Review and Giveaway: ESV Illuminated Bible #FlyBy #ESVIlluminatedBible

Happy Thanksgiving! In celebration today, I have a review and giveaway for one of the things we as Christians should be the most thankful for today: the Bible.

Bible reading is a super important part of the life of a Christian, and a lot of us feel like we “need” more than just text on a page to keep us going on that each day. If that’s you, then I have just the right Bible to tell you about today: the ESV Illuminated Bible.

94AA25A3-FCA5-4AFD-A3F4-9A91C049CE1CThis Bible is a super nice hardcover edition that comes in a box. The cover is dark blue with gold embossing all over. The cover itself is gorgeous, and once you open it up, it just gets better. The Bible (as you can tell from the title) is the English Standard Version, which is the one my family prefers. There’s a single column of text on each page (instead of the standard two columns most bibles have), plus lots of room for you to make your own notes and drawings. Some of the pages have specific verses written in decorated text in those margins, and many of the books (64 of them) have their own illuminated (fancy illustrated) opening page.

The Bible is printed in 9-point Lexicon black ink, and the illuminations are printed in gold, matching the cover. The two color printing is really nice together. In addition to the 64 Bible book opening pages, there are another 50 full page memory verse illustrations and over 250 small, in the margin, illustrations. All of the drawings are by American artist Dana Tanamachi, whose work has been featured by companies such as the USPS and Target. 

BF411EF0-6F5E-49C1-88A5-30707F586EA6If you’re into the new craze of decorating your Bible with your own thoughts and colors, then this is absolutely the Bible for you. The wide margins give ample room for those notes and drawings that I’ve seen all over Instagram. The only downside I can think of to this Bible is that it’s quite big and heavy. It’s probably not the one you want to carry around with you every day for basic reading. But for studying and taking notes in your own home, it’s a great option. You can purchase a copy of the Bible on Amazon.

If you want to win a copy of this Bible for your very own, just fill out the Giveaway Tools widget below. The giveaway will run through Thursday, November 30 at 11:00 p.m. PST. Winner will be contacted via email and announced here on December 1st, 2017. Good luck!

Blessings,

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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Learning by Hearing Yourself (Sound for Life review)

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For my final review of the 2017 Homeschool Review Crew year, I have a very interesting product to talk about. The Forbrain headset is from Sound for Life LTD, and its purpose is to help people age 4 and up to help improve attention, short term memory, concentration, and verbal working memory. They recommend this headset for people with attention difficulties, speech and language issues, and poor memory. 

No one in my family has any of those problems. 

That might make one wonder why I requested to review this product then, and that would be a fair question. In fact, I almost didn’t request simply because I didn’t think we were the right fit for the product. But then I got to thinking about a couple of things going on with us right now (one new and one not).

First, Seahawk. This is a bit of a delicate issue, growing more so as he ages. But as it pertains specifically to this review, I can’t really beat around the bush. He’s a terrible speller. I had a thought during the request period for this product that maybe if he wore it each day and recited spelling rules and words, maybe something would click in his brain and help him to retain the words he consistently misspells (that always becomes thate, for example). 

The second thing is that our Rosetta Stone microphone broke a few weeks ago, so it’s been a bit difficult for the kids to get a good handle on their foreign language (French) pronunciations. So we’ve been using the Forbrain headset to help them be able to hear themselves during their lessons. 

E9921E8E-FCCF-4AC5-B1B4-8BED9D3D4846Now that I’ve discussed what its intended uses are and how I’d planned for us to use it, let’s talk about what it is. Forbrain is a headset which has little pads that sit in front of your ears, a band that wraps around the back, and a microphone coming off a little box on the right side. The box contains a rechargeable battery (and all the mechanical stuff that make the product work, I’m sure). There’s also a power switch on the box. To use it, you first turn it on, then place the headset on your head properly. Then you start talking. It doesn’t matter what you say – if you (or your child) is studying, then say the things they need to remember. If you’re working with a child who has speech difficulties (ages 4 and up only), then they can just repeat what you say. If your goal is to help improve memory issues, then read a book out loud. The important thing is that the speaking happens. You see, when the person wearing the headset speaks aloud, they can hear their own voice. I’m not entirely sure how that happens considering there’s nothing that goes inside the ears, but it does. By wearing this headset while speaking, people can hear their speaking mistakes for themselves, thus prompting them to correct themselves over time. It’s really a remarkable tool.

