30 Prophecies: One Story (book review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

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In the weeks leading up to Passover (and Easter), I had the absolute pleasure of being able to read and review the book 30 Prophecies: One Story from Christian Focus. It was especially good timing, because in addition to leading up to Holy Week, we received the book about the time all the churches (ours included) started shutting down due to quarantine. I loved having this resource to read to my younger children (7 and 4) during this time.

The book has the subtitle “How God’s Word Points to Jesus,” and that is really the guts of the book. Author Paul Reynolds has looked at 30 different prophecies throughout the Old and New Testaments, and written out in an easy-to-read format what they all mean and how each one leads us right to Jesus.

There are three sections: “From the Fall to King David,” “Major and Minor Prophets,” and “Prophecies Made by Jesus About Himself.” Each one has a series of prophecies from its respective section of the Bible, and each prophecy is given a 2-page spread. The text follows the same formula for each prophecy. Let’s take a minute to go over each aspect of the entries.

Like most books with sections (or chapters), each one has a title. In the case of 30 Prophecies: One Story, these titles are the different prophecies (for example: Jesus: The Son of David). Each entry is broken down into seven sections, and the sections are the same from entry to entry.

IMG-4180Prophet Name/Dates tells us who made the prophecy and when. Prophecy Made is the scripture (written out exactly, so you aren’t required to look it up separately in your Bible) of the prophecy being discussed. Then and There gives background information, and is one of the longest sections. It gives basic information not only about the time and place of the prophecy, but also about both the prophet and the person to whom the prophecy was made, as well as any commentary from the author regarding the section. Prophecy Fulfilled is direct scripture quotations, usually from the New Testament, that describe exactly how the prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus. Scarlet Thread is how the whole story of the Bible ties itself together. Mr. Reynolds uses this section to talk about how all the different parts of the Bible, despite their various authors and decades of difference (as far as when they were written). Application is just what it sounds like: how we can apply the scripture to our daily lives. Prayer is an actual prayer you can read to your children as written or read and paraphrase as you pray together. Each prayer is custom written to match the prophecy of the section.

As I mentioned before, I read these pages to my younger kids leading up to Passover. We read one prophecy per day and talked over what each thing meant. Even though this book has a suggested reading age of 5-11 (with a parent) or 6-12 (to read alone), I found that my kids did better when I stopped to explain things rather than just reading the entries straight through. I loved reading this to them, though, and to see their faces light up as things were all becoming interconnected the more we read. What a joy!

Blessings,

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Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing a total of three different books from Christian Focus this week (Psalms for My Day, 30 Prophecies: One Story, and Not If, But When). Click through to find out more!

2 Unicorns and a Giraffe

I’ve been all about making crocheted toys this month. They’re so fun, and always loved by kids. I started with this guy, who I’ve named Edward. (There’s a brief explanation of the name in the April 10 “5 Random Things” post). He now belongs to my toddler, Bumblebee (19 months old).

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And this is Jewel. After I made Edward, Grasshopper asked me to make another unicorn for his friend, whom he hasn’t gotten to see in a few weeks since dance classes are canceled due to quarantine. 

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And this is George the giraffe. I mentioned him briefly before, too, but here’s a few bigger pictures of him.

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I just got a new book full of 26 more amigurumi patterns delivered late last week, as well as two huge bags of stuffing, so I’ll be busy making toys for the foreseeable future! I know what all the kids in my life are getting for birthdays and/or Christmas this year 😉

  1. How have you been keeping busy during quarantine?

Blessings,

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Ground Beef Sausage (method/recipe)

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We don’t eat pork, which means no traditional sausage. Usually I just buy turkey sausage, but with the quarantine and grocery stores being slow to restock, I can’t always find it these days. After looking around online a bit, I hobbled together a few different recipes for making your own sausage out of ground beef. It was based partially on what I had on hand, as well as what I know to be the flavors my family likes. 

Ground Beef Sausage

3 pounds ground beef

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano 

1 teaspoon garlic powder 

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) crushed red pepper

Place all ingredients into a large bowl. Use your hands to mix all the spices through the ground beef as thoroughly and evenly as you can.

Divide the mixture into food storage bags in whatever portions make sense for your family (I do 2 meals out of this recipe, but we have a large family). Put the bags in the fridge to cure for at least 24 hours. After this time, you can either use or freeze your sausage as you would any other bulk sausage (spaghetti, biscuits and gravy, etc).

