LeapFrog Tablet for Little Kids (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

LeapFrog is a well known company for parents of toddlers, even if you don’t homeschool. As I mentioned in a review last year, we used to check out the DVDs from the library when my teens were little kids. Over the past year, we used the iPad app for the “new crop” of little kids. This year, we’ve been blessed with the LeapStart® Learning Success Bundle™, which is like a chunky tablet for younger kids.

If you’re familiar with LeapFrog at all, this product is probably what you think of when you hear their name. I call it a “tablet for little kids” because that’s precisely what it reminds me of. Younger kids get the thrill of opening it up and playing with a digital device, but there’s no screen. This makes it a tablet you can feel good about letting your toddlers play with! There’s a stylus attached, and it’s nice and chunky for little fingers and hands to grip easily. The stylus is the portal for all the cool things this tablet does. It really does feel like magic.

The tablet itself has some activities right on it. Your child can learn things like shapes, numbers, musical instruments, and more just by touching the stylus tip to the various places on the device. There are two levels of activity, and it’s super easy to decide which to use. You simply touch the stylus to the “one star” or “two star” icon before playing, and the computer knows which activities to run based on which level is chosen.

Inside the box with the LeapStart® Learning Success Bundle™ are also two LeapFrog books. These books are completely interactive and by simply laying them on top of the tablet, they become part of the computer and work just like the tablet itself. There are two levels for the activities in each book, and the stylus is how you control them. The first book is a sampler of sorts. On each of its pages is a sample from other LeapFrog LeapStart books. The other book is a full book from the Netflix show “Go Go Cory Carson.” We weren’t actually familiar with that show, but the kids have started watching it after becoming familiar with the book.

The LeapStart® Learning Success Bundle™ is run on AA batteries, and they do run out fairly quickly. My kids really love playing with the LeapStart, so a set of batteries lasts about a week. I really need to invest in some rechargeables! You can also buy other LeapStart books to use with the tablet – they’ll all work. I’m looking forward to increasing our library of LeapStart books for the boys.

They have had loads of fun playing – and learning! – with this system over the past few weeks, and I’m so grateful to have been chosen for this review.

Make sure to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew and read more about the LeapStart® Learning Success Bundle™!

Blessings,

Immersion Language Learning with Whistlefritz

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

I love the French language. I’m rusty in my usage of it, but I love it nonetheless – so much so that I chose it for my children for their second language, even though by local standards, Spanish would make more sense. When I learned about Whistlefritz, I was super excited to try it out for my children.

For today’s review, I received a digital version of the Educator’s French Collection. This includes 4 videos, 3 audio “CDs,” and 2 PDFs (French lesson plans for kids and French matching cards).

I started by downloading all of the files to my computer. I was really hoping to be able to somehow “cast” those videos to the TV, but I haven’t figured that out yet so we just watched them on the laptop. It’s worked out okay using Windows Media Player. I moved the audio files to my phone for car listening. Ever since receiving the set, we’ve listened to this music in the car regularly. We’ve had it for just over a month and it’s not uncommon to hear Grasshopper (age 9) sing, “Quand je serai grand . . .” (when I grow up . . .) or my husband belt out, “Les petits poissons, dans l’eau . . .” (the little fish in the water . . .). Even my 3-year-old loves these songs. Whenever I start to sing “La tête, les épaules, genoux, et pieds” (Head, shoulders, knees, and toes) to him, he immediately gets a huge grin on his face. It’s been really rewarding seeing and hearing my family actually begin speaking (er, singing) French since we received this product.

When it comes to the videos, Whistlefritz is an immersion program (which I love!), which means there is no English whatsoever during the program (not even subtitles). The program is designed with a lot of repetition, which of course, is the best way to learn a language.  That’s how we all learned English, after all.

The host, Marie, has a really fun personality. She seems to truly be enjoying her time onscreen. She’s not the only one you see, though. There are les enfants (children) in the videos as well. The show also features “Fritzi,” an animated mouse, and “Rito,” an animated fox. The main talking points are all handled by Marie, though.

The first video, On va jouer, focuses on teaching parts of the body, clothes, numbers, and animals. The combination of speaking and singing, real people and animation, makes this a real joy to watch. Dedans et Dehors, the second DVD, focuses on rooms in the house and foods. The standout song in this film is the one about all the different fruits. Les Saisons (the seasons) covers the calendar, and the final video, L’Anniversaire de Fritzi (Fritzi’s birthday) talks about party words.