8481DC51-2216-4734-9D30-1BBF37D23E72How did it work for us, a family of people who aren’t necessarily the intended audience for this product? I’m happy to say that I’ve been really pleased with our progress. I can hear the difference in my children’s French pronunciations after a few weeks of using Forbrain. Additionally, Seahawk doesn’t put that pesky silent E on words that shouldn’t have it anymore – at least not as often. He still has a long way to go to become a “good speller” (or even an adequate one), but I really think that his being able to hear the spellings of the words he struggles with the most will help him in the long run. He’s the most auditory learner of all my kids (so far), so listening to things – even his own voice – is a huge help for his learning. Consistent use of this product will help him over time. I’m sure of it.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Forbrain {Sound For Life Ltd Review}
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Bringing Little Children to Jesus (review)

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I wrote a few weeks about the Halloween tracts from Let the Little Children Come. Today I have a complimentary product to tell you about. It’s the Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack, and it contains several little tools for children witnessing to other children. Let’s dive right in.

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First up, and just right for this time of year, is The True Story of Christmas. This is a mini book (most of the things in this pack are mini books) that tells of the birth of Christ. The words are easy to understand, so even a very young child can make sense of the story.

On the topic of holidays, the kit also includes The Lost Easter Egg, another mini book (one of the characters shares a name with Seahawk!) that explains why the eggs aren’t really all that important when it comes to Easter. 

When I wrote about the Is There Anything Better than Candy Box Tracts, I suggested that one thing that would make a good filler would be a “wordless story” book or bracelet. Well, guess what? The Sampler Pack comes with both of those. The book is a very small (about 1/4 the size of the other mini books in the pack), and has no words or pictures. It’s just colors, one per page, and each one gives an important piece of the gospel story. There’s a whole page on the Let the Little Children Come website devoted to this tiny book, which was developed by Charles Spurgeon in 1866, and how to use it. I’m not going to go over all of that here, but I did want to mention what each color represents. 

It begins with a green cover, to remind us to always grow in Christ. The first page is gold, to remind us of Heaven. But then it leads straight into a black page, because our sin prevents us from going there to be with God. God knew we would sin, and therefore came up with the way back to him – the sacrifice of Jesus, represented by a red page. Jesus’s purity allows us to become as white as snow, so that’s the next color. The gold and green are then repeated to close out the book. This is a wonderful tool because it works in any language. The colors don’t have to change in order to explain it to anyone who’s listening.

To go along with the Wordless book, there’s a bracelet version of the colors. This comes with an adjustable cord (to fit most children and adults) and a bead of each color. Children are told the story as they put the beads on in the order in which they’re presented, and then they have a physical reminder of the story they were presented. If you’ve got an older crowd who may not be interested in a beaded bracelet, there’s also a silicone one available (on its own or in the Sampler pack). 

6C758CAE-089B-4043-9842-4724A606D273My favorite items from the kit are the animated books. Each one tells a story related to the gospel, and the pictures look a little funny on their own. But rub the black-and-clear transparency sheet (included in each book) over it, and the pictures come to life right before your eyes. There are 3 of these in the kit: The True Story of Christmas (which I talked about earlier), Where’s Everyone Going?, and John 3:16. 

The Easter book is one of two pop up books, which are always popular with little kids! The other one is called The Most Amazing House, which tells about Heaven (in my Father’s house there are many, many rooms).

As far as using these products, we haven’t really done much with them yet. I looked at all of them (and really liked every single one!), but because of where we live, there hasn’t been much opportunity. We hope to move soon, though, and I think it will be really neat to give these to my boys once they start to make friends in our new neighborhood so they can witness to the people around them. That’s my long-term plan, anyway.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools {Let the Little Children Come Reviews}
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Lord’s Prayer Bible Curriculum (Kid Niche review)

kid niche review

IMG_0783[1]One thing I never feel like I’m doing enough of with the boys is Bible study. This is getting better since we switched our main curriculum to one that has a Bible reading plan built in, but I’m almost always interested in reviewing Bible study curriculum when it comes available anyway. Today, Munchkin and I will talk to you about Kid Niche Christian Books and their Weave Your Word in Me — Part 1 set.

