Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Safety Scissors and Pencil Grips from The Pencil Grip! (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

This post contains affiliate links...using affiliate links from There Will Be a $5 Charge for Whining helps support this blog, our homeschool and my book addiction. Thank You! 

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a little pair of hands in my house. That being said, I taught Kindergarten, Preschool and First Grade…I have been acquainted with all sorts of little hands over the years. Finding the right kind of writing utensils and scissors is important! I just had the chance to review The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors and The Pencil Grip 3-Step Training Kit  from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

This is some good stuff, my friends!

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors
The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors are ones I hadn’t had any experience with before. They are intended for ages 3 and up. The design of these scissors are really clever. The scissors contain a safety shield that prevents any little hand from cutting itself. Most importantly, the blades aren’t those little plastic wimpy ones…they are the real thing! No poking of any eyeballs here!

I think it is VITAL for little ones to be able to practice with scissors. The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors are just the ticket for safety concerns.

There are a few things you need to remember. First…just because they are safe doesn’t mean that Junior won’t be able to cut up any important document. But…because of the design they are less likely to be able to cut curtains, the dog’s hair or their own hair.

I had some difficulty using them myself because I found I am used to picking up the scissors after I make a cut. This could be because before my teaching days I “did hair” in a salon.
What can I say? I have lived a life!

I did think they were comfortable to hold and would be gentle for any little hands.

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit
I have had more experience with The Pencil Grips. I LOVE this The Pencil Grip 3-Step Training Kit. If you have ever purchased any run of the mill pencil holders at the store you are missing out. The Pencil Grip products are nice and gelly. They almost mold to a little finger.

Josiah has always had difficulty writing and seemed to struggle with his fine motor skills. But…he grips his pencil correctly and doesn’t suffer from writing fatigue. I blame The Pencil Grip on his progress. They have helped him!

I was in my doctor’s office the other day and a nurse was taking some notes on me. Folks! She was gripping her pencil all wrong.

Would it be tacky to bring her a Pencil Grip the next time go to the office?

The Pencil Grip Training Kit helps the student transition through 3 different kinds of grips.

You can see from this sheet how it works and what gripping a pencil incorrectly will do.

Here is a little more about each one.

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit
Step One: The Crossover Grip has "superhero cape" over the fingers to hold them into the proper position.  I think this is my favorite and a must have for any of you teaching ‘littles’ how to hold a pencil.

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit
Step Two: The Pinch Grip begins the transition with partial "wings" to allow for more freedom. The student can also see their placement of their fingers on the pencil.  

The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit
Step Three: The Pencil Grip Original is the one I have had more experience with. It helps with positioning and is pure comfort.

So my friends. These are AWESOME. Truly Awesome.

Right now I have a super duper giveaway for you. The Pencil Grip, Inc. is giving away one Pencil Grip Training Set and a Ultra Safe Safety Scissors. Just let me know your favorite fall activity in the comment section below and I will choose a winner at random.

In the meantime, you can connect with with The Pencil Grip, Inc. via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below for more reviews.

Twitter: @thepencilgrip

Ultra Safe Safety Scissors & Pencil Grip Training Kit {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Reading Eggs (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

Years ago when I was struggling with teaching my dyslexic son to read, I came across a free trail of an online reading program called Reading Eggs. I can’t tell you the difference it made for us. We continued to use Reading Eggs for quite some time. I found that it had the perfect combination of fun, instruction and kitsch to give my guy the confidence he needed to read. I just had the chance to review all the current Reading Eggs bells and whistles and I can’t be more excited.

Reading Eggs*

I received a 6 month subscription to Reading Eggs. Before I move into my review you can get a FREE 4 week trail that is good through the end of November.

This is what Reading Eggs has to offer at this time.

Reading Eggs Junior (ages 2-4)
Reading Eggs (ages 4-7)
Reading Eggspress (ages 7-13)
MathSeeds (ages 3-9)

One tricks of the trade (so to speak) when working with my son over the years is the importance of keeping review and practice front and center. I can’t tell you how a product like Reading Eggs is invaluable to a struggling reader.