4B197F7C-A7D6-4598-A6CE-0B58C7917306While this tastes pretty much just like a traditional sausage, it still behaves like and has the texture of ground beef. For that reason, it might take a time or two before your mouth understands what it’s experiencing!

Blessings,

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Reading at 4 years old! (Reading Unlocked review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

Sometimes as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew, you get assigned products that you’re unsure will be a good fit for your family. Part of being on the team means you do your best to give those products a fair trial, and in that process you are sometimes right about it not having been a good fit. But sometimes you are very, very wrong, and a product ends up being an amazing asset for one or more of your children. Reading Unlocked has been such a product for us.
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Because I didn’t want to mix things up for Grasshopper now that he’s finally getting the hang of reading, I decided to use Reading Unlocked with Dragonfly, who is just 4 years old. I was really hesitant to start him out because he’s so young (in fact, I asked specifically to not be on this review because of that). And there were moments in the early days when I was sure I was right. It was really frustrating at first. But, as we kept on it (admittedly too slow and irregularly for a while), things started to click for him. I was stunned, and ridiculously pleased. But let’s back up a bit and talk about the program itself.

39E87083-CA5E-4168-8334-6EAFD4B7719BWhen you first go to the website, you have to log in (of course). When you do, you’re taken immediately to to the lessons. There are 3 levels of the program, and by going to the settings (which are available straight from the lesson page; there is no “parent portal” as near as I can tell) you choose which one is best for your child. The choices are given in examples rather than descriptions. Because Dragonfly has never had any sort of reading instruction before, we started at  “a b c d sun red pot mud.” Also in the settings, you can choose which lesson within the level (each stage has 25 lessons) and whether you want a British or American accent. 

6037B4A8-715A-4D8E-96FB-61EBA0CE755FLessons at level one teach letters and simple CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. Each instruction and teaching moment is spoken by the program itself, and children are instructed to do things like “say it with me” followed by a letter sound, touch the correct picture associated with a specific beginning sound, write letters on paper, read words and match the right picture, and more. 4C8395B8-E16E-435C-9827-F4EAB2EF6739Periodically, parents are asked which of the recently taught sounds the child knows. You “give” the answer by toggling the switch red or green. Any letters that are left red are reviewed one more time before moving on to reading words.
It’s a very simple program, but it works! A month ago, my 4-year-old could recognize an A (because it’s the first letter of his name), but that was as far as his “reading skills” went. Now, he can easily tell me the sounds of 5 letters and read words like “can,” “pan,” “nap,” “cat,” and “cap.” My skepticism about this program, even for young children, is gone, and I can’t recommend it enough.

3658CF68-3B41-4583-8F7E-17875FA2FCF0Now, all that gushing said, there are a couple of issues I need to address. Earlier, when I mentioned there was a choice between a British and American accent, that is technically true, but I must have changed the setting to American and clicked save a dozen times or more. But every time a lesson started (immediately after clicking save), it had reverted to the British accent. That didn’t cause too much trouble, but that could be because I was super involved and basically repeated everything for my son (much slower than the program). Because it wouldn’t allow the American accent setting to stick, it used British phrases too, like “draw” instead of “write” in reference to letters and words. Also, the recording of the voice wasn’t the same from slide to slide, which I found a little distracting, but it didn’t seem to bother Dragonfly. And finally, you could hear the white noise on the recording a little before and after each instruction. Again, not a deal breaker, but potentially an issue for some kids.

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So, in conclusion, Reading Unlocked is a fantastic program, but it has a few minor bugs that would be nice to see adjusted. That said, will we continue to use it? Absolutely! 

Blessings,

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As always with my reviews, other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are also discussing this product this week. Make sure to click through for more information!

5 Random Things: April 10, 2020

5 random things



80ABF8C8-5B61-4799-ABF8-026D51899C4C1. I’ve been crocheting stuffed animals. I found a site with super cute, free patterns. I’ve made a unicorn for Bumblebee. I named him Edward, which seemed appropriate since baby’s middle name is the same as my dad’s first, and Edward was my dad’s middle name. Then I made a giraffe for Dragonfly since that’s his favorite animal. With a little help from his brothers, he decided to name him George. A second unicorn is on my hook now; it will be a gift for Grasshopper’s “girlfriend” (a girl in one of his dance classes who has a huge crush on him; with everything being canceled, they miss each other terribly, so we’re making her a gift.)

