Mastering Essential Math Skills (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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Math… You either love it or hate it, am I right? Personally, I rather like math. Perhaps not as much now as when I was a kid, but I definitely don’t hate it. My kids, on the other hand… even the ones who claim they love it aren’t very willing to do their math classes! And with the teenagers, it’s always been a struggle. In fact, they have always fought me on basic things like learning their times tables. This is why I requested a copy of Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School from Math Essentials. We’ve had great experiences with Math Essentials in the past (I’ve done reviews of No-Nonsense Algebra and Math Refresher for Adults), so I knew this would be another fantastic choice for my family.

Mastering Essential Math Skills is a 158-page, softcover book, and like its name implies, it goes over all the most basic essential skills of mathematics. There are chapters on Whole Numbers (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing), Fractions, Decimals, Percent, Geometry, Integers, Charts and Graphs, and Word Problems. It concludes with a final review (could be used as a test if desired) and the answer key, with the final ten pages being a resource center. This includes things like a glossary of terms, reference sheet of math symbols, times table, list of prime numbers, squares and square roots, and fraction-decimal equivalents. The book comes with free access to a plethora of instructional videos taught by author Richard W. Fisher. Everything covered in the book has a corresponding video lesson, which is great if you as the parent/teacher are unfamiliar with a concept – you don’t have to be able to teach it! For the more basic lessons, the “helpful hints” on each page is probably enough, though. For example, on the subtraction page the “helpful hints” are:

  1. Line up the numbers on the right side
  2. Subtract the ones first
  3. Regroup when necessary

For most of us (and our older children, whom this book is geared toward), this is enough information to get through the lesson. On the off chance it’s not, though, you can refer to the appropriate video lesson.

351D6FC6-0062-431D-998C-E7FCA04A04BEMy teens, as I mentioned before, aren’t as quick as we’d like them to be on their times tables. They know them, but they have to think about anything above 5s. So I had them dive into those lessons first (we skipped addition and subtraction). The book allows a little bit of space for working the problems, as well as a column for recording answers, so I had Ballet Boy work right in the book. The lessons took him under 20 minutes, and while he was quite rusty at first (a reasonable number of wrong answers), just a little bit of practice had him up to speed easily.

Mastering Essential Math Skills Book Two has been just as great an asset to us as I knew it would be. I will continue to have the kids work through the book on a regular basis; it is going to be really great for reinforcing the math skills they’ve learned in the past as they look to move into more advanced math programs in the future.

The Homeschool Review Crew is reviewing three books from Math Essentials this week. In fact, it’s the two books I’ve previously reviewed (Math Refresher for Adults and No-Nonsense Algebra) and this one. Make sure to click through to learn more about those books.

Blessings,

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More Amigurumi!

Okay, so you’ll remember when I mentioned last week that I was obsessed with making stuffed animals, right? I meant it! Here are more of the creatures I’ve made this month. (Amigurumi, by the way, is the Japanese word for “knitted or crocheted toys.”)

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This is Victor the Viper, made for Grasshopper. I don’t know what it is about this kid, but he loves all things wicked and creepy! He always roots for the villains in the movies, and when I was making stuffed animals, he asked for a snake. 🙂 The pattern is from Crochet Cute Critters by Sarah Zimmerman, which Will bought for me from Amazon.

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This is Oswald the Raccoon. I was initially going to give it to Dragonfly because he always has such huge circles under his eyes (I know he doesn’t sleep enough, but it’s hard to make him sleep in, and he lays awake for a long time every night before falling asleep). But then he asked for a giraffe instead. So Oswald here will go into my “stash of future gifts.” In fact, that will be the fate of most of the animals I’m making right now. Pattern is from Jess Huff.

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This is Giselle the Nightingale. She’s from the same book as Victor (though in the book she’s called Nina). Another animal for my stash.

