Friday, October 30, 2015

Bible Love

I am a sucker for a cute Bible, I have a hole collection of Bibles actually. Now that the girls are getting older I have been looking at bibles for them. A few weeks a go I got the opportunity to check out a new bible designed for the tween aged girl. Its called Faithgirlz Bible its another great zondervan product. You can find it here  It sells for about $39.99 and it is a complete NIV bible.

The unique thing about this bible is the cool cover. Its shiny for one thing, it has that adorable owl on the cover and get this its got a magnetic closure. I love the magnetic flap it just sticks shut and they don't risk wrinkling up the pages. Because lets face it kids are not gentle and they have a tendency to toss there books into their backpacks. Its got some great features inside to help them understand themselves and the the scripture a bit better. The in-text features are written by Nancy Rue.

Some of my favorite Features are:
Book introductions: this tells you the who what and why of each book.
Bring it On!: are quizzes to help them with their understanding.
Words to live by: are verses that are perfect for memorizing.
Oh I Get it: is the feature that helps you answer all those questions you have always had.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this bible in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. no was I compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own or that of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Standard Deviants Accelerate

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Hotrod Girl is trying out a new computer based learning program, The vendor is  Standard Deviants Accelerate  and we were given access to there Homeschool Courses for a year we will be using the arithmetic class. You can check it out at hadn't heard of this one tell it came up for review on the crew. It is a video rich online learning system. It has different classes for grades 3 to 11. Standard Deviants Accelerate or SDA as Hotrod girls is calling it. Is an accelerated learning program that uses accelerated learning techniques to help a child learn at a faster rate. I am going to recommend you visit the site and read about the accelerated learning technique as they explain how it works far better than I ever could.  

What I can tell you is how well it is working for Hotrod girl. She is only in third grade so most of the classes were above her level. But we got to try out one of the math classes. She struggles a bit with math and I am always eager to try something new. For us accelerated learning is a new concept and I though it might help her out.

Standard Deviants Accelerate ReviewI had a bit of trouble getting started with the program. I used my account to enrolled her in the arithmetic class, but I didn't realize that I had to give her a separate log in with her own email. Once I figured that out with some great help from customer service we were ready to go. (customer service is very fast)  I started her on the arithmetic class which is geared for grades 3+ or ages 6 and up. It is designed to teach children all the basics of math so that they have a solid foundation to move on to the next level.

She logs in on her own, I have the email and password she needs to use written down for her. One she logs in it shows the classes that she is enrolled in, for her it just shows arithmetic. She clicks on the class and down below it, it shows a list of the areas that she need to complete. I had her start with addition/subtraction and area she was already comfortable with. Since we are trying to build up her math confidence, I wanted her to start with something I knew she would do well with. So she would look to where is says addition/subtraction then it gives her lessons below it ending with a review/quiz. Once she clicks on a lesson it gives her a video lesson. Then it offers some other selections across the top. There is a vocabulary tab with all the vocab used and the definitions,  A diagram area which is like practice problems. There is a Quiz tab and an written answer tab. We have not used the written answers tab yet.  The vocabulary has been very handy for her to use as a reference point.

She says she likes the videos and that they are easier to understand. She also likes that they are short and to the point. I like that when she takes the quiz for that lesson if she gets one wrong a little arrow pops up that says see video. She can click this arrow and a video opens to show her how to do the problem correctly. It also gives her the option to re-take the quiz and print the quiz. I love that the program is showing her how to do it correctly and not leaving her to figure it out on her own. Its a big help when I am working with snoopy so that she doesn't have to completely stop working to wait for me to come help her. It gives her the opportunity to try listening to the explanation again then if she is still having trouble she gets me and we work through it together.

For teachers there is an administrative tool box where you can view grades, grade written assignments, edit the rubric, and see progress reports.  The progress reports were a little tricky to get at first. It showed me a a pie graph of sorts broken down into different areas: subject review, act it out, written responses and text/quizzes. You click one of these areas and it brings up the child's grading for each area.  We mostly just use the text/quiz area it shows the class the lesson weather it was quiz a pre-test or post-test and then the actual grade for the test/quiz. Of course everything is printable which is great for portfolios.

While SDA arithmetic is a good program and she likes the explanations and GETS them. We are having to supplement some because it just doesn't give her quite enough practice. I can see the other classes being great for middle to high school students.

Some of the other Crew members used different classes in SDA and I really want to encourage everyone to check out what they have to say about them. It will give you a great idea how the classes we were unable to try work. 

