Friday, July 31, 2015

With Lee in Viginia Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsreviews #hsmommas

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Our family loves to listen to Audio Dramas, it has become a treasured family event in our home during our family Circle Time. So when we were offered a selection from Heirloom Audio Productions called With Lee in Virginia, The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty. This is the story of General Robert E. Lee and his adventures in the Civil War.
With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review
My boys love learning as much as they can and experiencing the wars in History any way they can but they are especially fond of Audio dramas as they bring these stories to life so to speak. 

This beautifully packaged 2 CD set comes with a couple bonus features, like the E-study guide which offers you a full study of a Christian stand point on the story as well as discussion questions on how your kids and family can incorporate the lessons into their daily lives and what they learned in the audio drama. You also get the MP3 Soundtrack download. The bonuses just enhance the already powerful audio drama and you can get all of them and the physical 2 disc set for $29.95 This is truly suitable for the whole family, with recommended ages of 6 and up.

I can tell you I was impressed from the minute we downloaded the study guide.  Everything is carefully thought out and comes across so beautifully. We enjoyed listening to the adventures and hearing the story of G.A. Genty. We chose to do this as a family over several nights. We used the included study guide and the 3 main principles, Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Words. After we got through all of the discussion questions there were then 3 Bible stories that tie into the story that help you dive in deeper to the Godly Character we all want to possess. At the end there is a Biography of General Robert E. Lee, a Bibliography and a recommended reading list for folks with older kids like me, with my boys going into 11th and 12th grade I am always looking to take a study and go further with it, making it more meaty as I like to put it. This allows you to step further and do a study on General Robert E. Lee. The boys are gaining more than a History lesson, they are getting a solid foundation of Godly Character training. I am in love with this Audio Drama. This is the 3rd one in their series and this definitely does not disappoint. Over 2 and half hours of non stop adventure, you get the feeling you are right there in the middle of the Civil War.

Sometimes you listen to an audio drama and then you never really give it another thought!  After listening to both CDS that give you so much listening entertainment, and then being able to use the accompanying study guides this is definitely a complete package and  is not one of those listen and leave kind of adventures.  This will have your family and children talking and learning for a long time to come. This is a not only an adventure to captivate audiences but it is one that teaches and touches on Godly Character and our purpose in life. I know that this is something I have pounded into my kids and it was a nice break from the normal Bible Study and Character trait training we are used to. They seemed to really hang on every length of this adventure and want to hear more.

 I am a Mom who hated History as a kid in school, but I have found a new love for it in our homeschool partly because of my boys' passion for History and their enthusiasm is contagious especially when we incorporate add ons to our curriculum, such as these audio adventures like With Lee in Virginia from Heirloom Audio Productions. It is hard not to submerse yourself into the action when you can hear the story from some of your favorite actors.

  This was especially interesting to me as two of my favorite actors that I grew up loving who have turned to Christian acting roles were some of the voices in this story, such as Kirk Cameron who plays General Stonewall Jackson and Sean Astin, as General Jeb Stuart. My boys were excited when one of their favorite voices from the Adventures in Odyssey series came to life in With Lee in Virginia, Chris Anthony, she plays Mary Lee. These types of stories are always fun to listen to, but when you can visualize a character and relate to them it is even more exciting. There are many other characters as well but these were definitely our favorites.

 We broke the CD up into 20 minute segments, so we could truly grasp what we had heard and learned in smaller chunks. After we completed the whole 2 CD set we went back through it and listened to it all at once. We picked up on things we missed the first time and this led to even more discussion. We cannot wait to tell our friends about this, and I am thinking this would be a perfect class for our older kids at our homeschool co-op. There are larger kits available at a discounted price that are great for group learning and even youth group bible study.

Be sure to check out the Facebook page below as well as click the link for the other reviews from the crew to see how their families enjoyed With Lee in Virginia.

