Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Doorposts: Beauty in the Heart {Review}

We are HUGE fans of Doorposts in our home.  We have so many of their wonderful products and have used them for years.  We enjoy using Doorposts in homeschooling and child training.

Our library contains Polished Cornerstones for girls and Plants Grown Up for boys, Raising Real Men and Mighty Acts of God among other titles.  We use the If-Then chart in our home discipline and find it helpful in maintaining character and order in our home.  All of these things work together to help our children learn to be better young men and young women.

So when the Doorposts Vendor came up for the Schoolhouse Review crew this year, you can imagine my excitement.  This is Doorposts very first time using the Schoolhouse crew as a review team and they offered us our choice of two of their wonderful products: Beauty in the Heart and Because You Are Strong.

For my review, I chose Beauty in the Heart.  I chose this study for several reasons.  One it's designed to be used with girls who are ages 10 and up.  My daughter is 10 and a half and has a hard to reach heart so I am always looking for things to soften it while teaching her about the Bible.  Reason Two is that this study can also be used with boys, making it appeal to me to use along with my 12 year old son.

Now you are probably asking how in the world a boy can benefit from a study called Beauty in the Heart that is designed for young girls and I am going to explain that now.  Throughout this book are marked questions that are designed for young men who are following along in the study to answer.  Following along in the study allows young men to better understand young women and encourage them to grow in the Beauty of God's design for them.  It also helps them learn the differences between true and false beauty in their own personal relationships and when looking forward to marriage.

Now to get to the good stuff: Beauty in the Heart is a Study of Godly Beauty for Young Women written by the wonderful Pam Forster.  Pam, John and the rest of the Forster family create the wonderful custom curriculum provided at Doorposts.  Through this study, women will learn what it is to be beautiful God's way.

Not only will you learn about beauty through this study though, you or your student will also learn how to better study the Bible.  They will learn to compare passages, observe words repeated throughout the Bible, outline the passage contents, and gather all of the words of the Scripture on a topic.  These are only a few things that Beauty in the Heart helps teach a student who is following along with this curriculum.

The book itself contains nine studies to be completed.  Each study contains a short review at the end.  The studies are broken down into daily assignments.  These assignments can take anywhere from five to twenty or more minutes to complete.  There are 86 days worth of Bible study equaling to approximately 17 weeks of lessons at 5 studies a week.  More than one assignment a day can be completed in order to finish faster or you can break lessons down so that the program takes longer to complete as needed.  Additional study ideas are included at the end of each study so that the study can be extended for up to a year if so chosen.

It is recommended that you have a Nave's Topical Bible and a Strong's Exhaustive Concordance to use along with this program.  It is also recommended that you have a Bible that you can  mark words and verses in.  You will need colored pencils or highlighters for this part of studying too.  This study uses the King James translation of the Bible because it is easily accessible for most families.

The studies follow different books of the Bible.  The first and second studies begin in 1 Peter.  The third study moves into the story of Sarah.  From there we move on to Esther.  1 Timothy, Proverbs, 1 Samuel and the story of Ruth also follow these in the study.

Each study begins with a small intro followed by reading and copying the verse into the study guide or a notebook if you so choose.  Then the study furthers with specific study suggestions to help expand on how to study the Bible.  As the student works through they learn to reference and cross reference from different sources, expanding and learning how to study their Bible better in the process.

We used this study as a group study.  I allowed my son to follow along with both of my daughters as we read through the study, and the Bible.  I enjoyed learning about God's plan and design for Beauty in us through the study and I believe, like our other Doorposts materials, this study touched my daughter's heart.  I will continue to use this study with all three of my older children in the future.

Beauty in the Heart is 128 pages long.  It's available in softcover paperback for $14.00.  This study is for Girls ages 10 and up, women included.  There is also a study for boys' called Because You Are Strong which sells for $12.00 at time of this post.  It is also softcover paperback.

For more reviews of Doorposts, please click the banner below!


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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Alone, Yet Not Alone {Review and Giveaway}

I received Alone, Yet Not Alone by Tracy Leininger Craven a few weeks ago from FlyBy Promotions (Propeller Reviews).  I was completely expecting this book to be like any other tale from the past and I had little knowledge about the story that it held inside.  A few days after receiving the book, I began reading it and could not put it down.  

Alone, Yet Not Alone tells the story of Barbara Leininger and her family.  Barbara is a great ancestor of the book's author and her story has been passed down until it was written into this book.  This true story will leave you on edge and captivated as you read through it.

Barbara and her family live in a Valley bordering Penn's Creek.  They are hard working settlers, who don't bother a soul.  They have a kinship with the local Indian tribes and have no fear of harm despite the recent wars going on around them.

That is, until a rogue Indian tribe visits their home, killing Barbara's father and brother, killing friends and neighbors and taking Barbara, her sister and other women and children hostage.  Barbara has no idea of what will happen in her future, only that she must try to remain alive, have faith in God to keep her and her sister safe.  She must lean on her faith and remember God's Word until she finds a way to escape and return home.

Alone, Yet Not Alone is an amazing story of triumph, God's Will and Faith.  The journey you are taken on within the pages of this story are unimaginable, yet they happened to many not so long ago.  This book leaves you wanting to know what happens and if Barbara and her sister will make it through.

