The Writing in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School Review


I have been using The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition, $45, from Writing with Sharon Watson with my 10th grade son. The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School is a homeschool writing program for students in grades 9-12. It can be completed in 1, 2, or 3 years by following the instructions in the teachers manual, $20. You can view samples of both the student book and the teachers manual on the website linked above.


Sharon Watson homeschooled for 18 years. She taught several subjects to other homeschoolers during that time period, led a homeschool group, and started an educational homeschool group. She has several homeschool writing courses available on her website for both middle school and high school.



Writing with Sharon Watson Review



Three years ago, I reviewed the first edition of The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School.


What’s different between the 1st edition and the 2nd? The 2nd edition includes:

  • Newly numbered lessons to easily keep track of daily work
  • Students learn common grammar mistakes (7 lessons).
  • The emotional appeal speech is shorter and easier to understand.
  • Students can look up items in the new index.
  • Specific grading grids in the Teacher’s Guide make grading essays a lot easier
  • The chapter on the old SAT essay has been removed. There is a link to the content of this chapter on the website.


Power in Your Hands Student Textbook



The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School features 23 student directed lessons with little to no prep for the teacher. There are 117 suggested daily lessons, with complete instructions for 21 essays, reports, articles, and narratives. This course begins with composition basics so it can be used with beginning writers, as well as more experienced writers.


In this high school writing course, students will learn brainstorming, how to organize their thoughts, use appropriate point orders, citing sources, introduction and conclusion know-how, proofreading, writing for a specific audience, and much more. There are many references in the back of the book the student book. Some of these are Be Your Own Editor, Paragraph Essentials, Do List for Persuasion, Don’t List for Persuasion, How to Write a How-To, and nine more.


The lessons vary in size , but always include at least a page or two of instruction for the student to read. The student does not write a complete essay in each lesson, especially in the beginning. While they are learning how to write non-fiction, the student will start with brainstorming, how to put their ideas in order, writing questions and statements, and more leading the student learning how to write a complete essay.


I like that the essay assignments include a writing checklist for the student. These checklists tell the student what they need to make sure they completed and what they will be graded on. This encourages the student to proofread their own work before turning in in to the teacher to be graded.


Writing with Sharon Watson Review



One of the hardest parts about teaching high school writing is the grading. Grading writing can be so subjective. And of course, we think what our beloved students write is brilliant. I love that the Teachers manual has a grading grid for each essay that is easy to use.  You can see one of the the grading grids below. The grading grids are the only pages in the high school writing course that can be copied. These pages can be copied for each of the students in your homeschool, classroom, or co-op class.


Writing with Sharon Watson


I really like that there is room for the teacher to write comments, then give the page to the student. The student can plainly see how their essay was graded. I think this helps the student to take constructive criticism of something so personal as their writing. They can easily see what they did good at, and what they need to improve on. Without thinking that Mom is being too picky.


The one thing I wish the teachers manual included was some guidance on giving high school credit. Especially for those that take 2-3 years to complete the course.


Overall, The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School is a great home school high school writing course that will prepare your student for writing in high school and college.



Writing with Sharon Watson Review

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ArtAchieve Homeschool Art Curriculum Review


My 15 year old, 10th grade son has recently shown an interest in art.  I was pleased to receive the homeschool art curriculum, ArtAchieve to use with him and review. He has been working through the lessons in the Entire Level I bundle. The purchase of the Entire Level I gives access to the art lessons on the website for 1 year. Each lesson can be purchased individually for $4. Purchasing the Entire Level 1 bundle for $27 makes each lesson only $3. There are two lessons on the website that are free so you can try them out.


Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review


There are three levels of ArtAchieve lessons. They do no correspond to grade level. If students are new to drawing, they should start with level 1 regardless of their age, kindergarten to adult. The lessons are inspired by art from around the world.


There is a Tips for Teachers page on the ArtAchieve website that is very helpful. The tips are geared towards parents/teachers that have not taught art before. There is a list of supplies needed on the website. The list does not say which level needs which supplies. I wish the list told you what supplies were needed for each lesson. It would make it so much easier to have everything ready for the student when they start each lesson. Each lesson does have a list of the supplies needed in the lesson introduction. You have to open each lesson to see what supplies are needed in order to purchase supplies ahead of time, however.


Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review


Level 1 has 11 lessons, with Lesson 1 having 3 parts. Each lesson will take almost an hour. Depending on age and skill level, it may take less time. In the introduction for each lesson there is a break down of the time needed to complete each section. Lessons do not have to be completed all at once.  A student can do a lesson over several days if that works out best for them. The student can work at their own pace. One lesson a week, or one lesson a day.


Since I have a high schooler and always need to know this, Level 1 is not enough work to award any high school credits. I have not looked at the other levels in depth, and I can not find this information on the website, but it is possible that there is enough work in all the levels to earn at least a 1/2 credit, possibly a full credit.



ArtAchieve Homeschool Art Curriculum Review


My son has been averaging one lesson a week. He enjoys the lessons. He likes that the lessons instruct him to listen to music while going through the lessons.  Listening to music helps students work in silence and promotes the visual thinking that drawing requires. The video lessons are slide shows with the instructions on the screen. The pictures are bright, colorful, and the step by step instructions are easy to understand. Each lesson has 1 or more pages that you need to print out. I suggest printing them all at once. It’s easier than having to print the pages every time they start a lesson. The pages are not labeled with lesson numbers. I wrote the lesson numbers on as I printed them out. It kept my son from spreading all the pages out trying to find what he was looking for.


An added bonus to this homeschool art curriculum is the Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections. These suggestions are for social studies, writing, literature, and science. These suggestions feature ideas, books lists, and linked websites to help the student learn more about what they are drawing. We did not use very many of these to supplement the art curriculum. To me, they seem geared towards younger kids, not high school students.


Here are a few examples of the printables for the Entire Level 1 drawing lessons. This first page is an example of the warm up activity that is available for each lesson. Boxes have printed lines that students have to copy into empty boxes. This activity gets them used to make the curved lines, for example, that they will be using in their drawings for this lesson. My son likes to keep his art close and not share it with very many people. He gave me permission to share these pages.


Zach Art Drawing


On this page, my son had to draw lines to decorate the bugs. He drew an extra one in the corner just because he wanted to. lol He chose to keep everything as a drawing, and not color them in. He has been concentrating on the drawing.


Zach Art Drawing


My son decided on his own to draw a large bug on the back of this page. He did pretty good. He ran out of room on the paper to make the right wing full size,though.


Zach Art Drawing


One of the drawing lessons had the students learn how to draw a cube. It’s a little hard to see in this scan of the actual drawing, but if you look closely, you can see the cube and it’s shadow.


Zach Art Drawing



My son, and I, have been very pleased with ArtAchieve Homeschool Art Curriculum. I look forward to looking at many more of his drawings. I can not draw. Like not at all. Not even a straight line. The lessons make learning to draw look easy. If I can find the time, I might try these lessons for myself!


To see what other homeschool families have to say about ArtAchieve, click the graphic below.


Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review



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Laurelwood Books Men of Honor and Women of Grace Review


Men of Honor and Women of Grace from the Scripture Scribes series from Laurelwood Books is the perfect homeschool penmanship book to improve handwriting. My son had just been talking about how bad his handwriting is when I received this handwriting book to review. Perfect timing!


The people behind Laurelwood Books have been homeschooling for 25 years. The same amount of time that I have been homeschooling! They sell curriculum, books, cds, dvds, and more on their website. They also sell used books and curriculum.



Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}


The Scripture Scribes series features four books, covering penmanship for 1st through 12th grades. Scripture Scribes Volume 1 Men of Honor and Women of Grace, $19.95 is recommended for Grades 7-12. It is consumable and should be used with only one student. I have been using Men of Honor Women of Grace with my 15 year old son, who will be in the 10th grade in the fall.


Words for Men of Honor and Women of Grace has 22 Lessons. All the lessons are centered around a character trait. The 22 character traits used for the lessons are honor, mercy, compassion, love, justice, grace, joy, peace, truth, long-suffering, faith, hope, honesty, trust, patience, humility, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, loyalty, diligence, and purity.