Kid Niche (niche rhymes with stitch) is passionate about teaching kids how to grow in Christ. They have a variety of resources for teens and preteens to teach them all about God and about developing – and keeping – a relationship with Him. There are also resources for younger children and their parents to work with, making sure that relationship starts at a young age. This is so important for our children! It’s not enough to just take them to church once or twice a week and hope that they somehow, magically, know God and read their Bibles. We have to model this for them, and begin teaching them at home on a daily basis when they’re very young. Kid Niche is there to help.

A sample of the prayer section. I chose to share one that Munchkin hasn't filled in yet because prayer can be such a personal thing, and I don't want his on display for all the world.

A sample of the prayer section. I chose to share one that Munchkin hasn’t filled in yet because prayer can be such a personal thing, and I don’t want his on display for all the world.

Weave Your Word in Me — Part 1 is a Bible study for the 4th-6th grade crowd (roughly ages 8-11). It comes printed and hole punched, ready to be inserted into your child’s binder. It’s not bound, so you will need to have a place to keep the pages to prevent them from being lost. (We don’t have binders at the moment, so I put Munchkin’s set into a file folder. It’s a bit loosey-goosey, but it’s working for us.) There are 36 lessons, so you can take it nice and slow and study the Lord’s Prayer a little bit at a time for the entire school year, or you can study hard and intense, doing a lesson a day and get through it a lot faster. It’s not a difficult curriculum, so we’ve been doing 3-5 lessons per week.

Weave Your Word in Me — Part 1 follows the Lord’s Prayer, teaching children not only how to pray as prescribed by Jesus, but also why we are to pray in this way. It does a wonderful job of combining New and Old Testament scriptures together, helping to explain some of the concepts within the prayer to children. Each lesson consists of Bible reading, comprehension questions, and a written prayer. A lot of these are fill-in-the-blank type questions, but some are more “essay” type. The written prayer at the end of the lessons are similar to the questions, in that there is a guide for students to work within, but they are also free to add in their own thoughts while they write and pray.

I decided to use Easy Peasy Homeschool for our core curriculum this year, and it includes a Bible reading time in each day’s lessons. It was really easy to have Munchkin sub in the Kid Niche lessons instead of what was written on the Easy Peasy website. He’s been enjoying having the worksheets to help him process what he reads in the Bible, and I’m glad he’ll have a record of what he’s learned and prayed this year.

In addition to Weave Your Word in Me — Part 1, there is also Weave Your Word in Me — Part 2 available. You can also buy the two parts individually for $20 each or together as a single set for $30.

Click the banner below for more reviews on Kid Niche.

Blessings,

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Weave Your Word in Me {Kid Niche Christian Books Reviews}
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Safety Scissors That Aren’t Dull and Pencil Grips (review and giveaway)

Pencil Grips and Safety Scissors Giveaway

We have been fans of The Pencil Grip, Inc. for quite some time now. My kids, especially Small Fry, adore creating art with their Kwik Stix fast-drying, no-mess tempera paint sticks. This time, we got something  completely different to review – The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors and The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit.

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors 

safety scissorsA lot of companies make safety scissors for children. This is usually code for “dull” and/or “blunt.” After all, if the scissors are neither sharp nor pointy, children can’t cut themselves, right? Wrong! Besides being faulty logic (we’ve all cut ourselves on dull blades, am I right?), it also makes the process of cutting the intended object difficult or impossible. When a young child is first learning to use scissors, this can be a very frustrating experience.

This is where The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors are different. They are neither dull nor blunt. So how are they safe for children then? I’m glad you asked! The Pencil Grip, Inc. has installed a permanent plastic guard for the bottom blade to slide into. This guard is positioned in such a way as to make it impossible for little fingers to find their way between the blades, whether the scissor is opened or closed. To cut the paper, the child opens the blade, slides the paper between the top blade and the safety guard, and then proceeds to cut like normal.

Another feature of The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors is that little yellow piece you see attached to the lower handle. If you flip that guy up, it gives your child a little extra help getting the scissor open again after making his cut. This is especially helpful for children with little hand strength.

005F539C-A4B1-4B99-AE0C-35B8F2C17F65Small Fry (age 5) has had loads of fun learning to cut with these scissors. I love that he can learn this important skill without putting his (or any of his brothers’) fingers in danger. This is a really great product that I highly recommend.