My review couldn’t come at a better time.  We chose to focus primarily on Reading Eggspress. I have noticed lately that Josiah’s reading comprehension skills have need some addressing.

Reading Eggspress works mainly with reading comprehension and vocabulary. Perfect for us at this time! The goal for the student is to earn as many Golden Eggs as possible. The Eggs can be used to purchased fun games, new items and trading cards to be used on the Reading Eggs site. 

To start with Josiah had to take a placement test. It took no time at all and put Josiah right where he needed to be.

Here is a screen shot of what Josiah sees when he plugs into  Reading Eggspress. You can see that there is a quiz waiting his attention!

The English Skills has all kinds of Spelling lessons. They are primarily lessons with questions and tests for extra practice.

The Stadium contains fun games. You can chose what to work on.

This is a screenshot of one of the Usage games.

I don't have screenshots of the Lessons themselves. They are a combination of Lessons, games, quizzes...covering all the things that are important for developing good English skills.

The next section is one of my favorites. The Library! You can either search or browse for a book or move the mouse around to find a certain of genre of book.

Here is a look of one of the bookshelves.

 At the bottom of the book title it will tell you all you need to know about each book. This little shot is from The Christmas Carol.
 The book has narration for those kiddos who are struggling readers. There are quizzes within the reading and the little side icons allow the student to save his or her place in the book and share reviews...among other things. You can assign books to read daily along with the reading in the daily assignments.
 Under the Target tab you can set and keep track of goals. I love this! I find my son is more goal oriented than I anticipated.

In addition to the Reading Eggspress program we also poked around the Math Seeds. I LOVE THIS! I wish it would have been part of Reading Eggs when Josiah was a lot younger. I have been having him make him work through it for review. I believe it is making a difference. 

AND for all you homeschoolers out there! Reading Eggs has just come out with a Program Guide for grades K-2. It provides a 36 week sequence in all core subjects; math, language, arts, science and social studies. 

What a great feature. 

So here we come to it. Out of nearly everything I have ever reviewed, I can't say enough GOOD things about Reading Eggs...especially if you have a struggling reader. Josiah even told me he wishes ALL of his schoolwork was like Reading Eggs. 

Go. Go now! Start that free trial. 

In the meantime, you can connect with Reading Eggs via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

•   Facebook: 
•   Instagram (handle): readingeggs 
•   Twitter: @readingeggs
•   Pinterest: 
•   YouTube:

Reading Eggs
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Brinkman Adventures Season 4 (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

As of late, we have been enjoying a combination of two of my very favorite things in the whole wide world. Audio dramas and Missionary stories. We’ve been fortunate to review seasons from the Brinkman Adventures before. This time around we got to listen to Brinkman Adventures Season 4.

Brinkman Adventures

The Brinkman Adventures are produced by Beachglass Ministries. There are 5 Seasons of this exciting and inspiring radio show. The stories are based on true missionary stories all told by the fictional Brinkman family. The family really does exist, but all the names and other details have been changed.  

You can purchased all seasons either as a download or as CD sets. Our previous adventures with the Brinkman family have been via a CD, but this time around we received a download.

Some of our most favorite listening together has happened in the car, but for this product we sat around the table in the afternoons and enjoyed the stories.

I can’t tell you how inspiring and moving these stories are. We enjoyed each and every one of them. They are all under 30 minutes in length and have a wonderful blend of humor and suspense. Each of the episodes have a main theme to help encourage the listener in their own faith.


