Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Home Run , by Travis Thrasher - Book Review


I always love to review a good book. This particular novel appealed to me for a couple of reasons. First of all, March has arrived, and is actually on its way out, yet Spring continues to elude us. So I'm yearning for the sun and warmer weather. And a book about baseball? Yeah, you betcha, bring it on! Baseball is one of the few sports I understand and enjoy :) And if I can't actually have the nice weather, I can at least read about a subject that takes place in such a season.

Home Run is a novelization based on an upcoming movie to be released on April 12, and after reading it, I cannot wait to see it! I just loved this book.
The story features character Cory Brand, baseball star. From a public perspective, he's a winner all the way around. This all star player has everything anyone could want, talent, money, fame, women.  . .

Yet none of those things can keep his past from chasing him. A very public accident sends him right back to the town, and the past, that he's been running from for so long. Cory now has an opportunity to clean himself up, face his mistakes, and heal some important relationships.
But he wants to run.

 There are a few little unexpected twists here, which is always fun. Cory does not have an overnight change of heart, and the recovery is kind of two steps forward, one step back.

I like the honesty of this book. Life is hard, and often messy. Some Christian books are on the fluffy side. They can gloss over the struggles real people have, as if Christians don't have these issues. But we do. There is alcoholism, and drug use, and promiscuity. Life is, well, real. And I like that Home Run not only portrays that, but points the way to our only Hope.
That's the very word that I would choose for the overall theme. Hope. That's what I was left with on the final page. Great book. Definitely a book to put on your book list.




More info:

About the Author

Travis Thrasher is the author of more than a dozen works of fiction, including The Solitary Tales series, Isolation, and Ghostwriter. His writing is known for its honesty, depth, and surprising twists. Thrasher lives with his wife and daughters in Chicago.

"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."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Adventus MusIQ - a review

 I am married to a guy who hails from a musical family. He grew up traveling the country and other countries in fact, with the rest of his talented , musical family. Most every one of his siblings is involved in music at some level. I did not have that experience, and part of me has always felt that I had missed out because of it.
When we had children, my hope was for them to have the opportunity to learn at least one musical instrument. Which brings me to the subject of this post.
As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I have the privilege of trying out some wonderful homeschooling products and resources. This month has been no exception. I was delighted to find that my dream of music lessons for my girls would indeed come to pass with the review of MusicIQ Homeschool brought to us by Adventus .

This innovative program works with kids ranging in age from 4 yrs. to 18yrs.. How many programs can say that? These are the lessons available:

* Children's Music Journey Volume 1

* Children's Music Journey Volume 2

*Children's Music Journey Volume 3

*Piano Suite Premier

*Ear Training Coach 1-2

*Ear Training Coach 3-4

We were given downloads of each of these, and will be working our way through them all.
Our children have basically no musical training, so we've been learning with the very first, Children's Music Journey Volume 1, which is geared for the 4-10 yr. old set.
Before we began, we needed to purchase a keyboard, and we did so through Adventus . You will need a MIDI keyboard to use this program, and we figured why not buy through this company since it comes with the cable and all, and works with the curriculum. It was easy to set up with the computer, and the program helped us with getting the settings working correctly.

And the lessons began. There are a variety of "teachers" in this program, mostly famous classical composers like Beethoven, Bach, Joplin, and more. My 7 year old has really gotten a kick out of these characters, and it makes me smile every time she graduates to a new section, because that means a new composer, and every new composer instantly becomes her favorite teacher.

Before each lesson, the composer plays a piece of classical music and shares some light information on its origin. Bite sized pieces that have been just right for my daughter. Then the lesson begins. I like the gentle progression of this program. High and low notes are first introduced as a bird and a whale, and proper fingering is demonstrated with the 2 pointer fingers.

The program allows the student to play back the correct notes to the teacher, including either encouragement (Superb job!) or gentle correction at a mistake (Careful!). There is always time to try again to play the right key. The lessons then end with more of the classical music piece, again, small doses of the more famous selections to familiarize the student with these works.

After the main lesson, the student has the option of choosing from a menu that includes practice with "Miss Melody", a games section, an improvisation section for creating their own songs, and a library for further information, lessons and such. It is necessary to practice with Miss Melody before progressing to the next lesson.

