Brilliant Math Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

We have had the opportunity to look at the Premium Subscription for Brilliant math, and I had my fourteen-year-old daughter look over it to see how she liked the geometry course and try out the logic program.

What is Brilliant Math?

Brilliant Math is an online program designed to use problem-solving and hands-on applications rather than lectures to teach math concepts. The program is designed for students of all ages.  

There are a wide variety of courses, including:

  • Everyday Math
  • Pre-Algebra
  • Geometry Fundamentals
  • Scientific Thinking
  • Computer Science Fundamentals
  • Logic

How Did We Use Brilliant Math?

I had my fourteen-year-old try out geometry and logic. She was already taking geometry, and we wanted to see how this approach worked for her. She tried several lessons but struggled with the lack of formal instruction.

She also started on the logic course and liked that one much better. The problems were much like riddles or mind puzzles, encouraging her to think about things in innovative ways. We felt it was a great way to stretch her mind and help her improve her problem-solving skills.

The logic lessons are relatively short, taking only about ten to fifteen minutes to complete an assignment. They are set up as word problems that need to be solved, and it takes you through the process step by step. Anytime you get the answer incorrect, you can see an explanation of the correct answer.

For example, in one problem, lying robots had switched up coins into different safes, so they were mislabeled. You had to go through the steps to see how few safes you could open to figure out which coins should be in which safe. It started with just four safes and then increased the number of safes with each step.

What Did We Think About Brilliant Math?

“I like the logic course, it gets me thinking, and I enjoy figuring out the problems and how to work them out. It only takes me about 5-10 minutes per lesson. It gives me a short amount of *instructional lessons* but not much. It also has an explanation section.

 The geometry course is challenging for me to understand. It is laid out well, but hard to understand the short instructions they give me.

*The instructions are typed up as you go through answering questions*” Elizabeth, age 14

While I think some students would do well in the other math courses with the problem-solving strategies and hands-on approach, I did see how it was not the right fit for my daughter. However, we really enjoyed the logic portion of the subscription. I loved how it made her think and challenged her to look at things differently. The lessons were short and easy to add to her day. We will continue to use that portion of the subscription.

I believe that this might be a good fit for students who are not doing well with a traditional lecture approach to math. It would also be an excellent program for helping students apply math concepts they have already learned to more real-world applications.

Be sure to click on the graphic below to see what courses other Review Crew families tried and how Brilliant worked for their families.

STEM Learning

Skills 4 Students, LLC Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

What is Success Skills For Christian Students?

Success Skills for Christian Students Video Course and Book Bundle is a video-based course from Skills 4 Students, LLC that works on college and career readiness skills for Christian students.  These are skills that are important for students across the board, no matter what their career or life goals. Skills like professionalism, time management, communication, and even problem-solving.

Like most parents, we want to give our children not just a good education but also the skills that will help them find success in life. Therefore, we were excited to check out this program and see how it might help our teenagers.

What is Included in the Program?

1. 23 Course videos

2. Paperback copy of Success Skills for High School, College, and Career (Christian Edition) Revised book

3. Workbook that goes with the book

4. Slides (PDF) used to make the videos

5. Workbook designed explicitly for the course

6. Bible Study Guide

7. Quick-Start Student Portfolio

You can also add on the “E-Book and MP3” package to access an E-book edition of Success Skills for High School, College, and Career (Christian Edition) Revised and 23-course content audio files

How Does it Work?

The twenty-three-course videos range from 18 minutes to thirty minutes in length, and each covers a different skill or area of importance. You can watch them in order or skip around and choose the areas where you feel your teen needs assistance. There is a downloadable workbook to accompany the videos. You could use parts of it as needed or go through the entire course and use it for a high school elective.

How Did We Use Success Skills for Christian Students?

For this review, my daughter watched several videos and looked through some other content. I also took some time to watch videos, look over the workbooks, and peruse the book. We chose to have her watch the videos that seemed especially applicable to the areas where she was currently struggling. Moving forward, we intend to use all the content for an elective high school course. She will work through each video and the corresponding workbook pages at that time.

