Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tomatoes from my garden

Heroes of History - Milton Hershey by YWAM Publishing ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

This year we added in a Biography read aloud time during our school day. We couldn't have asked for a better book to start with other than Heroes of History - Milton Hershey in the Heroes of History series by YWAM Publishing.

I was introduced to these books last year, and I was super impressed by the one we read. Heroes of History is a biography series about influential people that bring history to life. The story form of the book tells all about the people who have helped shape our history over the years, but also makes you feel like you are right there with them.

What did we receive?

YWAM Publishing sent us the physical book, which is a little under 200 pages. They also sent us the downloadable digital study guide that goes along with the book. This way you can take this book and turn it into a unit study if you want to.

The digital study guide is very easy to access after you download it. The great thing about it is that it's not just for homeschool settings. There are also guides for small groups and classrooms. The first part of the Unit Study is the main part with all of the questions, ideas for activities etc. The second part includes the fact sheets, timeline, and mapping exercises. This Curriculum Study Guide is full of information and wonderful ideas. 

How did we use it?

Like I said, we used this as part of our read aloud time. We tried to at least read a chapter a day and then go to our study guide. The study guides are really amazing and so well put together. Like I said before, it is so easy to turn this book into a unit study. After we read our chapter for the day then we would use the Chapter questions to review. These review questions always sparked some great conversations. One of my favorite parts is when they give you a word that was in the book, and ask you to use it in a sentence. My kids had a lot of fun with this vocabulary exercise. These books go into great detail not only about the subject of the book, but also about times and things in that time period of the book. This always sparked conversations about that time period. 

This book in particular tells all about the life of Milton Hershey, and what a life it was! My kids learned that he had to go through many disappointments before being successful. They loved hearing about the chocolate of course, but I think what interested them more was the hard work that was put into making something as simple as candy. To them, candy just magically appears on the shelf at the store. Milton Hershey had to make all of it by hand and then sell it for pennies on the street long before he was ever a household name. He faced so many hardships in his life, but one thing is for sure, he never gave up.

What did we think?

Saying that these books are good is an understatement. I knew last year that I wanted more of these books, and I'm hoping to be able to get the entire set. They are so engaging, and even have great chapter cliff hangers! They go into so much detail about the person, but also about the tools they used, and the events that happened in history around them. If you are looking for great biographies you really should check out the Heroes of History set, or the Christian Heroes: Then & Now, they are both so good and you won't regret it. 

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YWAM was generous enough to let 100 of us review their products, so if you would like to read other reviews, just click the banner below!

Christian & History Heroes {YWAM Publishing Reviews}

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Around town ~ Wordless Wednesday

Yesterday we showed my son's girlfriend around town. We had to bring her to some of our happy places!

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course by The Typing Coach ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Typing is a skill that every person needs to know. I didn't learn how to type until I was a Senior in High School, but in this day and age computers are used for everything. Now with almost any job you get, there will be a need for typing at some point. That brings me to our latest review that Gavin has been working on, The Typing Coach Online Typing Course by The Typing Coach.

We tried several different typing courses when Gav was younger, but he just wasn't devoted enough to it to learn it. I didn't push it on him because I knew that as he got older he would still be able to learn it, and probably even concentrate on it better. I had decided that in middle school I really wanted him to try it again. We had our upcoming new school year starting, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get him back in it.

The Typing Coach was created by a veteran typing teacher who wanted to get students quickly weaned from relying on the monitor and keyboard, and get them typing by memory. He vows that his students will type faster, and more efficiently with fewer errors. The Typing Coach is not a game, but an effective way of teaching that gets the students typing correctly in no time.

Getting started with the course was quick and easy. After logging in, we read the course description, and watched the visual tour of the course. We also got our Student Packet printed out. We started with Lesson 1, Good Posture. There are slower paced lessons for younger students or those with special circumstances if you need to start there instead. Gavin learned that with typing good posture is critical. He has been very good at keeping his posture every day. The Typing Coach told him to line the 7 key up with his belly button every day just to make sure everything was straight and ready to go.

