Book Review: The Genius of Ancient Man: Evolution’s Nightmare

From the title, the premise of the book is that God created man perfect, including his intellect. From the very beginning of time, mankind has possessed many creative and intellectual abilities that far surpass even the most learned in our own time.

But this isn’t what the evolutionists would have us believe. In order for their “theory” to hold true, man would have to evolve from an unintelligent ape into a supreme fount of knowledge. This isn’t what we see when we examine ancient history.

The Genius of Ancient Man: Evolution’s Nightmare is an extremely well-researched textbook on the intelligence and accomplishments of ancient man.

An important concept related to this intelligence, is the fact that it was there before man was dispersed at the Tower of Babel. We know this because the same abilities are seen all over the world in all different cultures. For instance, several cultures around the world have succeeded in building towers and structures that boggle the minds of present day scholars. These cultures didn’t have Google to look up “how to build a ziggurat” and there were no YouTube videos to teach “construction methods of ancient pyramids.” This was information that was passed down to the cultures from their ancestors…their common ancestors.

It was also at the Tower of Babel that Satan showed his desire to counterfeit the things of the Lord. One of the first counterfeits was the tower itself. But there have been many, many more counterfeits over time. The book names several of the counterfeits, including man-made mountains (towers), astrology (counterfeiting God’s original purpose for the stars), human sacrifice (God made the ultimate human sacrifice with His perfect son, as a redemption for sinful man), and rainbows (very interesting discussion on Satan’s attempts to pervert the rainbow)–and several others!

Other than the fact that there was so much research done to produce a book of this caliber, my favorite parts of the book were the beautiful images in the book and the well thought out charts and graphs. I am a visual learner and these two things helped me realize the extent of the similarities in cultures all over the world. The charts and graphs help to break down the information into bite-size digestible nuggets.

For instance, a pictorial map shows over 50 locations where pyramids, ziggurats, obelisks, mounds and henges are located. When it is put together in this way, the reader can really get a grasp of how widespread the intelligence needed to build these was dissipated. And because all of these monuments were built early in the history of mankind, we can see how profound mankind’s knowledge was at this time!

No longer are we left with the primitive caveman grunting and pointing. Ancient men (and women) were truly geniuses!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Visit the New Leaf Publishing Group Blog for more great reviews of The Genius of Ancient Man: Evolution’s Nightmare (edited by Don Landis, published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group)!

Disclaimer: I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Vocal Coach Singer

I remember it like it was yesterday…my young pianist sitting on the bench practicing her piano, when I mentioned that she should practice singing along because she had such a lovely voice…to which she replied, “I am not a singer, I am a classical pianist!”

Six years later she laughs when I remind her of this, because she remembers it so well. We are both so thankful that the Lord has turned her heart around for His glory! During the last couple of years, not only has my oldest daughter began to sing publicly, she has worked with her younger sisters teaching them to play instruments and sing. The trio is currently practicing hymns to sing with another family at our local nursing homes.

Hannah is seven and she plays the fiddle. She is really the “entertainer” of the bunch, so we have to keep an eye on her. She wants all eyes on her.

Maddie is ten, and she plays the mandolin and a bit of guitar. She is happy to stay in background, but has a lovely voice that rings out. I don’t know how she does it, but she can really keep a steady tone when her older sister harmonizes with her.

Kendra is eighteen now, and a complete maestro. Besides being the classical pianist she is, she plays the fiddle, mandolin, and the guitar. And she is becoming a wonderful music teacher to her sisters. She sings beautifully in both English and Spanish.

We were recently introduced to Vocal Coach Singer, which is a complete voice lesson program on CD’s (or MP3s). My mom used to always tell me, “You need to get voice lessons for those girls so that they can know the right way to sing.” I knew she was probably right, but voice lessons are expensive especially for 3 children. And really, I didn’t even know anyone who taught voice lessons. Not to mention that I would have to drive them to the lessons each week (well, now Kendra drives, but back when I thought about it she didn’t).

I was excited that the girls would have the opportunity to have voice lessons from home. As I researched the company, I was so grateful that not only are the lessons top-notch, professional quality lessons, the owners are Christians. I heard the girls practicing one of their exercises the other day, singing about how they were designed by God. WOW! As the music of this world turns more and more worldly, it is truly a breath of fresh air to be taught by those who love the Lord!

