Thursday, November 13, 2014

Out of the Box Games Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2014 #hsreviews #hsmommas #educationalgames

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Out of the Box Games Review

    Game time is family fun time in our house. We make a point of setting aside quality family time each week with family game night. So we are always on the lookout for new games to keep things fresh and fun. So when we were offered the opportunity to review a new game from Out of the Box Games called Snake Oil  and we just could not wait for it to arrive.

Out of the Box Games Review

             From the minute our box arrived the kids were intrigued by the name, they could not wait to sit down and play. I told them they had to wait to game night so I had a chance to look it over and read the directions. I was pleasantly surprised that the directions were very simple and there was nothing really to set up. There was some stacks of cards to unwrap and that is about it. I liked it already.  I read the pamphlet that had the directions for set up and game play as well as the alternative choices to play different ways to keep things interesting. I love it when a game can be played more than one way, it helps alleviate boredom especially in my big kids. The game is suggested for ages 10 and up. The game can be played with 3-10 players, so this is perfect for families of all sizes and great for a group of tweens and teens. The SRP is $19.95.  This game literally only takes a few minutes to learn and you can finish a game in 20-30 minutes. Snake Oil takes family game night to new levels. Racking up numerous awards for being an educational game you cannot help but want to add this to your board game collection.

Out of the Box Games Review
My teens sprawled out on the floor and got down to business, they loved that they did not need a table to play, there was no board to set up and they just simply had to deal out 6 cards a piece. 
Then one player needs to grab a customer card, they are fun "occupations" like dumpster diver and cheerleader.
Ashley explains the directions to the boys, Taylor was only slightly confused but after a quick round he caught on quickly.
This game is perfect for those kids that really need to loosen up and step out of their comfort zone, my Taylor is one of those kids. He is very serious by nature but this game makes it hard to stay serious. The customer has to be convinced to buy the wares that the other players create by adding to word cards together. Such items can be like a Banana Bottle, Animal Bomb, or a Muscle Closet.  The players have to "sell" their wares to the customer by any means possible. Begging and pleading are not completely ruled out. I have never heard my kids laugh this hard while playing a game. I could not help but laugh along with them and I wasn't even playing the first time so that I could snap my photos for my review. 
Alyx is looking pretty smug after scoring his first customer card for selling his "product" of a Computer Vest. 

                           Ashley could hardly contain herself as Taylor read off his choices for his occupation, he could either be a Diva or a Dumpster Diver. Oh My Gosh it was so funny.

                            Alyx is realizing he is most likely going to be the big winner at this game.

After a few hilarious rounds Alyx was declared the winner by racking up 10 customer cards. He was very convincing that the customer would need such items as a Bicycle Napkin, and Lava Brain. Oh my was it funny listening to them create their sales pitches. I honestly do not know what was funnier listening to them pitch their wares to the customers or listening to the customer groan about their choice in professions, My 16 yr olds first choice was being a Babysitter or a Cheerleader. It was nothing short of comical the entire game. The kids could not wait to invite some friends over to play and they cannot wait for their older brother to be home for Thanksgiving vacation from college to teach him to play, although I think they are secretly worried he may want to take the game back to school with him. I may just need to buy him his own game for Christmas. In fact we may be picking up a few of these for gift giving this Christmas Season. 

   Now how can you not want to run out and get a game of Snake Oil for your family after seeing how much fun my teens had playing this. Can you imagine having this much fun with your own family? You will have to see for yourself just how comical it can get. See how your salesman of your family shines as he convinces everyone that they just have to have a Carpet Coffin. It may surprise you who is the best at selling you something you know you do not need.

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Purposeful Design Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2014 #hsreviews #hsmommas

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Purposeful Design Review

We as a family love studying Science from a Creation standpoint, so we jumped at the chance to review the book Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation from Purposeful Design. This beautifully written and illustrated hardcover book can be purchased for $18.95 using paypal and there is a Free Bonus of the Young Explorers Club Curriculum and Teacher's Answer Key. This book was written by Jay Schabacker. Suitable for all ages.

