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Friday, November 21, 2014

Why Do We Call It Christmas? Review & Giveaway #WhyDoWeCallItChristmas

Do you have questions about Christmas? Things like Why do we call it Christmas? Why do we celebrate on December 25th? Who is St. Nicholas? Who is Emmanuel? These questions and more are answered in Buck Denver asks....Why Do We Call It Christmas? 

This movie is about friends getting together for a Christmas party in Indiana. We see the different characters traveling to the party as they answer questions about Christmas, Jesus, St. Nicholas, and more. The characters are very entertaining by telling jokes throughout the cartoon. 

We watched this movie all together as a family. We love the VeggieTales & couldn't wait to watch Why Do We Call It Christmas? because it is from the VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer. This video is very educational with funny jokes intertwined. We were all laughing through the entire 60 minutes. My girls thought the joke about Mistletoeing was so funny. Some of the jokes helped us to remember key points used to answer a questions. 

I have one copy of Why Do We Call It Christmas? DVD to giveaway to someone in the US or Canada. Enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Award #hsreviews

2014 Blue Ribbon Awards
I cannot believe the 2014 Schoolhouse Review Crew run is over!! This year went by so fast & we ended the year with a fun review of the Snake Oil game. Every year at the end of a Crew Run we vote on our favorite products and that company receives a Blue Ribbon Award. This list will be available on Monday November 10 on the Crew Blog
2014 Blue Ribbon Awards
I wanted to tell you about some of our favorites from this year. I don't think I'll go through every category like we voted on, but I'll share my kids & my over all favorites. 

This is not going to be easy. We love our Trident iPad mini case, we are still liking Fix-It Grammar, Alaina still loves Spelling You See, so many choices!! We all agree that we love Under Drakes Flag from Heirloom Audio Productions, Artistic Pursuits is always a favorite for us, and Delaney pays a lot more attention to detail in her writing after using Essay Rock Star from Fortuigence. I don't think I can choose an overall favorite, but my kids can.
Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
Amber & Delaney both chose the same thing for their favorites. They both chose two things, but similar products.They are Middlebury Interactive Languages and Mango Languages. They enjoy learning foreign languages together. 

Mango Languages Review
Alaina's favorite for the year was Moving Beyond the Page. Who wouldn't love school when you get fun hands on activities to go with you school work. 
Moving Beyond the Page Review

Make sure you head over to the Crew Blog to read what products won the Blue Ribbon Award!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Word Up! Review @VisionForum

If you ask my girls who their favorite teacher is, they're probably not going to say their mom. I'm guessing they will say Dwane Thomas. Who is Dwane Thomas? He is the guy on Wordup! the Vocab Show from Compass Classroom. We were first introduced to Dwane in Visual Latin, and knew that WordUp! would be just as good. We were wrong, it is better.

Word Up! The Vocab Show from Compass Classroom

WordUp! teaches Latin and Greek roots along with English vocabulary words. This course is set up like no other program we have ever used for vocabulary or Latin & Greek roots. Dwane teaches more like a stand up comic than a teacher. He tells funny memorable stories to go along with the English vocabulary words. He first introduces us to the Latin root word then he turns it over to himself to give us 10 English words derived from the Latin root. Next we head over to Dwane who gives us a Greek root and he sends us back to Dwane to get our 10 English words derived from the Greek root. After watching the WordUp! episode you can access the flashcards, quizzes and games that use the words learned in each episode.

There are plans for multiple volumes of WordUp! available on DVD or automatic download. There is currently one volume completed. Each volume will contain 10 video lessons lasting around 15 minutes. They will teach 10 Latin roots & 10 Greek roots with 200+ Enlgish words. They will also include vocabulary flashcards, games & quizzes.

