Thursday, October 31, 2013

Carole P. Roman with Away We Go Media Review

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Vendor: Carole P. Roman with Away We Go Media
Product: If You Were Me and Lived in Mexico
             If You Were Me and Lived in South Korea
             If You Were Me and Lived in France
             If You Were Me and Lived in Norway Link coming soon!
Price: Amazon Kindle $.99/Paperback $8.99
If You Were Me and Lived in Norway Kindle $1.99/$10.79 Paperback.
Age Range: Pre-K to 8 years old

 photo if_you_were_me_and_lived_in_France_zpse258286f.jpgThe "If You Were Me and Lived in..." books are bright colorful picture books.  Each book is around 20-30 pages of bold and easily read print.  Each book starts out stating the country it is about and showing the location of the capital city.  It also shows where the it is on the globe!  Which I was very blessed to also received a wonderful blow up globe as a special gift for reviewing the book.  The book goes on to explain what it would be like if you were a child in that country.  For example, what your name would be or what your language would be.  All the facts are given in an easily understood text and things that younger kids would understand.  Things are not listed as just a bunch of boring facts.

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My children are from a Mexican decent.  Their grandmother is Mexican and their great grandmother was from Mexico.  This was really fun for us because this book helped them learn more about that side of the families culture.  Their grandmother always tries to speak to them in Spanish and they just giggle at her.  I think this was a bit of a fun way to teach them more about Mexico and get them interested in learning about it deeper.  They were also interested in seeing that Mexico isn't all the way across the world like the other places in the books.  It made them want to go visit it.  I had to explain it was still a distance from us and maybe one day when they were older we maybe able to go visit there.

 photo south_korea_cover_zpsaad0422b.pngWe used these books to replace out history/geography lessons for awhile.  Sometimes it is nice to take a break from all the book work full of worksheets and projects and just learn through some simple reading.  We would read a book and then we would explore the location on the globe.  We would then try to find some sound clips to help us make sure we were pronouncing the words correctly.  Some books prompted more research like Mexico.  We would spend a couple days just searching the internet for more information and pictures of the country.  It is so much more fun to to learn when the kids are interested in something.
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What we liked the most:

The books are colorful and easy to read.
They have simple to understand facts.
The repetition of the books makes it easier to remember for the younger readers.

What we liked the least:

The repetition was good for my younger kids but my oldest (8yo) was kind of annoyed with it.
I think that they are not a book that is good for continual use.  One time read is about all that is interest in them.  
It might be nice to have a suggested art project to go with each book.  Maybe a place on the webpage that would give some tips on extra things to do with the books to enhance the experience.

I will be recommending these to others with young children as I think they are a good read.


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Thursday, October 24, 2013

VocabularySpellingCity Review

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Vendor: VocabularySpellingCity
Product: VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership
Price: Family Membership is $29.99 a year for up to 5 students
Age Range: K-12th Grade

 photo letterfall_zps87fc7ce0.jpgVocabularySpellingCity is an interactive learning tool.  The premium membership offers lessons in writing, spelling, vocabulary, and language arts.  These are done by the use of flash cards, games, and writing.  The membership also has a progress tracking for the student that does grading for you.  You are able to go in an assign work to your child in each of the categories and when they log into their account they can see what you expect them to do and as well as when (if you assign a due date).  They also now offer free access to their app available on iPhone, iPod, Android, and Kindle.    

 photo wordorama_zps693e47d4.jpgWe used this program about 4 times a week.  I went in at the first of the review and loaded up many different lists for Kailea to do.  That way when Kailea logged onto her account she could choose what set of words she wanted to work with.  The graphics and colorfulness of the site is great.  I think it helps keep the kids attention so they are not bored with the look.  It keeps it from being like a workbook in black and white.  

 photo flashcard_zps3b3e1de7.jpgI was very surprised that Kailea enjoyed the writing sentences.  She is very smart but she hates writing and hates using her imagination to come up with a sentence or story.  So at first it was a struggle to get her to use that part of the program.  We started her out doing the vocabulary of the words to make sure she knew what each of them meant.  I hoped that the definitions would help her get an idea of a sentence too.  She eventually got to doing it, then we discovered the app.