Each lesson has an introduction page with a dictionary definition and a Biblical definition of the character trait. This introduction page is followed by 12-13 quotes and scriptures to trace and copy. The quotes and scriptures explain and reinforce the character trait. The quotes and scriptures are written in dotted line cursive for the student to trace. Below that, there are handwriting lines for the student to write the quote or scripture themselves. There are enough lines for the student to write each quote or scripture one time.


Laurelwood Books Men of Honor Women of Grace Review


Also included in the Men of Honor Women of Grace are several pages discussing the development of the scriptures, Bible translation and copying. They are not long, but do include black and white drawings and samples.


The book contains no suggestions for how many lessons should be done a week. You will have to decide how much time you want your student to work on the copywork every day. Men of Honor Women of Grace could easily be finished in one quarter. If you go at a more leisurely pace, you could complete this book in two quarters, or one semester. On the high school level, there would be no credits earned for completing this course, in my opinion.


I started out having my son do 2 lessons a week.  He prefers working at a more leisurely pace of one lesson a week, though.


Men of Honor Women of Grace


In the picture above, you can see what one of the pages with quotes and scriptures on the left. On the right, you can see one of the character traits introduction page with the dictionary definition and the Biblical definition of that trait.


Looking back to lesson one and comparing it to where he is now in the book, I can see a definite improvement in my son’s handwriting.


Usually, practicing penmanship is a boring, mind numbing activity. I love that my son has scriptures and great quotes to think about while he is doing this copywork.


To see what other homeschoolers have to say about Men of Hone Women of Grace and the other books in the Scripture Scribe series, click the graphic below.

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

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Progeny Press Great Expectations E-Guide Review


Progeny Press makes studying great literature easy with their Great Expectations E-Guide.  I received the Great Expectations E-Guide to review as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. This e-guide is for high school students in grade 9-12. I had my 10th grade son read Great Expectations and use this e-guide.



Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}



Progeny Press e-guides are interactive study guides that are in pdf form. I was able to download the e-guide and open it on my computer with no problems. The guide is printable. I printed the whole guide for my son. The new interactive study guides can be opened with Adobe Acrobat Reader 9.0+. The student can then enter their answers to the questions right onto the pdf. The student saves their work to the computer as they work through the study guide. This is an great option for those that don’t have printers, or prefer to do the work on the computer.


The student section of the Great Expectations Study Guide is 72 pages, plus the cover picture. You are able to print out as many copies as you need to use in your homeschool. It is recommended that the student have a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a Bible available to use with this study guide. Internet access and encyclopedias would be a help to the student as well, but aren’t necessary.


Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}


The Great Expectations Study Guide includes a section about the novel’s author, a synopsis of the novel, and background information. There are prereading ideas for the student to complete prior to, or while reading the novel. The study guide has nine sections, each dealing with several chapters of the novel. Each section will take an average of one week to complete. The novel is read before starting the chapter studies. The student is allowed to use the book to look up the answers in.


Each of the chapter study sections are divided into five sections. Vocabulary, General Questions, Analysis, Dig Deeper, and Expectations. Some sections have an Additional Activities section. The General Question, analysis, and Dig Deeper sections have between 15 and 21 essay style questions. There are no yes/no, T/F, or multiple choice questions. The Vocabulary, Expectations, and Additional Activities sections vary in length. The Vocabulary section has the student complete an activity with the vocabulary words: matching a word with it’s definition, choosing the best definition from 3 choices, synonyms & antonyms, and looking up the definitions in a dictionary.


Progeny Press Great Expectations Study Guide


Also included in the Great Expectations E-Guide are an Overview section, Final Essays and Project Ideas, Additional Resources, and an Answer Key.

The Answer Key is a separate PDF. It is pages 73 through 94 of the e-guide. It contains answers to the vocabulary sections, as well as all the chapter questions, and the overview questions.


You can view a sample of the Great Expectations E-Guide.


The Great Expectations Study Guide can be completed in 8-10 weeks, and can earn the student 1/4 of a credit. There are instructions included in front of the study guide for the teacher that wants to give the student a final exam.


The Progeny Press Great Expectations E-Guide is a faith-based study guide. There are quite a few intellectual, moral, and spiritual issues addressed in Great Expectations. I like that the study guide helps the student to examine these from a Christian perspective.



