Friday, October 31, 2014

Jim Hodges Productions: True To The Old Flag {Crew 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 {Crew 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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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Liberty Videos: A Nation Adrift {Crew Review}

For this review, we were gifted a DVD copy of New Liberty Videos Presents A Nation Adrift.   These videos are designed for a general audience of all ages, though some of this information will be too advanced for younger students, it can be adapted for various ages.  The videos make a great addition to any homeschooling library to view.

A Nation Adrift features bits and pieces of American History from the United States of America's great past.  A Nation Adrift shares how the United States was founded with the help of God's guidance and hand.  This video shares how God has had a hand in our country from the very beginning.

The video begins sharing information and stories of God's work from Christopher Columbus' discovery of this land, during the settling of Jamestown through the Civil War and well beyond.  The video is approximately 93 minutes in length and the sections are short but filled with important information on how God's plan has come together to create this great nation.  The journey and information shared within this video helps to ensure the understanding that God has always been a part of this nation and should continue to be a part of this nation through the future of our country.

We watched this video as a family.  The information shared was interesting though the video was boring in a few areas, especially to my younger child.  The shared images and short clips were great to see and a wonderful way to introduce many new topics to my children.

The video can be watched all-in-one clip or broken into parts.  We first watched it all the way through.  I do like that I can go back and watch sections for our learning.  This makes it easy to feature certain areas as we learn more about them and view the images shared on the video that we may have otherwise missed.

I did not like that some of the informational clips were so short that some of the information could easily be missed.  It would  have been nice to have them lengthened just a little so that they gave more of an impact to my students and family.  Some of the information went by so fast that we would need to be paying full attention to grasp the information and that's not always possible when you have students with ADHD and also little ones in the household that you're trying to keep occupied while watching.  If you are able to have students watch this alone or with headphones, that may help the student focus better and not miss any information shared within the video itself.

I also like that this video is completely Christian based.  If you're looking for a secular video, then New Liberty Videos are not what you will want to view but if you're looking for a strong christian based video, New Liberty Videos will be just what you need!

New Liberty Videos Presents A Nation Adrift is available for purchase for $19.95 on their website.  There are other wonderful videos available from this company as well.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Standard Deviants Accelerate {Crew Review}

Standard Deviants Accelerate is a wonderful online program designed to be a supplement to learning.  This program covers several subjects in interesting ways.  It's a wonderful addition to any educational program.

For this review, we were given access to the Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses.  These courses were created to be used in the homeschool environment in order to supplement regular homeschooling lessons at home.  The course features many subjects to choose from such as Earth Science, Nutrition, Biology, AP English, AP Chemistry and so much more.

Standard Deviant Accelerate gives the user access to online video lessons that are unique and creative to intrigue students and encourage learning of the lessons being taught.  This completely online curriculum also gives you access to review activities, quizzes, writing assignments and so much more.  All of these things come together to create a complex and thorough lesson for students to learn important information through the course they are taking via Standard Deviants Accelerate.

As I mentioned above, there are lots of subjects to choose from in the Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Course program.  Each offers something completely different.  I took a look at several of these classes for our review period but the one we used the most was Nutrition.

I was extremely interested in the Nutrition course because I know that this is something we can use for our family.  It never hurts to learn to eat better or learn how important nutrition is for us.  I've tried to teach my children from early on the importance of their eating habits but that hasn't always been successful.  We have some pretty bad habits when it comes to nutrition.  We forget to take vitamins, we choose sodas over juice and cake over fruits.  We are the typical American family and it shows.

My Emma in particular struggles with her weight because of our eating habits so it was my hope that through us using this course together, she would learn a lot about her health and nutrition that would stick with her for life.  So far so good.  The program begins with an introduction to Nutrition which covers an explanation on what nutrition is along with introductions to fats, carbohydrates and more.  This is the first step to learning healthy choices in eating.