I have been using this with all three of my girls ages 9, 12, &13. They love watching each episode. I usually watch WordUp! with the girls, but once in awhile I might need to leave the room. When I come back they all three are either talking at the same time to tell me what Dwane just said or they start the lesson over again so I can watch it. I also have my girls keep a vocabulary notebook. They write each root at the top of the page & then list all the English and definitions on the same page. We also use the words for our spelling words & continue to work on any that they have missed.
Word Up! The Vocab Show from Compass Classroom

Disclaimer: I received WordUp! download free of charge from Compass Classroom in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Out of The Box Games Review #hsreivews @OTBgames

Out of the Box Games Review
I can't believe this is the last review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew for this year, and it is a fun one. We received Snake Oil from Out of the Box games. 
Out of the Box Games Review
Snake Oil is a game for 3-10 players that is recommended for ages 10 and up. It is from Out of the Box games and is available for $19.99. In this game you have two sets of cards. There is a set of Customer Cards and a set of Word Cards. 
The Customer Cards are one word descriptions of a customer like a newlywed, a hunter, a dictator and so on. The Word Cards each have one word that can be anything like a cape, a closet, fashion, seat, etc. Each player draws six Word Cards and one player draws a Customer Card. The Customer Card is two sided, so the player who is the Customer will choose one side to use for this round and will read it to the other players. The remaining players will choose two Word Cards from their hand to describe a made up product that that particular Customer will want to buy. The Customer then chooses the product they like the best. 
We have played this game several times. I have played with my girls (ages 9, 12, & 13) and they have played on their own. This educational game really gets your imagination going. It is so funny what stories my kids come up with from just two words.

Amber was the Customer and she chose the card Hunter. We each made up our product and she chose Delaney's. Delaney used the Word Cards Oil & Flower. Her product was Flower Oil. Her sales pitch was that hunters could use this Flower Oil while they were out hunting by dropping a few drops of oil in the dirt and flowers would immediately grow tall to make a covering for the hunter.

Another time the Customer was Santa. Alaina chose the Word Cards Mistake and Cream from her hand. Her product was Mistake Cream. This cream can be used by Santa when he makes a mistake while he is shaving. He can apply the Mistake Cream and his beard will grow back in the messed up part.
The one time my husband played Alaina chose the Customer Card Pregnant Woman. Mike chose the Word Cards Hat & Pillow. His sales pitch was for a Hat Pillow. He said every pregnant woman would want a Hat Pillow because you have a pillow at all times to put behind your back when sitting in a hard chair. He told her you will have back pain when you are pregnant. 

Out of the Box Games Review

My girls could make up some unbelievable products with a very believable sales pitch. All three of my girls like creative writing, so this game was very fun for them. After each person introduced their product they would all add to it or give their own rendition of the product. If your kids have trouble with creative writing this game would be a good starting point for them just by using the cards and not even playing the game.
After playing the game several times, my girls decided that if you are selling a product you need to actually set a price for it and sell it. So they decided to get out the fake money and charge each other for their products. 
 After playing that way for awhile Amber decided that they could auction off their products to the highest bidder. They chose a Customer Card and then one person created a product from their hand. If the other players liked the product they could place a bid on the item and the highest bidder won the card.
Why is Snake Oil called Snake Oil? Included in the directions is a little history about the original Snake Oil that was sold by Chinese laborers in 1860. In 1917 tests were done on the product and it did not contain any snake oil and as a result the salesmen were referred to as "Snake Oil Salesmen" and today it is used to refer to anyone who likes to stretch the truth. 
Out of the Box Games Review
Some Crew members received Snake Oil Party Potion recommended for ages 8 and up. You can read those reviews on the Crew Blog.
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Purposeful Design Review #hsreviews

Purposeful Design Review
I love books on my coffee table. Some of them are picture books, some of them are chapter books we are each reading, some of them are books we are currently reading aloud together or we are going to soon. Some of them I leave there on purpose so that someone will pick it up and look at the pictures again or read a little here and there. Our newest book that will remain on our coffee table for awhile is Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation by Jay Schabacker and Purposeful Design.  
Purposeful Design Review
Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation is a 91 page hardback book written by Jay Schabacker. It can be enjoyed by all ages and is available for $18.95. It is divided into seven chapters, with each chapter covering a day of creation. It doesn't just talk about creation it talks about how God's design for our world is perfectly arranged. 

Each day of Creation includes bible verses, scientific terms, and common facts that show how everything works together. There are a lot of photographs to make this book visually appealing to younger children. And the scientific information is very detailed, but understandable. A lot of information is shared about out planet, how it is perfectly lined up, how the earth rotates around the sun, benefits of the moon, the perfect design of the head, and so much more. 

