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Monarch Bible 400 Review

We have been homeschooling for over six years now, but I certainly have not been able to try out all the amazing resources available for homeschoolers. So, I was pleased when I recently got a chance to review one item from Alpha Omega Publications Homeschool Division. I looked around at what they had to offer and honestly, it was overwhelming. So, I decided to try to find something that I felt was lacking in my homeschool for Em for this year. I had planned to do most of her coursework with books this year, and I felt that she was not as “into” her current bible work as she had been in the past. So I decided to shake things up and try to make bible time more fun for her and chose the Monarch online product Monarch 4th Grade Bible.

Monarch Online Curriculum


So what is Monarch? Well, Monarch itself is a Christian online homeschool curriculum for grades 3-12. You’ll really need a high speed internet connection and Mac or PC. You can use this 24/7, and you can choose from doing all core subjects plus electives or just pick and choose some courses. So, I chose to try this 4th grade bible course, which retails for $99.95 and is a license for 18 months. One of the pluses about Monarch is that it includes automated lesson plans and grading.

To begin, I want to share how Monarch actually works, rather than the content of our particular course (I’ll do that next). Here is a bit of a journal of how our experience is going:

We actually began the course on August 6, 2014. I logged into the system using google chrome on PC, set up the “teacher” (me) and signed up for a training the following week. I skimmed the teacher guide, which is available as a PDF. They also offer a student guide in PDF format. So far, I did not really mess with any settings, except to begin. I did find a teacher section where you can email our student so I started off with a simple email.

monarch online homeschool software

I then created a student and added a password. On August 7th, Em began her first lesson. She loved having her own dashboard online and password. I told her to just click around and explore. She promptly skimmed around her dashboard and found the “Spelling Bee” section. She was excited and then went from Spelling Bee to Vocabulocity. She asked “Why didn’t you get me more classes?”

monarch online homeschool software

She then did two days lessons. She seems to be doing okay, and all the settings are pretty much the default setting for grading as she works. As I watch her, I see she is going too quickly, in my opinion and I mention to her to slow down and take it seriously.

She finishes. I go in and run a report of work completed. She gets an 80 and a 60. She is really upset. We talk about how this online work is work and not just a game. She begins going more slowly and paying attention. I think we both pay a bit more attention! I then go in a change settings a bit to allow for more chances to get a question right and go to easier grading scale. I’ll watch her a while and then toughen up again, I’m thinking. I do find it hard to get used to the teacher dashboard, but I need more practice. They give enough help, I think, but you need to sit down and learn the system to really make use of it.

The first two lessons themselves seemed very good. She is used to the NIV version on the Bible and this is set for King James, but I’m okay with that.

I write down a question to see why I can get so many backgrounds in the teacher account, but the student one doesn’t have as many. I want the “girls room” one for Bem’s account… and then I wait for my online training.

When I did the training, I worked with Martie Hawkins, and she was wonderful. We went through a Getting Started powerpoint, and I really recommend doing this, I learned more about the dashboard and curriculum features. I learned more about the dashboard widgets and found out that we could have lessons read to us and that we could choose our own Bible version, and that we could print from the readings. Some other “teacher” stuff I learned from the training included how to block a unit test until ready and how to send problems back to rework.

I learned more about how to set field trips, so work is reassigned and also how to reschedule after the fact, as in a sick day. One of my favorite features of Monarch is how you can log in wherever you are. As far as records, Monarch gives you access to print your students work for 7 years, for say, a portfolio or transcript. They do have a monthly plan/subscription service as well.

I really feel like the webinar training is worth doing. Also, you can see videos online on the AOP site about how Monarch actually works.

Here is my teacher dashboard main screen:

monarch online homeschool software

Okay, I guess I should share about the actual coursework now.  Bible 400 is a study on both the Old and New Testaments. The course discusses Peter and Paul (Saul) specifically. Through the discussions and readings, students learn about the existence of God, Bible study methods, Psalm 23, Old Testament geography, and Christian witnessing.

The actual lessons themselves seem very biblically sound so far, and the use of all kinds of media keeps Em engaged and interested. Whenever she is a bit tired of whatever she’s doing, she can click over a play a game or do some vocabulary that reinforces her lesson, but changes things up a bit. The content includes movie clips, games, audio clips and web links.

