Sunday, December 23, 2012

Living Books vs Textbooks

"Living Books" is a relatively new term to me.  It wasn't a term that I heard growing up.  But one that I have learned about over the past few years of homeschooling.

There are textbooks on most any subject.  History, science, math, physics, astronomy.  This is the way that I learned in school, growing up.  I read the chapters and I took the tests.  Sure I remembered long enough to take the test, but not much longer than that.  Most details went in one ear and out the other.

I have been homeschooling my daughters since preschool, and my oldest is now in 8th grade.  For the first few years, we used textbooks for most everything.  That is how I was educated; it was what I knew.  But over the years, I heard more and more mention of "living books".

Usually, textbooks are written to cover a variety of topics, barely touching the surface of one topic before moving on to another one.  But living books are written by someone with a passion for the topic.  Typically, the authors write in-depth, with emotion and an amazing amount of knowledge.

Pick most any topic of interest, and you will find a book about that specialty.  Pick most any famous person, and you will find a biography about him or her . . . sometimes even an auto-biography is available.

By using living books, I have been able to learn so much, right along-side my daughters.  I have loved learning this way.  We don't just read a chapter about Pearl Harbor and move on.  We read several full-length books and even watch a documentary or two.  We don't just read a chapter in a textbook about Abraham Lincoln and move on.  We read books about his childhood and books about his adulthood.  We read quotes by Mr. Lincoln and quotes from people who knew him personally.

Along the same lines, we have learned much from unit studies, documentaries, hands-on activities, and even online courses.  A favorite of mine is Pilgrim Story through Dayspring, online.  Forget a passing overview of the Pilgrim's story.  This course delves deep, even going back before the "pilgrim" time, explaining how the circumstances came to be in the first place.  This is an impressive, interactive, multi-sensory way to learn.  (And no, I'm not getting paid to say that.  I just really love this course.)  I hope that the company comes out with more courses similar to this one in the near future.

Textbooks have their time and place.  They are pretty much a necessity for math and English.  Well, not really.  :)  Even these topics can be taught through online courses and DVD tutorials and the likes.  It is all about your child's learning style.  How do they learn?  How do they retain knowledge?  For example, over time, I have realized that my two older daughters have very different learning styles.  One daughter can sit still and listen and focus, and retain what she learned.  My other daughter has trouble retaining auditory information.  But give her something to do with her hands, and it makes an amazing difference.  So while I read, I offer to allow her to doodle while she listens.  She sometimes makes random doodles; sometimes, she draws pictures about the lesson.  Either way, using her hands, helps her to listen and retain what she hears better than if she just listened without drawing.

Homeschooling is an adventure and my daughters aren't the only ones learning along the way.  I am learning many lessons right alongside them.  Some are educational lessons, such as history; others are life lessons, such as my daughters' learning styles.

Homeschooling is a journey, and I'm so thankful to be walking the path with my beautiful children.

God bless,

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty Giveaway is Back!

I just love Melissa & Doug.  Their products are so unique, awesome, and durable.   I hope many of you took the time to enter the Terrific Twenty Giveaway.  And I have some great news!

The Terrific Twenty Giveaway is Back!

So what are you waiting for?  ENTER NOW!

As a "thank you" for hosting this blog post, I will be entered to win a chance at free products from Melissa & Doug.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

'Scandalous The Musical' on Broadway Soundtrack Giveaway

Interview with Kathie Lee Gifford:

About Scandalous on Broadway
Two-time Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello stars as Aimee Semple McPherson, the trailblazing media superstar whose passion for saving souls was matched by her passion for making headlines.

Set in 1920s Los Angeles, holiness collides with Hollywood in the extraordinary tale of one woman's charismatic rise to fame. But as her popularity grows, so do her enemies, until her sermons, her celebrity, and her past combine to put everything she believes in on trial. Two-time Tony Award winner George Hearn leads a remarkable cast of 20 in this new musical about one woman's incredible rise to glory...and fall from grace.
My Thoughts:
I was offered a chance to go watch the musical free of charge, to give my opinion and review of the performance.  I would have loved to go watch the performance.  But, unfortunately, the distance was a hindrance.  So, instead, I was offered a soundtrack from the musical.  
I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the 3 songs that I was able to listen to on my CD.  High quality, great music and vocals, entertaining lyrics.  From just the 3 songs on the soundtrack, I'm not able to get a complete feel of the musical.  But I am intrigued.  
I will say that from the songs I listened to, I'm guessing the musical isn't what would be considered "G-Rated".  But then again, I think it is assumed that most shows on Broadway are not "G-Rated", but geared towards adult audiences.
I have never heard the story of  Aimee Semple McPherson, but after hearing the songs and reading the teasers, I would like to learn more about Aimee and her story.  
One of my readers will receive a free copy of the 'Scandalous the Musical' Soundtrack.  To enter, leave a comment on this post.  For an extra entry, follow my blog and tell me that you do.  I will accept entries until December 5, 2012.