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit

pencil gripsThese little doodads are what The Pencil Grip, Inc., is famous for. In fact, it’s the name of their company! I’m sure a lot of parents remember these from their own childhoods; I know I do.

A lot of people (myself included) hold their pens and pencils incorrectly, resulting in tendon damage and hand fatigue. The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit helps you to adjust your grip, allowing you to write longer with less hand trouble. 

How It Works

There are 3 Pencil grips in the set, and each one is a little different, but they all do basically the same thing. You slide on onto your pencil and it forces you to have the correct grip (which is thumb and pointer finger on each side, middle finger behind – nothing overlapping). If you’re very set in your ways, you need to start with step 1, which has a “superhero cape” that physically gets in the way of you overriding the grip to hold the pencil in your normal way.

Once you’ve used this one for a while and feel pretty confident with your new grip, you can move onto step 2. The second Grip is much like the first one, except instead of the full cape, it has just a small tag to get in your way, preventing overlap.

And finally, step 3, which is the traditional Pencil Grip. It guides your fingers into the right positions without actively preventing bad grip. 

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit works for both right- and left-handed students. There is an L and an R on each one, and this gives you the placement for the thumb to be able to get the rest of the fingers in the right places.

Each of my kids used one of these, even though they’re each a little different. We gave Small Fry the Step 1 Grip, because as a kindergartner he’s the most flexible and willing to learn. He’s been using it every time he has a pencil in his hand, and he really likes it. Seahawk and Munchkin have been trading the other two back and forth, depending on their moods. They don’t use them every time, but they use them often enough to gain some good habits. They both told me that they like them quite a bit. I think the lack of use is more out of habit than out of dislike.

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has generously offered to give away one set of the items in this review to one of my readers. The lucky winner will receive one pair of The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors and The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit. Just fill out the Giveaway Tools widget below for your chance to win. The winner will be chosen randomly by Giveaway Tools on Tuesday morning, October 24, 2017. Good luck!

Blessings,

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Ultra Safe Safety Scissors & Pencil Grip Training Kit {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}
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The Brinkman Adventures (review)

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We’ve had the pleasure of joining the Brinkman family in their missionary stories twice before. We loved them both times, so when the opportunity to review them again, this time Brinkman Adventures Season 4, my kids (especially Seahawk) practically begged me to request it. 

Brinkman Adventures tells the story of a fictional missionary family who travel the world, meeting other missionaries and participating in heart-pounding thrills. These stories, while dramatized, are based on the lives of real missionaries. Season 4 finds the Brinkmans traveling all over Asia and Eastern Europe, witnessing and preaching to the lost. The boys have been listening to their new CDs at night as they relax into sleepiness. They’ve also listened during their playtime in the afternoons. Now I’ll have each of them tell you about their favorite episode from this season.

Munchkin

65ABBFBC-BA9D-40FA-80F5-57BAF3BDE49FMy favorite episode is Cambodian Quest. In this story, Mrs. Brinkman and one of her daughters (I forget which one) travel to Cambodia so that they can teach young girls there to sew and knit. These skills will give them a leg up in their country – a way to work and support themselves. Supporting themselves is the only way many of them can avoid slavery. The daughter becomes good friends with one of the Cambodian girls, and they go to the market together one day. While they’re there, they meet a man who fixes sewing machines. This is perfect because one of their machines needs repair. The Brinkman daughter gives the man their address so he can come fix the machine. 

The whole way home, the Cambodian girl is very quiet and reserved. The Brinkman girl doesn’t know why until the Cambodian girl finally confides that the sewing machine repairman is her former slave master. She’d escaped from him, and now is terrified because he has her current address. She is very afraid now, and understandably so. 

When they get home, the Cambodian girl runs away. The Brinkman daughter searches for her and finally finds her in her former home. Together, they have to escape the slave master. The picture on the cover is from this story.

I don’t want to say anymore and spoil it, but trust me that this was a great story!

Seahawk

My favorite episode this season is Paradise Lost. In this story, the Brinkman family is camping at Paradise Lake, where s missionary is expected to come give a presentation. His plane is delayed due to a hurricane, so he has to cancel. The family has to figure out how to occupy the whole week with these unexpected circumstances prevailing.

In the meantime, the dam that keeps the lake filled breaks due to flooding from the mountains nearby. In the process of the dam breaking, all the excess water also crushes the bridge, which is the only way in or out of Paradise Lake. To stay busy, the family puts together a series of games that teach the kids to prepare for the mission field. 