How the Program Works

The program consists of 7 Training CDs:
Getting Started
Complete Breathing
Complete Warm-Up
Complete Tone
Complete Expanding Your Range
Complete Diction
Complete Performance

4 Workout CDs:
Daily Workout High Voice 1 & 2
Daily Workout Medium/Low Voice 1 & 2

Plus these great educational tools:
Guidebook – Full-size Instructional Guidebook to Ensure Success
Printable Lead Sheets – each exercise in our course, plus track lists
Personal Singer’s Journal (Getting Started Journal & Workout Journal) to Track Your Progress
Vocal Coach Song Evaluation – Evaluation form to enable you to make more intelligent song selections

When the girls started out, I had Kendra read through the guidebook, which explains the program. Then, she would spend about 20-30 minutes a day, roughly 2-3 days a week, going through the exercises. The exercises are easy to complete and the kids had a blast doing them. I could hear them downstairs just laughing at each other as they made the “funny” faces needed to breathe different ways. When they got to the drawn out songs, used to increase the amount of air their lungs can hold, they gasped for air wondering if this program wasn’t some kind of torture session (but then laughed and giggled as they worked to go longer and longer).

One of the things that would have helped us out with this program would be a general guideline of how long to spend on each training session. Kendra wasn’t sure how long to continue working on each session, and which ones she should repeat even as they moved on to others. For example, she didn’t know if they should keep working on breathing songs even as they moved on to tone training or expanding their range training.

Other than that, we were all very happy with the lessons. The girls feel very blessed to be able to advance their singing skills, especially in such a fun way. Even their little brother has been enjoying the lessons, even though he just listens along now and then. We all thought it was so funny to hear him singing the “rap” song as we were getting ready for dinner. This made me realize that these lessons were sticking with them and that they were working on them throughout the day even when they didn’t realize it!

Overall, this has been a super program!

Here is a sampling of my daughter Kendra singing after using Vocal Coach. I should have gotten a “before” recording, but I didn’t. Maybe I will have her record again in a few more weeks and add an update!

Appropriate Age Range

Vocal Coach Singer can be used by anyone wanting to sing their best. I think that younger children would need supervision and guidance as they go through the sessions to make sure they are doing the exercises correctly. My seven year old and ten year old had no trouble with the material, but they did each lesson with their older sister working with them. I don’t think they would have been as successful if I had just left them alone with it.

Program Price

Vocal Coach Singer includes 7 training CDs, 4 workout CDs, and a full-size instructional guidebook for $119 ($99 for MP3s).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Vocal Coach Singer, click the banner here:

Photobucket
Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Growing Up Wild

When we lived in Spain, the church we attended was pastored by a missionary. There were also several other missionaries in the area who worked together. We became close to their families and learned so much about missionary life there in Spain. Up until that time, we really didn’t know any missionaries or know anything about their way of life.

I was recently introduced to another missionary family, the Wild family, who lives in Papua with their four sons. I didn’t personally meet the family, but our family did learn many things about them and their life in Papau by watching videos of their life. The Wild family has produced a series of five DVD’s, creating a mission curriculum for homeschooling families–or anyone wanting to learn more about mission work in the remote jungles.

As a family, we watched volumes 1 and 4. Each DVD has three episodes focusing on different aspects of their lives. After each episode, they have provided an activity guide that has many related activities that both facilitate learning and give the viewers a better understanding of the episode. For instance, in volume 1, one of the episodes shows the family picking up supplies that will last them 6 months. One of the related activities requires you to determine how much food you would need to get for your own family in order to sustain it for 6 months.

One of the episodes has the boys talking with Bogo, a village elder, as he tells them stories. The related activity suggested having the kids interview one of their grandparents. Recently, we were able to do just that! My great-grandmother is 75 years old. The kids sat her down and just started asking questions. At first they were a little hesitant and didn’t really know what to ask. However, my grandmother just took off telling them all kinds of things about her childhood. Two hours later they had some of the fondest memories recorded! I have included a short clip here:

My kids have watched these videos over and over, even when we haven’t sat down to do activities afterwards. I think this is because life in the jungles is so fascinating to them. They have learned how the Wild family gets water and electricity to their hut, the kinds of foods they eat that are native to the area, and are especially enamored by all the animals on the videos.

I do have one concern about the videos that I would like to point out. First I want to say though, that I love the videos. I think this family has a true heart for the things of the Lord, and are trying to be lights for Him. With that said, I was taken back by one of the episodes on the volume 4 DVD. In the video, they are talking about how there are differences in the Wano culture and our own American culture. The Wano tribe members often pierce the septum of their noses (lower middle part), and sticks a large piece of wood through it. As we were watching, the Wild family decided to let their 2 sons get their septums pierced by the tribe members (and it shows them getting it pierced).

For our family, we believe this is wrong and does not honor God. And I am fine discussing this with my children and they understand our beliefs about this. However, I was upset that on the video they comment was made that it is not wrong because it is the same as piercing our ears. To me, it would have been better to have either 1) not show something like this or 2) do so in a way that left it up to the parents to determine whether it is right or wrong. I guess I was just taken back by the fact that I had no warning that it was on the video and then to hear them tell the children it was right to do it without me talking with them first.

