Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Reading Eggs ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Every once in awhile we will do a review for a product that I didn't even realize we would use every single day. Gavin has had so much fun playing online learning games using Reading Eggs.

I'm always looking for anything that is educational, but also fun. Unfortunately Gavin isn't a big fan of reading, so I love to introduce programs to him that he can use to reinforce his reading, vocabulary, spelling, etc. Reading Eggs does all of this plus so much more. I thought Gavin would be too old for this program when I first read about it, even though it said that it went up to age 13. I was very wrong because each lesson that he has done has not been easy, but challenging for him!

Reading Eggs is available for ages 2 to 13. The levels are age appropriate with different engaging games, songs, and activities. In addition to the online activities they have just released their new program guides for grades K - 2nd grade that specifically support homeschoolers! These 36 week guides provide week by week detailed overviews so that you are able to track your child's learning. They can be found in the Parent Dashboard under the Bonus Material section.

The program is broken down as:

Reading Eggs Junior ~ This is what they call First Steps and it is for ages 2 to 4 years old. Games, videos and even books will help your toddler start building their pre-reading skills.

Reading Eggs 4-5 years ~ The skills here are geared for your child as they get ready to start school. It will include phonics, sight words, and essential reading skills that are age appropriate.

Reading Eggs 6-7 years ~ At this level your child will have lessons that focus on spelling, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Reading Eggspress for ages 7-13 ~ This is the level Gavin has been working on. Here they will have more structured comprehension lessons, spelling, and live games. We also LOVE the library that comes with it.

They even have an additional program called Mathseeds that they offer to reinforce your childs math skills! Mathseeds is geared for ages 3-9 and teaches your child the core principles of math using fun and interactive lessons.

How did we use this in our school?

Like I said, we have been using this every day. Gavin loves to do it and spends about 30 to 45 minutes on it a day. When we first started Reading Eggspress, I had Gav take the placement test, and it set him right up where he needed to be. He soon figured out that he had an avatar that he was going to be able to design and personalize. He loves doing this sort of thing so he dove right in. His avatar has an apartment that he can also design and personalize. The way it works is he will do his lessons for the day and he is rewarded with gold eggs. The gold eggs are used as currency to continue personalizing his apartment with decor, pets, furniture, and more! He LOVES this!

The dashboard that he starts with each day is brightly colored and easy to navigate. He can get to where he needs to be with the click of a button. As you can see he's already got 567 gold eggs saved up to buy some cool stuff at the mall!

He starts his day with the English Skills portion and right now he's working on spelling. The spelling takes him through different spelling rules such as homophones, plurals, vowels, and more. He's a decent speller, but has definitely been challenged with some of these words!

Next he moves on to his lesson. Each lesson is broken down into parts talking about a main book in general. It will take him through all kinds of different skills. He may look up a word in a dictionary and learn what part of speech it is. He may read an excerpt from a book and then answer reading comprehension questions about it. When he's done with that day's lesson, he will continue on down the path until he gets to the end where he will take a quiz. After each section of the "map" he will get a reward of gold eggs. This of course is the part he loves!

When he's finished with all of the lessons on that "map" he moves on to the next one.

When he's done with his lesson for the day, he heads to the library. This feature is super cool! There are hundreds of books here that he can read to earn more gold eggs! They offer different genres such has comedy, adventure, myth, Earth Science and so much more. He can even start a book and if he doesn't finish, he can book mark it for the next time he comes back. They even give you suggestions for the Book of the Day!

When he's finished with everything, he can go to the mall and spend his eggs, or he can save them which is what he's doing now.

I have to say again, this is an absolute amazing program. It is not only completely educational, but also so much fun for your child. Reading Eggs challenges your student and will improve their reading skills with fun and adventure! Right now they are offering a FREE 4 week trial, so you can test it out yourself! We love Reading Eggs and I am so happy we have found it!

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Instagram (handle): readingeggs  

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Reading Eggs
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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Single Membership from CTC Math ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Finding a math program to fit your child's needs can sometimes be a daunting task. I had the chance to review this wonderful program last year, and Gavin loved it! You can imagine my excitement when I found out I would be able to review CTCMath's Single Membership this year, and that they are offering 60% off plus 6 bonus months right now!