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Vocal Coach Singer - A Review

Vocal Coach Singer
CDs - $119.99

MP3s - $99.99

Recommended for youth and adults

From their site -
"Learn to Sing Your Best with the Ultimate Personal at Home Voice Lessons! Vocal Coach Singer includes 7 professionally produced training CDs, 4 workout CDs, and a full-size instructional guidebook so you can quickly gain more power, clarity, and confidence in your singing performance. Plus you will receive 1 CD with printable lead sheets for every vocal exercise and your own singer’s journal.
Vocal Coach Singer is the most complete instructional singing system available with the equivalent of over $2,000 worth of personal coaching time. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, Vocal Coach Singer teaches and builds upon the fundamentals essential to an accomplished singing voice. From posture to performance our tested and proven techniques will help you deliver your songs with consistency and confidence!
With our easy-to-use step-by-step singing lessons, you'll hear AND feel the difference in a matter of days! This is the only course you'll ever need to not only learn to sing your best, but also maintain your singing voice for years to come."


Vocal Coach Singer Includes:

7 Training CDs:

  • Getting Started
  • Complete Breathing
  • Complete Warm-Up
  • Complete Tone
  • Complete Expanding Your Range
  • Complete Diction
  • Complete Performance

4 Workout CDs:

  • Daily Workout High Voice 1 & 2
  • Daily Workout Medium/Low Voice 1 & 2

Plus these great educational tools:

  • Guidebook – Full-size Instructional Guidebook to Ensure Success
  • Printable Lead Sheets – each exercise in our course, plus track lists
  • Personal Singer's Journal (Getting Started Journal & Workout Journal) to Track Your Progress
  • Vocal Coach Song Evaluation – Evaluation form to enable you to make more intelligent song selections

They also offer a "Teaching Kids to Sing" set for ages 5 to 13.

Teaching Kids to Sing 2-DVD/1-CD Set is the perfect way to teach your children and their leaders about the child's voice. All the foundations from Posture, Breathing, Tone, Rhythm, Diction and much, much more is explored and demonstrated. The cast includes Chris & Carole Beatty and a group of children ages 5 to 13. The CD contains all the music used on the two DVD's in two versions: With vocals and track only. This allows your young singers to learn, then perform the songs.


Presented by
The coaches:
Chris and Carole Beatty

"Chris & Carole Beatty, creators and founder of Vocal Coach, have taught and coached thousands of singers, young and old for over 40 years.
Vocal Coach is built on their passion for training the singers of today and tomorrow through their time-tested, million-selling products as well as in the Vocal Coach Voice Studio in Brentwood TN."



Our Thoughts:

Two of my daughters regularly perform in musical theater productions.  As such, singing is a big part of their lives, especially when they are cast for solos.  None of us have had any formal training in singing.  So, this past year, I have been debating signing my teen up for voice training.  I figure that this is something she is very serious about and something she wishes to continue with.  So what was holding me back?  The expense of a private coach and also the time commitment of having another "must be there" added to my schedule.

So when the Vocal Coach came up for review, I decided to give this a try before signing up for voice lessons.  Why?  This is something that we can do in our home, on our own schedule.  And the expense, although somewhat pricey up front, is a one-time expense.  An expense that pays for itself in the first month, based on the fees I have seen advertised for weekly lessons with a voice coach.  So it was definitely worth a try.

I received the program as an MP3 download.  It downloaded easily and ran well.  Given the choice, I would have loved to see this program on DVD or as a video download.  I am a very visual person, so it would have helped me immensely to be able to view the instructor and watch exactly how he was standing during a posture lesson or to watch exactly what shape his mouth was in when he made a certain sound, etc.  And of course, it would have just made it easier for me to concentrate and focus in general.  Maybe this is something they will consider in the future, for us visual learners.

