Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I have mentioned before that my kids are map lovers and budding geography buffs! They love to learn about new countries and find them on the map. We have games on the ipad that encourage this, and many of our history lessons find us at the map tracing the routes of great explorers.

Well, thanks to Timberdoodle and Bright Ideas Press we no longer have to crowd around our little maps or even try to find the exact place on our large wall maps. We can go straight to Wondermaps on the computer and look up exactly what we are talking about. When Paul and I were studying South America it was easy to pull South America up and see all the aspects of South America that we needed to look at. It was easy to add or take away geographical components that we did or did not want to look at. We can also print out the maps with or without the various components. Here I printed just the country borders and names for him to learn the countries. Later I printed a blank map for him to fill out what he had learned.

When we moved on to American History and started studying the Civil War we could easily pull up a map of what the United States looked like at that time and exactly which states were in the Union and Confederate forces.

The kids have also thoroughly enjoyed simply browsing through the multitude of maps on the computer.

There are so many maps in this program there is no way I can list them all. There are maps from Biblical times as well as all throughout the rest of history, and all over the world. There is no way I can do this program justice, so take a look at the tutorial on YouTube

You can purchase WonderMaps as a CD here for only $44.95. That may seem like a good bit of money, but this is something you can use throughout all of your children's schooling. In the long run, this is very much worth the money.

You can find more great geography items at Timberdoodle-here

And make sure you go here and take a look at their online catalog or order a paper copy to see all their great products.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of WonderMaps for review. All opinions in the review are my own, and no other compensation was given for the review.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, September 26, 2011

Raising Real Men

If you know my boys, you know they are ALL boy. They know how to get dirty, and they know how to really PLAY.

They love to turn hugs in to wrestling matches...

They love to play "war"

and to protect their little sisters house...

They love playing baseball (or any sport) and being "competitive"

They enjoy "playing in the dirt" with Daddy

They love adventure and heading to the "high seas"

They love climbing to the top of EVERYTHING and scaring Mom to death

All in all, they just love being BOYS!

BUT, they scare me to death! They scare me with their adventure, yes, but I am also scared because I want them to one day be MEN. Thanks to Hal and Melanie Young's book, Raising Real Men, I now see that all this adventure and scaring me to death is natural, and very NECESSARY for them to become real men. Boys naturally thrive on adventure and competition. It is sad that todays society attempts to stifle this natural desire for boys. It is very refreshing to read a book that reminds me that my boys are normal and I should not stifle their natural desires of adventure. Instead, I should embrace and encourage it. Their desire to compete and be the best at all they do may be just the trait they need on the mission field one day, or fighting for our country, or searching for some medical breakthrough. Or, most importantly, their desire to be the best and to lead the way, will be just what they need to lead their family one day. It's important that I teach them to use all this energy and all their daring desires in the right ways so they can lead their family to serve God one day.

In the first half of the book "we talked a lot about the things boy do naturally that drive us crazy...unless and until they are molded and shaped into the manly virtues."

In the second half of the book they "talk about the things we want boys to do that drive them crazy...unless and until we help them see the purposes, the goals, and the principles involved"

So, all I have to do now is take all this adventurous play my boys enjoy so much and shape them and mold them into the men they need to be.

In some ways, we are seeing this with Paul. He enjoys helping Mom with groceries...

Or reading a book to his little sister...

He is growing up to be a real MAN who can lead and be manly in a Godly way. HIs biggest desire right now is to be like Daddy. He wants to be a real man. He wants to be a leader in all he does.

This book is not a list of "do's and dont's" It's more of a guide and an encouragement to read your Bible and search for yourself what a real man should be. Hal and Melanie have 6 boys, so they have definitely "been there, done that" and they give some great words of encouragement and gentle Biblical advice on raising boys to become men.

If you have boys this is a MUST read book. I plan on reading it again and again to gain more insight and feel encouraged.

You can purchase the book through TIMBERDOODLE--here.

You can also find other great Biblical parenting books at TIMBERDOODLE--here

And, don't forget to take a look at all the great products TIMBERDOODLE offers and order their catalog here

Now, if I can just find a book that will help me as much with my baby girl...girls bring a whole other set of challenges!