The course was easy enough to follow through and learn from.  The videos kept the lessons interesting and we were able to work together to learn through this course.  There were 8 chapters within the course, each containing 4-5 sections to explain the chapter.  At the end, there is also a review to check what has been learned through the course.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Course is available online for $99 a year or $24.95 per month for one student.  AP courses are available for $14.95 per month for one student as well.  These courses are well worth the cost.

These courses are designed for students ages 8- Adult.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Going Home with New Experiences {Thoughts From Me}

It's always great to go back home when you can.  For the past two weeks, that is just what I did.  I took a "me"-cation and went home to visit family and friends that I haven't had time to see for a while.

While I was home, I also took the time to build experience with driving.  I drove various friends around town, shopping and other things.  I came to quickly realize, that I can do this and I don't know what I have been so afraid of all this time.  Driving is easy.

I'm still a little nervous.  Being a driver is a huge responsibility.  It's putting others lives into your hands in situations that could quickly get out of control and that's a lot to shoulder.

On the other hand, there is a freedom that I've been missing out on and I'm thrilled to finally be able to experience it.  There's nothing like hopping into the car and just going, not having to wait on anyone else to go with you.  Bonus is I get to listen to what I want on the radio!

And one more awesome thing: when the time comes, I will be able to teach my kids how to drive as well.  I won't need someone else training them.  I'm kind of excited about that.

So this has been my past few weeks.  It's been fun.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Apologia: iWitness {Crew Review}

For this review, I received copies of the three books from the iWitness series from Apologia Educational Ministries.  I received the following titles: iWitness Biblical Archaeology, Old Testament iWitness, and New Testament iWitness.  All of these were written by Doug Powell.

Each of these titles are priced at $14 per book through Apologia Educational Ministries.  The series is designed for persons with a reading level of age 11 and up.  They can be used with younger students as well if read along with an older person.

Each of these books features a different aspect of learning about the Bible.  In true, Apologia fashion these books are awesome.  If you read my blog, then you know one of my favorite ministries and products to use in homeschooling is Apologia Educational Ministries.

The books are formatted as multi-media artwork, much like a journal.  Each is filled with wonderful information sharing important points on the Biblical topic they discuss, as well as important proof to prove truth in the facts shared.  The books are small but jam-packed with interesting information.

I personally read through these and shared the information with my children as I did.  I enjoyed the fun format and found it intriguing to read through.  I learned so many things about the Bible that I didn't know.  

For instance, iWitness Biblical Archaeology, which was my favorite of all the books, tells of the stories related to the Big Flood of Biblical times.  I did not know that there were so many stories from different nations that tell of the great Flood.  Through reading I found this fact to be true.

These books also share photos and facts that you may otherwise miss in regular stories of the Bible.  They show you what really happened in the time period and what life was really like.  It was interesting to see all of these things compiled along with the wonderful facts about them.  And best was that because it's an Apologia series, I know the facts are right simply because of the standards of Apologia Educational Ministries.

These are books that will be added into our home library.  My daughter has already picked them up and read through them several times.  Even my Mom has enjoyed reading these and she's pretty picky about the things she reads.

Each of these books share such unique details about the Bible.  Stuff I have honestly never seen in a book I have read.  It was a great joy to read through these and truly helped bring the Bible to life for us. They would be great to use as a Biblical supplement or even just to read through.  There are so many uses for these titles.

You can purchase this series through the website at Apologia Educational Ministries:

You can view an author interview for the iWitness series from Apologia here:

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Better Late Than Never {Thoughts From Me}

Here's a little fact about me: I am 35 years old and I don't drive.  *Gasp* You heard me right.  I've never even had a driver's license.

About 6 months ago, I received my first permit but even then I haven't driven much.  I have this weirdly irrational fear of driving that is really hard for me to overcome.  That is until recently.

Last week, I just felt it was time to get started on really learning to drive.  So I have been.  This week, I decided I needed to come "home" to my hometown where I grew up and spend some time with my best friends who have all been proactive in helping me learn to drive.

And you know what?  I am doing it!   I really am.