Math can be a very stressful subject for some kids. With CTCMath, your child will have short and to the point lessons that are engaging and easily understood. The child is able to work at their own speed and can even stop and rewind the video if they need to. There are over 1400 math tutorials that teach the concepts of math in a step by step process. We love that the lessons are short enough to hold Gav's attention, but are very well laid out so that the concept is explained in full detail. You will have access to every grade offered with your membership! No having to choose just one single grade. Also, there are placement tests to see where your child falls in their program.

Are you homeschooling more than one child? I love CTCMath because with the Family Subscription, you can have math for everyone. It can be utilized as a full curriculum up until grade 8. They offer high school math along with it, but it becomes more of a supplement which is also wonderful. With CTCMath you will have 24/7 access to all of it everyday so that there is no rush to get it all in.

How do we use it in our school?

This is such an easy program to use, and getting it set up only takes minutes. One thing that I like when using an on-line program is that when they give you a parent/teacher log in and a student log in. CTCMath gives you both of those options.

While logged into the parent log-in, in a glance you can see your child's overall grade, activity, awards, and weekly reports. There is also an option to get a pdf in order to print out their grades if you need it.

Another option that is offered to you is setting up daily tasks for your child. We personally do not use this option because Gav just knows what he's supposed to do next. This is a great option to have though. For example, you could go in and set up the task that you want your student to do for Monday. You could even name it Monday's work. When they sign on under the student log in, it's ready for them to go under the tasks section and see their daily work. All the student has to do is click on that specific task and it will take them to the lesson. If you have the family subscription, then you can do this for multiple students. I can see where that would be a great help for keeping it all straight. 

So for Gav, this program is used daily. After he logs in, he goes to his daily lesson. Unless he had issues on the lesson before hand, he starts a new one. If he didn't understand the previous lesson, or just needs some extra practice, we redo it. 

The lessons are laid out one right after the other, and he can see what they are plus his grade/progress on each one from the student dashboard. He can even customize the colors of his dashboard which he loves. 

The lesson starts with a short video somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 to 9 minutes. This is where the concept that they are working on is explained in full detail with plenty of examples. He has watched quite few lessons, and has not had to come to me for extra help hardly at all. The lessons are clear and very easy to understand. He loves his "Australian teacher" and even asks to do his math lessons. That's a first for us!

When he's done with the video, he moves on to his questions. He keeps his pen and paper handy next to him to work out all of his problems, and then he adds his answer in to the computer. It's very straightforward and simple for him to do.

If he does good, which he normally does, the next day he will move on to the next lesson. If we feel like he needs additional help, he will redo the previous lesson. When he's finished with the entire group of lessons on a specific topic, I have him take one of the tests to make sure that he understands it all.

The only thing that I wish they could add is maybe an option to print out extra worksheets on each topic. I think it would make it easier to add extra reinforcement to each topic being taught. I don't think this takes away from the program at all, it's just something I would love to see as an extra option.

What did we think?

Well when your child asks to do math, and actually enjoys it, you love the program! He is doing so well right now, and has strengthened all of his math skills using CTCMath! I highly recommend this program to homeschoolers, or even public schoolers that need some extra supplemental help!

Don't forget that they are offering 60% off plus 6 bonus months right now! That is a fantastic price for this program!!

Don't forget to follow along on social media!!

Maths Online (Australia only)

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CTCMath Online Math Tutoring {Reviews}
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It's a....gender reveal for Baby Brou!

We are so excited over our new grandbaby! This past weekend we had a fun gender reveal party to celebrate the new little one. Is it a boy or a girl?


IT'S A BOY!!!!

We can't WAIT to welcome our newest grandbaby


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

This week's #beforethepen

I really love how this week's layout turned out! I literally threw it together Monday because I was busy all weekend. I love the colors and the fox washi!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Captain Bayley's Heir by Heirloom Audio Productions ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

When I see a review for one of my favorite vendors pop up, I know it's not going to disappoint! This time we go on another wild adventure in Captain Bayley's Heir by Heirloom Audio Productions.

I think every single time I listen to an audio production from Heirloom Audio I say, "That was my favorite!" Not long after, I will get new one and it will also be my favorite. The stories are the type that keep you on the edge of your seat with quality family entertainment.