I don’t want to end on a bad note, because overall we have really enjoyed the videos. We have had our discussions on many aspects of missionary life, so it has definitely brought an awareness to our family that we didn’t have before. And I really believe that this is such an important part of preparing our arrows to go out into the world. If God chooses to use or children as missionaries to foreign countries, these are some of the things they will be faced with. What a wonderful thing it is to be able to learn about and discuss these issues with our children now as we teach them about God’s Word and what He would have us do!

Growing Up Wild DVD’s are $18.99 each or all five for $80.99. They are targeted for children ages 5-12, but I think me and the older kids enjoyed them just as much as the younger ones!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Growing Up Wild, click the banner here:

Photobucket
Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Beloved Books – Sugar Creek Gang Audio Book

When my oldest son was young, I spent many years struggling to teach him to read. At the time, I began having him listen to audio books. My thought was that he would at least hear the words and maybe it would help with his auditory processing (at least he would know how the reading should sound, and how the words should sound).

Now that he is older, I have seen the benefits of having him (as well as the other kids who always wanted to join in to listen) listen to audio books. For instance, when we were living in Spain, my daughter and I spent time studying each week, taking classes, and practicing our Spanish. He was able to quickly pick up pieces of the language just by listening to others speak. He is now learning Japanese, which I believe is because he has developed the listening skills needed to learn a language that sounds so different from our own.

I was recently given the opportunity to review a set of audio books from Beloved Books, called the Sugar Creek Gang. The Sugar Creek Gang audio series is a dramatization of the original Sugar Creek Gang books written by Paul Hutchens in 1939. The adventures are told from the viewpoint of Bill Collins, a young boy growing up near Sugar Creek in Indiana. When the story begins in book 1, 10 year old Bill belongs to the Sugar Creek Gang, a group of six boys who are constantly finding themselves in all sorts of adventures.

Although my oldest son loves audio books, I didn’t know if he would think these were too young for him or not. I put them on for the younger kids to listen to and he immediately started listening along. Before long he had listened to the entire 6 CD set, and continues to listen to them. I think this attest to the fact that the stories are 1) very interesting and engaging, and 2) the messages are timeless. Here is what my son had to say about the books:

The Sugar Creek Gang starts off by introducing you to the gang, which consists of a handful of boys. The book describes the boys very good so that even younger children will know the names of all of them. The speaker is very clear, and makes the story fun and entertaining. You do not have to listen to all the CD’s in order, but it does help you understand the story better. The story is about a gang that just tries to have general fun. They encounter fun adventures along the way, like the robber, a bear, and many more. The stories are both entertaining, as well as biblically training. The main character (Bill, a boy in the gang) is saved and is proud of it. He goes to church every week and sometimes invites his unsaved friends to go with him. He wishes all boys were saved, and throughout the CD, sees other boys come to Christ. There is also a leader of the gang (Big Jim) who is a Christian. He is a good example of a good leader–he sets biblical rules for the gang, such as no cursing, being home for dinner, minding your parents, etc. Not all the boys in the gang are saved though, but most all of them follow good morals and over time become influenced by the boys that are saved. Overall the Sugar Creek Gang is a great CD set that is fun to listen to and good for learning about God.

The stories are written in order, and meant to present Bill’s life over several years, as well as lead the listener closer to Jesus. As a parent, I was so impressed by how easily Bill explains difficult concepts in the context of real life. For instance, in one episode, one of the boy’s newly saved dad is tempted to begin drinking again. Instead of just telling the listeners how bad drinking can be, Bill shows the impact that drinking has on this dad’s family. (Note: Everything he talks about is done in a very modest way. After all, this series was written in 1939 and they certainly spoke differently about things than we do today.) We see poor Circus’ (the son) heart break and hear the fear in his voice, as he finds out about the drinking.

In another episode, Bill and Little Jim were trying to save a kitten when they found themselves riding in a washtub in the rushing waters of an overflowing creek. Both boys feared they might not make it home alive, when Little Jim remarks, “It’s better for us to drown than for Little Tom Till or Big Bob, cause their not saved.” It takes great maturity in Christ to be willing to lay down your life for those who may not be saved. This is type of character trait that I want my son’s to exhibit.

There are six audio book series, and each contains six books for a total of 36 audio books. Each series is $54.95 or you can buy the entire set for $279.95 (a $50 savings). These would definitely make a great Christmas present, especially since the entire family will enjoy them!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Beloved Books, click the banner here:

Photobucket

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Kinderbach

My oldest daughter started piano lessons shortly before her sixth birthday. She started learning on a hand-me-down keyboard that played “I’m Your Venus” as a sample song, over and over and over. We told her that if she stuck with the piano, we would buy her a real one. Thankfully, she continued playing and we were able to pass along the old keyboard.

In the 12 years since she started playing the piano, music has become a large part of our family. Our four oldest children all play at least two instruments each. Kendra has taught several children how to play the piano, including our two girls. I was excited when I was given the opportunity to review Kinderbach, an online piano lesson music program for young children.

