Category Archives: Schoolhouse Review Crew Post

God’s World News . . . A T.O.S. Review

For several years now, I have planned to subscribe to the magazine God’s World News, and then for one reason or another, just never did. So, when I found out it would be up for review by the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I of course requested the opportunity to review it with my four boys.

God’s World News Magazine, as it turns out, is a very good value for the cost. For a full year (10 months) subscription to the age range of your choice, you pay only $28.00. There is also no charge for regular shipping and handling.
With our subscription to the News Flash

we also received a 20″ x 30″ world map, which coordinates with the Map It! Locator maps in many of the magazine articles, allowing my kids to then look up where in the world the story is taking place. At my husband’s suggestion, I purchased a poster frame to put the map in, along with dry erase pens. That way, the paper map stays nice (I DO have all boys, you know!), plus, if they want to, they can now mark it up as we are learning, and the dry erase marker will wipe right off!

You can see the boys checking out the map below . . .

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God’s World News is available at several grade levels, all the way through high school.

I chose the News Flash edition because I thought it would be a good mid-range that all four of my boys would enjoy, and I was right. News Flash is actually written for kids in the 3rd – 4th grade range, and I have kids who range in ability from about kindergarten – 2nd grade all the way up to early high school level.

The various God’s World magazines are written to help your children build a biblical world view, when looking at stories in the news, at current events, and also at things in our history.

From the website:
News Flash emphasizes News, Knowledge and Wisdom while focusing on specific skills for students in this age range.

•Age appropriate stories illustrate for young students the truth that our merciful and sovereign God is active in the world.
•Lessons in the magazine and online use news stories as a springboard to teach concepts from Civics, Geography, Economics, Worldview and more.
•MAP-IT! Locator maps correspond with a full-sized (20″ x 30″) world map sent in September to each class, homeschool teacher, and homeschool group coordinator (five maps sent to homeschool groups).
•Creative puzzles build alphabet, number, sequence, and other skills.
•Grade-level website expands the God’s World News experience with ever-changing stories, editorial cartoons, and lots of downloadable activity sheets .

Our full year subscription included:

Ten, full color monthly issues (no issue in December or May), the afore-mentioned children’s website access, a weekly email newsletter for parents and teachers, which includes answer keys to the magazine quizzes and puzzles, and biographies and topical lessons to download and print, with quizzes and answer keys.

We have so far received the August, September and October issues of God’s World News Flash, and the boys are very much enjoying it! We have been reading stories about why people move (which discusses people who are illegally going into other countries to live, and the dangers when they do so), stories that teach some geography, stories about various animals and what they can do (for example, I did not know that dolphins use echolocation!).

There is often a “Bible2Life” section at the end of an article, like the one at the end of one of my boys’ favorite stories, “Hank Aaron: Natural Born Ball Player”. The article gave us two pages filled with his story and history, and then in the Bible2Life section at the end, talked about how God has plans for all of us. It used the verse Jeremiah 1:5, which tells us that the Lord knew us before we were even formed in the womb. The Bible2Life section of this story talks about how God “consecrates” us (and explains that to consecrate means to set apart for a special purpose), and asks the reader to think about what his or her special gifts might be, and how God wants him or her to use those gifts. Many stories in the magazine have a Bible2Life section, which helps the reader in developing a biblical world view, even when they move on to reading or viewing news stories from other sources.

You can download a sample issue of News Flash, a sample answer key, a sample lesson, and a sample of one of the biographies that are archived on the website

As you can see below, “The Batman”, “The Artist”, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are all enjoying both the News Flash Magazine AND the large world map!

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I also received a copy of “World Magazine“, which is the adult version of God’s World News. There are articles dealing with things such as the government shutdown, the death penalty, common core in education, marriage longevity, etc . . ., and my husband and I are enjoying it very much!

To sum it up, I believe that at $28.00, God’s World Magazine is an excellent value, especially when you add in the online extras that come with the subscription. I also feel that the News Flash edition is a very good fit for my kids. They are all interested in things that are being talked about in the news, but we really try to be careful of what they watch and read. There are often stories in the newspaper and on the news which we don’t want them to see, feeling that either the stories themselves, or the way they are treated in the news, are not appropriate for our children (or any children, often-times!).

Reading God’s World News gives them an opportunity to learn about, and discuss, world events, current events, etc . . . within a safer environment, and from a biblical world view.

The only thing I would change (and I bet my regular readers know exactly what I’m about to say, lol!) would be that I wish the Bible references would be from the Authorized King James Bible, which is the only version our family uses. While I realize other versions have become very popular, it does seem to me that if nothing else, it would be more cost-effective for publishers to use the KJV, as it is my understanding that there is much less of a copy-write issue when using the King James Version of the Holy Bible than when using other versions.

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My Kids Are Learning To Play Chess! (A T.O.S. Review)

Well! I have once again been pleasantly surprised by a review product I received as a result of being part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew . . .

the Starter Chess Learning Kit from the company Chess House!

I have to admit to you right now that after I was accepted for this review, I did have second thoughts . . . and third thoughts . . . and even fourth thoughts! In fact, if it were not for the fact that my kids had been begging for some time to learn how to play chess, I very likely would not have even expressed interest in this particular review! But, they HAVE been asking for a while, and so when this came up, I went for it, without letting them know. But then, I got picked, and thought, “Oh no! What if it’s too much for them?” Remember, with four boys who have a variety of special needs, many of them having to do with developmental delays and mental retardation, it can be easy to think they wouldn’t be able to follow something and learn from it. Boy, was I wrong this time! 🙂

I mentioned above that I chose not to tell the boys about this review until it came, so they were very excited to see it when it was delivered!

Our Starter Chess Learning Kit came with the following components:

•Elliott’s Chess School DVD 1 – “Pawn Level” introduces basics of chess in easily digestable chunks, keeping it fun and interesting for youngsters as well

•All purpose chess set that will last for years.