With Lee In Virginia (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/WithLeeInVirginia
Heirloom Audio Productions (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/heirloomaudio
Heirloom Audio Productions (Google+): https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/114534826166314080647/114534826166314080647
Heirloom Audio Productions (Twitter): https://twitter.com/HeirloomStories

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review
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Friday, July 24, 2015

SimplyFun Educational Games Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsreviews #hsmommas

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Simply Fun Review

   Finding educational games for my older kids is sometimes a challenge, especially Math based games. We love using games to add some fun and healthy competition to our school days as well as add some learning into family game night. So when I was offered an opportunity to review a game from SimplyFun, I chose Shape Whiz that centers around Geometry concepts. Alyx is finishing up with Geometry and Taylor will be starting it this year but still has basic knowledge of it from previous years of Math. So I felt this would be both challenging and engaging for all of us.
Simply Fun Review

   Shape Whiz is geared for folks 10 years and older, perfect for older kids and parents alike. It sells for $24.00 and I love that it is a BIG game in a SMALL box so it does not take up a great amount of shelf space, something we always seem to be lacking. Our family is definitely a little competitive when it comes to games and we are especially fond of games that have a think fast element to them, helps to keep us on our toes and paying attention to the game.

  Focusing on 2D Geometry, Shape Measurements and Math Symbols this is both a great refresher and a reinforcement of skills learned. One of the things I liked most was that the games are short. Running 10-15 minutes we could throw a game or two in throughout or lessons to break things up. One thing my kids hate are games that drag on so this was a win-win for us all. There is no board to have to set up, just 2 decks of cards. So easy set up, short play time and fast clean up. I loved it before we even got started.
Simply Fun Review
Being that there is 2 levels of game play made it helpful to start with the basic shapes the first few times we played it so we could all get the hang of it and then after a few times we changed it up and made it a bit more challenging by adding the cards with more complex shapes on them. This kept the game interesting an added a bit of a challenging component to it. By starting with the basic shapes cards only it helped keep Taylor's frustration level down and that way he did not give up so easy and not want to play. He tends to give up before he even gets a feel for things if he feels they are going to be too hard. So I appreciated that there were two levels for game play to help avoid his frustrations. 
Each of us got 8 shape cards for the basic shapes version and 15 when we added both sets together for the more complex version. We then flipped over 3 of our cards in front of us so everyone could see. Alyx always started us out because he is our Math Whiz. He flips the Whiz card over and then we raced to see which of us had a shape card facing up to answer the question of the Whiz card. This can get kind of crazy as everyone goes to grab the right card at the same time. once one of us found a shape card that we thought was the winner it was then time for everyone else to chime in if they thought we were correct. This got interesting a few times as the boys love to just prove each other wrong. 
The boys loved to challenge each other and of course me, to prove that we had the wrong answer, it often backfired on them and they realized we really are smarter than then he thought. It was pretty funny when I would win. They forget I am their teacher therefor I know more than they think. 
After several rounds of fast paced play, the one of us who managed to get rid of our shape stack won! It did take a few rounds to truly get the hang of how it works but once we figured it out we play often as it is SimplyFun and simply quick. A great way to break up the monotony of our school work and have some healthy family competition. It is nice because so you only need a minimum of 2 players so if I need to take a break to check on Grandma or take a phone call the boys can play against each other without me. On the other hand we can play with 4 players and include Dad or my oldest son in the fun as well. I am fond of games with versatility and this is definitely at the top of my favorites, with 2 levels of play and the ability to play with 2 players or more, makes this a game that can be played in many circumstances and you definitely get your money's worth.
The step by step full color direction booklet was so helpful and made learning the game and setting it up a simple process, The principles of Geometry pages in the back helped when we got stuck on a Whiz question. 
It is small enough to take with us up to camp and not take up a large amount of space in our camper cupboards and fits well on our bookshelves of games at home in the classroom. We have had so much fun with this I am definitely going to be looking into some of the other games that SimplyFun has to offer. If they are have as fun and easy as Shape Whiz it is bound to be a fun, educational investment. 
Please click the social media links to follow SimplyFun on the web and be sure to click the banner below to read all of the crew reviews, some of us got Shape Whiz and others received a game called Expanders.  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simplyfun
Twitter: https://twitter.com/simplyfun
Instagram: https://instagram.com/simplyfun/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/simplyfun/

Simply Fun Review

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Prasso Ministries TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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Teen Prasso Review
I am always on the hunt for Bible studies that are focused on my teens. There are so many for little kids and adults but often the teens get overlooked. Prasso Ministries has the answer to teen Bible study with Teen Prasso Teacher’s Manual and Teen Prasso Homework Manual.

