Clued In Kids . . . A T. O. S. Review

My kids and I have had such a fun time with this product from Clued In Kids!

This is a great product to use with the kids. After all, what kid doesn’t enjoy going on a treasure hunt? The set up time for mom is super quick and simple, and then the kids just take off searching for their clues. Take a look at how easy this is here.

Clued In Kids was created by a mom who grew up in England, and becoming inspired by a British TV show “Treasure Hunt”, began creating treasure hunts for the children in her neighborhood. But, there is so much more to her story, and I encourage you to read about it here.

We received two pdf treasure hunts. We received Happy Tummy Treasure Hunt, available at $5.99

And Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt, also available at $5.99.

These treasure hunts are appealing to a wide variety of ages, with some being great for kids as young as age four, while others can be organized by older kids and adults to be done with younger kids. It truly DID only take me about five to ten minutes to get each one set up! My kids didn’t even notice me going around hiding the different clues, as they were involved in other things at the time. Then, I came in and said “Who is ready to go on a treasure hunt?” Do you know, they were all excited enough to even put away their electronic games! :-)

I chose to have my boys work together on searching and figuring out the clues. I just really thought it would be better for them, and it was. They took turns reading the clues and filling in answers. There was one clue in the Happy Tummy hunt that involved coloring to be given the next clue, so for that one I printed four copies so they could each color their own.

Here they are, finding one of the clues . . .

Intently solving various clues after they found them . . .



One of the things I really liked was the idea given for making alterations, if the answer to one clue (which led to the next clue) was something that doesn’t exist in your home. It was suggested to just hold back that clue and have them do a physical activity instead, and then give them the next clue. I chose to do something else. One clue had them unscramble the word “Bike” to discover where to find the next clue, but we don’t have any bikes. One of the kids has a Ripstick (a kind of skateboard) though, so I got them to unscramble that word, and that is where they found the next clue.

I think MY favorite part was when they were supposed to run around the house gobbling during the Thanksgiving Hunt. Instead, I had them run around in our court on our street, which you can see in the video below.

We really enjoyed Clued In Kids Treasure Hunts! They would be good for a party, a play date, or, as we used them, just for a fun time with your kids!

To check out Clued In Kids on their various social media, please look below:

Twitter: @cluedinkids

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Learning About The Partial Solar Eclipse . . .

So, last week there was a partial solar eclipse, which was visible here in NM. When I showed my kids how easily we could make a pinhole projector, they were totally on board!

Here is our pinhole projector!

We went outside at about 3:40 our time, and watched it for a while, and then went back out close to 4:30, which we’d been told on the news would be peak time.

We tried doing it with the blank card stock on the ground, but it wasn’t working very well . . .


So we ended up having one child hold the pinhole projector, and another hold the blank card stock. They took turns, so that everyone who wanted to, got a chance to do both, and everyone got a chance to just look, as well.





Their dad got home from work while we were still outside and decided to get in on the action, too!

Here is a short video of the action for your enjoyment!

addendum: I totally forgot to mention that one of the boys next door got off the school bus (arms full of books and homework) as we were doing this, and stopped to see what we were doing. he thought it was pretty cool, as did the lady on the other side of our house, who was leaving to go somewhere, but wandered over first to see. Homeschooling rocks! :-)

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A Nation Adrift (DVD) . . . A T. O. S. Review

New Liberty Videos is a company which produces Christian DVD’s. Bryan Barkley has been producing Christian movies for 30 years, ever since he became a believer while producing the documentary “Set Free,” which was filmed in San Quentin prison. Before that, he worked in Hollywood as an editor on several television series, including “B.J. And the Bear,” “Sheriff Lobo,” and “Quincy.”

For purposes of review, I received a physical DVD entitled “A Nation Adrift”, which is available for $19.95.

A Nation Adrift is the true story of how God’s sovereign hand guided the founders of America. It is a lot like a visual timeline, with sound. Of course, in the beginning, most of the visual is done with paintings and such, and narrated quotes of the founding fathers. Quotes which, I might add, show quite clearly that they fully intended this country to be founded upon the Holy Bible and Christian principles. In fact, if you really think about it, most of our laws that have been around since that time are based directly upon those things.

