Sunday, June 29, 2014

Scripture and a Snapshot

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Library and Educational Services Review

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      I would like to tell you about Library and Educational Services. They are a company that both homeschoolers AND educational or library professionals can purchase products online at discounted prices. They have books, fiction and nonfiction, audio dramas, and DVD series. I was given the opportunity to review two of the DVD's in one of these series featuring cool science experiments from Go Science DVD's .

     There are 7 physical (not downloaded) DVD's in this series (each retailing at $8.97) including:

  •  Volume 1: Sound, Gravity, Space
  • Volume 2: Life Science, Weather
  • Volume 3: Air
  • Volume 4: Motion, Friction, Electricity, Light
  • Volume 5: States of Matter, Water
  • Volume 6: Chemistry
  • Volume 7: Engineering, Design, Flight  
       They also can be purchased as a set (7 DVDS, over 80 experiments) for $59.82.  They are recommended for ages 4-12 years old.  Each DVD is about an hour in total viewing length. I chose Volumes 4 (Motion, Friction, Electricity, Light) and 5 (States of Matter, Water) for my family. Each of the Go Science DVDs features Christian educator and college professor Ben Roy. Ben Roy worked in the past on the WTVC News channel 9 Science Theater, and now teaches at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Ben has produced science lessons for the Weather Channel and as well. He gives science demonstrations that are engaging and educational. It's clear that Mr. Roy has a passion for science, a love of teaching, and a strong faith!

Volume #5 States of Matter & Water includes these Science Demonstrations:
Go Science ReviewStates of Matter
  • Ice Cream
  • Oobleck
  • Density Column
  • Ice Block Melt
  • Run through Corn Starch and Water
  • Pitcher of Cold Water put in hot water
  • Putting Ice in Water Float or Sink?
  • Making Butter

  • Traveling Water
  • Antimagnetic Water
  • Pouring Water
  • Burning Money

Volume #4 Motion, Friction, Electricity and Light includes these Science Experiments:
  • Tablecloth Trick
  • High Bounce Balls
  • Marble Gravitron
  • Yo-Yo Big Spool
  • Bowling Ball
  • Friction
  • Floating Rice
  • Simple Motor
  • Nail Magnet
  • Jumping Rings
  • Food Coloring and Bubbles

     Some of these Science experiments could be duplicated at home or used as Science Fair Project Ideas, some are better left to the professionals. We watched the videos together as a family and discussed the scientific concepts that went along with the experiments. My children enjoyed watching both videos, and watched through them multiple times without being asked. There were several experiments that they asked to be able to try themselves including making an electro-magnet and making ice cream. You could watch the video all at once, like we did, or you could break up the experiments, which are each approximately 5-10 min. long, and use them individually to fit into your current science curriculum as needed. These videos will make a great addition to any science curriculum, encouraging hands on activities and passion for curiosity. They also encourage our children as Christians to see Science as a way to further our knowledge about our Creator.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weekly Menu planning with Build a Menu

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     I first heard about Build-A-Menu from another Trim Healthy Mama. I was able to help find some appropriate S and E dinners for them and was able to try out their service for myself.
       One thing that struck me right away about Build-Menu was how customize-able a service it is! You pick your favorite local grocery store and they keep their website updated to reflect the current prices and deals for that store! (Don't worry there's an "any grocery store" option too if your favorite isn't listed) Once you choose the meals you want for the week and put them in a calendar they give you a printable shopping list (with prices from your grocery store included!), a calendar of meals and all the recipes you need!

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      Build-a-menu really stream lined my weekly grocery shopping and helped me stick to my budget. On days where I have a separate plan, or want to stick with leftovers I leave those blank on the calendar and write them in myself afterwards (I am told that soon this feature will be available on their website as well!)

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     I have mostly used the THM recipes myself but they also have menus for:

  • Dine on a Dime
  • Family Friendly
  • Low Carb
  • Low Fat/Sensible Portions (Points Based)
  • Gluten Free
  • Allergy Friendly (No Gluten, Dairy or Nuts)
  • Vegetarian
  • Clean Eating
  • Slow Cooker
  • Grill-A-Meal
  • Your Choice of Side Dishes
  • Trim Healthy Mama
most of these are available in a choice of 1-2 servings per meal or 4-6 servings per meal.