If you have never had the pleasure of listening to an audio drama from Heirloom Audio, then let me tell you a little bit about them. What they do is recreate the stories from the legendary story teller, G.A. Henty. Mr. Henty was a war correspondent, a big guy with an even bigger beard, and he lived for adventure. His passion comes through in every story he tells. He loved to share his stories with his friends and family, and throughout the years, he went on to write 122 books! This is where Heirloom Audio comes in. They take these beautifully told stories, and turn them into adventures that come alive as you listen to them. I am an avid reader, and I also listen to a lot of audio books. These audio dramas are completely in a league of their own. They are not your average audio book. These are brought to life with award winning actors, amazing sound effects, and the beautifully written sound track that goes along with it. As soon as you start listening, you enter the world of G.A. Henty, and his love for adventure is brought to life.

I want to talk a little about all of the different components that we received for this review. First off we got the 2 CD set along with the extra digital download features.

Captain Bayley's Heir Adventure Playlist ~ This is how you are able to listen online, or download it and listen to it on your phone. We have used this feature many times, and love to have the option.

Captain Bayley's Heir E-book ~ This is the original e-book, but with all new colorful graphics.

Official Soundtrack ~ Original music by Emmy-winning composer John Campbell

Printable Cast Poster ~ Printable promotion poster featuring the star studded cast

Inspirational Hymn Poster ~ I love this, especially since this book is built around one of our favorites, Amazing Grace.

Desktop Wallpaper Download ~  A stunning wallpaper for your computer.

Study Guide and Discussion Starter ~ This is an amazing extra that gives you the ability to turn this into more than just something to listen to. When we listen to this as a family, I like to have the study guide pulled up on my phone or computer. You could definitely print it out if you wanted to, because it is so beautiful and colorful. It would be nice to have a notebook devoted to all of the study guides. That way they would be easily accessible.

The study guide starts off by telling you about G.A. Henty, and a little bit about Heirloom Audio Productions. It is then broken down by every CD and track number. This makes it easier to stop the drama, and talk about each chapter. I love to use this with my kids because it makes them pay better attention to it. They start listening for details because they know they are going to have some questions about each chapter or track.

There are several different parts to the study guide.

  • Listening Well ~ These are to ask your students what they've heard or learned throughout the chapter.

  • Thinking Further ~ These are a little bit more in depth and will get your students thinking about things such as drawing conclusions to character's actions. These are great for older students.

  • Defining Words ~ This is based on vocabulary words throughout the story. This is my kids favorite part! We go over what they think certain words mean, and then what they really mean if they don't know. 

At the end there is not one, but TWO Bible studies that are included! This is a fantastic extra that talks about God's grace, and becoming a Christian. They go above and beyond with their study guides!

One last thing I want to talk about is the new feature called Live the Adventure Club. This club adds even more fun to your listening adventure that includes different resources and other kids activities to go along with the stories.

Now this brings us to what Captain Bayley's Heir is all about. Amazing Grace. This story encompasses those words.

We start our adventure with our favorite narrator, Mr. George. He's writing a letter to his friends Ned and Gerald while on a train ride to the gold fields of California where he's conducting research for his new book, Captain Bayley's Heir. He even hired a wagon and driver so that he could experience exactly what those pioneers went through. His driver turns out to be a young and ambitious 18 year old boy who has already started his own company with a horse and wagon. He knows that Mr. George is a writer, so they start talking about it. He even tells him that he's thought about writing a book. He then asks Mr. George to tell him his story, and that's where it all begins.

It starts in England where we are introduced to Frank Norris, an 18 year old carefree kid, who is friendly to everyone. We quickly learn exactly what kind of person Frank is when he dives into icy water to rescue a dog from drowning. Harry, the dog's owner is extremely grateful, and wants Frank to come to his house and meet his parents. You will learn more about him later.

Soon after we are introduced to Captain Bayley. He is a robust and loud man who on the surface seems pretty intimidating. After learning a bit about why he is the way he is, his personality starts to make more sense. He has made some mistakes and now has to pay for them.