We are also having my teenagers read the paperback copy of Success Skills for High School, College, and Career (Christian Edition). From what I have read, I think there is a lot of great information. There were a couple of places where I disagreed on theology, but with this being for my teens, it will be a good opportunity for conversation and discussion. 

What Did We Think About Skills for Students?

“The website is set up in an easy-to-understand format. The videos are understandable, with slides that make sense and help illustrate the point that he is trying to get across. I would recommend it to high school students looking for ways to help with studying. I learned about mind maps and a few different ways to write and take notes.”

Elizabeth, 14

I found that this was a good and comprehensive program. When we started, I expected basic study skills (outlines, notes, studying, etc.). However, while there were study skills components to the course, it included many other important skills. For example, communication, mentoring, professionalism, and accountability were all covered.

I loved that it was done from a Christian perspective, and our family’s goal is to put Christ first and bring glory to God in all that we do. This made it a good fit for our goals.

 I encourage you to click on the graphic below to see what other Review Crew families thought about the

Success Skills for Christian Students Video Course and Book Bundle and how they used it in their families. 

Skills for Success

Reading Eggs Review 2022

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

We have reviewed Reading Eggs in the past, and my two youngest boys were super excited to have the chance to review it again. They love the games and activities, and I appreciate that their fun screen time is actually helping them progress in reading and math.

What is Reading Eggs?

Reading Eggs is a fun online program that teaches phonics and later comprehension skills. The student takes a placement test and can begin lessons based on their level. By completing the assignments, they earn eggs which they can use to purchase things to decorate their online house and character. Those eggs were very motivational for my eight-year-old son, and he loved to be able to buy all of the accessories.

Each month there is a new theme, and they offer accessories specific to that theme in addition to the regularly available items. The monthly themes were fun and added incentive to earn the eggs before the theme changed. The theme for this month was outer space, so there were rockets, space suits, etc. In addition to the accessories, you can use your eggs to get extra games.

In addition to the regular Reading Eggs, the subscription includes Reading Eggs Jr. for students ages 2-4. This program has fun educational videos, easy online activities, and books that can be read to the students. 

For older students, Reading Eggspress offers activities to improve fluency and comprehension. This is geared towards students ages 7 to 13. 

How Did We Use Reading Eggs?

My eight-year-old enjoyed working with Reading Eggs several days a week, and we used it to supplement the phonics instruction we were doing together. He loved it and would often request to spend time on Reading Eggs, even when it wasn’t a required part of his learning that day.

My four-year-old used the Reading Eggs Jr. portion of the program. He had tried it before and been asking for me to get it back, so this review came at the perfect time. It was an excellent way for him to begin to learn the letters and sounds while also keeping him engaged while I worked on other schoolwork with his brother. 

The program was laid out in a simple way that he could use it on his own once I had him logged in and at his home page. The buttons on the screen had pictures and words so that he did not need to be able to read to navigate to the different parts of the program.  

Some of the educational videos were literacy based; others featured science experiments, recipes, animals, and more. 

Reading Eggs Reports

There are progress reports in the parent dashboard that show me what videos and activities he has been using and any learning objectives achieved. I also appreciated that if he tried to log out of his dashboard, it would bring up a security screen that requires an adult to read and hit the correct sequence of numbers. This helped ensure he stayed where he needed to be when I was not directly supervising his time on the program. 

Our Thoughts

Overall, we enjoy Reading Eggs and find it a great supplement to our regular instruction. It is a fun way to improve reading and technology skills. There are many components to the program, and you can check out other Crew Reviews to see how other families used the program by clicking on the graphic below. 

learn to read

Blue Skies West (Book Review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Three years ago, I had the privilege of reviewing the first four books in the Horses of History series by Mattie Richardson and Appaloosy Books. At that time, my son read them to review and then recommended them to my daughter. This month, my daughter was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review the next book in the series: Blue Skies West.