035A79A8-7179-4B04-AB0F-A535D3011A432. Bumblebee (19 months) got his first major haircut this week. As I posted on Instagram, I turned my baby into a little boy. Always a bit of a bittersweet moment, but he wears short hair well.

3. We’re doing pretty well, despite the statewide quarantine. Will saw a decrease in business the first two weeks, but now things are practically back to normal. We miss going out to our favorite restaurants, but this new normal is at least not destroying his business.

D6587F1E-2128-4D7A-9E72-CA201841C7214. He’s doing so well, in fact, that he was able to buy me a Louis Vuitton handbag. Two years ago I couldn’t imagine having anything other than a Walmart-type purse; today I have many luxury handbags. 

5. Dragonfly (4 years old) is learning to read! I was assigned a review that I didn’t think would work for him, but (without giving too much away before the official review goes up later this month), I have been surprised by him. 

Bonus random thing: I recently perfected a recipe for ground beef sausage, so I hope to get that posted soon.

Blessings,

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Music for Babies, Before and After Birth ~ Preborn Prodigy Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

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Have you ever wondered just how much certain types of sounds and music influence a person? This day and age, we all accept that babies in the womb can hear us, but how much influence does what we say have on them?

Sara Bumgarner, the owner of Preborn Prodigyhas done some research for you, and the answer to both questions is, A LOT! So she created three albums using her research, and I’m going to tell you a bit about them today.

In Prayers and Blessings for the Unborn Child, we hear gentle music, which is overlaid with promises, many of which come directly from Scripture. The narrator reads promises and assurances in many categories: 

  • Health and Delivery talks about the unborn baby’s health and development, as well as prayers for an easy and safe delivery
  • Protection and Provision includes prayers and promises from scripture about God’s sovereignty and role as provider in our lives
  • Spiritual Growth and Dedication reads scriptures to teach how to live a godly life
  • Identity and Destiny is from the point of view of God, assuring babies of who they are and their purpose
  • Spirit, Soul, and Body has blessings parents want for their children but don’t always think of 
  • Salvation tells about Jesus and what salvation means and how to get it
  • Blessing and Lullaby is a sweet song directly from the Old Testament, and is sung rather than spoken

The idea behind this record is to play it while Mom is still pregnant, and the blessings and promises contained will offer assurances to the baby that he is loved, wanted, and not a mistake, before he is even born. A pregnant mom can play the record while she goes about her day, or she can play it over headphones on her belly during a few moments of quiet time.

Prayers and Blessings for Newborn to 99 is basically the sale album, but words are adjusted to be appropriate for anyone who has already been born. The tracks counteract the “bad stuff” we sometimes tell ourselves: “I’m a failure, I’m a mistake, I don’t matter.” 

Math Prodigy is very different from the other two albums. Instead of reading prayers and blessings, it reads math concepts and equations over the top of gentle, pleasing music. It sounds strange, and it was at first, but it is based on the experience of a math professor (who Ms. Bumgarner saw on a TV news show) who had read about math to his pregnant wife’s belly. Fast forward 5 years, and their child was a math genius. Whether a coincidence (Dad was a math professor, after all) or because of the readings, it’s an interesting idea, and one that Preborn Prodigy ran with in creating this album. Tracks include

  • Introduction to Math
  • Addition and Subtraction   
  • Multiplication and Division    
  • Fractions    
  • Decimals and the Order of Operations

I played these albums for my kids at bedtime (they usually listen to audiobooks anyway). They thought they were weird at first, but they warmed up fairly quickly. They probably won’t ever ask to listen to them, but they won’t say “no” if I put it on.

I received digital downloads of these albums, but they are primarily available as CDs. (We don’t have a CD player.) Math Prodigy is available only in English, but the two Prayers and Blessings albums are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, German, Hebrew, and Afrikaans. Each CD (one album in one language) is available for $14.99. You can also purchase an instrumental version for $9.99 or a PDF of the written blessings (to read aloud to your child) for $6.99.

Many members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing these albums this week, from all walks of life. I encourage you to click through and learn more.