A Paradise Lost – God is in Control

Remember Nhu – Persevering

Aisha’s Fear – Overcoming Fear with Love

Heart Song – Tenacious Faith

The Crashed Kitchen – God Doesn’t Make Mistakes

Crisis in the Congo – People Over Projects

The Mysterious Palm Feller – Confronting Evil

War of the Raccoons – Faithfulness in Work

The Five Guys – Listening to God

Toughest Man – Surrendering Everything

Cambodian Quest – Going Deeper with God

What Brings Us Together – Glorifying God in Every Vocation

I found that while it is possible to listen to whatever episode strikes your fancy, it makes more sense to listen to them as listed in little audio folder.  We got to visit Cambodia and hear about human trafficking, we got to hear of miracles in South Africa and persecution in Russia. There is even a wedding! 

Personally, there were a few episodes that caused ME to do some deep soul searching. Would I be strong enough to defend my faith in the midst of persecution? Could I trust God despite the soul crushing experiences some of these folks faced?

One of my favorite parts of the Brinkman Adventures are the Real Stories found on the website. Here you can read about what actually happened during each adventure AND what they had to do to modify the story to make it work for the audio drama. This time around one of the Episodes is entirely fictional (but so much fun!). I’ll leave that one as a surprise.

I can’t recommend the Brinkman Adventures  Season 4 enough.  Season 5 is also available for those of you who like to keep up with the Brinkmans. I think all of them would make a great gift or fun addition to your own homeschool adventures. I would also recommend them for any kid's programs at church, but some of the topics are rather intense. You would have to use at your own discretion.

You can connect with Brinkman Adventures via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.


Brinkman Adventures Season 4
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Day #6 - Story (31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge from Five Minute Friday)

I'm joining in the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge from Five Minute Friday! This means I am taking the theme given, setting the timer for 5 minutes and just writing.You can check out the whole series here.  

Today's word is Story...

I could sure use more than 5 minutes for this one. 😁

My story started a while back. I was born to Missionary parents in Nicaragua. That alone makes  me just a tad bit interesting.  There was some sort of strange mix-up with some locked doors when I was born..which nearly caused my Dad to arrive late to my birth. Of course, I sought to make the story just a little bit interesting when I was young. There was a story that I told that I was born just before the stroke of Midnight and the doctors had to decide whether I should be a March 14th baby or a March 15th baby.

This was a load of poo poo. 

I was born around 7:00 in the morning on the 14th. 

I also used to pretend that I was actually a twin AND that my twin lived in San Francisco with my grandpa. I'm sure I had a good reason why my parents had hid her from me. HOPEFULLY, this is a story that I didn't share publicly, but ya never know.

Obviously, I could spin a good yarn.  At the ripe old age of 8, I realized that perhaps my tendency to blur the lines of reality were obvious to other people when I recognized my 2nd grade teacher's tone of incredulity after telling her a story. The irony is that I was relating a TRUE story about how my little brother startled me up from a nap (I'm strange like that) and I went after him with a skillet. 

Thankfully, my ability to tell a story was soon limited to the page. Lying doesn't suit me. 

There have been things that have happened to me in my life that I couldn't even have dreamed up on paper. They were just to ghastly to think about. 

Really. I'm the most uninteresting person in all the world. I don't travel.  I am not famous. I am at home in my stretchy pants and have an uninteresting hobby of watching strange documentaries. 

However, those "other" things that have happened have given me a different kind of story than expected. 

Though parts of my story have been painful and sad and difficult to go through...Those same experiences have brought me hope and joy and perspective. 

But if you see someone wandering around San Francisco that looks like me...

Day #5 - Trust (31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge from Five Minute Friday)

I'm joining in the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge from Five Minute Friday! This means I am taking the theme given, setting the timer for 5 minutes and just writing.You can check out the whole series here.  

Today's word is Trust...

I have a horrible problem with trust. There is part of me that is a bit cynical. I might be your friend...I might even tell you a secret...but this doesn't mean I am going to TRUST you. That's a whole different animal.

My husband (the Muffin) is much better at this than I am. He takes people for who they say they are. This doesn't mean that he hasn't gotten hurt before. There are folks in the world who can't be trusted.

A sweet hymn is playing in my head.

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at His word.'

What are His words? That He loves me. That He wants to bless me. That He wants me to be kind and patient and show love to those who might not like me so much.