I don't know why I have felt afraid to do this for so long.  Yes, there are dangers and it's always a risk but it's something I've been needing to do.  I need the independence and I need to be able to take my kids  places, just me and them.  I'm well on my way to making that happen and I know they are so proud of their Momma.  Seriously, I thought they'd be driving before I would!

So this is what I am up to right now.  Learning to drive about 20 years later than a normal person.  Better late than never though!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fortuigence: Essay Rockstar Textual Analysis {Crew Review}

Writing is a course that we've recently introduced into our family's learning program this year so when this review for Fortuigence came up I was immediately intrigued.  I knew that my children were not quite ready to complete this course but I was interested in trying it myself so that we could possibly use it for homeschool writing in the future.  I signed up for the Essay Rockstar Textual Analysis Writing Course.  

I, personally, chose this course so that I could brush up on my writing skills for review purposes.  I felt the need to have an extra challenge and a class all of my own to complete.  I wanted to make sure I was providing the best in writing that I am able to and this course was perfect for that.

Fortuigence provides a course of lessons which help to inspire students to perform better.  It helps students learn to become independent writers and self-sufficient thinkers through each lesson of the course.  This is true learning at it's best.

Essay Rockstar Textual Analysis Writing Course is a short course of 7 lessons, complete with video instructions for completion.  Each section of the course requires the student to watch a short video on an explanation of what's expected during that part of the course.  Then the student can either read through or listen to the next section of the course, learning to put in place the part of the lesson they are learning.  Lastly, students must create their own piece of writing to turn in for the assignment they are working on.  This writing assignment is checked and corrected by Lily Latridis herself, the Founder of Fortuigence.  Lily then emails the student back with constructive criticism on the student's selected work.

I found these courses to be exceptionally easy to follow along with and complete.  I was encouraged in using the program.  I knew that I was a good writer already but this program did help me to polish some of my skills and encouraged me to continue on the path I am on in writing.  Sometimes I have self-doubt, after all we are our biggest critics.  Through using this course, I learned that I am often harder on myself about my writing than it is necessary for me to be.

Essay Rockstar Textual Analysis Writing Course is for students who are ages 12-18. A Textual Analysis is simply a review of another person's work, which is exactly what I blog about several times a month working for the Schoolhouse crew.  This course helps develop critical thinking skills and helps students learn to explain how they feel about something they've read, seen, or even used.  They learn to be descriptive in their writing by really telling about the product or subject.

Essay Rockstar Textual Analysis Writing Course from Fortuigence is available for $57 for the 7 lesson course.  Each lesson varies in length but follows the same format as I mentioned above.  The lessons are very thorough in covering the method step by step, one leading to another.  There are also various other writing courses available through Fortuigence for around the same price per course.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Preschoolers and Peace {Crew Review}

Preschoolers and Peace is a great company that helps those who are new to homeschooling, as well as those of us who are experienced homeschoolers.  They provide inspiration e-Books and tools for homeschooling with little ones at home and give Mom's that extra boost of confidence that is often needed during this stage of learning and life.  For this review, we were sent an e-Book copy of Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids with Success While Loving Little Ones At Your Feet.  This book is a must read for all Momma's with little ones.

Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids with Success While Loving Little Ones At Your Feet is just what a Homeschooling Momma needs.  This e-Book is 47 pages long, jam packed with ideas, tips and inspiration that speaks right to the homeschooling Momma's heart, where it is needed.  Each section is created especially to inspire Mom's like me and show that we can do this, even when we think we cannot.

This e-Book contains 13 chapters, a meal planning section, final word of encouragement and resources to use both for creating the book and suggestions for you to read through to inspire you as a Homeschooling Momma even more.  Chapters focus on things like What A Homeschooling Momma Needs, Circle Time with preschoolers, how to bring preschoolers into school time, How to Not Kill Time and how to incorporate preschoolers into day to day things like chores and learning.  All these things and so much more come together to show us how to make the most of this Homeschooling life we live.

