Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Commissioned (A Homeschool Review Crew)

Ready or not! The Holidays are upon us. I am kinda, sorta ready for some of it. The rest is going to be a “fly by the seat of my stretchy pants” situation. The 2016 Review year is also winding down. This is my last review with the Homeschool Review Crew for the year. Hopefully, I’ll be back next year with fresh new products!

I have expressed my love for board games in the past. We have a great collection and there is nothing better than gathering around the table for a fun, family gun night. I was excited to get to review a brand-new kind of game, Commissioned by Chara Games.

The creators of Chara Games, Patrick and Katherine Lysaght, wanted to design family games with Christian themes. Commissioned is the result of hard work, sacrifice and the commitment provide historical and Biblical education.

Commissioned is a board game intended for ages 14 and up. It can be played with 2-6 players and takes about an hour to play. It is a cooperative game set during the time of the New Testament.

The game begins by each player selecting an Apostle. We got to choose from Barnabus, Andrew, James, John, Peter and Paul. A player can also play as an adversarial Roman legion. This player tries to slow the growth of the church.

There are different scenarios you can play. So far we have just played the “Acts of the Apostles” card. Our objective was to plant churches and add books to the Canon. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, however. Just like in the New Testament, there are many trials and intense persecution.

The construction of the game itself is stellar. Everything is so well-made. There are LOTS moving parts. If you have young children this might be a game you put up at the top of the game closet.

It comes with:

  • 1 double sided game board
  • 5 double sided scenario cards
  • 6 unique player boards
  • 96 faith cards
  • 27 trial cards
  • 4 wood missionary meeples
  • 75 wood church member cubes
  • 1 wood elder's staff
  • 6 wood player pawns
  • 30 double sided stop tokens
  • 5 double sided extinguish tokens
  • 1 converted city leader's token
  • 1 Roman Legion token
  • 1 8-sided die
  • 1 rule book
  • 1 Theme Appendix

How We Played and What We Thought

At first glance this is not an easy game. Let me just get that out there. I don’t want to scare you off, but that’s the truth. There is a reason why Commissioned is intended for a more mature age group.

There is a great video, however, that has been created for those of us who need a bit more instruction than we can garner from the written instructions.  I would suggest that you watch it RIGHT AWAY! It will make things much clearer, my fine friends.

My pastor husband, Josiah (who is almost 15) and me (whose age is yet to be determined) enjoyed the game during Family Game Night. The game is supposed to around an hour, but it has taken us just a bit longer.

My husband’s only critique is that he wishes that it would do more actual teaching of the Bible as opposed to strategizing. However, there is a nice Appendix that provides scripture for each and every card.  Josiah loves playing this game. He’s asked to play it a few times…like during math. I don’t know if it’s simply a diversion, but I imagine not.

Overall, this is really a neat game. It is different and fresh. Most importantly, my husband and I loved talking to our son about all the strategies, faith actions and the actual persecution that happened in the New Testament. 

 Chara Games also has another game that should be coming in my mail box any day now. It’s called 3 Seeds, so be looking out for another review!

You can connect with Chara Games via the following social media outlets. Click on the banner below to read more reviews.

Commissioned {Chara Games}
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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sentence Diagramming: Beginning

I learned to diagram sentences in the 6th grade. Mrs. Wilson, my delightful English teacher, was passionate about the sentence diagram. I am ever grateful to the delightful Mrs. Wilson. I believe diagramming is such a useful tool. Recently, I had a chance to review Sentence Diagramming: Beginning  from The Critical Thinking Co.™

Sentence Diagramming: Beginning is a 72-page workbook intended for grades 3-12 (and beyond). It is available in an e-book, but I got the print workbook. This book begins with very simple subject-verb sentences and gradually increases in difficulty. There are 12 lessons along with a review. The books are consumable and The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a very generous policy concerning copying pages. They allow parents to copy as many as needed within their own family group.

Our Experience and My Thoughts

I have mentioned my fondness for diagramming. However, Josiah is dyslexic and my concerned is that it would overwhelming for him. However, he is really doing well and I felt that this book might introduce diagramming in a gentle way.

I began slowly. In fact, we did the first lesson a few times.  We utilized our white board. I LOVE the fact that I could move at Josiah’s pace.

The lessons are short and provide plenty of different ways for Josiah to practice.

Every lesson begins with an explanation and example. You can see in the picture below that this page allows the student to correct a sentence that has been diagrammed incorrectly. This was an excellent way for me to see if Josiah really grasped the concept. 

 Here is another section of Lesson 1. This time helping verbs were introduced. 

One of Josiah's favorite part of every lesson was making up his own sentences. This was also a great indicator of how how well he grasped the lessons. 

Of course, we didn't have time to get through the entire book during our review time, but I've spent some time browsing through the other lessons. They are set up similarly. Each lesson provides plenty of practice. This book ends with Lesson 12: Compound Predicate Adjectives and Nouns. 

After that, there is a Review that consists of 25 sentences. 

So you are yelling at the screen at this point. "I NEVER LEARNED HOW TO DIAGRAM SENTENCES! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TEACH MY CHILD!"

