Thursday, November 13, 2014

Snake Oil Party Potion {Schoolhouse Review}


We received from Out Of The Box Games a copy of the extremely fun game Snake Oil Party Potion for review. This game is designed to be used with children and families age 8 and up.  It retails for $14.99 and is a ton of fun to play.  Look for it at a toy store near you!


Have you ever heard of Snake Oil?  Snake Oil is a term from the olden days that was used to describe fake health products.  In the good old days, salesmen or Charlatan's would go around putting oils or liquors into medicine bottles and convince customers they had the cure for you!  They claimed their oil would bring relief which was often untrue but by the time you realized it, these Snake Oil salesmen would be long gone and your money would too!


To play the game Snake Oil Party Potion, you should have 3-6 players.  It takes about 30 minutes to play a full game.  The game is designed to be used with those who are age 8 and up.

First you need to choose a Customer.  The customer chooses a customer card.  The customer cards are blue on one side and green on the other.  They choose which side they wish and that is the role for the game.  Some of the choices are Mad Scientist, Life Guard, Waitress, Astronaut, and more.

There are two sets of Word Cards.  These are used by the players to create a product for the Customer.  You must combine two word cards to create the potion.  As soon as the player is ready they can begin to "pitch" their product to the customer.  A customer can cut the "pitches" off if they are too lengthy in tone.  



After the players have all made their pitches, the Customer can reward the Customer card to the player with the best sales pitch.  The player to the left of the original Customer then becomes the next customer and the game continues until everyone has been the Customer at least once.  At the end of the game, the player with the most Customer cards wins the game.

Snake Oil Party Potion can be combined with the original Snake Oil game as well.   This allows you to expand the game further, making it even more fun, as the cards for each game are different.  The more people you play with the more fun the game.

We used this game as something fun to do as a family.  My kids loved it and laughed so hard while we played.  It is now one of their absolute favorite game to play.  You should see the hilarious combinations they come up with.  And practicing sales pitches has been very beneficial to their speech and speaking in public.

I also included my 6 year old in playing this game with little problems.  I helped her and she jumped right in playing along with us.  She loved being a part of the group and being able to play along.

Snake Oil Party Potion from Out Of The Box Games is so much fun!!!



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Purposeful Design: Understanding The Creation {Schoolhouse Review}


Purposeful Design: Understanding The Creation is now one of my favorite books.  This book is gorgeously designed and packed full of wonderful information showing God's Glory in His Design of Creation.  Jay Schabacker of Purposeful Design has created a wonderful experience for others to share within the pages of this wonderful book.

The book is hardback and the cover itself begins expressing the beauty that is held within these pages.  God's hand holding our beautiful planet among the stars of the galaxy is showcased on the front cover of this gorgeous designed book.  The cover definitely draws the reader to find what lies inside the pages of Purposeful Design.



The pages are crisp and clean in design.  They are semi-glossy so they showcase the information better as you are reading through.  This really makes the gorgeous pictures within the book's pages stand out.

The book itself is approximately 94 pages in length.  It is comprised of 7 chapters discussing various aspects of God's intent in designing our world.  Chapter 1 begins with the First Day while Chapter 7 ends with the Seventh Day of Creation.

As you've probably guessed, this book is extremely Christian oriented.  It's a Science and Fact book, as well as a Christian one.  It would be perfect for any household who's lessons are centered around Biblical studies.

The font used within the book is large enough that even struggling readers can see it to better understand the meaning of the lessons and the wonderful information shared.  This also makes the pages feel less jumbled.  Great, too, for those who may not see as well, like Grandma who often reads to our children in my household.

We learned so much reading through Purposeful Design together.  We learned that we always see the same side of the moon because it does not rotate on an Axis.  We learned why an Apple a Day keeps the doctor away.  We learned about tides and we learned about turtles among many more things.  Each page was filled with some different and new info, some that we knew and others that we did not.

The kids truly enjoyed this book as much as I did.   They loved the photos and the information they learned from reading through each page.  They have shared this information with everyone they know and have enjoyed sharing the knowledge they've discovered through our use of this book.

A bonus to go along with the book is that on the Purposeful Design website you can find curriculum to go along with the book.  This is a PDF download of a short workbook that you can use to ensure your students are really learning what they are reading through the text of the book.  My kids and I enjoyed this review of the information contained within the book's pages.

The workbook contains pages for each chapter of the textbook.  There are questions, fun activities and expansion ideas that can be used to build upon the lessons within the text.  This is a great bonus to use to learn with Purposeful Design.