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

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Mommy Breakfast surprise!

Look what Hotrod girl made me for breakfast. 

just had to shair how amazing and thoughtful my girls are becoming.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner Review

Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner
Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner

Presenting the The Ultimate Homeschool Planner from Apologia Educational Ministries I started home schooling about 4 years a go. Since that very first day I have been on the constant look out for the perfect homeschool planner. I have decided that there probably is not any one perfect planner. That is because every family needs get something different out of there planner, but thankfully there are options. For me the Ultimate Homeschool Planner is one of the best non computer based options that I have found. Right now it sells for $29.00 comes in different colors, Yellow, Orange, and Blue. I received the blue one for my review which just so happens to be my favorite color. 

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is a 52 week planner that allows you to plan for up to 6 children in one neat spiral bound book. It includes a whole host of features so I am just going to list my favorites for you:
  • Spiral bound construction with coated covers and pockets.
  • Plans up to 6 children with 6 years of calendar planning.
  • Resource List pages.
  • Student Goal setter pages and character goals page for each child.
  • Pages to Record grades for up to 6 children for 6 subjects.
  • Reading list pages for up to 6 children
  • Field trip and activity Grid 
  • Wide margins for notes and prayers
  • Ability to organize activities and lessons for up to 6 children by day or subject
  • Scriptures for thinking on (I need these they help to remind me of the important things.)
  • Directions on how to use the thing (yes I actually needed these directions I know I'm a dork)

I actually read the directions on using this planner. When it first came in it was so thick it felt a little overwhelming. So I just started with the directions on how to use it. Turns out the planner is rather simple to use. The directions how ever were easy to understand and got me going with it quickly. I like it when something comes with easy to understand directions. 

I will probably never get around to using all the features of this planner. But I am using a good portion of it to help me get started with planning the next school year.  Right now I am using the resources list. Its basically a place to list all the resources you will be using. I am using it to get together a list of our main curriculum's for the new year. This is a huge help I tend to write them down on little scraps of paper then loose them before the year is over. Now they are all in one place and I can add and change them as needed, I recommend writing in pencil

The weekly planning grid is where I will be keeping all of the girls daily assignments and how long they spend on each class. The grids are big enough for me to be able to write all there assignments in for the day. There is also a side area for notes supplies and appointments. I am using this note area to total the amount of time the girls spend on lessons each day. That way at the end of the week I can just add them up quickly and carry the total over to the next week. I also love the inspirational verse at the bottom of the pages. At the end of each week there is a memorable moments/achievements and a Evidence of Grace section. This is where you can make notes of the kids achievements or document things they have done for others etc. I like to write down little notes, like when Hotrod girl finally mastered her 2's in multiplication or when Snoopy made it to another reading level.

I am using the monthly planner for writing down things like Dr. appointments, Field trips and co-op days etc. It also has a little notes section along the side and bottom, and it has a bible verse at the bottom right. The months and dates are left blank so that you can fill them in with the months and years that you need. Since ever homeschooler starts there school year at a different time the blank calender's are a big bonus.  I don't have six blank months at the beginning of my planner. My planner starts with July 1 instead of January 1.  I don't usually have much to write down in this section but it is handy to have just as a calendar of your school year. It is also nice to have a place to mark down your scheduled holidays and or vacation days. 

The Records section is a big area for me. The one in this planner does several things that are useful to just about anyone. I am required to keep a record of how many hours they spend in school each year and I also need a way to show progress. I do this by keeping grades for each class the girls take and noting how much time we spend on each classThe records section has a place for grades so this is where I write down the actual grade they are getting in each class. The record keeping section also has a place for a reading list and field trips or outside activities. We do lots of field trips so I like to be able to keep track of where we went and when. I love a good reading list, we read lots of books from the library so this is super handy to document what books we have checked out and read for the year. Many planners leave out the Reading List and for us this is important and a huge plus. Hotrod girl now does more writing in the reading list area than I do. She has discovered that she like keeping track of how many books we have read for the year.

I have been trying to decide what my favorite feature of the planner is. Its been a tough decision but I think my favorite feature is that I can keep track of both girls in one book. Everything is together and I cant misplace anything. It also doesn't require internet or a computer so it can go with me where ever I need to go. Even camping!

I want to encourage everyone to click the link below and read what some of the other crew members are saying about The Ultimate Homeschool Planner. Each of us use it in different ways so come take a look!

