EASY & Fun Science for Ages 4-13 {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

My kids love science. They love Magic School House books and Cat in the Hat’s science books and any opportunity for hands-on science experiments/projects (usually NOT from mom :D). When the opportunity to review Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers from Funtastic Unit Studies was offered and I was researching it, I knew the kids would love it.  What I wasn’t prepared for, was how much *I* would love it.

science unit studies reivew elementary

About Funtastic Unit Studies

Funtastic Unit Studies is the website of a homeschooling mother who noticed that science is a subject that troubles many parents, either due to time or inclination (i.e. they don’t like it).  As a response, she wrote an easy to use science “curriculum” for ages PreK – 8.  Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers is available as a paperback book and contains 20 chapters of unit studies — 10 for ages 4-7 and 10 for ages 8-13.  You can view a sample lesson for ages 4-7 and ages 8-13, as well as a complete table of contents on her website.


How We Used Funtastic Unit Studies

For our review of this product, I took a look at the chapters and decided where to start.  For the most part, the chapters seem to be independent of each other, making it easy to skip around as desired.  Since the girls had JUST planted a garden, I decided to start us with plants (which happens to be the one you can also get for free for ages 4-7).

I looked through them and figured out how many activities we could realistically get through in a day before my 4 year old ran out of interest and then make a supply list.  I had the vast majority of the items but purchased some seeds and clay flower pots.


The plants chapter was broken up into 7 parts consisting of 23 activities, a VERY small amount of text for explaining things, and set of review questions.  I had set out to do all the activities.  You would not believe how hard it is to find bagged beans in summer.  I went to 3 stores and could not find them!  For real!   So I skipped those, but we had done them in the last year anyway, so I wasn’t terribly worried.  We will revisit it again, I’m sure.

There is some prep work required, but since my oldest is 7-1/2 she is pretty capable of helping me gather items and setting up workspaces AND working independently while I guide the 4 and 2 year olds.  Most of the activities were fairly quick so that we were able to do more than one a day — like making a veggie platter, or reading “The Tiny Seed.”   Others were more involved, like painting a flower pot.  They spent a good hour on that.  Outside!

We also worked on the insect unit.   It’s amazing how many activities come up on a unit just because it’s in the front of your brain.   The first insect unit activity was to look for bugs.  We turned over bricks in the yard, looked in the compost bin and found the beautiful spider web above while looking around the yard.  We found several like this actually, but the 2 year old stepped on at least one before I got a picture taken :).   We also made a spider snack and while it wasn’t on the list of activities, we began noticing cool bugs around the yard and even found the biggest dragonfly I’ve ever seen.  Until the boy scared it :).


Overall, we all really liked Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers.  It was slightly higher prep than I like, but that kind of comes with the hands-on science category, you know?  Nothing was hard to find (except the beans which SHOULDN’T have been!) and I picked up all of it at the bigger grocery store we go to.  The book was simple, but hit all the big points of the areas.  While the activities really help you go in depth, if you just can’t make it happen due to life circumstances, you can totally skip one as necessary.  Many topics are covered in both the older and younger chapters, but in different ways.

The kids LOVED the opportunities to go for walks and look for certain things (seeds, flowers, leaves, bugs, etc).  They were excited about watching things grow and because we are bookworms, we added many more books than the curriculum called for.  It’s what we do :).  For this age group, we have love the Cat in the Hat learning Library and the Magic School Bus books.  This book was a super relaxed way to do science with young children in a way that STICKS.  If science isn’t your thing, it’s a great way to do science that is easy for you, fun for them and not super stressful.   I really recommend it if you haven’t found a “curriculum” for science that your family enjoys.  We have found it to be our favorite science resource!

You can view other crew reviews of Funtastic Unit Studies here.

What are your favorite science read-aloud books?

Jen S.



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Stitch Fix REVEALED – Fix #1 – July 2015

Disclaimer:  This post contains referral links.  Thanks for your support!

So. I got my first fix on Wednesday. I may never go to a clothing store again. Seriously. If you are unfamiliar with StitchFix, for $20 a stylist will send you 5 pieces of clothing/accessories. They send you cards showing 2 different ways to style them & you can try them on with the items in your closet, in normal light, with the appropriate shoes. You have 3 days to try on & pay for or return the items.

Stitch Fix Revealed - July 2015

It’s higher end clothing so the full box will probably cost around $200 minimum, just as a ballpark. Mine was $186 & I selected as cheap as possible for accessories, and $50-100 for everything except outerwear, which I was willing to spend more on. Your $20 stylist fee goes toward anything you keep and if you keep it all, you get a 25% discount, which often makes one dud worth keeping.

You send them social media links & even set up a special Pinterest board to give them an idea of your style. And if you buy the whole box but have an item you don’t like or change your mind, there are FB boards dedicated to buying/selling SF items by size.