You can read the review of Progeny Press study guides that I wrote a few years ago.




You can follow Progeny Press on Facebook, and Progeny Press on Twitter.


The Great Expectations E-Guide is for high schoolers, but Progeny Press also has guides for Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, and Middle School. Click the graphic below to see what other homeschool mom’s have to say about Progeny Press E-Guides for all grades.

Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}


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The Glass Castle – A Schoolhouse Review Crew Book Review


I recently received the book The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins from Shiloh Run Press for my 15 year old son to read and review. The Glass Castle is an adventure story written for ages 10-15. Girls and boys will enjoy reading this book. This age range is perfect for this book. I think The Glass Castle would make a great family read a loud, too.


The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}



The Glass Castle is a hardcover book 251 pages long. It has 41 chapters with most ranging from 2 to 10 pages long. It’s an easy read. My son, an avid reader, finished it in one day. You can read a 35 page sample of The Glass Castle on the website. The book is billed as having the setting of The Chronicles of Naria meets the action from Alice in Wonderland.


The Glass Castle by Trisha White and Jerry Jenkins


As soon as you start reading The Glass Castle you are thrown into the adventure. The first chapter opens with Avery, the main character, and her younger brother Henry being chased through the woods. This day happens to be Avery’s 13th birthday. She doesn’t make it home for her birthday dinner………. Avery and her brother were kidnapped!


In The Glass Castle, the king is worried about who will take over his throne when he dies. His new wife wants to produce an heir. The king’s first wife had a son, but no one, not even the king, knows where he is. His solution? Get rid of all the orphans.


Someone, though, has taken all the orphans and has hidden them from the king so he can’t kill them. Right under his nose in his castle. Where they are living and doing the work of the castle, while being held as prisoners.


Avery was surprised that new, pretty clothes were left for her to wear, just like all the other kids there wore. She had never seen so many well-dressed kids in one place before. They had plenty of food at every meal, fruit, meats, and milk to drink. It looked like a big feast to Avery. She was used to eating whatever they grew or caught at her house.


Avery was separated from her brother, as all the other 13 year old kids were separated from their siblings. Their siblings were being held somewhere else. If the 13 year olds escaped, they would never see their siblings again. The kids were marked with a black star, so if they escaped they would be returned. Or sent to the Forbidden City.


Here’s what Zach had to say about The Glass Castle:  The kids are hiding from the adults, someone was hunting them. It’s set in a castle most of the time & in a forest. One of the kids is the heir. No one knows who it is, not even the kid. I liked the part where one kid left the others and didn’t come back. The book didn’t resolve the story, it left you wondering. I recommend this book.


The Glass Castle ends with Avery reading her mother’s travel journal. She is surprised to find a key hidden in the back of it. You can imagine how shocked Avery is to discover that the key she found actually fits the door to the tunnels below the castle. She doesn’t open the doors, though. Which leaves the reader anticipating book two of the series!


To see what other crew members have to say about The Glass Castle, click below!


The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}


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Memoria Press Traditional Logic 1 Homeschool Review


I recently received a Traditional Logic 1 Complete Set  from Memoria Press to use with my 9th grade son. Traditional Logic 1 can be used for grades 7-12. This logic curriculum is perfect for adults to use, too.


Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review


Memoria Press is a family run business that produces classical Christian education materials for home and private schools. I have used several Memoria Press courses with my children. I love that their curriculum is affordable for homeschooling families.


Traditional Logic 1 Complete Set, $75, includes the Student Guide, a Teacher Guide, a set of 2 DVD’s and a  Quizzes & Tests book. This course is designed to be used by a teacher with no logic background. It was prepared with homeschoolers in mind.

This course was designed to be a one semester course that can be completed in 15 weeks. There is a Note to the Teacher at the beginning of the student text that explains more about the course, and how to use the books. The Student Text is consumable. You will need to buy one for each of your students. These, as well as all the components of the set, can be purchased individually on the website.