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And finally, Bella the Bunny. I combined patterns from both Jess Huff and Crochet Cute Critters to make her. The main parts are all from Jess Huff, but I wanted floppier ears so I pulled those from CCC. Additionally, I loved the idea of a pompom tail that was in CCC, so I did that instead of crocheting a ball like Jess Huff suggested. She’s also going into my stash.

Fun fact about that rocking chair: it’s quite old. My father-in-law had it when he was a small child, then my husband used it, and now my kids have it. My father-in-law gave it to us when Ballet Boy was tiny, and now Bumblebee is using it. So he’s the 7th boy to love on it!

Blessings,

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Learning About America’s Seal (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.

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Scorpion, my 13-year-old son, has gotten to read a lot of great books lately! Today, he and I will be talking a bit about Michael Kanis’s book from The Hidden Message, LLC. The book, The Hidden Message of the Great Seal: How Foundational Truth from the Dawn of Liberty May Rescue a Republic in Peril, is a softcover textbook.

From Scorpion:

The first several chapters are an introduction to the author’s investigative pursuits. He travels around historic sites around America to find out as much as he can about the seal. There is a brief history of the Seal of America, namely that congress in 1776 decided that America should have a seal and they tasked Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams with designing it.

BFBA7270-6759-42F9-9526-AED01C506F58This is a fun, historical book that is different from other books. It’s more interesting than other books of similar topics because it’s so well written. The topic is fascinating. The layout is pretty fancy (it opens landscape instead of portrait), and I like that the pages are full-gloss. It’s a very visual book.

Of what I’ve read so far (which is not the entire book, just the first 9 chapters due its denseness of information), chapters 6 and 7 have been my favorites. Chapter 6 talks about the author studying the seal and its symbols and what each one means. For example, the pyramid with the eye… a lot of people think it’s the eye of Horus (Egyptian god of the sky), but it’s not. We learn from the author’s studies that it’s actually meant to be God looking over the American people.

Chapter 7 details the Seal further and how and why the author became interested in it. He has four children, and felt like he wasn’t getting enough time with any one of them, so he decided to take individually on trips based on their own interests. With his third child, they went to Philadelphia because they had a friend there, and that’s where he discovered the seal and started studying it seriously.

DDCF5B33-0C1A-4222-84B4-ADE1A521391DI have really enjoyed reading this book and learning the details about America’s seal. I am excited to read more of this book, and I definitely recommend it. In fact, I’ve already recommended it to Ballet Boy (my older brother) because he would love it. He’s even more of a history buff than I am, so I know he would really enjoy reading this book. My dad, too. I’m really glad we have this book in our home library. It’s been a fantastic way for me to get some fascinating history learning in this month.

Back to Mom:

I love when we get books that my kids love, and we have been very blessed in that regard this school year. This book, as you can tell from my son’s review, is no exception. I didn’t read it myself, but he did, and I’m so glad to have been able to provide it for him. Based on what he’s told me, he is absolutely right: this would be a book both his dad and older brother would find fascinating. I hope they can find the time to read it themselves.

If you want to look at this book for yourself and/or your family, now is a great time to do so because Mr. Kanis is offering a 50% discount off the cover price of the book ($29.95 USD; paperback and ebook are the same price) from now through May 30, 2020 when you purchase through his website. Use coupon code HOMESCHOOL to get the discount.

As with all reviews through the Homeschool Review Crew, there are more thoughts on this book than mine (and Scorpion’s!). Click through to the blog to read them.

Blessings,

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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!

Dollar Tree DIY: Spring Welcome Sign


I had so much fun making my winter welcome sign, that when the weather got warmer, I wanted to update the look outside our home. So I headed over to the local Dollar Tree store to find something I liked. What I came away with was a butterfly-shaped sign that said Happy Easter. Because I had a basic idea of what I was going to make before I even set foot in the store, the image and wording on the sign didn’t matter to me. Here’s what I did.