•Solid plastic chess pieces with 3 3/4″ regulation size king. Easy to obtain replacements.

•Odor free chessboard made in USA. 20″ x 20″, 2 1/4″ squares.

•Chess bag keeps all 32 pieces, roll-up chess board, and DVD together and portable. 24x8x3″

Everything was packed within a very sturdy, easy to transport carrying case in an attractive dark green color. Other color options are black, navy, green camo and tan camo.

This set is appropriate for all ages, and worked very well for my boys, who range in actual age from 12 – 20, but in developmental age from probably 4 – 12.

My boys were excited to get going with this review, so we popped the DVD in and began watching.

Here, we have everyone, “The Batman”, “The Artist”, Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” all watching as the teacher, National Master Elliott Neff, showed them step by step how to play this game that has actually been around for 1500 – 2000 years.

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I really do credit the DVD in this kit (Elliott’s Chess School #1 PAWN Level) for getting my boys engaged and excited to learn this game. The topics that they were taught with on the DVD are:

•Intro to Chess (board, names of pieces, values)
•Pawns
•Rooks
•Bishops
•The Queen
•The King
•Knight
•Castling
•Pawn shields and when to break it
•Development

And the features on the DVD are as follows:

•Bonus booklet with practice positions for every topic helps the learner practice and master the material presented.
•Introduction of each piece
•Understanding of the values of each pieces
•Best strategy for each piece
•”Pawn Shield” strategy (how to BLOCK your opponent’s army)
•Learning about the most important squares to control
•How to start a chess game with the BEST strategy

The DVD is not so long as to become tiresome, it comes in at 49 minutes, and after each topic is introduced and taught, we paused the DVD so the boys could play the practice game using just that topic’s pieces.

Here is just a little clip from the DVD showing how Elliot Neff teaches the game in a way that my boys were able to understand . . .

The practice games are given in the bonus booklet, which is tucked right into the DVD case.

Here, you can see the twins, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”, playing one of their many games (they play it the most right now, although “The Batman” and “The Artist” do play with them at times.)

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As you can see, they have set up their own little audience of action figures to watch them play! 🙂

I am very pleased with this set. It has exceeded my expectations, and my boys have been able to understand the clear teaching by Elliot Neff. They are remembering what each piece is, how it moves, and what it can do. They are learning strategy, something that up until recently, I was unsure they would be able to do. And most importantly, because as you all know, I believe learning should be fun, if at all possible, they are having FUN! They are also no longer asking to play with the glass chess set I have decorating a shelf in our home, lol!

You and your children can also easily learn the game of chess from Elliot Neff. The Starter Chess Learning Kit from Chess House is available for the current price of $39.95 (regular price $49.95) with the Product Code: KP100.

Once you have mastered the Pawn Level DVD, there are other levels you can move on to in order to improve your skills:

Elliott’s Chess School #2 KNIGHT Level

Elliott’s Chess School #3 BISHOP Level

Elliott’s Chess School #4 ROOK Level

Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew also received the Starter Chess Learning Kit from Chess House . . . to find out what they thought of it, please click on the graphic below.
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HEROES OF HISTORY, George Washington: True Patriot . . . A T.O.S. Review

I had never had any experience with materials from YWAM Publishing, but when I saw what was being offered as a possible review, I really wanted to give this one a try.

I was curious as to what YWAM stood for, and before I had the chance to find out, my husband (who puts all of my review deadlines into my phone calendar with reminders for me) looked it up.

YWAM, according to their own website, stands for Youth With A Mission. They are one of the largest Christian charitable organizations in the world. To learn more about them, go here.

We were given the choice between HEROES OF HISTORY George Washington: True Patriot

along with the Heroes of History Unit Study Curriculum Guide: George Washington to go with it . . .

Or the CHRISTIAN HEROES: THEN & NOW: “Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose, with the matching CHRISTIAN HEROES: THEN & NOW Unit Study Curriculum Guide: Jim Elliot

After taking a look at the descriptions for both, I decided that George Washington would be the best choice in our family, for a variety of reasons. First, we have been studying early American, and also, because my kids are very interested in the period covered by this book because of some other things they have been doing.

I received this book as a pdf download, along with the curriculum unit study guide, which came as two separate pdf downloads. The book is available as a paperback, for the current price of $6.99 (regularly $$8.99), and the curriculum unit study guide for $7.49 (regularly $9.99). The book HEROES OF HISTORY: George Washington: True Patriot is also available in a Kindle edition, a Nook edition, and as an audiobook edition.

You may click here for a sample of the unit study curriculum guide.

We received both the book and the curriculum unit study guide in pdf format, and have been using the book as a read-aloud. It is actually amazing to me (though it really ought not to be!) how much even I have been learning (especially about George Washington’s early life) while we have been reading this book together! I have read a great deal of it to my kids, but some of them have taken turns at the reading as well, including my reluctant reader, “Mr. Loquacious”, who actually ASKED to have a turn after listening to “The Puzzler” read for a bit, lol!

Here is “Mr. Loquacious” reading a portion from the book . . .

Here is “The Puzzler” reading some of the book . . .

The Curriculum Unit Study Guide came in two parts. First, there was a four page download with a fact sheet, two outline maps and a timeline, and second, a 64 page unit study guide with a good number of possible activities which included things like:

chapter questions

Key Quotes (for copy work or memorization), but which WE used orally, to get discussions going.

Ideas for doing a display corner (this was not a good fit for us, but would be great in a class room, or for a family with access to artifacts having to do with this story)

Student Explorations, which included things like essay questions, creative writing, hands on projects, audio/visual projects, and arts & crafts projects.

There is also a section called Community Links, with suggestions for field trips and other resources, such as having a guest speaker come into a classroom.