A Nation Adrift actually begins WAY before the founding of America, all the way back to the beginning of the conflict between Islam and Christianity, which continues today. It takes us through Christopher Columbus’ journeys, the pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving feast (which was NOTHING like Thanksgiving meals today), & the Mayflower Compact.

You will see much about the Revolutionary War, and George Washington, a Christian man who became our first president. There was wonderful narration throughout, quotes from Washington and others, along with beautifully done visuals.

This DVD truly does cover quite a lot, for we also have much narration, quotes and images from the Civil war as well.

Eventually we came to relatively more modern times, beginning with World War 1, and continuing on through World War 2. At this point, the visual becomes more than the paintings and such that had to be used earlier, because it is covering a time when we were beginning to have “moving pictures”.

Throughout the second half of the DVD “A Nation Adrift”, we begin to see changes leading to our country’s drift away from God’s plan. This DVD is supposed to be for “general” audiences, however I personally would caution you that there is a point after we get to more modern times when I sent my children out of the room, as there were topics being dealt with that I’m just not prepared to discuss with them at this time. I did not send them out during the material about Margaret Sanger, because I wanted them to see her for who she really was, and the evil she founded. I have adopted special needs children, and mixed race children, and they were shocked at the direct quotes from Margaret Sanger regarding her agenda to convince black people to get on board with birth control, because she believed their population should be radically lowered, and quotes regarding how those who were retarded should also be eliminated. There was one quote where she said that the best thing a large family could do was to kill one of their infants.

It was at the point where there were detailed drawings and audio descriptions of late-term abortion that I sent my kids out to play. I am 56 years old, and had seen this before, and it was still disturbing to me, so I knew it would be to them as well. There also was video of a church being attacked by demonstrators for gay rights that was very disturbing, because it was clearly not faked. Members of the church could not even leave to go home because they were being attacked, and the demonstrators were holding signs which said “we want your children”, while shouting the same. Now, I do believe that God has given us free will, but that sort of thing is NOT going to change anyone’s mind, in my opinion.

All in all, I think this is a very well done documentary, and I would recommend it for adults, church leaders (all church leaders!), and possibly high school students, but not for young children. It is very well done.

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Weekly Wrap Up . . . Family Crusade Time!

This has been a VERY busy week, but a good one, as well. Our church held a Family crusade, beginning this past Sunday morning with OUR version of balloon Sunday. It was the last day of this year’s International balloon Fiesta, and on that morning, we release helium balloons with our names, and the plan of salvation on an attached card. It was quite windy, and I could not get a photo before they were too far away, sadly, but it was fun! :-)

From Sunday evening through Thursday evening, we had the wonderful Ed Dunlop as our speaker, and dare I say, entertainer? Everyone, children, teens and adults alike all just loved his ventriloquism with his little buddy Andy, and loved watching the kids participate in different Bible games.

I tried to get a video during the last evening, but looking at it on the computer, I can see that I really messed it up . . . it’s sideways! So instead, let me share a photo of Bro. Ed, Andy, my boys, and several of their friends who were also still at the church after everyone else had left . . . 1016142044e One of my boys, “The Batman”, specifically asked if Andy could come out and be in the picture with them, lol!

My boys tried so hard to get visitors to come with them, but they were not successful. This is the first time we have lived where there were other kids right next door that they play with (since moving to NM), and they asked them every day, with no results. They were disappointed, but we explained to them that they did their job by asking, and that God knows this.

I think this was a WONDERFUL alternative to the traditional summer VBS. I liked it a lot better. VBS has always tended (in my opinion) to get kids so very revved up and make it hard for them to be self-controlled, especially kids like mine, with special needs, yet, I hate to deny them VBS. Therefore, I was so very happy that our church chose to do this instead this year. We had a great time! :-)

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Apologia Educational Ministries (iWitness) . . . A T.O.S. Review

Our family has really loved using material from Apologia Educational Ministries ever since first being introduced to one of the science resources after a friend had used one and told me my boys would love it. They did, too!