Whistlefritz suggests their products for ages 2-7, and I heartily agree with that recommendation. Due to its immersive nature, Whistlefritz might not be a good choice for older children. While they might learn the words, they’re likely to fight you a bit more because they can’t understand what’s going on. The younger kids are more malleable that way.

Because Whistlefritz is designed for younger learners, it’s not a curriculum per se. Really all you have to do is start the video and let the kids watch it. It’s colorful and vibrant enough that kids will be captivated by it, even during the first several viewings before they can understand any of it. It can, however, be a bit overwhelming before you start to understand some of the vocabulary (for us “older folks”). I found that for me personally, I could only handle about half of an episode the first few viewings. Not understanding much (or any) of the film can make one weary. Keep at it, though, and pretty soon you and your children will be well on their way to learning a new language.

I would heartily recommend this product to anyone looking for an immersion approach to foreign language teaching, especially for younger children with no previous training. And if you don’t want French, Whistlefritz also has a large selection of Spanish programs as well. The videos are also available to rent or buy from Amazon video, so that might be a viable option for some families (it would be ideal for ours, if we hadn’t received this review copy).

Head over to the Homeschool Review Crew site to learn more. Some of my colleagues are reviewing the French collection, like me, and some are reviewing the Spanish collection.

Blessings,

Homeschool Grammar in Just 15 Minutes a Day with Fix It!

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Whenever any other homeschool moms ask my opinion on grammar curriculum, I always give the same answer: Fix It! Grammar from Institute for Excellence in Writing. We’ve been using this program in our homeschool for years, and it’s far and away my very favorite. The timing on receiving this review was pretty good for us, too, because Grasshopper (4th grade) was just finishing up level 1 of Fix It!, so we were primed and ready for the (new and improved) level 2.

About Fix It! Grammar

Fix It! Grammar gives your students one story to work on through the entire school year. They read one sentence (sometimes two, if they’re short) per day, and that sentence is full of errors! Your student systematically corrects the errors found in the text, identifies and defines the vocabulary word, and then re-copies the sentence correctly. As they move through the book, they also learn to identify different parts of speech (nouns, verbs, etc). These are marked in the “incorrect” sentence, before the student does the copywork.

Why I Love Fix It! Grammar

There are several reasons I love to use this program with my kids. First of all, it’s quick. The lessons get slightly more time consuming as you move through the books, but we have never spent more than 10-15 minutes on a single lesson.

Second, it’s easy to teach. There’s a teacher’s manual as well as a student book available, but if you’re decent at grammar you could probably get by with just the student book. The basics for teaching are found in both volumes, so as long as you have enough knowledge to be able to explain the concepts to your child, the student book will suffice. If you’re unsure of yourself, definitely get the teacher book too.

Third, because of the nature of the program, where students work through a single story and make similar corrections throughout the entire school year, the knowledge sticks. My teenagers used Fix It! Grammar when they were young, and both are competent writers now. We are now using the program with my 9-year-old, and he is fully understanding everything he learns too.

Finally, IEW has a very generous copyright policy. If you are using the program with more than one child, you can photocopy the pages under their copyright policy. However, if you are using it in a co-op setting, each family will need at least one copy of the student book to use. This means that you can also have photocopies made and save the student book for future children as well, which is what I will be doing this time around.

How Fix It! Grammar has changed over the years

When we first started using the program many years ago, the student book was divided up into “weeks.” Each page had four sentences, labeled “Day 1,” “Day 2,” and so on. Your student would make the corrections for the day, and then copy the sentences into a separate notebook (see picture at left, which is an old copy of The Nose Tree that Grasshopper has been working through this school year). The image above is the new version of Fix It!, which has each “day” on its own page. The corrections to be made are identical, but they’ve added some lines at the bottom of the page for the copy work. Additionally, instead of just showing the different types of words that need to be identified at the top, they’ve shown you exactly how many of each word there are. That is so helpful! I think it’s my favorite new feature.

Final Thoughts

I think it’s pretty clear that I love IEW’s Fix It! Grammar program. It will always be my go-to curriculum for teaching my children the ins and outs of writing in English. But don’t just take my word for it. Head over to the Homeschool Review Crew and read more reviews from other homeschool parents.

Blessings,

 

Biblically Based Algebra with His Vessel Textbooks (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

There are a lot of subjects where it’s easy to fit a Biblical worldview into. Math isn’t one of them. Math is so concrete and unchanging, that it just doesn’t make sense to try to make it spiritual. Well, Mary Carroll thought differently, and His Vessel Textbooks – Algebra I shows her commitment to making math faith-based brought to fruition.