In the first lesson Em did, Bible 400, she began with an adorable little vocabulary section with cute singing bees. Seriously. She then did a “read this” section which had a story with scripture and then a verse to memorize. I noticed the lesson format varies, say a reading, a video here and there, then a game or two, then a quick quiz, often 10 to 20 questions as the daily work. Quizzes can be true/false, multiple choice or even putting Biblical events in chronological order. I love the approach of mixing it up and keeping it fresh. There is also a dashboard section where kids can do several games and/or flashcards at any time (unless you have it set otherwise). Every unit includes projects which you can pick and choose from, with assignments like writing a letter and all kinds of project ideas.

As far as look and sound in a typical lesson, the only improvements I would make would be to get the voices a little bit more engaging-the reader voices for passages are adults and not silly, which may be preferred by some because it is serious reading, yet my daughter loved the little bee voices and I’m wondering if they couldn’t use more fun voices for the more serious things as well…Yes, I told her I’d tell the creators. When I asked her for her input for the company she did request “they add more characters like the Spelling Bees, and add more games and maybe make it so you can win coins.” Okay, so maybe my daughter has too much internet time!

Overall, I have been impressed. And I say that with all honesty. I have tried to be very honest in my reviewing, as I know people will spend hard earned money on these items and I wanted to point out any negatives as well as the positives. For our homeschool, I like to use an eclectic approach with what types of curriculum I use, usually a mix of books and internet options, sprinkled with delight directed option and field trips. That works best for us so far. But, if you like a consistent online approach where you grade and lead, Monarch is available for all core subjects.

The content in Bible 400 seems good for a 4th grader. The interactive lessons are a good length without being overwhelming. You can set up how long you want the course to take, which gives you the ability to match your students’ needs. You can control everything about the course (besides the content) from the teacher dashboard. You can choose grading scales, and which lessons your student needs to complete. You can skip a test or add a project. Everything loads quickly, there are various media methods used to engage a student. The student dashboard is very intuitive and responsive.

Find Alpha Omega Publications on Facebook  Alpha Omega Publications Homeschool Division

On Google+

Disclaimer: I did receive Monarch Bible 400 Online to try out and review. I have given my opinion.



Looks like I know where I will be this Friday. Dolphin Tale 2 is coming out and there is a homeschool day…Friday September 12th! Honestly, I really enjoyed the first Dolphin Tale movie and my daughter thought it was the most fascinating story ever. The first movie led us to do a delight directed unit study on Dolphins and she is still begging me to take her to Clearwater Aquarium, which I really want to do someday.

While sequels usually don’t live up the original movie in my opinion, I am really hopeful this will be a good movie. In looking at the preview, I’d say it will be an upbeat, exciting movie, especially for kids but a pleasant view for adults as well. Take a look:

As I mentioned, when the first Dolphin Tale movie came out, my daughter was very interested in Winter and all Dolphins. We watched many videos and looked at everything the aquarium had uploaded, including watching Winter via a webcam. It was a neat learning opportunity.

This time around, there are even more learning resources. Take a look at Dolphin Tale 2 on the Homeschool Movie Club Site They have a page specifically designated for curriculum with videos and lesson plans. The videos are created by the Aquarium Director, who is also a homeschool Dad. He is very clear and understandable and I learned a bunch just previewing these videos! There are also printable, color PDF files with lessons, hands-on activities and worksheets.

Whether you are a homeschooling or public schooling parent, I really recommend checking these out. Even a busy child would love to watch the videos. You can access everything for free.

If you want to get super into it—or your child does—there is also a curriculum offered on the page by Classical Conversations. This PDF is over 60 pages long, and is a very in-depth study related to Winter, marine animals and the ocean. I have saved the file myself and plan to use much of it as it looks fantastic and well researched.

In honor of Dolphin Tale 2 and Homeschool Day WIN a fun pack for kids that includes a t-shirt and 1 pair of sunglasses!

dolphin tale tshirtdolphin tale glasses

To enter, just leave me a comment!

Group Resource Website:

Official Movie Website:


Twitter: @dolphintale

#DolphinTale2 #HomeschoolDay2014 & #WinterHasHope



“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”



reading resource games

Games make everything more fun!

This Summer has been full of marvelous DOWN time. Aside from cleaning out our school closet and organizing all the paperwork, I have done no official school. Truly, I need the break.

Still, the learning continues. It is funny to see the kids accidentally learning. I find Nick engrossed in Popular Science magazines and Emma pulling out her All About Spelling Board and Science coloring books.  I guess Summer is our delight directed learning time!

With these things in my mind, I jumped at the chance to review a new reading resource from All About Learning Press. This is a full-color supplemental game book, Adventures In Reading with the ZigZag Zebra.

ziggy_supplement_cover__98503_stdEmma first met Ziggy as we used All About Reading (AAR) and All About Spelling (AAS) when she was younger. I continue to use these programs and she really enjoys them. I get no fussing when it is time to do spelling, and the child adores reading.