The first game is about Bible translating. Mrs. Brinkman wanders around the campground pretending to be Dutch. The children have to find her and communicate their memory verse to her using only gestures so she can write it down in “her” language.

The next game teaches them how to smuggle Bibles. This game is a lot like Capture the Flag, except the kids start with the flag (which is really a piece of paper with a Bible verse written on it).

The final game is a trusting game. All the kids but one are blindfolded and tied together with a rope. The seeing kid has to lead them around a series of obstacles. This teaches them to trust in God even when the way is unclear.

Opinion

Both boys told me that this is their favorite season of Brinkman Adventures so far. It has a good balance action and character development. There’s enough calmness to keep it from being overwhelming, but enough action to keep it from being boring.

As for me, I’m really glad these stories exist. My kids like to fall asleep to sounds, and I much prefer they listen to something with substance instead of rowdy music. Brinkman Adventures fits the bill beautifully.

Click the banner below for more Crew reviews on these fun audio dramas.

Blessings,

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Brinkman Adventures Season 4
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Traveling the World (Let’s Go Geography review)

Learning about the place we live can be exciting for a young child, and it’s fairly easy to teach them. But what about teaching about places that are far away? That’s a lot trickier. A good homeschool geography curriculum is vital in that, and I have one to tell you about today.

Let’s Go Geography is a downloadable curriculum that offers a lot of hands-on activities, which is perfect for its target age demographic of grades K-4. Because my two older boys are outside the age range, Small Fry (K) and I have been learning about the world around us for the past few weeks. He’s barely at the point where he can differentiate the city from the state where we live, and definitely doesn’t understand about the countries yet, so his little mind is perfect for starting fresh with something like this.

lets go geographyAfter you purchase the curriculum, you are given access to the site, where you can download the lessons. If you’re like me, you may not want to print the entire year’s worth at a time though. Let’s Go Geography sends you an automated email each week (at roughly the same day and time as when you first signed up – for me, this is on Sunday evenings), reminding you to get the new lesson ready, including direct links to the lesson (just log in to the site to access). I think that’s pretty neat! There’s no excuse for forgetting that way.

The Specifics of Let’s Go Geography

Each lesson covers a specific geographic area, and the first several lessons are all based on North America (Northeastern United States, Hawaii, Canada, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Belize are the first six, which is all I’ve gone through yet.) Each lesson is broken down into “chapters,” making it easy to divide the work up over a single school week. In order to get an idea of how the curriculum works, I’m going to go over the “chapters” in lesson 1 in a bit of detail.

Map It!

This chapter shows children what the country they’re studying looks like. Depending on the map you choose to download and print (there is one suggested and linked in the curriculum download, but it’s just a suggestion; ultimately, you’re responsible for finding your own map), it could also show them where the country is located in relation to the rest of the world also. Children are instructed to color the map. For older children, you could also have them label important parts (individual states, large cities, rivers, etc).

The Flag

flag mapIn this chapter, children learn to identify the flag of the country they’re studying that week. Included in the curriculum is a map of the overarching section of the study (in this case, North America and some of the nearby islands) with places to glue the flags. Students are also asked to draw a line connecting a flag to its country. Another option is to download the “passport” that goes along with the curriculum (an extra fee of $2.99, or go to the website and share about the curriculum on your favorite social media outlet to get it for free). Once you print out the passport and put it together, your child can glue the flags onto the correct pages of that.

The Music

An example of the page for the chapter on music. You can see that includes lyrics for the song as well as a link to hear the song. This is an example of a page that is better on the computer than in print.

The music page in the Hawaii lesson. You can see that includes lyrics for the song as well as a link to hear the song. This is an example of a page that is better on the computer than in print.

This section provides links to listen to musical selections from the country. There are also lyrics for the national anthem.

Let’s Explore

In this chapter, there’s lots of information specific to the area you’re studying. In the Northeast U.S. lesson, students are taught about the geographical features specific to the region. This includes photographs of the region and short descriptions of what you might find there or things the area is famous for.

Create

This is a fun chapter – it provides a craft for the children that relates to the region. For the first lesson, children use a red Solo cup and printable flames (included in the curriculum) to make a lighthouse.