This book is written for ages 8 and up.  It would make a great addition to any home library.  It's a great story to add into your homeschooling history program as a read-aloud or as a personal story to read.  It is one we will be reading together in the future ourselves.

Alone, Yet Not Alone is being made into a motion picture, set to release September 27, 2013.  This amazing story will be available to see and I, personally, can hardly wait!  As soon as I finished the book, I knew this was a movie I would not want to miss!

To find a theater local to you, visit here!

Alone, Yet Not Alone is available for purchase for $9.99 from ZonderKids and Zondervan.

To enter for a chance to WIN a FREE copy of Alone, Yet Not Alone the book, just complete the Rafflecopter giveaway tasks below!

*Disclaimer - I received a free paperback copy of Alone, Yet Not Alone from FlyBy Promotions and Propeller Reviews in exchange for my honest opinion shared in a blog post.  I'm including this disclaimer in accordance with FTC Guidelines and Regulations.

Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary {Review and Giveaway}

Do you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed when it comes to your home and finances?  Does your relationship with your spouse suffer because of this?  Do you find yourself questioning God's plan for your family?

If so, then you will find great inspiration in reading Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary.  Through this faith-based eBook you will find strength and help in planning for a better financial future.  You will find yourself closer in relation to God.

Nine inspirational women share their personal struggles and their triumphs in surviving financial struggle, struggles with relationships and also their personal struggle to have faith in God's plan for their families.  Each one's story is completely different but each is as inspiring as the one before.

Top Christian Bloggers: Richele McFarlin, Robin Glover, June Fuentes, Rosann Cunningham, Jill Craft, Kelly Crawfod, LaToya Edwards, Melinda Martin and my own dear friend, Jasmine Mansfield share their stories with you in this 217 page eBook and guide to taking control of your personal finances.  Their stories will leave you in tears and jumping for joy at their experiences all at the same time.  Their stories will leave you as changed as their personal trials have left them.

The first portion of Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary share the testimonies of these nine gorgeous and sweet ladies.  There are nine chapters in this section, one for each writer.  This will be a section you find yourself returning to over and over for inspiration and support.

Section 2 of Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary provides you with Financial Resources to help you get your own personal finances and life in order.  This section discusses tithing, using Consumer Credit Counseling services, how to use a Loan Calculator, how to use a Free Credit Report and so much more.  These tools are important to finding your way out of a financial disaster and back on the right track of planning and paying on time or better yet, ahead.

Section 3 of Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary provides information for Women in Business.  This section discusses every aspect of business women need to know down to dealing with tough times and your relationship with God.  It also discusses homeschooling while running a home business and making money with blogging.

Section 4 stretches farther into business discussion with the Home Business Guide and resources for your home business.  This section dives into discovering the differences between opportunity and distractions, having a business partner, and having your business reflect Christ.  These two sections work together to help you create and maintain a business that works for you and your family.

The last section is all about Frugal Homemaking.  In this section, these wonderful nine women share their tips for home, saving money, and some of the most deliciously cheap recipes you could wish for.  This section is all about saving and making it work through the year and the holidays, even when finances are low.  This section is full of great tips that any home can use.

Additionally, to the book, there is a study guide available.  This guide provides an extension of resources for working through Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary building upon the stories and lessons provided within the book.  I love the journal pages for documenting the journey that are included in the guide book for printing and use.  They are girly and fun!

There's also a group study guide.  This is a great tool for anyone wishing to use Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary in a group setting such as church or women's study.  This guide provides you with ideas for planning for a group study: where to meet, what to do about childcare, an outline for study, tips for guiding discussion and more.

All of these books work together to provide a full study for the Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary eBook.  Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary is recommended for adult women and is available online through Amazon for $7.99 as a Kindle eBook or $4.99 as a PDF from the Overwhelmed website.  It is also available in print for $12.99.

The accompanying study guide is available for $2.99.  This is a 9 week study complete with Doodles for fun!  This study reflects on key points of the original eBook.

There is also a group study guide available for FREE on the Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary website.

Luv'N Lambert Life is doing a giveaway for one lucky reader of Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary!  The prize is ONE COPY of ALL of the Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary collection!  Yes, that's ONE Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Financially Weary eBook, ONE Study Guide and ONE Group Study Guide!  All you have to do is complete the Rafflecopter tasks to WIN!

*Disclaimer - I was offered a free set of Overwhelmed: Hope and Help for the Weary eBook, study guide and group guide in exchange for my honest opinion of this product in a blog review post.  This post does contain affiliate links, as signing up for the affiliate program was a bonus option for this review product.  I am including this disclaimer in accordance with FTC guidelines and regulations. 2013

Our Homeschool Home

It's Back to School time, or as us Homeschoolers like to call it, NOT Back to School time and the school room is a huge topic every where I look.  On blogs, homeschool groups and boards, Twitter and Facebook, the classroom and it's organization are being discussed.  It's interesting to see how everyone has their personal space organized.

Personally, we use our entire home for homeschooling.  We do not have one set room for this but mostly use our main living spaces.  Every day, I add in other areas since storage is limited in our home.

We have a normal home with a Kitchen, Dining Room, Living Room, Laundry Room, three Bedrooms and three Bathrooms.  A few years ago, I decided to move our dining table out of our Dining Room and into the back of our rather large Living Room.  This allowed me to open a full room for storage.