Blue Skies West is a fun chapter book about the Oregon Trail from the perspective of a horse traveling the trail. The book is just under 140 pages, with a paperback cover that features a beautiful horse and wagon trains.

Book Summary

“This is a book about the Oregon Trail. It starts with a family deciding if they want to go on the Oregon Trail or not. They have heard a lot about it but are not sure if they want to attempt to go to Oregon or not. They decide to go; they get everything they think they need and head out on their journey. They travel well for a while, then there is sickness, and people die. Some decide to turn back, but this family keeps going. It talks about different stops they made at various landmarks. After a long journey, they finally get to Oregon at the end of the book.” Elizabeth Age, 14

What Did We Think?

“I really enjoyed the book. I liked how it was set from the horse’s perspective. I would recommend it to students who are into history, horses, or both. It was an easy read with heavier content. By heavier, I mean that there was death, sickness, Indian attacks, and things like that. It reminded me of playing Oregon Trail, the game to some extent.”

I love that this series of books helps students look at history from a different perspective. While they are historical fiction, they contain a great deal of accurate historical information. While students from elementary up through high school might enjoy the stories, you need to be aware that they may not be the right fit for younger students who are very sensitive to death and scary situations. They are probably ideal for upper elementary and middle grades students.

They are perfect for students that love horses. They can be read for fun or as a part of your history curriculum.

Be sure to click on the graphic below to see what other Crew Members thought about Blue Skies West. You can also check out our review of the other books in the series: Horses of History Appaloosy Books by Mattie Richardson (Review).

horse fiction books

A Family Style Beatrix Potter Unit Study

*Some links are affiliate links, see disclosure below*

Life has been busy, and we have been back at school for a couple of months. For us, that translated into a little bit of schooling fatigue and the desire to do something a little different. I wanted to keep school going but have some fun and make some memories.

With that in mind, I decided that we would do a unit study on Beatrix Potter. While Beatrix Potter may have written her books for young children, I find that all ages can enjoy them.  

C.S. Lewis once said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” I think Beatrix Potter’s books are prime examples of good children’s books.

How to Use this Study

I designed this study to be something the whole family could join, though my younger children spent a bit more time digging into the books and completing the artwork. 

You can use these resources in a variety of ways. You could have a one-day focused on Beatrix Potter, or you can break it out and do something each morning during your morning time studies, or you could plan a couple of tea times over several weeks. It might be something you do at night for evening education. Use whatever schedule works best for your family.

Beatrix Potter Books

The obvious choices for books are those written by Beatrix Potter. You can find them in a variety of forms, from her entire collection to small books of each individual story. You can even find her complete collection on audiobook!

Personally, I think that the illustrations are an essential part of her books, so I recommend having a paper copy of the books even if you are also using audiobooks. I chose to read some of her stories aloud while showing my boys the pictures, but I also got an audio copy they could listen to later to continue enjoying the stories.

The book my grandparents gave me for my 1st Christmas. I enjoyed sharing it with my children.

There are also some excellent biographies of Beatrix Potter. One of our favorites is Who Was Beatrix Potter?. There are also some more in-depth biographies that would be suitable for teens and adults. If you enjoy coloring, you could try one of the available Beatrix Potter coloring books.

In addition to the picture books, there is a fun set of fictional novels based on Beatrix Potter’s life. The stories include a lot of accurate biographical information but also have fun elements, such as talking animals that are reminiscent of Potter’s own works. These novels are written for adults, but the content is appropriate, and my teenage daughter is beginning the series.

Art and Science for Beatrix Potter

Nature was highly inspirational in Beatrix Potter’s stories. She had spent many hours as a young child studying animals and nature. These stories can be a great way to get your child excited about nature study. Many of the animals she features in her books can be found easily in most areas of the country.

For example, you could read about Squirrel Nutkin and then go outside and look for squirrels. Students can draw a squirrel in their nature journal or do more research on squirrels. (If you want to get started with Nature Study but want a resource to help you get going, I recommend a subscription to Homeschool Nature Study.)

