Grapevine Studies . . . A T. O. S. Review

I was quite surprised at how much I ended up enjoying the Birth of Jesus: Beginner (ages 5-7) and Traceable for Beginner (ages 3-6 that I received in digital form from Grapevine Studies to use for this review.

I also was given the digital format of the teacher book, which I like. It allows that I may go through it as we go, without printing it out. I can follow it on my lapbook, and my husband tells me I can put it onto my tablet, as well.

In the teacher edition, there is a completed copy of each student page, along with directions for teaching that particular lesson. This study CAN be completed in as few as five weeks, but you really can also take more time with it, if you either wish to, or need to do so.

There are five lessons:

  • The Announcement
  • The Birth of Jesus
  • The Proclamation
  • The Wise Men & Herod
  • Final Review

As we go along in these lessons, we are filling out a timeline, memorizing key Bible verses (which we look up in our own Bibles), and learning about the Biblical history of our Lord and Savior.

One thing I felt very blessed by, which was totally because of a mistake on my part when filling out what I would like to review; is that I also received the Traceable for Beginner version. It is actually for the very young child, but I do have one son with extremely shaky fine motor control. Because I received the traceables, he didn’t have to draw the stick figures, he was able to simply trace over the very light lines on the page.

It is recommended that you have colored pencils for your children, and dry erase markers for you to use on a white board. I personally do not own a white board, but a piece of paper worked just fine for us. :-)

There doesn’t need to be much reading for the students. In fact this was a plus for us, since I have at least one child who really, really balks when it comes to reading. I can read the lesson while the kids draw whatever is being covered, in the correct space to draw it.

Depending on the age or ability of the child involved, we are using the traceable version for my shaky hand boy (although he is also doing some of the memorization at higher levels), working with the timeline and drawing the figures in the called for colors, looking at Old and New Testament overviews, Learning basic Bible geography (using the map provided), and learning to use basic Bible study tools. One of those tools is a good Bible dictionary, which we don’t have. However, it was very easy to search a free one out online.

I really, really enjoy this resource! I think it might be fun to go through it every year during the five weeks leading up to Christmas.

This is our first experience with Grapevine Studies, and it works well for the wide variety of abilities in our four boys. I think we would really like to use this method for other Bible studies!

Other Crew Members reviewed this and several other products from Grapevine Studies, and I think you’ll find it worthwhile to go see what they thought! Just click the banner below to check it out:

Grapevine Studies Review 

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Surfing The Net: Science Review

The Critical Thinking Co. is a curriculum provider that I’ve always heard pretty good things about, but had not had much chance to check out through the years. Because of this, I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to use one of their products for review with my boys.

I was sent a 250 page copy of the book Surfing The Net: Science, written by Jennifer Katherine Brooks.

Surfing The Net: Science is full of inquiry based worksheets which go along with many free internet videos, articles and games. The sections cover seven different areas of science topics along with their sub-topics:

1. Animals

  • Amphibians
  • Animal Cells
  • BIrds
  • Fish
  • Insects
  • Invertabrates
  • Mammals
  • Reptiles

2. Atmosphere

  • Climate
  • Clouds
  • Precipitation
  • Severe Weather
  • Weather Instruments
  • Weather Forecasts
  • Winds

3. Ecosystems and Habitats

  • Deserts
  • Food Webs
  • Forests
  • Grasslands
  • Oceans
  • Rain Forests
  • Taiga and Tundra

4.  Energy

  • Electromagnetism
  • Energy and Conservation
  • Fossil Fuels
  • Hydroelectricity
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Solar and Wind Energy

5. Geology

  • Erosion and Weathering
  • Minerals
  • Rocks
  • Plate Tectonics
  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanoes

6. Plants

  • Plants
  • Plant Cells
  • Flowering Plants
  • Non-Flowering Plants
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Trees and Shrubs

7. Space

  • Solar System
  • The Sun
  • The Moon
  • Constellations and Stars
  • Space Exploration
  • Asteroids, Meteors and Comets

Because the Critical Thinking Co. has such a generous copyright policy, the first thing I did was to take the book to a local office supply store. I had the binding cut off, and the entire thing three hole punched, then I put it into a three ring binder, sliding the cover into the clear pocket on the front. You don’t really NEED to do this, but I just hate the way the copier picks up the curve between the pages, and you wind up with the grey or black ink showing where the curve was. But that’s just me. :-) As I said, this is a very generous copyright policy. The owner of this book is permitted to reproduce up to 35 copies of each page per year, within one home or one classroom.

One of the things I really like about this book is that it isn’t just a book full of worksheets. This book is teaching us how to use the internet for research, but in a safe way. For those to whom it is important, this book does correlate with science standards in most states. This is not something that is of concern to me personally, but I know that many of you have to worry about. Completing the entire book will bring you through grades 3, 4, 5 and 6.