You can purchase your own copy of the gorgeous book, Purposeful Design: Understanding The Creation by Jay Schabacker from Purposeful Design for $18.95 each.  It is recommended for all ages. This book is well worth the cost and has been greatly enjoyable to us.  We know you will love it as well!

You can find Purposeful Design in the following places online:



Twitter: www.Twitter.com/Jayschabacker (@Jayschabacker)

LinkedIn: Jayschab


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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

IXL {Schoolhouse Review}


IXL is one of our favorite websites to use for homeschooling.  IXL offers IXL Math and IXL Language Arts to it's users.  This program is an educational supplement to be used as extra practice, not as a stand-alone curriculum.

We have been using IXL for years now and this is one vendor we are always excited to see on the Crew Vendor List.  Our membership to IXL has been such a blessing in our homeschooling.  My children enjoy using the website and learning with it.

My children that use IXL are ages 6, 11, and 13.  Each uses IXL at their own pace and can review the lessons they are learning as needed through the program since it is just simple, yet thorough, practice for them.  IXL provides a wonderful place to learn that they truly enjoy.

IXL isn't a cutesy website.  This website is clean and to the point in lesson style. You won't find a lot of distraction or over the top imaging on this site but you will find a great deal of learning that is intriguing and fun for your children.

Lesson answers are often multiple choice, making selections easy to make and understand.  Some lessons are easier to answer and complete than others, just as in a textbook.  How quickly and easily your child can use this website will depend on how well your child learns and your child's maturity level in following directions educationally.

IXL Math covers all grade levels.  Lessons are provided by Letter from Level-A through Level-N.  Most lessons have over 200 skills to be taught through the program. Level-A begins with number concepts and understanding numbers, while Level-N teaches equations of cosign functions and graphing complex numbers.  You will find everything Math covered in IXL Math.

IXL Language Arts begins at Level D and takes you through Level-J skills.  This program begins around a 3rd-4th grade level for students.  IXL does plan to add more to this program over time and have been slowly working on that goal.  IXL Language Arts covers things like identifying plurals, correcting capitalization errors, how modifiers are used, using parallel structure and so much more.

Parents can try out the lessons as well to see what the student will cover.  Simply click the lesson and it will start.  This is a great way to know if this concept is the right one for your child.

Students don't have to work on a certain grade level through this program either.  You can choose any level at any time and cover that concept or practice.  This is great for independent learners.  It also allows you to adapt the program to any curriculum you are learning through already.

A membership to IXL is available through their website.  A monthly membership for IXL Math or IXL Language Arts cost $9.95 a month.  A yearly membership for IXL Math or IXL Language Arts costs $79 a year.  A combined membership for both IXL Math and IXL Language Arts costs $129.  You may have multiple students use this program and it is designed for students in grades K-12.  There is an additional cost for multiple students of $2 monthly or $20 yearly.

There are also apps available for using this program on a tablet or other digital device.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

David Nicholson: If He Had Not Come {Schoolhouse Review}


If He Had Not Come is a gorgeous Christian children's book from David Nicholson.  The story in this book originates from a story originally written by Nan F. Weeks and is retold beautifully by David Nicholson.

The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and were designed and completed by Charles Jaskiewicz.  The pages truly come to life as you read through the story.  The images are clear and vivid.



This book truly speaks to your heart.  If He Had Not Come tells the story of a young boy named Bobby.  It begins with Bobby hanging his stocking above the fireplace on Christmas Eve in a fully decorated holiday room.

Before bed, Bobby's father reads to him from the Bible.  He particularly shares the words John 15:22 "If I had not come."  Bobby went to sleep with these words mulling in his mind.

Have you ever thought about that verse yourself?  What if God had not sent his son to save us?  What would this world be like?  Would their be churches or Christmas?  Would their be soup kitchens or shelters?  Would people know the love and kindness that we know today?
Bobby quickly found the answers to these questions and through this story we learn the answers.  God reaches us every day in so many ways but had his son not come, we may have missed out on so much.  If He Had Not Come helps us to see the truth in just how much Jesus' birth really has given and blessed all of us.

This is a gorgeous book for Christmas and would make a great gift for all Christian families.  At the end of the story there are Interactive Topics for family and Sunday school use.  These topics lead to great discussions and help put this story into perspective for students.

There is a page titled Going Deeper which also helps promote real thinking about this book and it's subject.  Another page is titled The Gospel Message which shares the story and truth of Jesus with others who may not know His love.  And lastly, there is a page titled An Idea to Help You Celebrate Christmas.  This is just a sweet idea of drawing a Christmas tree that any child will love to complete.

We read this book as a family several times and we have really enjoyed it.  The discussions it lead to were wonderful and really got my children thinking.  My Mother even enjoyed this story.