I quickly turned our Dining Room into a personal pantry and library for our home.  We bought tall bookshelves from Walmart and lined both side walls with them.  These bookshelves house a lot of our food, our homeschooling library, crafts, projects and games for homeschooling.

This room is also home to our large chest freezer which I plan to cover with chalkboard contact paper for extra writing space.  Since it's large it also makes a great magnet board for my children to use their Leap Frog word learning systems.  The area in front of the freezer has to stay cleared so that I can get to our stored food, so this allows the kids easy access for it.

We have a small children's table in our Dining Room right now so that the kids can color, play games and store projects out of the way.  The walls that aren't covered with bookcases hold colorful posters, mostly for the younger kids.  Our file cabinet is also in this room which gives me a ton of extra storage and additionally works as another magnet area.

We use our Living Room/New Dining room for the majority of our schoolwork.  Our kitchen table is in this room.  We lay around on the couches and watch movies on our large screen tv, discussing topics we are working on.  Our DVD/Video collection is stored on an old gas station snack rack near the TV so everything is together.  The baby toys are also in the corner of this room so that he can play while we work on school things during the day.

One thing I love is that I can attach my laptop to our TV and use it as a projector for lessons.  It attaches through an HDMI cable and works as a second screen for lessons that we cannot view on DVD, Netflix, YouTube or some other resource.  We use it to view websites like the History Channel online, Discovery Streaming and many, many other sites for learning.  The kids really enjoy that too and they can see it well from our dining table when we need to sit at it for certain lessons.

Our dining table, as you've probably guessed, doubles as a place to eat and a place to work.  It's currently a round table which allows everyone to see one another and allows me to work with the kids from any angle.  I'd really like to replace this table but for now it works!

The walls around the table are surrounded by homeschooling posters and reminders for every day learning.  Our computer desk is on one wall.  It's a sturdy piece I purchased for $15 at a local thrift store.  It holds our two old desktop computers for online lessons and fun school extras.  This desk also allows a little storage for desk items.  Underneath, I placed a cube shelf with bins for extra storage.  I'm still determining what to put in them but I'm thinking class things we don't need daily.

Beside the desk sits a cabinet with our very large LaserJet Printer.  I love my printer.  The thing has paid for itself.  Ink costs a lot less than our old standard printer.  It's probably the best investment I've made for our homeschool, next to bookshelves and curriculum.  The little cabinet underneath holds one of the desktop towers and the drawers hold extra cords and such for our electronics.

On the back wall of our classroom is our dry erase board.  I put this up using 3M Velcro strips so I can move it around as need.  I have a set of these strips in the Library room (old Dining Room) so that I can move it in there if we are doing schoolwork.  I could also stick some on the front of the large freezer and stick it on there if I wanted but haven't done that at this time.  I love our Dry Erase board.  Got it at Sam's Club, a while back.  It's dry erase on one side and bulletin board on the other but I rarely use that side.

We have a little table on the same wall as the dry erase board that holds our Crab's home.  We have a small aquarium they live in and the kids really enjoy having them as pets.  It's been interesting for us all.

The last corner of our Living Room is a space underneath and next to our bar.  I have the baby's toy box tucked under it storing some of his and Laycie's toys.  Behind it sits a tall table and stool for Emmalee's art area.  Since this is a little higher, it keeps the smaller kids out of things.  Underneath it, I have shelves that allow for storage of Emma's stuff.  She is organizationally challenged, like her Momma, so we work hard to keep this area straight.

We have other areas we use in our home for school too.  The kids rooms are one.  They have their own TV's with Netflix so they can view personal videos for their lessons as needed.  I often use my room as a time out for my high energy 5 year old, where I allow her to watch videos interesting to her or read books on my bed while I'm working with her older brother and sister on lessons.  The classroom also works well for this.

Other things they do in their rooms are read, build with Legos, interactive play, and dress up.  I use their rooms for imaginative play.  They also have to get along while in their room which helps build socialization skills.

I use the doors of my bedroom to store flash cards, extra craft things, etc storing them in over the door shoe holders.  I plan to add some of these to the kids rooms so they can store stuffed animals or various other small things.  They help a lot for storage in our small home.

My personal desk is in our kitchen.  I have a cube storage organizer underneath a small table in there.  I like to keep my laptop, pens, and my personal items at this table.  I also keep my review items here so they don't get lost in the main parts of the house.

We also like to do school outside and last year we added a rather large back porch on the house.  This is going to be a great area to let the little kids play when it's too hot or too wet outside.  We've already put hopscotch mats and other fun things out there for play.  This area is going to be great for watching nature, doing lessons and reading in the future.  I'm working on finding just the right furniture for it so that we can use it best for us!

That's our Homeschool.  School doesn't have to be done in one room.  It's meant to be done everywhere and your home can easily organize around it without having a classroom.  Homeschooling is more of a life style, then anything.  Make the space you have work for you!

I am adding this post to the 5th annual NOT Back To School Blog Hop from the iHomeschool Network!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Schoolhouse Expo Comes To An End

Schoolhouse Expo

As we come to the last minutes of the Schoolhouse Expo, I have to say I truly enjoyed my week listening to the wonderful speakers.  This was my first time at the event.  It was actually my first time attending any event like this one.

