Friday, August 22, 2014

Review ~ Happy Kids Songs

Happy Kids Songs Review

Happy Kids Songs were written to help kids deal with various social and emotional situations in their lives, and to encourage character traits like sharing, manners, and being a good friend.

For this review we received a download of three different volumes.....

Set 1 ~ Friends and Sharing
Set 5 ~ Happiness and Attitude
Set 6 ~ Manners and Character

Pricing is $4.95 per album or .99 cents per song.

We also received the 125 page Happy Kids Songs Workbook ~ Hands on Activities to Build Character, Social, and Emotional Skills. ($12.56)

Downloading these songs was a bit challenging for me because I rarely download music and I just didn't know what I was doing on my new computer I suppose. I got some help though and was able to get them downloaded to my computer finally. The website says you can burn them to a CD, but even with help I was never able to do that, so we just listened from the computer. I'm pretty sure this was really more of a problem with me, because other reviewers reported being able to burn them just fine.

I let the kids just listen to the songs and see what they thought of them. I also gave them the workbook, which has pages to go along with each song.

The songs were written for ages 3 to 8, and two of my girls fall into this range at ages 5 and 8. The older kids listened at first but quickly left the room due to lack of interest. The little girls listened, but did not really get into the songs like I thought they might. They picked up a few of the catchy lines, and we had many nice discussions about the character traits they were trying to teach about in the songs.

Happy Kids Songs Review
The little girls colored in the workbook a bit, but a lot of the activities required them to be able to read well, so without my help they just skipped those. I felt like some of the activities were a little too difficult to complete for their age range, so we just used the parts they wanted to do and left the rest. I feel like it would be better suited for use in a classroom setting.

Happy Kids Songs Review

The songs in Happiness and Attitude were about being happy and having a good attitude towards others. Positive thinking is encouraged as well.

Happy Kids Songs Review

Friends and Sharing was about being a good friend and the different ways you can do that. Of course sharing is one of the topics, and including others in your play not excluding them.

Happy Kids Songs Review

Manners and Character had the most interesting songs for them. We talk about character a lot in our homeschool and bible studies. These songs are not Christian, they are secular, but you can always add this in yourself and use the songs as a starting point for a discussion or lesson.

Manners are always a good thing to work on, even for adults!

All in all this product was not really a good fit for us at this time. A few years ago I think the kids may have enjoyed listening to the songs a lot more, but now they are very musically opinionated and found these songs to be better suited for younger kids. I will say that they were recorded well and sound very professional, but I have to agree with them that preschoolers would get much more enjoyment from the songs than older kids would. You know your kids best, so have them listen to the samples from the website before you decide if Happy Kids Songs would be right for them.


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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review ~ Wizzy Gizmo Fast Track Bible Pack - New Testamant

Wizzy Gizmo Review

I love starting out our school days with Bible time, whether that be in the form of reading from the Bible, working on a study, or praying together and discussing I try to always have God be our focus first thing. Our family was blessed with the Fast Track Bible Pack - New Testament set of cards from Wizzy Gizmo.

Never heard of a Wizzy Gizmo? Just what is that anyhow? Well a Wizzy Gizmo is a "what", and it is a "Who." Wizzy Gizmo is a fictional character who loves God and exploring the Bible. Since he has become a Wiz (not to be confused with a wizard, because he is not), naturally he has made Bible books, audio dramas, and Bible flashcards to help kids (and adults) learn more about the Bible too.

 The Fast Track Bible Pack includes 27 cards, one for each book in the New Testament, and they are packed full of information!  They were written for ages 2 and up, and make a wonderful supplemental tool to go along with any bible study or curriculum. The cards are a nice and big 5x9 inches with a good readable size font. This was important for one of my kids who has problems with small print. The set costs $14.99 and I feel like they are well worth it.

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Here is  a sample card from the book of Matthew.

Just from the front of the card we can quickly see that there are 28 chapters, that the author was indeed Matthew and it tells about who he was. The date of writing is also there, we were able to visually see this on our timeline we have for history in our classroom.