This particular set of books which I am writing about today though, is different. As a member of the Review Crew, I received three books in the iWitness series:

1. iWitness Biblical Archaeology

iWitness Biblical Archaeology gives an awesome look at archaeological finds which prove many things that we as believers already knew (by faith) to be true. Many people and places which are referred to in the Bible, were not really shown in “historical” texts, because there was no “proof”, but many finds over time have more than proven the truth of their having existed.

2. New Testament iWitness

New Testament iWitness takes the reader along as it investigates things such as “Who wrote the New Testament?” “How do we know?” “How was it handed down?”, among other fascinating things. This book follows the history of and formation of the canon, while the reader sorts through the information given.

3. Old Testament iWitness

Old Testament iWitness goes into discussion of the differences between the Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible. It asks questions such as “Who wrote these ancient books?” “how were they collected?” “Is it mythology or history?” As with the other two books mentioned above, the reader is led through looking at evidence for him or herself, and gaining a great deal of knowledge in the process!

These books are written and designed by Doug Powell, who purposely does not write from his own opinion. He gives facts, actual photos, archaeological proof, and then we are expected to think for ourselves and come to our own belief. While they are very well put together for all ages, the suggested reading level is age 11 and up.

The first thing I want to tell you about is my initial impression when the books arrived. These are extremely sturdy paperback size books, but there the similarity ends. these books have very thick and sturdy pages, which means they will last, and continue to be a good resource on our shelf for many years to come. The other thing that caught my eye immediately was the layout of the pages. As an avid scrap-booker and paper crafter, the scrap-book style layout of all the pages was really pleasing to my eye. There is a nicely done combination of pictures and text. The text is all arranged on separate pieces which look like pieces of scroll or parchment. Over all, the look and feel of each of these books is, in my opinion, of very high quality.

Both “The Artist” and I have been reading through them, beginning with iWitness Biblical Archaeology. I must tell you that this is the book which turned out to be a favorite, although we enjoy all of them. :-) However, I have always wanted to learn more about archaeological finds which prove the things I know to be true because of my faith in God’s Word.

“The Artist” and I had different “favorite” parts, though. He says his favorite was when the archaeology book gave information about the Mesha Stele or Moabite Stone. It discusses how one group attempted to destroy it, rather than have the Turks get it, but that the original discoverers managed to find enough of it to reconstruct much of the stone, giving valuable information regarding people and places within the Old Testament.

“My” favorite part was the recounting of the story of the flood of Noah’s time, as related by different cultures throughout time. I had always heard that different cultures had their own passed down stories of the flood, and iWitness Biblical Archaeology talks about several of them. It then also shows the similarities and differences between Genesis and these stories. For me, it is just one more reason that I believe there is no real excuse for claiming God does not exist.

In Old Testament iWitness, I was interested in the sections about the manuscripts and how they were copied, along with how the books were arranged and included.

In New Testament iWitness, I was again interested in the methods of copying, along with differences in copies, and why certain books were rejected.

The bottom line is that we really enjoyed these books, and we definitely recommend them. They can be purchased at the cost of $14.00 each from Apologia, and I must say that I feel they are well worth the cost.

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A Sad Good-Bye . . .

With the permission of my dear friend Robin Burns, I am writing this post about her son, Tyler Burns. Tyler died yesterday morning, having saved the lives of some friends. You may read more about what happened here:

What I want to do here, though, is tell you what Tyler and his family were to our life. When we first moved to Pt. Huron, MI, Tyler’s mom Robin was my very first friend there, and Ty and my two older boys, “The Batman” and “The Artist” grew up together. They played together. We watched each others kids when needed. Our boys attended each others birthday parties.

Here is a picture from “The Batman’s 13th birthday party. Tyler is the second boy over from the “Batman”, watching the gifts being opened.

And here he attended “The Artist’s” 9th birthday party:

Which was just one month later. Ty is at the far end of the table, in front of the china cabinet, to the left as you face the cabinet.

Tyler was one of my favorite playmates for my sons. But several years before we moved to NM, Ty’s family moved to WY, and of course, we missed them so much.

It is so hard to believe now, that we will never see Tyler again, until we reach heaven, but so good to know for certain, that we WILL see him there. I know that he accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour when he was a young boy, and that we will see him again.

Please pray, as my family is doing, for the Burns family as they go through this terrible suffering and loss.