At $24, the tickets were fairly priced for this week long event.  Each day was a different set of speakers, on topics that varied but were all related to homeschooling.  Some speakers concentrated on giving inspiration, some concentrated on helping those with struggling learners, some concentrated on planning and others shared a skill or a program that can be used in each of our homeschools in the future.

I wasn't able to attend every event, or even every day, but what I was able to listen to truly inspired me this week.  My favorite thing about the expo though was that I was able to download Go To Meeting on my cell phone and listen to the Schoolhouse Expo through that.  As I was cooking and cleaning and tending to my little ones, I could listen without being attached to my laptop in the meantime.  This allowed me to catch more of the Schoolhouse Expo than I would have otherwise.

I look forward to the release of the Schoolhouse Expo recordings over the next months, so that I can catch up on what I wasn't able to hear from the original sessions.  There was so much inspiration shared that I'm sure as our homeschooling year hits the doldrums, it will be inspiring to listen to all over again.  The Schoolhouse Expo will be something that I will be happy to join again next year and for many years to come.  New homeschoolers and old can find new tools and ideas through the Schoolhouse Expo.

Dreading Days with the Epilepsy Monster {Epilepsy Awareness}

There are days when I just don't want to write.  Days when I'd rather shut everything out and surround myself with my children.  Days when I don't want to admit the monster is lurking, watching us, waiting to attack when I least expect it.  I've had several of those days recently.

It's hard to ignore though, when you are laying in bed with your significant other, with two littles in between you.  It's hard to ignore when those littles begin twitching through the night or smacking their lips in a rhythmic pattern that isn't normal.  It's hard to ignore when those littles are restless, bodies taken over by that unseen monster that you've been praying hard would just go the Hell away.

We've been through a lot lately - yes, that's very much an understatement.  We've been through Hell lately, every last one of us.  I question when it's going to stop and what the purpose is in it all.

Right now, today, at this very point our lives have slowed down.  There has been no seizure in a week.  The medicines seem to be controlling though Laycie's still isn't quite perfect, it's getting there.  But my fear is the false sense of security, the calm before the storm before it all breaks lose again.

Last week at this time, we were battling with the Epilepsy Monster.  My poor sweet Jax was falling hard to this beast.  Thursday he had a Tonic Clonic and an ER visit.  Friday he had back to back Tonic Clonics and another ER visit, followed by a weekend stay at the Children's Hospital.  We repeated his EEG and found NOTHING.  We did bloodwork and found NOTHING.  We raised his medicine dose and then I gave up and asked to come home.  There was nothing to be found and no reason to prolong our stay there when we could go home, be comfortable and wait it out in our home.

Last week was Hell and will stick with me just as the day Laycie had 9 gran mals and was Status Epilepticus for 13 hours has.  I will never forget my Mother calling me immediately after closing the car door to head to the store for diapers last Friday.  I will never forget how my shoes stuck in the water soaked puddles as I attempted to run in the house.  I will never forget how my baby, my sweet boy laid so still and lifeless in my Momma's arms when I opened her door.  How she raised him up in her hands and he was just gone, so quickly gone and there was absolutely nothing I could do but pray and wait.

People tend to look at children, at people with Epilepsy and think there is nothing wrong.  A perfect child with a hidden secret that can't be seen is thought of as being normal.  Our life is far from normal and days like the ones we had last week are days that I hate.  The days when their is nothing that I can do but pray for my children, pray for my olders to be patient and know I love them.  Thank God that my Emma, my oldest daughter has seemingly outgrown this beast.  Pray that her sister and her brother soon follow her in that, though I know it will be a long road to get there, if we even do.

I have hope.  I have faith.  I have all the things needed to get through this but it's not easy.  I don't like to even acknowledge it or talk about it but I know I have to.  I feel called to.  And perhaps that is God's point in gifting me with 3 out of 4 gorgeous, sweet children who suffer with this disorder.  Perhaps he simply wants me to share, to speak out, to acknowledge this beast and it's impact on our life so that others can better understand it and yet others won't feel so alone.

I long for a normal life with normal kids who have normal illnesses like colds and such.  I have a normal life with children that have been blessed with Epilepsy.  This is our normal.  These are our days.  This is our life, impacted to the fullest upon every day.  Without God, I could not manage, could not make it through, could not even begin to deal with any of this.  I am thankful always for his presence.

In The Hands Of A Child: Pond Life {Review}

In the Hands of a Child is one of our favorite homeschooling companies.  Their awesome products have been used in our homeschool for years and will continue to be used for years to come.  They are easy to use and intriguing, bringing home education to a whole new level.

In the Hands of a Child offered the Schoolhouse Review crew their choice of several products.  My favorite and my personal choice was Pond Life.  Since we do a lot with water related activities and we have a pond and swamp on our property at home, the Pond Life project pack had a lot to offer to us.

As with all In the Hands of a Child products, our Pond Life project pack included all the reproducibles needed to complete the project.  Purchasing rights give me permission to print this for every child in our home, more than once if necessary, so this study will be available to us for years to come.  If we need to repeat the study, all we have to do is print out a new copy.  It's that simple.

Pond Life must be printed out to use.  Make sure you have enough available copies for each member of your home before jumping into this study.  You will also need a file folder or an old cereal box cut so that it can be used like a folder.  Scissors, coloring utensils, and glue are also needed to complete this study.