My friends. You do realize that until I did this review, I hadn't seen a sentence diagram for yeaaars. Guess what. You can do it! AND the answers are in the back of the book. How handy is that? 

This is something your family can do! I personally believe that there is a plethora of benefits of learning to diagram sentences. Some of us strange folks actually find it enjoyable. 

The Critical Thinking Co.™ has lots of great products. Members of the Homeschool Review Crew got to review several of them.  Do you have preschoolers? Some of the members of  Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten!™ bundle.

You can connect with The Critical Thinking Co.™  via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}
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Another FREE Zentangle Download!

So today is the Presidential Election. 

To be honest with you, I will be glad when the whole thing is over. 

Don't get me wrong. I have always been a proud American and have done my civic duty to cast my vote during each election cycle. 

This election has frankly left me EXHAUSTED!

Can I get a witness? 

Let's not talk about it anymore. I can literally feel my eyes rolling into the back of my head as I type. 

In the meantime, I've been a busy little bee. Saturday I made 2 chocolate cakes, 2 loaves of bread, 2 million cinnamon rolls, a jar of homemade ranch dressing, a jar of homemade Italian dressing and got a pan of crockpot of lasagna ready to turn on Sunday morning. 


My cooking marathon isn't over. I'm making soup and sandwiches for a church work day tomorrow. And then we are having some folks over for brunch on Thursday.

Other people chew their fingernails when stressed. Or run. Or grind their teeth. 

I cook up every recipe in my collection. 

One would think I could channel all of that creative madness into something like house cleaning or world peace. 

We also managed the whole daylight savings debacle. Let me tell you something. I hadn't hardly gotten used to living under the Eastern Standard Time when everything turned on its ear again. 

It is currently 5 til 6:00 in the evening. 

It feels like the middle of the night! Oh, well. 

So on to the WHOLE point of this post. In honor of Novembers everywhere, I am sharing a FREE Zentangle that you can download and color.  Just click here  for your download. 

This lovely was hand drawn by my momma. She is a fanfabulous artist and has pages and pages of these gorgeous Zentangles. I have a copy of this particular Zentangle already colored. It occupies a spot in my office. I think Mom used some watercolor in certain sections. It has all those elements I love. Whimsy, waves and a cute little bird. 

Here is a close up of the flower. Just beautiful! 

Anyhoo. The download is bright, shiny and new...ready for you to add your own magic. Just fix yourself a hot cup of tea. Gather your colored pencils, markers or watercolor brushes and enjoy! 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Christmas Comes to America (Homeschool Review Crew)

 It’s almost here! I’m talking about Christmas. Part of me can’t wait to drag out all the baubles and decoration. Then there is the other part that about had a hissy after the poles directed in candy cane stripes at the local Wal-mart.

However, being a homeschooling momma means that I have to be ahead my game. This is why I was thrilled to review a Once-a-Week Unit Study:Christmas Comes to America from Homeschool Legacy.

I received a PDF download of the book. It is 45 pages of fun! I do admit that I enjoy a good Unit Study. I’ve reviewed couple of fabulous ones from Homeschool Legacy before. This time around I had some great Once-a-Week Micro-Studies to choose from, as well as the Christmas Comes to America study.

·         Pirates or Privateers: You Decide 
·         Victoria and Her World
·         Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims 
·         Many Nations 

The Micro-Studies are exactly what they sound like. They are short and fast, yet cover the information thoroughly. I simply couldn’t make up my mind, so I asked to review the Christmas study and went and purchased Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but the holidays are filled with one party, one obligation, and one event after another. This year I’m going into the season with a plan of attack. My family will be fed. We will enjoy the season AND we will still learn.

Christmas Comes to America is one of those Unit Studies that is great for all ages. As I have only one child, schooling multiple children is never really an issue for us. However, I know that there are many who have to take different ages and stages of development into consideration. This Unit Study is intended for grades 2-12. 

Another benefit with using the Unit Studies from Homeschool Legacy is that they are compatible with Boy Scouts or American Heritage Girl badge earning activities.

The Once-a-Week Unit Studies are user/homeschool mom friendly.  Here is what makes them different from other Unit Studies.

Here is a screenshot of the suggested schedule. I've chopped some of it off, but you can see that isn't a time-intensive study. 

Okay. On to the Christmas Comes to America!

 My Thoughts

Christmas Comes to America explores how early settlers of America brought their own Christmas customs and traditions with them to their new home. Many of these traditions carried on into how we celebrate today. A common theme among all these countries was the tradition of the gift giver. Of course, Sharon emphasizes our heavenly Father as the true "Gift Giver." 

Week 1- The Dutch
This week we read Isaiah's prophecy concerning John the Baptist. We are encouraged to learn more about The Real Santa Clause. There is gifts to made! Hot chocolate mix and homemade marshmallows! Did you know that it was a Dutchman, Conraad Johannes Van Houten, who patented the process of extracting cocoa from the cocoa bean in the 1800's? Thank you, Conraad. 