While Frank is attending school he sneaks out with his friends to attend a meeting of rebels who despise Brittain all because they want to see a real fight. The problem is this is completely against school rules. They end up getting into a fight and Frank breaks someone's nose. Next thing he knows, he's being told that unless he pays him 10 pounds then he will be turned in and inevitably kicked out of school. While Frank is stressing over this and telling his friends, someone anonymously leaves a 10 pound note on his desk. The problem is that he doesn't know where it comes from, and is accused of stealing it. This is where Frank's life is completely turned upside down.

Frank decides in an effort to clear his name that he is heading to America. He takes a ship called the Mississippi where he meets his new boss Hiram. Here he learns what it means to work hard, and what it's like to face treacherous storms! Frank is living one adventure after another. He ends his journey with Hiram to head to California to look for gold! Along the way he meets some cowboys that also teach him about the Pioneer journey, how to fight the Indians, and also the most important lesson on God's grace. He goes through many hard ships along the way, and in the end it only makes him stronger. In the three years that Frank is gone from England he is introduced to not only the hymn Amazing Grace, but also what it means to be unconditionally loved by God and actually have His amazing grace poured upon him.

As you can tell, we always love these books. Along with a wonderful story, they also give you so much more to think about. If you are looking for something different to add to your collection, I highly recommend Captain Bayley's Heir by Heirloom Audio Productions. You won't be disappointed!

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Captain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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Thursday, September 21, 2017


I haven't posted my before the pen lately so I wanted to post this weeks layout! I want to be a chicken lady one day and found these precious stickers at Hobby Lobby. I used some paper cut outs I had to fill in the boxes, and some of my favorite washi tape to bring it all together. I love how it turned out!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

We recently had the chance to read and review a fantastic Biblical fiction book called Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing.

The Imagine series is a fun Bible adventure that is geared for kids 8 to 12. It brings the Bible to life and lets readers time travel back in time to see what living in Bible times is all about. Imagine. . .The Great Flood, which takes us right back to Noah and his Ark, is the first book in the series and, it has been a lot of fun to read.

I initially intended for Gav to read this book alone, but I reconsidered it and decided that we would just add it to our Bible time every morning. I thought the book was short enough we could read one chapter a day, and if we had more time we could even take on a few more in the day.

After diving into the book, I realized that the chapters were pretty short so we just read what we felt like that day whether it was one or four chapters. Needless to say, it didn't take us long to finish it.

So what's this book about?

Corey Max is a typical 10 year old boy who recently found out that he has to move from Texas to Florida.  As you can imagine, no pun intended lol, he isn't happy about this move. He has trouble understanding why they have to move because it's a big change for all of them. His mother tries her hardest to help Corey understand that it's for the best, and sometimes God calls us to places before we know why we are there. She goes on to tell Corey that they had to fully rely on God and put their trust in Him, because God would not ever let them make a move alone.

With a Texas storm quickly approaching, Corey can hear his dog barking in the woods. The weather is getting worse and as Corey heads out to check on her, he trips over a log and hits his head pretty hard. As he lies there in and out of consciousness, he is suddenly transported to a place he never could have imagined.

From this point on, Corey is taken on the ultimate journey back to the times of Noah and the Great Flood. Corey quickly meets Shem, one of Noah's sons, and he explains that his father is building the Ark because that's what God commanded him to do. After explaining a little bit about why Noah is building the Ark, Corey is soon taken on an adventure where he will fight the Nephilim (giants) and learn what it means to truly put all of his trust in God.

As Corey goes through his time in 2400 BC, he will encounter a character named Elizar that is trying desperately to gain Corey's trust. Even his name means "The One Who Deceives", and he uses dark arts to perform magic. He makes promises that he can get him home safely, but what he's really doing is redirecting Corey's faith from God to him.

Corey will go through many trials and errors throughout his time in this far away land. There are many twists and turns throughout the book and even some fun chapter cliff hangers. This wasn't always fun for the kids since we were doing it as a read aloud. They wanted to go on!

We have really enjoyed this book because it tells about a wonderful Bible story that we all know and love, but also adds an adventure flare that is fictional.

I asked Gavin what his favorite part of the story was and he really enjoyed when Corey was stuck in the big hole, and remembered his great grandfather's story about forgiveness and breaking up a blessing and multiplying it. I have to say that was my favorite part of the story too. He also said that he really enjoyed when Shem and Corey rode the rhinos after he was freed from the hole.