Purposeful Design Review
We started off by reading this book during one of our family circle times and let me tell you we wanted to read it again after the first time, just in case we missed something! The Author takes you on an epic adventure through the 7 days of Creation. Each chapter tells the facts of what was created on each day. 
Chapter 1 – The First Day: Creation of the Heavens and the Earth, the Foundation of it All 
Chapter 2 – The Second Day: Creation of the Atmosphere and Water 
Chapter 3 – The Third Day: Creation of the Dry Land and Vegetation 
Chapter 4 – The Fourth Day: Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Stars 
Chapter 5 -  The Fifth Day: Creation of the Birds and Fish 
Chapter 6 -  Creation Day Six: Creation of Land Creatures and Humans 
Chapter 7 – The Seventh Day 
Even the most complex of explanations are written so that even the youngest readers can comprehend.  Topics such as animal instincts, the Orbit of the Moon, and Human Cells. Jay takes on a journey to explain all of the features of our Earth and how it came to be so that we can exist on this amazing planet we call Earth. 

After you read the book the learning does not stop there... You can download your personal copies of the Young Explorer Club Curriculum and Teacher's Answer Key. This is all free with your purchase of the book. This is a workbook for children that are able to write or relay the answers to a parent that can write them in for the child. It is set up in a workbook format and is perfect for printing out and punching it with a 3 hole punch and putting it into a binder, which is what we did with this. This would make for a great companion Bible Study for all students elementary and up. 

As you go through the workbook there are several pages of questions for each day of Creation. These questions are made to have your child stretch their thinking and really put their heart into the answers. If they get stuck on a question this is a great opportunity to sit and discuss what they are thinking and feeling. I was amazed at the amount of quality conversation my family reaped from reading this book and doing the workbook. I love how it truly makes us stop and think about everything that God created in this Universe and how amazing the detail is in his Purposeful Design. He truly is a talented and gifted creator our God! 

These questions dive deeper into the Bible, asking things such as favorite quotes from different verses and if they want to turn those quotes into memory verses. 
Just think if it were not for the first day of Creation we would not have our Heavens and our Earth, where would we live or would we even be? What about day 2? Can you imagine life without water? 
Heading into day 3 the discussion and comprehension questions chat about dry land and vegetation. How would we farm without it? Day 4 talks of Sun, Moon and Stars. How would we know Day from Night without these things, how would we get warmth without sun? Day 5. the birds and the fish. Day 6, Land Creatures and Humans, that's US. We would not be here if there had never been Day 6 of Creation! What if any world would this be? 
Day 7 on the final day of Creation God blessed all he had created and made it Holy. 
Each of the days activities are set up in the exact same manner, and while this is good in some ways the boys did find it a tad monotonous. There are discussion questions, and then a test of comprehension, such as fill in the blanks and such. Then there are scripture verses that coincide with that day of Creation, Then there are some more exercises that really make you think and stretch your mind.  Then there was my favorite part, the closing prayer as a family and what you should pray that day. It always made for a nice ending to that day's lesson. 

All in all I highly recommend the book Purposeful Design Understanding the Creation, and the accompanying curriculum. It is a great family activity or Bible study for your homeschool. This would make a great Christmas gift or gift for any occasion for that special someone or hard to buy for person on your list. So head over and buy a copy or two or three today!! 
Be sure to visit all of the social media links below as well as the crew banner to read all of the reviews. 

Blog: www.Jayschabacker.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaySchabackerAuthor

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

LinkedIn: Jayschab

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

ALMOST Wordless Wednesday Craft Momma

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I had an opportunity to go crafting for the day with a friend on Monday and I had so much fun...
Turkey candy bar holders.
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A card for someone special
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A new sign for our classroom, I am going to frame it.
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A sign to be framed for our Kitchen, which is a coffee theme.
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IXL Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2014 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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Christmas Book Review


       Do you have more than one child that you homeschool? Does a child in your homeschool struggle with Math or Language Arts or strives to work harder with small, fun, positive reinforcements? If you have answered yes to any of these questions then this may be the review for you. Schoolhouse Review Crew members were given a one year subscription for a family membership for IXL. There is online Math that is a great subsidy to any core Math curriculum. IXL is designed to offer state standards and common core aligned math practice skills for grades PreK-12  and comes packed full of practice drills and gives positive reinforcement to children with virtual rewards that you can print out and save for your child. They have also have added grades to their online Language Arts making it now for grades 2nd-8th grades and additional grades up to 10th grade coming soon. A subscription to IXL is $9.95 for math only, $9.95 for language arts only, or $15.95 a month for both. If you purchase a yearly subscription it is $79.00 for either math or language arts, and $129.00 a year for both subjects. Each additional child is only $2 per month, or $20 per year.There are additional options for pricing as well. You can see them all when you visit IXL.COM

  After you create your parent account you can add your students, here you can pick an avatar for each user and a secret code word for them to use when they login to their account. Everything is done from the main account and then each user whether it be student or teacher has a secret code word to access their specific area. The iPad app which I will be using screen shots from for purpose of showing how this all works automatically takes you to this page to then pick which user is logging in and then putting in their secret word.