This book is such a beautiful one.  It left me with tears in my eyes thinking about what if Jesus had never come.  It's truly heart-touching and should be in the homes of every Christian family.

If He Had Not Come written by Nan F. Weeks and reintroduced by David Nicholson is available for purchase for $18.95 as a hardbook children's book or $3.99 for an e-Book copy.  This is a book for all ages but especially for young children.  It is approximately 40 pages in length.

You can find David Nicholson on Facebook at:

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fascinating Education: Fascinating Biology {Schoolhouse Review}


Fascinating Education is a wonderful, science-based online curriculum that helps making learning upper Science fun.  Fascinating Education provides a full program for Fascinating Chemistry, Fascinating Biology and Fascinating Physics.  For this review, we were given full access to their Fascinating Biology course online.



This course costs $79 a year per student.  There are 19 lessons and it includes quizzes and test scripts to help gauge how well your student is learning throughout the coursework.  This program is also mobile friendly, meaning you can use it with a cell phone or tablet, if necessary.

You can also combine course packages.  Pick 2 courses for $125 or all three courses for $175 per year.  This is an exceptional value.  These courses are designed to be used with students who are middle to high school aged or adult, depending upon the course and the abilities of your student.  

The program itself is video-based and extremely easy to use.  It is great for those students who struggle with learning science.  The videos are simple and extremely explanatory.  This also makes teaching the program easier for you as a homeschooling parent and takes a lot of the work out of educating, giving Mom or Dad a break.



This program is great for the independent learner as well.  Your student can go at a pace set for themselves, allowing them to learn as quickly or as slowly as they need to.  This also allows for them to watch the videos again and again until they have a sure understanding of the lesson.  Such a great thing for any struggling learner.

I was personally extremely impressed with this program.  Fascinating Biology was simple to use but thorough in lessons.  Once you register for your program and you log in, you will see the lessons immediately.  As I mentioned above, there are 19 lessons in Fascinating Biology, each covering a different topic on the subject.  You see the lesson listed as Lesson 1: What is Life, Lesson 2: Chemistry Review, Lesson 3: The Cell Membrane and so on.  

Under each lesson are icons to click to get to the lessons themselves.  These are Lesson, Script, and Test.  Each is self-explanatory.  Lesson is the lesson itself.  Clicking on this will open another webpage which contains the lesson at hand.  The video begins and there-in so does the lesson.

There is a side tab that lists the slides in the video to make reviewing the lesson easier.  There is also a tab for a glossary which gives the meaning of many words that may be new to your students.  Clicking on these words will show you exactly what they mean.

The Script button takes you to the book work for the lesson. This is a PDF file which can be saved or printed as needed.  It explains the lesson and what you are learning each time.

The Test button also leads you to another page.  This is the lesson review.  It is multiple choice and the student should easily be able to complete and answer each lesson test to show how they are learning.



This is an excellent program that we really have enjoyed using.  I look forward to having my children learn through other Fascinating Education courses in the future.  We also look forward to finishing our work in our current course through this year.

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Epilepsy Awareness Month 2014

Here we are in November and it's Epilepsy Awareness Month again.  It's time to reach out, share and spread the word.  If you know me and you read our blog then you know I do this all year, not just during November.

I spread awareness for my children.  I share our ups and downs of how living with this disorder daily affects our lives.  Living with Epilepsy really is a way of life.

Living with Epilepsy and raising three children with this disorder is probably the hardest thing I have had to do in my lifetime.  Watching my babies grow up and not knowing if they will be here with me tomorrow or even in the next hour is one of the worst things I have had to come to live with.  We are not promised tomorrow and nothing makes that more real than seeing your child lay seizing while you can do nothing but pray for it to pass.

It's hard for my children too.  Watching their siblings and wondering if this will be the final time they are able to see and love them is hard.  Not knowing when the next seizure will happen or even what will trigger it is hard as well.  They are constantly on the lookout for one another.

Then there is being the person who has Epilepsy.  Not knowing when a seizure will happen.  Not knowing what is happening to you when they do happen.  It's traumatic and indescribable.

Epilepsy is such an unpredictable disorder.  We never know when it will show up.  It comes unexpectedly, and usually in the least convenient of times.

This is our life and what we live with every day.  It's not for the faint of heart but just to live and love makes every moment worth it.  This month we will share about our life with Epilepsy and through the year to come just as we always have.  Look for more posts to come soon.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Jim Hodges Productions: True To The Old Flag {Schoolhouse Review}


For this review, we were gifted a free copy of Jim Hodges Productions' True To The Old Flag by G.A. Henty.  True To The Old Flag is A Tale of the American War of Independence.  This MP3 formated disc is available for purchase for $25 or you can download these files for $18.  Jim Hodges Productions Audio Books are designed to be used with students of all ages.