I personally read through Preschoolers and Peace as a book to help myself.  I have three older children I am currently homeschooling and a two year old who is well beyond his age in maturity.  He's growing fast and sometimes we have a hard time keeping up with him.  It was my hope that through reading this e-Book, I'd refresh myself and gain some helpful tips from my reading.  I must say I was not disappointed in the suggestions given throughout this text or by the inspiration within the book.  It was a great read and left me ready to dive into this journey during this new stage of life: Homeschooling three of school-age with a young child by our side.

Some of the advice in the book are things we already try to do, so these things were nothing new but reading them in the book gave me the confidence to know that what I was already doing was the right thing for us.  There were other things that we weren't doing which we will be trying in the future as we continue to grow in learning with each other.  Having this book on hand these last few weeks has been really beneficial to our family.

I think my favorite section was the one on scheduling.  I often battle to keep a schedule and sometimes just give up.  Reading this section reassured me that it's okay to toss the schedule at any point and just start again if need be.  As kids grow so do we, and so do our schedules.  That's how it's supposed to be and so therefore, it's okay to just toss it out and start all over as our lives change.

There are a lot of other great ideas shared within this e-Book but to read them,  you will have to purchase it yourself.  Every Momma who has littles should get a copy for their home to read through and read again as your child grows.  You can purchase your copy of Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids with Success While Loving Little Ones At Your Feet for $2.99 online through the website at Preschoolers and Peace.  This is one e-Book that is definitely worth the price!

Don't forget to check out the Preschoolers and Peace website as well!  There you will find great inspiration through the blog to help you stay motivated in this homeschooling journey.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IEW: Fix It! Grammar {Crew Review}

For this review, we were given a copy of the Institute for Excellence in Writing's Fix It! Grammar.  We were allowed to choose which book we reviewed and I chose the first in this series for my children: Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree.  We received both the Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree  Teacher's manual and the Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree Student book for Book 1.  This is a 6 book series which sells online for $19 for the teacher's manual and $15 for the student book.  This program series is for students in 3rd grade and up.

IEW's Fix It! Grammar is one of the best programs I have used thus far.  The program is wonderfully thorough and so easy to use.  It was perfect for our homeschooling.

We have been looking for a great Grammar program to use for a while, especially for Emmalee.  She's a very independent learner and doesn't require or want a lot of instruction from the programs she uses.  So I had been searching for a program that would teach her exactly what she needs to know as quickly as she learns.  The program also needed to be somewhat adjustable and easy to pick up on because Emmalee wants to learn so quickly right now that instruction bores her and makes listening hard for her to do.  

With Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree, Book 1, I was able to give Emmalee a brief lesson on what she was learning and have her jump right into completing her lesson in the student workbook.  The Teacher's manual covered everything I needed to teach Emmalee how to use Fix It! Grammar and what we were learning about in the section we were working on.  It also helped that Emma is a great student and she loves learning which made the program flow a lot easier for us.  I would not have had the same results with my son, who does not learn as easily as his sister but this program is still great for him as well.

Students do need a binder for his program which will need to be purchased before they get started.  Within the binder should be dividers organized as Fix Its, Grammar Glossary, Rewrite, and Vocabulary.  Students should start their week out by reading through the "Learn It" section, being sure to cut out the weekly grammar cards that are located at the back of the student book.  I laminated these to make it easier to use and keep up with them since they are to be used for the year and beyond of learning through Fix It! Grammar.  The first few times we did the lessons, I helped by modeling the lesson on the dry erase board to show Emma exactly what was expected of her while using the program.  As I already mentioned, it did not take her long to catch on.

Emma enjoyed fixing the passages she read through.  She also enjoyed the interesting reading that was provided through some of the passages she edited.  She also enjoyed the rewrites for each lesson.  It made for great copy writing practice to help build her handwriting skills as well.

This was such a great program for her to use and just what she was needing for the stage of learning she is now in.  I've watched Emma blossom in her learning while working through Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Book these past few weeks and I love seeing the love of learning on her face.  It's the best feeling ever to have a product and know it's working so well for your child's learning skills.

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