The games are engaging and fun, with the goal being hitting the correct notes, "composing" their own piece of music, proper finger positioning, all of the basics. I still have the image in my head of my sweet girl in her nightgown, in the midst of a lesson. She was standing up and had herself staged like a rock star at the keyboard while composing her own song. The delight on her face was obvious. She was having a blast! So how about a few of her thoughts on this product?

Quite simply, she loves it!  The composers crack her up, and she really likes the history of the music as well as the composers themselves. The lessons are providing enough of a challenge to spur her on without frustration. She's breezing through with enthusiasm. She can't wait to share what she's learned with her dad at the end of the day, and the fact that she's kind of re-teaching it as she explains her lessons are showing us that she's retaining the information. This looks to be a music curriculum that our family will be using and enjoying for quite a while.


MusIQ Homeschool

Ages: 4yrs.- 18yrs.

Price: Monthly subscription $10.95 per month. You can also purchase one of several bundles that give you the software outright. The complete bundle has every level as well as a midi keyboard for $489.95
Lower priced bundles also available, depending on your budget and needs.

 Our Crew members used a variety of levels with this program, so to check out the others,
Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A is for Anarchy, Art and Amazing Grace

What a week! And it's not even over yet! I knew up front that it would be challenging, because my husband had a business trip scheduled for the first part of the week. I was sooo not looking forward to this. But I figured we would make it through and keep busy with all of the regular activities. Life had other plans. . .


Yeah, that sums up the week (snicker).

Monday began with a furnace that just decided to quit. Good for me, I did not panic. And after a little fiddling, as well as a call to my husband, it clicked back on.

Then came my wrestling match with the Yorkie, who was delighted to find a tiny chocolate candy in one of the girls' bags. I knew he wouldn't give it up easily, and he didn't. It took putting him in a headlock, and the eraser side of a pencil to get it out of his stubborn jaws- well the wrapper anyway.

With all of that behind me, I was able to focus on getting all of us to the doctor to get our sick and very cranky little girl checked out (which brings us to another A word- antibiotics). That meant an extra trip to the store for meds, juice, and other sick kid necessities. After getting our schoolwork finished, we managed to make it through our crazy night of dinner, dance classes, and eventually bedtime- which was long and drawn out thanks to previously mentioned sick and cranky little girl.

Tuesday gave me hope for a fresh day and attitude (hey, I've got lots of A words) Didn't last long. Child number 2 began acting a little funky. I knew when she fell asleep, it was coming. Fortunately, we had everything we needed to get through.
But I could forget about sleep that night, because naturally, our newest sickie wanted to sleep in my bed. After a sleepless night of temperature readings, Tylenol, and then being kicked and smacked in the face by a restless patient, Wednesday arrived.

And that brings me to the next A word:


Or no art class. Because a sick kid means no art class. Blah. I could have used a breather today. But I didn't have long to lament that thought, because. . . the furnace went out again. On the first day of Spring. It also happens to be the coldest day this week. Sigh.

More fiddling. Got it on again.

Then, more cranky little girl number 1.

But things are looking up. First of all, it's nap time, yeah! And My husband comes home tonight- yeah! So my last A word is:


Amazing grace because in spite of my headaches so far this week, it could have been worse in all of these annoyances (yet another A)
I really felt the prayers being sent up for me, and in the midst of the chaos, I felt the strength to get through.
We were able to get in to the doctor, and medicine to get back on track. The furnace could have completely gone out. And a lot of other little things. God is good through all of the daily messes.

So, a little more tea, a bit of chocolate, and I will await the arrival of my guy.

Until next week, when we'll move on to letter B.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

TouchMath - 2nd Grade

This month, we've been taking a new Math Program for a test drive in our family. Before we dove in, I was scrolling through the Touch Math  2nd Grade program and was immediately impressed with what I saw. I could not wait to try this out!

What caught my eye up front was the thinking skills that this program helps to develop. I've said many times that Math is not a subject that my kids sail through without much effort. We've had to slow down and take some time to revisit different points of it, and we are making good progress. But what I really want for the girls is not just a memorization of the facts necessarily, but for them to understand the process, the reasons behind it all. Touch Math really offers a solution to this problem. Let me take you through the program and hopefully, you'll see what I mean.

We received a 4 unit, downloadable Math program. Each unit focuses on a different goal.

