Thursday, July 28, 2016

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree by Star Toaster ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

My kids love to play on the iPad and download all kinds of apps. My favorite is when they find an app that is educational but also a lot of fun! We recently had the chance to review a new app called Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree by Star Toaster. It was perfect for the little break we took over the last month or so to keep something educational in Gavin's hands.

What is Star Toaster?

Star Toaster is a great team that believes that learning will happen for your entire life. They have taken a lot of time to put together a team that consists of some of the best web designers, developers, an experienced author, and more. I was very pleased to see that they believe that children primarily learn at home no matter whether they are homeschooled, or go to a public or private school.

General info about the app:

This app is available for purchase through itunes for $1.99. You will need to have an iphone, ipad, or ipod touch running iOS, 8.4 or later. It is geared for the ages of 2nd through 5th grades, or 9 to 11. Gavin was in between 5th and 6th grade when we started this, but he still found it fun and entertaining. Also, another plus to the program is that you can have an unlimited number of users. This way you can set up an account for each of your children.

Getting Started with the Orphs of the Woodlands:

Orphs of the Woodlands is not only an educational book series, it's also fun and interactive. Your child will have fun reading the story, but also enjoy taking care of the orphs! They divide the series up into different adventures, this one being Tangletree, and they will have more coming soon!

The set up for this app was very easy. We downloaded it, added Gavin as the user, and we were on our way. Before we got started, we did watch the "Getting Started" video that is located right in the menu section of the app. This was a great help to understanding how the story/game works.

How does it work?

Well when your child first starts the book, he is introduced to the narrator, a flying squirrel named Abba. A flood has come and destroyed the homes where all of the woodland creatures live, and it is the reader's job to help them rebuild it! As your child reads, they will be able to help the orphs with food, water etc.

Gavin started the story and was immediately drawn in. The way it works is your child will read the story, and throughout the chapters, he will see words that have been highlighted. If he/she clicks on these words it will tell him the definition.

After the child finishes reading for the day, they can then go to Stumptown and do the jobs, if any are available so that they can earn gold stars to help the orphs. The jobs are easy and educational, and go along with what has been read so far. 

This is Stumptown to see what jobs are available

Like I said before, as the jobs are completed the gold stars are added up until they have an opportunity to purchase something that the orphs need.  You can see below that Gav is working on collecting enough stars to help the orphs get blankets.

There is also a great parent section where you can see your child's work and progress. 

How did we like it?

Gavin has really enjoyed this app, and will continue working on it, until he's finished with it. The price is great for what you get with this educational app. I am looking forward to more adventures with the Orphs of the Woodlands!

Be sure to follow Star Toaster on Social Media!

Star Toaster was very generous and let 58 of us review this product. Click the banner below to read other reviews!

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review
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Monday, July 25, 2016

Back to School 2016/2017

Well this is supposed to be a Weekly Wrap-Up post, but we had a very busy weekend and I didn't get around to it, so I will just make it a Monday's Musings post! That's how we roll around here!

Last week we started back to school for the year. It is just so absolutely hot that we school year round so that we can take advantage of the cooler weather in the fall and spring. My kids don't mind because they hate being outside in the heat anyway. Might as well do something productive!

I would say that after having a break due to my oldest getting married and traveling, that we did pretty good. The kids had gotten into a late night habit so getting them up was a little bit of a chore. Other than that issue, it was a good first week!

We are still doing a pretty eclectic style of learning, mainly because I'm blessed to be able to review some totally awesome curriculum. Other than that, we try and keep it to a Charlotte Mason approach including Ambleside Online and to notebook what they've learned. You can read my review of here. They have really enjoyed the living books from Ambleside, so I try to incorporate it as much as I can.

So their schedule looks something like this:

We do a different worship song every week. They learn it and then they can notebook or journal how they can apply that song to their life or if they just want to write down what God has put on their heart. It's their time to spend with God.

