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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Sad Day

Today we had to say goodbye to Edyn's chinchilla Zeppelin. 

We woke up today and he was lethargic and crying, so we rushed him to the vet. They took care of him all day long, but as hard as they tried, they couldn't save him. 

We will miss you sweet Zeppy. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set from Apologia Educational Ministries ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Homeschooling high school can seem a bit overwhelming in itself. It makes it so much easier when you have a good curriculum to start with. For the last few weeks, Edyn with my help, has been working on Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set from Apologia Educational Ministries.

One of my very favorite homeschool vendors is Apologia Educational Ministries. If you're part of the homeschooling world, or even if you're not, then you have probably heard of this amazing company. With them being the #1 publisher of creation based science and Bible curriculum, it's hard not to know them. 

Marine Biology 2nd Edition is an award winning college prep science class for homeschoolers. It comes from a Biblical point of view for science, and that is something I love. I was excited for this review because Edyn loves anything to do with marine life or the ocean in general. I knew that this would be a great science for her to add to her high school transcript even though she hasn't finished Biology yet. Biology is a prerequisite for this course, but I knew that we could go through it together if needed, and then shelve it until she's ready for it. This program is intended to be used for a full year in order to be counted for a high school credit. 

What did we receive for this review?

Apologia is always very generous in what they send for us to review. This time was no different.

Student Textbook

This student textbook is quite large coming in at over 550 pages. It's a very nice hardbound book that will last for years. Each module is labeled on the side of the page so that it's a bit easier to find where you are in the book. If they were different colors, that would make it even nicer, but it still works! The pictures in the book are bright and colorful and add the visuals that student's need to understand the content even more. 

In the back of the book, they have a list of any and all supplies you will need to conduct the labs at home. Some of the products are household supplies and some of them are included in the laboratory equipment set sold separately. 

Student Notebook

I love the Student Notebook because it is so nice to not have to worry about printing off worksheets or having a notebook. This consumable notebook is all laid out for you and is a very nice spiral bound book that is close to 500 pages. It is also very colorful just like the text book. I will touch more on this later in the review.

Test-and-Solutions Manual

This is great for easy grading. I love having all of the solutions in one place because as a busy homeschool mom, it makes it much easier. The tests for this program are also included here. 

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD

This is such a nice edition to the kit although you do have to purchase it separately. The Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD ,read by Marissa Leinhart, is perfect for any student who may be an auditory learner. It is not a regular CD but an MP3 CD which means you will need an MP3 compatible player. You can also play it on your computer. 

Edyn, for example, does so much better listening to a text that is being read to her while she follows along in the book. She ends up retaining the information better than if she was to just read it herself. I am always excited and appreciative when there is anything that goes with a program that will help Edyn excel at it. 
How does this program work and how did we use it?

I wanted to work through this program with Edyn together since she hasn't yet finished Biology. However, it is designed to help your student work more independently by laying out everything they need for them. This is one of my favorite things. They give you a schedule at the beginning of the workbook that tells your student what needs to be done day to day. It's color coded for each module and you can check off each day as you go. 

The actual course is laid out in a total of 16 modules. 
  • Module 1 - The Oceans of Our Planet
  • Module 2 - Life in the Sea
  • Module 3 - The First Four Kingdoms
  • Module 4 - Marine Invertebrates I
  • Module 5 - Marine Invertebrates II
  • Module 6 - Marine Vertebrates I
  • Module 7 - Marine Vertebrates II
  • Module 8 - Marine Ecology
  • Module 9 - The Intertidal Zone
  • Module 10 - Estuary Communities
  • Module 11 - Coral Reefs
  • Module 12 - Continental Shelf Communities
  • Module 13 - The Epipelagic Zone
  • Module 14 - The Deep Ocean
  • Module 15 - Ocean Resources
  • Module 16 - Effects of Humans on the Sea

Each module is supposed to take around two weeks if you work 5 days a week about 45 minutes a day. Like I said before each day is laid out for the student so they will know exactly what needs to be done. While we were doing this as a review, and don't plan on using it full time until next year, we worked on it about three days a week.

