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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener Review #pencilsharpener #sharppencils #lovetodraw


Finally!! We have found the best pencil sharpener we have ever used. The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener is by far the best pencil sharpener. We have an electric sharpener, and several different hand held ones. We actually just started buying mechanical pencils because we didn't like sharpening our pencils for school any more. We were eagerly waiting for our new pencil sharpener and hoping that it worked at good as I had heard. 

The Classroom Friendly Sharpeners come in seven different colors and I was glad we got the purple one. This pencil sharpener works a little different than any I have ever used. The front cover plate extends out and grips the pencil. While you turn the handle to sharpen the pencil this plate pulls the pencil into the sharpener itself. When the pencil is very sharp it will become easier to turn the handle. The black levers on the top are used to grip and release the pencil. There is a little drawer under the blade that catches the shavings and it easily removed for disposal. 


We were all surprised at how sharp we could get our pencils and the girls love them that sharp when they are drawing. Alaina liked using this pencil sharpener so much that she sharpened all of our pencils. She also takes it throughout the house when she is drawing or coloring with colored pencils. 

We did have a pencil lead break off inside our blade housing and we could easily clear that by removing the handle. 

This is by far the best pencil sharpener plus it is the easiest  to use and the most quiet. I'm so glad we found Classroom Friendly Supplies

Disclaimer: I received a Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener free of charge in order to write my review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Homeschool Review Crew 2016 Blue Ribbon Awards #hsreviews #blueribbonaward #favorites

Meet the Homeschool Review Crew Curriculum Favourites for 2016
Now that the 2016 Homeschool Review Crew year has come to an end the Blue Ribbon Awards are out. All the items that were up for review this year are divided into categories and we all got to vote on our favorites for the year. I always sit down with my girls and we discuss what ones we think were our favorites. It is always a hard choice to make because we review so many wonderful items. 

Here is how we voted this year:
History Curriculum ~ Homeschool In the Woods
History Supplement ~ Cat of Bubastes
Science Curriculum ~ Science Shepherd
Science Supplement ~ 101 Series
Math Curriculum ~Demme Learning
Math Supplement ~ Sunya Publishing
Foreign Language Curriculum ~ Foreign Language for Kids by Kids
Fine Art Product ~ Pencil Grip
Elective Curriculum ~ Online Filmmakers Academy
Christian Education Curriculum ~ Veritas 
Middle School Product ~ Writers In Residence
High School Product ~ 101 Series
College Prep ~ Middlebury
Parent's Choice ~ Koru Naturals
Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed ~Apologia: Writers In Residence
Best Online Product ~ Middlebury
Best eProduct ~Everyday Education
Just For Fun ~ Pencil Grip

Kids Choice
Amber ~ Beric the Brittain 
Delaney~ Getting Started With French
Alaina ~Pencil Grip

Friday, November 18, 2016

Five Minute Friday Enjoy #fmf #amwriting

I can't believe it is Friday again and next week is Thanksgiving. The Five Minute Friday prompt this week is Enjoy!

Enjoy

We have had a very warm fall and Wednesday it was 75° and last night it started snowing.   


My kids and I really enjoy our snowfalls & I can't imaging living any where that doesn't get to enjoy looking out at a moonlight snowfall. There is something about standing outside at midnight in the cold with the snow falling.

My husband really enjoys his old truck. It may not run, but they bring him joy just the same. They are a beautiful sight with a couple of inches of snow on them.

We decided to take a "snow day" from school. Amber & Alaina have been outside all day, but Delaney came inside to make some gingerbread cookies. My house smells wonderful and the other girls were thrilled to have a warm cookie to eat outside.

I do not look forward to my kids growing up and moving out, but I do enjoy the time I have with my teenagers. They are always full of laughter and make my days special.