So, with that bit of detail out of the way, here is what was in my first box. I told them I needed some tops that look like I tried & are nursing friendly. And darker is better. And wash & wear please; no special laundry instructions.


Item: Kahlo Embroidered Solid Tank

Cost: $38
Verdict: LOVED this shirt. Wished I had realized that I am no longer a M. It was just too big & there wasn’t a small available. Great color for the shirt & embroidery. Just. Too. Big. And totally my fault for not paying enough attention to the fact that I’ve lost a bit of weight. Bah.



Item: Beckett V-Neck Blouse

Cost: $48
Verdict: Meh. Didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it. It’s also too big, but the fabric felt nice & it was not something I would have tried normally.


Mayfair Stone & Gem Necklace
Queensland Dolman Jersey Top
Haiden Straight Leg Jean

Cost: $48, $48 & $88 respectively
Verdict: Loved the outfit together, but I didn’t love the necklace enough to pay for it. I would have worn it if I kept the whole box, for sure.


Likes & Dislikes

At first I was bummed to see the dolman top because I’ve tried those on before & looked silly. I love the way this one looks. The color is great and it’s so soft.

The jeans fit fab! I’ve been wanting a pair like this, so I’m glad they came to me :). They will be great for the fall transition which will start sometime next week, right? Hubs wasn’t sure about the cuffs but wasn’t about to argue with fashion. Ha!

Overall, I really loved my StitchFix box. If I had paid attention to my actual size & didn’t just go with habit, I probably would have done a bit better. It’s probably better for my budget that I didn’t :D.

I also requested wash & wear and that didn’t really happen. 3 of 4 clothing items were hand wash, including the shirt I kept. I decided I liked it enough to add it to my limited hand wash pile (which goes in my front loader on hand wash) after deciding WHY it was probably hand wash only.

Nicer clothes = better care. Sigh. So much for lazy laundry!

BTW– I cut my head out of the pics for 3 reasons. First, my 7 year old daughter took the pics and some of them had funny angles. Or light. No idea what she did on #2 to light it up like that. Second, to show the clothing detail. Third, I had a greasy head from my dandruff scalp mask, which works fabulously, but I need to wash the oil out twice. And didn’t.

Think StitchFix sounds awesome? Go get your first fashion fix!

What did you think of the clothes?

Jen S.

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The Story of the Bible – New from TAN Homeschool!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

In the spring, TAN Homeschool (an imprint of the Catholic publisher TAN/Neumann Press/St. Benedict Press/etc) contacted me about helping them launch TAN Homeschool.  In addition to writing the occasional article for their new homeschool blog, they sent me several items from their new (edited reprint) of The Story of the Bible – Old Testament.  I received full version of the text, the audio CD’s, the test bank and the teacher’s guide as well as a sample of the video lectures and activity book.

Story of the Bible TAN Homeschool

I need to start by saying that I *LOVE* that this book has the Catholic viewpoint.  I never knew that there was a Catholic view point or what it was or how it was different from others.  Until I reviewed an Apologia science book that asserted dinosaurs were on the ark.  WHAT?!?   I kid you not.  And friends of ours totally buy into this too.  Can I just tell you how happy I was to read this in the first chapter,

…It divides up the whole work of His creation into six day. However, the word “day,” as used in the Bible, does not necessarily mean a period of twenty-four hours. Each of the “days” of creation may have been a long, long time…

…His purpose was to teach all people, everywhere and until the end of time, that all things were made by God, and without Him, there would be nothing.

Can I get an Amen?  Well, now that you know where MY biases lie, I will share more about The Story of the Bible.   The Story of the Bible BOOK is a text book intended for middle school students.  It is a trade paper back size book that is just text.  It’s broken up by headings, but it is simply text.  It’s suitable for a read-aloud for elementary students, which is how we have been using it, during our morning tea time.  You can listen to an audio sample of The Story of the Bible – Old Testament; it’s the text read word for word.

The purpose of using The Story of the Bible is to familiarize your student with the Bible and its stories, events and meanings from a Catholic perspective.  The audio CD’s, as well as the teacher’s guide and activity book, are geared for the younger student, from K-2nd or 3rd (in my opinion).  The audio CD’s are very well done and have pleasing musical interludes, sound effects and a narrator who does a great job of making the next interesting.


The teacher’s guide contains activities for the younger students that help bring home the messages in the text that may be a little over their heads.  It includes questions for review, narration activities (any CM folks will like this),  map activities (using the activity book), craft projects, science projects, snacks and more.  It even references all the applicable activity pages and their types so you know before you get it out.  The activity book is meant to be used by one student (i.e. you should not make copies), but since the activities range so widely from coloring pages &booklets, to maps, word searches and crossword puzzles, you could probably use one book for two students who are a few years apart, which is what I will do for my almost 5 & 7-1/2 year olds.