There is also a Social Studies section in the study guide, with suggestions for incorporation social studies using the five different categories given:

Places . . . covering significant places related to the story and mentioned in the book

Terms/vocabulary . . . ideas for studying some of the terms used in the book

Geographical characteristics . . . suggestions for mapping some of the physical characteristics of places where George Washington lived

Timeline . . . so the students can, if they like, choose to research the time period in which George Washington lived

Conceptual questions . . . that a teacher (or parent) can use to have their students write a paragraph or two in response to a given question, present an oral report, or discuss the question as a group.

Related themes to explore (to make this into a cross-curriculum study)

Culminating events (which we have yet to attempt)

There is also an appendix listing many additional books and resources, and an appendix which gives the answers to the chapter questions.

As we generally do, because of the various special needs in my group, we did these things orally. I was surprised (and very pleased!) at how enthusiastically my boys got into answering the chapter questions and discussions, as well as the many times, especially once we got past the section of the book which deals with George Washington as a child, my boys frequently exclaimed about what they thought was about to come next, because they recognized what was happening. This was because of their obsession with a certain animated series set during the American Revolution, which we own in its entirety on DVD. 🙂

We have very much enjoyed reading HEROES OF HISTORY, George Washington: True Patriot, and I believe we would most likely enjoy many other of the books offered by YWAM. I also believe that the price for them is such that they are very affordable to use as read-alouds, and although I am not sure I would use the unit study curriculum other than orally at this point in my children’s lives, I also believe they are a good value for the price.

To read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of George Washington: True Patriot and matching curriculum unit study guide, and of the YWAM book and study guide for Jim Elliot: One Great Purpose book and study guide, please click on the graphic below!

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As always, I would just love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”, by simply going to the “sign me up” button at the top of the page. Just enter in your email information and never miss another update! 🙂

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The Homeschool Mom’s Bible . . . A T.O.S. Review

Now and then, we who are members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew are given an opportunity to review something that is just for us homeschooling mamas. This is one of those times, and I feel so very fortunate to have been chosen as one of the reviewers for the KJV Homeschool Mom’s Bible, which has just recently been published to go alongside their NIV version, by Zondervan.

It was so exciting to me, that there would now be a KJV Homeschool Mom’s Bible, because, as regular readers of my blog are aware, the KJV is the only version of the Bible my family uses, or will ever use.

The Bible I received is a hard-cover, jacketed book, with 1504 pages. As you can see from the picture above, the cover is so nice looking, it almost looks like something I would do when making a scrapbook page or a card. The cool thing, for those of us who usually wind up being book jacket challenged, either losing the jacket or having it become worn and torn, is that if you DO remove the jacket, the actual cover of the book looks exactly the same as the jacket! No boring, plain cover on this one, that’s for sure! 🙂

There is a very encouraging one page foreword written by Vickie Farris, who is the wife of Homeschool Legal Defense Association founder Dr. Michael Farris. I was privileged to attend one of her sessions during the CAPE-NM convention here in Albuquerque during April of 2013. I thought her forward was well written, and spoke well to the things we, as homeschool moms, need to hear.

Along with the complete text of the Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible, this book includes 365 daily devotions, which are short (one page) readings which are specifically targeted for homeschooling mamas, each written by Janet Tatman. Janet Tatman homeschooled her own children for over 25 years, and then joined Alpha Omega Publications as a copywriter in the company’s homeschool division. She spent much of her time there writing the Daily Focus, a daily email devotional sent to subscribers. It became so popular that it is now offered as a year-long devotional book, and has been included as part of the KJV Homeschool Mom’s Bible.

The daily devotions are spread throughout this Bible, as opposed to being all grouped together as one large section. I like that, it encourages me to read the section of the Bible that is right by whatever devotion I am looking at, even if it has nothing to do with that particular devotion. Each devotion has a scripture passage to help in directing my focus to God’s Word, and ends with a short, suggested prayer to help get me started in talking with The Lord.

The devotionals also have a “go to” format, meaning that at the bottom of each devotion’s page is a line telling me on which page in my KJV Homeschool Mom’s Bible I will need to turn to the next day when I want to read my devotional.

There is also another option that I very much like, and that is the Topical Index, which is at the end of the book. I really enjoy going through the topics, because whenever I do, I find one right away that speaks to SOMETHING I am dealing with in my life. So, not only do I have the complete text of the Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible, but without needing to get out a second book, I also have my daily devotional, plus a topical index, telling me which devotionals go with which topics!

I feel very blessed to have been given the KJV Homeschool Mom’s Bible to review, and would encourage other ladies who are now homeschooling or who are thinking of homeschooling, to take a look at this wonderful addition to our mom toolbox! Truly, the only thing I would suggest doing differently is to have it offered in large print for those of us with tired eyes, lol!

The KJV Homeschool Mom’s Bible is available in the hard-cover edition I received for $34.99, and is also available as an e-book or in the Italian Duo-tone format.

Please click on the graphic below, if you’d like to find out what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of the Homeschool Mom’s Bible!

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Fundanoodle . . . Putting the FUN into Writing! A T.O.S. Review

Often, when we receive review opportunities from the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we get things which really add some fun to the day. Fundanoodle, another product that I had never heard of, was just one instance of that sort of thing!

We received two books . . . I Can Write Lower Case!

and I Can Write My Own Stories!

Both of these tablets are suggested for ages 5 – 6, or K – 1st grade. Because of their developmental delays, along with other special needs, these were the tablets I chose when asked which products I would like to review.

“Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” were adopted four years ago at the age of 8, and could not read or write much at all, something we’ve very slowly been working on, along with other things that had to be made priorities. Now, though, they have progressed to the point that they can sit and do this, so we wanted to give this product a try.

With cute characters such as Max the Monkey and Alphie the Adventurer, Fundanoodle has been putting the “fun” back into writing practice around here. 🙂

“Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” our twins, have been working with these two books during the review period. What I have chosen to do is have them work together on the same page, by alternating lines, as you can see below . . .