Since we have had no formal voice lessons, most everything in the lessons was new to us.  I appreciate how the Beattys start with the basics.  You can't expect to sing well unless you have the correct posture.  The posture lessons were fun, I thought.  It made me feel a little silly, but no one was watching but my daughter.  And I have found myself thinking about it and correcting my posture throughout the day.

Next up is voice warm-ups.  You know...all those silly sounds that singers make when warming up before a performance. Wow, if I thought I felt silly doing the posture exercises, I felt SUPER silly doing the voice warm-ups.  But again, it was just me and my daughter.  So I had great fun with it and we were both laughing and having a good time with it.  Of course, we found ourselves breaking out in a grand rendition of "Do Re Me". 

Chris breaks it all down into bite-size chunks.  Just a little at a time.  And the benefit of this type of course is that you can rewind and practice as many times as you like.  No extra charge for overtime,  for causing the instructor to go over his time limit.

If you decide your child would benefit from some private training and feedback, Chris does offer online training.

I found it to be a little awkward at first.  It was something new and different.  And I wasn't used to the format.   But they offer everything you need to get a good overview of the program and to make a plan for getting started.  And it didn't take long to catch on. 

My daughter says she would still prefer an "in-person" instructor.  But for now, I plan to have my daughter continue with the program.  Why?  I am convinced that she can learn a lot from Chris, in the comfort of our own home and on our own time schedule.  And if the time comes, when she takes lessons from an instructor in a studio...well, just think of all the money I will save, when they realize just how much my daughter has already learned from using VOCAL COACH SINGER.   Because as I mentioned, this course pays for itself in the first month.  Yet it could potentially save me months and months and months of one-on-one coaching .

I think the success of this program will greatly depend on your child.  How serious are they about learning to sing well?  Do they have the drive and determination to continue with the lessons and take the practices seriously, without an instructor prompting them.  Will you remember to have them practice, without an actual weekly appointment scheduled on your calendar?  Is your student a visual learner? Does he feel comfortable using computer files?  These are all things to ponder in your purchasing decision. 

I believe a serious student will greatly improve their singing ability, to not only sing well, but to sing correctly.

 Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway

This week, my alarm has been waking me up with Christmas carols.  When I go shopping, I hear Christmas carols playing in the stores.  So, I think the season has officially started.  So don your Santa hats and your Jingle bells, and have a holly, jolly Christmas this year!

And while you are at it, take a peek at Melissa & Doug's Terrific Twenty Holiday Gifts for 2012.  I am a HUGE fan of their products.  Their toys are some of my top favorite gift ideas for my preschooler last year.  And the plan is the same for this year!

Stop by their Facebook page for a chance to enter.  Starting November 6, they are giving away one gift every day for 20 days from the Terrific Twenty List.

As if that isn't exciting enough, you can also enter for a chance to win one of Melissa & Doug's great products right here on my blog, courtesy of Melissa & Doug.  One reader will receive SUSPEND: Family Game.  Read more about it below.


"A family game of tricky hangs and steady hands! Try this hanging balance game and you'll be hooked! Suspend comes with 24 notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces to hang from a tabletop stand. Sound easy? Try adding another piece! Each time a bar is added, the balance shifts, the difficulty changes and the incredible midair sculpture transforms. Can you add all your game pieces without making it fall? This tricky game for 1-4 players is a test of steady nerves and steady hands." 
Retail Value - $16.99

The giveaway on my blog will run through November 26, 2012.  To enter, leave a comment.  For an extra entry, follow my blog and leave a comment telling me that you did.

Several other blogger friends are also having giveaways.  So click on the links below for even more chances to win.

Disclaimer:  I am blogging about the Melissa & Doug contest and Top Twenty List, and offering this giveaway .  In exchange, I will receive a free product from their top 20 list.

Father of Lights DVD - A Giveaway

Father of Lights DVD

About Father of Lights
FATHER OF LIGHTS chronicles the journey of filmmaker Darren Wilson and his team as they fearlessly travel the globe, far from the daily existence of the typical evangelical believer in the West. By thoughtfully documenting the stories of extraordinary believers and candidly filming miracles, visions and other supernatural occurrences, Wilson engages viewers in modern day examples of the true nature and character of God.  

