Sunday, December 9, 2018

And then we became Roadschoolers

Have you heard of Roadschooling? When we first heard of it I couldnt get it out of my head. For years I dreamed of someday doing it myself. And then.....we became Roadschoolers!

We now live in an RV and travel every few months. Some travel weekly, some daily. My kids are getting a unique life experience they will always remember and I'm so thankful we had this opportunity!

We are currently serving as Campground Hosts in a State Park in Georgia.  Were hoping to avoid snow, which is currently getting close to 2 feet in some areas back home in WV.

I'll be sharing about how we switched to this lifestyle over the next few weeks!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway! ~ Treasury of Bible Stories : Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times

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We have been very blessed to review this sweet Bible story book called Treasury of Bible Stories : Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times by Kelly Pulley. This hardback book was written for ages 4-8  with 352 pages is in full color. The illustrations are adorable, they were drawn by Kelly Pulley also. He has illustrated several other books including many from the Beginner Bible series.

What makes this book different from other Bible story books? Every story is written in rhyme, so my poetry loving little girls really enjoyed hearing the stories over and over again. It has found a permanent place on my bedside table with their other favorite bedtime books.

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Each story can be read in just a few minutes, so if its an especially sleepy night you can get through a story quickly and then send them off to bed. Some nights we enjoyed more than one.

Some of the rhymes are so catchy I have heard the girls singing them. They like to make songs out of everything they hear. I have caught them just looking through the pictures on their own, they love all the cute little details, especially the animals. My 8 year old can read most of the words on her own, but she gets frustrated easily reading aloud and still prefers me to read it to her. She will read to my 5 year old though, she doesnt correct her because she doesnt know the difference yet.

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You can purchase Treasury of Bible Stories : Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times at on sale for $14.99, it is regularly $19.99. I get to give away one of these cute books to one of my readers, scroll down to enter below!

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Watch this little preview to get a better look at the book!

Enter to win a copy of Treasury of Bible Stories : Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times by filling out the Rafflecopter form below. If you are reading this post via email you will need to click here to go to the actual blog to enter. Thank you for entering!!

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Review ~ Heirloom Audio Productions - Under Drake's Flag

Analytical Grammar Review
Do you and your family enjoy listening to audiobooks? My kids and I love them, especially on long car trips. I want to share with you a treasure we were blessed to review from Heirloom Audio Productions. It is intended for ages 6 and up, but my 5 year old sat and listened to it as well as the others.  

 They have brought the classic book, Under Drake's Flag  by G.A. Henty to life, complete with music, sound effects, and talented voices.  This is no ordinary audiobook, this is audio theater, and there is a difference! You can listen to the story summary by clicking here and get a taste of how well done this CD is.

If you have ever read a G.A. Henty book then you already know how interesting and well written his stories are. They are full of adventure, good moral character and Christian values. 

This 2 CD set sells for $29.95 and includes 2 full hours of listening pleasure plus a 14 page study guide booklet. You will also receive a downloadable PDF study guide that goes much more in depth than the booklet. 

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Under Drake's Flag takes place in the 1500's when Sir Francis Drake was exploring the world by sea. He became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. A young boy named Ned gets the chance of a lifetime to join the ship's crew.

The story tells of Ned's adventures while traveling on and off the ship. The Spanish inquisition is going on during this time and he also faces the possibility of losing his life for his faith.  They go through some very hard and trying times, yet the hand of God providing and caring for Ned can be witnessed throughout the story. The main point of the story I believe is overcoming your fears through faith in God.

How Did We Use Under Drake's Flag?

The day our set came in the mail I couldn't wait to start listening in. It is a 30 minute drive to our church so I saved it for then. In the meantime I read through the study guide. Included are vocabulary words that I knew would help the kids and me to understand the story better, so we looked those up.

For example, Ned's father was a sailor and lost his life at sea, so Ned's mother was fearful of letting her son go. She does allow him to go however, but before he leaves she gives him the gift of a baselard dagger that belonged to his father.

This was the first time we had ever heard of such a thing, so having words to look up beforehand was very helpful. We were able to imagine more clearly the things being told about in the story.

The study guide also includes questions to discuss for each chapter along with the defining words. The Listening Well section has questions to determine how well your child was listening to the story. The Thinking Further questions focus more on getting your child's opinion about things happening in the story.

I decided not to use these after every chapter, but we did discuss them after hearing the whole story through. There is also a Bible Study section at the end with scripture references to enhance the values this story teaches.

What Did We Think of Under Drake's Flag?

All of us loved the story, but my 11 year old son loved it the most of all. He couldn't wait to share it with his best friend! He is an artist and often draws the things he sees or hears. His artwork revealed how well he saw this story in his mind's eye. (I wish he would let me share with you!)

One night while driving home from church a part of the story was playing where the ship is traveling through a hurricane. There was also a thunderstorm going on that night. The combination of the sounds from the CD and the flashing lights in the sky made the story really come to life for us! My son still talks about that night and how cool is was that God had it happen that way.

We are taking a trip to the beach soon and the kids requested to pack these CD's first! I really hope there are more audio dramas from Heirloom Audio Productions coming in the future!

