Monday, February 29, 2016

Zonderkidz: Faith Builders Bible {TOS Review}

My 10 year old son, Eli, was blessed to receive the Faith Builder's Bible by Zonderkidz to review. He was so excited to get this in the mail and started using it right away!
This Bible is absolutely wonderful! First of all, it is the New International Readers Version, which a very readable and understandable translation - perfect for children! I enjoyed the translation so much, I used this Bible for our daily Bible reading many times! Here is an example of a verse:

"No one lights a lamp and hides it. No one puts it under a bowl. Instead, they put a lamp on its stand. Then those who come in can see the light." Luke 11:33 

The font is a very nice size - not large print, but big enough for little eyes to read without strain and without losing their place.
There are 24 full-color pages in this Bible, illustrating a Bible story or concept with building bricks {Legos}, and a short summary. There is a "Building Block Verse" at the bottom of each of these pages corresponding with the picture.

My son had a blast "building" Bible stories. He is a Lego-lover, and we have thousands of Legos! It's so funny, but he had never thought to build Bible stories and characters! Once he got started though, he had so much fun. In fact, we all got in on the action! Eli and I build the Fruits of the Spirit together, and while he wasn't laughing at my attempts to create the fruit, we had a great time.
Eli recreated David and Goliath, complete with some Israelite soldiers. We took the characters outside and set them up in the dirt and gravel. It was a lot of fun, and it felt more "real".
We also built the "ABC's of Salvation". I love how the page has an explanation of each letter - "A - Admit; B - Believe; C- Confess". There are also extra scripture verses to look up for each letter.
One of Eli's favorite features in this Faith Builder's Bible is the "Great Bible Stories" in the very back of the Bible. This is a chronological list of 92 well-known Bible stories and passages of scripture. He enjoyed reading through these.
Also in this Bible is a dictionary with many words that may be unfamiliar to children. The definitions are very understandable. Here is an example:
Nazirite: a person who was set apart to God in a special way. Or, a person who promised to do something special for God. They were not allowed to cut their hair, drink any wine or grape juice, eat grapes or raisins, or touch a dead body.

There are no building instructions in this Bible; there are only pictures to go by. This is nice, as it helps to stimulate creativity as your child builds. However, some of the pictures were a little confusing {like the fruits!} and it would have been nice to have a little direction. Some of the illustrations are very simple to create - the cross and the ABC's of salvation - while others can be quite complex - like the Tabernacle and Samson's Demolition. However, for creative children, these pictures are just the stepping stones they need to recreate the stories. Also, it's nice that you don't have to have certain  bricks to build the stories - we substituted what we had for the bricks we didn't have {or couldn't find} and the Lego creations were still awesome to look at and fun to play with.
I asked Eli to give his review, and this is what he had to say:
"I like this Bible because it is easy to understand. In the beginning, there is a picture of all the books of the Bible built with Legos and it helps me to memorize them. It is very fun to build the Bible stories and even after you're done looking at all the pages, you can look in the back where it lists the Great Bible Stories and try to build all of those. I also like reading the Building Block verses and try to memorize them."
Here are a few more pictures of some of the Bible stories Eli built.
{Noah's Ark on the Left; Tower of Babel on the Right}
This Faith Builder's Bible would make a wonderful Easter gift for the child in your life who loves to build with Legos! Check out the Zonderkidz products available for some more great gift ideas!

Click the banner below to read more great reviews on this Faith Builder's Bible.


Junior High Junction: 3 Simple Ways to Enourage Your Middle Schooler

My Full Heart: Junior High Junction

We all need a little encouragement sometimes! It's easy to overlook our junior high/middle school age students and their need for a confidence-boost. I'm going to share 3 simple ways we can encourage our pre-teens and teens, and then I want you to share in the comments a few more simple ways!

1.) Ask them to use their gifts or abilities as a favor to you. Let me explain what I mean here. Let's say your daughter loves to bake cookies. You could say, "Your chocolate chip cookies are so delicious; why don't you bake a batch that we could take over to Mrs. Smith's house later today?" Or if your son is really good at fixing things, you could ask him to replace a toilet seat or tighten the screws on your swing set. When your child feels needed by you, it gives them motivation to work hard and encouragement that they are an important part of the family.

2.) Let your child hear you brag on them. This may seem like something reserved for little children, but everyone loves to hear how special they are. When you are talking to your husband, say something like, "I was very impressed with the comic book Eli drew today; he has a natural talent for drawing!" or "Mikaela did a great job on supper tonight. The spaghetti tasted better than mine does!" If your child doesn't think you know she is listening, double the points.