At first glance, the book looks just like a normal Algebra textbook. It’s large, thick, and heavy. All the things you remember about high school math, right?! But what makes His Vessel different is the focus on God all throughout the entire text. For example, in the first chapter when talking about integers and absolute value (the distance a number is from zero, regardless of whether it’s on the positive or negative side of the number line), Mrs. Carroll says, “Isn’t it wonderful that God loves you so much that He sees your Absolute Value through Jesus Christ? You have Absolute Value!!!” I just love that!

His Vessel tackles all the normal Algebra I topics over the course of its 500+ pages. Everything from integers to graphing to the quadratic equation are covered. It’s definitely a full math course, and when Scorpion finishes it (likely by next year, June 2023), I will not hesitate to give him the Algebra I credit he’ll have earned through studying with this book. And he’ll be blessed with biblical truths and blessings all the while! What a lovely thing from a math book.

Besides being so inspiring with the Biblical approach to mathematics, the His Vessel text is very good on its merits alone. It’s definitely one of the better Algebra books I’ve come across. The explanations are clear and concise (but if you have any issues, there’s a YouTube channel with video lessons), and the practice problems are lesson-appropriate.

Scorpion has thus far been working on his own, and not too, too much with this book yet because he’s still finishing up his pre-algebra online course. At the beginning of this review period, he told me he was nearly done with pre-al, though, which is why we requested to review this book. I am so glad we did, too! Not only will he learn the math skills needed for this course, but he’ll get those little encouragements and have a bit of screen-free time too.

As of the writing of this post, Algebra I is the only textbook available from His Vessel, but Mrs. Carroll is currently working on the Geometry book which will be released this fall (2022). She also has plans to get pre-algebra, Algebra II, and elementary math in the future. What a blessing these books will be to families when she finishes them!

Make sure to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew to get more insight into His Vessel Textbooks!

Blessings,

 

Educo Learning Center (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

I’ve been noticing over the past few months that Grasshopper’s current math course hasn’t been challenging him very much. For this reason, I applied to review Educo Learning Center with him. We received a one-year subscription and matching workbook from Educo International Inc. for him to work with. I chose the 4th grade level because that’s where he is developmentally and in his math skills.

As I just mentioned, Educo is a combination online learning center and physical workbook. In order to access the online content, each student requires their own email to log in (separate from the parent email used for the educator dashboard). I used my main email for the parent side and one of my supplemental emails (the one I normally use for newsletters and giveaways) for Grasshopper’s student login. Once your student logs in and chooses the level they’re working on (we only have the single, 4th grade level in our dashboard), you’re taken to the lessons page. There are lots of options on this page. You can have your student take a pre-test or post-test for the entire unit, watch the unit tutorials, download practice sheets (which are basically the workbook pages), and take a post-lesson quiz on each section. I started by having my son take the small quizzes, one per day, until we got to a section he didn’t do so well on. That gave us a good place to start the program.

The tutorials are semi-interactive. You have to click each section before it will start, and rather than being a video lesson, it’s more like a Powerpoint presentation. You have to read the information and click each slide in order to continue. When the lesson is finished, you can have your student work through the workbook pages, or do the digital practice sheets.

In order to open the individual presentations and PDF practice pages, you have to turn your popup blocker off. I found this a bit frustrating, not because it’s a difficult thing to do (just click the “options” at the top of the internet page and allow them for the one specific website), but because the lessons then opened in another window instead of another tab. I prefer to run tabs; it’s easier for my mind to wrap around. I can understand why they might do it in new windows, though – it keeps everything cleaner for a child, and they’re less likely to accidentally click into the wrong tab.

The workbook pages are very good. They match the lessons very well, and they also give plenty of space for the student to write their answers. This is a common problem with math workbooks – they’ll often skimp on writing space because it’s “just numbers,” but little kids have big handwriting! It’s really nice to have a workbook that understands this and accommodates it.

When I asked Grasshopper this morning if he wanted to go back to his old math program or continue with Educo, he said he wanted to switch over to Educo. I wholeheartedly agree with his request – it’s a very complete program!

Make sure to head over to read more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew.

Blessings,

The NIrV Adventure Bible (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

Reading the Bible is an important part of the Christian faith, even for the youngest among us. Most versions of the Bible, though, are written for teens and adults, making it difficult for children to understand. You might see a lot of “picture Bibles” available, but those aren’t really Bibles; they’re more simplified Bible-inspired stories with large illustrations for babies and toddlers. Once kids are able to read at a basic level, they really should have a “real” Bible for their own studies, and that’s exactly what the NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers from Zondervan is.