Unit A: Adding and Subtracting Within 50

Unit B: Adding and Subtracting Within 100

Unit C: Adding and Subtracting Within 1000

Unit D: Time, Money, Measurement, Data, and Geometry

The units begin with the Module Overview. This includes well, the overview, Common Core State Standards, Objectives, Prerequisites, Vocabulary, and Materials you'll need. Very helpful, I think. There are also quite a few worksheets with each unit, and each one has "Instructional Strategies" to help you present the material. This is done through questions, comparisons, skip counting, etc.. Then at the end, there  are questions to ask to make sure your child understands what she just did.
And a word about the worksheets, they are coded on the upper left with either an apple- which signals that you will help your child through it as needed, or with a pencil- which means your child should be able to work independently.

The suggested time frame for working on this is 2.5 times the age of your child. We found ourselves in this general area, maybe slightly more. The material was challenging for my girls, but in a positive way. They don't really love to have to think too much about Math, and they often get frustrated when they are first presented with a new concept. Once it is explained to them however, the light bulb goes on, and they usually proceed happily.
And this is what I like so much about it. They are thinking!

The lessons conclude with an assessment chart to track the student's progress. I am finding it fairly easy to work with.
My girls have never had a problem using worksheets though, so that is something to keep in mind about this if you have children who don't. There are a LOT of worksheets.
Fortunately, this is a program that caters to all of the learning styles. So if whether you have a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner, this could be the curriculum for you.

Which brings me to the second part of TouchMath , the manipulatives. You could do the program without these, but then would be missing out on an important part of the lessons. Especially if you have a more kinesthetic learner.

We received a big box of manipulatives to go along with our downloadable program. Oh, did the girls' eyes light up at the sight of that box!

First are the TouchNumerals. These are so much fun to work with! (I almost said play with, and I guess that's true too ;)) These large foam numerals also come with foam dots to place on each of the numeral's touchpoint. They can be used for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, greater than/less than. I love that these can be used over so many lessons. They are by far, the most popular manipulative with my daughters.

 Next up, the Flip Cards. There are a LOT of cards! These have activities for adding and subtracting, greater than and less than, money, multiplication, measurement, shapes. . .trust me, you will have plenty to do using these. Now where to store them all. . .

The Math Fans are really fun to handle. This is almost a program in and of itself, and comes with a CD of lessons and activities. These will help with counting, one to one correspondence, place value, fractions, and lots more. My girls love using these, and we'll be using them for many lessons to come with all of their applications.

The TouchPoint Posters are inviting and colorful. Great for those tactile learners, these teach children to touch and count each number in a specific motion. It takes a little time to get used to it ( it did for us anyway). Each numeral has a certain number of touchpoints.

The TouchPoint Tutor 2nd Grade software gives your student  online practice and activities. It gives tests, and you can work in any order, making it flexible that way. My girls love to work on the computer, and this is a nice break from worksheets on occasion.

The Skip Counting Poster and CD set made me so very happy! The girls have had some trouble skip counting in the in between numbers - 6's, 7's, 8's. . . and this is just what we needed.
I haven't yet, but I will be laminating these before they get all bent up.

The Desktop TouchLines just provide an individual reference for the touchpoints. They come in a pack of 24 perforated strips for easy separation.

Last but not least, the Student Number Cards. These are also perforated for easy separation, and are great for extra practice.

This has been a very beneficial program for our family, and I would encourage you to check them out.


2nd Grade Program

Price: Each unit is $59.95, or you can buy all 4 for $199.95


Flip Cards -$ 19.00/set

Math Fans - $239.00

Touch Point Posters - $43.00

TouchMath Tutor 2nd Grade Software -$99.00 - year license

Skip Counting Poster and CD set- Primary - $79.00

Desktop TouchLines -$19.00

Student Number Cards $24.00 - set of 10

Our Crew members reviewed several different grades of this Math program, so. . .
Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

A St. Patrick's Day Birthday

This weekend , we celebrated one of my sweet girls' birthday :) She has been hoping for a Barbie cake for some time, and this was her choice:

Another pic with the Birthday girl and her cake:

Of course, no birthday is complete without presents:

She was very happy with her gifts :)

I love this kid!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

EGM Educational Systems, LLC (READS)

I'm sure that I've mentioned before in a post or two, that I have a family of readers. This thrills me to no end. A trip to the bookstore is just as much of a treat as one to the toy store. No, really! Most of the items that make up my daughter's birthday list are books. I love that.
And to be honest, I don't always think about the comprehension aspect of their reading, because usually, they are so excited about the latest book that they can't wait to recount the details with me.  But there are still times when I wonder if the kids really understood what they just read. It's more likely with a school related book. I try to ask open ended questions to see what material has been retained, but sometimes it doesn't feel like it's enough.