Anyway, I think my daughter may enjoy using manipulatives much more than I originally thought, as evidenced by how much she likes using the AAS. She loves the magnets and the cards, and the stickers and reward sheets are an extra nice touch.

When using portions of AAR, I feel the artwork is fantastic. I like the hardback books and the obvious dedication to quality. And, on top of all that, the underlying approach to teaching really works.

Can you tell I really like this curriculum?

Well, like I said, when I saw that the company had released a new fun product to go with AAR, I figured it would be good.

And I was not disappointed!

The creativity of some people just amazes me. I got a bright and colorful book of file folder games. There are nine games altogether. Each of the games reinforces skills taught in Level 1 of All About Reading. The games help kids:

“practice important concepts like blending, counting syllables, and recognizing vowels and consonants, and they will have ample opportunity to review the Phonogram and Word Cards from the All About Reading program.”

My daughter and I had a blast cutting out and “creating” our games. The directions are so simple and detailed, I appreciate that. The games are so colorful and truly fun.

making the AAR ziggy game 3

Working so hard! I love her “concentrating” face:)

The more I teach the more I value the things that actually make learning fun and exciting, not just one more chore.

While each of these games goes with a particular lesson, you can also play them just for review and for pleasure. In fact, my daughter is seven, and I was really worried she would be bored by the games because she already does read and is pretty advanced.

making the AAR ziggygame 2

You could also do these yourself and surprise your littles


placing the game parts together

everything has been carefully thought out. All pieces are included and easy to put together

pieces all fit inside folder

pieces fit inside front pocket

i love the game setup

you cannot lose the directions

But, games are great for kids and these were perfect for her. Because of her age, she was able to really participate in cutting and pasting and creating the games and she thinks Ziggy is “awesome”, so overall this was just a good experience for her.

And, she is learning all through the Summer of her own free will!

big brother plays game with em

older siblings help more when it is a game:)

What a great way to make learning fun for your child and yourself. I am already in line for the next one!

Some of the things I really like about Adventures In Reading with the ZigZag Zebra:

  • The price is great for nine (9) games, with each game having a real purpose.
  • Each game reinforces learning. All About Learning Press shares exactly what the kids are learning with each game. (You can see that here)
  • The quality of the games, the paper, the artwork is excellent
  • The pages are perforated for easy removal
  • The directions are super clear, and all pieces are included
  •  The games clean up and store well: you can store the instructions and game pieces in the front pocket provided in the book.
  • The games even have an overall theme of Ziggy traveling the world: you could tie this in with your geography.
  • The mascot, Ziggy, is adorable. My daughter loves this one.

Overall, I think this is a winner. For $19.99 you can add some fun into your Fall schedule with very little work. (in fact, your older kids can easily do any setup)

I also just have to share an old video of when Emma first got a AAR reader:

If you have not tried All About Spelling and All About Reading, I recommend those curriculums so much. They have just worked so well for us. I have to say, this is a subject I put very little time into with great results. Click the link below to find out more:

*I did receive the file folder games for free for my review. I am also an affiliate for All About Learning Press, so if you make a purchase from my links, I will get a bit of money. By all means, please do use my links if you purchase! But seriously, I do like this company very much and am proud to share about it.

**This book is sold separately from other materials in the All About Reading program.

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Our Curriculum To Reflect Spring Semester Updates–2012

As I finished up our Fall Schedule and did grades for my two that I homeschool, I realized I have changed some things up, and added some curriculum I like. So, here is a list of what we are doing for the next few months:

11th Grade Curriculum, Nick

  • Bible: Deeper Roots, Discovering a Christlike Character
  • History: Illuminations, Mystery of History 2 (Renaissance) also some US Govt.
  • Geography: A mix of Illuminations Geography
  • English: Excellence in Literature, Intro to Literature, Institute for Excellence in Writing, Student Writing Intensive, C
  • Math: Geometry
  • Science: Apologia, Exploring Creation with Chemistry
  • Elective: College Prep Genius
  • Health Elective: Vintage Remedies
  • French, Easy French
  • Computer Science:
  • Physical Education: winter sports, skiing
  • Driving Course

1st Grade Curriculum, Emma

  • History: Illuminations, Mystery of History 2
  • Bible: Little Keepers of the Home
  • English: All About Spelling, level 1, First Language Lessons, Penmanship
  • Math: Math Mammoth 1-B, Life of Fred, Butterflies
  • Science: Real Science for Kids, Chemistry, Pre-level 1
  • Latin: Song School Latin, French
  • Physical Education: Soccer
  • Choir

I haven’t taken the time to link all these (as I am teaching, haha!) But, on my homeschool page I do have some linked if you are curious…and I have done some reviews on many of these (just use the search bar to the right). Otherwise, if you have a question about any of this curriculum, leave me a comment!