We incorporate art into our studies whenever it is feasible. It is a great way to help students remember what they are learning and have a fun project to share with others. Nana over at You Are an Artist has a beautiful chalk pastel lesson featuring some of Beatrix Potter’s characters in her Famous Artists course.

If you want to add even more art, you could use this Dover coloring book or look at the You Are an Artist animal lessons for chalk pastels of many of the animals included in Potter’s books.

Beatrix Potter Art

Tea Times and Snacks

In our house, snacks are essential to a good unit study. They make things fun, help create memories, and are just plain delicious. It is incredible how much more exciting a literature discussion becomes to my teens when there is a good snack involved.

For this Beatrix Potter study, we decided to do scones and tea since Potter was British. This was perfect because it was reasonably simple and delicious; they could enjoy it while I read aloud. We also had all of the ingredients in the house already.

My daughter helped and made the scones for us, but if you don’t have time to make something homemade, you can use a pre-bought pastry or cookie. (Don’t feel guilty about making memories from a box mix.)

If you have younger children, you can put herbal tea, milk, juice, or hot cocoa into tea cups to make it feel special without the caffeine from regular hot teas.

Tea parties are so much fun and make a simple snack feel fancy. Check your local thrift stores or yard sales if you do not have tea cups already. You can generally find them for $1 or less in our area; that way, if they accidentally get broken, it is no big deal.

Other Beatrix Potter Resources

Remember that you can pick and choose what resources work best for your family and how you want to implement any study. Have fun and make memories with your children while enjoying beautiful literature and artwork. I have included a few other resources that I’ve found in the list below. If you have a favorite resource for Beatrix Potter, share it in the comments.

Tales of Beatrix Potter movie

Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher movie

Beatrix Potter Teether Book (for the youngest family members)

Peter Rabbit Book and Toy set

Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Beatrix Potter and Her Paint Box

Miss Potter Movie (free on Amazon but rated PG. We have not yet watched it, so preview it to ensure it is appropriate for your family.)

Scone Recipe

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When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password; we are adding new items to the library monthly. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you updated on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always, I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

If you have not tried, you don’t want to miss this sale on their monthly memberships!

TabletClass Math Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

We started our year planning to use a particular math program and then had issues that meant I needed a different course for my daughter. That same week, we had the opportunity to review an annual plan of TabletClass Math’s  Geometry course. We were so grateful to try it but also willing to go a different route if it was not a good fit for my daughter.

How Does TabletClass Math Work?

In TabletClass Math, the instructor covers the lesson material, and then the student completes the practice problems and watches the explanation videos afterward.

At the end of each chapter, there is extra practice, chapter notes, and a quiz. There are 11 chapters, and it takes about three weeks to get through each chapter. It takes 30 minutes to an hour to get through a lesson, with 3-5 lessons per chapter.

Student Portal

A couple of sample schedules can be used for pacing, but it is self-guided, and the student can work at their own pace.

The quizzes use a multiple-choice format and are computer graded. You can use those at the end of each chapter, or the parent portal provides another chapter test that can be printed and answered. The parent would then use the provided answer key to grade that test.

Video Lesson Screenshot

What We Thought

My daughter had been disappointed at the need to switch courses, but she was thankful after using this program for a few weeks. She found this  Geometry course to be easy to understand and felt she could work through it successfully.

She said, “I like the setup; it is easy to follow and figure out where I am supposed to be and what I need to do. The lessons are short and easy to understand. My biggest complaint is that I must watch the explanation video for the practice problems even if I get the questions correct.”

As a parent of multiple students (and someone who hasn’t taken geometry in over twenty years), I really appreciated that the course could be very self-directed. My daughter can easily navigate through the work independently, and the computer even grades her quizzes. The lectures and question explanations have been detailed enough that she has needed very little help from me to work through this course.