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Field Trip Day

We took a field trip to Elephant Rock State park. We go several times a year, usually we go with our homeschool group, but this time our schedule just didn't work out. So we ventured out on our own the girls love this trip. Elephant Rock State Park is located in the great state of Missouri in case you are wondering where its at. The park its self is around 7 acres. Originally it was a granite quarry the granite that was extracted from the earth there was used to pave streets and build buildings in Saint Louis Missouri back when it was first built.The Quarry opened in 1869 and ran tell some time in the 1900's. There is a trail there that lead you around the quarry with signs that tell you bits of history and what things are. There is an old train house where the trains that hauled the granite were worked on. You can see where they took drilling samples and remains of an old boom anchor that hauled granite up out of the quarry. You can run your hands over the names of the men who chiseled their names into the stone as they made master cutter back in the 19th century. Its quite an amazing place to see. No official census has ever been taken of the park so we don't know how many elephants are actually in it. But we learned that they believe the largest rock in the park is 27 feet tall 35 feet long and 17 feet wide her estimated weight is to be around 680 tons

This is the view from the highest point. We stop here every year and take a picture this year I did a Panorama. As you can see the leaves are just starting to change here in Mo. 

This is the Quarry it's 30ft to the top of the water and its 40ft deep. I have no idea who that guy is sitting on the right. He was just there when I took the picture and he knew I was taking it cues he waved. I guess we will have to photo shop him out before I print. 

 This is just a really big rock I though I would post it to give you a perspective of how big some of the rocks are. Those are my girls and Nana and Pop. 

I hope you enjoyed our adventure !

Koru Naturals Review

Koru Naturals Review
I love skin care products I have a hole closet full of them. Really I think I just like trying new things and anything that might make my skin look better is very appealing.  Another product from Koru Naturals came up for Crew review. I signed up and received several wonderful products from them to try out. I received  Manuka Honey and Manuka Oil Facial Cleanser and Manuka Honey, Tamarind and Manuka Oil Facial TonerSkin Clear Cream, and Manuka Honey Propolis Soap

 Koru Naturals Review
I was excited when the package arrived. The Manuka Honey and Mankua Oil Facial cleanser was the first item I pulled out of the box. It is labeled as a gentle cleanser that it free of parabens and artificial colors. The directions say to apply the cleanser using your hand or a cotton pad in an upward motion. Then allow it to sit for two minutes before rinsing.  The Manuka Honey and Manuka Oil Facial Cleanser sells for about $13.60. It comes in a metal bottle with a pump style top.  The smell is slightly lemony. There is very little foaming action which I like. It leaves my skin feeling clean but not overly dry.

 Koru Naturals Review

Next I tried the Manuka Honey, Tamarind and Manuka Oil Facial Toner. It sells for about $13.20 4oz bottle. It too comes in a metal bottle with a pump style top. I don't use toners much mostly because I just forger I have it. This one is designed for acne, oily, combination and sensitive skin. I suffer from several of these thing and I really wanted to see if it would help. So I stuck it on the back of the sink so I would see it and remember to use it. The directions say to apply it using a cotton ball allow it to dry and then apply a moisturizer. With consistent use I am noticing less trouble with my combination skin. The areas that were over oily are evening out.
 Koru Naturals Review

Skin Clear Cream this sells for $19.20 comes in a 4oz round container. It has an inner lid and a little scoop to get your cream out of the pot. This cream is designed for acne-prone skin, it is said to improve the appearance of blemished skin and promote elasticity. It says that continuous use will restore the skin's natural moisture barrier and protect against further damage. It has lots of yummy stuff in it like manuka honey, grape seed oil, Kawakawa, burdock root, thyme etc. It is not for use of pregnant woman and children under 12 years old. I have been using this twice a day like directed. I have noticed the redness left over from the acne is lightening. The break outs also seem to be less frequent.  It is a heaver facial cream so it feels a bit oily when I first put it on but it seems to soak in well. A small amount goes a long way. I use the little scoop that came in the jar so that I don't introduce any bacteria into the cream. It only takes about a 1/4 of the scoop to do my hole face and neck. It has a slight smell though I cant really explain what it smells like. The sent however fades quickly so it's a non an issue for me.