Also, please do let me know if you are using any of these as well for similar ages. That would be fun to see how things are working for you, too!


Right away, I would like to say J’adore Francais. I do! I took French in high school and several years in college. I loved every minute of my French courses. I hope my professor, Beth Nott, knew that. The sound of the French language is just so beautiful to me.

As my children began taking languages I was hoping to live vicariously they would enjoy their language experiences as well. So far, everyone has had some exploratory French and Spanish. Em has had some beginning Latin as well. Some people might say, it is unusual to use French, compared to Spanish, but I disagree. Right now, my eldest son is living in the Caribbean, where he does use his French. On top of that, from a Christian perspective, I find it interesting that French is spoken in many parts of the world that are fertile mission fields.

When I heard about Le Francais Facile, I was very interested and wanted to review it. I did ask my children for their opinions on taking French, because Em is also doing Latin and Nick is working on some Spanish. I downloaded some samples of the first few units from The Great Commission Languages (GLC). As we worked through these, my children were so interested and really wanted to move forward with French, so I asked to review the level 1A (the older version) so that Nick could work on getting his high school language credits. I did read that you could use the Level 1A with younger children, you would just need to go more slowly. (As an aside, I loved the junior level samples and would prefer those for Em if I had just a little one!)

GLC is the creation of Marie Filion Sherwood and Peter Sherwood.  They are homeschooling parents themselves, and Marie is French Canadian. The program offers both French and Spanish lessons and does have a Christian perspective, in that GLC desires to teach languages in order to spread the gospel and the lessons options include scripture memorization.

Great Commission Languages - Easy French Level 1AI got the level 1A complete student curriculum, including a data cd with all answers (for me) an audio cd with tons of stories, test booklet, answer key, and phonogram cards.

Check out French samples.

The basic teaching approach includes introducing vocabulary through stories on the CD with a French weave, where English and French are used together, so that students can infer and learn naturally.

There are 18 unit lessons and

Each Lesson includes the following portions:

  • Listening to a French story (with a bit of English woven in to increase comprehension)
  • Vocabulary (reinforces above storyline)
  • Student helps
  • Scripture memory work
  • Cultural notes
  • Trivia
  • Everyday Vocabulary (i.e, Chapter 1 includes days of the week)
  • Activity (follow up with grid for week long lesson plans and Phonogram work)

In the Activity portion, there is a lesson planner grid, which breaks down what needs to be accomplished by your older student. Honestly, I found this very helpful, yet my student kept coming back for help. I think the concept of rolling vocabulary and culture and grammar into one is very good. But we kept coming back to the fact that the grammar portions made no sense to Nick. This took extra time for us—yes, grammar will get you, no matter what language! I do think it was clearly presented in the lessons, but this may be something your child needs help with, while the vocabulary is fun and easy to master.

You should use this daily, so the child becomes familiar with the sounds of the language.

Some things I loved about the curriculum:

  • So all inclusive! I like listening to the stories on cd and being able to hand my child his book to do the work—no printing out tons of things.
  • I like having the “official” tests. Taking these out means business!
  • The curriculum really has a “voice” the stories are entertaining and the voices are gentle and pleasant.
  • Can use with many ages
  • you do not have to know French to teach!
  • The trivia sections are teaching me tons of little cultural things.

Le Français Facile! Level IA retails for $84.95. Go check this out—whether you are a homeschooler, teaching languages, or just someone who wants to learn French!

See what my crewmates have to say about The Great Commission Languages

Great Commision Languages - 2011 Practical Homeschooling Reader Award


I received  Le Francais Facile, Level 1A through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.


Are you looking to complete your homeschool curriculum for this upcoming year?

I’m in the midst of figuring out exactly what we want to do…it is hard to not overwork my kids, there is so much great curriculum out here!

Anyway, I have more than I need and maybe something here is just what you need to round out your year. So, FOR SALE!

My paypal email is: Shipping is not included. I will ship media mail.

FOR SALE, High/Jr High

  • Exploring Creation with Physical Science. 2nd. edition. Fair condition. Does have some writing, highlighting. Beat up a bit. Will be heavy to ship, add media mail shipping. $65 new, asking $30 plus shipping

Text only.