We started our day by looking up the schedule to see what the assignment for the day would be. On most days the student will have some reading involved. This is where we would get our CD out and listen to the text being read while following along in the text book. The workbook is equipped with wonderful note taking pages before each module. While reading this gives your student a chance to take notes about what is being read. You can easily pause the CD and write down the important parts of the text. This is perfect for us since we do a lot of notebooking. Even better that it is already included in the Student Notebook. I love how they include a sample page for note taking. Edyn hasn't really gotten formal note taking down yet, and this helped her tremendously on what she needed to be trying to focus on. 

After reading, you will then go on to that day's On Your Own Questions. These are questions over what was read and gives the student a chance to dive deeper into what they have learned. We went over these together because I wanted to make sure she understood what she was reading about. 

The next part of the module in the Student Notebook is the Study Guide. This gives them additional vocabulary review and more questions to ensure they have a good idea of what the entire module was about. 

Finally, there is an optional summary or study that they can do to prepare for the test they will take. 

There are a lot of experiments that go with this curriculum. I chose to skip over them for now, because we will be going back and doing this course in full. Like I said before, you can go to the back of the textbook, and you will find the list of things that you will need. That way you can prepare in advance. 

Once they have completed the module the will take the test that coincides with it. From that point on they will move on to the next module. 

What did we think?

Honestly Edyn and I both wish we could just continue on with this course without finishing Biology. We are both enjoying learning about life in the sea. I have to say that there are not a lot of curriculum choices that are laid out as well as the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set from Apologia Educational Ministries. They go above and beyond to not only ensure that the student is getting the best possible content, but that the parent isn't left behind lost not knowing what's going on. The organization is top notch with this product, and it shows throughout the curriculum. I love how the information is laid out for the student, but yet doesn't overwhelm them. Even though there are a few areas Edyn may have needed a little extra help, the majority of the time she did it independently. I think by the time she gets back to this, she will be well on her way to working pretty much on her own. 

If you are in need of a science credit for your high schooler, I highly recommend this program. It goes above and beyond as solid, well written, easy to follow curriculum. Apologia Educational Ministries does not ever disappoint!

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Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}
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Friday, September 1, 2017

The Greatest Inventors from A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

I love doing lapbooks even though my kids are getting older. There's just something about them that I have always been drawn to. For the last few weeks we have had the privilege of working on The Greatest Inventors from A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks

If you are new to homeschooling, or have never heard of lapbooks, let me explain a little bit about what they are. A lapbook is kind of like a collection of little pieces of information, which are called mini-books, and they are all combined together to make one big book. This is normally done by using file folders. They can be very fun, and you can get very creative with them. Lapbooks can be used for almost any subject and also for any age. I love them because in our house, they turn into a wonderful study tool, but it's also something tangible that the kids have made, and can go back and review it at any time.

What did we receive for our review?

We were given the download version of The Greatest Inventors that also includes a study guide. It is nicely put together and gives you almost everything you need to get started. They use clear, colorful pictures and pieces that make working on this lapbook fun and easy. 

With this lapbook set your children will learn about some of the greatest inventors of our time! The Greatest Inventors includes many wonderful people such as:
  • Henry Ford
  • Thomas Edison
  • Eli Whitney
  • The Wright Brothers
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • and many more!

How did we use it in our school?

This is a fun review for us. We love learning about people so much that we dedicated a time everyday to work on a biography. The Greatest Inventors fit perfectly into that time for us. After receiving the download, it's basically a print and go. All you need other than the lapbook components are three file folders and some glue sticks.

After everything is printed, you will see that it has a few instructions in the beginning, and even a map to help show you where to put the smaller books into the lapbook itself. I love that because it makes it fast and easy. 

We used this as a mini unit study. Each person that is included in the lapbook has a page or two about them that tells their accomplishments and what they invented. We would use that as a guide, and read other books about them, other information on the Internet, or even watch videos about them. You for sure do not have to do the extra if you are wanting just a quick and fun lapbook. 

Putting the lapbook together is easy and instructions are included. You will basically glue together three folders and it will make one big book. We would read the information sheet about the person we were studying, and then fill out the mini book and glue it onto it's space on the folder. It's very simple! From there, you can extend this study as much as you want. You could do some extra crafts, or just utilize short movies on YouTube. It's very flexible. 

What did we think?

We love it! We haven't finished it yet because like I said we are drawing the lessons out a bit. It's geared for grades 2-8 so you could use it with multiple kids, and that is always something I love. 

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Lapbooks for Classical Conversations, Apologia, Inventors & 20th Century {A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks Reviews}

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