Friday, July 31, 2015

I'm featured at Family, Fun & Homeschooling Today!

I am occupying my corner of the couch today.

I had a little medical procedure done earlier this morning and I am taking it easy.

Things just happen as you get older. And no! I didn't have any kind of plastic surgery.

Not to worry. Josiah is taking care of me with plenty of ice water and ridiculous conversation.

In the meantime, I thought I would let you know that my friend, Melanie from FinchWren, featured me today on her Family, Fun & Homeschool series.

Go take a look-see. She is a fellow TOS Reviewer and Homeschool Mom.

Have a great day!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A TOS Review: With Lee In Virginia

We are such a fan of the Audio Book. I can’t even tell you. Many happy moments have been spent draped over the furniture listening to a great book.

Some of Josiah’s favorites are those performances that have been dramatized. Among those in that field of “favorites” are the wonderful adventures from Heirloom Audio Productions we’ve been blessed to review (here and here). This time around we had a chance to experience With Lee in Virginia from our friends at Heirloom Audio Productions.



Heirloom Audio Productions has such a terrific job bringing history into our little world. They produce wonderfully made productions…complete with superb acting and a terrific story.  Their plots come from the works of G.A. Henty. G.A. Henty (1832-1902) was a British war correspondent and novelist. His books were deliciously adventurous and historically based.

With Lee In Virginia is adapted from Henty’s novel and is set in the time of the Civil War.
What did we get?

We received an audio CD (2 disc), a downloadable Study Guide and Discussion Starter (52 pages) and tons of bonus materials. They included printable copies of the cast poster, the official With Lee In Virginia soundtrack MP3, an ebook of the original With Lee in Virginia (from Henty) and a printable quote from Robert E. Lee.

That’s a lot of goodies!

The story features Vincent Wingfield. He is a southern aristocrat who wrestles with some of the more vile practices of the folks in his social class…namely slavery. He, however, does his duty to his home state of Virginia and joins the Confederate Army. I was curious to see how this would play out. There is always a Christian message of perseverance and love in all of Heirloom Audio’s productions. I didn’t want the slavery issue to be in anyway justified or downplayed.

I was so grateful that we got to see Vincent struggle with those very issues and convictions. He also learned forgiveness and about God’s sovereignty. The story also deals with Duty and seeing a commitment to something or someone through to fruition. This message is so important for our boys (and girls!) to hear.  

I must say that this story doesn’t shy away from the brutality of war.  It is not light and fluffy. There are humorous moments…but don’t expect everyone to come out unscathed.  The intended ages are 6-adult. You have to make that determination if the subject matter is appropriate if you have a sensitive kiddo. 

Just a bit about the Study Guide. It does provide biographies of the author and all the characters involved. There is a map showing all of Vincent’s travels and even historic photos and illustrations.

There are plenty of questions to use along the way and are divided into chapters. There are Listening Well questions and Thinking Further questions. The Listening Well questions ask what the student heard and remembered. The Thinking Further questions require the student to think a little more about what is happening.

In addition to all of the historical material and comprehension questions there are 2 Bible studies. I think there is enough here to really do a nice study.


Just a Few Thoughts

This has turned out to be one of Josiah’s very favorite Audio Productions of all time. Considering we’ve listening to a whole bunch…that’s saying a lot!  We did a lot of “car listening” and he has asked to listen to it several times.  He even asked if we could study a little more about the Civil War.

That, my friends, is hunky dorey with me. You want to learn some more? Okay! That is every homeschool moms wish.

There are also some well-known actors among the cast. Josiah was so confused when I pointed out that a certain character was played by Sean Astin. Of course, Mr. Astin plays Sam in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Josiah wanted to know where his accent went. Kirk Cameron plays Stonewall Jackson. Josiah knows Mr. Cameron from Fire Proof and Monumental. I was introduced to Mr. Cameron as Mike Seaver.  Does this date me?

A few of our favorite voices from other Heirloom Audio Productions could be heard. It was like visiting old friends. We are fans! Can you tell? Just a little aside. Brian Blessed could read my “to do” list every day and thus inspire to me to do great things. His voice is just butter. And cream. And hot chocolate. With marshmallows.

This is such an inspiring story and an excellent production.  Every time the swelling musical score begins, Josiah gets a big grin on his face. He knows it is going to be exciting

We can’t wait for more to come! Please Heirloom Audio…we need more!

You can follow Heirloom Audio Productions via the following Social Media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.

With Lee In Virginia (Facebook):
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With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

Friday, July 24, 2015

I am a Guest Blogger at Ben and Me!

This week I have been blessed to be a Guest Blogger at Ben and Me!

Marcy is a dear (you might remember her from her wonderful Delightful Planning book).  Her blog is so encouraging and I appreciate the opportunity to be able to contribute.

You can read my contributions by clicking on the links below. The series is "31 Days of Delight Directed Learning." Don't miss a one!