Through the Pond Life study, your children will learn important vocabulary, spelling and all about life in the Pond.  This particular study was written with the Kindergarten through 2nd grade child in mind but can easily be adapted to any age.  I used it with my Kindergartener and had my 3rd and 5th grade students follow along.

So what did we learn through this study?  We learned about Habitats, animals, organisms, and even pond safety.  The study took us into the homes and lives of animals that we find naturally in our pond, like tadpoles and frogs, butterflies, dragonflies, turtles and more, some that we never realized may live in our pond!!

My kids really loved this study, and being able to view it first hand in our environment made it all the better!  Hands-on studies are often our favorites and the fact that it was super easy to use makes us love it even more. We are still viewing the differences in water environments as we have a lot to compare in our area: the Atlantic Ocean, natural rivers, local ponds, ditches, swamp water areas.  All of these can be located within 30 minutes of our home.

To get your own copy of Pond Life or any of the other available studies from In the Hands of a Child, visit their website.  Pond Life is available for $12 regularly but is currently available for $5 at the time of this review (this is subject to change in the future).

For more reviews of In the Hands of a Child, please click the banner below!

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Am Second {Review}

Have you heard the word?  There's a new movement called I Am Second.  I Am Second is an inspirational revolution, teaching others to live for God and for others.

Through I Am Second, you will be inspired.  You will learn about the miracles of God through each video testimony shared helping you to find your Faith.  People with lives who have been at their worst share their inspiring journeys and how only their Faith has pulled them through to become better, do better, be better.

I Am Second offers support with their helpline, listening and giving a much needed shoulder to cry on.  Help spread the revolution by sharing I Am Second with those in your life.  Bring them inspiration in the testimonies shared throughout the website.  Be their own shoulder to cry upon, if needed.

I Am Second provides help with abuse, anger, identity, molestation, racism and so much more!  You are not alone and you can find support through I Am Second.  I Am Second works to help with all of these things, giving you what you need when you need it.

Register with I Am Second to join the movement.  Share it with others.  Use the discussion guide to discuss the inspirational films on the website.  Take the 22 day challenge to grow a stronger relationship with God and help build your own faith.  

Put God first, be I Am Second!  This website will support you on every step to make that happen.

I Am Second, are you?

*Disclaimer - I was asked to join I Am Second through FlyBy Promotions - Propeller Reviews.  I received a free shirt and bracelet by joining in on this movement but was not compensated in any way.  I chose to join in with I Am Second because I believe in the movement but not in relation to my request to review this website by FlyBy Promotions - Propeller Reviews.  I'm including this disclaimer in accordance with FTC regulations.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Family Hope Center: Understanding Child Brain Development DVD {Review}

As a parent of multiple children with Epilepsy and other special learning needs, I am always looking for information to help me to better understand how their brains work and how to help them process and learn.  The Family Hope Center helps families like mine.  They use their program to help parents to better understand the brain and their child.

Through the Family Hope Center's Understanding Child Brain Development DVD, this program reaches out to teach parents about how the brain processes.  This interactive seminar can be completed in the comfort of your home, leaving you with a much better understanding of the brain.  Having a better understanding of the brain allows parents to help their child grow to their fullest potential.

Through the Family Hope Center's program many parents have been able to help their children do things that they were never expected to do.  This program has even helped some parents become able to stop medications for their children.  Understanding Child Brain Development helps in this process by showing the parent exactly how the child's brain works and how it processes information among other things.  This allows the parent to also better understand how medications, relaxation and other methods can help the brain to preform better or worse.

Understanding Child Brain Development empowers the parent with knowledge that they would not receive otherwise, allowing informed decisions for the child's care.  This program teaches you, the parent how to make these things happen for your child.  It doesn't only teach about the brain though but also teaches the who, why, and how of your child's physical and emotional developmental as well as social and intellectual development.

You can purchase Understanding Child Brain Development from IEW or by calling 610-397-1737.  To learn more about the Family Hope Center, you can visit their website.

For more reviews of Understanding Child Brain Development, please click the banner below!


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Friday, August 16, 2013

Reading Kingdom {Review}

Reading Kingdom is an amazing online reading program designed to help children that are ages 4-10 learn to read and build reading skills they may struggle with.  This program is designed to be easy to use for both Parent and child.  It can also be used in a classroom setting for schools.

Reading Kingdom is designed to work with the child's skill level.  Any young child can use this program at any skill level.  How quickly your child completes this program will depend upon your child's skill level.  The complete Reading Kingdom program takes around 12-15 months to work through.  Children with advanced reading skills can complete the program within 3-6 months.

Reading Kingdom is designed to be used at least 4 times a week with your child.  Children should be at least 4 years old and able to sit quietly, paying attention for at least 15 minutes at a time.  Children should know basic computer skills like using a mouse.

Reading Kingdom uses a balanced approach of reading skills to teach children to read.  The program uses the 6 important skills of sequencing, sounds, motor, meaning, Grammar and comprehension combined together to master both reading and writing.  This allows a child to fully comprehend reading and these skills last a lifetime.

The greatest thing about Reading Kingdom though is that it customizes to your child.  Every child's experience with this program will be completely different.  When your child begins this program, they will complete a reading skills survey that allows the program to adapt to your child.  Based on the results of this survey, the program designs itself to fit your child's learning needs.  It also adapts as your child progresses through the program, developing your child skills as they learn.