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“The Puzzler”
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The Fundanoodle Handwriting Program was actually developed by two pediatric occupational therapists, Michelle Yoder, OTR/L, CIMI, and Amy Bumgarner, MS, OTR/L. Between the two of them, they have over twenty years of experience, with therapy specialty areas such as:

– sensory processing disorders
– autism and
– therapeutic listening
– the interactive metronome method
– TAMO and
– the SOS feeding approach

BOTH “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” have sensory processing issues, and “The Puzzler” is on the autism spectrum, which definitely caused this product to be of interest to me, when I read that the specialty areas of the developers of these products included both of these disorders, something I didn’t realize until I fully explored the Fundanoodle website.

We really liked the special instructions at the top of each page in the I Can Write Lower Case Tablet, words like “Zip” (make a straight line), “Zoom” ( make a diagonal line), “Buzz” (make a curved line), “hop” (hop on the page), “Bump” (curve the line down), and “Dot” (make a dot). These illustrations words really helped “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” to “see” what they needed to do when they are making different letters.

The letters are taught in a logical progression, having been sequenced according to a child’s development of visual and motor skills, with letters grouped according to the way they are formed. For example, l, I, & t all have similar movements, and so they would be taught in order before moving on to letters such as o, c, & a. There are also extra practice pages in the back of the tablet, along with a page on the website where you may download extra practice pages by entering the numbers from the upc code on the back of the tablet.

In the tablet I Can Write My Own Stories, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are practicing handwriting and writing concepts, including creative writing, sentence completion, story sequencing and more.

Story sequencing is a big thing for them to work on, so I really like that aspect of this tablet. In the very first story, they were given four pictures that told the story, and had to place a number within a smaller square on each picture to show which order the pictures belonged. After that, they were to write out what Alphie was doing, in order, to tell the story.

On a different page, they had to write a number next to the pre-written sentences to show what order they belonged in, and then draw a picture of what the story was about.

One of the things my boys most enjoyed, of course, was that for each completed page, there is a corresponding “I did it!” sticker to place at the bottom of the page. Since “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are doing these tablets together, they are taking turns applying the stickers as well. Here is “The Puzzler” attaching the “I did it!” sticker to a page from the I Can Write My Own Stories! tablet . . .

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These are spiral bound tablets, and in my opinion, one of the really nice things is that they are top bound, making them both left and right-hand friendly. I have an older child who is left-handed, and this would have benefitted him greatly when he was at the stage of learning to form letters.

Another great thing about Fundanoodle is that it takes very little time to do a page, so (at least in the case of MY boys), this product is beneficial when your kids have a very short attention span. Anything that takes “too long” becomes a battle around here.

I Can Write Lower Case! (52 sheets + sticker page) can be purchased here for $5.99, and I Can Write My Own Stories! (50 sheets + sticker pages) can be purchased here, also for $5.99.

I think “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are both enjoying I Can Write Lower Case! and I Can Write My Own Stories!, which makes them worth the price to me. I’m fairly sure that we will continue using these tablets as a fun addition to our educational time, probably twice a week, unless they ask for it more often.

To read what the other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of the various products from Fundanoodle, please click the graphic below!

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See It And Say It Flip Flop Spanish . . . A T.O.S. Review

Anyone who is a regular reader here at My Journeys Through Life knows that my family moved all the way from Port Huron, Michigan to Albuquerque, New Mexico a little over a year ago. Ever since then, no matter where we go, we hear the Spanish language being spoken, and have developed a real desire to learn it for ourselves. So, when I was offered the opportunity to review a curriculum called See It And Say It Flip Flop Spanish by Senora Gose from Flip Flop Learning, I grabbed at it!

Flip Flop Learning’s See It And Say It Spanish

is SUPER easy to use . . . all I needed to do was get a three-ring binder with the clear pockets on the outside for the cover and spine (which, by the way, were included in my package), put the curriculum in the binder, stick the first CD (also included) into the laptop, and away we went!

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Flip Flop Learning’s See It and Say It Spanish claims to be a full, two-year Spanish curriculum for ages 3 to 93, and judging by what we’ve seen thus far, I believe it is.

With the very first lesson, we learned six words/phrases, enough to begin making sentences immediately! Now, you all know my motto . . . “instant gratification takes too long”, so this was PERFECT for us! 🙂

Because of an error in shipping, we did not receive our curriculum as quickly as the company intended, but that’s OK, because it really allows me to honestly tell you that you CAN learn a lot in a short period of time, with the right materials. It was already a given that we would be taking this at our own pace, just as we do with most everything, to accommodate the various special needs of my children, but I’m telling you, this curriculum has been a very good starting point for us to move from our desire to learn Spanish, to actually being able to speak several sentences, right away!

Because of the shipping mistake, Senora Gose was very generous and sent me a copy of one of her other books, “The Key To Learning Everything” vol. 1, which I can also very highly recommend to you!

We are learning with three different styles all at once . . . audial, tactile, and visual. We hear Senora Gose give the lesson, we touch the cards with the pictures (the Spanish and English words are on the back of the cards), and we see both the pictures and the words as we go.

Here are the cards we were using by the second lesson, including two that we were instructed to make, for the words “Y” (and), and the word pero (but), which helped us make even longer, more complete sentences.

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In this picture, you can see all of the boys, as we practice with the cards.

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Beginning with lesson one, we were instructed to read the manual, lay out the cards called for, and then, listen to the tracks referred to in the lesson while following along. Each lesson is repeated at least three days before moving on to the next, and on the third day, we were told to do the lesson without the CD, that way my children and I are learning to interact with each other in Spanish, not just with the CD (although, Senora Gose DOES have a voice which is very pleasant, easy to listen to and understand, and a clear, smooth speaking style). That’s really all there is to it! Even the description on the back cover tells you there are just 3 easy steps to See It And Say It Spanish . . .