We received both the Teacher's Manual and Student Homework Manual. We set our schedule to work on this Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. Our first order of business was to discuss the word Prasso! Prasso is the Greek word that means to repeatedly, continually, and habitually practice. Quite fitting when matching it with a Bible Study, don't you think? 
Love that the books are spiral bound, books that lay flat are our favorite. Nothing like trying to hold your book open while flipping though your Bible and then it closes on you. The book is set up into 13 lessons. We did the lessons on Mondays,Wednesdays and Friday . One of the things that I love is how each day is laid out for you. Day one, and so on,  so you know exactly what to work on each day. The text font chosen is perfect for teens along with the pictures, you can tell these books were designed with teens at the center of the whole thought process. Made to be engaging and not boring, the material pulls the teens in and helps keep their attention. There is a fictional story woven throughout the entire book, all 13 chapters full of lessons that can be used in daily life experiences. Some of the topics that are covered are... God's Love, anger, pressure, the enemy's lies and pride. There are other topics covered as well and one of the chapters focuses on making God's word a habit in our daily lives. Good habits are something I definitely want my teens to have. 
Teen Prasso Review
The student manual is more of a square shaped book, There are homework questions such as writing out certain Bible verses and then a discussion question about what the teen learned from that verse. Questions about God's power and knowledge and what this means to them. All of the lessons are written in a way that it helps teens put them in perspective and relation to their own lives. Like Chapter 4: It's All- Out War! Starting out the lesson by saying what if you knew that your house was going to be broken into tonight, you would arm yourself for battle, it then goes onto put that in relation to the enemy of our Faith. That really helps teens to think things through more clearly when they can align it with something that could happen in the hear and now. 
At the end of each chapter there is a Rethink page. Here the teens write a verse or thought for each of the previous days. Then the last page are group discussion questions. We used these for family discussion time, either at the dinner table or our weekly family circle time. This created a wonderful opportunity to really discuss the Bible and what they had learned in that chapter in the Bible study. 
I sometimes have a hard time getting the boys to express themselves and this truly helped open the floodgates of conversation in our home in a positive way. 
Teen Prasso Review
The Teacher's Guide is a full size spiral notebook style with an introduction on how to use the material in conjunction with the student homework journal and how to teach the materials in an effective manner. There are also instructions for group discussion leaders and how to deal with certain personality types that might come up while going through the study and how to manage those personalities in a positive way. This is helpful for home as well, as you never know the feelings that Bible studies such as this will stir up. In the Teacher's Manual is where the story is, We as a family read the story out loud. This was a wonderful family bonding experience.  On the side there are teaching tips. There are Message sections intertwined within the story as well, giving opportunity for prayer as well as focusing on key Bible verses. There is a message goal in the beginning that will give you direction of what the focus should be as well as a Key verse. This is all very teacher friendly with not much work on your part. You just follow along and it walks you through step by step. As my kids get older I find I prefer this style of teaching so much more, as life is just busy and this allows me to focus on other things instead of lesson planning per se. 
All in all we have been blessed by this opportunity to review this teen centered Bible study. It has opened the door for great in depth discussions as a family unit. My boys have been vigilant in their study of God's word as have I. It has refocused my attentions on repetition of God's Word and how it helps to keep us focused and grounded in our Faith Journey. We look forward to finishing this up by the beginning of Fall. Now to figure out what to do next when it is finished. 
Please visit the Prasso Ministries' Facebook page below as well as click on the link below to read all of the crew reviews. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PrassoMinistries?fref=ts
Prasso Ministries Review

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

CursiveLogic TOS Review Crew Review 2015 #hsmommas #hsreviews

Pin It Now!      I get very excited when I get to bring you a review of a new product by a new company, as many of you have probably never heard of it. Even better is when it is a curriculum best kept secret that screams "tell everyone about me!" This is the case with CursiveLogic and their CursiveLogic Workbook.