Originally, I had hoped to use Kinderbach with Hannah, who is seven years old. The age range for Kinderbach is ages 3 to 7 (although older children may enjoy the program if they are beginning piano students). I thought that she would be considered a beginning student. I guess because I compare her playing to the older children’s playing. However, once we started with the program, she complained that it was “too easy”. I had her stick with it for a bit because it is a really neat program and I knew that even if it was just review, it would be beneficial to her.

Meanwhile, my soon to be four year old little boy has been begging to “do Kinderbach” everyday. So we switched gears. I printed out the beginning worksheets and have been working on piano with him. To be honest, I had my reservations about doing piano with someone so young, especially a little boy. But I think this is where the Kinderbach program really shines. It is not a typical piano lesson. It is a program geared toward young kids. It makes learning the piano seem like a game, not a lesson.

How It Works

There are six levels to choose from. Because Isaac is so young, and a complete beginner, I started him on level 1. Once you choose a level, there is a PDF lesson book that goes along with each level. It has worksheets to use with the lessons. I printed out the entire lesson book so that all the sheets would be available when I needed them. Each level has 10 weeks worth of classes and each week contains four lessons. I found that it was best if I sat with Isaac during the lesson.

Generally what we have done is sit and watch a few lessons at a time. Isaac loves the songs and the moving around activities. He is a typical little boy in that he doesn’t like coloring very much. What we have done to help with this is to do “pretend” coloring. So for instance, in one lesson you had to color the apples. Some were on the ground and some were on the tree. Depending on whether or not the notes were high or low determined whether you colored an apple on the ground or in the tree. It would have taken us all day to get two apples colored. Instead, I just had him color the apples with his finger. It was fun for him and he could then move on quickly to the next sound.

The lessons are a mixture of songs, worksheets (coloring, cutting, pasting), moving around type activities (rhythm instruments, moving hands high, then low), and keyboard/piano activities (finding the two black keys versus the three black keys). I should add here that you don’t have to have a piano to do the lessons. A keyboard is actually advantageous in that you can move it around where you need it for the lessons.

Cost of the Program

Kinderbach is $19.99 for the monthly subscription or $95.88 for a yearly subscription. This rate is good for the entire family, which is a huge savings over the cost of private music lessons. If you are wanting to try Kinderbach out before you commit to a subscription, a day pass can be purchased for $5.95.

Overall Opinion

As I mentioned before, we had a rough start with this one and I didn’t think it was going to work out for our family. I am happy that Isaac has been able to enjoy this program. It really is a neat program. I sometimes feel guilty about not being able to take the younger kids to all the neat classes being offered, like I did with my older kids. Programs like these make up for that. He gets to have the fun class at home and I don’t have to cart kids all over town. Not to mention the cost! With six kids, classes could get very expensive, very quickly! Twenty bucks is very reasonable, especially if you have more than one child using the program. I think this a great program to supplement our children’s learning!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Kinderbach, click the banner here:

Photobucket
Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Beeyoutiful Skincare

A few years ago, I said goodbye to pricey facial cleansers and started making my own.  I wash my face with my handmade soap.  I then spray on a simple toner and apply a moisturizing cream I make from beneficial oils.  My skin has greatly improved, both in clearity and softness.

I usually only wear make-up if we are going somewhere special (church, appointments, activities) which ends up being once or twice a week.  I use a brand name mineral foundation, along with eye shadow, blush, and mascara.  I have been pleased with them to a degree, but had always hoped I would find something more “natural”.

Last month I found it.

The Review

I had heard of Beeyoutiful before, but I thought they only sold vitamins and herbal supplements. I didn’t realize they also sell skin care and natural make-up. I was excited to see what they had to offer.

As part of the Homeschool Review Crew, I was given the chance to review Beeyoutiful’s mineral foundation, two mineral eye/lip colors, the foundation brush, and the combo brush. The set came in a sweet organza bag along with a DVD explaining how to apply the make-up. Because I have worn mineral foundation for years, I didn’t think I needed to watch the videos. I was wrong. I needed to watch the videos. I’ll explain why in a bit.

The Products

We were given a trial size (1/5) of the foundation…generally enough to last several weeks. As I said before, I don’t wear make-up very often, so for me even the trial size last a long time. Before the review, I was given a choice of three sample packets of foundation to help me choose the correct color. Samples are available for $1.00. I would suggest buying a few of them to try before deciding on a color. It really helps to see the foundation on your skin before deciding. There are 24 shades available to choose from. Unfortunately my namesake shade was too dark for me and I had to go with Genevieve. (I love that the shades have names! Great marketing technique…so much better than light beige 102!)

I received one trial size mineral eye/lip color and one sample size of mineral eye/lip color. For the trial size I chose Sea Sand (a somewhat sandy color with a purple tint) and for the sample I chose Heather Dew. Because these colors can be used for both eyes and lips, we were instructed to pick out colors that could be used for both.