Moving on to the Home Row was pretty exciting for Gav. He was ready to start typing. This course is an audio based course because you aren't supposed to be looking at the screen. There are a few instructions to get you ready for the lesson such as having your Student Packet beside you and ready to go, and also having your form of word processor open. Next you play the audio. The Typing Coach leads you through learning correct finger placement, and right into learning to type the Home Row. The audio is clear and very easy to understand. The best part about it is that if you miss something, all you have to do is rewind it and start over. Once you go through the audio, you will use your practice page to type until you can type it without looking and no errors. This is KEY to having success with the program. You have to make sure that your student knows that step before moving on. Gavin did good with this. He was really excited when he typed that Home Row with no errors!

There are 7 steps to the program.

  1. Having Good Posture
  2. Home Row
  3. Top Row
  4. Bottom Row
  5. Shift Keys
  6. Typing Practices 
  7. Number Row
Gavin has made it through the first 3 steps, and is moving right along. We practice pretty much every day, and he's happy! We are just going along at his pace, and it's working great! I have a lot of confidence in this program because first and foremost, he doesn't complain about it! He hasn't cared for any of the other courses he's taken. I have to say that I was really impressed with The Typing Coach Online Typing Course by The Typing Coach, and I would highly recommend it if you are in need of a typing program!

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The Typing Coach was very generous and let 100 of us review this product, so if you would like to read other reviews, just click the banner below!

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc. ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

We love adding art into our school time. In fact, we made sure to add it into our looping time for this school year so that it wasn't easily forgotten. We have been using the Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc. for the last few weeks and we love them!

If you have never heard of The Pencil Grip, Inc., it is a company that was started back in 1992 by Dr. Lois Provda, who is an educational therapist. 20 years later they have grown to offer hundreds of products for home, school, and office.

What did we receive?

We were lucky enough to receive 6 different classic colors of their mess free solid tempera paint. You can buy Kwik Stix in a variety of sizes and colors that include 6 colors, 12 colors, or more.

What are Thin Stix?

When we reviewed the Kwik Stix 12 pk last year, my kids thought they were going to be like twistable crayons. Although they do look a bit like that, they are so much more. Kwik Stix, and in this case the Thin Stix, are mess free, solid tubes of tempera paint. You don't even need water, and they dry in 90 seconds. That is honestly one of the best parts about them. You can have the kids do a project, and there's no waiting around for hours for it to dry.

The only difference in the bigger Kwik Stix and the Thin Stix is size. They both have the same great qualities which include super bright colors that will give you a great end result. You can use them on practically anything including canvas, wood, paper, and so much more!

How did we use Thin Stix?

Last year, the kids had a great time using the Kwik Stix on a canvas. While we use them for numerous projects, I wanted to do something different and fun for them. I got on Pinterest and found a really neat project at Gift of Curiosity. It's a simple project that we could add into our 30 minute crafting time.

 All you need is:

  • cardboard
  • yarn
  • aluminum foil
  • tape
  • scissors
  • and your Kwik Stix
You start by taking your cardboard and cutting slits all around it. 

They then wrapped yard around the cardboard through the slits and made all kinds of abstract designs.


Next they took a piece of aluminum foil, and placed it on the cardboard on top of the yarn design. We taped it in the back to hold it. They then pressed the foil around the yarn so that the designs stood out. 

Finally, they took their Thin Stix and painted inside of the raised pieces where the yarn is and created a beautiful picture!! 

Look at those beautiful colors!! The Thin Stix literally glided along and were so vibrant in color! This was such a fun project for us, and it didn't take long. The Thin Stix were perfect for this.

If you are looking to add another art supply to your school, I would highly recommend the Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc. They are definitely one of our favorites!

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100 of us on the crew were able to review this product, so if you would like to read more reviews, click the banner below!!
No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Weekly Layout 5/22

I was so exhausted this past weekend that I just kind of threw this layout together. I think it ended up being one of my favorite ones though lol!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 15-19 Weekly Wrap-Up

Well this week was pretty good for being our first week of our school year. That's one reason I like to school year round. We take frequent breaks, but it's not hard for them to get back into gear.

Edyn started a new math this year called Unlock Math. We are really loving it so far. It breaks the math down into small segments and that is perfect for her. It's not overwhelming at all. I will have a full review coming up on this soon so be sure and look for that!