1. Read the manual

2. select the flash cards for the lesson (just 4 or 6 cards per week)

3. play the CD and follow along

Our lessons are taking around 15 – 20 minutes, 3 times per week. The manual says 8 – 15 minutes, but as I said, we take things slower, plus my boys are having fun, so sometimes we play around with making sentences for a longer time.

Here are some short videos of the boys after only our second lesson:

“The Puzzler”

“The Batman”

“The Artist”

“Mr. Loquacious”

And finally, even I am learning! 🙂

Once we did lesson two, we were given a speed round to do. That was harder, and not just for the boys, but I know we will get better at it as we go along! 🙂 After that, the curriculum also added in what it calls “extra fun”. To learn even more, we put the noun cards we had already learned into a brown paper bag and took turns drawing them out. Using the white paddle board and the dry erase pen that came with the curriculum, the person whose turn it was would attempt to draw a picture of the noun on the paddle for us to guess (remember Pictionary?). The first one who could correctly call out what the card was would win that card. We had fun with that, we really enjoy games, and my husband and I particularly like what HE calls “stealth” games, which are games in which you are learning without realizing it, lol!

So . . . you probably want to know what all is included in this curriculum, and whether or not you will have added expense for extra materials, don’t you? Well, this is what you will receive when you order this curriculum:

One curriculum manual, with 150 pages of four semesters of lessons

3 sets of flash cards (135 cards) which are color coded

4 CD’s of audio lessons

1 dry erase paddle

1 dry erase marker

2 card holder pages for sentence building (although we build our sentences right on the kitchen table or the floor!)

Really, the ONLY extra thing I bought was a three-ring binder with clear insert covers, and that was only because we had run out of the right sized binders!

Some included vocabulary topics are:

common household nouns

colors and opinions

animals

clothing

food and family

manners

rooms in the house

places in town

Some of the activities which are included for extra learning are:

charades

Paleta (drawing board paddle)

speed rounds

skits

crosswords

find a word

and others.

Grammar concepts included are:

Spanish phonetics

definite and indefinite articles

conjugation of ser, estar, ir, and tener

regular -ar verb conjugation

forming questions

singular vs. plural

noun/adjective agreement

command forms

numbers up to 50

possessive

adjectives

parts of speech

prepositions

Spanish syntax

According to Senora Gose, we will learn over 250 words, and thousands of possible Spanish sentences!

See It And Say It Spanish can be ordered here for the current price of $99.95, with the regular retail price being $129.95. Our family gives it a resounding “”me gusta – “I like”!

To check out what the other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members thought of See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish, please click on the graphic below!

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As always, I would just love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys”, by clicking on the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and entering your email information. Never miss an update again! 🙂

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The Presidential Game . . . a T.O.S. Review

OK, so I’ll be honest, back in the beginning of August, when I requested to be chosen as a reviewer for The Presidential Game,

it was primarily because it looked so interesting to ME. I love to follow politics. I have, however, been trying over the years to teach my boys about elections, and several years ago “The Batman” and “The Artist” even did a lapbook about the presidential election (this was before we adopted “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”, so we’ll probably do it again during the next big election”).

When the game arrived and I got a good look at it, I got a little nervous, I was at that point unsure if my boys would be able to “get” the concept during game play. I also wondered about the price, and what my husband would think of that. More about that later, however. 🙂

The Presidential Game is a board game, with an online component. The game itself is VERY sturdy and well made! I’ve seen (and had!) a number of board games which were very cheaply made, the fold up boards coming apart, the boxes coming apart. The Presidential Game is going to stand up to a LOT of wear, I think, which is a good thing, because my family is enjoying it very much!

I told you that at first, I was unsure whether my boys would be able to “get” the process of playing this game, because of their various special needs. I guess my friends who keep reassuring me about what home-schooling is doing for them are right though, because it didn’t take very long at all for all four of the boys to start strategizing to try to win the game.

The Presidential Game is intended for players age 11 and up, and for at least two players. We are a family of six, and play it in teams of three players.

This is from the back of the box:

“Think you have what it takes to be America’s next president? The Presidential is a fun and exciting game of strategy where two teams, Democrats and Republicans, battle for control of each state to ultimately gain 270 electoral votes or more. An entertaining and educational family game – it’s great for both students (11+) and adults. Enjoy the thrill of playing to win the most powerful job in the world!”

When your game arrives, it will include the following in the box:

1 20″ x 30″ game board
1 score pad
3 blue dice
3 red dice
80 politics cards (some of these are truly funny, too!)
150 Republican votes (red chips)
150 Democrat votes (blue chips)
1 electoral webmap calculator
Access code for the webmap calculator

Using the interactive webmap calculator was great fun, it helped the boys catch on very quickly to how fast and frequently the lead can change during an election campaign! 🙂

The very first time we set up for play, it took only a few minutes to get started, and the learning curve was slight, much easier than I had thought it would be, as I said above. We played as two teams. My husband, “The Batman” and “The Puzzler” were one team, with “The Artist”, “Mr. Loquacious” and myself being the other.

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We got right into the game, which is played as a series of campaign “weeks”, where each team is either fundraising or campaigning. We decided to alternate. Week one (the first found) we decided both teams would fundraise, and on week two (round two) we would campaign, and so on through the game. In your fundraising round, you must choose which one of four states (California, Texas, New York or Florida) you will be going to in order to raise money. You then get to roll your three dice. Whatever your total roll, one half of that number must remain in the state where you chose to fundraise, so for example, if you roll a 12, then 6 votes (chips) in your color are stacked onto that state. You may, of course, put all 12 on your chosen fundraising state, or you can divide the other half between any other states you like. That’s when strategy begins to kick in, because sometimes you can regain a state your opponents control, or gain a new state.