Purposeful Design: The Young Explorer's Club is a free curriculum that goes along with the book. It is a 30 page PDF file and includes a Teacher's Key. There is a chapter for each chapter in the book covering each day of creation. The lessons include bible verses that may be used as memory verse. The questions are fill in the blank and then there are some places to draw pictures. If you have a wide range of kids you could easily have the younger kids answer the easier questions and draw a picture and have the older kids answer the questions. 

The Teacher's Key contains the entire curriculum with the answers filled in with red words. There are talking points included in the back to help you interact with your kids. It also includes a certificate to print out when the kids complete the course. 

I read this book out loud to my kids ages 9, 12, & 13. At first my older girls didn't think they would be very interested in it, until I started reading. Amber (13) was immediately drawn in when I started reading about our solar system. She is studying astronomy right now and is very fascinated by it. I wanted to read a chapter each day and discuss what we had just read. After the first time, Amber picked it up to finish it. I like how Jay shows us the purpose for our creation and how it works together. We all enjoyed the section on ocean tides. We have been to the ocean many times and talked about the tide, but Jay explains how we get a high tide every 12 hours. The pictures are beautiful. They are in full color and some of our favorites were the animals and planets. My nine year old loves the animal pictures in the section titled Our Purposeful Designer Has a Sense of Humor

This book would make a lovely addition to any home, church, or Sunday school class. We have been studying Ancient History this year and this fit in perfectly for Creation. We have also been studying astronomy so this has added to that class as well. 

Jay Schabacker has had various careers throughout his life. He has worked in church ministries, finance, and aerospace. He has worked on the Apollo Moon Program at NASA's Houston Manned Space Center, he has written an investment newsletter, started an investment firm, and written a personal finance book. Jay chooses to call creation a Purposeful Design instead of an Intelligent Design because creation was done with a purpose by a Purposeful Designer.  

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas Review & Giveaway @KirkCameron #SavingChristmas

 Like a lot of you I grew up watching Kirk Cameron on Growing Pains. Of course as a young girl my sisters and I loved watching the show together. Kirk's newest film Saving Christmas will be in Theaters for two weeks starting November 14, 2014.

As a blogger for Propeller Consulting I had the opportunity to view Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas and participate in a teleconference with Kirk Cameron. I also have a giveaway that includes the Saving Christmas soundtrack, an autographed movie poster, and a car air freshener that smells like a Christmas tree.

I will admit I was excited about the teleconference & I was very impressed by Kirk's response to the questions that were asked. Kirk said he grew up an atheist until someone invited him to church when he was 18 while filming Growing Pains. I did already know that he married Chelsea Noble, who played his girlfriend in Growing Pains but I didn't know family is a huge priority to Kirk and Chelsea. They try to have dinner as a family as much as possible and they homeschool their 6 kids. They thought public school lifestyle was too chaotic and he shared a quote from Voddie Baucham with us. I didn't write down the exact quote, but it was something like this. If you send you kids to Caesar, don't be surprised if they come back a Roman.

Kirk said he loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. He loves the lights, the songs, the presents, the music, etc. He decided to make Saving Christmas because he loves Christmas and he grew up not knowing what the nativity was all about. He wants to put Christ back into Christmas. Kirk said he wants people to come away from the movie excited about Christmas & singing Christmas carols.

I watched Saving Christmas with my husband and kids. In the movie Kirk's brother-in-law is upset with all the commercialism of Christmas. He is thinking that the extra money on gifts and food could be spent helping the needy. Kirk tracks him down and proceeds to find Christ in every aspect of Christmas. Kirk uses a lot of allegory to try and make everything relate to the Bible. He relates the Christmas tree to the tree of knowledge and evil, the presents to represent the New Jerusalem, and more.

I would have to say that I was a little disappointed in the movie. I think I was expecting more of a movie that we would want to watch every year, but it is more of Kirk sitting in the car talking to his brother-in-law. There were several times we were laughing and enjoying some of the scenes but there were other times during the movie that just seemed fake and bad acting. About half way through the movie my 9 year old wanted to know if this was an actual movie or just a talking movie.