I know that my daughter would prefer not to listen to the question explanations when she has answered correctly, but I see the value in the reinforcement.

Parent Portal

Our Recommendations

 This is an excellent option if you are a homeschool parent looking for a self-paced math program that can be completed online. It has enough instruction and practice to be a robust program without unnecessary repetition and busy work. They offer a variety of upper-level math courses to meet your needs, and the Review Crew reviewed different courses, so be sure to click on the graphic below to find out what Crew Families thought about the other classes.

online math

Otter B Free Book Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

We recently had the opportunity to review Otter B Free, a fun children’s book that Pamela Kennedy and Anne Kennedy Brady wrote. Aaron Zenz Illustrated Otter B, and it was published by Focus on the Family.

My boys love getting mail (really, we all do), and book mail is our favorite. So, they were excited to open up the package with this new book. It is a sturdy hardcover book with bright and colorful illustrations. They loved the word art and the fun picture of an otter on the front cover.

What is Otter B Free?

Otter B Free is relatively short, with just over 20 pages. Each page has full cover illustrations and a small amount of text. This could be read independently by third or fourth-graders but is an excellent read-aloud for pre-k and elementary school students.

This is one book in a series of books that feature Otter B! In this book, the main character, Otter B, really wants to win a trophy at the Fourth of July field day. However, he knew it was going to be hard to beat Felicia. He and his friends devise a plan to win the trophy, but then Felicia gets hurt. Otter’s dad talks to him about the freedom to help others and true freedom in Christ. Then Otter and his friends have to decide what to do about winning the trophy.

How Did We Use It?

I chose to read it aloud to both my eight-year-old and my four-year-old. They both enjoyed the story and the pictures. I loved that it taught a powerful and biblical message about freedom and the responsibilities of biblical freedom from Galatians 5:13.

What Did We Think?

My boys enjoyed this book so much that they had me add the other ones in the series to their Christmas wish lists. I encourage you to check out Otter B Free and click on the graphic below to see what other Review Crew members thought about this book. 

Character Traits

Light of Mine Book Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

I am a bookaholic. I love books to read for myself and books for my children, but most of all, I love books I can share with my children. Our family loves doing family read-alouds and audiobooks. We enjoy many favorite classics, but I always look for new books to add to our collection. That is why I jumped on the opportunity to review Allen Brokken’s Light of Mine Unit Study – Premium through Towers of Light Christian Resources LLC.

What is Light of Mine?

Light of Mine is a 205-page novel that shares the adventures of three siblings as they battle the “dark one” and learn to shine the light of God’s love. The book was full of adventures, mishaps, and excitement. Through it, Brokken weaves the gospel truth into the story. It is the first book in the Towers of Light series.

The adventures are family-friendly, but some intense moments in the book might be a bit much for really young or sensitive children. For example, in the beginning, the father has gone off to fight the “dark one,” and the children believe he is lost and presumed dead. Their mother then leaves them at home to go and save him.

What was in the Unit Study Bundle?

The Light of Mine Unit Study – Premium included the novel, workbook, and audiobook for Light of Mine. The workbook is recommended for grades 3-6+. The workbook breaks the book down into a four-week study, with activities for five days a week. The first four days of the week include:

  • A reading assignment.
  • Reading comprehension questions.
  • Vocabulary.
  • Memory verse.
  • A story passage for more in-depth discussion.

The fifth day of the week has an activity or craft to accompany the week’s reading. The book also has an answer key to help parents facilitate the study.

The bundle also included the audiobook as mp3 files on a thumb drive and a personal audio player. I loved having both options and that my younger children could listen independently without needing any other technology when using the personal audio player.

How Did We Use the Light of Mine Bundle?

The design of the unit study involves reading a chapter or two a day through the course of the study and doing the work in the workbooks over the course of a month. However, I knew that my eight-year-old son would enjoy it but would need a little extra support. I also felt it would be a fun listen while we were riding on a trip we had planned during the review period.