During campaign rounds, your team chooses and must announce three states in which you will campaign. Your team then rolls your three dice, and must allocate your votes (chips) according to the numbers on each dice. For example, if you roll a 3, a 5 and a 2, you must put 3 votes on one of your chosen states, 5 on another, and 2 on the last of your chosen states, but you get to decide which of your chosen states get what number.

The politics cards are fun! Your team gets to draw a politics card from the deck during your fundraising turn. Most of the cards can be used right away OR held to play later, although some will say “play immediately” on them. You can use only one card during a turn, though, so it won’t help to hold a bunch in order to get extra votes! Here is a politics card that my team drew, and used. I thought it was hilarious, because we are originally from Michigan, and the topic on the card was very much in the news during a political scandal in Detroit only a few years ago. 🙂

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The counts on the board change frequently, as votes (chips) are stacked on states and taken away because the other team gained or re-gained that state.

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As you play, you can keep score of the electoral votes gained by each team either by using the score pad (a lot more work!) or by using the online Electoral WebMap Calculator (a lot more fun!) The online map is visual, and the boys could see immediately how quickly things change and turn around during an election, because at any time during play, states were being won and lost.

This is what the Electoral WebMap looked like when we started the game . . .

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And these shots will show you how quickly things can change during a campaign!

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It really didn’t take very long for any of the boys to pick up on the strategy of the game, and they got very good, very quickly, at figuring out which states to fundraise and campaign in, and how to best allocate votes (chips) in order to either take over a state or at least turn it neutral again, if the opposite team currently controlled it.

“The Batman” and “The Artist” . . .

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“Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” . . .

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The Presidential Game is available to purchase here for $35.00, which both my husband and I feel is a good price, especially considering the online component.

Our family is truly enjoying this game, and will absolutely put it into the family game night rotation!

To read about what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of the Presidential Game, please click the graphic below!

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As always, I would love it if you would join me on “My Journeys” by clicking on the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog. Just enter your email, and never miss an update again! 🙂

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Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures . . . a T.O.S. Review

I love to read, so whenever a book comes up for review with the Schoolhouse Review Crew I am all over the request form for it!

The book “Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures” by Gwen Toliver was no different, in fact I especially wanted to read this one! I love stories about missionaries, in fact, I have cousins who have been missionaries to a closed Asian country for many years now.

Gwen Toliver, a home-schooling mother to eight children, and writes about family and ministry on her very interesting blog.

She spent two years interviewing missionaries who have spent years of their lives in the awesome task of translating the Bible into many languages for people who have no Bible, not even a little bit of it! That alone should make us all want to be involved in some way, even if the only way we can help is by giving to, and praying for missions.

Many of the people who the missionaries in Gwen’s book are trying to reach don’t even have a written language, so the Bible translator missionaries would need to spend years with them, just trying to learn their languages first, and then teaching many of the people to read their own language, while translating the Bible into each particular language. Then, generally beginning with the New Testament (and just the New Testament can take twenty or more years of faithful labor!), the missionaries would be able to provide the people with small portions at a time, as it was completed.

One story that touched me deeply was from the chapter “The Whistling Man”, which was about George and Florence Cowan’s efforts to translate the Bible for the Mazatec people. This particular story was that of a young Mazatec girl who would sneak away from her mother in the market place, so she could go listen to the “crazy gringo lady” telling Bible stories. When, in her excitement about the story she had heard, and the Bible verse she had learned, she tried to tell her mother about it, her mother became angry, took her home, and beat her. Yet, week after week, Felicitas would slip away from her mother to go learn about the Lord from the “crazy gringo lady”. Her heart was reached, and she chose to bear the consequences (being beaten by her mother) of going to learn about Jesus, eventually accepting Him as her Lord and Savior. Of course, this did not make her life here on earth any easier . . . she married young, and was widowed young, when her husband died of tuberculosis, leaving her with three young children to care for. Even so, she was hungry for the Word of God.

In her eagerness to be able to read God’s Word on her own, Felicitas eventually asked Florence Cowan to teach her to read. After that, she and her children traveled from where they lived high in the mountains to the Cowen’s hut two or three days every week, whether in nice weather or pouring rain, just so that Felicitas could learn to read God’s Word on her own.

As the Cowans translated God’s Word into the Mazatec language one book at a time, Felicitas sacrificed greatly by using portions of the tiny amount of money she had scraped together to buy corn each week, with which she would feed her family. The Cowan’s would have given the books, but the people didn’t want hand-outs. Felicitas put into practice the words of Job 23:12 “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food”.
The story of Felicitas hit me where I live, because we here in the USA take our Bibles for granted. How many of us have more than one complete Bible in our homes, yet, barely open them, or do our five or ten minutes of Bible reading each day (if that!), and call it done, until church service? Would we sacrifice necessary food in order to purchase a small portion of God’s Word?

There is a wealth of additional information (and pictures that go with the various missionary stories) on the Seed Sowers website, along with an excerpt from the Seed Sowers book, and a sample of how the Mazatec people of southern Mexico speak in a tonal language, and can carry on a conversation by whistling!

This is a WONDERFUL book, for anyone to read! I recommend even that it be a read-aloud, as even young children can hear and be touched for missions, and now that I have read it, and know that my kids will be able to handle it, I will be sharing it with them as a read-aloud. I especially appreciate the effort Gwen went to in making sure to have the correct pronunciations of unfamiliar words placed in parenthesis after the words were used.

Even more important to me is the fact that all of the scripture used in this book is taken from the KJV, which is the only Bible my family and my church uses. 🙂

From the Seed Sowers site, here are some tips for using this book:

1. Family Read-Aloud – Gather the kids or grandkids around and read a chapter together! All ages will enjoy these true adventure stories.

2. Geography/History – Use the book to supplement homeschool or Christian school curriculum to teach basic subjects while giving your students a heart for the lost.