Like Kirk, I love Christmas. I love the decorations, the food, family & friends, the caroling, the presents, and the music. But unlike Kirk, I don't feel the need to make everything surrounding Christmas to be biblical. There are things in our lives in the day-to-day and on holidays that aren't biblical & that is ok. We celebrate Christmas to enjoy our friends and family, and to remember the birth of our savior, but we shouldn't feel the need to try and make all of our traditions to be biblical. The bible commands us to remember Christ's death every first day of the week, but we are never commanded to remember His birth. Christmas gives us a time to rejoice in the fact that Jesus came in the flesh and lived a perfect life to die for our sins.
The soundtrack looks amazing and I have one to giveaway!! There are songs by 1 Girl Nation, Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, Tenth Avenue North, Kerrie Roberts, Rebecca St. James, Building 429, Jason Crabb, Matt Maher & Rhett Walker Band.

One winner will receive a Saving Christmas poster autographed by Kirk Cameron, the Saving Christmas sound track, and a car air freshener that smells like a Christmas Tree. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can follow Kirk Cameron, Saving Christmas and 
The McClanahan 7 on Social Media.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Ping Pong Tricks

Now that it is getting cooler and more windy outside the girls have been in the garage playing ping pong more often. Plus Amber's soccer teams are taking a break from practice for a few weeks so she has went from soccer juggling every day to learning ping pong tricks. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Homemade Decadence Review #cookbook @joythebaker

I have been to the blog many times in the past to look at her recipes and sometimes just her pictures. The photos she shares look amazing, I can make good food and love trying new recipes, but one thing I can't do is get good photos of my finished product. Joy Wilson is Joy the Baker and her photography has been featured in Food & Wine, Redbook, The Atlantic, and Her blog has also been named Best Baking Blog by Saveur. So when I saw her cookbook, Homemade Decadence, I knew I had to get a copy.

Homemade Decadence has 125 of Joy's favorite recipes. Some of them are super easy that anyone can make and some of them are a little more complicated. The 272 page book contains five chapters.

  • Brunch
  • Cookies, Brownies & Bars
  • Pies, Crumbles & Cobblers
  • Layer Cakes, Cupcakes & Skillet Cakes
  • Ice Cream Social
I couldn't wait for my copy to arrive in the mail & as soon as we opened it my girls and I sat down to look at all the wonderful pictures. Then we went back through to see what we wanted to make first. Amber is 13 and she wanted to make Pineapple-Coconut Ambrosia Pie, Delaney is 12 and she wanted to try Mango-Rose Water Cheesecake, Alaina is 9 and she though the Vanilla Bean Confetti Cookies would be the best thing to make first, I had trouble deciding but finally picked Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream as my choice for the first recipe to try. 

Well we went with one that we had all the ingredients for, The Dark Chocolate Pistachio & Smoked Sea Salt Cookies. The recipe was very easy to follow & both the dough and the cookies were delicious. I say were, because they didn't last long.

With each recipe Joy gives a little introduction to the recipe about her family, why a recipe is her favorite, or how food is like people she knows. Each recipe is clearly written and easy to follow. This is very important because my girls all like to cook and sometimes the instruction section of a recipe is very wordy. All the ingredients are listed on the side of the recipe, so it is very easy to see what ingredients you need before getting started.

We look forward to making more recipes from this cookbook. I'm sure it will be a go to cookbook for us for years to come.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received. 

Chris August The Christmas EP Review & Giveaway @ChrisAugust @FamilyChristian #Christmasmusic

View photo.JPG in slide show
I love Christmas music, and I actually listen to it all year long. I keep my favorites in my Christmas sleigh basket. One year I misplaced one of my favorites and I looked and looked for it. I accused my family of getting rid of it or at least hiding it until Christmas rolled around. I never did find it, but my older daughter gave me a new one for Christmas that year. (It was the best gift I received that year!)

For the past couple of weeks I have been listening to a new Christmas album from Chris August titled The Christmas EP. There are 5 titles on this cd:
  • Come Now Our King
  • Jesus, Savior
  • I'll Be Home For Christmas
  • O Holy Night
  • Tell Me What You Want For Christmas
We have been listening to this cd in the house and in the car. My favorite song is I'll Be Home For Christmas, (maybe because I am so looking forward to having all of my children together again). I love the lyrics to this classic, but Chris puts an upbeat twist to it. My kids like Tell Me What You Want For Christmas the best. They really like the silliness to the lyrics & were even laughing while they listened to it the first time. We love the sound of this cd, my kids think it isn't as Christmassy sounding as the rest of my collection so they said they could listen to it all year. I agree, the words an music go very well together with the feeling of Christmas. It has put me in the mood to get out my Christmas tree and decorations. 