Disclosure: I received "Raising Real Men" for free in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Aims - Electrical Connections - review

As Paul gets older there are many concepts I want him to learn and things that I want him to experience that are not my "forte". I have asked Steve to help with these types of things, and he is more than happy to help. He has been wanting to start a study on electricity with him, but it just had not happened yet. Then, as always, God sent us a little something to help "push" us along. We were given the opportunity to review "Electrical Connections" from AIMS Education Foundation. As soon as it came in I handed it to Steve and he took it from there.
"At AIMS, we believe that hands-on math and science is the most effective way to develop conceptual understanding.
As a non-profit foundation, we're committed to doing what's best for students. Join us and rekindle the joy of learning!"
The "Electrical Connections" book we reviewed is geared to Grades 4-6. This is a pretty accurate grade range. 4th is probably about as early as you want to start, but it could be used with a little higher than 6th grade, depending on the student's previous knowledge with electricity.
As I mentioned above this was Steve's subject to teach. So, here are his thoughts on the actual content:
I like that it takes a complex subject, like electricity and breaks it into 3 distinct categories. Then within each of these categories you are provided with experiments that are easy to perform and teach the subject matter well. It is also helpful that the experiments use common household items. The structure of the lessons really kept Paul's attention because they demonstrated the concept being taught from the perspective of all his senses. One example of this is using a statically charged balloon to generate popping sounds when a paper clip is drawn near it, or to illicit a feeling when holding it close to the backside of your hand, or to cause the corner of a piece of saran wrap to rise from the table as a balloon is held near. I felt the well-rounded approach of the lessons, including many hands-on experiments will help Paul to remember the concepts more vividly. It was also very helpful that all the experiments and lessons were right there together in one book. There was no need to think about another activity to reinforce the lesson.
Personally I loved the layout of the book and from looking at it myself, as someone that has zero knowledge of electrical connections, it was laid out so well that I could have taught it, if the need arose. However, I am incredibly thankful that Steve was willing to take this on. And the time Paul got to spend with Daddy, and will continue to spend with Daddy as they work through the rest of the book was priceless. There are several "mini-books" that teach the various concepts as well as games and easily conducted experiments.
You can purchase the book here for only $24.95 and it also comes with a CD of all the consumable pages of the book, so you can just print them and use them as needed. Plus AIMS offers so much more than just the "Electrical Connections" book we reviewed. Be sure and look around their website and even order their catalog to see all the wonderful hands-on products they sell for Math and Science.
If you would like to check out other reviews of not only the "Electrical Connections" book but several other books AIMS has to offer go here to see what other TOS reviewers had to say about AIMS.
If you want to make Science and Math come alive for your student I really suggest taking a close look at what AIMS has to offer!
Disclosure: All opinions in this review are my own. I was given the above mentioned product for free to review with the TOS Homeschool Crew. There was no other compensation given for the review.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Congratulations to Kimberly on winning the Shunning DVD.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Games for Competitors - Tri-Cross - a review

We are a game loving family. The kids would love to play games all day and never tire of it. And, there is so much educational value in playing games. Don't get me wrong, I am NOT talking about video games. I am talking about good, old-fashioned board games, or card games.

We recently added to our game collection through reviewing Tri-Cross made by "Games for Competitors". Tri-Cross is a game of strategy much like chess or checkers, but so different from chess and checkers. It is intended for ages 8 and up. You can purchase the game on their website or at many retail locations. The standard version of the game is $24.95, the eco-edition is $19.95 or there is also a wooden version for $35.95.

There are several ways to play the game, and it is definitely a game of strategy! There are so many variations of play the game actually came with a CD to help learn how to play the game. You can also look at tutorials on how to play on their website . It seems a bit overwhelming at first, but if you just jump in and start playing it is rather easy to figure out. At first the games can be very short, but as more strategy is learned the games get lengthier.

Though it says the game is for ages 8 and up, even my 4 and 6 year old enjoyed playing with the rest of the family. That was probably my favorite aspect of the game, that everyone could play. And in the "blind" version of the game everyone has an opportunity to win.

Games are great for family time as well as education time. Anytime I can sneak in some logical thinking, and cause-and-effect activities and the kids think it is just fun game time I am all for it.

Don't forget to take a look at what other TOS Crew members have to say here

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this product for review purposes. There was no other compensation given for this review and all opinions given are my own honest opinions.

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Before Five in A Row - a review

When Paul was a toddler/preschooler we read constantly. He was my only child and we would sit and read for hours. He loved books from the time he was just a few months old, and that love of books continues today. Zach and I read a good bit too, but having an active 5 year old when Zach was becoming a toddler I did not get to read to Zach near as much as I wanted to, or near as much as I read to Paul. By the time Molly came along I had an active 1st grader to teach, a VERY active 2 year old to entertain, countless doctor's appointments for Molly and just generally not enough time in the day. So, Molly was read to her by her big brother more than Mommy. I read to all three kids as much as I possibly could, but I always felt/feel the time I spend reading aloud to them was just not enough. I was determined, that this school year would be different. Molly and Zach are still little at only 4 and 6, and Paul, is by no means too old to be read to at only 9 (almost 10--which makes me so sad). When looking at our schedule I made sure to schedule time to read with each of the kids both one-on-one and as a group. Imagine how excited I was when I was given the opportunity to review the popular Before Five In A Row (BFIAR) book that is based on reading books aloud to kids.