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     In addition to their dinner menus they also have:

  • Lunch Box, Family Friendly, THM and Gluten Free Lunches
  • Family Friendly, THM and Gluten Free Breakfasts
  • Cheat & Eat - Breakfast & Lunch (no recipe needed!)
  • Family Friendly, THM and Gluten Free Snacks
  • Cooking With Kids
  • Dessert of the Week (Family Friendly, THM & Gluten Free)

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         I am finding that Build-a-Menu saves me money each week, as I am much more organized at the grocery store and less likely to buy something that I don't fit into the weeks meal plan!

    Some of the links in this post are "affiliate links", if you choose to click on one and purchase something, I will receive a small compensation. Thank you!

    Friday, June 20, 2014

    Diana and Friends Experience History Through Music Giveaway -- $700+ Value!

         Here's is an opportunity you won't want to miss! I am so excited to be taking part in the launch of the upcoming release of Experience History Though Music by Diana Waring. Diana has been sharing, with those of us who are participating in this launch, some of the backstory about the creation of these three new books and accompanying music cd's, and I can assure you they are a labor of love that has had so much time and energy poured into them. Diana's idea that history is better remembered and more exciting when experienced through music is spot on! I was particularly excited to receive the music and stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, since the Little House books are a family read-aloud favorite in this house. Now that I have started to read the books, they have been so fun and interesting to learn about together. And the cd's have already become a favorite to my children.  I will be sharing a complete review week of June 30, but you have a special opportunity to enter to win this AWESOME GIVEAWAY including the new books and CD's by Diana and much, much more!
    Diana and Friends Giveaway

    To celebrate the release of Experience History Through Music, I am joining members of the Diana Waring Launch Team for an amazing giveaway. Friends of Diana have joined in and as you can see, someone's homeschool is going to be greatly blessed!  Here's what you could win! 

    From Diana Waring Presents

    american history -- never this funExperience History Through Music - set of 3 books with CDs ($50/set) Diana Waring Presents is about to bring back into print the BEST folk music you have ever heard, combined with the fascinating stories they represent in American history!   The Experience Music Through Historyseries includes: America - Heart of a New Nation, Westward Ho! - Heart of the Old West  and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The musicians are amazing, every instrument is real, lots of great vocalists, and more toe-tapping music than you can imagine! The books tell the stories behind the songs.  Together, they bring American history to life through it's music!!With fascinating history books and toe-tapping folk music CDs, American history has NEVER been this fun!
    EncouragementCollage2Encouragement for Homeschool Moms Collection ($25) Every mom needs that word of encouragement from someone who has been there, who has grownup children and can speak with assurance about the journey. Homeschool moms have an extra portion of the journey to navigate, and often wish for an extra voice that will offer direction but without nagging or prodding. Diana Waring has that voice.  

    From A Journey Through Learning

    Logo New 300 trans$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the A Journey Through Learning store, applicable toward any digital download purchase.  


    From Homeschool Legacy

    westward ho I 300x400Westward Ho! Part I ($19.95) Load up your wagon! Discover the extraordinary times of adventurous frontiersmen and brave pioneers as you travel cross-country along the Erie Canal,  Oregon Trail, and even “remember the Alamo” in Westward Ho Part I. Westward Ho! Part II ($19.95) Continue the exciting saga begun in Westward Ho! Part I as you journey with the forty-niners, ride the rails of the Transcontinental Railroad, experience life on the prairie, and discover the exciting era of cowboys and cattle drives in Westward Ho! Part II.  

    From Knowledge Quest Maps

    HardcoverCD_ecover_croppedMap Trek: Atlas and Outline Maps of World History ($55) Map Trek is a historical atlas plus outline maps that allow you to teach geography alongside history. This is a resource that any homeschool parent can use with brilliant success, even if you don't remember a thing from your history or geography classes in public school.  


    From Home School Adventure Co. 

    PAPS-R-96dpi shadowPhilosophy Adventure™ Digital Download ($39.95) Philosophy Adventure™ is designed to help students 6th-12th grade cultivate and defend a biblical worldview by teaching them how to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately as they explore the history of ideas.  