 Koru Naturals Review Manuka Honey Propolis Soap The sent however fades quickly so it's a non an issue for  I wasn't so sure about this soap when I first opened it. I though it smelled like furniture polish. How ever I ave grown to love it. This soap contains Manuka Honey and Propolis which protects and moisturizes skin. It comes in a 4.93oz bar, I am not typically a fan of bar soap but like I said It's growing on quickly. I suffer from super dry skin. The skin on my legs can get so dry in the winter that you can actually see the skin cells. The issue makes for something cool to look at under the microscope but still not the way I want my skin to look or feel. Since the temperature has started to change here and my skin is already starting to dry out I knew it was a good time to put it to the test. I quickly realized that this is protecting my skin so much better than other soaps I have tried. It seems to seal in the moisture that my skin always looses in the winter yet It doesn't leave me with an oily feel like lotions do. I have learned to like the smell, I really only smell it when I am using the soap. The smell does not linger on my skin after I have rinsed. I think this will be my new winter soap. 

Once again Koru Naturals provide me with some really great products and I am extremely happy with all of them. I would love for everyone to click the banner below because some of the Crew tried out different products that I am sure you would love to learn about.

Koru Naturals Review
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Thursday, October 15, 2015 Review Review no 2

It's movie night every one! Kick off your shoes, roll down the big screen and pop the the pop corn. Tonight's movie is Faith of Our Fathers (2015 edition) it comes from ~ FishFlix is christian based movie company. That produces wholesome faith based movies. 

Faith of Our Fathers is a Vietnam War movie although it is rated PG. Run time is about 95 minutes. It sells for around $9.99 so its budget friendly and you can click the link above to go right to it. The story line goes a little like this, two young fathers have to report for duty to Vietnam. One man has loads of faith and the other does not. Through there journey together they become friends and so much more. Twenty-five years later their sons meet and using letters written by their fathers while on the battlefield, and they make an incredible journey to the The Wall in Washington D.C. Review no 2
I am the daughter of a Vietnam Vet, things that honor our veterans are very close to my heart. I love movies that tell a story me and my family can relate to. What made it even better is that it is faith based and it has some amazing lessons and messages in it that I want my kids to hear. This movie tells a touching story of two fathers and the love they have for their sons. More importantly it tells of one mans journey to help his friend to find faith in God. Then through their fathers letters the journey continues for their two sons. One son lives a life of faith and the other not so much. Together they take an epic journey to the The Wall in Washington D.C. along the way they discover what their fathers discovered out on that battle field.

This was not a high tech special effects, million dollar film. But it was realistic enough to be believable, the movie also offers clean language. You wont find even one f-bomb in the entire movie. We found some funny moments in the movie my oldest liked when Si Robertson from Duck Dynasty appeared. We also enjoyed the touching moments and the spiritual messages that were taught. A few battle field scenes are included in the movie. It wouldn't be a movie about Vietnam with out it. But I felt they were done in a way that was suitable for younger viewers. Its not a blood and guts type of movie. It does not show arms being blown off like some war movies show. I know some might think that mild battle field scenes make the movie seem less realistic but for us it made it suitable for my younger viewers. There is so much more to the movie than special effects and people getting blown to little pieces. If you are looking for a bloody action packed movie this is not going to be it. But if you are looking for good spiritual messages and some amazing life lessons that everyone needs to hear than look no farther.  Faith of Our Fathers is the movie for you and your family.

Get social and Check out Fishflix:

Be sure to click the Banner below and read what Crew Members are saying about other FishFlix movies. Review No 2Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Have you Ever ?

Have you ever felt the need to spray paint an empty spiders web?  While hunting for maple trees me and the girls came upon an empty spider web. The girls were taking a look at it and we were discussing how and why spiders make webs. I had the crazy thought what would happen if we sprayed the web with spray paint? The results were so cool it sent us on a lesson about spiders. 
We now have several florescent colored spider webs around our yard. The light dusting of paint brings out all the fine details of the web. Allowing the girls to inspect the web better. Of course we were very careful to ensure there was no spider home at the time.  Check out out our cool Pink spider web. I held a piece of black fabric behind it so that the details would show up better in the pictures. Hope You enjoy our cool little Spider web progject

We found this frog too ! 

Reading Kingdom Online Review

Reading Kingdom Review

I come from a family of readers. I found a love for reading at a very young age. I am proud to say my girls have also found a love for reading at a very young age. Even though I didn't use one to teach the girls how to read. I am a sucker for a good reading program and I wish I would have had Reading Kingdom when they first got started. When Reading Kingdom Online came up for review on the Crew I knew I had to try and get it. Reading Kingdom site can be found here at Reading Kingdom is easy to use online reading program that teaches kids ages 4-10 to read and write up to a 3rd grade level. A yearly subscription for one child is $19.99 a month, and each additional child you add to the account is $9.99 a month. There is also a Free 30 Trial so you can try it out before hand.