The first snowfall is always a joy to us and we are looking forward to spending time with our friends and family during the holiday season.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Biology 101 Review #hsreviews #101series #homeschoolscience


Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
I'm sure every homeschool parent worries at some point about teaching their kids through high school. I love that I can choose curriculum to fit each one of my children but I also think there are certain subjects they all need to complete no matter what they think they want to do after high school. Biology is one of those subjects I want all my kids to study and we have been using Biology 101 from The 101 Series
Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
Biology 101 is a Christian high school Biology DVD course. It teaches biology from the days of Creation found in the book of Genesis and uses scripture in the films and in the Guidebook. There are 4 CDs that last 4 hours and 37 minutes, a guidebook and an accreditation booklet. There are 11 segments that should last 27 weeks and the Accreditation Booklet averages 5 hours every week. The DVD segment should be watched at the beginning and the ending week for each lesson. There are labs, research topics, field trips, reports to write, and extra books to read. 
The DVD segments are the heart of the program and will give you a solid understanding of God's world. 
  • Disc 1~ Introduction: Defining Life and Life Classification & Plants
  • Disc 2~ Aquatic Creatures & Avian Creatures
  • Disc 3~ Land Animals Part 1 & 2 and Mankind Part 1 & 2.
  • Disc 4~ Genetics: A Brief history of Biology & Cells and Genetics
The 114 page PDF Guidebook is a review of the information from the film including a quiz and discussion questions for each segment. 
The Accreditation Booklet is a 12 page PDF and includes an overview of how the program works. There are also charts that list everything that should be completed for each week along with the amount of time it should take to complete it plus a column to record the exact amount of time. 
All three of my girls have been using Biology 101. Amber & Delaney are both in high school and have been using the whole curriculum and Alaina is almost 12 and she has just been watching the DVD segments with us. They all agree that the films are done very well and they liked having an image to go along with the things being taught. Delaney loves words and she liked that Wes explained where words came from and how they relate to other things. He also gives tips on how to remember things like stigma and stamen. The stigma is the female part of the plant and can be remember because it has the word "ma" in it. Stamen is the male part of the plant and can be remembered because it has the word "men" in its name. 
I really like how simple Wes has made Biology. They way he mixes pictures with video and charts in the DVD segment make the course interesting and memorable. It is recommended for ages 15 and up, but the information is appropriate for the whole family. 

Westfield Studios began in 2004 by Wes and Tammy Olson. They are a homeschool family with four children. When their oldest two sons were in high school Tammy couldn't find a Biology curriculum that she liked. Wes loved science and had years of film production so he decided to make a Biology curriculum Tammy was looking for. 
Members of the Homeschool Review Crew also received Chemistry 101 and Physics 101. You can read those reviews at the Crew Blog.  
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Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Commissioned Review #hsreviews #ChristianBoardGames #StrategyGames