    From Heidi St. John (The Busy Mom and Real Life Press)

    fpf3-bundle-covers-180x180Firmly Planted Family Devotional Digital Volume 3 ($39) The Firmly Planted Family Series is divided into ten-week studies and is your key to making sense of the Bible—even if you’re learning right along with your children. Each lesson provides a core idea, a simple narrative, memory verses and discussion questions for children of all ages. And the companion student workbook is filled with age-appropriate, full-color, reproducible activities for children of any age!  

    From Raising Real Men

    RRM-Mom-Dad-300x295Free Registration to Boyhood Boot Camp or Boot Camp 9-12 LIVE webinar series (winner's choice) plus Mom & Dad Special Raising Real Men (Book for Mom to read in the bathroom + AudioBook for Dad to listen to on the commute) ($62-69)

    My-Beloved-and-My-Friend-Cover-Border-201x300Free Registration for Marriage Retreat Online plus His & Hers Special of My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses (book + audiobook), ($65)  


    From Institute for Excellence in Writing

    logo$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the IEW store, applicable toward any purchase.  

    From The Old Schoolhouse Magazine ($139) A one year membership to the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Nearly 100 classes for Pre-K to High School, taught by expert teachers, and lots of extras including the Schoolhouse Planners, Schoolhouse Expos, monthly free ebook downloads and more.

    Big-Book-14-Cover-113013-e1392516063206The Old Schoolhouse Magazine 2014 Print Book ($15) Be encouraged, enlightened, and educated with the all new 2014 Annual Print Book published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.You’ll get a year’s worth of homeschool support in almost 300 pages in this full color one-of-a-kind print magazine for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers. This is a magazine you’ll refer to again and again.  

    From Writing with Sharon Watson

    the-power-in-your-hands-front-coverThe Power in Your Hands ($53.96) With The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, they’ll learn what they need to know for high school and will be prepared for college writing.

    69276_1454187188126914_157492202_nWriting Fiction [in High School] ($35) Are you raising the next C. S. Lewis or Jane Austen? Help your students develop their fiction-writing talents with Writing Fiction [In High School]: Bringing Your Stories to Life.

    To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. Residents of the U.S., age 18 and older only. Other Terms and Conditions can be found in the Rafflecopter.

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

    We Choose Virtues Review

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          We Choose Virtues has created a set of Parenting Cards for $38.49  and a We Choose Virtues Download bundle for $7.99 to help you as parent to teach your children virtue in their early years, and to lay a foundation for further character education as they grow. Our family has had the opportunity to try out both and share our thoughts with you. 

    Included in the download bundle:

    • Teacher's Handbook
    • Family Character Assessment
    • Coloring Pages
    • Butterfly Award

         I think character training is one of the most important jobs a parent has to do, homeschooler or not, particularly when our children are young and most impressionable.  The program asks you to start with the Family Character Assessment for each family member to see where you feel that you fall on a scale of 1-10 in each of the twelve virtues.

         My children were not able to read the Assessment for themselves so we sat and discussed it together outloud instead and each child got to give an opinion on where they felt they were with each of the twelve virtues. My 8 year old did well with this, however my 4 and 6 year olds didn't completely understand the concept, or all the terms that we used to discuss them.

    The 12 virtues included are:

    • I am PATIENT
    • I am DILIGENT
    • I am HONEST
    • I am HELPFUL
    • I am FORGIVING
    • I am KIND
    • I am GENTLE
    • I am ATTENTIVE
    • I am OBEDIENT
    • I am CONTENT

    As a parent you have the option of purchasing the Parent Cards in either the KJV, which offers only the OT verses, or the NIrV (New International Version but with language easier for small children) which offers verses from the whole Bible. Both cards still have the same virtues with identical content other than the verse choice.

         These cards are printed on high quality cardstock and are sized 8.5" x 5.5".  They come in a reseal-able see-through zipper bag to protect them when not in use. They are recommended for use with children ages 3-11. I was able to use them in part or whole with three of my children ages 4, 6, and 8.