And then, what should we receive in the mail to review, but the  READS Parent/Child Reading Comprehension System from EGM Educational Systems, LLC .

This is what our package looked like:

The purpose of this fun package is in its title. It is designed to help readers with comprehension and spelling. And they do it in a child friendly manner. Forget the same old textbooks and such, this program is open ended, and may be used with any book your child is reading. So what's in there?

Inside a resealable plastic pouch are question cards (and a handy ring to keep them on), the Speedy Speller book, a reward/incentive chart and stickers, a magic finger, a reading guide strip, and the parent manual. Now what do you do with all of those items?

The question cards are just that, cute little illustrated cards that have various questions on them. You may use these in several different ways. Before your child begins to read, have them choose  a couple of questions. Then as they read, they will be paying close attention (hopefully) to find the answers. Examples of these include, "While you are reading select 3 interesting words. Be able to talk about them when you finish your reading." Or, "Tell or draw about what you pictured in your mind while you were reading."
When we selected that last question, this is a picture that one of my girls drew of a sled dog race that was occurring in the book she was reading:

We like the question cards a lot. I found that they did help the girls pay  more attention to the details. Sometimes they choose a card, and sometimes I do. And there are simpler cards for the beginning reader as well as the more experienced ones.

The Speedy Speller book contains a generous selection of common words that children need help spelling, from A-Z. Even better, this little book has plenty of blank spaces for your children to write in any and all words that they need might help with. I think this is a great idea, as my girls will come across a word or two as they read, that they have trouble pronouncing ( and spelling). Writing them down soon after reading helps them remember it next time.

The incentive/reward chart with stickers is self explanatory, I think. This probably works best with the younger readers. There are spaces on the chart for the current month and the days of the week. You can decide how you want to reward your child when they read a certain amount. We use this part the least. My girls are pretty good readers now, and they have never needed to be pushed to read. They always want personal reading time. But incentives are still fun, and they still enjoy stickers.

The next two items are both basically for tracking each sentence. The first, and my daughters' favorite, is the magic finger. It was the first thing they noticed when the package arrived. All your child does is slip this over a finger and use the long pointy nail to follow along with each sentence. It helps keep your place on the page. Here are a couple of pics of it in use:

                                             They always wanted to be the first to use it :)

The other little gadget is the reading guide strip. It resembles a small ruler with a transparent middle. This blocks out the sentences above and below the one being read, helping your child keep their place. I think this is another piece that is good for either younger readers or any child that is easily distracted by everything else on the page. My girls used it cheerfully enough, but they found they didn't need it, and felt it worked best when they read at their desks. Otherwise, it slipped around a little too easily for them. Still, they gave it a positive review.

The last item to mention is the parent manual, which, of course, instructs you in using this system. What I like best about the READS Parent/Child Reading Comprehension System is the ease of the whole program. Anyone can use this, parents, teachers, homeschoolers. It may be used with read alouds,  for personal reading time, whatever you prefer. The items are simple, but appealing to a child's senses. Even better, it may be used across a range of ages and grades, making it a good investment. I think for all of that, the price is fair too.
Check them out, won't you?

EGM Educational Systems, LLC

READS Parent/Child Reading Comprehension System

Ages: Grades 1-4

Price: $19.95

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

ARTistic Pursuits

Ahh, art. I just love it. It's one of those subjects that relaxes me, soothes my spirit. It might be anything from painting and drawing, to collage and sculpture. It feeds me.
I don't even necessarily need to be the artist either. Flipping through a beautiful art book, or walking through an art supply store can provide the same effect for me. So you'll be able to understand why I was thrilled to have the chance to get a sneak peak at the new  K-3 Book 3 Modern Art and Sculpture
brought to you by a very favorite company of mine, ARTistic Pursuits .

This book is geared for the early elementary student, grades K-3rd, as the title reveals.  It's a wonderful all in one curriculum for anyone who might feel intimidated at teaching art, either its history, technique, any or all of it.
The writers lay out exactly how to use and present the material in the first pages. The lessons are just the right length for a young student's attention span too. Short, but clear, and to the point.