Delight-Directed Learning: Creating Something From Nothing

Delight-Directed Learning: Expect the Unexpected

Delight-Directed Learning: Creating a Curiosity Journal

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A TOS Review: Shape Whiz


We have an enormous number of board games at our house. Through the years they have not only provided hours of great entertainment, but I’ve discovered that games are one of the best ways for my son to learn.  Games are simply fabulous teaching tools.

It’s always a good day when I can add another clever little game to my arsenal. This time around one has come in the form of a review. I received Shape Whiz by SimplyFun.

Shape Whiz is all about geometry. It is intended for ages 10 and up.  I am not sure how much a typical round would be to play. Josiah and I played together and it took us a bit longer because Josiah hasn’t had much geometry. However, Shape Whiz has proven to be a great introduction.

So how does one play this Shape Whiz?

Basically, there are two different sets of cards. One set are Shape Cards. Half of the Shape Cards are blue and the other half are green. The green cards are just a bit more complicated. We started off with the blue cards (cause that’s just the way we roll).


The other set of cards are Whiz Cards. These cards describe a certain aspect of a shape. 

For example,  this card will want the players to find a shape amongst their cards that has two different lengths of sides.

Some Whiz Cards ask for simple attributes. Others require a little more thought. Don't worry about being an 'on-the-spot' geometry genius. More on that in a minute.

To start with each player receives a stack of Shape Cards. Three of their cards need to lie face up in front of them. A Whiz Card is then placed in the center of the players. Now for this round of Shape Whiz we used our coffee table. It didn’t have as much space so I placed the Whiz Card to the side. We then had to try and match one of our Shape Card to the Whiz Card. The game is all about speed. The goal is to see who can match the Whiz Card first. The first person to go through their entire stack of Shape Cards wins the game.

Something that helped us tremendously was that the each of the Shape Cards has the shape properties on the back. Josiah has struggled with math (he has dyscalculia). Geometry hasn’t actually been high on my “to learn” list and those properties on the back of the card were simple to follow and understand.  

Each time a card was played we could review the shape card and see if it fit the Whiz Card.  You can see that the Shape Properties are easy to read and give the player exactly the information they need to determine whether or not that particular shape fits.


I mentioned before that games have been a vital part of my son’s educational process. He just learns better by doing and playing. It still isn’t a perfect process. If you are in the same boat I recommend to take it slow. We did a lot less competitive play and more exploration. We primarily used the blue cards and talked about what properties we needed to look for.

I am sure that in time this little game will do its job. Josiah is already becoming more familiar with geometry terms and shape properties that simply would have passed him by via textbook.

Of course, this game is not just for homeschoolers. Shape Whiz would benefit anybody with their geometry skills.

Shape Whiz is a wonderful addition to our game collection.  I recommend it wholeheartedly.
You can connect with SimplyFun via the following social media outlets. Click on the banner to read more reviews.
Simply Fun Review
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A TOS Review: Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt

We are history fans. All the way around. We would rather study history than about anything. Except for Football. Josiah would be all over a class called “Football is Awesome.”.  Maybe I could create one. That might not be a bad idea. I could sneak some math in there somewhere. 

Nevertheless, history has always been one of the favored subjects here. One of my favorite homeschool history resources over the years has been Home School in the Woods. 

You can imagine that I was over the moon when we had the opportunity to review the NEW Project Passport World History Study: Ancient Egypt.


Just a little more about Home School in the Woods before I tell you about our experience with Ancient Egypt. Home School in the Woods specializes in creating activity packs, project packs and lapbooks that center around historical topics. They are a Christian company that presents the material with a Christian point of view.

I have used a vast array of their products and have never been disappointed.

For this review I received a download of Project PassportWorld History Study: Ancient Egypt. This is an enormous download.  You can use it as a stand-alone curriculum or as a supplement for a larger study on Ancient History. If you choose to use the product as a whole study the student will get to “visit” Ancient Egypt over 25 “stops.” There are a variety of projects at each stop. Each are designed to be interactive and “hands-on.”

The time frame suggested to complete Ancient Egypt is 8-12 weeks. Personally, I think it could be as long as you need it to be. This is one of those projects that can take you on many rabbit trails! The product is intended to be used for grades 3-8.

There is quite a bit of prep work involved. A younger child will need assistance, but an older student can certainly do much of the prep themselves. I get everything together for Josiah. He’s 13 and perfectly capable of many things. However, I knew that the instructions would be confusing for him. He’s dyslexic and dysgraphic. I wanted to make the experience as enjoyable and productive as possible.

Just a note about all the material you will receive. There are several folders containing everything that you will need; including a folder titled “PDFs.” This folder has all the printables and information you will need. The folder “Intro-Etc.” has additional resources, itinerary and more. There is also a PDF called Travel Tips. Make sure you read this. In fact, print it out and keep it in your notes. I have done many lapbook and notebook projects in my time. All the info there was so helpful! There is even a suggested list of supplies. I liked having it one place instead of trying to track down supplies with each “stop.”