So basically the front is an overview of each book. The way these cards are written make you want to get out your bible and read some more.

I like how we can start with a card and then expand on what we read on it by going to the Bible and reading for ourselves.

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 The back of the card gives you an outline, key chapters, passages, doctrines, and people.

I challenged the kids to pick a card daily and read a little about it. Just as I had hoped, the kids began sharing with each other little things they had read on the card.

This has turned into a trivia game of sorts. They love trying to stump other adults (especially me) with their bible knowledge. This thrills my heart!

I am blessed every time they teach me something new, and it makes them feel good too.

One of the kids asked if she could take them to church with her to help her answer questions about her lessons. I plan on letting her after I have them hole punched and put on a ring. I dont want them getting lost!

There isn't a lot of room on the cards for a hole punch, but there is one little space I can do it and not punch through any words, at the very bottom where the leaves are.

We think the Fast Track Bible Pack is a very useful tool and we have had fun exploring them and the bible together! I hope in the future they have an Old Testament Bible Pack as well. I plan on getting the audio drama for Christmas. My kids love audio books and the sample sounded really awesome!

 I can think of many ways these products can be used, and I have been enjoying reading others' ideas in the reviews by other members of the Schoolhouse Crew. You can read their reviews by clicking the banner below.....

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review and Giveaway ~ Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft

SKrafty Reviews and Giveaways


It's back to school time, and for homeschool families - that means gathering curriculum, planning and finding new ways to inspire kids in their studies. SKrafty Homeschool Minecraft is the perfect way to add the fun and inspiration you need. This fall, the class line up is spectacular! If you need homeschool math, science, bible, history, language arts or more . . . you are in for a treat. Using some of your favorite homeschool curriculum companies (including Apologia Science, Mystery of History, and A+ Interactive Math) you'll learn to incorporate Minecraft projects into your family homeschool.
SKrafty Classes

See all the new classes SKrafty has to offer HERE

Find out more about the fully monitored SKrafty Minecraft server where it is safe for your family and children - and get whitelisted for FREE right HERE. SKrafty is specially designed and the rules are constructed to encourage good sportsmanship - with no griefing allowed, no bad language or ugly talk, and no sharing of outside links to protect your children. See a full list of rules HERE. What other parents are saying about SKrafty Homeschool Minecraft:
"Since starting Skrafty my son has blossomed. His typing has gotten a lot better. School work is not a chore any more I just give him the list of what needs to be done and he does it. He finds the lessons entertaining and engaging and he loves the activities that go along with them. We are all very grateful for Skrafty." ~ Cheryl J. "My son enjoys playing on Skrafty with other kids and I love that it is a safe, moderated Minecraft server! While playing on Skrafty he has learned creative building, developed critical thinking skills, made friends, and learned to be a team player. The classes have been fun and the reading program has encouraged him to read more than ever. Skrafty has been such a blessing to our family!" ~Julie B.
Special needs learning:
"Skrafty has been a huge blessing to our family! My son with dyslexia is not only learning but enjoying learning!!!! His reading and writing have developed more with Skrafty than any other program we have used. The classes are engaging because they are so hands on and truly turn learning into an adventure. I so highly recommend Skrafty!" ~ Caroline D.
  What we learned: 

My 11 year old son is in love with Minecraft, so naturally he was excited to try out a Skrafty class! He chose Animals and Their Habitats because he loves all animals and thought it would be fun to build them. 

Getting signed up was easy, he already had a minecraft account so we filled out the whitelist form and he was approved quickly. He is pretty new to minecraft on the PC, but there were many kind kids there who helped him when he needed it. 

I felt it was safe for him to chat on the Skrafty server because the forums are moderated, and not just anyone can join. They must be a member. 

I was so amazed by the intricate designs he came up with for his biomes and habitats, his animals were super cute even if they were squarish.  (Its all blocks in minecraft.) He enjoyed being on there and was eager to move to the next lesson once he finished one.