3.) Give them small gestures or tokens of appreciation. Throughout the day, smile at your child, give them a thumbs-up or high-five, wink at them, and hug them. If your child doesn't enjoy being touched, there are other things you can do - sneak them a handful of Hershey kisses {that nobody else sees or receives}, sharpen all of their colored pencils as a surprise, or write a little note to leave on their pillow or in their math book.

Don't forget to pray for and with your child every day. This is the most important thing you can do to encourage your child spiritually.

What ideas would you add to the list?

My Full Heart: Junior High Junction

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Haste Makes Mistakes: Charlotte Mason's Habit Training

In my efforts to lean more toward a Charlotte Mason lifestyle {I hesitate to use "Charlotte Mason homeschool", because CM is so much more than just school-it is a way of life}, I am beginning what Charlotte called habit training. The definition is pretty self-explanatory, but in a nutshell - your child's character is more important than their academics.

Charlotte Mason suggests working on one habit at a time, and I fully agree. If I start insisting my children learn ten different habits at once, they will be overwhelmed, and so will I!

We were reading in Proverbs 19 last night, and I read this verse aloud:

I explained the importance of taking the time to do our best work, without working so slowly that we can't get anything done. Some of my children have developed the bad habit of completing their work hastily, thus making many mistakes. Therefore, this is the first habit we are working on: perfect execution and thoroughness.
Here are the specific things we will be training:
  • making sure our work is done correctly the first time
  • taking our time to spell words correctly
  • making sure the correct words are capitalized
  • using correct punctuation
  • not rushing through our notebook pages
  • coloring our maps neatly
  • labeling our maps neatly
  • using sharp pencils and colored pencils
  • double-checking that our math equations are written correctly before solving them
  • checking {and correcting} our answers immediately
  • listening to directions carefully
  • slowing down!
We will work on this habit for around 3 weeks, or until we have all developed it perfectly.

What are some habits your children need training in?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Week in Review: Feb. 22 - 26, 2016

We had completed this week of homeschool in North Carolina! We are still trying to get used to a new area - find libraries, grocery stores, parks, and fun stuff. We did an entire week of school though. I always find it easier to do school when we are not "home" {Louisiana}. So many people and activities vie for our time and attention, and it really distracts us. When we are away from "home", it seems we complete much more in school and have more down time.

We finished Week 4 in BiblioPlan: Ancients this week. I cannot tell you enough how perfect this has been for our family so far. Being able to include everyone at their own skill level is just wonderful. We learned about Abraham this week. We read about him in the Bible each morning, and then we read from other sources - Story of the World; the BiblioPlan Companion; and Journey Through the Bible. We had some good discussion, and although we have read this story many times, we learned some new things. For instance, Abraham's father, Terah, worshipped idols and was probably an idol-maker {according to Jewish tradition and other historical writings}. Sarai was even named for a false god! We also learned that Ishmael is credited with being the father of Islam {which I already knew, but the kids didn't}.

The kids made a notebook page on Tuesday about Abraham. I don't give them any instructions; I only give them the topic or theme. I asked them to make a notebook page about Abraham with some interesting facts. That was it. I am including a picture of all 4 of their notebook pages to show how different they all are and how all ages can participate.

{Top Left- Silas, age 5; Top Right - Mercie, age 8;
Bottom Left - Eli, age 10; Bottom Right- Mikaela, age 13}

We had a creative writing or copy-work assignment on Wednesday. Mikaela had to pretend she was a news reporter, reporting on the birth of Isaac. Eli and Mercie did copy-work from the different reading materials.

{Mercie's copywork  - The Abrahamic Covenant}

On Thursday, we worked on our map, mapping Abraham's journeys. Even Titus wants his own map to color, and he does a pretty darn good job. I am glad that even my Kindergartner and 2nd grader are getting mapping practice, even if they don't quite understand. We also added to our timelines.

{Eli's map and Mikaela's timeline}

We did not do science this week, as we are waiting on a new curriculum to come in. It's Christian Kids Explore Biology, and everyone will be participating in this! I am so excited to incorporate family-learning again, and I would love to have as many subjects as possible be completed together. So far, it's Bible, History/Geography, and now Science.

Mikaela worked in Principals of Mathematics and Easy Grammar each day. She is still reading and journaling through "It Couldn't Just Happen!" She and Eli started a new review product on Thursday - literature guides from Memoria Press. She is reading "Door in the Wall", and he is reading "Robin Hood".

Eli is reading and working through Life Of Fred's "Fractions" book. It is very easy for him, and he breezing through it. He and I work a lesson a day in Rod and Staff for grammar, and we do most of it orally.