Week 2 - The English
This week we get to make wassail and make Christmas cards! We talk about some of the more recognizable Christmas carols. The family Christmas movie I have on my list is The Muppet Christmas Carol! 

Week 3 - The Germans
Here we learn about proper concert going etiquette . We also get to make Gingerbread houses. Our devotions centers around Gabriel coming to Joseph. There is also a nice bit of trivia about Martin Luther and the Christmas tree! 

Week 4 - An American Christmas
This week I have The Best Christmas Pageant Ever on our read aloud list. We also get to string popcorn and list to the best of American Christmas Music! 

One of the best things about Homeschool Legacy is that the author, Sharon Gibson, gives a wonderful library list. Not only does she list the book and the author, but she provides the library number.
Because we just moved, I initially went through and marked off the books and movies I knew we already had. For example, I have several copies of The Christmas Carol (included an audio drama) and lots of the recommended Christmas movies. Then, I did take advantage of a few books that were 1 cent on Amazon so I would be prepared.

Unit Studies are great for incorporating all the subjects and this one is no exception. 

These activities require little or no preparation. There is some cooking involved, but these were things we like to make at Christmastime anyway.

One of my favorite parts of the study are the family devotions. While the study does talk about some of our traditions that have more pagan origins, it is wonderful to move the emphasis back to the Reason for the Season. I personally don’t have any issue with celebrating the fun and whimsical side of Christmas…as long as we are worshiping the One True King all the days of the year.

Another favorite is the emphasis placed on music and concerts this time of year. I am going to begin scouring the papers and websites for any local concerts, but we are also provided a wonderful list of musical selections to look for.

There is also a great list of fun Christmas memories to make in the back of the ebook. Some of these things we already do; like allowing Josiah to pick out a special ornament or taking a drive around to see the Christmas lights (complete with a thermos of hot chocolate!). Others I am going to add to our list. I want to host a Christmas Open House and find a fun Christmas puzzle to work on all through the season.

What I like BEST is that all of these wonderful activities are planned for me. I don't have to research or plan. I just get to have a relaxed and easy homeschooled Christmas. 

You can connect with Homeschool Legacy via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews! 

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}
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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Accountable2You (Homeschool Review Crew)

It’s a different world, baby. When I was my son’s age (nearly 15) my biggest tie to the wide world of technology was the cobalt blue phone I had in my bedroom. I, of course, did not have my own line. I had a strict “no calls after 9:00pm” rule and my parents reserved the option to pick up the phone and tell me to get off at any time.  Life has changed. We have 2 computers, 3 Kindles and a couple of cell phones. Josiah, at this point, does not have a cell phone, but does enjoy access to his Kindle and a computer. I am well aware of all the issues that can come up with a boy (or girl) and technology. I recently had the chance to review the Individual Plan from Accountable2You.  

Internet safety is a concern for all parents. Accountable2You is not a program that blocks sites. It is an accountability software program.   I was able to download it onto Josiah’s Kindle. I set myself up as his accountable partner. As an accountable partner I get a report of his daily activity on his Kindle.  

Accountable2You can work with a variety of devices and is even available for families or businesses.

The Individual Plan – This plan is for one person. You can use up to 6 devices with this plan.

The Family Plan – This one is for the whole family. Up to 20 devices (computers, cell phones, tablets) can be used with this plan. 

The Group Plan – This plan is intended for a group with members that aren’t related.  

The Small Business Plan – A plan for businesses whose employees have online access.

As I am the account holder for the program, I am able to set up certain words or phrases that will let me know if Josiah goes to a site that any of those words are used. There is also a GPS locator option.

How We Used It and My Thoughts

My husband and I have always tried to instill into Josiah the importance of self-control and discernment. We want him to be able to learn to manage his technology in a responsible and healthy way.  I want him to be able to navigate his world and take advantage of all the fun things the internet has to offer.

I also want to have honest conversations with him about his choices.  This is why the idea of an accountability program, rather than filtering software appeals to me.

As I mentioned before, I downloaded the app to Josiah’s Kindle. The beauty of this program is that for us homeschoolers not only do we have the option to monitor any questionable activity, but we can monitor uses that might  not include during schoolwork during school time.

I have opted to receive daily emails.  These are called Activity Reports and I can see what sites Josiah has been to and even the times he’s used his Kindle.

This picture shows me the report for the past week. It gives me the total number of records and shows any questionable activity. 

This picture shows the activity for the Kindle. Josiah was a busy little browser from 9-12 last night!

 When I checked the details of this particular report it showed me that Josiah's looked up the bios of a few actors from Walker, Texas Ranger. He also watched a few football game clips and looked up a few football players.  He spent a good portion of time on youtube watching the Jesus Freak video courtesy of DC Talk. 

This is one of the most practical and helpful products I have reviewed. I honestly didn't tell Josiah I was monitoring his tech activity for a few days. While I hoped he was making wise choices, I know that certain things can be tempting for young men. I was able to tell him that I was proud of the discernment he was using....but also made sure to tell him that as his accountability partner I would be receiving a daily report. 

You can see how larger families used it by clicking the banner below. You can connect with Accountable2You via the following social media outlets. 

Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}

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