Blessings,

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Math Apps for All Ages ~ Math Galaxy review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

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I don’t know about your kids, but my kids love having iPad time. I have to be pretty strict with them, because they would spend all day watching movies and playing games if I wasn’t. When I found out about Math Galaxy, I requested this review so that I could “reclaim” some of that time for productivity. I selected apps for each of my three school-age kids (3rd Grade Math, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra), as well as 2 supplemental apps (Word Problems Fun and Addition and Subtraction Balloon Pop). Part way through the review period, I received an email from the founder of Math Galaxy letting me know of new app they’d just released, Preschool Math, so I downloaded that one for Dragonfly (4 years old). I will talk about each one in turn here. Math Galaxy also offers ebooks, and I will touch on those at the end of this review as well.

3rd Grade Math

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This was for Grasshopper (surprise, surprise – he seems to be becoming a large part of my blog these days!). He is technically only in 2nd grade, but I thought he was fairly advanced in math, so I wanted to try this with him. The screenshot above shows the main menu, and each of those categories has many lessons. For example, “numbers in base 10” has lessons in adding, subtracting, estimating, and place value. “Operations and Algebraic Thinking” is mostly multiplication and division. And so on.

Because this was officially above his “pay grade,” we stuck mostly with the Base 10 category. As I had hoped, he really enjoyed it. He needed a bit of instruction because we haven’t used base 10 blocks much (he knows the concept of place value, he just didn’t recognize the blocks), but then he was off and running.

Pre-Algebra Fundamentals

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Scorpion has been working through Pre-Algebra this year, so I requested this as a supplement for him. Because he’s done some pre-algebra already, he jumped around a bit, spending time mostly in Decimals and Word Problems.

Scorpion tells me that the program was neither too easy not too hard. It covered the material well and was enjoyable to work through. He would recommend to other students as a good option for extra practice.

Algebra Fundamentals 

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Ballet Boy has done Algebra I off and on (usually depending on what curriculum we have at a particular time), so he, like his brothers, had a bit of a jump start on his app. He picked up where he left off in previous math book, Linear Equations. He had to be reminded somewhat about the math, but it came back to him quickly. He too quite enjoyed using the apps.

Preschool Math

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Dragonfly is 4, and he’s at the age where he’s really interested in learning. He was so excited to get a math program of his own, and he’s been the one to actually use it the most! Because he’s only 4 still, I haven’t done a whole lot of formal education with him. For this reason, we avoided things like Matching Sums and focused instead on keeping things fun with Tracing Numbers and Froggie Count. His favorite activity was Tracing Numbers, specifically the 5. I’m not entirely sure why, but he gravitated to the 5 every time. 

Addition and Subtraction Balloon Pop

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This app is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Choose the difficulty of problems you want to work, and then pop the balloon with the answer to the problem at the top of the screen. This is more game than work, and my kids treated as such – Grasshopper loved it!

Word Problems Fun

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This app is an adventure game for one to four players. You select a player and move around the board, exploring “caves” and answering math problems along the way. The screenshot above is from just “inside a cave,” where we’ve just answered the problem correctly and now have the option of going inside properly. This wasn’t our favorite app.

Ebooks

In addition to these apps, we also received over 30 ebooks from Galaxy. The books are large workbooks full of practice worksheets. I didn’t use these as much as I wish I could have, but we did use a few pages from the ones that matches our studies. 

Each worksheet is a riddle. There’s a question and a series of boxes along the top, and math problems in the bulk of the page. Students solve the problem and then find the correct answer from the answer bank, each of which is assigned a letter. Put the letters in the boxes to solve the riddle. (For example: What do you give a snake at bedtime? A good night hiss.)

The ebooks were fantastic to have on hand to quickly print off some extra practice for the kids, especially on days when I wanted them to go screen free. My only complaint is that the answer page for each one came directly after the work page, unlike most books where you get a book full of worksheets followed by all the answer keys together. That’s not really a big thing; in fact, as I think about it while I’m writing at this moment, it’s probably just that it was an unfamiliar way of doing things for me, and therefore I didn’t like it much.

Overall, we have had a good time working with Math Galaxy over the past few weeks, and I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to do so!

Blessings,

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Math Galaxy has tons of different apps, and members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing them all this week. Some members are even focusing more on the ebooks than the apps (which, by the way, are available only for Apple, not Android). I highly recommend you head over to the Crew blog to learn more about the huge variety of apps and books offered by Math Galaxy!