In each topic, we are covering critical thinking skills in a variety of areas, such as defining, describing,analyzing and synthesizing, expanding knowledge, and investigating. In each activity, we are given a series of things to do, such as watch a video, play a game, search for images, use an interactive website, etc . . .

Here are some things I especially like about this book:

  • We are given a landing site link, where we find every single link that is listed in the book. This does make it somewhat easier, especially for the kids who can just click the correct link instead of having to type it all out, especially in the beginning of learning to research online.
  • The author spent a great deal of time in researching and choosing fun, interesting, educational websites. She chose to include only trusted , age appropriate sites.
  • The author further chose NOT to use YouTube links. May of them are posted by secondary sources, and may not be reliable. Also, we in our home simply don’t let our boys go willy-nilly  checking anything out on YouTube, as much of it is really inappropriate for children.

All in all, I think this is an excellent resource. I LOVE the copyright policy, which allows that I may use it for each of my children as they are ready for it.



The Critical Thinking Company Review 

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Standard Deviants Accelerate: My Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate has an online, supplementary group of Homeschool Courses which cover a multitude of subjects, including Biology, Algebra, Arithmetic, U.S. History, English Composition, Earth Science, Chemistry, Nutrition, and also a handful of AP courses such as AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP U. S. Gov. & Politics, and AP Eng. Composition.

The courses are planned for students in grade 3 through grade 11 or over. what would be best for my children are the courses for they younger grades:

1. Arithmetic (Grades 3+)

2. Fundamental Math (Grades 4+)

3. Earth Science (Grades 6+)

4. Nutrition (Grades 6+)

When the students click on a subject such as Arithmetic, for example, he will see a good deal of headers. In this case, I found the following topics:

1. Whole numbers and the number line

2. Addition and subtraction

3. Multiplying whole numbers and word problems

4. Dividing whole numbers

5. Understanding decimals

6. Understanding Fractions

7. Line, shapes, and fractions

8. Measurement

9. Patterns and graphs

10. Subject Review

Under each of these headers I found a number of sub-topics. Under the header Understanding Decimals, for example, are the following sub-topics:

1. Decimal Basics/Adding and Subtracting Decimals

2. Multiplying and Dividing Decimals/Rounding Decimals

3. Scientific Notation/Problem-Solving Using Decimals

Chapter Review

When the student chooses one of the sub-topics, they will find a short video lesson accompanied by read along text, explaining whatever concept they are looking at.

The videos are performed by a group of fun young people, as opposed to a regular teacher.

The videos are fun and silly, and make us laugh. Another way to make learning fun!

There is a parent administration area as well. Here, you can view what your student has done, and grade their written assignments.

Once you assign your student to his or her class, the student the student may then log in and have access. They can actually, if they are good about self monitoring, continue on their own.

The Homeschool Courses from SDA appears to be a terrific supplemental program for any family wishing to expand and/or re-enforcing what they are learning in their regular curriculum.

To see what other crew members thought, please click the banner below.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review 

Crew DisclaimerAs always, I would love to have you join me on all of my “Journeys Through Life.” Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and enter your email, then you will always know when there’s something new here.

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The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3: A T. O. S. Review

My boys and I have been listening to a wonderful set of real life dramas from the company Brinkman Adventures.

We have been enjoying The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3 so much!

Even my boys have been really interested, to the point of asking if we can please listen to another CD right now, instead of waiting until the next day! I especially have enjoyed listening to the stories about the Brinkmans. The production reminds me of listening to my dad tell us about listening to favorite stories on the radio, and then hearing him tell us how HIS mother used to listen to “her stories” on the radio as well. :-)

We received the CD version of Season 3. Though we had never heard season one or season 2, that did not matter one bit. The episodes in season 3 stand alone, as I expect those in the other two seasons would, too.

Ian Brinkman was given the idea for this program by the Lord while sitting in a motel room in Wisconsin. He was reading Luke 8:16 – 18:

“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.”

Mr. Brinkman believes he was absolutely called to do this, and that it is an act of obedience to the Lord. Making this program, he and his family play the main characters (although their names are changed), and they interact with many people in the missionary life. You can read more about how this came to be here.

Season 3 comes as a four disc set. Each CD has three episodes on it.

Disc One:

1. God’s Mule

2. Mountain Mover

3. The Silent Ambassador

Disc Two:

4. Translating Trouble

5. Man-Up

6. Acorns and Oaks

Disc Three:

7. A Saint’s Story, Pt. One

8. A Saint’s Story, Part Two

9. Untouched

Disc four:

10. Busy Bees And A Bullhorn

11. Missionary Tourist, Pt. One

12. Missionary Tourist, Pt. Two

The stories we have been listening to have ranged from adventurous, to funny, to downright dangerous. They are all true stories, with some details and/or names beeing changed. We really, really love them!