The foundation brush we received was a full, lush, stubby little brush that did an excellent job of blending in the foundation. The combo brush is an all purpose brush with different brushes on each end. One end has more rounded bristles. I used this end for my eye shadow and lip applications. The other end has shorter bristles in a row. This was great for creating an eye-liner effect with the eye shadow.

This mineral make-up is very different than others on the market. I noticed right away that the foundation is a very fine powder. After some investigation, I found that it is made of mica, iron oxides, titanium dioxide, ultramarine blue, and zinc oxide. There are no fillers added to the foundation.

I did a little more research to find out what these ingredients were and if they were good for my skin. Here is what I found out from the Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary

mica – earth mineral that gives a shimmer to make-up
iron oxide – iron compound used as a coloring
ultramarine blue – inorganic pigment
zinc oxide – anti-irritant, earth mineral used as a thickener, lubricant, and sunscreen
titanium dioxide – earth mineral used as a thickener, lubricant, and sunscreen (There was conflicting information on titanium dioxide. One sources said that the micro particles could enter the skin and were not good. However, the Cosmetic Cop seems to explain why this would not happen…

Titanium dioxide is typically micronized and coated for use in cosmetic products. The micronizing makes this somewhat heavy-feeling ingredient easier to spread on skin, not to mention making it more cosmetically elegant. Micronized titanium dioxide is also has much greater stability and can provide better sun protection than non-micronized titanium dioxide. Micronized titanium dioxide does not penetrate skin so there is no need to be concerned about it getting into your body (well, unless you eat the stuff). Even when titanium dioxide nanoparticles are used, the coatings employed have a larger molecular size that keeps the nanoparticles of titanium dioxide from penetrating beyond the uppermost layers of skin.

All ingredients received a rating of a smiley face or a check and a smiley face. I take it these are good ratings.

The Application

before

Here is why I needed to watch the video and why you probably do to…

Instead of just dipping the brush into the powder and puffing it all over your face, there is a bit of a technique to applying the foundation. First I washed my face and applied my toner. Then I tapped out a bit of the foundation into the lid. I added in a dollop of moisturizer and mixed it all together. If the shade is not dark enough, add in a little more foundation.

mixing foundation and moisturizer

Once the foundation is mixed, swirl the foundation brush into the foundation picking up as much as possible.

foundation loaded onto brush

Buff the foundation all over the face. Notice that there are no foundation lines at my jawline. The foundation goes on ultra smooth and has a very natural finish.

Next, I used my Heather Dew sample on my eyes, with the Sea Sand as an eye liner. I dipped the rounded end of my combo brush into a bit of water, then into the minerals. It took several applications to achieve the level of color I wanted. For the eye liner, I just used the other end of the brush.

For the lips, I used the same rounded brush. But this time I ran it across my peppermint lip balm several times, then picked up the minerals. This is great because I love the feel of my lip balm, but it has some color added to it!

The final me (excuse the red nose, I have a terrible cold)…

The Price

Mineral Foundation – $25.00 for 2.58g
Eye/Lip Minerals – $10.00 for .45g
Samples – $1.00
Foundation Brush – $11.00
Combo Brush – $6.50

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Beeyoutiful Skincare, click the banner here:

Photobucket
Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Box of I.D.E.As.

When given the choice, most of my children would rather do a hand-on learning activity as opposed to textbook type learning.  I am happy to offer as much hands-on learning as possible as I feel it really helps to cement the things they are learning deep in their brain.  When something is enjoyable, you don’t even notice the “learning” part.

Over the last year or so, we (mostly the older kids and I) have been increasing our World War II knowledge.   When the opportunity to review a product that was hands-on learning tool about Pearl Harbor came up, I jumped on the opportunity!

Box of I.D.E.As. (Ideally Dynamic Enrichment Activities)  is just what the name describes…a box full of fun, enrichment activities geared for ages 9-16 (although I enjoyed it as much as the kids!).  As I mentioned above, we received the Pearl Harbor box, but Box of I.D.E.As currently offers learning boxes for several topics including salt, quilting (would have loved this for myself), World War II, the number Eleven, and laundry.

Each box comes with at least 10 learning modules that are individually packaged in large, clear plastic bags.  This may not seem like a big deal, but I was so thankful they had taken the time to separate each module in its own bag.  This helped tremendously with keeping each lesson together and also knowing that everything we needed for that lesson was there (I didn’t have to search for anything).  The only thing I felt was missing was an order number on each bag. I accidentally started the second module because they had gotten out of order when I was looking through them. I had to go the website to find the correct order. Not a big deal, but it would have helped out. On the front of each packet is a label with the contents of the module, the materials needed to complete the module (usually only a pencil), and a quote relating to the contents of the module (can be used for copywork or discussion).