There is also a convenient list of art supplies that you will need up front. I kept a copy of it in my purse so that when it was time to move on to a lesson with materials I might need to purchase, I had a handy little copy with me when I was out and about.

Getting back to the lessons now, each one gives an overview of a particular artist, theme/subject. A famous painting is featured, and students are encouraged to identify various aspects within it. I like this a lot, as we can and did (and do) take as much or little time as we want to with this, depending on the kids' interest on a given day.

Then comes the best part - hands on art fun! The lesson ends with a short demo of an art technique, and then you're off to create your personal work of art. Forget the crayons and glue, you'll be working with the big girl supplies - watercolor paints, oil pastels, gouache paints. . .oh, the joy of it!

At about a month into the lessons, we are all loving it. Our main medium right now is gouache watercolor paints, and the girls have made some pretty cool paintings. They've done some portraits, still lifes, and have experimented with a few different painting techniques using lines and shapes.
They just finished up a series where they paint an object in 3 different seasons to contrast the look of it.

And while we're enjoying the gouache, the girls are looking forward to getting through the book a little further, as that's when the sculpting begins. Can't wait!

I think this book is great for the targeted age range, and there is enough direction and information offered to provide a nice foundation in art. The grunt work has been done for you, as far as the lesson planning is concerned, making it quite teacher friendly. All you really need to do is purchase the supplies and get to it.

I can also say that seeing these famous and lovely works of art has inspired me to expand on the lessons and take a field trip to the Art Institute. Check them out, and see if you don't become inspired too :)

ARTistic Pursuits

Early Elementary K-3 Book 3 - Modern Painting and Sculpture

Ages: K- 3rd Grade

Price: $47.95

There are other wonderful books in this series, and you'll want to read about them too so. . .

Click here to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sensory Bottles

We now have a very active toddler zooming around the house, and I'm always in need of something to distract her. I remembered these easy to make sensory bottles from my daycare teaching days.

They're great because you can use a lot of items from around the house, and it's a good way to re-use those plastic bottles. Some educational stores sell bottles similar to these, and they're expensive! I like this frugal alternative.

I've found that the SOBE lifewater bottles are perfect for this project, as the labels are shrink wrapped, so you don't have the sticky adhesive to contend with.

This time around, we made 3 different bottles. The first is the wave bottle. All you need is baby oil, and tap water. Tint the water with food coloring, and pour half oil, half water in the bottle. Easy, and relaxing to look at :) I added a few teeny plastic fish from my older daughter's Barbie collection, but they're a little hard to see.


The second bottle we made is simply water with a little Mr. Bubble solution, sequins, and glitter. You can tint the water if you like. I left it clear because. . .I just liked it that way.


The last one we made used up some of the colored pasta we had in the craft bin. Then I put a few little plastic figures and animals in for some fun objects to look for. Little girl loves to make noise with this one!

Easy! Just remember to seal the caps tightly! And always supervise your toddler with these. Have fun :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Roma Downey's Little angels - Prayers For Every Day

About the Book

Little Angels Prayers for Every Day features more than 50 simple rhyming prayers that cover a typical day and the typical worries of a young child. From waking in the morning to going to sleep at night, from thanking God for a meal to praying for His comfort when afraid, the prayers here will help little ones to see that any moment is a good moment to talk to God. Relevant Bible verses are scattered throughout the book as well! 

Listen to Roma Downey talk about her Little angels series:

We always LOVE getting a new book in the mail, and this one was a special treat. Roma Downey's Little angels - Prayers For Every Day is a soft hardcover book. Do you know what I mean by that? It's a hardcover book, but it's also padded, so it's kind of soft. A book of very nice quality. The colors in the illustrations are so bright and inviting ( thanks to illustrator Lisa Reed) , and immediately catch your eye.
That was certainly the case with our resident toddler, who snatched it right up and wanted me to read it to her right then and there.

Each page consists of  3 or 4 sweet little prayers that all revolve around a specific theme, and feature two cute main characters, twins Alex and Zoe. There are morning, mealtime, and bedtime prayers. There are prayers of praise and thanks, prayers for help and forgiveness. . .I think you get the idea :)

There are also bible verses throughout the book that correlate to the prayers.

This has been a nice book to read to my toddler (and my olders have enjoyed it too actually). Because the pages are made up of several individual prayers, I can choose to read some or all of them, depending on the attention span of my toddler at the moment. The colorful pages have plenty of details and characters for us to talk about when I want to stretch out our reading time.
This is a book worth adding to your collection.