Filed under A Sad Good-Bye, Tyler Burns

Fix It! Grammar . . . A T.O.S. Review

In all of the years of working on the education of my kids here at home, we have never, ever actually used a formal grammar program. Or, for that matter, ANY written grammar program, to be honest! I have basically practiced an informal method of correcting their spoken grammar as a part of our daily life, something I will continue doing, as I believe it works quite well for SPOKEN grammar. However, “The Artist”, who was the student reviewing a fiction writing course last year, really wants to go back to it, and to learn to be better at writing stories, so I thought that the opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Teacher Manual] (Book 1), along with Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Student Book](Book 1), would perhaps be a good thing for him. I took a look at how it worked and decided to give it a chance.

This grammar program is from the very well known Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).

IEW is a company I personally have never really taken the opportunity to really check out, because I was afraid it would be too difficult for my special needs guys. However, I am extremely glad we were blessed with the opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar, because it really works, in just minutes a day!

Here is the basic concept . . .
Method: modeling proper grammar within stories. Instead of being taught a grammar rule, and then being forced to practice it with a bunch of exercises, followed by the next grammar rule, over and over (Lather, rinse, repeat, so to speak) in Fix It! Grammar, the grammar rules are taught as they are needed, within the context of a story that builds upon itself until, at the end of the lesson book, the student has written correctly, the entire fairy tale used at that level.

The Process: 15 minutes per day. The level we received is giving us 33 weeks of grammar instruction and practice, in only 15 minutes per day, and 4 days per week.

This program is incredibly easy to set up and to work through! If you have the student book, then your student will need a note book divided into two sections, which are Rewrite and Vocabulary.

On day one of each week, your student will read and correct ONE sentence. Yes, one. He or she will read the sentence, look up the bolded word in a dictionary and write the best definition which fits within the context of the sentence, and write that into the vocabulary section of their note book. This will be built on each day until at the end, they have their own vocabulary dictionary to refer to. Then, he or she will copy the sentence for that day into the rewrite section of their note book, using double spacing.

On days two through four, the student will use the abbreviations at the top of the page, as well as the provided grammar flash cards to help them remember how to mark the section. As with day one, the student does their “rewrite” in the notebook, writing with double spacing. They are to use their best handwriting, so this is also a nice addition to the day in giving them that particular practice!

While we received both the Teacher book and the Student book (both are very nice, spiral bound books), If you prefer, you CAN just purchase the teacher book at the cost of $19.00. The teacher book comes with a license allowing you to download the student book and print as many copies as needed for use within your own homeschool family. The Student book, available for $15.00, is well worth it though, depending on how much it costs for you to print, and whether or not you have more than one child. I happen to have four boys, so knowing that I can print it as needed when each of them is ready for this, makes this a bargain for me.

A placement test is provided if you are unsure where to begin your student, however, like many people, I chose to begin with book one, so as to create a good foundation upon which we can build with the levels which follow. There is also a webinar available to introduce you to Fix It! Grammar, along with how this program differs from traditional methods of teaching grammar.

Fix It! Grammar is intended for 3rd grade and up, but as I said, I personally think that if you, like us, have not done a formal grammar program, it’s best to begin at the beginning.

What did we think of it? Well, I find it incredibly easy to use! “The Artist” really does not enjoy being MADE to write, although he enjoys writing on his own time, so this was the perfect choice for him. I mean, really? One sentence per day? Even my lazy writer who constantly complains about his hand cramping from too much writing, is fine with this! He really doesn’t mind giving up 15 minutes out of his day, and when he is finished, he will have completely written the entire fairy tale himself, with correct grammar! The only real problem we have is keeping him from reading ahead to see the rest of the story, lol!

You will find IEW on the following social media:

You Tube

Bottom Line? Not only do I very highly recommend Fix It! Grammar from IEW, I think we will be continuing with it level by level. It is a very painless way to learn written grammar, and frankly, I like that. There is no reason education HAS to be dreary, if there is a better way, and this is definitely a better way, in my opinion.

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Filed under education, Fix It! Grammar, Grammar The Easy Way, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Institue For Excellence In Writing, Language Arts, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review, writing fiction