Each module contains an introduction sheet with questions and weblinks for additional learning.  After reading the introduction sheet, the fun part begins. Each module contains at least one hands-on activity. For instance, “Day After the Attack” contains a newspaper and question cards. The answers to the questions can be found by reading the newspaper. Students also get to play editor and look for statements of fact and opinion as they review the articles in the newspaper.

The modules can be completed in one day or spread out over several days. If you complete two modules a week, the entire box can be completed in five weeks. This is perfect for short unit studies or for times (like summer or Christmas vacation) when you want to keep learning but only have a limited time. The modules can also be brought with you when you travel. We recently spent the last six weeks traveling back and forth from Texas to Kansas. I just stuck the box in our suitcase and brought it along with us. Everything we needed for the entire unit was in the box!

Pricing

Each Box of I.D.E.As. unit cost $49.00 for the PDF version and $79.00 for the physical, printed version. Personally, I felt that the price was a bit steep for a unit study that only last at the most 10 weeks. However, I do realize how much work went in to gathering all the facts and information for each unit. This unit was a great blessing to our World War II studies, so I might have considered spending a little extra for it!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Box of I.D.E.As., click the banner here:

Photobucket
Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Raising Real Men

When my third child was a baby, we were attending a rather large church.  The church had every program imaginable, including a two room nursery.  I couldn’t bear to leave her in there, so I would try to sit with her in church as long as possible (on the very back row).  Being the only baby in the sanctuary, I was very aware of the looks I would receive at the slightest peep.  I actually spent most of each service in the cry room (with adjoining doors to both nursery rooms).  I remember over hearing the children’s leader as she stopped by to check on the nursery workers.  She was commenting on a baby that just wouldn’t stop crying.  She made the remark that it was better for the baby to be left crying so that it would get used to being in the nursery.  It just broke my heart.

Over the next seven years, I pretty much continued the same pattern with each subsequent baby.  It was very obvious that other church members were not in agreement with us keeping our children in church, but we knew in our hearts that it was the right thing to do.  It was because we had some great theological reason to do so (although I wish we did), we just felt that our children should be in church with us.  At the end of the those seven years, we began hearing about something called a “family integrated church”.  We were shocked!  We couldn’t believe there were churches where every family worshiped together.  We looked into it further, but were unable to find any churches close enough for us to visit.

About this time, we moved to Spain.  Our church there was tiny and very close-knit.  We continued to keep our children with us, and were questioned about it.  By this time, we had began to articulate the reasons we felt it was important to do so.  I remember the objections from some of our Spanish friends, number one being that there was no way there children would sit through church.  Then I remember the Sunday when one of the young couples kept their 2-year-old with them.  It was a struggle at first, but the father was very diligent in working with the boy and keeping him in line.  After a time, the boy was able to sit in church with his mom and dad.  I had never talked with this family directly (they only spoke Spanish and Portuguese), but they watched us and knew it was what they wanted for their son.

We have now moved again and have finally been blessed to attend a church where everyone stays together for the entire service.  There are many Sundays when I sit out in the lobby (we have services in a hotel) with other mothers trying to keep our youngest ones quiet.  It is a training process and let me tell you, none of us has it down perfectly.  We are all striving each Sunday, with each of our children, to lead them as the Lord would have us.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

James 1:2-4

When I was given the chance to review an advance copy of Curt and Sandra Lovelace’s new book Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship (published by Hal and Melanie Young of Raising Real Men), I knew that this would be a book that I could really relate to. I was hoping that it would also offer some insight into the why’s and how to’s of keeping children in church. That is exactly what it did!

I want to start out by saying there were a few things that I was very thankful for as I read this book. First, Curt and Sandra have such sweet spirits that really come out in their writing (I have never met them personally, just my observation from the words they write). I could tell that they have written this book in love and are very passionate about its message. Second, they have finished the race. What I mean by that is they have struggled with all the elements they have written about and have seen the fruit of their labor. This is so important. Theory can be good, but when I am struggle with an issue, I want help from someone who knows where I am at. Third, and most importantly, they draw on the Word of God. Every aspect of our lives should be viewed in the light of scripture, especially something as important as the gathering of believers.

In the book, Curt and Sandra start out explaining why children should be included in the worship of the church. Something that really stuck with me was when they told how each of them came to know the Lord as adults. They showed that although they were baby Christians, unfamiliar with the Bible, and not understanding everything during each service, they were still invited to attend church with everyone else. They weren’t sent off to a special class for their level. This made me stop and think. There are probably some children that understand the Word better than some of the adults in church, and yet we would think it preposterous to send the adults to “baby Christian church”.