And one blessed reader will be able to just that for FREE, because, guess what? There is a copy available to anyone who would like to follow me here, share this giveaway, and/or leave me a comment (don't forget your email addy, or I'll have to choose someone else).

You'll have until Wednesday, March 13 2013 to enter. I'll notify the chosen reader on Thursday, March 14, 2013.


"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."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Abraham's Journey

Ah, the American Dream. We hear this term from nostalgic adults as we make our way through childhood. But what exactly does it mean? Authors Robert and Kathleen Basmadjian want to share it with you on their website - Inspiring the American Dream , and  seek to teach children all about it in their book  Abraham's Journey .

The setting is our present day. Young Abraham and his sister are upset to hear the news that due to "The Great Recession", and the resulting  financial problems for the family, there will be no Christmas presents this year.

Abraham decides to take action by finding extra work to earn money for his family. While looking for job opportunities on his smart phone, who does he meet but Abraham Lincoln himself (although he never identifies himself as such, but is referred to as the "wise old man"). Thus begins a little cyber journey through time, where he meets a variety of famous historical characters including, Martin Luther King Jr., Amelia Earheart, Bill Gates, and more.

Their travels introduce the boy to the less fortunate, and he begins to have a change in his perspective. In the process, he comes to find that "The American Dream" is about finding one's individual talents and abilities, and then working hard with perseverance to reach a goal.
The result is a change in attitude for the entire family, and they find that even in the midst of their challenges, they still have much to give.

We found this to be a quick read, and easily finished it in a short period of time. I had the girls take turns reading aloud, and they enjoyed the pretend  trip through the Internet. They recognized some of the characters, and for the others, we used it as a discussion for their contributions. Both girls liked the idea of traveling through time, and it prompted immediate make believe play with their dolls and make believe time travel following our lessons.

As for me, I liked the idea behind this book. Our children need to learn the value of hard work and perseverance, and books and stories are a great way to teach that concept. Having said that, I felt like the story was a bit forced. The reader is constantly reminded that we live in a tech age, with smart phones, cyber traveling, Internet, texting, etc. It didn't feel natural. I felt that the story was trying too hard to relate to today's kids when it could have just stood on its own.
I also would have liked to see the historical characters explained more. They kind of made their appearance, and then moved on.

But generally speaking, my kids really enjoyed the book, and it prompted a good discussion. If this sounds like a book you would be interested in bringing home, check out the information below.

Abraham's Journey

Price: $14.99

Ages: 7-12 years

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

Sunday, March 3, 2013

College Common Sense

Well, I don't know about you, but it sure seems like the days go by faster and faster. My children are growing up so quickly. Where has the time gone? Even so, until recently, I can't say that I have given too much thought about college, including the financial end of it.
I mean, my kids are only in the elementary grades, so there's no rush, right?

I was about to discover that it's never too early to begin planning for my children's future. That realization washed over me with my introduction to College Common Sense .  I was given   Going to College and Paying For it Online Video and Workbook   created by Financial Aid Consultant  Denise  Ames. This program  helps  students and parents wade through and understand the myriad of financial information pertaining to the whole process of choosing and paying for college. But that's only the beginning. She then presents a detailed plan for seeking out scholarships and  grants to save you money.

I'll be honest with you. I did not begin this review with the highest level of enthusiasm. I figured that this would be a pretty dry subject, and I would just have to get through it. I was wrong, and I was surprised to find myself engaged and interested very early on. So if that's your mindset right now, stay with me, and perhaps you'll see that happen for yourself as well.

I began by downloading and looking over the workbook. It is divided up into the following sections:

* The Big Picture

* How Financial Aid Works

* All About The Free Money

* The System That Works

* You in the Process

* Pull It All Together

I proceeded to watch the videos, and they follow the workbook almost word for word. I liked that, because there is a LOT of information, and I didn't feel like I had to furiously scribble out notes, as I knew that I could review later as necessary.

Denise begins with an overview of the process, starting with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). And the process begins with your student knowing what is his/her goal for the future. What is the desired career path? Where is she/he headed in life? This is so important to have planned out, especially where this program is concerned, because it determines how to help finance the college years ie.- what scholarships to seek out and apply for.

