The Story of the Bible – New from TAN Homeschool!

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

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

Story of the Bible TAN Homeschool

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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


What are your favorite Catholic texts for homeschooling?

Jen S.


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Stitch-Fix Unboxing Video – July 2015

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

StitchFix Unboxing - July 2015

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

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


Jen S.

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

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

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

Didache Review at Happy Little Homemaker

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

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

Didache Bible Maps

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

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

Do you see the problem?

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

NABRE Features

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

Scriptural references

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

Didache Version Comparison

Footnotes from the NAB

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

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

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Which to pick?

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


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

Each edition has pros and cons.

NSRV pros

– easy to understand wording
– smaller

Didache Features

NABRE pros

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

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

Which translation would you pick?

Jen S.

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Ancient Egypt {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

My oldest daughter LOVES history. She is a people person through and through and because history is the study of people and how they lived and what they did, she is all. over. it. Seriously. So all over it, that when we had the opportunity to review the (NEW!) Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt from Home School in the Woods, she really wanted to do it.

ancient egypt project passport review

Even over summer break. I know. Crazy, right?

homeschool in the woods


About Home School In the Woods

Home School in the Woods creates fun activity packs, lapbooks, and project packs on historical topics to make learning fun. They are a Christian company that tries to keep their denominational differences out of the study of history, sharing all the relevent facts, but from a Christian point of view.  In order to faciliate my review, I received a copy of Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt. The Project Passports consist of dozens of activities at dozens of stops encompassing a myriad of skills including creative writing, drawing, crafts, cooking and more.


How We Used the Ancient Egypt Project Passport


Because we had just finished up our year of ancient history a month or two ago, we used the Ancient Egypt Project Passport as a stand-alone product for the summer.  There are 25 “stops” each of which has a 2-4 pages of information on a topic as well as several activities. The activities take varying lengths of time and we attempted to do them all.  While the HSITW folks say this should occupy you for 8-12 weeks, I think it would take much longer if you do Charlotte Mason style lessons or are on the younger end.

project passport newsletter, suitcase and passport

The daughter working on the Project Passport is 7.5 and will be working at a third grade level for many subjects this fall, but would be entering second in PS.  I did a lot of the prep work for her (cutting, scoring cardstock, etc).  If you have an older child, they could probably even do the printing and such themselves, also.  The PP didn’t require a ton of specialized items, though we did go get some fabric, gemstones, and such to make fancy Egyptian costumes.  Mostly, we used a ton of paper (colored and white) as well as cardstock (not entirely necessary, but well worth it!).  If you are an office supply addict, you probably have everything you need :).  I needed, of all the silly things, a 25 cent folder with prongs which was impossible to find 2 months before back-to-school sales.  I did find one at Walmart, if you need one.

project passport timeline

From a no-prep mom point of view, there is some prep.  Opening the zip file and making a short cut to the main screen is easy.  You need a binder for you and the student (I had two already).  If you buy one, though, start with printing the opening documents and READ THEM.  Then print the text and activity instructions for the first stop.  READ THOSE.

Screenshot 2015-07-16 14.19.13

THEN print. It will tell you how to print (there is a lot of duplex printing) as well as type of paper (cardstock, colored, regular, etc).  So do as I say, not as I do — RTFM :D.  Once I figured that out, it was smooth sailing.

project passport ancient egypt screenshot

I spent about 20-40 minutes printing, cutting and prepping before we started. It took about 15-20 minutes each stop to properly print the pages on the right paper and in the right direction on my printer.

ancient egypt unit study projects

We worked daily when we didn’t have other things going, so it ended up averaging 3-4 days a week.  We worked through an average of 2-3 activities per day although one took well over a week.  When it came to making Egyptian costumes and paper dolls, she took her sweet ol’ time and made them beautful. And left them laying around for siblings to destroy. It was a lesson in PICKING UP YOUR STUFF. Ahem.