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         Taylor has always struggled with Math, while Math comes somewhat easy to his older siblings. We are always changing things up for Taylor to keep him motivated and so he does not get bored. I think this is why he struggled more with Math in public school, everything was always the same. Changing things for him has helped tremendously. We have found his core Math curriculum that is working and I always say if it is not broke don't fix it. However we are always looking for add on programs to help with drills and memorization. Taylor has trouble conquering core concepts and we need to be constantly working on keeping the facts fresh in his mind but at the same time we try to keep it light and fun. IXL does just that with fun graphics and virtual rewards that I can print out and put in Taylor's portfolio. He just beams with pride when given small rewards for his efforts and a program that can aid in making learning stress free and fun earns an A+ in my book.

 The new Apps, Android or iOS that come with your subscription really helped bring learning on the go. So you can definitely make learning as portable as possible.  Programs like IXL are just the kind of Math that helps build on concepts that the kids learn with their core curriculum. I had Taylor focus on Consumer Math, which is a concept he struggles with. You know the kind. how much money do I need if I want to buy a pizza and a pop. I just want him to be able to really grasp these concepts without having to put much thought into it. Programs like IXL help keep these math concepts in the front of Taylor's brain while not bogging down our class time going over it over and over. IXL allows us to move forward with our main math curriculum while Taylor gets practice on things he has already learned but needs to master. IXL can be done anytime Taylor has free time, whether it is at night or in the car with the iPad. 20 minutes a day is really all it takes. A few days a week or everyday. The positive reinforcements help keep him motivated to keep plugging along.

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Taylor likes how you can work out the problem right on the screen using some writing and erasing tools.

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  We started with 8th grade Math for Taylor and used some Algebra I as well,  while he is in 10th grade and we are working on 10th grade math in our core math class I wanted him to feel successful and to gain mastery not frustration. He has the ability to move up or down in grade levels and concepts as he gains confidence and mastery. This makes IXL the perfect add on program as it grows with your children.  The program gains a feel for where your child has strengths and weaknesses. I do not have to do anything except check his progress from the parent portal.

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Taylor enjoyed getting his virtual rewards and I was pleased with being able to log on and see at any point how his progress was improving and with weekly emails I felt I was always in the know with how he was doing. This is a win win situation for our homeschool.
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   Alyx is blessed to have Math come pretty easy to him and as an 11th grader is working at or above grade level in his Math. I was pleased to see that IXL had stepped up their programming to reach far into 12th grade, where they used to stop Algebra II, they now go into Pre Calculus.  He did however focus on Geometry for the most part since that is what he is working on this year as well as Algebra II, this helped to fill in some gaps where maybe he did not have complete mastery of what he has been learning in his core math program. This made it enjoyable for Alyx not to work below his capabilities but to push himself a little farther. He likes to be challenged opposite of Taylor who likes it as stress free as possible. Alyx is not as hard to motivate so the things that Taylor likes about IXL do not really impress Alyx. He however does like how he can move through the system at his own pace and his work continual gets harder as he masters sections. This is motivation enough for him. Alyx was impressed with the improvements that have been made to the program as well as the ease of use of the iPad App. He likes being able to work on programs like this at all hours of the day and evening. He is a night owl and works well late at night. This is a valuable tool for night time learning.
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   Alyx liked working the sections on Hypothesis and Conclusions...
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  When they get the problem right they move onto the next problem, but when they get it right they are given not only the right answer but why the answer is what it is. This is very helpful for the boys to learn from their mistakes.
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   So you see IXL is great for students on all skill levels whether they need to drill the skills their core curriculum has taught them or if they want to push themselves out of their comfort zones. While this program is truly not meant to teach but to be an add on to your core math program, your students can push further into higher levels like Alyx and if they have their basic concepts could quite easily accomplish some of the higher levels. The only frustration Alyx had by moving ahead into territories he was not fully confident in, when you get several problems wrong, the program senses that and gives you more problems before you can complete the section.