I love the upbeat tune throughout the songs, and we are all singing along. My daughter is already thinking of singing Jesus, Savior at church when it gets closer to Christmas. 

The Christmas EP has definitely gained a spot in my Christmas sleigh basket that is if it ever gets out of the cd player.

You can stay in touch with Family Christian, Chris August, and The McClanahan 7 on their Facebook pages. 

I have a $10 Appreciation Certificate that can be used at Family Christian online to giveaway to one of my lucky readers. Just enter the Rafflecopter below. 
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Chris August The Christmas EP from Family Christian in exchange for my review. They also supplied the $10 appreciation certificate to giveaway. All opinions are my own and no other compensation was received. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fascinating Education Review #hsreviews

Fascinating Education Review
A lot of homeschool parents worry about teaching their kids high school level science. We just found out about Fascinating Education that teaches middle school and high school science. We have had access to Fascinating Biology and it makes teaching this level of science so much easier. 

Fascinating Education offers online science classes that teaches by using illustrations as the primary teaching tool and then supplements them with text. This approach uses the right hemisphere of the brain and can help students stay focused on the subject that is being studied. There are currently three courses to chose from. Fascinating Chemistry, Fascinating Biology, and Fascinating Physics are recommended for students in middle school through high school. One course may be purchased for $79., two courses are $125., and all three courses for $175. You will have access to the courses for one full year. 

Fascinating Education Review
We received access to Fascinating Biology. This biology course assumes that you know nothing about biology when you start. It teaches basic principles of biology in 18 lessons:
  • Lesson 1~ What is Life?
  • Lesson 2~ Chemistry Review
  • Lesson 3~ Cell Membrane
  • Lesson 4~ Take in Nutrients
  • Lesson 5~ Take in Energy, Part 1
  • Lesson 6~ Take in Energy, Part 2
  • Lesson 7~ Take in Energy, Part 3
  • Lesson 8~ Take in Energy, Part 4
  • Lesson 9~ Grow
  • Lesson 10~ Reproduce, Part 1
  • Lesson 11~ Reproduce, Part 2
  • Lesson 12~ Reproduce, Part 3
  • Lesson 13~ Homeostasis, Part 1
  • Lesson 14~ Homeostasis, Part 2
  • Lesson 15~ Adapt, Part 1
  • Lesson 16~ Adapt, Part 2
  • Lesson 17~ Prokaryotes, Protists, Animals and Fungi
  • Lesson 18 ~ Plants
The Biology course was written by Dr. Margulies. He is a neurologist and understands how the brain works, how we learn, focus and retain information. 

Once you log into your account your course screen will show you all of the lessons. You have the option of watching the Lesson, reading the Text, or completing the Test. 
When you chose to watch the lesson you will have a list of each topic covered in the lesson. The video will continue through the entire list or you may stop & start or re-watch any one of the topics by clicking on it or by using the next or previous button at the bottom of the video. There is also a Glossary that includes the terms used during the lesson. You may click on any of the words to show the definition underneath. 
 The text may be read directly on the computer or you may print it out and use it to follow along during the video/audio lesson or use it for review.
The online tests are multiple choice and are automatically graded. You may go back and forth through the questions until you submit your answers for grading. Or if you would rather print them out you can access the tests as a PDF. 
Fascinating Biology is very detailed and Amber (age 13) and I like watching the video as we were being told about the topic. We both think it is easier to remember the information when we have a visual to go with it. Amber has retained the information she has learned, but she thought the audio was a little monotone. She said there wasn't much inflection in his voice. We have been working on reading aloud to an audience, so this topic is fresh in her mind. Each lesson was very easy to use, if you need to stop for whatever reason you will be taken to where you left off when you return again. This course does include evolution. We used this as a teaching tool as to what some people think and compared it to what we know from the Bible. 

Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew used all three courses. You can read those reviews on the Crew Blog
Fascinating Education Review
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