If you knew Kailea you would know that if it has to do with her iPhone she will do anything to be able to have it in her hand.  I downloaded the app to her phone and I was really amazed after signing it that she was able to use it on the go even without wi-fi.  She started using it and writing sentences being able to use our surroundings out and about in the car to come up with a topic to write the word with.  The games are also great because she was able to "play" on her phone but in reality she was doing school work.  The picture to the right shows what she would see when she logged into her phone.  Just like online she had a list of her tasks that she needed to do.  We used this when we were on the go and she didn't have to ask me what she needed to do, she had it right there.

 VocabularySpellingCity Facebook page is a great way to keep up with updates and such. 
  Also the site was a big hard to navigate and figure out at first.  You need a good solid time slot as teacher to get on there and go through the help links and such so you can figure out how to add the lists and assign the work to the children.  It is a lot of steps to take.  I think it would be a good idea if they had lists that were sectioned off better and when you found a list you could assign it straight from that stop on the page.  However, how they have it now is you have to upload it then go to a different area and assign it.  It does take a lot of time on the teacher/parents part to get this started.  Once the tasks are in place it is really for the child to navigate though.

My daughter loves it and we will continue to use this program.  I think we will get more use out of the app than the computer time though.  It seems that you can do just as much on the app as you can on the site so it is just as effective.  For under $30 a month for up to 5 kids you cannot beat that price for the different options of games and work they offer.

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TOS Review Crew is taking applications

The Schoolhouse Review Crew is now accepting applications.  This year was my first year on the crew and I can not tell you how much God blessed me with getting to try out different types of homeschool curriculum.  When I joined I knew that was what I was going to be getting.  However I did not know I would be getting to know some wonderful women (and one man).  These women were there for prayers, to chat, and to help along the way.  They helped me in life not only homeschool.  I will be applying again this year hoping that God has in store another wonderful year for me with this group.  If you enjoy blogging, are homeschooling, and want to be able to review some great stuff apply now!

The Schoolhouse Review Crew will be taking applications for the 2014 Review year from October 24 - November 8!

Are you a homeschool blogger?
Are you a curriculum junkie?
Do you enjoy writing reviews?

Then you might be perfect for the Crew! 

Some requirements for being a part of the Crew include the following: 

  • First of all you must be a homeschool mom or dad. You don’t have to homeschool all of your children, but you must homeschool at least one. 
  • You must be willing to use the review products for about six weeks in your homeschool, before writing your review. Review periods have deadlines and requirements for the reviews. You must be willing to follow these requirements. No, that doesn’t mean you must write a positive review. But it does mean that there are certain elements that are required. And the deadlines are firm. If you are often late for deadlines, the Crew is probably not for you. 
  • You must have a blog on which to publish your reviews, and be sure you have an active blog with a following. By active blog, I mean that you should be blogging regularly, at least weekly, about your family and homeschool (in addition to your reviews). Your blog should have followers — RSS feed or email subscribers, as well as in social media. The Crew does not accept brand new bloggers who just set up their blogs for the purposes of applying to the team. 
  • Are you using social media to promote your blog? Activity on at least one social media platform is a requirement to serve on the Crew. Which one is up to you — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google Plus are the options. You will need to be willing to promote your reviews there and post a widget or plug-in publicly on your blog, indicating how many followers you have in social media. 
  • You must be willing to check into the Crew's Review Management forum. This is where information is disseminated to the team. The leadership does everything possible to make things easy for us, outside of writing the actual review, but you need to be willing to participate by checking in almost daily. 
  • Sample reviews are helpful. If you’ve never written a review on your blog, go ahead and write one for curriculum you are currently using in your homeschool. This will help the leaders see how you approach writing reviews. 

Why should you want to be a part?
Our Crew of over 250 review bloggers has been serving the homeschool community for more than 5 years. As a respected review team, we take this job very seriously and will insist you do as well. The leadership provides an incredible amount of assistance to help us be the best bloggers, homeschool parents, and of course, reviewers we can be. They provide a mentoring program for new members, a social media networking group, many blog and social media tutorials, and lots of incredible opportunities for our team, including blog carnivals, the opportunity to guest post on the Crew blog, and the blessing of some incredible friendships.

How can you apply? 
After making sure you meet all of the requirements, if you believe you would to an asset to the Schoolhouse Review Crew and wish to join us, please click over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to apply.

