Hands On History (Home School in the Woods review)

History is an easy subject to make dry and boring. It’s just as easy to make it fun and interesting. So why wouldn’t you go for the latter? That’s just what Amy Pak and the rest of her family, who founded and run Home School in the Woods, think. And they’ve developed a line of curriculum to do just that. Recently, we were blessed to be able to review several items from the Á La Carte line. Each of these products is a digital download that you print out to make your own hands-on history project. There are so many to choose from that it was hard to decide which ones I wanted for this review!

HSitW review

IMG_1186First up, the boys (the three older ones, ages 14, 11, and 5) have had a lot of fun playing the Pirate Panopoly game. This game comes with several pages, but really only two of them are necessary: the pirate and his clothes. The game is played like many other preschool level games, so was easy enough for my 5-year-old but still engaging for the older boys. Each player gets a printout of the pirate in his “skivvies” and one of his clothes. They can color the pictures if they want (mine didn’t – boys!) and then cut out the clothes. Once that’s done, each player sets his pieces in front of him. On his turn, he rolls a die and depending on the number shown puts a piece of clothing on his pirate. The first person to fully dress his pirate wins! 

This was a fun activity because on top of being a game (who doesn’t love to play “instead of” doing school?), students learn about the clothes of yesteryear. On the pirate page, there are labels naming and describing each piece of clothing. And if your kids are extra curious, you could easily make this part of a bigger unit study. In fact, it’s originally part of the Time Travelers: New World Explorers unit from Home School in the Woods. Pirate Panopoly is available for $1.95.

IMG_1187Next, we learned all about how orchestras have changed through the ages with The Orchestra file folder project. I chose this one for the boys because they dance ballet. I thought it would be good for them to learn more about the music they’re dancing to every week, and I was right.

In this file folder project, you print out the images provided and glue the “stage” to your file folder. (We used an 11×17 sheet of paper because we didn’t have any file folders available.) Then you cut out the different pockets (each with a number that corresponds to a space on the stage) and glue or tape them into place. We were out of glue sticks when we did this project, so we used tape which proved to be a little tricky, but we managed in the end. Once that’s done, you cut out the different instruments and start studying the different time periods. For each time period, your student can slide the appropriate instruments into the pockets representing where the people who play that instrument would sit in an orchestra of the time period. It was really interesting for all of us to learn how those positions changed over time. The Orchestra is available for $4.95.

IMG_1185Finally, we received the Frontline News newspaper. This has been a really cool project for the older boys (they’re still working on it each school day). The PDF has 19 pages. The last 14 are what you need to print for your kids (really just 12 of the last 14; one of the pages is there twice and you print the one you want depending on whether you want the “classified ads” filled in or left blank for your student to complete). I printed ours double sided to make it feel more authentic.

Each page has space for your student to write two articles, plus room for them to design an ad or two. Some of the articles come with photographs built in. Students are given a headline, which tells what they need to research, and then they fill in the rest, writing an article based on what they learned. For the most part, we were able to find the information using the large pile of books we got from the library, but there were also a few rather obscure stories that we ended up having to look online for. For example, did you know that the Navajo people used their language as a sort of “secret code” to help the Allies? That was something that didn’t show up in any of our books, not even the “Everything World War II” one.

You could move at whatever pace is good for your students when doing the newspaper project. Since this is now our main history for the time being (we’re not doing anything else or even supplementing this in any way), I’ve had the boys do one article and one ad per day. Between the research and the writing, that takes them a reasonable amount of time for the subject, without being too overwhelming. Frontline News is available for $2.95.

Overall, I’ve been really pleased with our choices, especially the newspaper. The boys agree that it’s a really fun way to learn about history, and we’ve decided together that we will very likely be purchasing more of these once they finish up Frontline News.

There are so many choices in the Á La Carte projects from Home School in the Woods that I can’t possibly mention them all here, but besides the categories of products I’ve reviewed, there are also Timelines (the Composers Through History timeline would go very nicely with The Orchestra file folder project), 3D projects (The Art of Quilling looks especially neat), Lapbooks, and more! I really hope you’ll check them out, especially if you need to breathe new life into your history studies. Each of the projects has its own recommended age level, but there are things from K all the way through 12th grade, so you’re guaranteed to find something that will work for your kids.

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew had their choice of anything from the Á La Carte “menu,” so make sure to click the banner below to find reviews on other projects!

Blessings,

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À La Carte Projects - Individual projects designed to enhance your studies! {Home School in the Woods Reviews}
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Parenting Made Practical (review)

Being a parent is hard work. Anyone with kids – especially teenagers – can attest to that. It can be a very frustrating process to teach your kids to really listen to you and not just tune out as soon as you open your mouth to chastise/discipline them. Taming the Lecture Bug . . . and Getting Your Kids to Think by Joey and Carla Link is a book for parents of kids ages 8 and up to help teach you how to get your kids to actually start taking responsibility for their actions instead of constantly giving them the same lecture over and over again. 