The final pages include a coloring page of the region and a notebooking page for older students to make a written record of what they learned during the week. (Due to the age of my student, we didn’t use the notebooking page, but he loves to color, so we did use the coloring pages.)

How We Used It

As I mentioned before, I used this curriculum with my Kindergartner. It was a bit intense for him to go at the rate of even one chapter per day, so we took it nice and slow, getting through one region approximately every two weeks. At this rate, it will take us 2 years (kindergarten and 1st grade) to get all the way through this curriculum, but that’s okay – I was blessed with lifetime access to the product (I’m not sure if this is the way it works for everyone, or if your purchase of the full year is good only for one year). I had him glue his flags onto the map I described earlier rather than into the passport, simply because the passport gave me a lot of grief in the printing process (which is not a problem with the file itself, just in that reloading paper into my printer and getting it to print correctly was a bit of a hassle). Also, I didn’t have any cardstock to make a good passport cover.

Right now, all of his papers are just kind of loose all around the school shelf, which isn’t ideal. I think I’m going to help my 5 year old to turn all of this great info into a lapbook pretty soon. This will keep it all very organized, but also make it much more interesting to look at, and will give him a keepsake to look back on when he’s older. The curriculum download includes several notebook cover options, one of which we will put on the cover of the lapbook. If you have an older student who would do better to keep his papers in a binder, you can use the cover printout in that way instead.

Final Thoughts

We’ve enjoyed working with Let’s Go Geography. I didn’t realize when I blindly printed out the first lesson that a lot of it is better used on the computer because it includes live links to things (the printable map, a YouTube video of the national anthem, etc). But some of it works just fine printed – in fact, some of the pieces have to be printed. So my advice is to spend the time on your computer going through each lesson in advance and printing just the pages that actually need to be printed.

You can get a full year of Let’s Go Geography for $21.99. If that’s a bit difficult for you to swing all at once, they also have a payment plan, wherein you agree to the whole year but make two equal payments of $12.99, one for the first semester and one for the second. If you’d prefer to buy just one semester at a time, the first semester is available for $14.99 (I didn’t see anything on the site about the second semester individually). There are also coupon codes available from time to time – currently there is a 25% off special going, but I don’t know how long that will last.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}
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Visiting Noah’s Flood (Barbour Publishing review)

As you know if read very many posts here at all, my 11 year old son likes to read. A lot. So whenever we have the opportunity to review a book comes up, I give him the option of requesting it or not, and he almost always says, “Yes, please.” Such was the case with a new Bible adventure novel from Barbour Publishing called Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich. Biblical fiction has been a genre I’ve enjoyed in the past in “grown up books,” and I’m really excited to see more and more Biblical fiction for kids books being written these days. This one takes a modern kid named Corey and plops him smack dab in the middle of Noah’s Ark.

The softcover book (cover price $5.99, currently on sale for $4.49 through the publisher’s website) is 110 pages, although the story doesn’t actually start until page 7. It’s the first book in what will become the Imagine series. Mr. Koceich’s goal in writing the books is to offer kids ages 8-12 a place to think and ponder what living through biblical events might be like.

imagine review

Since Munchkin is the one who read this book, I’m going to do a little interview with him on his thoughts of the book.

~*~*~

imagine coverGive me a short synopsis of the plot.

Corey is chasing his dog and he hits his head and gets injured. Next thing he knows, he is flashing back in time to ancient Mesopotamia and living in Noah’s flood.

You read this book alone. How long did it take you from start to finish?

Two days. I read for about one hour per day.

Was it too easy for you? Too hard? Just right? Do you think it would be a good fit for other kids your age?

I think it would pretty good for kids my age (11). It was a little easier than things I’m used to reading, but I wouldn’t say it was “too easy.”

When you first learned what this book was about, what did you think it would be like? Was it as good as you thought it would be?

I expected he would be on the Ark, but he got taken back to modern day before the Ark set sail. That was surprising to me. Yes, it was as good as I expected.

Tell me about your favorite scene from the book.

I like the part where Corey was fighting the Nephilim (giants). He fought them a few times, but I liked the first one the best because he had never seen them before. It was really terrifying because the people were so big. Corey didn’t win; in fact, he barely escaped. In most books the good guy always wins, so this was very refreshing in that he almost lost.

Who was your favorite character? Why?

Shem. He fights the most, and I liked those exciting scenes.