3. Independent Reading Level – 6th grade and up

Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures is a soft-cover, 165 page book, which includes 21 different stories of brave men and women who labored in far-a-way places for years translating unknown languages, so that they could bring God’s Word, a little bit at a time, to every corner of the world. It also includes a foreword written by Gracia Burnham, whose story I had only learned a couple of years ago during Vacation Bible School at the church we attended back in Michigan, appendix, a bibliography, and acknowledgements to all those behind the scenes people who helped in the creation of this book.

I would love to see this book on every family’s bookshelf, in every church library, and in every church bookstore! It is available here for the current price of $12.50, with the regular price being $13.95.

Click below to read reviews of Seed Sowers by other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

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Because You Are Strong: A Study of Godly Strength For Young Men . . . a T.O.S. review

I received a copy of the book Because You Are Strong: A Study of Godly Strength For Young Men from the company Doorposts, to review.

I received the 104 page, soft-cover book, which is available here for $14.00, but it is currently being offered at the sale price of $12.00. Because You Are Strong is also available here as an e-book for $10.00.

Because You Are Strong is written for boys, age 12 and up, although you can also use it with your daughters. Most of the study questions would be applicable to either a boy or a girl, and where appropriate, there are asterisks which will refer you to alternate questions for girls, which are listed in the back of the book. This would certainly be helpful for the home-schooling family on a budget who would prefer to use just one of the two books offered by Doorposts which were reviewed by crew members. While it does say on the website that it is for ages 12 and up, I want to be sure you know that your older teens will enjoy it, and benefit greatly from it as well. This book really does teach good Bible study skills, many of which are, at this time, beyond my kids, but would be good for any teen (or adult, for that matter!) to learn and to apply.

My boys were looking forward to getting started with this book, once I told them we would mostly do it orally, with “The Artist” doing the writing involved, as he really is the most capable of that.

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Because You Are Strong is meant to teach your son practical Bible study skills. He will learn how to:

• Use a concordance.
• Study the original Greek & Hebrew words used in a passage.
• Perform a character study.
• Study a specific topic in the Bible.
• Understand and use marginal notes in your Bible.
• Study a verse, passage, chapter, or entire book of the Bible.
• Use free Bible study tools on computers and mobile devices.

There are ten studies which focus on men from the Bible such as David, Samson, and other “mighty men of valor”, and they will also learn about the power of God, the service of Jesus, and the wisdom found in Proverbs regarding strength.

Each of the ten studies is divided into daily segments, intended to be from 5 to 20 minutes each, and each study will teach a different method of study. The book Because You Are Strong contains 74 days of study, as well as 40 more suggested studies. The ten studies in Because You Are Strong include:

1. Strength for the Race: Meditating on Hebrews 11-12
2. Strength with no Limits A Topical Study on the Omnipotence of God
3. Strength and Wisdom: A Topical Study in Proverbs
4. Strength and Temptation: A Character Study of Samson
5. Strength to be Valiant: A Word Study on “Valor”
6.Strength in Our Weakness: A Verse Study on 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
7. Strength in the Battle: A Chapter Study of 1 Samuel 17
8. Strength Serving Others: A Study of Jesus’ Actions in the Gospel of Mark
9. Strength and Gray Heads: A Verse Study of Proverbs 20:29
10. Strength in the Faith: A Book Study of 1 John

The following pictures will show you some of the work involved in study #1, “Strength For The Race” . . .

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You can download and view a sample here, and see for yourself what the first study “Strength For The Race” is like.

The Bible verses used are from the KJV and the ESV translations of the Bible. As usual, this is the one area where I wish they had written it differently, and simply used the KJV throughout. We are still able to use this study though, as we simply have our own (KJV) Bibles out while working in this book, and get a lot of good practice looking up every scripture passage for ourselves. Even my little guys, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”, along with my eldest “The Batman” enjoy looking them up, often competing to see who can get to the verse the fastest! 🙂

Here they all are, looking up the verses in their own KJV Bibles . . .

“Mr. Loquacious”

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“The Puzzler”

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“The Batman”

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“The Artist” also spent time looking up the verses, but for some reason I didn’t get that picture! You can see him up higher in this review, writing everybody’s thoughts down in the Because You Are Strong book.

If you work at the pace suggested in this book, you’ll have at least a good years worth of study! In our case, it will last much longer, because we are doing it as a group, and because I do have kids with varying special needs, so we often divide lessons up to take at least two days for every one suggested day. I would much rather have it take twice as long, or sometimes even longer, and have my boys actually get something out of it, than rush through just to meet the designed schedule. That is one of the beauties of home-schooling though, you can work any curriculum to fit your child/children, and you can take whatever time you need. It also gives me the opportunity to find out how any curriculum can be “tweaked” to fit for a special needs family, since “tweaking” is often our only option, especially when dealing with multiple kids who have different special needs! 🙂

Over-all, my boys are enjoying this study. They enjoy looking up, and hearing about the people in the Bible, and *I* like it when they pick up on how something may apply to their own lives while we are reading. We will continue working through the book Because You Are Strong: A Study of Godly Strength For Young Men, but as I said above, we will take it slowly, so as to get as much as possible out of it.

Other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members received either Because You Are Strong (for their boys) or Beauty in the Heart (for their girls) from Doorposts. Please sail on over to read what they thought!

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“A Trip to the Library” (In the Hands of a Child Lapbook Review for T.O.S.

I must confess, my kids and I have had previous (a long time ago) experience with the company In The Hands Of A Child“, and had even at one time, had a Super Membership that I purchased when attending a mega-curriculum fair back in Michigan. However, back then, I found many of the Project Packs to be too much for my kids, so we haven’t done any from In The Hands of a Child for quite some time. As you’ll see from my review, I was pleasantly surprised at how much better they did with a Project Pack from this company now than they did several years ago!