PMP review

This book, offered by Parenting Made Practical, has 12 chapters for parents to work through. The opening chapter, Blah, Blah, Blah, takes the authors’ real life experiences with their children and showcases how they used to just lecture their children whenever they (the kids) didn’t do something. Sound familiar? It does to me. I’m sure there are a lot of parents out there who utilize this technique as a form of teaching discipline. But think back to your own teenage years; did you listen – really listen – when you were getting one of these lectures from your parents? Yeah, me neither. Teens and pre-teens think they’re so smart. Much smarter than their parents. This is why lecturing them doesn’t work. 

The psychology of the child goes much deeper than that, though. Taming the Lecture Bug also has chapters on that, explaining not only why kids don’t think, but why to a certain extent it’s the parents’ fault they don’t. They break it down into six main reasons: reminders, lectures, anger, busyness, expectations, and being well-trained (the parents by the kids, not the other way round). By not teaching our children to manage their time well (and suffering the consequences when they don’t), we’re actually doing more harm than good for our kids. This was a bit of a hard pill for me to swallow, because I always want to help my kids and keep them out of trouble. But in the long run, I’m not helping by doing that. Reminding them of their chores and schoolwork is actually doing them harm (according to the authors of this book).

In order to “tame the lecture bug” in yourself, you have to open up a dialogue with your children. The key word there is dialogue – not monologue. Start retraining your children’s stubborn heart by teaching (or reminding) them about sin. We all need to be in a good place with God, and that means confessing our sins. As long as our children are being defiant to us, they’re also being defiant to God. Instead of lecturing (the monologue), ask them open-ended questions (Why did/didn’t you do that? What were you thinking when you did that? How do you think I felt when in,earned of your behavior? Did you think you’d get away with it?) to start a dialogue. Use their answers as a springboard to the sin conversation. 

It’s not an easy path, but we all knew that when we decided to have kids. With the help of resources like this one, it can be a little easier though.

Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are discussing a variety of Parenting Made Practical resources this week. Click the banner below to learn more about

Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave?

Navigating the Rapids of Parenting

Dating, Courting, and Choosing a Mate… What Works?

What Every Child Should Know Along the Way

as well as a video version of Taming the Lecture Bug.

Blessings,

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Parenting Made Practical {Reviews}
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(Re)Learning Cursive with CursiveLogic (review)

A few weeks ago, the opportunity to review the CursiveLogic Quick Start Pack was presented to me. I might have passed, but then I got to thinking about Seahawk and how he sometimes forgets how to form his cursive letters. And when he doesn’t forget, they’re often sloppy – not difficult to read per se, just messy. So after some careful consideration, I decided he could probably benefit from CursiveLogic. In addition to the main curriculum workbook, we also received a copy of the The Art of Cursive coloring book. The other benefit of doing this review at this time was that it was right around the time we were displaced due to flooding, and having a physical workbook was something of a calming influence. It’s hard to explain, but it really helped us to feel grounded in a frantic time in our lives.

CursiveLogic review

CursiveLogic is a bit of a different approach to writing in cursive. It doesn’t just teach the letters. Instead, this method breaks each letter down by shape, helping students to figure out the very basics of writing in cursive. Students learn at a young age to draw circles, but they’re never (usually) really taught how to use that basic skill to influence their handwriting. Thinking about it after having used CursiveLogic with my son (age 14) for a few weeks, and it really makes a lot of sense now, though. CursiveLogic has broken it down into four basic “starting” shapes, and every single letter in the English alphabet falls into one of those categories. The main one I’ll focus on today is the “orange oval,” which includes the letters A, C, D, G, Q, and O (in lowercase).

IMG_1144Lessons are grouped by the color shape of the different letters, so your student won’t be learning the letters in alphabetical order. Each lesson has several parts and is divided up into “days.” Depending on your student and his or her maturity and motivation, you could potentially move quite quickly through the lessons. We chose to move a bit slower (as written, not too slow), but that’s because I really wanted to monitor my son and make sure he was mastering each shape as we moved. He’s a typical teenager and tends to a) be more concerned about finishing than doing well and b) easily revert back to old habits. I really wanted him to focus and get those shapes down as muscle memory before we moved on, so we didn’t move as fast as we might otherwise have with a student who already knows how to read, print, and write in cursive.

cursivelogic comparisonYou can see in Seahawk’s “before” picture that his handwriting was adequate. Not amazing, not terrible, but adequate. After working on this lesson for just a few days, he showed great improvement. The thing that really helped him master it was when I explained to him that the oval shape has a bit of a hook on top before changing from the shape to the letter. Before this, he was getting more of a slide up into the letters rather than the oval shape. Once he understood the purpose of the oval, his handwriting improved immensely – and he said it was easier to write that way! It was quite rewarding to watch him “get it” and hear how much he appreciated these lessons. But it’s easier to appreciate something when you (the student) can see your own improvement, which was totally the case with Seahawk and CursiveLogic.