This large family of ten has put together what could basically be called reality programming for the radio, and this is the sort of reality program my husband and I have no problem with having in our home. The stories are just the type to cause us to think hard about what missionaries endure, and to remind us to ALWAYS be in prayer for them. Those of us who cannot go out to the foreign mission field, are still part of the mission work, whether through prayer, through giving, through producing programs such as The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3, and even by being among those who purchase these programs.

Without doubt, I encourage you to check out these wonderful programs! If you’d like to hear an episode for yourself, and download some printables to color, check them out here.

Through the month of November, The Brinkman Adventures is offering their quarterly newsletter, three free episodes, and a chance to win a full season of The Brinkman Adventures!

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review 

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Apologia Educational Ministries: The Ultimate Homeschool Planner My Review.

I have reviewed products from Apologia Educational Ministries in the past however, those reviews were for curriculum products. Now though, I’ve been given for review something completely different. This is the Ultimate Homeschool Planner, which was designed by Debra Bell.

This planner is very nicely made. It has an attractive vinyl cover in one of three colors: yellow, orange and blue. For my review, I received the planner with the orange cover. Right away, I was attracted by that pretty, pretty cover, lol!

Among the first things I noticed were the sturdy pockets on the inside of both the front and the back covers, which would be great to keep your child’s weekly papers in. I have four kids though, so I will need to find another use for them, because I would have them ripped right off the cover in no time with that many kids, lol!

There is a nice welcome letter right at the beginning, talking about the reasons this planner was designed in the first place, followed by a very thorough Table of Contents.

I especially like that there is a fairly extensive user’s guide right at the beginning, explaining what to do with each section, and the purpose behind them as well. This section begins with one of my favorite illustration stories, about a professor with a jar, rocks, stones, sand and water, illustrating that we need to put the big rocks of life in first, or we won’t get them in at all.

If you follow the precise instructions in this planner, you will be starting with a 4 to 8 hour yearly planning session. The user’s guide tells you exactly which pages in the planner you will need for this, and the purpose for doing it. It also gives you very good ideas for how to personalize it based on how the previous year, what didn’t work, what you want to accomplish in the coming year, etc.

Also in the user’s guide is a section regarding your approximately 2 hour monthly planning session. Again, you are told exactly which pages you will need for this. Here, we have the chance to block time for family things, make changes to your plan, etc. There are a lot of really great ideas for the use of this planning session!

There is also a section for Weekly Planning Breaks, about 30 minutes. Some of the purposes here are thinking about God’s faithfulness, working out your battle plan for the coming week, and committing it to the Lord. This is also when you will find your weekly grid pages for planning your days with your children. My orange planner allows for up to six children.

Still in the user’s guide, we have next the suggestions for Monday Morning Tutorials, about 20 minutes per child. This is to help children learn time management skills, go over the week’s assignments, encourage and pray with the child.

Lastly, we have Friday Afternoon Reviews, about 15 minutes per child. The purpose here is to teach the child accountability and to offer feedback.

After all of this information is given (in only the first 8 pages, mind you!), there are NINE pages of illustrated examples for each and every bit of information given in the user’s guide. I don’t know about you, but having the visual is a help to me.

There is a section for keeping scores, if that is of importance to you. I don’t test, nor do I keep scores, but I know that many homeschoolers are required to do so.

Something I love is the Reading List section, in which there is a space for up to six students to record title, author and type of the books they read. As an avid reader myself, I think this is very important! It also has a nice little legend for the books to be marked as assigned, independent, nonfiction and fiction. There is a similar section to record all of their field trips and/or outside activities.

At the end of my planner, I found some very good teaching tip articles, along with ways to figure out your child’s learning style. There is a chart to help you and your teen map out their high school years, and finally, a nice, two page year-end review section, which is a good way to go over what worked, and what didn’t.

One other thing I enjoy about the planner is that it is filled with quotes that were encouraging and helpful. There are also Bible verses sprinkles throughout however, as my readers already know, my family uses only the KJV Bible, so I wish this could be offered using it instead of other versions.

All in all, for the planner addict (don’t pretend, you know you’re out there reading this!) this is a WONDERFUL planner, and you will love it. For myself, I’ve turned out to be a little too laid back for major league planners. I’m the type to write a list on a tablet and cross it off as I complete, going so far as to, if I do something not on the list, write it on JUST so I can cross it off! :-)

Apologia is a great company, and I recommend this planner to any homeschool parent who loves a definite plan. To see what other crew members thought, please click the banner below.

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

Crew DisclaimerAs always, I would love to have you join me on all of my “Journeys Through Life.” Just go to the “sign me up” space at the top of the blog and enter your email, and you will always know if there is something new going on. Hope to see you!

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