 I have made it a habit to keep a binder of any materials we are studying just for me. This is not a complicated product…there are just many moving parts.

I did print materials as needed. If I had to do it again, I would do it all at once. I would have saved myself some time.

I thought I would share a few pics of some of what happened on Stop 2.  
The first thing we did was to read the text for the day. It is an informative reading (just a little over 3 pages) on the Nile and the unification of Egypt. We also read about Imhotep.

 You can see from my stylized shot (I say stylized because I am having camera issues and this is about as good as it gets!) of the intermarry that each activity is in bold.  A few of the activities are continues. The student simply adds to them each week. Josiah keeps all the finished projects and the ones he is working on in his binder. The small bits and pieces are in a ziplock bag.

 The first project for Stop 2 is Snapshot memories. This is basically a timeline that fits in the binder. The 'snapshot' was cut out and placed over the current tag. We then added any extra information and the date.
The next project is a map. The map was started in the previous lesson and the student adds to it with each subsequent lesson. I like that the places can be cut out and glued to the map. There was another aspect to the map project that we didn't complete. The student was to glue a little pepper on the banks of the Nile River. My guy wasn't interested, but I think that it is a fantastic way to add more dimension (and fun!) to the project.
The project below is also one that continues every week. The student will gather postcards every week from "famous folks." They are also encouraged to draw on the back and keep them in a cute postcard rack that they put together at Stop 1.
The next project is the continuing Newspaper project. I personally love this one. It probably is the writer in me. Josiah looked at me with the 'deer in the headlights' look. We are going to have to work on this. :<)
The next activity is creating a minibook on the Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt.  It was completed and placed in the ziplock bag.

 The final activity on this leg of the trip is to begin an Audio Tour! This is such a neat thing. We listened to it a few times. Not to worry. All the MP3s are included in the download. I didn't have to go search for them online.

Just a Few More Thoughts

Homeschool in the Woods simply provides a superior product. The images are quality and the activities are creative and memorable. I love that they supply a very hands-on experience.
I love that I can include as many projects (or as few) as Josiah is interested in completing.  I love, too, that we are supplied with suggestions for additional resources. I am all about the books and it was nice to have a list for the library. 

Our visit to Ancient Egypt isn’t over.  We can’t wait to see what happens next.

 You can connect with Homeschool in the Woods via the following social media outlets. Click on the banner to read more reviews. Other members of the crew reviewed additional products, as well.

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Home School in the Woods Review

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cousin Camp 2015: On the Pond

I promise my intentions to post more pictures have been good.

There has been so much going on!

This time around I want to share some of the beautiful pics Mom took of our adventures on the pond.

There are actually 2 ponds on The Farm. The one in the pasture is residence for frogs and a few hot cows (ew). The one closest to the house (pictured above) is quite lovely.

Even in the driest of summers it has still kept a level of water just right for fishing. It is filled with frogs, turtles, variety of fish and all manner of flora and fauna.

The rains that we've experienced lately has left the The Pond full to the brim.

We hadn't even begun Cousin Camp before The Cousins were begging to take their first turn about the pond in the rubber boats my parents keep for such the occasion.

We let them lose the first night after supper. It was a lovely clear evening. The frogs had just begun their song.

The rubber boats have seen better days. We sent Josiah into the pond in one of the, well...less sturdy boats. He happens to be an excellent swimmer and we knew that he would survive if suddenly plunged into the murky depths.

Yup. I'm that mom.

It wasn't too long before we realized that this boat wasn't going to float.

I'm just sayin.' Any water apparatus that can bend in the middle is probably not a safe place for 6-year-olds.

Thankfully, this boat wasn't going anywhere.

Maddy (who celebrated her 11th birthday that week) informed me that she was older and could now operate and paddle a boat on her own. I didn't want to tell her that the reason she hadn't been allowed to operate a boat before now had nothing to do with her age.

She's just Maddy. She spent 5 minutes paddling around in circles.

Her cousin, Cade, had to finally rescue her. I don't believe she asked to paddle her own again.

I'm the king of the world! Or at least this pond.

Raft wars?

It was just a peaceful evening. I have to say that the little one in the back of the boat (Brynn - age 10) actually had strep throat. However, we didn't know she had strep throat until the next day.  She was a trooper.

Easy living.

Eventually the crew got tired of waiting around for their turn to paddle about in the boats and jumped in.

 Josiah showed Alex the backstroke. Kinda. He did more showing out that anything.

Not sure what the hand is raised for. Alex is our world changer. She is probably asking if the pond is ecological sound.

 It was a nice evening for all.

With a lovely moon...

And even lovelier faces...

The kids spent lots of time in the pond. Ama (my mom) even got in as much as she could. My sister-in-law got these pics.

She did have to be pulled to shore. I think the next item on Dad's list of "To Build" is a dock.

It's these kind of experiences that they will remember. I'm glad.

I have more pictures to post! Just not tonight....

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