We had some great discussions from reading this book. We talked about how Corey throughout the book would ask God to help him. Corey went through a lot of emotions and even doubted God at some points when he felt hopeless. In the end, he was learning that he had to trust in God and Him alone, and that even if things change around us, God never changes.

Gavin is 12 years old and really enjoyed this book. Since we were reading it aloud, by 16 year old listened in too, and she also enjoyed it. I think it's a great first reader book especially since it has nice short chapters.

If you are looking for good clean books for kids, or FICTION adventure, then I would definitely recommend Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing.

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Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Carole P. Roman ~A Homeschool Crew Review

I love reviewing books, and since we reviewed books by Carole P. Roman last year, I was super excited to read a few different titles this year. Her books are fun, engaging, and full of adventure.

For this year's review we were given:

A Captain No Beard Story - Being a Captain is Hard Work
Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag (An Oh Susannah Story Book 1)
Can a Princess Be a Firefighter? (Nursery Series Book 1)
If You Were Me ad Lived In...CHINA (A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around the World)

Carole P. Roman has won many awards since her first book that was written all because one of her sons dared her to do it. She has a few different series that she writes, one being Captain No Beard, which was born from playing an imaginary game with her grandson. She is also well known for her non-fiction series, "If You Were Me and Lived In..." teaching all about the world around us and the different cultures that go with it.

A little bit about each book ~

Being a Captain is Hard Work is a full blown adventure with Captain No Beard. He's a stubborn captain that likes to do what HE wants to do. He's a know it all, and he doesn't listen to others even if they know best. He decides that he knows exactly what kind of clouds are in the sky and that they will not hinder him from getting to his destination of Dew Rite Volcano. Despite what others have told him, in his stubborness he sets out anyway.

This book is illustrated by Bonnie Lemaire and is full of bold and bright colors. We learn how important it is to have teamwork and exactly why we have two ears and one mouth! We have to listen twice as much as we speak! Also entwined in the story is lessons on different types of clouds. There's even a guide in the back to go over what each kind of cloud is. This was definitely one of our favorites!

This book is a perfect book for young readers that want to branch out into easy chapter books. The chapters are short and easy to read. 

 Susannah Logan's day starts out bad and only gets worse from there. When something goes wrong she just stuffs it into her backpack ignoring what the problem is. She ends up extremely overwhelmed by all of the "stuff" that has caused her backpack to just about come apart at the seams. How is she going to deal with it all?

This is a wonderful book that teaches the kids that they need to ask for help when they need it. They don't need to hide it if they are feeling overwhelmed, and they should always ask a parent for help. 

I love getting books for my sweet grandbaby Mila who is 21/2 years old. When I saw Can a Princess Be a Firefighter, I knew it sounded like something she would love. Of course at two years old she already thinks she is a princess and that's ok with me! Can a Princess Be a Firefighter of course has beautiful illustrations by Mateya Arkova. It is a colorful book that is perfect for a young girl to read or have it read to them. It's all about a young girl wanting to know what she could be when she grows up. She is told that she can be anything that she chooses to be, as long as it makes her happy. This book was inspired by her own grand daughters, and is a beautiful reminder to young girls all over that they can be anything they aspire to be. 

These are some of my favorite books written by Carole P. Roman. Like I said before the "If You Were Me and Lived In..." series is one of her most popular series. It showcases different places around the world and teaches all about different cultures. 

This book was illustrated by Kelsea Wierenga. The pictures are so bright, colorful and full of color. 

I love all of the different aspects of China that the author explains to the reader to help them understand exactly what it's like there. She talks about the geography of China, how names are picked for babies, what they eat and so much more. I love that she goes into even more detail by giving the pronunciation of words that may be hard for the reader to understand. 

We really love reading about places that are all over the world, and how people live their daily lives there. 

What do we think?

Carole P. Roman does a fantastic job of delivering educational, fun, and beautiful books. I haven't found a book from her that I don't like. I highly recommend any of her books because she has something available for almost all ages! 

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Oh Susannah, Bedtime Stories, Captain No Beard, If you were Me ... {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

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