Commissioned {Chara Games}
We love playing games at our house, and try to often. I think it is important to spend this time with my kids to relax and enjoy each others company. We often play games of chance, quick games, long games, but we really like games that are different. The last few weeks we have been playing Commissioned, produced by Chara Games.
In Commissioned the players are the Apostles. You will use your faith to spread the good news and build the Church while dealing with trials of the times. This game can be played by 2-6 players ages 14 and up. It is a historically-based, cooperative style board game and takes about 1 hour to play. The game includes a double-sided game board, 5 double sided scenario cards, 6 player boards, 96 faith cards, 27 trial cards, 4 wood missionary Meeples, 75 wood church member cubes, a wood elder's staff, 6 wood player pawns, 30 double-sided stop tokens, 5 double-sided extinguished tokens, 1 converted city leaders token, 1 Roman Legion token, an 8-sided die, a rulebook, and a theme appendix. 
Commissioned {Chara Games}
The first 150 years of Church History can be played out in five different scenarios. There are two levels of difficulty or you can play one person against everyone else. Each round has three phases; Arm, Live & Mature. 
  • Arm ~ each apostle (or player) draws six faith cards. 
  • Live ~ The players will go through five actions and this phase is repeated twice for 2-3 players, three times for 4-5 players, and four times with 6 players. The Elder staff is passed along every time the Live phase is repeated. 
    • Trials ~ The elder draws a Trial card and applies the effect to the location of his pawn. The trial cards may have him lose a turn, place a mission stop, scatter church members, or extinguish a church.
    • Pray ~ Players secretly select two faith cards from his hand and rolls the die. The eight-sided die will have them complete a task that is assigned to each number. 
    • Share ~ During this time the players turn over their prayer cards and the elder decides which two to use. 
    • Move ~ The pieces on the board may be moved between locations. The player with the elder staff gets to move twice and can move any piece on the board. 
    • Grow ~ The churches can gain members, but the elder decides which one will grow.
  • Mature ~ Players use their remaining faith cards to purchase new faith cards. Each faith card has a number on it and those numbers can be added to purchase higher valued cards. 
The game ends when the victory conditions are met, these conditions are included on the scenario cards, when five churches have been extinguished, or the last trial card has been drawn.
I played Commissioned with all three of my girls ages 14, 13, and almost 12. We were very impressed as soon as we opened the box. The game board and all the pieces are constructed very well and should be able to last through a lot of game playing. Of course Amber (age 14) wanted to start playing right away and she soon found out that the instructions were a little confusing. I had already watched the instruction video from Chara Games and I had her watch it before we got started. The first couple of turns we had to read through the rulebook and then everyone understood what was going on. Of course the rest of the time we played was a lot more fun than the first time. 

The Theme Appendix is very informational. It gives historical background of the people, places, and events that are in the game. There is historical information about the map that is used on the game board, and explains the background information for each of the Trial Cards and Faith Cards.


Commissioned {Chara Games}

Chara Games is owned by husband and wife, Pat & Kat Lysaght. Chara is the ancient Greek word for enduring joy, and the Lysaghts want to create joy by developing relationships with God and people through playing games. They produced Commissioned through a Kickstarter campaign and will have another game available soon called 3 Seeds


Commissioned {Chara Games}

Other members of the Crew reviewed Commissioned and there are a few who already received a copy of 3 Seeds. Head over to the Crew blog to read those reviews.

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Twitter @Charagames


Commissioned {Chara Games}
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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sentence Diagraming Review #hsreviews #criticalthinking #languagearts

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}
Alaina loves mail. She gets overly excited when we actually get something fun in the mail, but she also likes catalogs and coupons. She loves when we get a new catalog from The Critical Thinking Co.™. She will go through it and circle things she would love to have. Her list is pretty long and I don't think we could ever get everything she wants. 

The Critical Thinking Co.™ offers a wide variety of materials for every grade and subject. We have used their Mind Benders for years and have reviewed some of their other titles. The Homeschool Review Crew was offered several titles this time and I was eager to try Sentence Diagramming: Beginning with Alaina.
Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}
Sentence Diagramming is a 72 page softcover workbook for grades 3-12. It is divided into 12 lessons and a final review. Angela Carter wrote this book while teaching elementary children  how to diagram sentences. She loves diagramming and couldn't find quality resources for diagramming in a logical process. She says children learn critical thinking skills, organization skills, and how to visually represent our language from diagramming sentences.


  • Lesson 1~ Simple Subject and Main Verb
  • Lesson 2~ Direct Object
  • Lesson 3~ Adjectives
  • Lesson 4~ Adverbs Modifying Verbs
  • Lesson 5~ Predicate Adjectives
  • Lesson 6 ~ Predicate Nouns
  • Lesson 7~ Prepositional Phrases (Adjectival)
  • Lesson 8~ Prepositional Phrases (Adverbial)
  • Lesson 9~ Compound Subject
  • Lesson 10~ Compound Predicates
  • Lesson 11~ Compound Direct Objects
  • Lesson 12~ Compound Predicate Adjectives and Nouns
  • Review

Each lesson is several pages long and the directions and sample sentences are inside a grey box at the top of the page. The first lesson starts with simple two-word sentences and gradually get harder. Students diagram the sentences right away, finds errors in sentences that are already diagrammed, and writes and diagrams their own sentences. The answers for each lesson are included in the back of the book.