Once Curt and Sandra walk through the Biblical foundation for families being together in church, they then advise parents to count the costs of doing so. I thought, “wow, that’s a great idea, wish we had done that!” We didn’t even know what the costs were. Thankfully the Lord has sustained us. It would be nice, especially if you are just beginning this journey, to know why you are doing this and to write it down. This road can sometimes get rocky (especially for the one having to do most of the training) and it is a great reminder to stay in the race.

Because we didn’t have mentors in this area, we have kind of just flew by the seat of our pants in training our kids to stay in church. I knew the long-term goal was for them to sit through the entire service and to begin to listen and retain what was being taught, but I never thought about the steps it takes to get there. I appreciated both the practical examples that were given in the book, as well as information on what is reasonable to expect out of our children. For example, Sandra explains how to put together a special bag with age appropriate items to keep the child entertained. This may seem like a common knowledge thing to do, but I think we sometime overlook the simple things that make our lives easier. I was reminded that if I would spend some extra time preparing something special, it would help keep my child’s interest longer than the few toys I throw into the diaper bag as we head out the door.

Another thought I had as I read this book, is that we sometimes make our lives harder by worrying about what others think. For instance, Sandra talks about nursing her baby to sleep after the first part of church. I can’t tell you how many times I have been able to keep a little one quiet during the singing part of church, then left to go nurse them outside because I thought others my think it was wrong to nurse in church (I always cover up very good). It was freeing to hear from someone else, that yes, it is OK to nurse your little one quietly in your seat.

A couple of last thoughts that stood out to me were the fact that we need to be very careful not to judge others, especially as they are going through the training period with their children. Yes, some services may be more distracting, but we need to bear one another’s burdens. Which leads me to another thought. As we get older and have children who have learned to sit quietly through church, we should reach out to others who may need a break in their training efforts.

Personally, our church now is mostly all in the training phase, but with time those of us who believe strongly about keeping our children with us during church should help others do the same. I am so thankful that Curt and Sandra have poured out their hearts to help those of us who are still in the trenches. It is such a blessing to have others come along side of you and offer encouragement and strength. This book was one of those blessings!

Preorders – Children in Church
Facebook – Children in Church
Publishers – Raising Real Men

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Children in Church, click the banner here:

Photobucket
Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Speekee TV

Well this was a fun review! After being blessed by Homeschool Spanish Academy several months ago, I was so thankful to have an opportunity to review Speekee TV, an online spanish class for younger kids, this go round.

Learning the Spanish language is something that our family (excluding my husband who is fluent in Spanish) has worked on over the years. I have taken numerous Spanish classes. We have used Spanish language curriculum. We even moved to Spain! So I have seen first hand how second languages develop over time.

I guess that is why I was so pleased with Speekee TV, especially for my younger kids. It gives younger children exposure to the language in a fun and engaging manner. I have to say, though, that it didn’t turn out as I had planned…

Our Experience with Speekee TV

I had planned to have my middle girls, in grades 5 and 2, to use the program. When we first started it, the older one looked at me like I was joking. “Can’t I just do the program Kendra (her older sister) does?” Apparently she felt that she was too old for Speekee.

I didn’t push her to do it. Instead, our three year old fell in love with Speekee! Every chance he gets, including at the hospital or restaurants, he wants to watch Speekee on my phone. And then there is the baby who comes running when he hears Speekee. Then he does his little dance to “Donde vamos?”

In all fairness, Speekee does seem more geared towards younger children. It reminds me of Sesame Street, with the puppets and children singing and doing activities. It certainly captures the younger children’s attention. Amazingly enough, for someone who thought she was too young for Speekee, my daughter certainly knows the songs and phrases well. ; )

With my younger kids, my goal for them is simply to hear the language over and over and try to incorporate as much as we can in everyday situation. I don’t expect them to start conversing, or even to remember everything after a few weeks. What we did was watch one of the ten episodes, then sing the songs together, or go over the topics covered in the episode. For instance, if the episode covered the colors, we would review colors after the show.

I think it might have helped that I know some basic spanish, but it was not necessary. Speekee TV comes with a fasttrack plan that provides 40 weeks worth of lessons. These lessons incorporate the video episodes along with activities and printables to help children retain their learning. There are also flashcards that can be printed out for additional review. I found that these activities were a good mix for all ages. Some of the activities were too hard for little ones to grasp, while others would be boring for the older kids. As someone who has a hard time sticking to a strict schedule, I would just pick and choose things that worked well for us!

A Few Thoughts About Spain Spanish

Speekee is filmed in Spain, and so it brought back memories for us. We laughed as the children said their names, as everyone in Spain names their children Ana “something” for girls and Juan “something” for the boys. Antonio is also a very popular name!

I have heard many times that the Spanish speak proper spanish. Honestly, there is no such thing as proper spanish unless you are talking about not talking slang. Where we lived in Andalusia, people were well known for speaking very fast and cutting off the last half of their words. Each region has their own dialect, although it is all still the same language. I think this is the same here. We certainly speak differently here in Texas than people in New York or Georgia.