Gavin has started typing again. Yes again. We started typing a couple of years ago, but I just don't think he was ready. He seems to be doing much better, and has already mastered the home row, and started on the top row. He's pretty excited about it!

I decided that this year I wanted to work Biography read alouds into our normal day. We love learning about people so I thought, why not just take 30 minutes a day and add it into our schedule. So far it's working great! Our first book is about Milton Hershey. Wow this one is even more interesting that I thought! This book is by YWAM, and I absolutely love their books. They do a great job of teaching not only about the person they are centered around, but also so much about the history around them. They are some of our favorites! I am hoping to incorporate some lapbooks and notebooking in on some of these books, plus also with history and science.

We love to be able to stop our normal school day and look out at the nature in our yard. We live in the suburbs but that does not mean we lack on nature! We have a ton of rabbits in our neighborhood, and we always love to watch them. The kids threw a banana out to our baby bunny back there to see if he would eat it. They loved watching him while he checked it out very slowly before approaching it!

This week we got to see a really big lizard on our backyard wall too. I had heard they were around here, but have never seen one...until now. They are super neat to watch, but they are very fast. We did some research and we are pretty sure it's a Texas Spiny Lizard. I am very happy to have him around because they eat spiders...and I do NOT like spiders! I hope to see more of them!

We ended our week with lunch at Chick fil a, and bringing Gavin to Nerf Wars at the park. We have a big beautiful park here that has plenty of open space to run and shoot. He got to hang with friends, I got to hang with Mom friends (thank you Jesus lol), and Edyn even made a new friend! 

All in all I would say that this has been a pretty nice week. Looking forward to seeing what fun next week brings!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Captain Absolutely from Focus On The Family ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

If there is one way to get my 12 year old son's attention, it's with a comic book. Gav was super excited when I handed him Captain Absolutely from Focus On The Family.

We have been fans of Focus On The Family and their products for years, although we are not familiar with Captain Absolutely. I do know that his character is a spin off from their popular series, Adventures In Odyssey, which was originally featured in their Clubhouse Magazine. I knew that when we received Captain Absolutely that it would be a quality product, and it was. This comic book is 105 pages of pure action packed Bible fun!

When Captain Absolutely arrived in the mail, my son Gav couldn't wait to get started on it. My plan was for him to read it aloud to me, because it's honestly easier for me to write reviews when we do it that way. The only problem, and I use that word loosely, was that when he got it he devoured it before I heard the first word! I would say that's a great problem to have! So, I will be giving you a quick summary of what he told me about the book.

"Captain Absolutely is about a librarian named Josiah King. Josiah was working in the library putting books back where they belong, while his friend Darren was upgrading their computers to the Dewey Decimal System. Darren loved to eat sunflower seeds, and Josiah even joked with him that he would drop one in the computer and blow it up. Like 2 seconds later, that's exactly what happened. The explosion sent them flying and Josiah ended up in a room with all of the banned books, which turn out to be Bibles. He started reading, learning the truth, and becomes Captain Absolutely. Darren ends up getting thrown into the Philosophy room and he ends up being the arch nemesis of Captain Absolutely, Dr. Relative. He can fight you with his neutralizer and make you forget the truth because it reminds you of all of the things you've done wrong. Captain Absolutely goes on to fight Dr. Relatives legion of villains along with his sidekick Hana." ~ Gavin

 I asked him what he liked the most and he said, "I loved learning about the Bible and how to fight the things that could come at me in my life. I loved the Bible verses that were through the whole comic."

When he was done, I decided to thumb through it so that I could get a better idea of it and I was super impressed with it. He was correct that it does have great Bible quotes throughout it. It also has little jokes in it that make it really funny. What was also pretty neat is that at the end it had a list of the characters and their "powers." It also gives the Bible verse that counteracts their "powers." There was a lot of truth and Scripture with this comic, and honestly not much more you could ask for with it. It was great!

I have to also comment on the drawings and the bright colors. It was truly amazing work! The book is so well made that it will last a long time.

If you are looking for some good quality Christian entertainment for your kids, then I would highly recommend Captain Absolutely from Focus On The Family. You won't be disappointed!

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70 of us were blessed to be able to review this product, so if you would like to read other reviews, just click the banner below. 

Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}

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