We follow this with Bible/Devotional time. Gavin is continuing on with Veritas Press for Bible, and working out of his devotional, "The Plans I have for You." He will also journal in his journal that goes along side of his devotional. Edyn will be using Ambleside Online for her bible reading, and working out of her Devotional, "Jesus Calling." She will also be journaling using her new Spiritual Circle Journal. I will be doing a review on it soon!

Math - They are both using CTC math. We like it pretty well so far. I will also be doing a review on this one soon.

Lang. Arts/Writing - Edyn is using Apologia's Writer's in Residence. This is such a great program! You can read my review on it here.  Gavin is using Essentials Skills Advantage and Here to Help Learning. You can read the review of ESA here, and the review for Here to Help Learning here.  

They then work on their poetry memorization. This has been such a great course for them, and has proven to them that they can memorize things if they want to! It is by the Institute in Excellence in Writing and you can read the review for it here.

History is strictly Ambleside Online, unless they read some biographies on certain people in history during their personal reading time. They notebook everything they read.

Science - Edyn reads books on things in science that interest her, and then notebooks about it. She will have a full Science and Nature notebook by the end of the year. Gavin will be using Apologia's Astronomy and Notebooking Journal. Review to come soon! He loves it so far!!

Spanish is by Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids. They are already having a ball with it, and learning! Review to come on it also!

Gavin is also continuing on his Music Appreciation with Zeezok, and Edyn likes to listen in. You can read my review for it here.

Gavin is doing a short health course that I will also be reviewing soon. It is by Homeschool Scholastics, an i4 Learning Company, and he's also enjoying it so far.

They do personal reading time for 30 minutes a day, and can read longer if they choose!

We will also be adding things as we review them, even if we use them for the review period, and put them off for next year! That's the fun of being a reviewer!

Edyn is also diligently working on her sign language. She has taught herself so much so far along with everything she learned from her classes a few months ago. We are hoping to do a second class in the fall for her.

Their days right now take between 3.5 and 4 hours. We do Science on Monday and Wednesday, and History on Tuesday and Thursday. We take Fridays off since we school year round. This gives them time to catch up in case they missed a day during the week, or if we did school every day, a fun day! I like to have the flexibility for us!

So after a fun filled week of getting back in the groove, we took that Friday off and went to the neatest bookstore that we literally could have stayed in for days. It was such a cozy and homey place. It was in an old church from the 1940's with antiques all around and books for days . We loved to hear the squeaky wooden floors and to see the bare shiplap from the original structure. We had great conversation with the owners and learned so much. I love how they say that homeschoolers are weird and socially awkward. I couldn't get mine to leave because they are so comfortable talking to adults and asking questions about all of the old finds. The War Room was our favorite. I thought Edyn was going to move in.

All in all it was a wonderful first week of school. I pray that the rest of the year is too! I hope everyone has a great week this week!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Driving through Houston ~ Wordless Wednesday

Edyn likes to take pictures on our trips back home. We have to drive through Houston, so here's some she captured on her cell phone last time.

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Beric the Briton by Heirloom Audio Productions ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

This week I'm bringing you another review for a fantastic audio drama! Beric the Briton by Heirloom Audio Productions is my second listening adventure from the books of G.A. Henty. I was super excited to see this one come of up for review because we loved The Dragon and the Raven so much. I already had high expectations for this one, and it did not disappoint.  They have really brought history to life with their storytelling, amazing sound effects, and beautifully written soundtrack.

If you've never had the pleasure of listening to an audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions, then let me tell you a little bit about what to expect. Heirloom Audio Productions is known for recreating the stories of the legendary G.A. Henty. Mr. Henty was a war correspondent, a big guy with a big beard, who lived for adventure.  Unless you've lived under a rock, then you know he was a master story teller. He loved to share his stories with his family, and throughout the years, he went on to write 122 books! Heirloom Audio takes these stories and makes them come alive.  I am an avid book lover, and recently have even given audio books a try so I could listen and crochet at the same time. This is like no audio book. It truly is an adventure that allows your imagination to run wild, and it gives you a clear picture of what is going on throughout it.