  We did not use the Language Arts area of IXL as my boys are well past their reach of 2-8 grades, I did glance at it and I think it would be beneficial for students in those grade ranges, or if you have a child older that may struggle in the Language Arts areas. So be sure to check out the other crew reviews to learn more about the IXL Language Arts.

   IXL makes it easy to be in the know at all times for both the student and the parent by always keeping up with the progress of the student. I also thought that not having to pinpoint ahead of time the level that your child is on and being able to try out all levels to find the prefect fit for them. Most companies make you pick the level upon signing up and IXL does not do that all levels Pre-K through 12th are available to you at all times. You can chose 2 different subscription options at sign up. You can pay by the month, for instance if you just want to use it for the Summer as a refresher course or a whole year, like we received.  While we are using the higher Middle School areas and  High School areas of  IXL many of the crew members have kids at all different levels, be sure to check out their reviews to see what they thought and how they used IXL in their homeschool.
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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Happy 15th Birthday Taylor

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  It is so hard to believe that our baby, Taylor turned 15 today, the day he was born was one of the scariest of our lives. He came at 30 weeks and 2 days and stayed several weeks in the NICU for complications due to his prematurity. To say my pregnancy with him was turbulent would be an understatement. 2 prenatal surgeries as well as a c-section the day he was born. We call him the million dollar baby and that is the truth. Thank GOD for good insurance. From my first prenatal appointment to the day he was released from NICU his bills totaled more than 1 million dollars. He loves hearing that story. We say his feisty personality is because he struggled so hard just to make it to us happy and healthy. He was our surprise baby, that made our household 3 boys under 3 for a few short weeks. From Taylor's Birthday on November 8th until his oldest brother's birthday on December 4th the boys are now 15, 16 and 17. Wow I can hardly believe I survived them all being little at the same time... but everyone was right it did get easier with time and I would not trade the experiences we have had for anything in the world. So Happy Birthday to my Million Dollar boy. I love you to the moon and back and I am proud of the fine young man you are becoming, you astound me with your vast knowledge of technology everyday. It is simply amazing, your mind is like a sponge.
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Thursday, November 6, 2014

If He Had Not Come Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2014 #hsmommas #hsreviews #christmasstory

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Do you love Christmas? True Christmas? Teaching your children what this glorious holiday's true meaning is? I am always on the hunt for new ways to bring the heart of Christmas into our home. So I was so excited to have the opportunity to review a classic Christmas story that has been reintroduced to us for our current generation by David Nicholson. This beautiful detailed book is called If He Had Not Come. 

Christmas Book Review

This hardcover book is best suited for ages 6 and up but I believe that everyone in the family can get enjoyment out of family reading time. This is a special time that we have always enjoyed since the boys were born, and to this day even as teens we still have family reading time. I think this is a crucial bonding time between family members. We are huge reading proponents in our family, you remember my post about my son's Little Free Library? I want to believe that my children's strong love of books is due to the fact that we have always set aside time to read as a family since day 1. 

Now for this story which is fabulously illustrated and written, you can probably tell by the title, If He Had Not Come what it is about but I am here to fill you in so that you can see why this book is a must have for your family this Christmas season. 

Let us start with who is David Nicholson, he is a retired teacher and a short term missionary. He currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with his wife, and they together have 2 married children and 2 grandchildren. When his children were small, David read the story originally written by Nan F. Weeks. It was originally printed in 1938 as part of an anthology, Christ in the Fine Arts, by Cynthia Maus. After 55 years David has brought this timeless tale into the new generation with classic illustrations to retell the story. 
Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if there was no Jesus? I know I have, but am thankful we do not have to live in that reality as.

The story is about Bobby, a young boy who on Christmas Eve while waiting to open his presents on Christmas morning drifts off into a world that seemed somewhat familiar but soon he realizes that many of the things he has come to know in his life are missing. The church, the hospital, the homeless shelter, even the children's home or what we know as an orphanage. How can this be? Where are all the landmarks that he has come to know and depend on? 
Nobody knows that it's Christmas, there are no decorations or Christmas cheer, just a sad, dark world. As he travels through his town everything he has come to know is replaced with the word If He Had Not Come. He is so confused and saddened by all of this, why does everyone not know what Christmas is, He returns home and opens his bible and to his shock, the entire New Testament was missing and in it's place those same dreaded words If He Had Not Come. Suddenly Bobby wakes and all of the illustrations in the book become bright and vivid, illustrating the light of the world Jesus Christ is back again. I think this was a great way to signify what a dark world this would be without the light of christ in our lives. 
This realization makes Bobby thank Jesus for coming to the world and vows to do everything he can to always please Jesus. 

