≡ Menu

The weeks before Christmas are a wonderful time of anticipation. The Advent series by Arnold Ytreeide help us built special family devotion time each evening – from shortly after Thanksgiving until Christmas morning! This year we are even MORE excited. Because there is a brand new storybook for Advent: Ishtar’s Odyssey

“Ishtar, it seems you have discovered a star that even yesterday did not exist!”

Ishtar's Odyssey - A Family Devotion for Advent - Review by Tricia at The Curriculum Choice

We received a copy of Ishtar’s Odyssey in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are our own and we love to read a book from this series every year! Please see our disclosure policy.

And in this story, Ishtar meets our favorite characters in his search for the newborn king: Jotham, Bartholomew and Tabitha. I am SO thankful that my friend, Little Sanctuary, shared about these Advent stories several years ago. We’ve read the first three and completed our second time through last Advent season.

Ishtar's Odyssey Review at The Curriculum ChoiceIt is the element of suspense that get our children and makes them beg to read another chapter. The author brings the Biblical setting to life – pulling together all the elements, the characters, the joy of Christ’s birth!

Tabitha's TravelsWhat is the Jotham’s Journey Series?

This advent series of books by Arnold Ytreeide includes Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage and Tabitha’s Travels. Many homeschooling families enjoy these but I’m still surprised that there are a few that don’t know about them. Our whole family participates. Hodgepodgedad reads the few pages before the children’s bedtime, starting the first Sunday of Advent. How quickly the children all get bathed and pj’d so we can all gather around and read Jotham’s Journey or another in this series.

Advent devotionals at The Curriculum Choice

How Do the Advent Devotionals Work?

Divided into short chapters to be read aloud each day of Advent, each section of the story also includes a short devotional.

Also included:

  • advice for creating traditions
  • pronunciation guide (great since Dad loves to do all the voices!)
  • suggestions for the use of Advent candles (and lighting candles for the reading of the story!)
  • suggestions for sampling Persian foods – “it might be fun – and meaningful – for your children to experience Ishtar’s Odyssey the way Ishtar does: through food.

Persian food suggestions to accompany Ishtar's Odyssey

  • A homeschooler’s dream! “To be most authentic, spread a blanket or tablecloth on the floor, surround it with pillows and couch cushions, and recline around your meal – utensils optional – with a finger bowl of warm water for each person.”
  • notes on the history behind the story
  • website address for maps, photos and other documents to help your family connect to the story.

In our home, we gather around shortly before the youngest children go to bed. Dad reads aloud the story (because he does the best voices!)

“…it might be important to let your children know that the events and most of the people of Ishtar’s Odyssey are fictitious. But it’s equally important to let them know that the miracles God worked in lives, and still works in lives today, are very real.”

Ishtar's Odyssey Advent Storybook reviewWhere Can You Find Ishtar’s Odyssey?

Ishtar’s Odyssey is available from Kregel Publications for $15.99. Worth each and every penny because you will cycle through and read through these family devotions for the Christmas season every year!

You might also like these advent resources from the archives:

“Advent. Adventus. Ecce advenit Dominator Dominus. Behold the Lord the Ruler is come. May God richly bless you and your family as you prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ!”

Homeschooling for fifteen years now, Tricia faces a daily dose of chaos with five children from elementary to high school. She is author of art curriculum for all ages and helpful homeschool habits at Hodgepodge. She and her husband, Steve, are owners of Curriculum Choice.


Elemental Science Biology for The Logic Stage {Review}

Elemental Science Biology for The Logic Stage {Review}

I was very confused with the number of science curriculum available after my sons passed their elementary level. I want our children have well-qualified spine science curriculum accepted globally. The elementary level still allows us to play around and have the fun of science but the middle school levels demand us to be more serious with all of the subjects.

Our choice for the spine science in 2015-2016 goes to the Elemental Science Biology for The Logic Stage. It is the time when kids start to think more logical and critically. They love to find out more about many things.

What Is Elemental Science?

Elemental Science is a homeschool science program compiled by Paige Hudson for her daughter to use. In her research, she could not find an option that incorporates weekly hand-ons activities and notebooking written by someone with the related degree.

With her background in Biochemistry, she decided to write her own. So she put together plans with weekly experiments, unique notebooking pages and coordinated reading assignments.

Browsing through the website, we can see some series of science based on the Classical and Charlotte Mason methods. As we are an eclectic homeschooling family with the classical tendency, we choose the classical series. We started with the suggested field of science according to The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition), Biology for the Logic Stage (5-8 grades).

What is Included in The Curriculum?

Biology for the Logic Stage contains the study of the living things learned in the elementary level science with deeper study and discussion. There are two books used as a guide for learning:

  1. The Teacher’s Guide
    The Teacher Guide includes the student assignments sheets with two day and five day schedules to help you plan out the year. You will also get some tips on how to lead your student through the program, comprehension questions, answers for the student’s work, and unit tests for you to use.
  2. The Student’s Guide
    The Student Guide contains all student assignment sheets, sketches, experiment sheets and blank report pages that they will need to complete the year. Each of the student assignment sheets contains the weekly topic, sketch assignment, experiment directions, report options, dates to enter, and memory work.