Wilson gives honest access to his own spiritual questions as he tackles the religious misconceptions he has struggled with throughout his life.  “I went into making this film by asking the simple question: who is God? I wanted to know His character, His personality, and who He truly is. To answer this question, we had to peel back the many layers of religious garbage that has been passed onto him through generations. That He is angry. Vengeful. Wrathful. And in general, that He doesn’t like you very much. The truth, as you will see vibrantly in this film, is that He is the most loving, compassionate, and wonderful Father you can imagine.”

About Wanderlust Productions
Wanderlust Productions is a video production company focusing on creating content for various media that highlights, informs, and is designed to spiritually stretch our audience.  Created by Darren Wilson, Professor at Judson University, Wanderlust’s focus is on telling stories that inspire and agitate, that are unwavering in their honesty yet are emotionally compelling.  While our content will always be Christian in nature, we are not afraid to explore themes, concepts, or areas that may be considered “risky” by the Christian establishment.  Wanderlust prides itself on its willingness to put the story above the message.  That being said, the message will never waver.  

Our Thoughts
This movie endeavors to show just how real God is.  It challenges us to believe that with God, anything truly is possible.  God has the power.  Do we have the faith?

"Father of Lights" inspired me and challenged me and even brought me to tears...tears of sadness and tears of joy.  

It is very bold in its presentation, style, and methods.  As I mentioned, some parts reminded me just how great our God is.  Other parts made me uneasy and uncomfortable.  I can't put my finger on it, but my emotions were mixed.  

This DVD does have some disturbing scenes and mature themes.  I would suggest caution with young children and recommend viewing it on your own first.

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

I am able to offer 1 copy of this DVD free to one of my readers.  If you would like to receive a free copy of this DVD, please leave a comment below.  I will choose one name on or about Friday, November 16, 2012.

Raising Maidens of Virtue - A Review


publishers of

Raising Maidens of Virtue - A study of
feminine loveliness for mothers and daughters

For mothers and their daughters ages 8 - 15

by Stacy McDonald  - Stacy is a Presbyterian pastor's wife, mother, grandma, conference speaker, and blogger.  She encourages women in their marriages, motherhood, homemaking, chastity, and Christian culture.

Illustrated by Johannah Bluedorn - Johannah has been homeschooled all of her life and is self-taught in art.  She is an author and an illustrator.

Foreword by Mrs. Jennie Chancey - Jennie is a wife, mother of ten, and the owner of Sense and Sensibility Patterns.

Be sure to take a peek at all the other wonderful books available at Grace and Truth Books.

About this book (from their website):

"The Revised and Expanded Edition. Contains new, updated content and additional chapters.

Now in its 7th printing, this revised and expanded edition of Stacy McDonald’s popular Bible study for mothers and daughters reflects a mature and seasoned approach to mentoring young women. With many of the original chapters polished and revised, and several new chapters added, readers will find this resource refreshing and even more useful than before.

Godly women are not born, but raised. Raising Maidens of Virtue is a storehouse of tools for mothers to employ to raise up a daughter whose life will honor God. Written in an engaging style, Stacy McDonald conveys the truth through stories, conversations, illustrations, and memory-making projects, to warmly encourage girls to think Biblically about themselves and their world. Offers useful counsels on modesty, feminine beauty, guarding the tongue, idleness, sibling relationships, honoring parents, contentment and more."

Our Thoughts:

Purity and modesty, it isn't about the clothes you wear or how you style your hair.  It is about your heart; it is about the reasons behind why you do what you do.

 Did you pick your clothes in order to solicit attention?  Did you choose your hairstyle in order to look like the latest celebrity?  When you go out, are you looking for a quick date, or are you keeping your future husband in mind?

It is a choice.  Live for God or live like the world.  Dress modestly or dress like Hollywood.  Date every guy who asks you out, or live with your future husband always in mind.  It is about your heart.

Be a lovely lady.  A virtuous woman.  A fair maiden.  Both inside and out.

This book is in its 7th printing, but somehow this is the first time I've heard of it.  The thought of working through this book with my daughters thrilled me.  I was so excited to get it and get started.  My heart's desire is for my daughters to be maidens of virtue.  And I am thrilled to have found this book to help us on that journey.