I highly recommend Under Drake's Flag for its high quality and for the story itself!

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Movie Review and Giveaway ~ Holy Ghost Movie

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Do you like documentaries that make you think? Do you like hearing the stories of those who have found Jesus, been healed, or done things that only God could have made possible?

Holy Ghost is a film that was put together without a script, without a plan, they simply went where they felt the Holy Spirit leading them. The result is pretty awesome in my opinion!

They meet people on the street and pray for them, pray for healing from the Holy Spirit. They go to a heavy metal concert where the band members tell the story of giving their heart to Jesus. They go out into the crowds waiting to go in and witness to them, pray with them, and share the love of Christ with an atheist. They tell about how they overcame drug and alcohol addictions. It is truly inspiring!

This part of the movie was the most moving for me because as a teen I used to listen to that type of music and dipped my toes into that dangerous lifestyle. I knew who these guys were from way back when. Hearing them testify and share the gospel with their fans made me cry tears of joy! God can use anyone! The life turnaround these guys have made because of Jesus Christ gives me hope!!

The Holy Spirit is alive and this film was made to glorify and give Him honor, to show the world He is really there if they only believe! I think you will be inspired by some part of it as well.

 The movie features big names such as Lenny Kravitz, Brian “Head” Welch, Bill Johnson, Michael W. Smith, Todd White, Meredith Andrews, DeVon Franklin, William P. Young, Phil Vischer, and many more!

This is a family friendly movie, my kids from ages 5 to 17 watched the whole thing with me. The only thing the film shows that I had to explain was why some of the people in the crowd at the concert were displaying their middle fingers. My kids know it is a rude gesture, but where we live they have never seen anyone do that. I take every opportunity I can to let me kids know we shouldn't judge others for what they do, but we also shouldn't repeat what they do. Instead we pray for them.

You can see this film for FREE on September 6th by clicking the link on this page. The DVD will release on September 16th.

One of my readers will be picked to receive Holy Ghost on DVD! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. If you are reading this post via email, CLICK HERE to enter on the blog page.

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 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.”

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review ~ UberSmart Math Facts

UberSmart Math Facts Review

UberSmart Software was born when a homeschooling family needed a program to practice math facts, but available programs were not a good fit for their family. The program they created is called UberSmart Math Facts. It can be used on your windows computer with XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8. There is not a version for the Mac at this time.

This is a downloadable program, so you do not need to use internet to use it, and once you download it, it is yours forever! You can put it on more than one computer, but be aware that if you do, the same child needs to use the same computer each time or their progress will not be saved.

The program is recommended for ages K through 6th but anyone needing practice can use it. I even used it myself!

So how does UberSmart work?

It is basically a tool to help your child memorize and practice math facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. There are four ways to use it.....

In LEARN mode the child thinks of the answer in their mind and then clicks a button to check and see if they were right.

In PRACTICE mode the child types in the answers to find out if the answer is right. If it is wrong, the correct answer is shown and they move on to the next card.

In TEST mode there are two options. For beginners you can assess to find out what the child is already good at and where the most help is needed. This assessment is not timed, so the student doesn't need to be anxious to finish, they can take however long they need. Advanced students can test for mastery. This test is timed, and if all answers are correct and done quickly they will get a screen saying they have mastered the set of problems they were working on.

In COMPETE mode, two or more people can have a little friendly competition and see who can outdo each others scores. Not every kid is a fan of this, but if they are it can be great motivation to practice more. This was not a good idea for my kids, it led to tears and unkind words. So we just stick to personal goals now and they don't share with their siblings how that is going.

How did we use UberSmart Math Facts?

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I told the kids they just had to practice for ten minutes a day. Often they would keep going much longer though. Each child has their own login, I only had to show them once how to use it, it is that easy to use.

I made it a point to tell them that this was a very good way to improve their math skills without doing math on paper. Just a few minutes a day adds up fast, and before they knew it they would be mastering the facts that used to slow down getting their math done every day. With no pressure to hurry or finish a whole page etc. we have seen some real progress!

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I was very glad to see that my younger kids could use UberSmart too because you can use the cards with either numbers or dots like dominoes! She likes playing with the dot cards and asks to do it often. I had to help her more than the others but I expected that.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

I like that I can adjust the program to only practice a certain number. So if my kid is having problems with multiplying by 12's then that can be the only number they practice for a while until they master it. Ill be honest and say I didn't know all of my facts for 12. I needed some practice myself!

I also like being able to track how well each kid is doing and see the progress they they are making.  I appreciate the simple design that is easy to use, and installing it was easy as well. That's always a bonus for me!

UberSmart Math Facts Review

One thing I would change would be the ability to make the practice box the full size of the screen. It was big enough to read well, but the background screen on our computer was distracting for my younger ones. Its just a personal preference and no biggie though!

UberSmart Math Facts is currently selling for $24.95 and can be used with up to 8 students. This is great news for us large families! If you use the code “v4 Early Bird” in the discount code box during checkout you will get a 30% discount, valid through September 30, 2014!

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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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