We’ve had different NIrV Bibles in our home before. I first learned of this version about 10 years ago, when my teens were young. We had a copy of this version for them to read on their own back then, and they quite literally wore it out. Since they’ve grown up, they have “real” Bibles now, but the younger kids are now getting to where they can read. This new dynamic is what prompted me to ask to review the NIrV Adventure Bible.

NIrV stands for New International Reader’s Version, and like its name implies, it’s a paraphrase of the NIV (New International Version) of the Bible. In this “reader’s version,” the words and sentences have been simplified down to a third-grade reading level, making it super easy for kids to understand. I’ve been using this Bible to read aloud bits of the Old and New Testaments to Dragonfly (6 years old). He was super excited to get his own Bible, and has been asking nearly daily for some reading time.

I really like the NIrV for reading to younger kids. The shorter words and phrases really help it to make sense for young minds. All of the meaning is there, but by using periods instead of commas in places, it it easier for kids to wrap their minds around what is being said. For example, in the NIrV, John 3:16 says

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.

Compare this to the regular NIV:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

See how it’s almost the same, but just a little shorter? And the version for young kids has gotten rid of a couple of the words, and simplified “whoever” to just “who,” making it a lot easier for our littlest guys to get the gist of what’s being said without losing any of the important meaning.

I asked Dragonfly what his favorite part of the Adventure Bible was, and he told me that he really likes the pictures. There are lots of full-page illustrations as well as smaller ones sprinkled into the text showing a variety of different things (Life in Bible Times, Words to Treasure [memory verses], People in Bible Times, etc).

Overall, I’m really happy we were able to be on this review. My son is getting stronger at reading every day, and I’m glad he’ll have a Bible to read that he can easily understand moving forward.

Make sure to read more reviews from my colleagues on the Homeschool Review Crew as well.

Blessings,

The Importance of Setting Goals (TRIVE review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Goal setting is an important part of growing up. It really helps you to succeed in life if you have specific things you’re working toward. TRIVE understands this, but they also know that goal-setting is not an easy (or intuitive) thing to do, so they’ve developed a game for teens and adults ages 15 and up to help them learn this vital skill.

TRIVE is a game to be played with a minimum of 4 people, and up to 6. Because of the nature of the game (it’s designed to help you with life, not just have an objective and when you accomplish it you win), players should be 15 and up. You can play with more than six people, but be aware that if you do, it will take longer due to the discussion aspect of the game.

There are three basic steps to TRIVE: Discovery, where everyone comes together to discuss their goals and choose leaders and private coaches from within the group. Achievement, where you split up for six months and work on accomplishing the goals you set for yourself with the help of your coach. And Review, where you come together after the six months is up and see how everyone did.

In order to start the Discovery process, you need to gather your game materials and group together. Choose one person to be the TRIVE leader. This person is responsible for writing down everyone’s goals in a shared notebook (provided with the game) and touching base with group members during the six-month Achievement time. He or she maintains contact with every member of the group to encourage them on their journey, and at the end of the six-month timeline establishes rewards. This person can be a member of the TRIVE or just an overseer of the members.

When everyone gathers together for the Discovery meeting, each person is given a minimum of 3 Goal Cards (there are 50 included in your game) and a pencil (game includes 6). Players need one card per goal, and at the beginning of the meeting they take some time to write down their goals. This can be done with words or pictures and is kept private. When everyone has finished with their goal cards, the game begins.

Everyone’s goal cards are put in a pile in the middle of the table and shuffled. One player then selects a Quotable card from the deck (100 included). Players go around the circle and take turns trying to correctly identify the speaker of the quote. When the quote’s speaker has been identified, one of the goal cards is revealed and players try to determine which person from their group made that goal. When the goal-maker is revealed, they tell why they made this goal and what it means to them. Discussion is highly encouraged during this phase of the game. This process is repeated until all of the goal cards have been revealed and discussed.

Each Quotable card has a point value. When the Discovery round is complete, the person with the most points gets first pick of the other members to be their coach. Selection continues until everyone has a coach. There are two rules regarding coaches: each player can only coach one other player, and no one can coach themselves. At the end of the session, all the goals are recorded in the leader’s notebook. The leader keeps track of this notebook until the review session, which should be scheduled before everyone leaves.

During the Achievement period, participants work toward all of their goals, working closely with their coach and the TRIVE leader. Goals may be modified or changed during this period with the consent of the player and their coach.