Stacy McDonald has such a delightful writing style.  She uses analogies such as Hannah Hotstuff and Fanny McFrump to depict different attitudes about our attire.  And wonderful stories such as "The Fence Dwellers", to show the dangers of spending too much time dwelling on things of this world and becoming desensitized to right vs. wrong.  The lessons are very serious and our daughters would be wise to learn them; but Stacy teaches the lessons in ways that are interesting and sometimes, humorous.

The book includes beautiful illustrations, very nostalgic.  And heart-touching prayers.  Stacy shares her heart and is very open with her readers.  The questions at the end of each lesson are thought-provoking and open the doors for heart-to-heart discussions between a mom and her daughters.

Here is an example of one of the included prayers:

Dear Lord, help me to notice
areas of my life that need
changing.  Keep me from being
prideful, selfish, or arrogant.  Make my
heart chaste, Lord; and, help to ensure
that my "outside" lines up with my
"inside."  Help me to present myself to 
others in a way that points to you, and
not to me.  Amen. 

Reading this book with my daughters touches my heart.  It reminds me what it feels like to be a young lady, trying to find her way.  And it helps me illustrate to my daughters the importance of living a pure life, holy and acceptable unto God.  My daughters are enjoying the stories and asking lots of questions.  It is reminding me of the importance of searching my own heart on a daily basis.  It truly is all about our hearts, having hearts turned towards God.

The recommended age is 8-15, but I suggest using your own discernment as some topics may be a little mature, although all topics are covered in good taste. 

If all our daughters could learn lessons such as this at a young age, what a difference it would make.  Again, it is all about the heart, purity of heart.

"If a young woman is truly acting in love toward her brother (yes, the guys in your life are your brothers), she won't risk his heart or his purity by seeking to be pursued in a way that is outside of God's will.  She won't play with his emotions or (by her actions, words, or dress) tempt him to think of her in an inappropriate way simply to satisfy some sort of fleshly desire inside herself."

What a treasure this book is.  How thrilled I am to have found it.  How excited I am to continue on this journey with my precious daughters.


 Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Journeys of Faithfulness - A Review


Journeys of Faithfulness: Stories of life and faith for young christian women

 Recommended for ages 12 and up

 By Sarah Clarkson

From the website
"A wonderful gift for mothers and their daughters! Sarah Clarkson challenges young women to reach higher and go deeper in their relationship with Jesus Christ by exploring the spiritual journeys of biblical women whose faith moves and inspires us even today. Celebrate the beauty, sacrifice, and courage that made these women the heroines they are with this collection of inspirational stories and devotions. Through the journeys of Ruth, Esther, Mary, and others, learn how God can reach into the life of an ordinary girl who loves Him and bring His beauty and grace to bear in the world through her obedience. Recommended for ages 12 and up."

Sample Chapter

Table of Contents

More wonderful products available from Apologia. 

More about the author, Sarah Clarkson.

Our Thoughts:

Sarah's book is full of stories of "life and faith" for young Christian women, but also plenty challenging for more mature women as well.  You will walk along side Mary & Martha, Mary (mother of Jesus), Esther, and Ruth.  The stories of Esther and Ruth are my favorite stories of the Bible.  Stories of women who were willing to do the right thing, no matter the cost.  Women who put God first in their lives. 

Sarah takes the facts from the Bible, and intertwines them into longer, more detailed stories.  Stories that allow us a glimpse into these women's hearts:  their struggles and heartbreaks, their dreams and hopes, their deep love for God and for their families.   I did stress to my daughters that the stories in this study were based on non-fiction, but that the author had used dramatic license to add details, not portrayed in the Bible.

After each story, Sarah shares a devotional with the reader, using personal stories from her own lives.  Then she follows it up with several Bible passages to read and ponder, with questions provided for a deeper study.  Sarah wants to challenge young Christian women to "reach higher and go deeper in her relationship with Jesus Christ by choosing well and staying the course in her walk with God."  It covers topics such as taking the time to "just be" in the presence of God, to not always be busy, but to take time to just be.  She also reminds young ladies of the importance of knowing and believing without a shadow of a doubt, because everything else in your Christian life is based on that foundation.

I found this to be an interesting study.  When we read Bible passages, we hear the stories and think, "Wow, they were true heroines.  They did the right thing."  But when we read these narrations in the study, we take the time to ponder their hearts, and think about their struggles.  Maybe they were scared.  Maybe they were discouraged.  Maybe, at least for a short time, they felt that Jesus had let them down.  We see that these heroines were human, with the same struggles that we have, the same emotions we have, but when it came time to make a choice, they chose God.