Mercie has been working on multiplication and division in Singapore math. I also ordered the "Littlest Math Book" from The Thinking Tree for her to use, and she loves it. It starts out pretty simple, with addition and subtraction facts, but she has completed nearly half of it! She is also working through Rod and Staff grammar orally, and she completes a page in her Fun-Schooling Spelling Journal and her cursive workbook daily.

We are reviewing a phonics curriculum with Silas that we are both loving. It's Foundations A from the Logic of English. It's a multi-sensory approach to phonics that is absolutely working for him. I am so excited and so pleased with it! He is also working through Math U See Primer.

We had a pretty quiet week this week, and I enjoyed it! How was your week?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

52 Lists Project: Week 8

We are on week 8 of the 52 Lists Project, and this week we have to list our favorite albums. I will be frank here - I only listen to Christian music {aside from Christmas music!}, and I have done this for around 8 years. I made a vow to listen to only Christian music, and I am proud to say, I have kept it. Christian music helps keep my mind focused on God and the things that matter. It keeps my heart worshipful and my attitude in check. Anytime I am having a bad day, losing my temper, frustrated or upset, I will listen to some praise and worship music and instantly, my attitude improves. So, here is a list of some of my favorite Christian music to listen to.

Wow Hits 2014 (Deluxe Edition)
These have always been a favorite of mine, even as a teenager. These CD's have all of the best Christian music of the year. I don't have 2015 or 2016 yet, but this 2014 edition is wonderful. We listened to it on the trip to North Carolina. Some of the songs on this CD are:
"Redeemed" by Big Daddy Weave

"Jesus, Friend of Sinners" by Casting Crowns

"One Thing Remains" by Passion

"Your Grace Finds Me" by Matt Redman

"Help Me Find It" by Sidewalk Prophets

Beautiful Things
I absolutely love this album and this style of music - alternative worship. Some of my favorite songs on this CD are:

"Beautiful Things"
"Cannot Keep You"

"The Earth is Yours"

"Please Be My Strength"

    Product Details

REMEDY by the David Crowder Band
David Crowder is one of my favorite artists, and this album is just amazing. My favorite songs on this CD are:
"The Glory of It All"
"Rain Down"

Songs For An End Time Army
Rick Pino's music is kingdom worship music. It is so deep, it always brings into a rich, worshipful experience with God. My favorite songs on this album are:
"I Am A Voice"
"Show Us Your Glory"
"Fire of the Holy Ghost"
"You're Not Alone"
I hope you have enjoyed looking through some of my favorite albums. I recommend all of these! What are your favorite Christian albums?
Linking up with Chasing Slow and the 52 Lists Project.

52 lists with Chasing Slow

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Blogging Through the Alphabet: Q is for Quiet Time Ideas

"Quiet Time" is a very important part of my homeschool day, especially since my little ones don't nap any more. Quiet Time is not just for little kids, though! Even my 7th and 5th graders benefit from the time spent resting their brains and their bodies.

Everyone does Quiet Time differently. Some have their children lay in bed, reading books or napping. Some allow video games or computer time. Some make them play quietly in their rooms.

Our Quiet Time varies each day. Sometimes I ask the kids to play quietly in their rooms, reading a book, working puzzles, or playing with Hot Wheels. Other day, I allow them to play quietly in the living room. And some days, we have structured Quiet Time, where I choose a quiet activity that we can all do together {and it's purely optional for the older ones}.  Structured Quiet Time happens around once or twice a week at our house. The kids will gather with me in a central location, and I will pull out the activity for the hour. We have to stay quiet!

Some of the Quiet Time activities that we like to do are:

Who doesn't like play-dough? There is nothing like opening a fresh can and squeezing it between your fingers! {Or is it just me??} My kids can play with Play-Dough for a long time, especially when provided with plastic knives and cookie cutters {and of course, play dough molds!}. Play-Dough is a supervised activity in my house, though! Otherwise, I am scrubbing play-dough out of carpet.
Again, another activity that must be supervised in my home! Stamping with ink is so fun, and we can make cards and letters for friends and family. We have a huge collection of stamps, with seasonal stamps and animal stamps and letter stamps and just-for fun stamps.
Painting with Watercolors!
My kids love when I pull out these little yellow trays filled with color! As long as you give them a steady supply of paper, they will quietly entertain themselves for a while. I usually stock up when Walmart has the back-to-school sales, and Crayola is the best brand to buy.
Stringing Beads!
Making bracelets and necklaces is so much fun. My little ones are happy with a pipe cleaner and some pony beads, but my older ones prefer beads and jewelry string. {And my 13 year old prefers real jewelry materials. Ahem.} This is also great fine-motor practice. You could also pack some in a ziplock bag and bring along with you to church to keep your young ones quiet and still {at least for a bit}.
Hidden Picture Books!
This is a definite way to keep my kids quiet, at least for a few minutes. We love searching for hidden pictures and have several really neat books and workbooks dedicated just for this.
Make-a-Face Sticker Pads!
These are a lot of fun, and my kids will complete a whole book in a days time! They have so many kinds of these books - monster face, princess faces, animal faces.
Little Dover Books!
These little books are wonderful for kids - so portable and easy! They are around $1.50 each with so many topics, themes, and activities - coloring, mazes, word search, dot-to-dot, stickers, and more. My kids are getting some in their Easter baskets.
We learned how to fold a few animals with some simple origami instructions a few weeks ago in our Five in a Row week. Older kids could do this without help, but the younger kids may need a lot more help. It is so relaxing to fold these little creations, and so rewarding when you see how cute they are! A quick Google search will turn up many different simple folds.
Simple Craft Supplies!
Allow you child access to paper, scissors, glue, beads and buttons, feathers, markers and crayons, and stickers - and see what they create! The possibilities are endless - bookmarks, magnets, crowns... As long as you don't mind a mess, this should keep your kids entertained and quiet for a long time!
These are a few of the structured Quiet Time activities we incorporate at our house. What would you add to the list?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Junior High Junction: Book Review by Mikaela

This past week, we have been so busy! We had to pack and travel from Louisiana to North Carolina. We will be here for several months with my husband's job {pipeline construction}. We have settled in to our rental, unpacked furniture and clothes, books and toys. We went to the grocery store and stocked the cabinets and fridge. Whew! Now I'm exhausted. That's why my 13 year old daughter, Mikaela, will be writing today's post. She has chosen to do a review on the first two books in a series by James Dashner - The Morality Doctrine. The books she will be reviewing are "The Eye of Minds" and "The Rule of Thoughts".

Product Details

" These are some of my favorite books, but any books by James Dashner I enjoy. I am still trying to get the third book of this series... the second book,The Rule of Thoughts, leaves you with a cliff-hanger!The books are based on a virtual world "The Virt Net" and gamers would get into a coffin to enter the "Virt-Net". When they wanted to come back from the "Virt-Net" [or the sleep] they would find a portal to come back to the "wake". The book is about a gamer named Michael who has excellent coding and gaming skills in the virtual world. The VNS controls the Virt-Net and they created it. They program Tangets, which are made to look like humans and act like them as well. Some don't even know they are not human. They live in life-blood deep, another dimension inside the Virt-Net. One of the first Tangets they programed is Kaine. He is programed with extreme coding skills as well as gaming skills. He forms a plan to overrule the human world [the wake] with Tangets. It is a plot only Michael can stop with the help of his friends, Sarah and Bryson, who are also skilled gamers. These books are based on Science-Fiction. James Dashner also writes The Maze Runner Triology and the Thirteenth Reality Series. He is my favorite author; I love all his books that I have read so far. I hope you read these books and enjoy them as much as I did. Here are the links to all three books."


I hope you enjoyed her book series review! It is a series that any teen or pre-teen, boy or girl, would enjoy! Link up your junior high/middle school blog posts below! I would love to read a book review by your pre-teen or teen!

My Full Heart: Junior High Junction

52 Lists Project: Week 7

I have been participating with Chasing Slow and the 52 Lists Project. It's week 7 and we must list the things that make us feel healthy.

{The Good News Translation}
  • walking - I was walking for 30 minutes a day when we were in Ohio, and I felt great! I plan to start walking again when the weather stays warm!
  • cooking from scratch - There is nothing like making a meal from scratch - without boxed food or canned soups!
  • fresh meat - My husband hunts, so we always have fresh deer meat. Venison has less calories and fat than beef, plus it's chock full of vitamins, protein and iron. We also butcher cows and process the beef - steaks, roasts, and ground beef. Fresh meat tastes so much better than store-bought and it so much healthier.
  • drinking water - I drink a ton of water, but I haven't always. I used to drink Diet Coke all day long. I quit drinking Diet Coke for over a year, and drank nothing but water, but I allow myself to drink a glass a day now. I drink 4-8 water bottles a day, depending on my activity level. It makes me feel so good!
  • fresh vegetables - I love when we get to go pick peas, shell them, and cook them! Fresh vegetables taste so delicious!
  • being outdoors - Fresh air has so many benefits - it boosts your immune system, helps your digestive system, and helps you to think clearly.
  • working in the yard - Raking leaves and planting flowers is so rewarding, as well as great exercise.
  • laughing - Laughing and giggling with my husband and kids makes me feel so healthy and so alive.
What makes you feel healthy?