Some of the words they use are different than Spanish speakers use here in the states or in South America. For instance, in Spain (and you see this in the video), the word naranja is used for both the color orange and the fruit. Here, the word naranja is used for the fruit and the word anaranjado is used for the color. The pronunciation is slightly different as well. The Spanish pronounce their “c”‘s and “z”‘s with a th sound.

Although there are a few differences, it is easy to adapt (especially for kids) to either one once you start learning and using Spanish.

Glimpse Into Our Learning

Wanted to share a quick clip of our learning. I did have to do a bit of prompting, but he is still learning and loving it!

Age Range

The suggested age range for Speekee TV is 2-10 years old.

Price

Speekee TV’s online version is $7.50 per month or $60.00 for a years subscription. They also offer a free 2 week trial period for those who may be trying to decide if this is the right program for their family.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Speekee TV, click the banner here:

Photobucket
Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Reading Kingdom

OK, I will admit that I was a little skeptical of Reading Kingdom when I saw that it was endorsed by a famous super model. Unlike the general population, celebrity endorsements usually make me run for cover. However, because I had a soon-to-be second grader who needed some more work in learning to read, I decided it would be worthwhile to at least give it a try.

As I have mentioned many times here on the blog, I am a relaxed homeschooler. I don’t push my kids to read until they are ready. I feel that if you try to teach them before they are ready, you face resistance and frustration.

I started working on reading with Hannah last year. She has progressed fairly well. I don’t have any concerns about her learning to read. I just felt like she needed more practice and more instruction. When we started Reading Kingdom, she was excited to have her own program to work on.

The first few times she worked on it, I sat down with her just to walk her through it and get her going. The first few sessions of Reading Kingdom are skills assessment. I found that these sessions were not as “exciting” as the learning lessons. I made sure that she understood that we were only doing these to find out how much she knew and to find out where she needed to start. She was compliant, but enjoyed the program much more once she got into the learning lessons.

Over the course of the last few weeks, I have been busy helping to take care of my mother (who is terminally ill). We have spent the last few weeks at the hospital. During all of this time, Hannah would frequently ask, “Can I do my Reading Kingdom?” She would have one of the older kids help her login when I wasn’t available. Honestly, it seemed more like a game for her–something to occupy her time.

After seven weeks of playing using Reading Kingdom, I sat down with her to watch her do several sessions and see how she was progressing. I was so pleased by her progress! I had her read several things to me and she not only knew the words, but was so fluid in her reading.

One of the things that caught my attention (and that I was so thankful for) was the fact that the program teaches capitalization and punctuation along with reading. This may be a no brainer for some of you, but I have always taught phonics separately from beginning grammar. This program combines them so that they are learning the mechanics of writing as they learn to read.

Another plus is that Reading Kingdom also teaches spelling. There are several little games where the student has to type in the missing letters. A couple of months ago, even though Hannah could read easy readers, she was no where ready to spell the words she was reading. I sat down with her today and she would look at the words with missing letters and fill in the letters with no problem.

I have to tell you, my heart was filled with joy. If any of you have ever homeschooled through difficult times, you know the guilt that comes with not being able to spend as much time as you would like to teaching your little ones. I even felt guilty for not sitting down with her during her Reading Kingdom lessons. In my mind, I figured she needed help understanding it or learning the new concepts. It was such a blessing to hear her start reading those words like she was a pro!

How It Works

As I mentioned before, the Reading Kingdom starts by performing a skills assessment on the child. Once the skills assessment is finished, the child is then placed in the appropriate level of learning. When the child begins each level (there are 5 levels), they begin learning words and have the ability to earn books. By the time they have earned the book, they have also learned all the words needed to read the book!

Reading Kingdom combines the best of both phonics (sounds) and whole word (comprehension) education, adding in sequencing, motor skills, meaning, and grammar. For an in-depth understanding of how Reading Kingdom is different from other reading programs, you can download How is the Reading Kingdom different from other reading systems?

Age Range

Reading Kingdom provides reading instruction through a 3rd grade reading level. Children as young as 4-5 can begin the program. Older children through age 10 can benefit from the program as well.

Price

When you sign up for the Reading Kingdom, you receive a free 30 day trial. After that, subscriptions to Reading Kingdom are $19.99/month (with no monthly minimum), or $199.99 per year (20% off). Additional children in your account get 50% off ($9.99/month or $99.99/year). You can cancel your subscriptions at any time.

Reading Kingdom also offers a scholarship for students who are unable to afford the program. When I saw this, it really raised my affection for the company. So many times companies are worried about the bottom line (and I understand wanting to make a living), but it is a blessing when companies are willing to help children out even if they can’t pay. Kudos to Reading Kingdom!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Reading Kingdom, click the banner here:

Photobucket
Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.