The topics are challenging and thought-provoking.  The stories, about some of the Bible's amazing women, are engaging and endearing.  The recommended age is 12 and up.  I used this study as a read-aloud with my 10 and 13 year old daughters.  I, personally, think the recommended age is a bit low.  It felt to me like the book was written at an adult level, and I (as an adult) found some of the Bible Study questions to be challenging.  I would recommended about 14-15 years old and up.  I liked the idea of using the guide as a mother/daughter devotional study.


Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Activity Bags - A Review


Preschool Ebooks by Sherri MacLean and Paula Reetz
Ages 3-6

Science Ebooks by Sherri MacLean
Grades K - 8th grade

Other products available from Activity Bags:
Reading Games
Travel Activities
Math Games
Coordinator Handbook (FREE)
Daily Activity Journal

$15 per Ebook.  Some bundle pricing is available


This book provides examples of 25 simple experiments that you can do with your children.

Sample from Science #1

This Ebook has 25 more experiments.

Sample from Science #2


This Ebook also has 25 experiments.


This Ebook features 34 activities that can be independently done and put away by preschoolers.

Sample from Preschool #1.

This Ebook features 33 activities that can be independently done and put away by preschoolers.

Sample from Preschool #2.

Our Thoughts:

I had heard about the Preschool Activity Bags and was intrigued by the idea.  I think most homeschool moms with preschoolers have asked the same question over the years.  What can I do for my little preschoolers doing our family's homeschool hours?  What activities, safe and educational,  can they work on independently for short periods of time?  What items can we keep in a storage tub to pull out during times when my older children need my attention for tough subjects?

The Preschool Activity Bag sounded like it just might have the answer to all of these questions.  But it gets even better!  I didn't know they offered even more solutions, like the science experiments activity bags.  Science is a topic that doesn't come easily to me.  Not so much that I don't understand it or that I don't enjoy learning about it, but that planning and setting up experiments isn't my strong suit.  So, we don't do as many experiments as we could.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this company also offers the science experiment ideas.

I am so impressed with the detail that has gone into these Ebooks. 

In the preschool Ebooks, you will find an "activity skills chart".  You can pick specific kits for color, hand/eye coordination, patterning, and more.  The Ebook has an "activities at a glance", which lists each activity along with the skills learned, general supplies needed, and masters needed for the kit.  It includes tips, frequently asked questions, and plans for coordinating a swap with other families.

Each activity provides a supply list, detailed instructions on how to assemble the kit, and detailed instructions on how to use the activity.

After you complete the kit, store it in a storage bag.  Then store all the bags into a carton, storage tub, etc.   This way, all the kits are easily accessible for your little preschooler.  It is important to teach your child to clean up one activity before pulling out another, or else you will end up with a jumbled mess of kits all mixed together.
I am so pleased with this concept, the variety of choices, the detailed instructions, and that so many of the supplies are either ones you probably already have on hand or can purchase cheaply.  And most importantly, these are the kinds of activities that the little guys and gals LOVE, plus they will learn while they are at it.

Check out this great idea!

There is a spoon for each letter of the alphabet, both upper-case and lower-case.  My 13 year old daughter labeled the spoons for me.  We thought of several ways to use these, and I'm sure there are more.

Use as intended, and match the upper-case with it's lower-case.

Use to practice alphabetical order.

Or use them to spell words.

 In the science experiment Ebook, you will find the same great quality as in the preschool Ebooks.  Frequently asked questions, tips, etc.  The experiments give detailed instructions for how to make the bag and also for how to perform the experiment.  The experiments also provide observation questions and a space for notes.

I appreciate that these are simple experiments which require easily-available supplies.  But simple doesn't mean boring.  These are creative, fun, and educational.

Check out this experiment, called Can Crusher.  We boiled a tiny amount of water in the can, then immediately after removing it from the heat, we used tongs to quickly immerse it upside down into a bowl of ice water. The immediate implosion was so exciting that we did the experiment three times in a row.  But the Ebook doesn't just tell you how to perform the experiment.  It also asks observation questions, then it includes the explanation about why the result happened.  What exactly was taking place inside of that can to cause such an impressive implosion?  The Ebook will tell you all about it. 