We have used this program with my struggling reader and he really loves it.  Since it goes at his pace and adapts to his skills, he is able to really enjoy himself while using it.  Winston is a whole word learner and struggles with phonics type programs.  Reading Kingdom's combined approach has allowed him to grasp concepts of reading that he usually struggles with when learning single reading programs like phonics or whole words.  

Winston uses the program a few times a week and works as long as he wishes on his reading.  There is no rush for him or pressure in learning.  It's complete fun and games in reading and this has helped him relax tremendously.  We will be adding his little sister to the program in the future.

Reading Kingdom has a free trial available to view this curriculum before taking the jump into joining with a membership.  Memberships are $19.99 a month or $199.99 a year for the first child.  Additional children added into the program are $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.  There are also additional materials available for purchase to use with the program as well.  Free online resources are also available for use.

To read more reviews of Reading Kingdom, please click the banner below!


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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Notgrass Company: America The Beautiful {Review}

Last year, as I was planning for school, I added American History to our list of subjects I wanted to teach next year.  Over the past year, I've searched for books and curriculum to create our own study on this subject.  I was lucky in my finds but I was even luckier when this review appeared on our vendor list for the Schoolhouse Crew.  Notgrass Company's America the Beautiful curriculum set was just the type of core program I had been looking for.

America the Beautiful is a year long course on American History.  It doesn't only cover history though.  It is also a literature curriculum and geography course in one.  Designed for children in 5th-8th grade, this program is designed to provide your child with a full year of lessons that cover various important events throughout America's history.

Parents can choose to complete this course in one year or expand it to two years if they prefer.  Lessons are designed to be completed one per day, five per week or they can be spread to two or three lessons a week as preferred.  Lessons take approximately 45-90 minutes.  Extra time is required for crafts and other activities.  The program is also adaptable to fit your child's or family's interests and daily activities can be adjusted to accommodate those interests.

America the Beautiful is a beautifully created curriculum.  There is no teacher's guide, as the program's directions are provided throughout each of the main texts.  This is an added bonus for children who are independent learners so they can follow the program with little parental guidance if capable.  Parents, too, can follow along easily without having to flip back and forth to a guide to keep up.

America The Beautiful curriculum package consists of the following:
  • America the Beautiful, Part 1: America from 1000 to 1877
  • America the Beautiful, Part 2: America From the Late 1800's to the Present
  • We the People: Words from the Makers of American History
  • America the Beautiful: Student Workbook
  • America the Beautiful: Lesson Review
  • Maps of America the Beautiful
  • Timeline of America the Beautiful
  • America the Beautiful: Answer Key
Each of the books in this curriculum are beautifully crafted.  The first three texts are hardback books, with bright glossy covers that draw the users attention to them immediately.  The rich text are filled with gorgeous images of the time period.  The accessory books are all paperback with the Lesson Review and Student Workbook having spiral binding to allow them to lie flat for lesson completion.

An additional literature package is available to expand this program to it's full capability.  We did not receive this as part of our review and I did not incorporate this part of the lesson plan at the time of completion of this review.  We will be adding it into our future lessons to make this a complete program for our home studies in the future.

The thing I absolutely love most about this curriculum is that it relates everything to God, from the creation of the land to the settling of America on through to today's times.  The curriculum helps bring to life, God's plan and creation within America.  This is a beauty that is often missed in secular history programs.

Something I found tremendously easy to incorporate with this program is science.  As we learned about various animals and places in America's history, it was easy to expand upon our lessons, learning more about the animals and areas themselves.  Especially in early lessons, where many of the animals discussed are local to our own backyard, such as the American Alligator which we have seen on various boating and hunting excursions - and yes, we actually do have one living way back in the back of our own backyard.  Bottle-nosed dolphins can be seen off coast of our shoreline and Green Sea Turtles come up our coast to lay eggs each year.

Black bear make our hunting club their home and recently part of our hunting club was donated to make a wildlife preserve for the bear to live safely for generations to come.  A recent field trip provided a great expedition to see Bison up close.  I never realized they roamed our Southern Coastal lands at one time!  All these beautiful animals right here where our home is!

We learned a great deal about our American Indian heritage through this curriculum as well.  The different tribes and the differences in tribes.  This was especially interesting to us, since Winston and Emmalee both have an extensive American Indian heritage on both their biological father's and my own side of the family.  The Susquehanna, Cherokee and Lumbee are ancestors to their bloodline.  This curriculum is rich in American Indian history and that was something we greatly appreciate.

We look forward to covering more history using American the Beautiful, particularly learning more about America's 1st settlements, including our own Charleston, South Carolina.  The many battles of the Revolutionary War were fought right around our home of Georgetown, South Carolina so it will be interesting to see where our future lessons will take us on our journey to learn more outside the pages of the text book.

We have been excitedly marking our way through our America the Beautiful timeline, and mapping our path with our Maps of America the Beautiful historical atlas.  The kids have really enjoyed working together to complete the activities within the Student Workbook.  We have also enjoyed the extra stories and read-alouds from our We the People text.  Many of these stories we have never heard before.

The Lesson Review book is probably the least used of everything we have received, along with America the Beautiful Part 2 text but that's because we haven't reached that book yet!  I have used the Lesson Review to ask questions in an effort to ensure the kids are learning as we read.  We, however, are not generally strict to structured learning so we do not normally utilize lesson reviews for homeschooling materials.  I simply ask questions as we go along and the kids answer appropriately to allow me to gauge their level of learning from the curriculum itself.  Still it's nice to have a Lesson Review to guide me and provide the necessary questions to ensure they are indeed learning.