For the older students, there is a video lecture series, that is unfortunately, a little dry in my opinion.  The production value is high — it looks professional, but I can’t see it holding the attention of a middle school student.  You can watch a sample of The Story of the Bible video lecture series at the TAN Homeschool page. In addition, there is a test book that you can use to test student’s comprehension of the contents.  Like the activity book, this does not provide rights for making copies so you will want one for each student who will use it.


The Story of the Bible was originally written in 1931 and has been revised and expanded to two books — Old Testament and New Testament.  The Old Testament has 22 chapters and the New Testament text has 23.  Right now, you can only get text, audio CD’s and test books.  The complete kit, as well as the activity book, teacher’s guide, and video series are on pre-order.   I have to let you know that I think these materials are super high quality. So high quality that even though I received some of the Old Testament materials for free, I pre-ordered the OT Activity book AND the entire New Testament kit.   When it arrives, I will even post a pic :).

If you have been searching for a good Bible course for your Catholic one-room schoolhouse, The Story of the Bible is a fabulous pick!  It includes resources appropriate from Kindergarten through Middle School using one text.  You can preorder yours from TAN Homeschool and if you sign up for their mailing list, you will get a coupon for 30% off your first order — look for the banner that says “Sign up Your School and Save!” in the upper right hand corner.


What are your favorite Catholic texts for homeschooling?

Jen S.


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Stitch-Fix Unboxing Video – July 2015

Disclaimer: This post contains referral links.  Thanks for helping with my shopping habit ;).

StitchFix Unboxing - July 2015

I got my first Fix today and I share the unboxing in a video with my lovely assistant :).  After making this video she was super excited to have a box of clothes come and do one of her own!

If you’ve ever wanted to know what was in a StitchFix box or how it works, take a look at this video.  I will be sharing my final thoughts and decisions about each piece next week.


Jen S.

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A Comprehensive Bible with References from the Catholic Catechism and more!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support!

If you read CatholicMom.com, you may have seen my love for the new Didache Bible (NSRV). If not, no worries. The Midwest Theological Forum sent me a copy of the NABRE version of the Didache bible, too.

Didache Review at Happy Little Homemaker

The NABRE edition of The Didache Bible has all the features I adored in the NSRV:

  • Hardcover
  • Ribbons for marking pages for easy reading
  • A summary of the content in each book of the bible
  • Chronologies of the old & New Testament
  • 20+ Full color maps
  • The APOLOGETICS PAGES (yes, they deserve all caps. I will not apologize.)
  • Indexes of said apologetics pages by subject and title
  • References to the biblical text as it relates to the catechism of the Catholic Church
  • References from dozens of other church documents & encyclicals

Didache Bible Maps

Before I get too carried away with my (type A) methodical stats & features, let me tell you why I love The Didache Bible.

I am a mom. Of littles. And a book worm. The kind of person who actually considered getting a dozen divergent associate degrees because there were so many interesting things to learn.

Do you see the problem?

Small children are intensely needy. This is not the season of my life for in-depth bible studies or outside classes. Heck, I am just trying to remember to pray and be thankful on a regular basis and read more than the Sunday mass readings!

NABRE Features

I love that one single book contains everything I need to dig deep into God’s work without me having to have a table and extra books. The NABRE version has two features that help you dig a little deeper that the NSRV doesn’t.

Scriptural references

Certain passages in the bible (a verse about Noah & the flood, for example), are mentioned in other places. In the example above, it’s mentioned in the books of Job, Matthew, and 2 Peter. The scriptural references tell you where to find them all.

Didache Version Comparison

Footnotes from the NAB

I happen to have a copy of the NAB (St. Joseph edition). It’s not the revised edition, but I was able to make a few comparisons. The introductory material for the old & new testaments as well as each book are included and are formatted much better than in mine. The footnotes are also there, but there are equally as many additions as deletions. I’m guessing those are due to my having the NAB and this being the NABRE.

In some cases there are also additional footnotes relating to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and their biblical significance or origin.

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Which to pick?

If you are in need of a new bible (or even if you aren’t ;D), I would totally recommend the Didache bible. But which version?


Both are authentically Catholic Bibles. The NABRE translation is owned by the USCCB, making it ideal for keeping up with the bible readings. The NSRV translation is owned by Ignatius & is in a more conversational tone. Both translations of the bible itself hold the imprimatur & nihil obstat, ensuring that it’s suitable for use by faithful Catholics.

Each edition has pros and cons.

NSRV pros

– easy to understand wording
– smaller

Didache Features

NABRE pros

– more information about books
– additional references to the Catechism and church documents
– scriptural cross-references
– same translation as lectionary (Mass readings)

In summary, The Didache Bible is my favorite bible. I have looked at dozens of bibles, both Protestant and Catholic. For extra study, history, and the fullness of Catholic teaching, The Didache Bible is a fabulous resource. Honestly, if you only have one bible in your home, I would pick this one.

Which translation would you pick?

Jen S.

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