Come be a part of The Old Schoolhouse family!

I can promise you that if you decide to join this wonderful Crew you will be blessed in more ways than one.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Diary of a Real Payne Review

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Vendor: Barbour Books
Product: Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story
Recommended Age: 8-12 years old
Price: $5.99

Barbour Publishing allowed me to review their book called Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story. This book is written by Annie Tipton about a 10 year old named EJ that seems to be a bit misunderstood.  EJ lives in the boing old town of Spooner Wisconsin.  This book is about the things she thought about the town with lots of humor.  Like the title says, it is a diary of her life. EJ is in fourth grade and has a father that is a pastor, a mother that is a teacher, and then a brother who is (in her words) a space invader.  Having her dad being a pastor brought on the fact that this is a Christian based book, which is always a plus in this house.

The book is 15 chapters and each of those chapters start off with a entry into EJ's diary. The first several pages are a long entry in which she talks about her family and describing herself.  She loves her family, reading, and daydreaming.  The diary entries are what sets the bar to what the chapter is going to cover.

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Kailea is the reader of this review.  She is 8 years old and is a very advanced reader in general. Though I try to push her for the more advanced books, many are not as enjoyable.  She was very excited to try out a new kind of book.  We do daily self reading in our home so her goal was to read at least a chapter everyday to meet that requirement I have set.  Usually she got so into the book, while sitting on the couch giggling, she continued to read more than her required chapter.

Kailea said the book was very funny and enjoyed reading it.  It also prompted her to comment on EJ learning lessons from things in life and she thought that was really neat.  Kailea thought it was very neat that the book was real and this was about a real girl and the real things in her life.  She is my kid that analyzes everything, she also has a hard time understanding make believe. I think this book was awesome because it was a good read with humor and it allowed my daughter to read it knowing it was true to form.  When she reads fiction books of similar genre she gets frustrated at the falseness and then doesn't want to finish the book.  I can't say there was a part about this book that we didn't like!

Book number 2 comes out in March of 2014 called "Church Camp Chaos".  We can not wait to get it and read it as well.  Kailea is ready for it already too.  I think that I will read this one out loud for my younger kids and then when the new one comes out Kailea can read it out loud to them.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Share your faith!

Do you share your faith in your social media?

I think sometimes we tend to forget that the little things in our lives can make such a big impact on others.  Sure the majority of the blogs I visit are faith based and talk about their love for the Lord, but is that enough?  Have you ever reached out to someone on a blog, Facebook, or Twitter and asked them why they believe or don't believe?

I watched a video this morning of Phil Robertson.  It was very touching and really made me think.  Just saying I am a Christian and keeping my postings clean is not enough.  I need to step out of my comfort zone and reach out to people when I see the chance arise.

Here is the video of Phil doing just that!  Taking a stand for what he believes in and calling a person out!

Just 1 Phone Call -- Phil Robertson, The Duck Commander from Gdirect Missional Marketing on Vimeo.

You never know, you could make someone mad (Phil did at first) but you could also make them stop and think.  We are to share the word with the world around us.  Sharing the word with fellow Christians is nice but how much nicer would be be to grow God's congregation?

I challenge you all to reach out to someone on one of your social media sites and talk to someone that may not believe or maybe they have lost their way.  I promise you that God will bless you for doing it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

God's World News Review

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Product: Early Edition
Ages: Grades 1-2
Price: $28.00 for 10 issues

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The Early Edition is a kid reading and comprehension level magazine to tell the kids about how God is in control in our world.  For a full year subscription you will get 10 fully colored magazines every month with the exception of May and December.  Each magazine is 24 pages in length and has many activities like puzzles as well as news stories. In September they send out a 20"x 30" world map.  I have the August, September and October magazines as well as the world map for my review.  You also get online access to more activities as well.

The online access gives you archived editions of the past magazines.  There are also PDF lessons that are age appropriate for your child to do. Your online subscription comes with your paid magazine order.  The online does allow you to see all content for all grade/age levels though.

How we used it in our home!
Since the magazines are not only a biblical base but also a geography and history outline we used these magazine for those lessons.  We spent about 30 minutes a day reading the stories and learning about where the stories were from.  This is where having the map was really nice.  We could look up how far these areas were from us while learning about their cultures.. Also the news in the article was informative but nothing that was to much information for children, unlike trying to watch the news or read a normal news article.  We would also spend some time doing the puzzles that were in the book.  My kids really enjoyed being able to read the stories themselves and have them written in terms they understood.  The print is also larger than normal magazines and all the pages are very colorful and great pictures.  