Text only.

locPositive Action For Christ, The Life of Christ. Includes Teachers Manual hardback binder, Full Color Students Manual softcover, Transparency CD. Retails 42.95 for Teacher manual/binder, 18.95 for student book. Asking $30 for both. NOTE: the first 3 student lessons have been written in).

  • simply draw Simply Draw with Bob Parsons. In hardback binder, does not include dvd-that went missing:( Retails $37.50 on sale. Asking $15 in great shape, the careful child used this!
  • Set of Nine Stories From History Graphic Novels. Retails $6.99 each ($72) Asking $15
  • vocabaheadVocabAhead, SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons, Videos and Mp3s. Softcvr. Retail $12.95. Asking $5

For Elementary:

  • all togetherScott Foresman Social Studies, All Together, K-1 curriculum. Hardbk. new. Retails $43.47. Asking $15


  • Set of 4 Computer Video Games (work on pc/mac) for children– Elmo’s World, Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom, Dora’s Lost and Found Adventure, Go Diego Go’s Great Dinosaur Rescue and Safari Rescue. Retail from 16-20 each. Asking $10 for all 4.

I am also listing the curriculum I need for the upcoming year. If you have any of these and are willing to do a trade on something, I am interested, email me and maybe we can work something out:

High School:

  • Easy Grammar Plus. Nick’s testing results from this year in Grammar…necessitate this one!
  • Mystery of History Volume 2 (I’ll be using Illuminations, of course:) I have some $ saved from being an affiliate, but I really want to purchase Illuminations downloads for High School and Elementary and purchase MOH2.
  • An easy Spanish book/wkbook. Nick has done all sorts of “bits” of language, mainly online. We need to get serious without using too much of his energy on this

My Elementary One:

  • Math U See Alpha

Gosh, I need a lot to do what I’m thinking! Can you tell I’m a procrastinator? My husband and I were brainstorming today and finally…um…finalized what all I really want. So there it is:) Come September 1st, I WILL be ready, Haha!

Curriculum 2011-2012
Not Back to School Blog Hop

11th Grade Curriculum, Nick

1st Grade Curriculum, Emma

Additional Resources to include: The ADDitude magazine, The OldSchoolhouse Magazine & Resources, Nutrition 101, Keys for Kids, Educating the WholeHearted Child — Third Edition

*Subject to change and evolve:)

* I have included affiliate links when I could.

Wordy Querty Review

Heather —  May 20, 2011

Wordy Querty supports reading and writing fluency for young readers, through fun computer gaming. The software is a part of the Talking Fingers program.

Although Wordy Querty was new to us, I am familiar with the Talking Fingers website and program, as we have used Read, Write & Type, the first component of the program, for a bit over a year now. My daughter enjoys working with that program. You can read my Read, Write & Type review to find out more about that level of Talking Fingers.

As we like RW&T, I was pleased to try out Wordy Querty. We played the games (lessons) online and it was easy to just go online and login. The program picks up where RW&T ends and offers 20 lessons, with 6 activities per lesson. The lessons are based upon developing reading fluency in students ages 7-10, by understanding and using these core concepts:

  1. Some sounds can be represented in several different ways.
  2. Most words follow about 20 easy spelling rules.
  3. There are many word families, (words that sound the same, or rhyme). By changing the first letter(s), you can make hundreds of words.
  4. Some words are “outlaws”. They don’t follow the rules. They must be recognized quickly and automatically.
  5. Writing to dictation develops vocabulary, comprehension and fluency as well as spelling skills.
  6. Reading (and filling in missing words) develops vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency skills.

There are six types of games and then the overall “game” in which the kids eventually complete a music machine with the help of their friendly robots.

Take a look at the website to see the games and how each one improves reading fluency. My favorite was the Recycler, but Em likes the Pop-a-Word best.

The Recycler:

I thought the games were great, silly and useful and colorful….and I was disappointed that at times they were too challenging for my little one. However, she is not at the recommended age level, so I suppose that could have been expected.

I will definitely continue to let her play the games she enjoys as we finish up RW&T. I do think Wordy Querty is a great way to let kids play around with spelling and just become more familiar with how words work in a fun way. Parents may enjoy the fact that students can work on this completely independently.

If you have a beginning reader—whether a quick or slow learner—this may be a great way to improve their reading and spelling fluency through a bit of daily gaming! I think the price is very reasonable with Wordy Qwerty available as an online subscription of $25 for one subscription, or $35 for the Home CD version. There are other pricing options, see here.

Curious? You can try out an online demo. Also, you can save 20% by signing up for their email newsletter.

See what my crewmates have to say about Wordy Querty.

I received an online subscription to Wordy Querty through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.