"Before Five In A Row" is written by Jane Claire Lambert. It is designed for kids ages 2-4 years old. It is available for purchase through Rainbow Resource for $35.00.

"Before Five In A Row" is 23 mini-units using 23 different children's books. It is not a complete curriculum but more of a guide on reading aloud with your preschoolers. Each unit gives you different activities and ideas of things to do with your children as you read the book.

A sampling of the books:
Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?
The Little Rabbit
Ask Mr. Bear
The ABC Bunny
Yellow Ball
Goodnight Moon
The Carrot Seed

We have quite a library in our home of children's books but I was shocked to find that we did not own any of the books listed in BFIAR. Since I never miss an opportunity to purchase new books for the kiddos we took a trip to the bookstore and picked up the books that our bookstore carried. We were able to purchase The Runaway Bunny, Going On A Bear Hunt, A Snowy Day, and Blueberries for Sal. We were excited to get started on our new books. The first book we "rowed" was Going On A Bear Hunt. The kids LOVED this book, as did I. We actually ended up spending almost 2 weeks devouring this book.

We got the "celebratory pop-up edition, which really added to the fun!

We also rowed, Blueberries for Sal, and the Runaway Bunny. The purpose of the BFIAR book is to create lasting memories with your child. The activities are not designed to teach specific academic skills and they are not set in stone as to who you are to do them. The book is more of a list of ideas to complement each children's book. My goal in the preschool and early elementary years are just that...to create lasting memories with my kids, and if they learn something in the meantime, then that is even better.

So, for this reason I love the idea of BFIAR. It helped me pick quality books for my kids, and gave me some great ideas to build memories with them. I am the type of person who loves to come up with "extension" activities for the kids to do with any book we read. So, this is something that comes natural to me. For those that it may not come naturally to then BFIAR is definitely a resource worth paying for. For those that naturally come up with ideas for their kids then BFIAR would at the very least give you a wonderful list of books and a jumping off point.

There is also a second portion of the book, "Parent's Treasury of Creative Ideas for Learning Readiness". This is a compilation of ideas to help teach your children/preschoolers in everyday activities.

The kids loved the stories and I can't wait to pick up more of the books listed in BFIAR. The ideas in the book are not complicated, and typically just involve looking at the book more in depth and talking about various aspects of the book. If you are looking for a more in-depth or lap book type learning there are "Fold and Learns" available for each of the BFIAR books. This would be a great way to extend the learning for the advanced preschooler or to help include an older child.

You can see more reviews from the TOS Crew here.

And don't forget to check out the Five In A Row website for even more great products for preschoolers through the early teen years

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of this product for review purposes. All opinions expressed here are my own and there was no other compensation given for this review.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Theo Presents" review and GIVEAWAY

I am always on the lookout for quality videos that actually teach a lesson or a moral. Even my children, who are extremely protected, are inundated with the world. It is so refreshing when a product comes out that shares the gospel. "Theo Presents" is a cartoon series that does just that. We reviewed the first episode as well as a bonus episode of the new series.

Cartoons are enjoyed by children and adults thus the appeal of Theo. This series discusses doctrines of sin, Godʼs character, the Bible, salvation and Godly living. The dialogue and humor is simple enough for children but also makes them think as well as learn more about their Bible.

The downfall of Theo (if it can be called a downfall) is the fact that the episodes are very brief. The two we received were 5 and 9 minutes long. The kids were not ready for them to be over.

The bonus episode is the message of the gospel and since the producers want everyone to hear that message it is available on Vimeo.
Theo - Good News from Theo Presents on Vimeo.

Here is a clip of the first episode so you can see for yourself how well it is made.

Another wonderful thing the makers of THEO is doing is this:
The Buy 1 - Give 1 campaign!
For every Theo DVD purchased, Whitestone Media and Child Evangelism Fellowship® will send a child in need their very own copy of Theo.
You can log onto TheoPresents.com after making your own purchase, and select the region of the world you'd like another copy of Theo to be sent.