   One thing that has baffled me was the fact that my boys were never taught cursive while they were in public school, We pulled them out in 5th and 6th grades respectively. I remember learning cursive in 2nd grade. You remember Handwriting class? I remember getting marked down for not having the correct slant and form. So my boys learning cursive has been put on me. We have used some curriculum here and there but Taylor my youngest still seems to struggle. Now I was not entirely sure if it was his lack of understanding or his poor fine motor skills due to his Asperger's Syndrome. One thing I knew I was not going to give up trying.

   I was excited for the opportunity to review a writing curriculum that I had not heard of nor had my homeschooling friends. Why? Well simply put I did not want to have a preconceived notion one way or the other.

   So fast forward to the day it arrived, a brightly colored spiral bound notebook. Engaging looking, hopefully Taylor would take the bait. Much to my surprise he did, the thing about Taylor is he wants to be able to do it but just gets so frustrated and that steals his confidence away. So I think he is in the same boat as I, in the fact that he wants to try just about anything so he can master this cursive writing.

  So with Taylor on board and him knowing he only needed to do this 2-3 days per week, we began the CursiveLogic curriculum. He spent 30 minutes to 1 hour, on average 3 days per week and the results showed after just the first day. It propelled him to keep with it and continue using it. There are some unique key features to CursiveLogic that I want to emphasize...

1. Letters grouped by shape: Four basic shapes make up the entire alphabet. CursiveLogic teaches all of the
similar letters in one lesson, greatly simplifying the learning process.

2.Letter strings: Rather than teaching letters individually, CursiveLogic teaches all of the letters that share a common shape in a connected string. This allows the letters to reinforce each other and means students are writing cursively from the very beginning.

3.Color coding: Each letter string has a theme color that helps students remember the shape.

4. Catch phrases: CursiveLogic uses “verbal task analysis,” or saying an action verbally as it is performed manually, to aid the development of muscle memory and to give students a mnemonic they can return to
over and over.

5. Real words: Because CursiveLogic teaches a group of letters in a single lesson, students can write real
words at the end of the first lesson. For some students, this immediate success is a huge motivator.

  It is truly amazing how using these key components allows a child even with poor fine motor skills the opportunity to be successful. Taylor following the easy steps and using the tools that were provided to him in his CursiveLogic notebook really helped set the tone for the experience he had and I am excited to say I think he finally has the swing of things. He has not mastered it yet but I can see a huge improvement, meaning I can read what he is writing and not have to ask him to translate and in my book that is HUGE!

   I hated when I would have to ask him to decipher his words in the past and sometimes he did not even know what he had written. It did not help his self esteem at all. It made him angry and combative about any type of writing assignment that was not done on the computer.

  Now I see him happily completing his handwriting assignments and coming to me with pride that he and I can both read his legible handwriting. I have loved every minute of it as I am sure he has too.
The investment of $29.00 is small and it will reward you and your student tenfold when you begin it all the way to finishing it. This is appropriate for children and adults alike. From the beginning stages of writing, or maybe perfecting your strokes to the folks that struggle with disabilities that it make task like handwriting very difficult. There are so many different types of folks that could benefit from this single program. It truly amazed me and my son and I pray it can do the same for you and your student or students as well.

Be sure to click the banner below to read all of the crew reviews and also click on the links below so that you can visit the social media pages for CursiveLogic.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/cursivelogic
Facebook: http://facebook.com/ilovecursive
Instagram: http://instagram.com/cursivelogic

CursiveLogic Review
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