Review: Yearly Membership at

In my years of homeschooling my growing family, I've discovered one truth:  Our needs change constantly!  What draws the family together one semester drives us apart the next.  What lights up the eyes of one child sends the next sobbing to her bedroom.  What works for one season is impossible to maintain the next.  I find that every 3-4 months (not quite a full semester, by the way) we need to assess what's still working, what has stopped working, and make some changes.

Interestingly, 3 1/2 months into our school year--just as the babies' nap schedule started to change, Rose Red's Spanish class ended, and our energy started to flag in general--I received a Yearly Membership to

That very Monday, the first one in December, Nature Angel looked at me with slumped shoulders and asked, "Do I have to do my [language arts] today?"

She is regularly a faithful, obedient student.

And it is important to me that school is joyful to my children.

I believe in doing hard things.  And I believe in doing work we don't necessarily like doing (I don't love laundry, but I do it anyway).  But when I looked into her tired eyes and thought about all of the work she's diligently accomplished so far this year, I couldn't bring myself to say yes to doing language arts.

And I had a new Yearly Membership to

"Come with me!" I invited with eyes wide and a big smile on my face.

She sat down next to me at the computer and we started exploring.

My Nature Angel is an artist, so once we were logged in we clicked the "Browse by Subject" tab.

"Art" was the first subject listed, so we clicked it and began browsing.

We read the summary for All about Art, the first course in line, and found out it was geared for 1st-3rd graders, and further reading of the course description let us know that though it looked fun, it would be too basic for my 4th grader.

So we browsed on.

We found Art Appreciation:  South African Art.  Nature Angel lit up, "South Africa!?!  I want to do this!"  We studied the course description, reviewed the recommended lesson plans, and she was utterly hooked.

So was I.

We downloaded the entire course, and Nature Angel started studying.

The course is relatively self-contained--the biographical information, art concepts, and photos of the art are all part of the downloadable text.  We provide the art supplies ourselves.  Sometimes she does some online research about an artist.

Because Nature Angel loves to draw we modified the lesson assignments a bit to reduce the amount of research included so that she could spend time mimicking great artists.

Her version of "10 People in a Mopipi Tree" by Walter Battiss
We quickly ran into a snag--Nature Angel needed long hours to study and draw, but the computer needed to be free for the rest of the family, too.

I turned to my phone.

I had to spend significant time conversing with customer service to be able to get the site to work on my phone.  I think it is because I have a Windows phone, and a lot of sites are wonky when it comes to Windows phones.

The customer service folks were available, knowledgeable, and dedicated.  At one point I had to cut off an online chat to take care of my kids, and I never picked the chat back up.  Within hours I found an email from customer service following up on our interrupted consult.   I used email to continue communicating with customer service until I was able to get the site to work.

Once we had access via my phone, I downloaded the lessons, and Nature Angel used my phone screen to study the art.  She loves how portable my phone is, taking it from dining room table to kitchen table to basement floor--wherever her art supplies and a bit of privacy happen to be.

Her assignment was to create a Thanksgiving themed painting.

So, for my 4th grade daughter and for me, finding Art Appreciation:  South Africa at was a win-win.  She got a break from her regular school subjects, and I got a girl happily reading, studying, researching, writing, and drawing.

Nature Angels' copy of tradition Bushman art
Then it was time for Super Star to need a change of pace.  She's 14 and (for record-keeping purposes) in the 8th grade.  She recently completed an elective and was in need of a new challenge.

"What would you like to study?" I asked.

"I don't know," she replied morosely.

"Come with me," I invited, and we turned to to see what we could find.

This time I pressed the "Browse by Grade" button and clicked on 8th grade.

The "Foreign Language" tab caught her attention, so we clicked it to see what we could see.

Her eyes lit up when we got to French.  We clicked the "about" button to get a general sense of the course,

then we clicked the "lessons" button to see what they were actually like.

It took us about 5 minutes to decide this class would be awesome!

Thinking ahead to the fact that Super Star will be in high school in just a matter of months, I quickly checked to see if the high school level French class was the same or different--might as well challenge her with a 9th grade course at this point.

It was the same.

So we downloaded the first unit.

And ran into a snag; none of the audio would work.

Ta-da!  Customer support was online.

Within 15 minutes, we had the problem solved, and Super Star was studying her first French lesson.

Listening to the alphabet in French and following along on the page
She spends 15 minutes a day on her lessons (because that's a good amount of time for her--it would be very easy to increase or decrease the time spent), and she's loving them.  They include pronunciation, memorization, culture, conversation--everything that makes up a solid French class.

I'm going to count it as her first high school credit when she finishes the whole first year's work.

I've spent additional time browsing the site, and there is so much to explore!

*I've found a computer/business class that I'd like Rose Red to take.
I really like these printable pages that I can lay out across my counter to scribble on and compare lists
*Pixie is interested in exploring the photography classes.

*The preschool/preK classes aren't online games at all!  (That's a plus in my book!)  They're a variety of lesson plans for delightful hands on, literature rich, science rich, creative activities.

*There's a book list that is organized topically and sorted by approximate age/grade level interest that has me salivating and spending joyfully large amounts of time at our library website making book requests.

*I've begun using the complimentary Silver Membership to Applecore Recordkeeping System included with membership to to track my highschoolers' work.

*There's an included custom schedule builder that allows you to create and save all kinds of schedules and record keeping documents to your own computer.

There's a whole lot more.

Too much to even describe.

At first, I was utterly overwhelmed.

But as I spent time exploring I got excited to have such a rich treasure trove of curriculum options available right at my fingertips . . . right when we need them . . . without having to order new products, spend more money, or worry about whether I'm "getting it right."

Our needs change a lot in our busy household.

These changes mean we need to shake up our school routine a bit.  I'm tickled that the changes we need to make are easy to take care of with the myriad resources in available through the Yearly Membership at

Click the images below for more information and reviews.


  1. Thanks!! Your encouragement has meant more than I can adequately express. :)

  2. Sounds like a great fit for large families - a little bit of everything is in there!

  3. Wow, great review; makes me want to go learn something! Your kids are so blessed in their education!

  4. Hi! I enjoy reading your blog and have a question for you. I just received an anonymous comment on a two year old blog post saying that he would like to do something disgusting with my little girls.
    Have you ever received a comment like that? What can be done?

  5. That's a terrible thing to have happen. I'm so sorry. I haven't had any directly evil comments like that, but I've been deleting/spamming comments that I don't want on the blog. I've not contacted Blogger directly to report someone, but I'm willing to bet that if you google it, you can find a way to do that.

    You can always turn on comment moderation and delete such things before they even are recorded.


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