You can view samples here:

Traditional Logic 1 Student Book Sample
Traditional Logic 1 Teacher Key Sample
Traditional Logic 1 Quizzes & Tests Sample



Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review



Traditional Logic 1 is a systematic course in formal logic. The student will learn the 4 logical statements, the 4 ways statements can be opposite, the 3 ways they can be equivalent, and the 7 rules for validity. Each of the 14 chapters has 5 pages of text, except Chapter 14 which is a review chapter. It has 7 pages of text. There are 14 quizzes and a final exam included. Each chapter features the text, followed by Exercises for Day 1 thru Day 4 and a Review Section. Each chapter can be completed in a week.


There is no Teacher’s Manual. The Teacher’s Key has the answers for each day’s exercises in the workbook, the quizzes, and the final exam. The student works independently through the book. The Instructional DVDs feature a teacher presenting the text of each chapter. Here’s a sample below.

Logic was not a topic I studied in school. So I don’t have very much to contribute to my sons daily work. I like that the video lessons do what I can not do. I think the instructor does a great job of explaining the lesson. The instructor uses graphic slides to illustrate the text. The lecture slides can be downloaded from the dvds so the student can access them as needed. My son has liked taking this course. He said he liked having the video to explain the lesson.


There really is no teacher prep needed with this curriculum. The teacher only needs to correct each day’s exercises, give the student the quiz after each chapter & correct it, as well as give and correct the final exam. I love that this encourages a student to work independently.


To see what other homeschool moms (and dads!) have to say about Traditional Logic 1 Complete Set, as well as other Memoria Press homeschool curriculum, click the banner below.


Logic, Greek Myths and Astronomy Memoria Press Review


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ARTistic Pursuits High School Homeschool Art Review


As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received ARTistic Pursuits Inc. High School Book One The Elements of Art and Composition homeschool art curriculum to review.


High School Book One The Elements of Art and Composition, $47, is for ages 14 and up. This course is designed to be a full year course earning the student 1 credit. There are instructions in the back of the book for using it as a one semester course, earning 1/2 credit. The book is not consumable, so you can use it for more than one student.



ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review


Topics covered in High School Book One The Elements of Art and Composition include space, line, texture, shape form, value, contrast & unity, composition, balance, rhythm, atmospheric perspective, proportion – of the face & figure, clothing the figure, and more.


The art supplies needed for High School Book One are easy to obtain.


Art supplies for the first semester are:
drawing pencil set – 2H – 4B
vinyl eraser
metal handheld sharpener
drawing pad


Art supplies for the second semester are:
vine charcoal sticks
jumbo nice charcoal stick
compressed charcoal
charcoal paper pad
paper blending stump
kneaded eraser
natural chamois leather, 4×4 inches


Additional supplies that you may already have on hand:  drawing board, hairspray, cotton ball or cloth, ruler, x-acto knife or other cutting tool, 12″x 12″ cardboard box.


You can view the full Table of Contents, as well as sample pages from the book, on the website linked above. This video shows all of the ARTistic Pursuits curriculum available, including this high school book.



ARTistic Pursuits High School Homeschool Art Review


My 15 year old, 9th grade son, Zach, used this homeschool art curriculum. He hasn’t done any drawing since being a teenager. He didn’t think he had any interest in drawing. Since starting this course, he has discovered that he likes drawing.


Zach’s been using it for a few weeks now, a couple of lessons a week. He has been doing well with this course. He looks forward to it. He usually reaches for it first, before everything else. Zach said that some of the lessons have been easy, while others have been harder. He also said that he can draw better now than he could before starting this course. I can see that he is improving, and I like that he feels he is, too.


ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review


I like the way ARTistic Pursuits includes art appreciation in the lessons. As the student learns a technique, they also learn to see how that same element was used by some of the greatest artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Durer, Raphael, Tintoretto, and more. The students learn a technique, pick something from their own surroundings to draw, and learn how to apply what they have learned to their own drawings.


As a non-artistic parent, who can barely draw a straight line, I love that the course is designed for the student to work independently.


He wouldn’t let me share all of his drawings. He said they were personal. I did get permission to share these three.

zach drawing zach drawing2



I wish I had found this homeschool art curriculum earlier, so my older kids could have used it. ARTistic Pursuits Inc. High School Book One The Elements of Art and Composition is a great addition to our homeschool.


The Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed other ARTistic Pursuits homeschool art curriculum as well. Click the graphic below to check out more reviews.


ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Review
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