What did we receive for this review?

What I love about these audio adventures is that Heirloom Audio Productions offers so many components to go along with their story. 

First, of course, we were given the 2 CD set. With the set, we were also given the bonuses that are available for download. These include:

  • Beric the Briton MP3 set ~ This was so nice to have because I had put the CD's on for my children while I was busy. I missed a lot of it. I downloaded the MP3s to my phone and was able to listen with ear phones while I crocheted! Perfect!
  • Beric the Briton e-book ~ This is Henty's original with colorful graphics.
  • Official MP3 soundtrack ~ Original score by Emmy-winning composer John Campbell
  • Printable Cast Poster ~ This colorful poster has the cover of the book with a picture of the cast.
  • Inspirational Verse Poster ~ A printable copy of the inspirational verse, Proverbs 21:31
  • Live the Adventure Letter ~ You will get unlimited access to this e-news letter
  • Behind the Scenes Video ~ A behind the scenes documentary with cast and crew. 
  • Study Guide and Discusson packet ~ This is a wonderful tool for discussion, and to make sure your listeners are getting everything in the story. It is a 48 page study guide that can turn this adventure into a complete story curriculum.

About Beric the Briton

I am terrible at explaining books and movies without going into too much detail. I always want to give you the gist of the story without giving away too much, so here's my short and sweet version! Beric was a young guy in a tribe, who is under the reign of Queen Boadecia during the times of the Roman invasion of ancient Britannia. After the Queen is defeated, Beric and his best friend, Bodouc, are captured by the Romans and sent to Rome, where they are ulitmately trained as gladiators to fight in the Colosseum! During this time, there is a new "Christus" that people are talking about and beginning to follow as Christians. The Emperor Nero does not like this so he gives them an ultimatum. This story is action packed and will keep you waiting for what happens next!

I also want to take a second to tell you about the star studded cast that Heirloom gets for these productions. You will most likely recognize, if not one, all of the cast members. They do an amazing job of bringing everyone to life!

What did we think?

Of course we loved this one! I really didn't think I would enjoy this type of entertainment because of the time period, but it has proven to be something that I am very interested in! These CDs are perfect for long car rides, or just listening in your living room. If you are looking for a good solid 2 hours of entertainment, Beric the Briton from Heirloom Audio Adventures is where it's at!

Be sure to follow Heirloom Audio Productions on Social Media!

Heirloom Audio Productions Social Pages

Heirloom Audio Productions was generous to let 100 of us review this product. If you would like to read other reviews, just click the link below!

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Beauty ~ Wordless Wednesday

So this past Saturday, my oldest baby got married...I thought I would give you a sneak peak. I'm going to make a post about it later this week.

To see more WW posts, just click the link below!


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin, Reader I and Workbook I from Laurelwood Books ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Latin is not a standard subject that I've really given a lot of thought to teaching. I had heard of some homeschooling moms adding it in to their school, but honestly, to me it was a very intimidating subject. That is mainly because I've never taken a formal Latin class. Well we have recently added Latin into our school! I have had the opportunity, for the last few weeks, to review Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin, Reader I and Workbook I from Laurelwood Books.

What did we receive for this review?

We received the Olim Reader I in Latin and also a separate workbook to go along with the course.

Why teach your kids Latin?

Like I said before, Latin has always been a subject that intimidates me. I always thought that it was something that the hardcore homeschoolers taught.  I mean we cover a lot of subjects, but Latin...that just wasn't one I was interested in. I'm going to try and make sure that my kids have a good vocabulary, have proper grammar, and of course, at some point we are going to learn Spanish. So basically, English and Spanish are my main concerns. This is where the importance of learning Latin comes in. There are many reasons why Latin is beneficial in school, so I will give you the few that really made sense to me. Latin can actually improve your child's English vocabulary. Half of the English vocabulary is made up of Latin words and roots. It's been made apparent as we've studied Olim, that there is such a huge connection on where the English that we speak today stems from. Latin provides the root words for modern sciences. If your child is really into science then learning Latin will help them with all of the vocabulary that goes along with it. Also, Latin is the best way to prepare for learning any language. Considering so much vocabulary comes from Latin, it will not only give them a good foundation in the English language, but it also gives them a head start on other languages they want to learn.