Diorama

My husband recently got a new pair of shoes that came in a really nice box (hello, Nordstrom!), and he have that box to Grasshopper for the express purpose of making a diorama. After he read the Boxcar Children books, Grasshopper decided that he wanted to make his diorama of a scene from the first book. He chose the scene where the kids are having a picnic supper and they find the dog that adopt and name Watch (because he will make a good watchdog). 

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We started by rereading the section. Then Grasshopper tried his hand at drawing the dog, but he was extremely unhappy with the way it turned out (“it looks like a slug with legs!”), so I helped him out. I’m not much of an artist myself, but I was able to look at the picture in the book and put lines in equivalent places on a sheet of paper. We also made a “blanket,” and Grasshopper painted the inside of the box to blue for sky and green for grass. He also made pictures of food for the blanket, and we worked together on the blueberry bush. I sent him outside with a big brother for a few minutes, and they gathered some real grass and pine cones for the diorama as well. When they came back in, we put everything together. 

F3BE4364-59A9-4438-BBFF-06CEED805EECFirst, we glued the grass to the bottom, then added the blanket. For the pieces that would stand up, we made sure to leave tabs on the bottoms when we cut them out. When it was time to attach them to the diorama, we folded the tab over and taped the tab to the bottom of the box. It still didn’t work super well (we had to make sure the bigger pieces were leaned against one of the walls), but it gave us a place to start. 

All in all, this was a really fun project! It was great to be able to take a book he had read and reinforce the story with an art project. 

Blessings,

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Learning About the Past: Book Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

I’ve read a few YWAM Publishing books in the past, but always with my older boys. I was excited when the opportunity arose this time because Grasshopper (7 years old) is old enough to listen. We chose from the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series, Corrie ten Boom: Keeper if the Angels’ Den. I chose this book for two reasons. First, Corrie ten Boom was used as a sermon illustration by our pastor at church a few weeks ago (around the time we were selecting the book we wanted to review). Second, Grasshopper and I had read another true story from the WWII era this school year (Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes), and he wanted to learn more. 
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About YWAM Publishing 

YWAM Publishing started in 1972 as an outreach of YWAM (Youth with a Mission), printing and distributing gospel tracts during the Munich Olympics. Within the first year, they had expanded to books, distributed all throughout the Eastern Bloc countries. Now located in Seattle, they have over 300 titles of their own. They also work as distributors for other Christian companies, selling books, DVDs, and resources for homeschooling families. 

YWAM Publishing’s Christian Heroes: Then and Now series has 49 books, and their Heroes of History series has 29 titles. Many of these also have study guides to make the biographies into a complete unit study.

About Corrie ten Boom 

Corrie ten Boom was a watchmaker in her father’s at-home clock shop, the first woman of the trade in the Netherlands. She was misdiagnosed with tuberculosis as a teenager and spent 6 months in bed because of it (turned out to be appendicitis). As a young adult, she created many clubs for other young men and women in her town; within just a few years one of her clubs had grown to many hundreds of members and their annual performance drew an audience of more than 1000. 

The Germans invaded Holland in 1940, when Corrie (properly, Cornelia, makes after her mother) was 48. They promptly shut down her clubs. Two years later, in 1942, a woman showed up on their doorstep, claiming to be a Jew in need of help. Casper, Corrie’s father, agreed immediately. He read the Bible twice a day, every day, to his family and believed with all his heart that the Jews were God’s chosen people, and he would therefore do anything he could to help them. This the ten Boom home, Beje (bay-yay), became known as The Hiding Place.

On February 28, 1944, all of the ten Booms were arrested after having been outed by a Dutch informant. Her father and sister, Betsie, died in custody. 

After the war, Corrie was released and became a world traveler, public speaker, and author. Her most famous book is The Hiding Place. She died on her birthday in 1983, at age 91.

How we used it

As suggested, Grasshopper and I read (well, we are still reading) this book together. I didn’t use the full study guide (of which I received a digital copy), but I have been utilizing the comprehension questions with him. He was very wary about starting to read the book, but from the very first paragraph he was hooked. He has asked to read more regularly since I convinced him to start listening the first time. In summary, YWAM Publishing biographies have found a new generation of love in my family!

Blessings,

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Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing a variety of YWAM biographies this week, from both series. Make sure to click through and learn more!