    We Choose Virtues Review

         The front of each card has a “Virtue Catchphrase” on it, such as "I am Patient. I wait, and wait and wait with a smile." In addition they have the reverse of the virtue as well, so in the case of the "patience card" the card says "I am NOT...pushy, or controlling and I don't get frustrated or board when others are slow!" They also each have a cartoon figure and a Bible verse to go along with the virtue, which is usefully for memorization. These are easy for kids to learn and the little cartoon illustrations make them fun for children. Remembering the character quality children are working on in the context of positive language can help them feel successful and capable of achieve the goal of virtue and take ownership of the virtue. (although we will all, children and adults, never perfectly achieve these virtues, this side of Glory). =)

         On the back of each card, is a "teachable moments" for the whole family, giving some concrete examples of what each virtue looks like in action.  On the "Patience card", we practice patience during dinner while I read our nightly chapter of our family read-aloud book (which happened to be Prince Caspian at the time) Each child got one piece of chocolate on their plate and were told if they waited until the story was over they could have 2 pieces, but if they choose to eat it right away they could only have the 1 piece. There is also a section on What to say after “I’m sorry” as you choose to apply the virtue in future situations, and an explanation of “The Kids of Virtueville,” which gives a scenario similar to one common to most children and gives a question to stimulate further family discussion on the subject. 

         The cartoon characters are called the Kids of Virtueville and they are included in the coloring book pages as well. My children love to color so this was an excellent way to get them to concentrate and talk about each virtue further. The reason for the cartoon character's names are described on the back of each card (like Cake Jake or Piggybank Frank). The accompanying story identifies the meaning of the virtue by giving an associating story with the quality that facilitates better memory of the virtue.

     We Choose Virtues

         The download-able file also includes a butterfly award, using the idea of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly as a metaphor for the change that takes place in the child's heart as they start to change their behavior to exhibit these 12 virtues. This is a one-page file that has two 8.5 x 5.5 awards per sheet. The art work on the awards are well done with green and purple flare. These are presented to your children as they “consistently choose and use a virtue."

         The entire Homeschool Kit sells for $98.99 (which includes the cards and the download bundle.

         I found the teacher's handbook to seem to be meant for a classroom setting more than for a homeschool. Because I have very little prep-work alone time with four kids and a small house, I would have preferred something that is a bit more step-by-step and to the point. I struggled at first to figure out how the program was meant to be implemented.  These are intended to be short and flexible lessons, but some user intuition will be required to find a way to make this work.

         My overall impression of the program is that it can be a useful parenting tool to add to your children's character training, and a good way to introduce these character qualities to young children who may not be familiar with them yet. I think both my 4 and 6 year olds learned some new words and understand better the concepts of these virtues.

         We Choose Virtues is offering some monthly specials that you can take advantage of at this time.
    MAY-JUNE: *Promo Code BIG50 for 50% off the set of twelve 11×17 Kids of VirtueVille Posters! They are intended for school classrooms, Kids Church, or your homeschool room. Kids love them for their bedrooms, bathrooms and kids’ hallways.

    JUNE-AUGUST: *Promo Code BTS20 for 20% off anything in the WCV Store. This includes any kit.

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    Friday, June 6, 2014

    Kinder Cottage Publishers Peter Rabbit Review

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         Kinder Cottage Publishing was started in 2012 by parents, Howard and Ann Closs, who had a desire to give their own children a love of great literature. I had the opportunity to review two of their titles in the Peter Rabbit series, Peter Rabbit at the Farm and How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea. Both titles are available for purchase on their website for $4.00 each.
    Kinder Cottage Review

         This series, ideal for ages 3-9, are a well crafted hardback adaption of an original book published by the Henry Altemus Company in the early 1900's. Color illustrations are beautifully preserved and the text is updated to reflect our modern language. Samples and pictures of each book can be found on the Kinder Cottage website.

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         As is true in many fairy tales, the Peter Rabbit stories show the consequences of naughty behavior.  Peter is often forbidden by his mother from doing a certain thing and then proceeds to do it anyway, often with unwanted consequences that a child can clearly understand.

         In Peter Rabbit at the Farm, Peter slips out the door while his mother isn't looking. Moving quickly without watching where he's going, he runs smack into Pollie Possum and spills all of her persimmons. After continuing on his way, he meets a sobbing Goosie Poosie, and helps her fix the pond that's been dried up, but not before falling in and soaking himself in the process! After many more adventureshe is finally ready to go home, but when he tries to think of the quickest way to get there, he ends up getting lost in a cornfield instead!