The lessons themselves were not too long, but full of information needed to complete his tasks. Links to youtube videos that have been pre-screened gave him a look at lots of different animals and their natural environment so he had plenty of inspiration to complete his building. 

I am really excited to see Mystery of History as a class option this fall. I bought Volume 1 a month ago and we start with it next week. I am hoping my younger girls will want to build history too! 

I just love Skrafty and so does my son! Learning really can be fun and Skrafty has given us an enjoyable way to supplement our homeschooling. Thanks Skrafty! 

Affordable: Extremely affordable classes (between $6.99 - $32.00) make it easy to add creativity and excitement into your education at home. Sign up HERE for live classes or self-paced classes and begin your journey into the world of homeschool Minecraft with SKrafty.

Giveaway Companies - Multiple Winners!

SKrafty Giveaways  

  Check out all the wonderful companies and prizes you can win for your family homeschool: 3 SKrafty Fall Classes - Value up to $32 each Mystery of History Volume 1,2, or 3 & Super Supplemental - Value $150 A+ Interactive Math - Family Package for 3 Students - Value $450 Adventures In ChildRearing - Wildlife Adventures bundle- Value $27.99 We Choose Virtues - Homeschool Kit - Value $98.99 Sidetracked Sarah - Crockpot Freezer Meals 3 pack - Value $8.97 Moore Family Films - ABC Say it With Me - Value $15.99 Not Consumed - Back to School 4 Pack - Value $12.50 Teach Them Diligently - Family Pass to 1 Convention - Value $65 Homeschool Adventure Co. - Philippians in 28 Weeks - Value $18.95 Media Angels - Homeschool Moms Rescue Set - Value $9.99 A Journey Through Learning - Math Lapbook - Value $15.00 Dave Ramsey - Financial Peace Jr. - Value $24.95  

Enter with 1 entry or enter with them all: Click the link below to enter.....


Mystery of History, Dave Ramsey, and Moore Family Films are for US winners only. The other prizes are for everyone to enter, even internationally.

Disclaimer ~ We were not compensated for doing this review, we did it in exchange for trying out a class. All opinions are my own and were not influenced by receiving the class at no cost.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Movie Review and Giveaway! ~ The Boxcar Children

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One of the very first chapter books I read as a girl was The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I was taken back in time when my 9 year old daughter discovered this book last year and read it all by herself. When I learned it had been made into an animated movie I couldn't wait to share it with all of my kids.  

When four children lose their parents they are afraid to go live with their grandfather because of assumptions they have that he is a mean man. So they go off on their own, and eventually find an old boxcar that they make into their home. The oldest brother finds work with a local doctor and things seem to be going pretty well until their little sister gets sick. They go to the doctor for help even though they are afraid of being found.

I wont spoil the ending for you in case you haven't heard the story before, but it is a wonderful ending for everyone! The kids stick together throughout the story and love each other with such patience and kindness. They are brave as they face difficulties and work together to solve problems. It is a timeless story of perseverance and the value of family.

As I expected the kids loved the movie. Although my daughter and I still agree the book is better, we think they did a pretty good job of telling the story.

It made for a perfect Family Night movie for us. It is rated G and is a movie I am very comfortable with my kids watching over and over on their own.

We had some great discussions after this movie! Of course we talked about why it is never a good idea to run away. I explained that back when this story was written the world was a different place, this story could have happened back then, in fact there were many homeless children. I assured them that if something ever happened to us they would be well cared for. We also discussed how it would be fun to "play house" for a little while, but bad things can happen to kids out on their own.

You can pre-order The Boxcar Children on DVD right now, or...

Would you like to WIN a copy of The Boxcar Children for your family? I get to give one away! Entering is easy using the Rafflecopter form below.....

(If you are reading this post via email click on THIS LINK to go to the actual blog page to enter.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"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.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Random 5 on Friday ~ 8-8-14

The Pebble Pond

God willing we will be getting a REAL vacation in September!