In The Hands Of A Child was created and is still run, by a pair of home-schooling moms. You can read about them here. Whenever possible, if I am buying materials for my home-schooling, I do prefer to support fellow home-schoolers, and this is a good one to support, for sure!

When given the list of products to choose from, I chose the Project Pack A Trip To The Library, because when we lived in Michigan, my kids loved going to the library, and even after being here in NM for a year now, we had not yet even found our local library branch, let alone gotten library cards, so I thought this would be a good incentive to get that off of the “to do” list!

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The Project Pack A Trip To The Library is written for students in grades K – 3, and is available right now for $5.00! The regular price is $10.00.

I received a download of this Project Pack, which is the format I prefer, as I can then use it for more than one of my children, and can also save it for use in later years.

When you think about A Trip To The Library, you may be just thinking about getting there, letting your kids choose some books,, a story-time hour if your kids are little, and going on home, but as your children will learn while doing this Project Pack, there is a lot of information about the library that they are capable of understanding.

From the website:

“With this unit study you will be able to teach your early elementary classroom about the library. Libraries have a lot of books, but they also have a lot of other information and resources. Teach your students about the types of libraries, common areas inside a library, library rules, how to find a book, librarians, book classification systems, the parts of a book, and more. Make your lesson planning easy with the Trip to the Library Curriculum from In the Hands of a Child. This pack includes a 5-day Planning Guide, Related Reading List, 11 Hands-On Activities PLUS 6 Fun Extension Activities, and a 7-page Research Guide to complete a project all about the library!”

You may even download a sample here.

I knew my children would enjoy doing this, because over the past few years as their skills have improved, we have added in more and more lap-booking materials to our educational experience. I am a scrap-booker/card maker, and my kids watch me, and like to take whatever materials I end up not using to create on their own, so it was fun for them to do the cutting, putting together, and laying things out in their file folder books we made.

Here are “The Puzzler”, “The Batman” & “Mr. Loquacious” gluing the definitions to their vocabulary words, which we then put together with brads from my scrap-booking stash . . .

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and here is “The Artist” working on his . . .

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We made quite a mess, with all of the cutting! I decided to just let it all fall to the floor and clean it up at the end of each session. This is just a SMALL part of the mess . . . it grew and grew!

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As I mentioned above, one of the main reasons I chose this particular Project Pack was to use it as an incentive to get moving on finding the library here in our new city, and get library cards. So, one day while we were in the middle of working on A Trip To The Library, since I had some errands to run that morning, we decided to just include a trip to OUR library, once I had searched it on Google so I could use the gps on my phone to get us there (as my husband is fond of saying, I am completely geographically challenged!).

Once we found that there was a branch of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library fairly close to our home, we decided to go on our way home from the errands. What I planned as a QUICK stop turned into a couple of hours, but that was OK, the boys had fun, and we all have our new library cards now. 🙂

Here are the boys, signing their new library cards . . .

“The Batman”

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“The Artist”

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“Mr. Loquacious”

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“The Puzzler”

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All four of the boys working intently on their layouts . . .

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Here is part of the inside of a finished Project Pack . . .

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. . . and the other part of the inside is here . . .

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You can see in the first example above, the boys added the pictures of themselves signing their new library cards. We had also saved all of the little extra illustrations in the Project Pack print out, and they used them to decorate the empty spaces in their file folder books. In this case, it helped with covering the manufacturer’s printed material that was showing on the insides of the folders.

I took all four of their brand new library cards and scattered them onto the copier part of my printer to make a picture for the covers of their file folder books, and then used a cute font I have to make a title for them. This is how we decided it should look . . .

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And here are all four boys showing off their finished Project Packs!

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We did not need to purchase anything extra at all to do this, and you probably won’t, either. I always have a box of file folders on hand. For each file folder book, we took two file folders and folded each into the middle, making it gate-fold into the center. Then, we attached the two together with double-sided tape, which I also keep on hand for various projects. I could not find the brads I had bought at an office supply store the last time we did a lap-book, so I let them use the ones I had in my scrap-booking stash. Of course, we already had on hand pencils, glue sticks, colored pencils & a stapler, so we were good to go!

My kids and I think you should give Project Packs from In The Hands Of A Child a try. They really are a fun, hands on way to learn about a topic, and this company has a TON of topics for you to use! In The Hands Of A Child regularly offers free Project Packs here, so you can even try before you buy!

There is an ever-growing list of their units here, and it ranges from pre-school all the way through the 12th grade, in differing styles from lap-book Project Packs to Note-booking Packages.

Way back at the beginning of this review, I mentioned having had a Super Membership at one time. A Super Membership is a good value, in my opinion. It includes two free Project Packs each month that you are a member, plus 15% off all e-book lap-book units and $10.00 off of the price on custom ordered units. It’s a good deal!

There is a newsletter you can sign up for here, to receive the latest updates, money-saving deals and free tips.

In The Hands Of A Child also has their own blog which you may find helpful as a home-schooling parent.

I do recommend the company In The Hands Of A Child, and not just for home-schoolers, either! They make fine supplemental packages for kids in public or private school, as well as fun, hands-on educational projects for summer vacation or any time your kids would be interested in learning more about a given topic. But when it comes to home-schooling, you really could just about build a whole year curriculum from Project Packs written by In The Hands Of A Child! Take a look at their curriculum page, and just see if they don’t have pretty much any topic you (or your kids!) would like to cover, and you’ll see that learning doesn’t have to be drudgery. It can be fun, hands-on, and relatively inexpensive!

Now that my kids are better able to handle these projects, I absolutely plan to delve back into my stock-pile of downloaded Project Packs from many years ago. I think they will be much more able to do them now, and we do enjoy it when we can learn about a variety of topics in a hands-on, fun way! 🙂

My fellow crew members reviewed a variety of products from “In The Hands of a Child” . . . please click below to discover their thoughts!

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