So, I decided that we would listen to the whole book as a family. Then I could go back and have my eight-year-old reread a chapter at a time and work through the workbook. This strategy will give him extra exposure and still give us a fun family audio.

What Did We Think?

My husband and son thought the book started slowly, but it did not take too long to get everyone hooked! We enjoyed the book’s adventure and appreciated the spiritual lessons included. (They did take a different take on a couple of issues than we do, but we were still pleased with the overall spiritual lessons.) It was a great family read-aloud but be mindful that parts might be scary for young/sensitive children.

The workbook is best for upper elementary students, and the book is probably best for third or fourth grade and above if used as an independent read.

My one complaint is that the book ends with a cliffhanger. While we are excited to continue to read the story, I personally dislike not having closure at the end of a book, even when it is a series. That said, I would still recommend the book, just expect the cliffhanger and a desire to purchase the next book in the series.

“I am enjoying the book. I enjoy listening to the siblings and how they work together to make things happen. Sparkle frog is cool.” Elizabeth Age, 14

My eight-year-old loved it so much that we had to have “oakameal” for breakfast, which was how the youngest sibling in the story said oatmeal.

If this sounds like a book your family would enjoy, you can find out more at Light of Mine Unit Study – Premium, and click on the graphic below to see what other crew families thought!

Unit Study

Tuesday Tips: Incorporating Holidays Without Adding Work

*some links may be affiliate links; see disclosure below*

When we first started homeschooling, my oldest was in first grade. I loved the idea of incorporating fun activities related to different holidays. I could find addition and subtraction sheets with turkeys or Christmas Ornaments, fall science lessons that went through weighing, counting, and floating activities with pumpkins, and even graphing Lucky Charms for Saint Patrick’s Day.

However, as my children got older and I kept adding those activities, it felt like they were becoming a burden during already busy times. I was trying to add them on top of our regular school work, and it was adding one more thing to the to-do list.

How Do I Add the Activities Without Adding Work?

I did not want to feel overwhelmed and did not want the fun activities to be a burden. I thought about just getting rid of them, but they were a lot of fun.

I realized that I needed to do them in place of our other activities and not in addition to those activities. This way, they are not adding anything extra to the list; we are just making the list a little more fun and holiday-themed.

I will share some practical ideas for adding holiday fun in place of other things, but first, I want to clarify that you do not need to do ALL of these things. You do not even have to do any of them. Think about what would work for your family and make your time more enjoyable.

For our family, that changes from year to year and grade to grade. My younger children often do mostly holiday-themed work between Thanksgiving and Christmas and devote a day or two to other holidays throughout the year.

My high schoolers keep going with mostly their regular work, and we swap out just a few activities. This helps them keep some continuity while still getting to join in on some of the holiday fun.

Practical Examples of Adding in the Holidays without Adding More Work

For my younger children, math work is one of the most common ways we add in holidays. I can find holiday-themed sheets either for free by searching online or with our SuperTeachers subscription, and I look for the topics they are already working on in math and then allow those sheets in place of their regular math work. (My teens typically do not do holiday math because, at that level, I find it easier and better to allow them to continue to work through the curriculum.)


Science is another fun way to add in some holiday/seasonal cheer. Again, this one is typically mostly with my elementary and middle grades children. We can find science experiments related to the holidays and seasons, For example, pumpkins in the fall, peppermint-themed activities for winter, cranberries at Thanksgiving, and more. 

When I add these, I choose a lesson or activity from their current science to skip.

Generally, I put away our science books from Thanksgiving to Christmas to help make space for holiday activities. I have found it gives us breathing room, and they are still quite proficient in science.

Reading and Writing

Reading and writing are where it is easiest to get the whole family involved. Some years I have created my teens’ literature studies, and other years, we have used formal curricula, but through it all, I have added in Christmas-themed novels. When I am using other curricula, we simply swap out a Christmas novel for one of the novels in the curricula.