One added bonus besides the story that will leave your family feeling thankfulness and hope and so many other emotions that are hard to put into words is that there are discussion and interactive questions and topic starters in the back of the book. This will help expand on the story with your family and help them put their thoughts into words as they think about the story and what the world would be like If He Had Not Come. I know that my boys first reaction was that they are thankful that we do not have to experience a world like that, a world without Jesus. 

The book ends with the ABC's of the Gospel and asks if anyone would like to accept Christ as their Savior. This is a great book to help bring people to Jesus as well as those who already have accepted him into their lives. This is also a great way to refresh your faith as you travel along with Bobby in a world without Jesus and the light he brings to the world. You will rejoice right along with him when he awakes and realizes it was all just a horrible dream. 
My family enjoyed this and were thankful for the interactive discussion questions to help us sort out all of the feelings the book left us with. We will be sharing this book with others this Christmas season. What better gift to give than Jesus. Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and add this wonderful book to your Christmas celebrations. Visit the facebook page by clicking below of head to the website right now and buy your very own copy for just $18.95 for the 8 1/2 x 11 x casebound hardcover like the one we received or the ebook for just $3.99

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/If-He-Had-Not-Come/1543755249189773?ref=tn_tnmn
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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fascinating Education Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2014 #hsreviews #hsmommas #HSscience

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Fascinating Education Review
 Science is a big part of our school day around here, the boys have two favorite subjects and Science is one of those. History is the other. The Schoolhouse Review Crew was offered a choice of one of the three Science courses from Fascinating Education. We chose Fascinating Biology to help fill in some of the gap for the boys. We are carefully monitoring what they are completing now that they are in High School. The courses offered are for high school, although some middle school students as young as 6th grade could do the Biology and Chemistry courses.

Fascinating Education Review
   Fascinating Education suggests starting with Fascinating Chemistry and then moving onto Biology and then finishing with Physics but we chose to work out of their suggested sequence since we are using both Biology and Chemistry in our homeschool this year. So my boys have a basic understanding or better of Chemistry and we have gotten through more than half way into their Biology book. I wanted this to serve as more of a refresher and maybe fill in a gap or two that our main book is not covering. Being completely online, programs like Fascinating Biology work great for the boys busy schedules this year, this allows them to work independently as their schedule allows. This helps me not to have to spend so much time juggling schedules to sit down with both of them at the same time. This in turn opens up more time to focus on other subjects that require our combined attention.

    The photo below shows how the site is set up each lesson has buttons underneath. There is a button for lessons, the script and the test. Most tests are only on one lesson but occasionally there may be a test that covers more than one lesson. Each lesson is accompanied by a script and a quiz. The quiz and answer key can be printed in pdf format under a separate login for the parent/teacher. My kids preferred to take the quizzes online, this way they received instant feedback when they were finished and if they did not obtain a passing score of 80% or better they could retake the quiz. The quizzes are all multiple choice so it is fairly straight forward.They could also review their quiz and in this process they were shown the right answers. Usually my kids passed on the first try. Even if they passed they could still choose to review their answers or retake for a better score. The website does not retain and scores but you can print out the page at the end that shows the score.

 There are no labs that are associated with the courses, so in my eyes I cannot count this as a full Biology credit on it's own, but when I pair it with out current curriculum I can rest easy knowing that they truly completed more than enough for a full credit. This of course is all dependent on what you count as a credit. My oldest wants to go to a pretty prestigious college and with that we need to be diligent that he has more than fulfilled the requirements our state requires for graduation. This is of course would all depend on what your states requirements are and where your child plans on going after homeschool high school graduation.

Fascinating Education Review

The boys used this 3-4 days a week spending about a half hour each session and while they liked it they prefer hands on science so this was not their favorite source for Science. They like doing the labs and projects more than book or computer work. I however felt it served a purpose of review and fill in that they were otherwise lacking. So while my teens were not thrilled with the program, I think it is a great for what we used it for or for the student who is not a hands on learner and prefers to just get it done. Biology as well as Chemistry and Physics from Fascinating Education all run $79 for a full year's access. Biology has 19 lessons in all. You can also get 2 courses for $125 for a full year and all 3 courses for 2 years for $175. That is a fantastic deal for all you get. Be sure to check out the website for all the details and a sample lesson. You can also see a course outline.

Fascinating Education Review
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