G.A. Henty was a sickly child who wasn't expected to live through his childhood but overcame his illnesses to become one of the greatest writers of his time.  G.A. Henty was an English author and wrote 122 works of historical fiction.  His works cover the time periods from 1867 to 1906.  Henty was born December 8, 1832 and died November 16, 1902.  His works were based on the history he viewed first hand throughout his lifetime.

True To The Old Flag shares with us the story of the American War of Independence.  This historical piece is set from 1775 to 1783 during the heart of the Revolutionary War.  The viewpoint is from that of the Loyalist side of the war, or the British perspective.  Important events such as the Battle of Concord and the Battle of Lexington are shared through the imaginative writing of Henty and recorded through Jim Hodges Audio Books for this disc.

We listened to this disc and enjoyed learning a different side to the war.  Growing up in the American South, we often get one side to the American Revolution and that side is strictly Southern.  Living in Georgetown, where much of this war took place, you can imagine the history of the war is extremely one-sided and it is.  This perspective was nice to share with my family, with my children, as we learn more and more of our local American History.  It also lead us to great discussions and a change of pace from our regular American based biased studies.

In addition to the MP3 disc, we were gifted a copy of the study guide to use along with the program. Study Guide for G.A. Henty's True To The Old Flag was a great accessory to listening along with the disc.  There are tons of key vocabulary that is shared here for us to expand our lessons.  There are also multiple questions to really help us grasp what we heard in listening.  These questions really got us thinking and questioning what we had heard.

Additionally, the study guide shared great activities to help expand on our learning.  There were also links to view to help solidify what we had been listening to.  I think these were most enjoyable as they really helped to bring the stories and history to life.

True To The Old Flag is a 10 hour MP3 disc or download.  There are 21 chapters to listen to and learn from.  The PDF download of the study guide is 36 pages in length and jam-packed with questions, vocabulary and links to expand the lessons being learned.  True To The Old Flag focuses on the American Revolution and would make a great addition to anyone study this particular time period in history.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Clued In Kids: Halloween and Winter Treasure Hunts {Schoolhouse Review}


When Helen Bertelli was a little girl she had a big dream.  She wanted to create Treasure Hunts to share with people every where.  After she had her two beautiful children she made her dream come true and created Clued In Kids.

We received two wonderful treasure hunts to use from Clued In Kids: Halloween Treasure Hunt and Winter Treasure Hunt.  These treasure hunts are designed to be used with families and friends who are various ages, though I would say these two hunts are for younger children mostly.  They are great fun for all who use them though.

Halloween Treasure Hunt and Winter Treasure Hunt are both in PDF form so they are easily printed and can be used with multiple students and family.  These would be great for a classroom or a small party to use just for something fun to do.  We, of course, used them as a family and the kids had so much fun!



Each hunt begins with a title page, followed by simple instructions on how to use the hunt with your family or your students.  Each hunt also has an answer key to help you, the instructor/helper, determine if the answer is correct or not.  There are also tips for you to help  make the hunting process go smoother as you complete each treasure hunt.

As you set up the hunt, you will see how each clue feeds into the next making finding the clues easy and fun.  Even the youngest of children can complete these treasure hunts with help from the instructor to make participation fun.  All of my kids enjoyed working through the clues and helping one another find the correct answers as we completed the treasure hunts.

Halloween Treasure Hunt is, of course, designed to be completed around the time of Halloween.  If you don't celebrate Halloween then, of course, this would not be a treasure hunt you will wish to complete.  Our family loves Halloween so I knew this one would be perfect for us!

Halloween Treasure Hunt is not scary and simply gives clues for things like pumpkins, ghosts, witches and more in a non-frightening manner.  The treasure hunt items used are things like brooms, milk, the dishwasher, among many more.  This particular hunt shares 12 clues.  The length of time it takes to complete this hunt will depend on how quickly your family or students can decipher the clues.



Winter Treasure Hunt is completely Winter related.  There are also 12 clues in this hunt.  Items used are things like your coat, socks, gloves and more.  Places used to hide items are with the shoes, forks, crayons and many other silly places.  This hunt is a little funny and fun because it has your children put their items on a bit wacky at the end and that's definitely a lot of fun!

Halloween Treasure Hunt and Winter Treasure Hunt are both PDF files which can be printed again and again.  They can also be used for multiple students/family members.  Both Halloween Treasure Hunt and Winter Treasure Hunt cost $5.99 each which is an excellent price for so much fun!

You can find Clued In Kids in the following places online!


Twitter: @cluedinkids



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