dinosaurs and Magnets. He was ready to go!

I had fun working alongside him, and even learned some new information in the process!  For instance, did you know that when you boil water the steam is not actually water vapor – vapor is too small to see with the naked eye? I didn’t. What we actually see are water particles being released into the air – neat!

Extra recommended resources are also included with each experiment. My son was also excited when he saw that Magic School Bus episodes were sometimes a recommendation.  Like the Busasaurus episode 🙂



I was happy with Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers. It had a diverse selection of topics and each chapter/topic offered several activities and experiments. The experiment directions were clear and easy to follow.

I really enjoyed how we could just hop into the book at whatever section we desired. This allowed us to tailor our experience to the season we’re in – currently summer. And, it will allow us to dive into the other fun subjects as the seasons present. For instance, Plants will be fun next spring. And, I think Weather will be a great topic for this fall.

I also enjoy that this book will grow with my son. We will be able to utilize it well into his middle school years. Or, if you have a family with elementary and middle school aged children, this will easily allow you to work with all your students at once. That’s always a bonus!

Check Out What Others Are Saying!

I was part of an entire review team. Click the Schoolhouse Review Crew image below to see what others thought of Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers. You can purchase your own copy of this Funtastic Unit Studies resource for only $16.95. If you do, be sure to also take advantage of the science and history freebies they have to offer.

Funtastic Unit Studies Review

Project Passport World History Study: Middle Ages Review


Home School in the Woods Review
Are you familiar with Homeschool in the Woods? They are are family owned and operated homeschool curriculum provider.

As part of the TOS Review Crew I was given the opportunity to review their hands-on activity based history unit, Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages.

I was super excited to check out this resource because Bram loves just about everything from the Middle Ages. Castles? Knights and armor? Trebuchets? Oh yeah! But, before I dig into my impression of this study, let me give you some background information.

Home School in the Woods Review

What is Project Passport: Middle Ages?

Project Passport World History Study: Middle Ages is one of three unit studies on world history. In addition to the Middle Ages, Homeschool in the Woods currently offers Ancient Egypt, as well as Renaissance and Reformation. They have plans to add Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

Each Project Passport consists 25 lessons, ending with the big shebang, a beautiful lapbook for which your student has slowly been creating pieces during the 8-12 weeks it takes to complete each study.

Depending on your student’s age and ability level. Each lesson can take anywhere from a day or two, to a week to complete. This study was designed with third to eighth graders in mind.

How Does It Work?

It’s easy! Project Passport: Middle Ages is available via download or CD. With the download option, in a few quick clicks you can have your curriculum ready at your fingertips.

The teacher is provided with a syllabus, instructions, reading text list and an easy-to-understand (and implement) schedule.  The student benefits from a large array of of printable, as well as hands-on, activities.

After your child creates their passport and “luggage folder” the adventure begins. The student is immersed in an historically-accurate world of story and activity.

Also offered are some great audio selections. Perfect for lunch time entertainment.

My Impression

Middle Ages Study

Honestly, when I first opened the Middle Ages file, I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed. I’ve never done a unit study like this before. And there was a lot of information.

A whole lot.

But I quickly realized the beauty of this set up is that you can choose to use Project Passport: Middle Ages in two different ways. You can

  1. use it as a thorough yet sweeping overview of this time period and finish it in the recommended 8-12 weeks. Or…
  2. get really deep into this study, hopping off on untold rabbit trails for a really in depth study.

Second, I was impressed with the scope. A great deal of pertinent historical happenings are covered. And that’s not easy to do, being that the Middle Ages include such a large chunk of our historical timelines. They start at the fall of the Roman Empire, which segued into the Dark Ages, and cruise through everyday life, arts, church, Crusades, knights, and more.

It’s comprehensive!

Lastly, I liked the quality and variety. The reading text and audio suggestions are really good. You’re not reading from a dry textbooks. These are living books that help bring history to life!

And the projects are fun quality as well. Even though this is a downloadable/CD curriculum, these projects are more than your run of the mill, cut and paste worksheets. You make stick puppets, and postcards, and even 3D items (like a catapult). Like I said, fun!

My one and only complaint is that there is a lot of printing. One day, I’d love to see a pre-printed book option. 

Connect With Homeschool In The Woods

I hope you’ll take the time to check out Project Passport World History Study: Middle Ages, one of several history studies by Homeschool in the Woods. This is a wonderfully in depth, stand alone, period study, or it would be a great project-addition to any middle ages curriculum.

Be sure to follow Homeschool In The Woods of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.  Then, read what other reviewers had to say by clicking the image below:

Home School in the Woods Review