What We Like from The Curriculum

  1. Biology for The Logic Stage allows children to use a real reference (books) instead of a compilation of information. Therefore, children in the logic stage are forced to use their information skills to look for, gather, and compose based on real resources.
  2. There is a set of suggested books to complete the curriculum which are available to order in our local bookstores and Amazon. We have already had the books as those are really great books that we have purchased previously when kids were still in the elementary levels. Using the same books we can create a different result.
  3. There are some extension activities in all of the units. The best ones are the dissection activities. We really enjoy them.
  4. The Teacher’s Guide is very useful. It has some suggestions for online and hands-on materials to make the learning activities not bored. Kids are very excited to learn about science.
  5. There is also some suggestions for the sequence and resources for learning materials with multiple ages of children.
  6. Biology for The Logic Stage is a secular curriculum that is not against the Christianity. We still can add some religious concept within the use of the materials.
  7. Biology for The Logic Stage provides a well-balanced set of science learning components. It is suitable for my children with multiple learning styles.

How To Get The Products

Biology for The Logic Stage is available in both printed and electronic forms. You can get it at The Elemental Science for an affordable price.


I would like to suggest the use of Biology for The Logic Stage for any homeschooling family using the classical method. For those who love the unit study, you might get a lot of ideas from the activities suggested in the Teacher’s Guide.


10K to Talent: More than just a hobby

My children have many interests and talents. I am sure yours are no different. From fly tying and whips to gaming and anime, the interests of our children don’t just provide educational value, they fuel students to take control of their education.

I have been talking quite a bit about my children’s interests on my website this past year. I generally refer to them as Passion Projects and we devote a significant amount of time each week to developing their talents. This all began when I discovered the 10,000-hours rule and its application to today’s youth, 10K to Talent.

10K to Talent: More than just a hobby byEva@TheCurriculumChoice10K to Talent

10K to Talent was written by Jonathan Harris, a homeschooling father of 8 children who wanted to give his children an inspiration to develop early in their life a focus and a drive to cultivate something that they would eventually be very, very good at, and maybe even something that they could use to provide for themselves with a generous living.

What is the 10,000 Hours Rule ?

The 10,000-hours rule is the principle that it takes 10,000 hours of concerted focus, training, and learning in order to become an expert within a specific field of human activity.

In other words, it takes about ten years of dedication with four hours of daily training to become one of the world’s best within your chosen field or talent. Ten years of that regimen will place you among the top ten people in the world who are doing the same thing you are doing.

10K to Talent: More than just a hobby byEva@TheCurriculumChoice

What is 10ktoTalent ?

10ktotalent is the 10,000-hours rule as applied to children. It’s about crafting a custom strategy for your child so he can find something specific and early enough around which he can focus the many hours needed to achieve lift-off. 10ktotalent also teaches you how to turn a beginning talent into something that will make sense to your child’s adult life.

Can a gaming hobby, such as Minecraft, be turned into a real long-term talent? The answer is …  Yes!

If your child is as passionate about gaming as my son, you’ll love the podcast Can Minecraft Be Turned Into a Talent?  Together, Jonathan Harris and his wife, Renee, discuss the application of the 10,000-hours rule as it applies to Minecraft.

They share adult skills and experiences that their son is learning as he explores his interest in this popular gaming platform. Skills I didn’t even think of!

Regardless of their area of interest, the hours devoted to encouraging your child’s passions and growing his skills in a particular area can all be translated into life experiences that will serve him well as an adult.



Online Piano Lessons with Hoffman Academy

If you cringe at the thought of personal piano lessons for all your kids, you NEED to check out online piano lessons with Hoffman Academy. It’s the perfect choice for piano lessons for families on a budget.

hoffman academy piano lesson

Hoffman Academy is a FREE online piano tutorial series that’s perfect for kids (and adults!) that want to learn how to play the piano. And, yes, you read that right – the video lessons are FREE.

What you’ll find at Hoffman Academy

Hoffman Academy provides 6 units of online piano lessons – 120 videos all together. Each video is 5-15 minutes long. You’ll learn new techniques and songs and the instructor, Mr. Hoffman, also gives you ‘homework’ assignments to practice. You can create an account and work through the lessons at your own pace, repeat lessons if you need to, or move through the first few quickly if you already have some musical experience. It’s really versatile!