52 lists with Chasing Slow

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Home School in the Woods: US Elections Lap-pak {TOS Review}

With this year being an election year, the HISTORY Through the Ages Hands On History Lap-Pak: US Elections from Home School in the Woods was a very timely project! My two older children, Mikaela and Eli, who are in 7th and 5th grades, respectively, were lucky enough to review this! We received one PDF download of the US Elections Lap-Pak to review.

What is a Lap-Pak? That was my first question, as I had never used Home School in the Woods {HITW} products before. A Lap-Pak is a kit with all of the materials needed to make a lap-book. Included in this Lap-Pak are the printable reading materials you need, including the text on audio, 21 hands-on lap booking projects, and the instructions on assembling the projects and the finished lapbook.

{A finished example of the lapbook}
The reading material comes in two different formats to print - full page text or a 24-page booklet. I chose to print it full page, stapling the left side together. This worked well for me. You could even put it in a 3-ring binder or 3-prong folder. There are printing instructions for the booklet, if you choose to do that.

{Example of the printed booklet}
US Elections takes you through the establishment of our government, the process of a presidential campaign and how voters elect a president. It begins with how government first came into existence, why the different types of government have failed, and how our government works, including the branches of government. Then it gives an overview of some of the major parties and how they came about. Finally, it goes through the campaign, debates, and election of the president.

The audio text is great. There are over 60 minutes of audio! Each reading assignment specifies which minute of audio to start on. We listened to it a few times while cutting and gluing our projects together. I prefer to read it to the kids, though. I learn more that way! The audio would be great for a busy mom or older children who work more independently.

{Eli is cutting out a project while listening to the audio}

There is a lapbook project that corresponds with each reading assignment. The lapbook projects are really neat! Some are more time-consuming than others, but they are all pretty simple to create. There are illustrated, printable instructions for each project, which helped me as I am a visual learner. The instructions are very easy to follow and include suggestions for printing on colored paper.

There are also options to print some of the projects with lines {space to write your own information} or printed text {where your child doesn't have to fill in the information}. This is really nice option for kids who don't like to write, like my Eli. There isn't a ton of writing involved, but I was still pleased to see this in the printing options.

{An option with the printed text}

You will need a few simple supplies for your Lap-Pak: colored paper, white paper, a printer and ink, scissors, an exacto knife, double-sided tape, a glue stick, metal paper fasteners, some acetate, glitter, colored pencils,  and, of course, file folders.
{Examples of some of Mikaela's completed projects}
There are 21 projects in this Lap-Pak:

Definition of “Election”
 Different Forms of Government
 The American Experiment
 The Three Branches of Government
 Who Do We Vote For?
 Terms of Office
 A “Handful” of Political Parties
 Caucuses & Primaries
 National Conventions
 The Presidential Campaign: Platform
 The Presidential Campaign: Stump Speaking
 The Presidential Campaign: Media — News Source
 The Presidential Campaign: Campaign Advertising — Spreading the Word!
 Raising Money
 Election Day
 The Electoral College
 Inauguration Day
 The Electoral Race!
 The “Vocabinet”

We used this Lap-Pak around 3 times a week. I would read the assignment while Mikaela and Eli cut out their project pieces. After I read, we would discuss a little, and I would try to answer some questions they had. Then we would complete the project for the day. It took us around 10-30 minutes a day to finish. We aren't quite through with it, but we will finish it and assemble the lap-book!

I really like the way this Lap-Pak is set up. The instructions are easy to understand, and the illustrations are very helpful. A few of the projects are complex and take a little more time to complete than the rest, but nothing is complicated. We found that double-sided tape works much better than glue sticks when assembling the projects! The reading material is very clear and interesting to read and listen to. The three of us are learning a lot about the election process and government in general. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who is interested in how the election process works, especially with 2016 being an election year.

You could also expand on these topics, add some extra reading and researching, and make this a complete course for a semester.

The US Elections Lap-Pak is available as a download {$18.95} or on CD {$19.95}. The suggested grade level is 3rd through 8th, but this would work even for high school.

Also available are "The 20th Century in America" and "Wonders of the World". There are two Lap-Paks available for grades K-2 - "Benjamin Franklin" and "Knights".

Check out their website for even more great products!


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