Final Thoughts:
I am so happy to be chosen for this review.  The preschool activity bag Ebooks are even better than I dreamed they would be.  So many ideas and so simple.  Yes they take time, but they aren't difficult.  And once they are made, you will have a treasure trove of activities for your little one.

The science experiment Ebooks are a welcome addition to our home.  I love the idea of our family doing more experiments on a regular basis.  And these are just the key to getting that done, with little expense and little prep, but with GREAT rewards.



Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sugar Creek Gang Audio CDs - A Review


Beloved Books Presents:

Sugar Creek Gang Audio CDs

Each Volume - $54.95

Entire Set of Volumes 1-6 - $279.70

Thanks to the great folks at Beloved Books, we have a...
SPECIAL COUPON CODE for my blog readers:  Receive 20% off of your order with this code - "WLTH-20" 


From Their Site:

"In 1939, Paul Hutchens began writing a series of wholesome Christian adventure books for boys and girls.  Several years ago Paul Ramseyer was inspired to dramatize the book series for radio.  Now your family can own and enjoy the complete 36-book audio series... over 100 hours on 72 CDs!

These Sugar Creek Gang "Audio Adventures" are dramatically read straight from the original books.  Christian families LOVE this series because the gospel message is presented in such a simple, easy-to-understand style.  The whole series is, in fact, a discipleship journey... even parents who listen along witness the Holy Spirit working changes in their own hearts!

Families also enjoy the delightfully interspersed segments of nature study, poetry, hymns, and even science lessons... all skillfully woven into the fabric of the stories."

You may also like to know that Paul Hutchens' autobiography, "My Life and I",  has also been put onto an Audio CD.


 If you are undecided, you may wish to purchase a sample CD of the 1st story, "Swamp Robber" for $4.95, with FREE shipping.

If you are still undecided, read these wonderful testimonies from listeners. And I don't know what higher recommendation I can give than this.  One of my fellow crew members mentioned that her daughter accepted Jesus as Savior, after listening to one of the Sugar Creek Gang audio CDs!  Wow, all I can say is, "Wow!"

Beloved Books offers MANY other inspiring books and audio CDs.  What an amazing collection!

Our Thoughts:

I like a good story.  I love a good story that throws in Christian values and the Salvation story. 

I listened to the Audio CD with my entire family: me, hubby, 13 yo daughter, 10 yo daughter, and 3 yo daughter. 

I liked the wholesome feel of these stories: love of God, respect of parents, devotion to friends.  It has so many built-in values, life lessons, and Christian Values, even mentions of accepting Jesus as Savior.  I didn't have to worry that something inappropriate would pop-up in the middle of the story.  I felt that my children would be grow in wisdom and deepen their values and faith, by listening to these stories.

The narrator, Paul Ramseyer, did a wonderful job of telling these stories.  He puts so much emotion, enthusiasm, and feeling into the telling.

These stories are taken straight from the original storybooks.  The story lines and tone of the narration reminded me of the TV show, "Leave it to Beaver".  I'm thinking that if you enjoyed that show (the stories, the values, etc.), you will enjoy these stories.  I loved that show, and I love these stories.

But, sadly, my daughters did not enjoy the Audio CDs.  Why?  I'm not sure.  For one thing, they don't particularly enjoy listening to Audio CDs.  They prefer to read the book, or have me read the book to them.   Possibly, a story about a bunch of boys "doing boy-ish things" doesn't particularly appeal to them.  Whatever the reason, they just didn't get into it.

BUT, I do like them a lot.  I found it entertaining and uplifting.  It was like a "breath of fresh air" compared to a lot of the "fluff" out there passing as children's literature.  And many of the other crew members have children (boys and girls) who love, love, love the stories.  So I encourage you to give it a try.  You may wish to purchase a sample CD of the 1st story, "Swamp Robber" for $4.95, with FREE shipping.  If your children listen to and enjoy these stories, I truly believe it will have a positive impact on their lives and their relationship with family, friends, and God.

I plan to continue to listen to these stories, even if I listen to them alone.  :)

REMEMBER!  Thanks to the great folks at Beloved Books, we have a...
SPECIAL COUPON CODE for my blog readers:  Receive 20% off of your order with this code - "WLTH-20" 


Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Samson's Classroom - A Review

PhotobucketSamson's Classroom

Home Plan for 1 user - $30/year
Family Plan for 4 users - $50/year

Three great programs for one great price:


Sight Words with Samson - For beginning readers



From their site -

Sight Words with Samson is an absolute must for all beginning readers. This software product is the complete package for teachers and administrators looking to give their students the necessary foundation they need to become successful readers. This engaging product is proven to help early readers master the 224 most commonly used words in the English language.