I had Alaina use this workbook. At the beginning of the book she completed several pages a day finishing the first few lessons quickly. Now that her sentences are getting longer she has slowed down a little. She is eleven and she only needed help once she started writing her own sentences. At first she wasn't sure about diagramming, but once she got started she said she thought it was kind of fun. Of course she draws a picture for each sentence she diagrams.

The Critical Thinking Co.™offers physical books, ebooks, apps, and computer software downloads. The company was started in 1958 and has won multiple awards. They empower the mind by adding critical thinking into their reading, writing, math, science, and history lessons. Their goal is for children to have higher grades and develop problem solving skills. 

The Critical Thinking Co.™ has been a part of our school for years and will always be. We have reviewed Mathematical Reasoning, World History Detective Book 1, U.S. History Detective Book 1, and Practical Critical Thinking. We also own most of the Mind Bender books. The new Sentence Diagramming: Beginning is also a great addition for us. 

The Crew was offered their Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten!™, and Language Smarts™ Level E to review. You can read all those reviews at the Crew blog.


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Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}
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Friday, November 4, 2016

Five Minute Friday #fmf #amwriting

The Five Minute Friday word this week is Journey. Kate is also hosting a giveaway on her blog this week if you like to enter them. 


Growing up I always wanted to be a mom, so after getting married I wanted to get pregnant right away and I did. 

Why? What was my hurry to have children? I was living in the moment. I didn't really think about the next day or the next or that it would take 18 years to raise that baby and it would change my life forever. 

Having kids is a journey! 

There are struggles in that journey, there are joys, happiness, sadness. I didn't think about any of that years ago when I wanted a baby. As they got older I had dreams and hopes for my kids and I still do, but I had to realize that their dreams and hopes for their lives could not be mine. I could teach them, encourage them, pray with and for them, enjoy them, but I could not make them into who I wanted them to become. This has been hard for me to deal with when my kids have made choices that I didn't want for them. Especially now that two of them are adults. 

All five of my kids are their own person. I will always be there for them, encourage them, pray with and for them, but I can not change them. They are who they are and will make their own choices......good or bad! 


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cooking Up History Review #hsreviews #unitstudies #historyunitstudies

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}
Sometimes adding a unit study to school can break up the normal routine. Using a Once-a-Week Micro-Study from Homeschool Legacy makes adding one in very easy. 

The Homeschool Review Crew was offered several studies to review. I asked Alaina what she would like to study and she chose Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents. This time of year Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims or Christmas Comes to America would make a great addition to any homeschool.

Sharon Gibson is the author of the Once-a-Week Unit Studies, and the Once-a-Week Micro-Studies. She is also the founder of Homeschool Legacy and believes that learning should involve the whole family and it should be fun. 
Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}
Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents is recommended for children in grades K-8 and lasts four weeks. Each week is dedicated to a different President and covers history, government, language, and cooking. 

In this micro-study we learned about George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. Each week starts off with a few facts about the President and a list of supplies needed for that week. The next sections talk a little about the history of that President and important things about the government during that time. The language section gives us an insight into the language and vocabulary of the times. And one thing that makes this study so much fun are recipes from each Presidential couple. 