While you can create a perfectly fine musical experience with just the videos, Hoffman Academy does offer materials to really round out your study. You can purchase the Complete Materials in a bundle or for individual units. The downloadable materials include:

  • A Parent’s Guide
  • Practice CD
  • Listening CD
  • Worksheets
  • Activity Pages
  • Sheet Music

complete materials hoffman academy

Let’s take a quick look at each part of the Complete Materials:

The Parent’s Guide is your introduction to the program. Mr. Hoffman provides tips and advice on managing piano lessons with kids. The Practice CD is perfect for daily practice with songs that you learn working through the lessons. Daily practice is the key to any music program. The Listening CD provides an opportunity to really become familiar with the music. Kids are more confident in their piano playing if they really know the music. The worksheets and activity pages are the ‘homework’ for kids to use to really solidify what they’re learning during the video lessons. And of course there’s sheet music – so kids can keep practicing those songs.

You can have lots of fun learning to play piano with just the free video lessons, but the Complete Materials will help you provide a full piano course for your kids (or for you!).

playing piano hoffman academy

How we’re using Hoffman Academy

My daughter is in sixth grade so she likes to work independently. These online videos and materials are perfect for independent learners.

All I needed to do was print the materials for the unit and put them in a three-prong folder for her to use as she progressed through the lessons. Each week she:

  • watches the video lesson
  • follows Mr. Hoffman’s instructions for practice
  • practices songs from previous lessons
  • completes any worksheets or activities for that lesson

Using this basic weekly routine my daughter is progressing at her own pace through the lessons, slowing down and reviewing more often, when necessary. It’s really a great program for creating a personal music education – with an instructor that’s available whenever you need him!

hoffman academy screenshot

Now go try out those free lessons!

Hoffman Academy is a great resource for homeschooling families. While you can certainly use just the free video lessons, you’ll get a seriously great piano program when you include the Complete Materials (starting at $85.50 for all 6 units or $19 for each individual unit). Go check out a free video or two!

I received this curriculum in exchange for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any way for the time spent telling you about this resource. Read our full disclosure policy.

~ Written by Tonia, who’s busy blogging at The Sunny Patch when she isn’t homeschooling her only daughter or reading a book.


Space, roller coasters, art and origami! Sounds like the perfect learning combination. Don’t you think? Well, we think Dover Publications brings us just the added extra learning we need to either supplement our homeschool learning or take a detour and study something new! I love that some days we can simply set aside our schedule and allow the afternoon to be all about delight and interest-led learning. Which one of these would you choose?

Dover Publications - Space, Art, Science and Origami~Don’t miss the discount code plus the giveaway at the end!! We received these Dover Publications resources in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are our own and we love the benefits and blessings we are continuing to see! Please see our disclosure policy.

Dover Publications for Homeschool and Gift Ideas!

With the holidays approaching, these resources would also make great gifts. I especially like that this Space Exploration Fun Kit comes all tucked in a nice box. Easy to grab and go – take on the go to practices and appointments.

Space Exploration Fun Kit by Dover PublicationsSpace Exploration Fun Kit – we happen to be studying Astronomy this year and this kit made it even more fun. 50 stickers! (even glow in the dark), two coloring books and four stained glass coloring sheets, three cut and fold paper spaceships, six pre-cut stencils and even some crayons. Our two elementary children have had such fun with this!

Fingerprint Drawing by Dover PublicationsFingerprint Drawing – Step-by-step directions show you and your child just how to make all kinds of wonderfully fun pictures. Takes finger painting to a whole new level! (plus, get yourself an ink pad and make it easy clean up with baby wipes). We are making many a greeting card right now.

Amusement Park Science by Dover PublicationsAmusement Park Science Activity Book – “fascinating scientific principles are at play” – physics, gravity, inertia, velocity, centripetal force, momentum and more amusement park effects!

Amusement Park Science Activity Book from Dover Publications“This is really great!” ~ 4th grader

Easy Origami Animals by Dover PublicationsEasy Origami Animals – studying animals this year? Or simply need something to keep hands busy while you do the family read aloud? These origami animals with step-by-step instructions are such fun.


How an Art Box Can Inspire Artists

Gift Idea – Art Box

You might want to build an art box as a gift for your children. Can you see how these resources from Dover Publications are a wonderful addition to our Art Box? Fingerprint art, origami and the high-quality coloring books from the activity kits. Learning, art and fun!

Be sure to check out all the Dover Publications offerings we have shared here at The Curriculum Choice. We have a whole section!

Where can you find these Activity Kits for Homeschool Fun? Special Discount from Dover Publications!

CurriculumChoice October webad12.31.15 Aliter

Find each of the titles at the Dover Publications website. Plus for a limited time, you can get 25% off your order. Just use code WHBA through 12/31/15.

Now for the Giveaway!

Dover Publications for HomeschoolDover Publications is giving the following away to one (1) blessed The Curriculum Choice reader!

  • Space Exploration Fun Kit $16.95
  • Fingerprint Drawing $12.99
  • Amusement Park Science Activity Book $4.99
  • Easy Origami Animals $4.95

A $39.88 value for you!

Simply follow the instructions in the rafflecopter widget below…
a Rafflecopter giveaway