How does Olim work, and how did we use it in our school?

Olim, Once Upon a Time Reader I and the Workbook I, that goes along with it are designed specifically for beginning Latin students. This program uses fables, parables, and Bible stories to introduce Latin to students. We were chosen to review the Reader I set that includes the stories:

  • The Three Little Pigs/Tres Parvi Porci
  • The Tortoise and the Hare/Testudo ET Lepus
  • The Crow and The Pitcher/Corvus ET Urceus
The way the program works is that the story is presented first in English and then in Latin. The student first reads the English version of the story that has been simplified to make it easier to read in Latin. After the English version is read, then they will move on to the Latin version.

As they read through in Latin, they have a vocabulary box on the side that tells them what each word means. This makes it much easier. At the end of the pate it will tell them to STOP and do the workbook page that goes along with it. The student can do one or more pages a day. We chose to do one, because it seemed to be too much if we tried to go on.

It's actually very simple. In the workbook there is also a Digging Deeper section that allows the student to learn more facets of the language.

We actually went a step further and created flash cards for the vocabulary words. This seemed to help tremendously, and my kids were memorizing their vocabulary words very quickly using these!

What did we think?

Even though this course is designed for beginners, it's still very challenging. I found the most difficult part to be trying to remember how to pronounce the words correctly. I'm very thankful for the page that tells you how to pronounce different letters and syllables. I had to refer to it A LOT!! Overall, I think this is a good course especially for beginners. It takes something familiar like the story or fable and then gives you the Latin version. It is a lot easier to make the connection that way. We will definitely be continuing this in our school. If you are interested in adding Latin to your school, Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin, Reader I and Workbook I from Laurelwood Books is definitely a good start!

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Laurelwood Books was very generous and let 100 of us review their products. To read other reviews, click the banner below!

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}
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Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Week Before the Wedding ~ Weekly Wrap-Up

The countdown is on and it's now the week of the wedding! In case you haven't heard, my oldest is getting married next Saturday. We are getting things ready this week to go back home on Tuesday. I'm pretty sure there will be a lot to do once we get there! It's been a busy, wild, and abnormal couple of months since we moved. I am ready to have some normalcy back in our lives after we get home from the wedding.

This week has been a pretty normal week with the exception of Drake working until 230 am...It throws us all off schedule, but hopefully that will come to an end soon. I'm proud of him that he works so hard.

I have been working on Baylie's bohemian jars for her wedding. They aren't easy, but I am figuring them out slowly but surely. I found them on Pinterest, but it only told you the supplies you need, I could never find any instructions on them! Anyway, I am going to do a tutorial on them when I get back. Maybe that way it will be a little easier for anyone else who wants to try them.

The downer part of the week was yesterday morning. I tried on my brand new shoes I got for the wedding. I wanted to try them on with my dress so that I could see if my dress was still long. I took about 4 steps and my ankle literally gave out on me. I broke it many years ago in a bad car accident, and it's just weak. So, now I'm torn about wearing them :( I mean I SURE don't want that to happen at the wedding! So, now I have to make the decision whether to keep them, or go and try to find some different ones that are flats. 

Other than that it's been a busy week. We've been having some incredible sunsets lately so I took a quick pic of one the other evening.

I will post a bunch of pictures from the wedding after we get home and settled! I think it will be beautiful. My baby is all grown up now. I'm sure I will shed some tears next week...better get my waterproof mascara for that day!

Have a beautiful week everyone!