Reading Kingdom uses Dr. Marion Blank's approach to reading. It teaches children 6 skills that help them to become good readers and writers. The six skills are: Sequencing, Motor Skills, Sounds, Meaning, Grammar, and Comprehension. These main skills along with elements of phonics and whole language skills are designed to help your child become a successful reader and writer.

Reading Kingdom is a self adjusting program. This means that the program automatically adjust its self for how well your child is doing. To ensure your child has all of the skills necessary to be successful at reading and writing. You will start out having your child take a placement test. This gives them a starting point for the program. You are not allowed to help your child while they are taking the placement test. You are only allowed to encourage them. The girls do well working on there own. My only issue with the placement test was that its timed and the girls do not type well yet. So they would run out of time before they could type the answer. This small issue made it so that they were placed in a much lower level than what they read at. We tried the levels that the program placed them at but they quickly became frustrated that the reading and assignments were too easy. They were asking me to make it harder! Every homeschooling moms dream right. To solve the problem I simply accessed my dash board and turned on the move student feature. This allowed me to bump them up to harder levels. They are now happy with the program. You can also adjust how long they get to answer questions. I bumped this up to allow them a little more time to find the keys.  As their typing improves I will lower the amount of time they get back down. At the end of each level your child is given a progress check to see if they have mastered that level of the program. If they are on track then they move to the next level. But if they are not it gives them a set of review lessons to help get them back on track.

Reading Kingdom also offers reporting so if your child is like mine and likes to go solo on the program you can still keep track of what they are doing and if they need any help. You can also get reports emailed to you on a regular basis. I love reports they make tracking work and grades so much easier. The reports also leave me with more one on one time for the things they really need help with.

Reading came easily for the girls they were both reading simple books by the time they were 4. They were in first grade before I ever tried an actual phonics program. Because I though they have to learn the phonics rules or they will never be able to spell or write. The girls quickly became frustrated with the rules that the programs wanted them to memorize. I remember being frustrated with this when I was a child. Reading Kingdom does not ask them to memorize the phonics RULES. They are so happy about not having to memorize The RULES any more. Instead they learn sequencing, sounds, meaning, grammar and comprehension. Every lesson builds on its self and before you know it there reading and writing is getting better and better. They learn to read real stories that flow and make since. By the way the girls actually enjoy the story's. I love that it doesn't use books where all the words rhyme. In real life not everything you read is going to have the same ending sound. Reading Kingdom's books are based on sentence structure instead of word sounds.

Each lesson is around 15 minutes or so. You can pause the lesson but the amount of time is limited. I believe it can only be paused for 12 minutes. You can also stop the lesson if you need to and go back to it later. We usually complete the lesson in one sitting and they are usually asking if its OK to do another lesson. Yup, its that fun for the girls!  They actually ask to do more than the required one lesson a day.

Reading Kingdom Review
Both of the girls read well above there grade levels. So I am having trouble judging if there has been an improvement in there reading or not. They just love the program. We were around week 5 of the program using it 4 days a week. When I realized Hotrod Girl's spelling is improving.  Praise the Lord her spelling is getting better, I so did not expect that to happen. I was in complete shock today when she passed a spelling test. Out of 16 words she only missed one, One that's it one word. Something in this program is working where all the phonics rules didn't. She is also starting to enjoy writing. This week she ask to write a letter to an old friend of her great grandma's. I read the letter before she sent it so we could make corrections if needed. I was so excited to see that her sentence structure is getting better. Her sentences flow like they should. Her spelling was so much better she only needed to correct a few words. This program ask them to write a lot. I think that all the writing is really helping to improve her spelling. 

 Snoopy girl's ability to figure out words and there meaning has improved. Since she reads at a higher level than most 6 year old's she some times comes accost a word that she just has no idea what it means. With Reading Kingdom she is learning skills to figure out the meaning of those words. She is my graphics kid. She absorbs the information so much quicker if she has that visual. Reading Kingdom gives her lots of visuals and it also offers auditory learning. If she cant figure out a word she can click it and it tells her the word. It talks to her. She says she feels like "My Owl is teaching me and helping me when I get stuck." 
She has recently moved to the next level in the program. 

Hooray for fun reading programs that actually work!
I want to encourage everyone to get Social and check out Reading Kingdoms social media Pages

I also want everyone to click the banner below and read all the other great Crew Reviews. If you have a child with Autism be sure to check out the Reading Kingdom for ASD reviews. 

Reading Kingdom Review

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