In the book, Corey learns a lesson in forgiveness. Did you feel like you learned any lessons reading this book?

Yeah. I was reminded that God always has a plan for what happens, even if it’s unclear to us.

Would you recommend this book? Why or why not?

Yes, I would recommend it. It was good because it’s time travel with biblical history. I like that a lot. It combines two very interesting types of books into one.

Any final thoughts?

I read in the back of this book that there’s a sequel coming out in March 2018. (Mom note: It’s about a girl transported to the Exodus and Ten Plagues of Egypt.) I would really like to read that one.

~*~*~

As you can tell by Munchkin’s answers, Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich was a hit in our house. As a mom, I like that there are good, Christian books for kids coming out that I can feel good about offering to my sons to read.

Blessings,

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Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}
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Reading a Favorite Book with Fresh Eyes (Progeny Press review)

progeny press review

One thing that the Homeschool Review Crew is amazing at is introducing me to products and companies I’d never heard of. Such was the case four years ago with Progeny Press. Every year that I’ve been on the Crew (this is my 4th), Progeny Press has offered literature study guides to members of the Crew. And every year, I’ve been blessed to review one. This year, Munchkin has the Charlotte’s Web E-Guide to work through.

Charlotte’s Web has a special place in our hearts because it was the first novel Munchkin ever read when he was just 6 years old. I thought it would be a fun one for him to study deeper even though he’s read it before and is very familiar with the story. It’s neat to take books you know and love and look at them through a more critical lens, and that’s just what I’d hoped Munchkin would accomplish through his review of this study guide.

IMG_0666[1]Progeny Press offers study guides for literature of all genres and age ranges from lower elementary (roughly grades K-3, including novels such as Frog and Toad Together) clear up to high school with selections like The Hunger Games. The study guides are available as instant downloads or you can purchase a physical CD-ROM. The guides are interactive PDFs, meaning that you don’t even have to print it out if you don’t want to – the student can type their answers right into the PDF reader. That doesn’t mean that you have to do it that way, though. Printing is allowed by the copyright, so long as it’s all for students in the same family. For our use, I received a downloadable study guide, which I’ve saved to my computer (and backup drive) for use with future kids, and I printed one copy for Munchkin. To save on paper – and make it feel more “legit” – I printed front and back, then punched holes in the pages and added them to his school binder.

Once we had the study guide all situated, I bought the Kindle version of Charlotte’s Web for him to read. We already have two copies of the paper novel, but they’re packed up in storage (read: difficult to access and/or find) and I didn’t want to deal with possible late fines through the library. At just $4.99, buying the e-book was the right answer for us.

progeny press worksheet

One of the pages of questions (click to enlarge). The red spot is just because he wrote his brother’s name, and we don’t use the kids’ real names here on the blog.

I love Progeny Press Study guides for a lot of reasons. I love how they start with prereading activities to do before you even crack open the book. In the case of Charlotte’s Web, they suggest studying spiders and having the child(ren) do a short report on them; taking children to a working farm to learn about the animals; and starting a vocabulary journal so that they can learn and start using all the “fancy” and “complicated” words that Charlotte uses. In addition to the prereading activities, the study guides always include a synopsis of the book and short biographies of the author and illustrator (when applicable).

Then you dive into the actual studying. Each chapter chunk has comprehension questions, which are superb. They help your child make sure he read the book and understood what he was reading. Comprehension is where a lot of literature guides end, but not Progeny Press. In addition to the comprehension questions are a variety of different activities for making sure students understand the vocabulary of the selection. These activities include multiple choice for figuring out the definition of potentially problematic words, having students come up with their own definition of the words based on context, thinking of synonyms for vocabulary words, and more.

Once your student has finished the vocabulary and comprehension sections for the selected chapters, Progeny Press really shines and stands out from other literature programs. There are “thinking about the story” questions, which go beyond comprehension and push students to think about the way things are in the book rather than just about what happened. For example, one of the questions in the Charlotte’s Web guide is “Why do farmers raise pigs?” This is the kind of question that relates to the story indirectly, forcing students to really think for themselves rather than just flip through the book to fill in a blank. (In case you’re wondering, my almost-11-year-old responded to this question with “To make bacon.”)