She then goes into detail about all of the financial aspects of attending a specific college, pointing out that the tuition is not the same as the cost of attending. She stresses that it's very important not to settle for a college based on price, because once ALL costs have been factored in, and then taking into account what financial help will be available, it may actually cost less to attend a higher tuition college.
And, you have to decide what a college is worth in its price for you to attend there.

Denise talks at length about financial aid, the importance of being diligent and securing it very early on, and how different schools go about dispersing money.

Then comes the legwork. Time to learn how to go about finding, applying for, and keeping track of all of the information surrounding potential scholarships and grants. After explaining the various types that exist, she offers tips on sifting through the many, many ones out there, and target those that fit you best.

Now, with the large amount of scholarships out there, it would be wise to have some kind of system to help keep track of all of the Who, What, Where, types of information, and here is where a 3 ring binder comes in handy. Denise shows you how to prepare and organize such a binder to make it your college/financial aid one stop shop, if you will. She'll explain how to actively use this in your search for free money, and what steps to take, and when.

In addition to the binder, you'll create a journal of sorts with a simple spiral notebook. This will be for your personal use only. It's to be a space to write out your dreams for the future, interests, community service projects, ideas, whatever. The thought process behind this is to figure out who you are, who you want to be, what you want your future to look like, etc.

There is so much information presented in these online videos, and I found them to be worthwhile. When I received these PDF's and access to the video's, I was also signed up for the website's newsletter, and free lesson plans. These have been an added bonus for us, as they provide good weekly ideas to begin preparing for the college search, which will be here before I know it.
Ideas are presented for high school, middle school, and elementary students. They may be as simple as exploring a new interest, learning a new root word for the week, or taking timed tests.
While at first glance these may seem inconsequential, they are small things that help develop skills and abilities which may be helpful in preparing for a college career.

And don't forget about the website. There are many links to resources to help in your scholarship search. I recommend you take a few minutes to visit it and start preparing now.

College Common Sense

Going to College and Paying for it Online Video and Workbook

Price: $25.00 for 12 month log in access
They also offer a DVD and workbook for $50.00 (+$5.00 shipping and handling) if you prefer a physical copy

Ages: any age, although I think highschoolers in particular will find this beneficial

Click here to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew


Friday, March 1, 2013

VeggieTales - The Little House That Stood

About The Little House That Stood
When the Three Little Pigs roll into Cabbageville looking to build some new houses, they meet one builder with a plan and two without a clue! Larry builds with hay, Mr. Lunt with bricks, but only Bob builds his houses on a firm foundation - following the wise plans from the Master Builder's Handbook! Will the Little Piggies make the right choices when it comes to building their houses - and their lives - on solid ground? Find out in this parable that shows kids when they follow God's blueprints, then can stand strong when the storms come!

Take a peek at the trailer:

My girls were the first ones to discover this DVD when it arrived in the mail. They couldn't wait to watch it. My soon to be 9 year old casually mentioned, "You don't have to be a little kid to love VeggieTales, do you Mom?" Of course not! Love those VeggieTales! This latest episode did not disappoint either. All of the favorite characters showed up in this fun story based on the 3 Little Pigs.
I especially loved the pigs- great voices and personalities :)

I like how biblical principals were woven into this childhood favorite too. This series always does such a nice job presenting biblical truths with stories and humor that appeal to the whole family.

Your kids will also enjoy a second tale that follows the same nursery rhyme theme. The Good Egg of Gooseville retells the story of Humpty Dumpty. And what VeggieTales show would be complete without a Silly Song from Larry? I bet your family will be giggling like mine was when they hear him sing "Happy Tooth Day". Have a listen:

You will want to get to your neighborhood bookstore and pick up a copy of The Little House That Stood as soon as possible. And here is where it gets good. Why? Because, the publisher has very kindly provided a FREE copy of this DVD to one reader.
All you need to do is please share this post and then leave me a comment here (with your email ). You'll have through Friday, March 8 2013 to do this. I will notify the winner on Monday, March 11, 2013.
Good luck!
"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."

In Like a Lion

It's March 1st, and you know what they say. . .
In like a lion, and out like a lamb. So in honor of this fresh new month, the little one and the not so little one and I made some cute lion pictures.

The idea comes courtesy of The Mailbox Magazine and we had fun creating our own version.

Nothing fancy, you just need a cute picture of a lion, some construction paper strips, and glue. Voila! Rainbow lion manes :)