When he finishes the workbook, I think Seahawk will enjoy taking some colored pencils to the coloring book. We didn’t do a whole lot with it during the review period because I wanted him to focus on the actual work at hand (remember that teenager mentality – he could easily have tried to talk me into letting him color instead of doing a lesson, and that’s not adequate). In fact, The Art of Cursive is designed as a supplement to the curriculum, and is not intended to be something done instead of the lessons. He does seem quite interested in being able to work on the pictures that “are made up of cursive letters and words.” I think having that coloring book hanging out “mocking” him will be good motivation to him being willing to finish this curriculum.

In addition to the workbook and coloring book, CursiveLogic has a webinar. I wasn’t able to view it because we have iffy internet at the moment, what with being in temporary housing. Especially at the beginning of this review, I had no idea when we would be moving again. There are lots more Crew reviews, though, and several (maybe even most, I’m not sure) of them did watch the webinar, so make sure to click the banner below and check those out so you can learn more about that.

If you’re interested in trying CursiveLogic with your child (or yourself!), now is a great time to do it. CursiveLogic is offering a 20% discount on the CursiveLogic Quick Start Pack, which includes the workbook (not the coloring book) and webinar. These retail for $49 together. Just use coupon code CREW2018, which is good through March 31st, 2018.

Blessings,

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The Art of Cursive & Quick Start Cursive {Cursive Logic Reviews}
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Wulf the Saxon (Heirloom Audio review)

I have a special treat for you today. My older boys have spent the last couple of weeks listening to the new drama from Heirloom Audio Productions, Wulf the Saxon. Today, they will share their reviews with you.

wulf the saxon review

From Seahawk (age 14)

The story kicks off with the Earl Harold in his chambers, talking with his wife, Lady Edith, about a problem concerning Wulf the Saxon, who had insulted several noblemen. The Earl then exiles him to keep him out of more trouble, including possibly prison (since they are good friends).

Some time later, Wulf is called out of exile so that he may apologize to the king himself and then serve as second in command to Earl Harold in the war against the Welsh. During this war, he proves himself to be a brave warrior and and excellent commander, so he is made noble himself.

Wukf then goes on a victory cruise, and the boat shipwrecks on the French (Norman) coast, where they’re captured by Duke William of Normandy. While captured, the Duke tricks Harold into swearing an oath of loyalty to William. Meanwhile, Wulf has escaped from captivity and goes looking for help. He finds a family powerful enough to free Wulf’s friend and master from William’s grasp. Wulf quickly befriends this family, and it is a friendship that will last him his entire life.

When Wulf returns back to England, he finds that the King of England is ill and has passed command of the country to Harold, who now has to use his new power to civil war in England – all the while dealing with William, who demands that Harold fulfill his oath of loyalty.

I think that my favorite part of audio dramas in general is the sound effects. The wind, the carriages, and even the sound their horses make when they’re running into battle… It really brings the history to life.

Side story: we have 2 pet frogs, which means we also have lots of crickets on hand also. When we were listening to Wulf, there was a nighttime scene, and we didn’t know until we turned off the CD player that the sound was not part of the recording.

As far as things I did not like about this production, I don’t think the excitement built as much as in other story lines (from the same company). Normally, the first disc is set up and the second disc is the climax. Wulf has more excitement spread through the whole thing. This is not bad, but I prefer an epic ending. In this one, the climax (disc 2) was more tying up loose ends than anything else.

Some of my favorite audio dramas include In Freedom’s Cause and In the Reign of Terror, both of which are available from Heirloom Audio Productions.

Thanks for reading my review.

Seahawk

From Munchkin (age 11)

wulf coverWulf the Saxon is about a young Saxon who was shipwrecked on the shores of France. There, he becomes friends with a family, who, after three years, sends him home where he discovers a lot has changed. Wulf soon realizes that England is struggling and on the verge of war. Serving his king on the battlefield, Wulf stays loyal to courage and honor.

My favorite part was the ending, which I liked because it was the Battle of Hastings, which I’ve studied with my dad. It’s one of my favorite historical time periods.

My least favorite part was when Wulf was shipwrecked in France. I did not enjoy this because I didn’t find it exciting. This part didn’t feel like the rest of the audio drama to me. It was just a lot of talking without as many background sounds, which took away from the normal intensity that I’m used to hearing from Heirloom Audio.

Final Thoughts from Mom

While I’m not a huge audio person (I prefer visuals), I’m always glad to have a chance to review these dramas because I know my kids (especially Seahawk) really enjoy them. Oftentimes, they come with a great study guide, too, to help make the drama into a full unit study. Many of these are available on the Live the Adventure Club website, which is run by Heirloom. As of the date of this posting, there isn’t one for Wulf yet, though. 

You can purchase the 2-CD set of Wulf the Saxon for $29.97, which includes a free mp3 download. If you prefer just the mp3, that’s available for $24.97. If you want more than one copy, there are bulk discounts available (see website for details). 

Membership to the Live the Adventure Club is $7.95 per month and includes access to loads of great resources, including the study guides I mentioned before. This price also gets you a free copy of all Heirloom dramas, on physical CD, before they’re released to the public. There’s also a $5.95/month plan, which is the same as the other except you get digital downloads of the dramas (no CDs).

Blessings,

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Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
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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,

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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,

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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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