I can honestly say this curriculum is one that everyone has loved.  Laycie has followed along with us as we have read through lessons.  At age 5, she does become bored before we get through the bulk of the lesson.  Winston and Emmalee have followed along very well and it's captured their attention at times.  They have enjoyed learning more about the animals and about their heritage thanks to America the Beautiful.  They look forward to future lessons that lead to hands-on field trips for us soon.

America the Beautiful, the curriculum package is available for purchase from Notgrass Company for $99.95.  It is written for children ages 10-14.  This package includes student texts, maps, timeline and the answer key.  At additional cost, you can purchase the America the Beautiful Student Workbook for grades 5-6 for $11.95 or the America the Beautiful Lesson Review for grades 7-8 for $9.95.

To read more reviews of this and other curriculum from Notgrass Company, click the banner below!


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Schoolhouse Expo: Are you ready?

Schoolhouse Expo

Are you ready for the Schoolhouse Expo?  It's less than a week away.  Some of the greatest speakers in Homeschooling are lined up to speak.

Diana Waring of History Alive! is one of the speakers.  Diana will join the great, Dr. Jay Wile in discussing the myths of science and history.  They will work together to teach us homeschooling parents how to tell the difference between myth and fact in these subjects.

Terri Johnson from Knowledge Quest will be telling us all about Homeschooling through High School.  She'll discuss this major decision to homeschooling until graduation, giving tips on record keeping and planning as she guides.  There is sure to be something for all of us planning on homeschooling to the end of school.

Malia Russell from Homemaking 911 will be discussing homeschooling through times of transition.  Life has a lot of ups and downs but we can manage to homeschool through it all with a little support and management.  Malia gives valuable tips and shares organizational skills to help us work through this stage of homeschooling life.

These are just a few of the great speakers lined up for the Schoolhouse Expo this year.  You won't want to miss it! 

This is a week long event, but don't worry if you can't make every event because the annual week long Schoolhouse Expo recordings will be available with the price of your ticket! 

And speaking of tickets, our winner for our Schoolhouse Expo giveaway is Alicia from Redwoods Homeschool!  Congratulations, Alicia!!  I hope you enjoy your prize from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

The Schoolhouse Expo runs from August 19-23 from 1pm-8pm Eastern or 10am-5pm Pacific.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mixed Emotion {Epilepsy Awareness}

This is a rough period in our life.  Rough doesn't even really begin to describe it.  Hell is a better term.

I can't even say what I'm feeling now.  I am up and down, depressed one day and raring to go the next.  My emotions are completely mixed and in true Gemini fashion, I cannot even guess which of my dual personalities is coming out next.

I'm tired, I'm hurt, I'm angry.  I'm a whirlwind just blowing through every day right now.  I feel like I'm caught in a spin and I cannot stop it.

I know it will end.  I know it will calm.  I know I will have that false sense of safety again.

Then BOOM - it will all come tumbling down because seizures will breakthrough, medicines will need adjusted and babies will grow.

I want a normal life with normal kids that have no health issues.  Isn't that every woman's dream?  Don't we all think how perfect our children will be before they come?

I know when I was a little girl, I never thought that my children could be sick with anything like Epilepsy, even when I knew I had it myself.  Now I watch Laycie treat her dolls for this disorder and all because she and her sister and brother have it.  She shouldn't even know it exists!

But she does and what can I do but prepare her for a life of living with it.  And not only for her life but for those of her children too.  Epilepsy will impact her entire life: past, present and future.

Josh always tells me about these poor children he knows, about their families in town and how they suffer this or that.  Though I do feel sorry for them, I think what about our own children?  People look at them and think how lucky we are to have "normal" kids.  They never guess anything is wrong with our children.

Epilepsy is a hidden disorder.  Until my children drop, they appear perfectly fine.  On the outside, they look like everyone else.  On the inside, this monster lurks waiting to turn our lives upside down.

I know I should have more faith.  My big brother's words always stick with me, bringing me strength.  On the day I told him Emmalee had Epilepsy he told me, "She'll be ok.  We'll get through this.  We did it with you, we will with her too".

I hope every day for those words to be truth.  To just be able to get through it all, without losing one of my babies, without a seizure damaging their brains for life.  Most people don't realize just how serious a life with Epilepsy really is.  Truth is, my babies may not make it through their next seizure and that is my biggest fear in our fight with this disorder.

It's not something I want to talk about and it's something I have spent much of our life ignoring.  But how can I continue to ignore the truth?  Today, I'm not talking about it but you can bet, I will be in the future.  Stay tuned.

Bible Study Guide for All Ages: Primary Level {Review}

If you've been looking for a great way to teach Bible study to your children, Bible Study Guide for All Ages is a great program to choose.  Bible Study Guide for All Ages makes learning about the Bible fun and easy.  This program is sure to capture the attention of any age.

For this review, we chose the Primary plan.  This plan is created for children in 1st-2nd grades and is a great plan for children who know a little about the Bible but are ready to advance into a deeper level of learning.  Our Bible Study Guide for All Ages kit came with the Primary Level Teacher Guide, Color Bible Book Summary Cards, enough Primary Student pages for all the kids, and an accompanying Children's Songs CD.