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The first step was, of course, finding a sign whose basic shape I liked. I avoided the rabbits because I wanted “spring,” not “Easter.” The glittery butterfly was just right. I also spent a few minutes in the craft section looking for embellishments. I’d seen the wood “hello” back in the winter (almost got it for my winter sign, in fact), and I knew I wanted that for the greeting. I also picked up the purple paint because I couldn’t remember which colors we had at home. 

When I got home, I took the two pieces of the sign apart. I rather liked the pink glitter, so I just set the outer frame aside for later. The center, where it originally said “happy Easter,” I coated with Mod Podge and then pressed a piece of butterfly fabric that I had on hand already over it. Then I covered the top in glue as well and put it in the oven on “warm” to dry. 

While the glue was drying, I painted my “hello” sign with the purple paint. When I brought the butterfly out of the oven, I carefully trimmed off the excess fabric. I didn’t have an exacto knife, so I just had to use scissors. It would have looked nicer with a sharper blade, but it’s pretty decent anyway.

Once everything had dried and the fabric was trimmed, I used more Mod Podge to attach “hello” to the center of the butterfly, then replaced the smaller butterfly back into the frame, and it was ready to hang!

I so enjoy making these signs, and as much as I love my winter and spring versions, I’m excited to come up with something new for summer too.

Blessings,

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Meet the Family: Grasshopper

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Grasshopper is my third born son, and he is 7 years old (our gap baby).
He’s been getting a lot of face time on the blog lately due to homeschool curriculum reviews.

His interests include Netflix, dancing (he does a boys’ tumbling class and Irish), embroidery, building puzzles, playing games, and drawing. Just this week, he learned to thread his own embroidery needle, so that’s opened up his ability to do that craft a lot more easily.

Recently he’s been making friends with kids in the neighborhood, but we’re putting a slight hold on that right now due to social distancing recommendations/requirements in our state.

He enjoys eating chicken and pizza. He also loves to help in the kitchen. His favorite fruit is oranges and his favorite vegetable is cucumbers (though that’s technically a fruit too).

He is technically in 2nd grade, but because he’s so far behind in reading (though picking up!) and so far ahead in other areas, I’m not putting much stock in that number.

He is the sweetest, most sensitive boy I’ve ever met. He’s not afraid to show his emotion, and of all my boys, he’s the most likely to show extreme respect to others (except Scorpion; he likes to push his big brother’s buttons for some reason).

So that’s my 7-year-old in a nutshell.

Blessings,

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Meet the Family: Scorpion

Meet the Family: Scorpion

It took me a while to get this post done because my second son took a long time deciding what he wanted his nickname to be. 

Meet Scorpion. 

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He is 13 years old, and his main interests are dancing (ballet, tumbling, and Irish) and animation. He has been taking tumbling class for 3 years, Irish for 1 1/2, and ballet just since September. He recently started being super into animation thanks to free iPad apps. He makes at least one new animation each week. We bought him the “king of all animation books” (according to my husband), and he’s been reading that like crazy. It’s written by “Frank and Ollie,” two of the original Disney animators, and Scorpion has learned a lot from it. It’s clear he’s been reading it carefully because his animations are getting better and better the more he reads and learns.

He is also a voracious reader, though not as much as he used to be. Sometimes when I don’t have time to read a book that we need to review, he will write those posts for me. His first one will be later this week.

Blessings, 

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Crochet Ripple Blanket

A few days ago, I finished making this crochet blanket. I absolutely loved making it; the colors are so pleasant, and the pattern was easily memorized, so it was great for show-watching and car-riding. There are countless versions of the pattern online (I’m guessing it’s one of the oldest crochet patterns around), but I followed the one by Jayda in Stitches on YouTube. My blanket is 10 repeats wide (140 stitches, 144 starting chains), and 3 repeats plus one segment tall. I consider each height repeat to be 8 rows of gray, 4 teal, 8 black, 4 teal. I finished it out with 8 rows of gray, because otherwise it felt like I’d “stopped” rather than “finished.”

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Blessings,

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