When the group reconvenes six months later, coaches take turns talking about their mentees’ achievements. Coaches give their “students” a score in two areas: goal difficulty and goal commitment. There are bonus points given if you complete your goal within the six month time frame. At the end of the Review session, an award is given for TRIVE champion (the player who received the most points for the achievements) and Best TRIVE coach (a vote from the group).

TRIVE is a great way to gather up a family or group of friends who all have the goal of making and achieving goals. It gives a sense of accountability that you don’t often get from just setting the goals. Anyone will tell you that you need someone to help keep you on track if you want to accomplish anything, and with TRIVE you get the benefit of having that someone be a person who’s intimately invested in your success. Their success is your success due to the game nature of this unique goal-accomplishing formula.

Make sure to hit the Homeschool Review Crew website to read more reviews and find out how members used this special game.

Blessings,

Pursuing Gold (book review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

Sometimes, when a review opportunity comes up, the product looks too good not to request. Pursuing Gold by Cynthia L Simmons/Heart of the Matter is one of those. This historical fiction novel takes place during the Civil War, but what makes it special is not just the novel. It’s the economics curriculum that comes with it! Yes, that’s right… it’s an historical novel and the Pursuing Gold: History and Critical Thinking Curriculum. As I was reading about it on Amazon to decide whether it would be a good fit for us or not, I decided that I really wanted Scorpion to read this book and study along with it. It seemed way too cool to pass up. Not only would he get a new viewpoint on the Civil War (history), but he would also get a better understanding of currency and how it all began in America.

Before I get too much further, let me offer you Scorpion’s thoughts:

Synopsis:

When his father dies and his partner is injured, Peter Chandler suddenly finds himself in charge of the C&R Bank. Not only is he in charge, but it’s the middle of an economic crisis. What is he going to do? Peter has only a college degree – not a lick of experience – so he has to join forces with his injured partner’s daughter, Mary Beth. The Civil War rages around them. Political pressure to loan the government unsecured loans of gold pile up. Tempers and prices rise. When Mary Beth finds counterfeit money one day, things are suddenly much, much worse. When the signature on that counterfeit money is Peter’s, things are dire. Will Peter and Mary Beth be able to find the forger in order to save their bank? They must. In their desperation, they turn their focus on God to help them find hope and peace in this direst of circumstances.

Review:

I haven’t read a lot of historical fictions recently, but this one has one of the greatest and most interesting back stories of any. I really enjoy learning the story and with a good connection to the characters.

In this novel, it felt like even though we knew some of Peter and Mary’s history, you still get lost in the story. 

The story did start a little slow, but the first few chapters introduced the elements of the story and seemed to bring you as the reader up to speed in what was happening in the story. With each chapter, we’re carried along with Mary Beth and Peter as they hunt the mystery counterfeiters, and it’s a very good read. I would highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good historical fiction, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else this author can do. 

Scorpion seems to be eating this book up. I’ve discovered him sitting in his room and reading it on more than one occasion since it arrived. Five years ago, that wouldn’t have been such a surprise, but he’s less of a bookworm now than he was then, so it’s nice to see him reading – and enjoying – a book again. The curriculum that goes with the book has also captured his attention. I don’t have to remind him to keep up on it. He’s doing exactly what the author suggests and reading a chapter, then doing the corresponding workbook pages. Every few chapters, he brings it out to show me and I’m always impressed with his work ethic.

Even though he hasn’t finished this book quite yet, he will definitely be keeping up with it. We definitely recommend it as a fascinating, unique look at the Civil War. Whether you need a supplemental book for a high school Civil War unit, or something that explores the origin of currency in America, Pursuing Gold is a book you should check out.

Make sure to head on over to the Homeschool Review Crew website for more information and reviews as well.

Blessings,

SchoolhouseTeachers.com (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

One of the biggest benefits I get as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew is the Ultimate Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com a division of The Old Schoolhouse®. I have used resources from this site off and on for years, amongst many of my children, and they never disappoint.

Over the past year, we have focused on two main areas of the website. First, Ballet Boy entered the Virtual Art & Photography Fair last fall. He entered a couple of his photographs, as well as a painting that he made with his now-ex-girlfriend. Because he’s doing a lot of work with his dad, that includes learning how to use Photoshop. This means he’s being given ample opportunity to learn to “spice up” all the pictures he takes, which are mostly for his Instagram account where he does awesome things with his ukulele. He won first place for one of his photographs as well as honorable mention for the painting, and he was really proud of that.