She did love it though and if you are in a mood to see the longest show and tell ever, she shows you everything she did so far (we made it to Stop 5, I think) in only 20 minutes.  For real, folks.  She was pestering me for days to do a “show” and I asked her if I could tape it, so here you are with siblings crashing the show and not so patiently waiting and all.

ancient egypt paper dolls

Likes and Dislikes

From a mom perspective, these are super high quality printables.  I loved the timeline pages, the lapbook elements, the continuous projects. A free lap book this is NOT! It literally has everything you need to make beautiful projects that will help your child really remember the time period you are covering.  In the video (above), she said she would like to continue it in the fall as long as she doesn’t have to do the newsletter :).  You could do nothing but this in 8-12 weeks if you didn’t try to do every project.  You could use it for longer with younger kids and more involvement (directions, help, etc) and fewer projects.

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It’s a great unit study for kids who are very hands-on.  In addition to a newsletter, lapbook elements, and cut and paste type projects, we encountered things like making your own bricks, cooking Egyptian food and making Egyptian costumes.  I can really see this being a great thing for my middle daughter who is too young, but she would LOVE it.  I loved it so much that I’m going to get the Middle Ages set this year and the American History packs in a year or two.  They really are quality materials and since my youngest is two and has two older sisters who can help him, I’m able to do things requiring a bit more prep.

egypt hierarchy project

Overall, if you have a kid in grades 3-8, who likes unit studies or projects, you really need to get one of the Project Passport packs from Home School in the Woods.  They have 3 historical periods of Project Passports, 7 US history packs, plus other great historical studies and lapbooks. I reviewed the Great Empires Activity Pack for younger grades a year or two ago.

But don’t take my word for it — check out what other crew members thought about this and two other Project Passport products from Home School in the Woods.

Jen S.


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Helping Mama’s Around the World with Fair Trade Friday & Mercy House Kenya

Disclaimer: This post is part of a sponsored campaign. Subject and content are my own.

Being a mother has never been easy for me. I do okay until about 18 months and then I just stink at it. And I have advice and medical help and a choice. I never got pregnant against my will.

I had choices in birthing, labor and delivery. I have choices in how I care for my children and what to feed them. Good choices.

So when I hear about the girls being helped by The Mercy House, I have to help. These poor girls have no good choices. No help. No food. No knowledge.

FTF image

I learned about The Mercy House through We Are That Family. She started the home, which rescues pregnant girls and helps them rehabilitate their lives, care for their babies before and after birth, and educates them on how to be a good parent and provide for their children.

pauline -resized

They counsel them on the hurts they hold in their hearts and help them know that God loves them and wants the best for them. They have helped 6 moms & babies “graduate” and brought more teen moms in. We help sponsor one of those graduates. While not every girl they try to help succeeds, the remaining girls are redeemed in an amazing way.


And if that isn’t enough, the girls at the Mercy House and in organizations the world over make items at a living wage to be included in monthly Fair Trade Friday boxes. They sell 700+ boxes a month, each one supporting 4-7 women and all money goes to them.

Every item has a tag with the woman’s name & country. The packing and coordination is all done by volunteers. And the boxes are amazing. And the contents cannot be purchased in The Mercy Shop — boxes are kind of exclusive and one of a kind.  The ultimate curated subscription box.


They even have an Earring of the Month program if the FTF boxes are out of your budget.  They are beautiful and if I had pierced ears, I would do these, too!  You can join the wait list/club at

ftf pic sponsored

We keep a picture of our sponsored mom & baby on our buffet with our birth kids. On the hard days, when this little dudes grin isn’t enough, I look at their picture and remember just how good I have it. And I pray for all mothers, that they may have the graces they need to get through their day.

Will you join me in helping mothers around the world take care of their families by supporting Mercy House Kenya or Fair Trade Friday?

Jen S.

Photos without on them are courtesy of Fair Trade Friday.

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