They read and discuss the novel with me, and we might also do some Christmas-themed crafts or cooking to accompany the book. For example, we did Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, and they watched the movie and made a Dicken’s era Christmas feast.

For my younger children, I adapt our reading for the major holidays and lots of little ones. It is so simple to choose read-alouds related to the holidays and seasons we celebrate. We love Cranberry Valentine on Valentine’s Day, Spookley the Pumpkin in the fall, and so many other books on various holidays.

Writing is also easy to integrate with the holidays by choosing writing prompts and activities that tie into the holiday. The teens might do a research paper on the origins of Thanksgiving or write a persuasive essay about a particular holiday tradition. Younger students can write paragraphs about different things associated with the holidays.

Art and Music

Finally, the easiest and possibly most fun way to incorporate the holidays is through your music and art studies. We love to do holiday-related art lessons (as a bonus, they make great gifts for grandparents and other family members). We use our You Are An Artist Clubhouse Membership, which gives us access to many holiday-themed art projects and has a calendar each month with suggested activities. However, there are also a lot of great ideas you can find by searching the internet for different art topics.

A holiday-themed hymn study can also be a great way to incorporate different holidays. You can check out our free hymn studies to get you started.

We also try to find holiday-themed music and art to study in our fine arts morning time rotation, which works well for the whole family. While my younger children do art lessons on many different holidays, we mainly focus on holiday music and art during Christmas, Easter, and patriotic holidays.

Don’t Forget!

There are so many different ideas that it could quickly become overwhelming. I want to emphasize that this list of ideas is not shared because you need to try to do everything but to give you some different examples of ways to incorporate the holidays and seasons without adding additional work and having it become a burden. Start by switching out one or two things and see how that works for your family. Also, remember that it’s okay for each year and season to look different.

I would love for you to share some of your favorite ideas for incorporating the holidays into your homeschool.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library, you will get a link and password to the library; we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you updated on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always, I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in, and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Field Trip Friday: North Carolina Zoo

We hadn’t been to the North Carolina Zoo in several years until earlier this week. We live about four hours from the zoo, so it is generally an overnight trip that takes a little more planning and budget.

This time we went with two other homeschooling families and stayed at a local campground. ( I am really enjoying having the flexibility of the camper.) It was a great trip, both for fun and for education.

I am excited to share more about the zoo with you today, as well as some tips and tricks for getting the most from your visit.

Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links; see below for more information. *

A Little About the North Carolina Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo is the world’s largest natural habitat zoo. It is divided into two major sections: North America and Africa. As a natural habitat zoo, the animals are given larger habitats to roam. This is great for the animals and the experience, but it does mean more walking because they are spread out.

There are hundreds of different animals, from the large giraffes, elephants, and bison to tiny insects and birds. The zoo does a great job of showcasing each animal in its natural habitat, with lots of information about the animal and various conservation projects.

While some of the animals have lots of room to roam and can be further away, they provide a variety of viewing areas for those animals so that most of the time, you can get a good view from at least one of the animals.

Educational Benefits of a Field Trip to the Zoo

I love that the zoo is an educational trip for all ages. My younger children saw animals they had only read about in books. The older children had seen the animals before but learned more about conservation.

Any trip to the zoo can be educational, but we found that we get the most out of the trip by taking the time to visit the educational carts that are set up throughout the zoo. At these mobile carts, zoo educators have different displays and information to share with visitors.

My younger boys also participated in the free zoo trekker program, a little workbook they could complete while walking around the zoo. Once they had done six of the activities, they were awarded a free zoo pin. (This program was very similar to the Junior Ranger program at national parks.)

Finally, make sure to take time to read some of the displays located with each animal. They share so much wonderful information.

Tips for Families and Small Children

We love going to the North Carolina zoo, but it can be a bit overwhelming for small children and families. So, I have a few tips and tricks to make it more manageable. 

First, it can be really hot and really busy during the summer. I highly recommend going during the off-season. There is a lot of walking, so the cooler weather is much more pleasant.