Yesterday my much missed friend came home, she and her family have been gone since the beginning of June. Cant wait to hang out with her and catch up!

Today is also the first day of our state fair. We live close to the fairgrounds so the craziness and traffic can be a problem if we have to go to town. I tried to avoid all that by grocery shopping early. There is even a back road to our church. It pays to know back roads!

I have our first field trip of the school year planned for our group, its going to be a fun one too. We are visiting an orchard and get to learn all about whet they do there.

I canned 46 quarts of peaches from the above orchard this past week. Its the only thing I have canned so far. I was hoping for more from the garden, but its been a dry year so not so much to can out there. Oh well, God will provide!

Have a blessed week!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Random 5 on Friday ~ 8-1-14

The Pebble Pond

I cant believe it is August already! I thought summer went by too fast as a kid but its even worse as an adult!

My son is completely healed from his surgery. Scary stuff! Except for the scar you would never know by looking at him that he went through all that he did.

I guess I should start planning for school this year huh? I have ordered just about all we need so thats a start.

I really want a vacation! Like a REAL go somewhere and do something together vacation!

Why is it so cold? Isnt this August?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review ~ Junior Analytical Grammar

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I have always been a lover of words, of writing and reading them. One of the things I hoped to instill in my own children is this love of  English. So far I have one child that fits this description, my almost 10 year year old, River.

When given the chance to review Junior Analytical Grammar, written for 4th and 5th graders from Analytical Grammar, she couldn't wait to try it out! I love it when I have such a willing guinea pig, especially in a subject that many kids do not enjoy.

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The set we received included a Teacher Book and a Student Workbook ($39.95). Both are paperback and spiral bound. The workbook is consumable, so if you have more than one student be sure and get one for each. Additional student workbooks are $19.99.

The lessons are broken down into 11 units. It is recommended not to complete more than one unit per week, and there may be some units you will spend more than a week on. Use it however it works best for your child. It is also recommended that if your child does not seem ready after a few lessons to put it away and try again later. I love that the authors say this, a child who is pushed too soon will only become frustrated and resist.

Analytical Grammar Review

The 11 Units include.....

Articles and Adjectives
Subject and Verb
Patterns 1& 2 (Refers to types of sentences, I didn't know what this was before either!)
Pattern 3
Linking Verbs and Patterns 4 & 5
Helping Verbs
Conjunctions and Compound Situations

How we used Junior Analytical Grammar

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I started by reading the short beginning section in the Teacher Book. There is a guide for what to do daily and a brief overview of each Unit where she also shares tips and tricks that may be helpful. I followed her suggested plans so each days lesson was really pretty short.

River would often ask to keep going, so at first we did. She seemed to already know nearly everything and I was afraid this might be too easy for her but then we hit Unit 4 where she began to learn about diagramming sentences. So here is where we slowed down and worked at the pace that wasn't overwhelming for her.

I have to say that little by little we got through that unit and she is still loving the English language! We continued on in the same way, never pushing her but gently working on each new Unit until she understood completely and felt she had "mastered it" before moving on.

What we thought of Junior Analytical Grammar (JAG)

Although my daughter thought it was too easy at first it did become challenging for her. She said she is liking it and has asked to continue with JAG Mechanics when we finish this workbook, which is the next step.

I found it very easy to teach with the Teacher Book, there were some parts that are new to me or I don't remember learning so having the answers was a blessing!

We were both glad the lessons are short and there isn't a crazy amount of writing involved. I think JAG is the perfect prerequisite to the more advanced Analytical Grammar program. You can read reviews about this program also by clicking the banner below.

The one thing I would like to see added is a clear protective sheet on the front and back cover of the Teacher Book. Since this is re-useable it would be great if it were a little more sturdy. My cover page has already started to tear off. I plan to use this at least two more times when my little girls get bigger so Ill probably have it rebound. I wouldn't change the program itself, I think its great the way it is!

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