And then there my very favorite part of Progeny Press guides: the biblical “digging deeper” section. In these questions, the author of the study guide gives scripture references that relate to a part of the story and asks questions to draw the two together. For example, “Do you believe that human lives and animal lives are equal in value? Read Genesis 1:26, Genesis 9:3, 8-11, and Psalm 8. What do these passages say about the place of humans and animals in God’s creation?” This is the type of question you don’t get with most other literature guides, and it’s what makes Progeny Press one of my absolute favorite curricula for studying literature.

Munchkin, an avid reader anyway, has absolutely loved having the opportunity to reread something “easy” that happens to be one of his favorite books anyway. I love that he’s getting some new perspective on this favorite classic. He’s not too far into it yet (he worked lightly over the past several weeks, and has picked up a lot more steam now that we’re doing school each day in earnest), but he will absolutely be finishing this one. It’s a keeper!

Blessings,

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In case you’re interested, we’ve reviewed for Progeny Press in the past. Click the following links for my past reviews: Little House in the Big Woods, Tuck Everlasting, and Give Me Liberty. For more of this year’s Homeschool Review Crew reviews of Progeny Press, click the banner below. Selected titles include The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, Charlotte’s Web, The Silver Chair, and MacBeth.

Study Guides for Literature {Progeny Press Reviews}
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Bringing Children to Jesus (review)

Halloween can be a truly divisive “holiday” among people of faith. Some think it’s no big deal and that it’s just about the candy and having fun in costumes. Some think it’s a satanic day to be avoided at all costs. We tend to fall into the former category, but I am definitely sensitive to people in the latter one. And just because we aren’t averse to participating in Halloween doesn’t mean that we want our children to focus on the pagan aspects of the holiday. Nor do we wish to imply that something like a holiday is more important than our Lord. This is where the Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tract from Let the Little Children Come can be a great tool.

Let the Little Children Come box tract

What is it?

better than candyThese little boxes come packaged flat, and all you have to do is punch them out and lift the flaps up and over the “stem” to create the pumpkin-shaped box. When in its flat state, the box looks a lot like a flower, and on each petal is a step toward explaining the Gospel to children. Each one is clearly numbered so you can go over the concepts in the “correct” order (although when talking about the Gospel, I think getting the information out is more important than doing it in a specific order). Step one answers the question, “Is there anything better than candy?” The answer, of course, is Yes! A relationship with our creator and savior is much better than treats. Petal two explains in a very simple way that God loves us and wants us to join him in Heaven. Number three tells why that’s just not possible through a very basic explanation of sin. The fourth bit of information covers the official Gospel – how Jesus came to Earth, lived a perfect life, died, and was resurrected so that we could be forgiven. The fifth petal tells of the ABCs of salvation (Accept, Believe, Commit). The sixth and final petal gives a short “sinner’s prayer” to help guide the grownup as they lead the child to Christ.

better than candy product imageWhen the box is all folded up, it’s quite small. (In the image above, my 5-year-old son is holding it, just to give you an idea of the actual size of the box.) You could fit only very tiny items in there, but there is room for small things. I think a Halloween sized piece of candy would be about the perfect fit, although based on the name and content of the tract, that’s probably not the best idea for filling it. Flexible things would also be really good. I’m thinking specifically a small beaded bracelet – the kind that children often make at church events in which they’re instructed to put colored beads onto a bracelet base in a specific order to help them remember the Gospel (gold for God’s perfect creation, black for our sin, red for blood and death, white for Jesus’s ability to wash away our sin, blue for baptism, and green for growth). Another thing along the same lines that might fit in there is one of those tiny “Wordless books,” which cover the same colors and concepts as the bracelet I just mentioned.

How We Used It

Small Fry is just the right age for something like this. We go to church, but because we’re the only native English speakers with children in our church, his Sunday School and Children’s Church classes are taught primarily in Spanish, so he doesn’t always get much out of them. So he and I built the box together and I went over the information on the petals with him. It was really rewarding to watch him move from “No, there’s nothing better than candy!” to understanding that “Oh, yeah, God is definitely much better than candy.” What a blessing to see your own child make that connection.

These Gospel Tract boxes come in a package of 20 for $15.95. There are bulk discounts if  you buy 11 or more sets. Because I received a whole set for review, but only used one of them in my family, I gave the rest to my mother-in-law, who runs the children’s department in our church. She is really excited about handing these out to children during the annual fall festival this year.

Blessings,

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Is There Anything Better Than Candy? {Let The Little Children Come Reviews}
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