Along with the contents of the kit, each student will need a Bible of their own to use.  This will be used for finding Biblical text throughout the lessons.  Finding the Bible verses with help or on their own, allows students to learn the much needed skill of using their Bible and reading on their own.

Crayons, pencils and other writing utensils are also necessary for this program.  We personally love anything we can color, draw and design so we broke out crayons and colored pencils for this program.  I love anything that encourages the kids uniqueness in artistic ways.

The one thing we did not receive, that was not 100% necessary but would have been a nice addition to our kit, was the Unlabeled Wall Map and Time Line with Label book.  This timeline is used throughout the program and mentioned in our lessons but it wasn't something we had to have in order to complete any lesson.  The bonus of it though, is that it would have allowed us to track Biblical events and figures in a hands-on way.  I'm sure I could easily create my own or just a notebook type Timeline and captured the same effect for our family and we may do that in the future.

The Bible Study Guide for All Ages Primary Level Teacher's Guide is wire-bound which allows the guide to lie flat for lessons.  In it, you will find directions to every lesson and task for this level of the program.  The book begins with Teacher Instructions, explaining how this program works and how to use it in your classroom.  I found it very easy to understand and make work for us at home, though it can also be used in a Sunday School classroom if you'd prefer.

Lessons can be completed once a day or spread to a few days in a week, depending upon the child.  Generally, only one lesson a week would be completed though you can complete more if you wish.  This program is designed much like a Sunday School Bible Study which would only be used once a week on Sunday's.

Lessons are fairly short and should take only an hour or so to complete, if that.  Each lesson has an objective to teach the child some important lesson of the Bible.  In the beginning of each lesson in the guide there is also a list for the lessons needed materials.  These are things you will gather to be able to complete the lesson with the child(ren).

Lessons always begin with a review of the previous lesson.  This allows the child to show what they know and what they remember from the previous lesson.  This also allows the teacher to gauge the child's learning and reteach areas that may have been missed in the previous lesson.

The second part of the lesson is the Memory Work.  This is generally where important Bible facts and songs are introduced.  Bible verses are also reviewed during this section.  Anything that a student needs to memorize for the lesson is introduced here.

The third section is the Things to Know section.  This is the real introduction to the week's lesson and where the backbone of the lesson is found.  Things to Know sets the background for the main lesson to come.

The next step is to Get Active!  This is the give and take of the lesson, where the teacher questions the students and challenges their thinking to get them thinking lessons through.  This section if scripted well for the teacher and easily followed, though students answers will always differ from the suggested ones in the book.  This section also sets the stage for the story of the lesson.

Finally, we reach the Bible Text.  This is the story portion that brings the Bible story into relation of all we have learned so far.  Stories vary in length and are always followed by review questions to keep students challenged and thinking during lessons.  As you read through this section, students can follow along with their comic book images in their student text workbook.  This helps bring the story to life for the student learning.

Following the text section, students learn where it happened on the Map.  This is included in their student text but you can elaborate by using a wall map or a timeline.  This allows the child to see for themselves where this part of the story happened and relate it to today instead of just a story from a book.  It helps to bring the lesson and story to life for the child.

The last step of the lesson is to Apply It!  Show what you both have learned, parent and student.  Talk about the lesson, why it's important, how you can prevent yourself from doing something you shouldn't or encourage others to do what they should.  Each lesson's Apply It! is different but every one has an important lesson to be taught.

The Student lesson pages are extra long and come in black and white.  This allows the child to be creative in coloring the pages.  It also helps cut down printing costs.  The pages are full of character, using comic book type imagery to keep children engaged.

The Bible Book Summary Cards are fully colored and work to bring life to this program.  The back of each card provides information that goes along with each lesson.  It also includes questions for the teacher to ask the student.  The great part is that all of this is on the back of the card, so as the teacher holds it up for the student to view, the teacher can be reading this part of the lesson without the student realizing there is anything there.

Children's Songs CD is also included with this program.  This 2 CD set includes 90 songs for your students to use along with the lessons.  These also help bring the stories to life and get your child off the couch and into the lesson.  These aren't the usual, every day Bible songs either but they are catchy tunes that your family will be singing again and again.

We used this program as directed, following through the lessons together.  It was simple enough to do and the kids enjoyed the time spent with one another on it.  Winston especially enjoyed the comic book characters and the easy reading, which helped encourage him with his reading skills.  Emmalee read much of the lesson to us, which allowed me a break from doing all the reading myself.  The lessons were just the right amount of study and time for Laycie too.  They were not overwhelming and were just the right amount of detail for each one of us.

Bible Study Guide for All Ages: Primary Level is available to purchase online for $9.95 for the 1-26 lesson Teacher's Guide and $5.95 for the 1-26 Student Lesson pages.  Lessons are broken down into sections of 26 lessons at a time.  There are a total of 208 lessons available for the Primary Level of this program.

The Bible Book Summary Cards are also available for purchase.  These come in Full Color 8.5"x11" cards or Color-It-Yourself 11"x14" posters.  Both come with 66 cards to use with the program and are both priced at $24.95 each.

The Children's Songs CD set is a 2 disk set containing 90 children's Bible songs.  The cost for it is $19.95.

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