'Jesus, Jesus, How I trust Him,
How I prove him o'er and o'er.
Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus
O, For faith to trust Him more.

Amen and Amen.

CTCMath (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

Hello, my friends. If you have read any of my “homeschoolish” posts you might have heard me moan about our math woes. They are many. I had my own math struggles in school, but miraculous grew a math brain in college. I’m hoping the same for Josiah. Meanwhile, I need to tell you about CTCMath. This isn’t the first time we’ve reviewed the online math subscription. This time around we received a one-year Single Membership to check out. Right now you can also receive 60% off + 6 bonus months until November 15.


CTCMath has courses ranging from K-12. You can see from the graphic below the fantastic range of classes available for students. 

The program does an excellent job of keeping records and even sends out progress reports. What I love is the diagnostic test that helped me pinpoint right where Josiah needed help.

Below is a screenshot for the diagnostic test for the Kindergarten Money Unit.  Yes. That's right. I am able to access any lesson I need to for Josiah. If I think this 15-year-old needs a refresher course in adding up those coins...I can do so. The site is sooo easy to navigate. 

CTCMath can be done alongside the student or (my favorite) independently. I am also able to view and work through the lessons on my parent dashboard without messing around with Josiah’s lessons. I want to share with you some CTCMath magic. 

Here I have traveled back to 6th grade and am going to work on simplifying fractions. So. Much. Fun. 

But wait! CTCMath is painless. 

All lessons are interactive and because CTCMath is based Down Under, we are treated to a charming Aussie accent.  

Under the Questions tab the student will practice the lesson. You also have instant results. Good thing I at least remember how to simplify a fraction. This could get embarrassing. 

If you want to add a little more practice there is a worksheet available to print off. I like to add these for extra "homework." Josiah is responsible for a good portion of his own studies and I like that I can use these as a homework grade. Or extra credit. Extra credit is always a good thing. 

I do need to clarify a few things. The features, such as the printable worksheets, will depend on the grade level used. The elementary level does not have printable worksheets (though I think that would be a nice feature). The diagnostic tests for any level can't be printed out, but tests that appear in the High School level can. 


However, in all my years of review, I will have to say that CTCMath has been one of our favorite programs and I can't tell you the number of homeschool parents who have had nothing but good things to say about the whole thing. It certainly is worth checking out. 

Again...Something neat for you. Right now, until November 15, 2017, Homeschool families can receive 60% off + 6 bonus months. Woo Hoo! If you need to try it out first, take advantage of the FREE trial CTCMath has to offer. 

You can connect with CTCMath via the following social media outlets.  Please note that the links are different depending where you reside in the world. Don't forget to click on the banner to read more reviews. 

U.S. & Canada


Maths Online (Australia Only)

CTCMath Online Math Tutoring {Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Day #4 - Hope (31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge)

I'm joining in the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge from Five Minute Friday! This means I am taking the theme given, setting the timer for 5 minutes and just writing.You can check out the whole series here.  

Today's word is hope...

Hope. For years I had the word "hope" all over my house in one way shape or form. I had a little wall hanging, a set of block letters...

We were in a rough patch. 

Financially, physically, emotionally...

It was easy to become discouraged. I wanted to have little reminders so that would spark this idea. That we had matter what came our way. 

I've had a difficult week or four. I just plain don't feel good. I've taken tests and have more to take. In my long career of chronic illness and injury, I have good days and bad days. Lately, my bad days are more frequent. 

It's easy to feel sorry for myself. Pain can wear a girl out. I have had to give myself a break and remind myself that I have to do what is best for me. Sometimes it means not doing the things I think are expected of me. 

Hope is far more than looking ahead for brighter days. I am reminded that "my hope is built on nothing less..than Jesus Christ and Righteous." 

I don't have hope in my body...or my doctors (though they have been lovely). I don't have hope that I can figure everything out that needs to be worked out. All I know is that HE is my hope. 

And He is GOOD.

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