Spelling with Samson - Up to 5th grade



From their site -
With more than 5,000 words and counting, Spelling with Samson is the most comprehensive spelling product on the market. This amazing software package captivates students and provides educators with all the tools they need to improve the spelling ability of their students. Join the thousands of teachers from across the country that have already made Spelling with Samson a part of their classroom.

Reading with Samson - For reading comprehension


 From their site -
Reading with Samson combines everything you have come to expect from the Samson product line with a new patented user feedback system. The end result is a cutting edge software product that helps students analyze reading material and learn how to draw conclusions and answer questions based on that material.

Samson's Classroom also includes teacher resources, including some great printable worksheets.

Try out some of the Samson's Classroom DEMOS .

Or check out this 3 minute VIDEO.

Our Thoughts:

An online learning game with something for all 3 of my children for less than $5 a month.  Sounds like a winner to me.  So what is it all about and how did it work for us?

My youngest turns 4 next month, so I am super excited to start using Sight
Words with Samson with her in the next few months.  It looks like a super fun way to introduce her to reading.

My two older daughters spent a good deal of time working their way through Spelling with Samson and Reading with Samson.

In the spelling section, your student can either pick from a spelling list of your creation or from the provided KNOWLEDGE WAND LIST.  We chose to work from the provided list.  It has tons of choices.  You can choose a list based on grade level up to the 5th grade.  Or you can choose by a common theme, such as "Days of the Week" or "Farm Animals".  Each list is composed of 4 sections.

1. Study Zone - to study and master the words in your list. Each word is click-able.  You can hear the word, hear the word in a sentence, and hear the word spelled. 

2.  Missing Letters - help Samson karate chop his way through the missing letters for each word.  It is very cute.  If you guess correctly, Samson chops through the blocks of wood.  If you guess incorrectly, Samson attempts to chop the wood, fails, and then rubs his hand.

3.  Spelling Scramble - watch out for the tarantula, while gathering the letters to turn them into words. (I will point out that my 5th grader found the Spelling Scramble game to be frustrating.  It is difficult to navigate Samson around the screen and trying to avoid a spider that you can't see until the last minute was not her idea of fun.  But after he catches you, the pressure is off and you can focus on just rounding up the letters.  My hint to you would be, just let him catch you and then concentrate on getting the letters.)

4.  Crunch Time - try to spell the words correctly, quickly enough to keep from falling off the ice chunks, to avoid the walrus.

I found the words to be challenging enough for my 5th grader.  Some of the more complicated, longer words were even helpful for my 8th grader.  It was a fun way to learn and it proved to be effective.  After just a little practice, they would be scoring 100% on their word lists.  And it was great for the parent as well.  With just a quick glance, I could see which word lists they had practiced and which ones they had perfect scores on.  Plus, as I mentioned earlier, you have the option of making your own word lists.  

Crunch Time was their favorite game in the spelling section.  

In the reading comprehension section, your student will read a selected passage and then answer questions related to it.  There are 4 levels of difficulty to choose from.  If you get an answer wrong, it will highlight the relevant passage and give you another chance.  I again appreciate how easy it is for me to see my child's progress.  At a glance, I can see which passages they read, and also how many questions were right, wrong, needed a hint (highlighting selected passage), or were unanswered.  

Reading comprehension is very important to me.  It doesn't matter how well you read, if you don't take anything away from it.  I found this to be a quick and easy way to improve my daughters' skills, with just a few minutes a few times a week.

My 5th grader's favorite section was the spelling.  My 8th grader's favorite section was the reading.  Of course, the articles weren't very challenging for her.  But it reminded her of the importance of paying attention to details...and not just reading to read.  

I am very pleased with this product, as a supplement to our homeschool curriculum.  For less than $5/month, it is a quick and easy and fun way for a student to get a regular review of her spelling and reading comp. skills.   It is also a great way for a parent to get a nice overview of how their child is doing in these areas.  All the printables and resources for the homeschool parent are a definite bonus. 



Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge, as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.