You can see the whole zoo in a day, but it is a lot of walking and would take pushing really hard. So we split it into two days. We can travel there one morning and see one section of the zoo and the other section the next morning.

Wagon for the win!

We also used a collapsible wagon for this trip, which was a huge help. My four-year-old could ride in it when he was tired or if we had long stretches of walking. We could also carry our umbrellas, water bottles, cameras, etc. in the wagon.

Finally, there is an AMAZING natural play area near the entrance to the North America section. It has a small stream, a mud kitchen, bubbles, a tree house, and so much more. It is a great place to give kids (and parents) a break. To let them just play and relax. Honestly, if we lived closer, I would go to the zoo just to let my kids play there.

The stream in the play area

Money Saving Tips and Tricks

Looking at the pricing below, you may wonder about my suggestion to split the zoo into two days. We use a family membership to make that an affordable option. In North Carolina, the zoo, all three aquariums, and the bird park all offer reciprocity with their memberships. (There is also reciprocity at numerous other sites.)

Since we are closer to the aquarium, we purchase an aquarium membership yearly, but if you do not already have a membership, you can purchase one when you arrive at the zoo. For our family of 6, entrance to the zoo for one day would cost us $82. An annual membership would be $84. This means that we save $80 just on the second day of our visit.

Also, at the zoo, you can not bring in outside food unless you are a member. There is a members-only picnic area within the zoo and other great money-saving benefits.

Also, bring your water bottles! While they do not allow other outside food, water bottles are welcome, and there are refill stations throughout the park. Purchasing water from restaurants or machines in the park will cost you over $4 per bottle.

Finally, I highly recommend the $15 refillable bottle if you want a soft drink or tea. You pay $15 when you buy it, but then you get unlimited free refills. Otherwise, a cup of soft drink will run you $7. You also get the benefit of a nice souvenir to take home.

Eating at the restaurants inside the zoo can get very expensive. We had four adult meals and two kids meals with one refillable bottle and one regular soft drink and paid a little over $100 for that one lunch. On the second day, we planned to be there in the morning and leave around 1 pm, so we made lunches and ate them in the van when we were finished.

Fun Extras at the North Carolina Zoo

I have just talked about ways to spend money, and now I am going to share some extras that are available. These are optional activities that are not included in the admission fee.

First, there is a butterfly garden. This costs an additional $3 per person. You get a ticket to enter the butterfly garden and could stay as long as you wanted to stay. We chose to try this one since we are studying flying creatures this year in science. Honestly, it was worth the $18 for all of us. There were hundreds of butterflies flying around. We watched them eat from plants, flit from one plant to another, and they would even land on us.

There is also a ropes course in the zoo. My daughter really wanted to do this, and we originally thought it was also $3, but when we got more information, the ropes course was $15 per person. Not necessarily a bad price for a ropes course, but we decided it was not the right choice for this trip.(You do have to have closed-toed shoes to be admitted to the ropes course.)

There is a playground near the ropes course that was $3 per person, but we also decided to pass on that. Additionally, there is a carousel ride that is $3 per person.

The other extra that we chose to participate in was feeding the giraffes. This was hands down, the favorite activity of the whole trip. My husband chose not to go, but the kids and I all went with our friends. We had to pay $5 per person. For that $5, we were given lettuce and instructions on how to feed the giraffes. Then we could step up to the platform and feed the lettuce to the giraffe piece by piece. Being up close and personal with the giraffes was amazing. You could feel the strong and rough tongue and really get a perspective on their heights.

Basic Information for North Carolina Zoo


North Carolina Zoo

4401 Zoo Pkwy
Asheboro, NC 27205

Hours of Operation:

Seven days a week, year-round, Open at 9am-4pm or 5pm (varies seasonally)

Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas


General admission tickets for adults $15 (13-61), seniors $13 (62+) and children $11 (2-12). Children under the age of 2 are free.



There are several restaurants as well as snacks available for purchase. Only Members and those with allergies can bring in outside food.



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