The other thing we’ve spent a lot of time on is 4th grade science with Grasshopper. Together, he and I have been working through the Discovering Disgusting Creatures course. This topic utilizes the partnership with World Books and has reading comprehension question that go along with it. Grasshopper was quite unsure about this class when I told him the name of it, but he’s been loving it. Dragonfly (K/1) has even listened in on some of the books and learned a lot! Occasionally, he’s faster on the comprehension answers than his older brother.

If you need more than just “fill in the gaps” curriculum, SchoolhouseTeachers.com is the place for you! You can get a digital curriculum box for grades K-12 (and there are boxes for Pre-K and parents coming soon!). We haven’t actually used these boxes, but they include quite literally everything you need for homeschooling. If you’re worried about the high school years in particular, don’t be! These digital full-curriculum boxes will walk you through everything you need to do to successfully homeschool your child. All you need is paper, a printer, and basic school supplies. Everything else is planned out for you! If you’re concerned that it’s “not enough,” you can simply add an elective (or two) from the website also to flesh out your child’s school day. Every single subject you need to teach these upper grades is included and all laid out in one place. Math, Literature, Writing, Spelling, Science, History, Art… it’s all there. It really couldn’t be easier to homeschool your high schooler!

SchoolhouseTeachers.com has over 400 different resources for you to use, covering every single grade. You can get access for one family price – not a per child price – which makes it a great value. There’s even a digital storytime each month, which would provide a fantastic opportunity to keep your littlest children occupied and give you some time to get through a more difficult concept with an older child while the baby is busy.

Overall, I’m very glad to be a member of SchoolhouseTeachers.com. But don’t just take my word for it; 37 other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are talking about this website this week. Take a look at what they’re all saying!

Blessings,

 

The Wonder of Creation (review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Generally speaking, my husband prefers us to use the Bible (and only the Bible) for spiritual things. For that reason, I was a little unsure about reviewing The Wonder of Creation: 100 More Devotions About God and Science from Indescribable Kids and Tommy Nelson Books. The difference for me was the science aspect of this book; I was really interested to see how they combined science and faith. (For the record, I think it is absolutely possible to believe in both, so I wasn’t looking for a “gotcha” or the need to feel vindicated on anything. I just wanted to see how the author, Louie Giglio, went about it.)

This book is a lovely, hardcover edition with full-color illustrations (some drawings and some photographs) and covers a wide variety of topics. There are devotions on space, animals, weather, and the ocean (among many, many other topics). We started at the beginning and just read through the book, reading one devotion a couple of times a week. Grasshopper (age 9) did the reading mostly on his own.

Once you get into the actual devotions, you’ll find that they’re mostly science with a little bit of faith thrown in at the end. Each one takes up a two-page spread in the book. There’s approximately one half-page illustration per devotion, and some of them have photographic illustrations to help explain the point also. Additionally, the title of each devotion is nice and big to set it apart from the text. Below that is a Bible verse that the lesson is based on.

Then you get to the meat of the devotion, which is usually about a page, maybe a tiny bit more. It covers a lot of the science stuff, like I mentioned before, and then the last paragraph or so ties that science back into faith. For example, in the first devotion, titled “Get a Little Closer,” talks about how scientists say they know more about the surface of Mars than the bottom of Earth’s oceans. Mr. Giglio, the author, talks about how scientists are working to fix this by sending divers and machines down there to map the ocean floor. He then brings this to spirituality by reminding children that if the only time they meet with God is once a week at church, they might learn some things about him, but they won’t really know him. Just like the scientists need to actually get down into the bottom of the ocean in order to really understand it, people need to spend adequate time with God in order to really know him.

One other aspect in each devotion is the “explore the wonder” section, which is a graphical add-on that has even more science information for students to study. These bits would make great jumping off points for further study, if one was so inclined.

To wrap up, here are some of Grasshopper’s thoughts on his favorite devotion to date, called “The Twilight Zone.”

Did you know that it snows in the ocean? But this snow is made out of dead animals and their poop, so you wouldn’t want to go down and build a snowman. The “Twilight Zone” is between 650 and 3300 feet below the surface. Almost no light gets down here. Because the ocean is part of God’s creation, we should do our part to take care of it.

I think this book is super interesting and it can teach a lot of people a lot of things. The pictures are super cool too.

Overall, we feel comfortable recommending this book. It’s mostly science, so it won’t take the place of your Bible. But it is a nice way to show children that God and science are not mutually exclusive.

Make sure to head over to the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews too!

Blessings,