Take a look at their website here

You can "like" their Facebook page here

And most importantly you can purchase your own copy on Amazon

The marketing team for Theo has been very generous and they are offering two copies of the DVD to my readers! The contest is open to US residents only. There are a few ways to enter the giveaway:

1. Follow my blog and leave a comment letting me know you did. If you are already a follower just leave a comment telling me so.

2. "like" the Theo Facebook page and leave a comment here letting me know you did.

3. Link this post to your Facebook page and leave a comment here letting me know you did so.

4. Watch the "bonus episode" on YouTube and let me know you did so in the comments.

You can get up to 4 entries. The contest will end on Monday, September 26th at midnight. Please leave your contact information so I can contact you if you win.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Shunning - a review and GIVEAWAY

I was recently asked to review a touching movie based on Beverly Lewis' book The Heritage of Lancaster County. The movie, The Shunning, released on DVD yesterday, September 13th.

The movie is mostly set in an Amish community and tells of the life a young girl who was adopted at birth, but did not find out until she is about to get married. Having three children who are all adopted I was especially moved by the movie. I am always a little leery of movies about adoption and how they portray the birthmother as well as the adoptive parents. For young children, such as mine, the movie would be too far over their heads. And it would raise many questions that a child, younger than about 16, would not be ready for. For older kids, as well as adults it was very well done. The author portrayed both sides of the story with love and compassion. I don't want to ruin the movie so I will leave the details out, but it was a very touching story and well worth my 88 minutes of viewing time.

You can find out more about the movie at the website

Or you can check it out on Facebook

Or you can take a look at the trailer

The marketing team for The Shunning has been very generous and is also giving away a DVD to one of my lucky readers! The contest is open to readers within the United States. There are a few ways to enter the giveaway:

1. If you are not already a follower follow my blog via GFC and let me know in a comment. If you are already a follower just let me know in a comment.

2. Visit The Shunning website and come back here and comment letting me know why you think you would enjoy the movie

3. Blog about this contest and link it to this post then come let me know you did so in the comment section.

4. Link this post to your Facebook and come let me know you did so in the comment section.

5. "Like" the movie on Facebook and come back here letting me know you did so.

So, you can get up to five entries in to the contest. The contest will end next Wednesday evening, September 21st at midnight. Please leave contact information for me to contact you if you win.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, September 12, 2011

Week in Review - week 4

I never got a chance to post last week's "Week in Review" so here it is... A little late.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Time 4 Learning - a review

We have officially been "hitting the books" for 4 weeks now. And it has gone amazingly well. Typically by this time I am re-evaluating the curricula we chose and looking for some fresh ideas. But, this year, we are happily plugging along learning, and having fun.

I was a little nervous about starting this year because it is the first year that I really needed to "school" all three of the kiddos. Molly is eager to learn and needed some definite learning objectives, but Zach still requires a lot of one-on-one time and then there is of course, Paul, who works very independently--but still needs Mom--and I still want to be there with him. So, it was a balancing act. One that was helped greatly by a product I was asked to review. Time 4 Learning is an online learning program designed for home educators.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fearlessly Feminine Challenge Day 5

Here is yesterday's photo that I never got posted--it was taken before church last night. I teach a class of first graders so I don't dress for Wednesday night church as much as I would for Sunday. My black skirt is another "key" piece of my wardrobe. I need a couple more, but this one I LOVE. It's a black stretchy (but not tight) material. It's more casual then my long black "dressy" skirts. It has been a little cooler the last few days (which is really rare for September in the south) so Molly and I both enjoyed a change with being able to pull out some of our fall clothes! I was excited to find one of Molly's dresses from last year that still fits her. She grows so fast!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fearlessly Feminine Challenge Day 4

Today is a stay at the house day. No appointments and no errands. Nowhere to go until church this evening. I love these kinds of days, especially with the soggy weather.

Anyway, instead of a pic of me I thought I would share a couple pictures of what a closet of a skirt/dress wearing lady looks like.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fearlessly Feminine Day 3

I missed the first two days so I am posting twice today.

Fearlessly Feminine

I am participating in a "Fearlessly Feminine" challenge this week at a friend's blog. You can check out her blog and visit other people who are participating by clicking on the button below.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Week Three Complete!

We had yet another successful week of "homeschooling"--Steve and I really don't like the term "schooling" our kids, educating is a better word for what we do around here, but the term is hard not to use. Anyway, onto our week.

We started our week with a field trip, which is always a very fun addition to our education. You can see pics here.

Since the temps are starting to cool off a tiny bit, at least in the mornings, we enjoyed some school outside this week. The kids love this and will work so diligently. The trampoline has become our school table on these outside school days. It keeps the dog from taking off with pencils and paper!