         In, How Peter Rabbit Went to Sea, Peter is told by mama rabbit what he must not do as she goes visiting to her friend's house. Although he’s already been in trouble for failing to bring back cabbage for breakfast, Peter decides he wants to play pirate and heads to the forbidden brook, without heeding the warnings of his sisters. The small brook sweeps him out to sea where he has adventures with a Old Man Shark, a Johnny Crab, Gruff Old Sword-Fish and an Old Granddaddy Whale. He is then carried off by a Sammy Sea Gull but manages to make it back and is thankful to be home and headed for his own bed. He declares he never wants to play pirate again!

         As a mom, I appreciate stories like this that teach my children how disobedience can have consequences that are not going to be enjoyable. I believe there is value in a story that encourages children to think for themselves and come to their own conclusions about how to distinguish right and wrong behavior.

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    We thoroughly enjoyed these little books. They were perfect for my emerging reader to read and my two younger children (other than the baby) to listen to.  We read them over and over again (and will continue to do so).  The children have colored pictures of Peter Rabbit and have talked about his adventures, and his lack of obedience.  They are not just fun stories, but they are helpful in building moral character through example of what to do, and what NOT to do! These books are timeless classics  and have a high quality feel that would make an excellent addition collection of children’s books.

    The following 10 books are in the series:

         You can purchase titles separately for $4.00 each, or you can save $10.00 and purchase the entire set for $30.00. Kinder Cottage is also generously offering my readers an additional 20% off the product price on the website by entering the coupon code: TOS

    Kinder Cottage Review
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    Wednesday, June 4, 2014

    Progeny Press Review

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          Have you used study guides to help your children understand literature? Are you interested in helping your children view literature with a Christian worldview? I want to tell you about the study guide from Progeny Press that we recently reviewed.

        Progeny Press wants to help our children understand literature through the lens of Scripture and look at real life situations and to evaluate them rightly. 

         The study guide we used was the Frog and Toad Together E-guide, which is a PDF e-guide. We printed ours out and used the hard copy. The study guides for older children (grades 4-12 ) are interactive PDF's and you can also have your child use the guide right on the computer and type out their answers. The Frog and Toad Together E-guide retails for $11.99. Progeny Press has 4 levels of E-guides available including Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School and High School. Most of the Middle and High School study guides take about 8-10 weeks to complete, however some of the elementary school guide take less time.

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         Frog and Toad together is a collection of stories about the famous friends Frog and Toad. Frog and Toad get themselves into some silly scenarios and some troublesome problems, but through it all they learn lessons about what it means to be a friend. My kids really enjoy the Frog and Toad books. This study guide is meant for children in grades K-3, I used it with my Kindergartener and my Second grader. Neither of my children are strong writers yet, so we read the questions in the study guide out loud and Mommy wrote the answers in that the children gave.

    Progeny Press Review
          This is one series that has the children laughing out loud as we read together. I have a beginning reader so we switched off between Mommy reading and him reading some of the stories.

         My oldest son really enjoyed making the "to do" list from the first story "The List" that was included in the PDF. When Toad makes his list he feels strongly that he can ONLY do the things on the list. That makes for a silly situation when he looses the list and can't remember what it said!

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    Rest assured, we did not actually "eat dogs". He actually meant he was going to feed the dogs. =)

         As we made our list the Study Guide talked about the Scripture from Jeremiah 10:23

    "I know, O Lord that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps."

         The Study guide also had us discuss how can making a list can be good and bad and what kind of list might Jesus make if he was ordering his day.

           We really enjoyed digging a little deeper into this favorite book with the help of Progeny Press. I could definitely see using some of there guide in the future for further literature exploration, especially as we enter into the season of learning with more challenging books and books written with a different worldview than our own. 
         One of the parts of the guide that I love the best is the Scripture references. It's clear that a lot of thought that was put into the questions. Our family was able to use the guide to have conversations about how the answers can be applied to our lives. I love how they use the pieces of story to connect to the Bible. The guide ends with suggestions of similar books and videos as well. This is a great way to explore further and you have an easy resource to guide you to more information.

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    This coloring page is not in the study guide but easily found for free online to add to the learning for small children.

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    Progeny Press Review

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