Added features!
God's World News - Kids This site gives extra things to go along with your studies. We enjoyed going under the "Fun Stuff" section. This had many extra activities to do as well as quizzes.  I love quizzes because then I can see that the kids are actually listening to me when I read them something.  If I had older kids this is also the place that I could access the teen section for activities for the older kids in the home.
God's World News Here you sign in using your zip code and the customer number from your magazine.

God's World News also offers the following magazine subscriptions based on different grade levels.  As you can see there is a great variety that would fit for any home.  I really think this is great because the older the child gets the more than can understand about the news in the world and have that in their magazine.  The added activities in the articles also give age appropriate help in areas that are worthy of studying at the age.  Like in my Early Edition we had activities that helped with writing.  We will continue to use our subscription and will be happily waiting for it each month to arrive.
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Wake up call

Sometimes we need a wake up call in life. You know get your heart pounding and let you know that you are still alive. Well I got mine this morning. I wake up go check on kids in their room only to be surprised that the girls are not in bed. So I look in the front room, no girls. Panic mode sets in and as I come back into the kitchen little man walks out of bedroom and nonchalantly says the girls are asleep in the closet! Scared the heavens out of me. My oldest was even IN the toy box that is in the closet! Why in the world do kids think this is a more fun way to sleep than to sleep on their beds? 

This mama is pushing her heart back into place as she fills the coffee pot. I hope this doesn't set the pace for our school day.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Happy October

Wow this year is really flying by for me. The weather is finally starting to cool off as well so that means more trips we can make. We like to utilize all our down time for work time. Do you car school?

We love to see what God created around us when we learn! Also it keeps the kids quiet when we are driving instead of arguing with each other. It seems to be a win win. We also have been trying out a new app by VocabularySpellingCity and I will have a review posted for that soon as well. Having learning apps make web sitting the buggy while shopping calming for the kids. Or since I have had a lot of doctor appointment lately it gives them something to do as well. Are there any learning things you do during appointment wait times!

Now we can't start fall without something pumpkin flavored so I made my wonderful No Bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake! 

Just for fun I am 26 weeks pregnant! Though prayers would be great as I am having a few issues.

Zondervan NIV Homeschool Bible Review

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Vendor: Zondervan
Price: $34.99
There is also the option of a KJV
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 photo niv_zps46b5b3b8.jpgFirst of all what an amazing God lead review for me!  I have always had a bit of worry in the back of my mind if homeschool was really the way God wanted me to go with my children.  Getting this review just confirmed it for me.

This devotional has a devotion for each day of the year.  These pages are places every few pages of the bible.  So this bible is a usable everyday bible as well as having a nice little pick me up page for a daily devotion to help pump you up and encourage you.  Each one is marked by the month and day.  The first thing on the page is a verse from the bible and then a page of a some uplifting words and stories that go along with that verse as it corresponds with homeschooling.  These devotions are written by a homeschool mom of 25 years, Janet Tatman. 

Every morning when I got ready to start my day I pulled out the Bible and my Homeschool Planner.  I read the daily devotional and the story that went with it.  I then said my prayers for the day and reflect on what was said.  This helped me lead in my planning, as many of things I could correspond with my teachings to my children.  Since we do not school on weekends I would read the weekend devotions during the days that were a little tough for me.  They always brought great encouragement to me.  

The book is a hardback book and it has a protective paper cover over  it.  The pages are thin like any other Bible as well.  The fonts were very legible and the words were well written for easy understanding. There is also an index with different topics listed and the pages you can find those topics on.  This is great when you have a specific thing you would like to look up or possibly need some extra encouragement on.  Janet also ends each devotional with a little prayer.  

I think if you use God in your homeschooling then you will love this bible.  I have also replaced my regular bible for this one as well.  It is nice to be looking up scripture or doing a regular study and one of the devotions pop up in the next page.  They always seem to pop up when I need them the most, even if I did not know I needed it at the time.  I feel very blessed to have this as a part of my relationship with God and as a part of my homeschool. 

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