The study is set up nicely and very easy to use. It is best used in it's digital format because there are links to key facts, recipes, coloring pages, vocabulary words, videos, and further research. There are also additional books to read and videos to watch to further enhance the study. Each week also has a blue box with a question about a random fact or two about each President. 
Apple Pan Dowdy
Alaina is eleven and she loves unit studies and lapbooks. She also loves to cook & if cooking is part of her school she likes that even better. She was so excited to start using Cooking Up History with the Founding Presidents probably because she wanted an excuse to cook. She is on the upper end for the age range for this micro-study and I ended up with laryngitis right after we received our study, so she decided to work on this one completely by herself. She read through the study guide and then we clicked through the links together & she did most of the talking. Some of the suggested reading books we already had and a few we picked up at the library. She also followed the recipes and only needed a little help with a few things. We have used some of the other weekly-unit-studies and Alaina loves the Did You Know questions. They are always something fun and she loves to stump her history loving dad and older sister. 
Alaina had a little help with one of her recipes. 
This study came at a perfect time for us with my laryngitis it gave Alaina something new to work on that she didn't need any help with. We have used a few of the Once-a-Week Unit Studies and this one is just as good as the others. 

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Cooking up History with the Founding Presidents
Christmas Comes to America
Pirates or Privateers: You Decide
Victoria and Her World
Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims
Many Nations
Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}
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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Kwik Stix Metalix & Neons Review andGiveaway #kwikstix #ThePencilGrip #lovepainting #temperapaint #tempurapaintsticks #christmasgifts #kidcrafts #kidsartsupplies

I don't feel like it should already be time to start thinking about Christmas. Our weather has been so nice and I still have tomatoes in my garden, I think that is a record for us. October through December is my favorite time of year. I love watching the leaves fall, cool evenings, cold nights, the first snow falls, & Christmas. I love giving gifts and planning holiday parties. One thing that is on my gift giving list this year is Alaina's favorite art supply, The Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint Sticks from The Pencil Grip, INC.


The Kwik Stix, available at Target stores and Target.com, are solid tempera paint sticks that dry in 90 seconds. They are AP certified, meaning they are non-toxic and safe for young children. They work on paper, wood, canvas, cardboard, and many other crafting mediums.

Alaina received her first box of 12 colors not too long ago and she now has the brand new Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint Neons 6 pack and the Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint Metalix 6 pack. She loves them!! She loves having so many colors to choose from and she can paint any where without having to get out brushes & water.

Alaina wanted to see all of the different colors in one place, so she made herself a color chart. She keeps this chart in her drawer with all of her Kwik Stix.



Alaina loves to make birthday cards. As soon as she received the Metalix Kwik Stix she had an idea for a birthday card for her uncle. She made him a toolbox and inside she added a drill, hammer, screwdriver, and screws. She drew all of her pieces, painted them with her tempera sticks, and cut them out. She was so excited that she could get the silver parts to look like metal with her metallic paint sticks. Our pictures make them look gray, but looking at them they look metallic. She wrote her birthday greeting and we signed the back of the drill. All of her pieces fit inside her toolbox.


Another card she is working on she used the Kwik Stix Neons. She decided she wanted to use all of the colors, so she made a neon rainbow snail. She hasn't finished the inside of the card & I don't even know who she wants to send it too. If you are the lucky one to get it you'll know it was painted with the tempera paint sticks.


For her other uncle's birthday she made him a little dog that pulls out of a heart pocket. She used a variety of her Kwik Stix for this card.

The Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint sticks will make a perfect gift for any child. My artistic kid loves them because there is no mess involved, my non-artistic kid loves them because she can paint hassle free when I make her. They are on my list for gift giving this holiday season and they would make a great addition to yours.

November 1st, 2016 is the first day Kwik Stix 6 packs of Basic and Metalix colors will be available in Target stores. That will make it so easy to pick up a few for gifts & stocking stuffers. If they sell out too fast don't forget to try Target.com.

The Pencil Grip, Inc has been generous enough to allow me to host a giveaway just for you. I have a set of Kwik Stix Neons 6 pack and Kwik Stix Metalix 6 pack to giveaway. Just enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: I received Kwik Stix Neons 6 pack and Kwik Stix Metalix 6 pack free of charge from The Pencil Grip, Inc. in order to write my review and offer a giveaway. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. 








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