Review: Wulf the Saxon by Heirloom Audio Productions

“Fortunate are the few who marry for love.”

wulf_the_saxon_reviewWe’re up for another road trip and that can mean only one thing… another audio adventure from Heirloom Audio Productions! This trip we’re enjoying Wulf the Saxon by G.A. Henty, and exploring the history of the Norman Conquest.

Heirloom Audio Productions is “passionate about bringing real history to life”. This is obvious by the great lengths they put into each production. Their vast audio collection includes such titles as Under Drake’s Flag, In Freedom’s Cause, With Lee in Virginia, and more. Our newest story, Wulf the Saxon, centers around the year 1066 and the Norman invasion of England. It is voiced by an outstanding cast including Brian Blessed, Chris Larkin, Helen George, Jack Farthing, Sian Phillips, and Patrick Godfrey.

Wulf, a Thane in England, is page to Harold of Wessex. Through Wulf’s adventures we learn of Harold’s misfortunes with his brother William (the Conqueror), the Welsh wars, Harold’s ascension to the throne, an attempted assassination, and the eventual invasion and conquest by William.

As we prefer listening to audio theatre in one sitting, another day-trip would have given us the perfect opportunity to enjoy this wonderful audio drama. However, on this adventure we had along company which prevented us from finishing our tale. Instead, we enjoyed Wulf the Saxon over the course of several days during shorter drives. This did alter our listening experience slightly – as this required a short, mental review of what we’d heard thus far – but did not detract from our overall experience of the story. My oldest daughter and myself were the primary listeners. We discussed both story and overall impressions as we progressed through Wulf the Saxon.

Wulf the Saxon one would expect the story to contain a great deal of battle scenes and fighting. Listeners will not be disappointed. Truthfully we will more than likely revisit this wulf_the_saxon_audioaudio drama a few more times to fully appreciate all the historical characters who played a part in the Norman Conquest, and to understand the entirety of the battles. As we have not previously studied this piece of history in great detail, we ladies especially found the aspect of Harold’s choice of wife affecting his political standing to be of interest. We felt for him as he battled the decision to choose between the love of his life, Edith, and a bride who would hopefully provide peace for his country; asking ourselves which decision we would make. The story was well told, the voice acting superb, and the audio quality itself outstanding. We enjoyed Wulf the Saxon from an historical standpoint, and highly recommend the audio drama to young men who enjoy action/adventure stories.

As in our reviews of Captain Bayley’s Heir and In the Reign of Terror, families who’ve chosen to be members of the Live the Adventure Club will soon have access to a multitude of bonus resources for Wulf the Saxon, including the read-along. We’re very much looking forward to the Study Guide & Discussion Starter and more!

Once again we were amazed by the quality to be found in this extraordinary adventure by Heirloom Audio productions. Wulf the Saxon was a blessing to enjoy; one we look forward to revisiting time-and-time again.

If you’d like to learn more about Wulf the SaxonLive the Adventure Club, or Heirloom Audio Productions please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram! To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Heirloom Audio Productions has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: Do you have a favorite G.A. Henty Story?

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Review: Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask

“What makes this book special,… is the fact that we want to equip you to have confidence in your decision to home educate, and we want to prepare you to defend your choice to the skeptics you will inevitably face along the way.”
~ Israel Wayne

review_answersforhomeschoolingThere are a multitude of questions homeschoolers are faced with. And while some of those questions come from concerned family and friends, there are an equal number of questions we ask of ourselves. Today, we’re excited to share with you Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask. For the critics around you, and the critic within, this new book by Israel Wayne is sure to help provide answers and offer encouragement.

Israel Wayne is a veteran in the world of homeschooling. Having been homeschooled himself, Mr. Wayne is a much sought after speaker for homeschooling conferences and the author of several homeschooling books. Helping families gain a better understanding of the how of home education, Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask systematically leads the reader through twenty-five chapters outlining the most pertinent questions homeschoolers face and gives us Biblical wisdom in answering them. Topics include “Is Homeschooling Legal?”, “How Can You Afford to Homeschool?”, “What Does Dad Do in Homeschooling?”, “Is Homeschooling Elitist?”, and more.

For those readers who might be new to our blog, we appreciate all of Mr. Wayne’s books. Thus, when offered an opportunity to preview and review Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask, we naturally jumped at the chance. In addition to a printed, paperback copy of the book upon publication, we were also given a PDF of Answers for Homeschooling so that we might enjoy the book immediately. While I had intended to read the book over the course of a week, once I began I found I had no inclination to stop. I finished the book in one sitting. For those who are new to homeschooling or perhaps struggling with gaining a better understanding of how to answer these homeschooling questions, we would recommend progressing through the Answers_for_Homeschoolingbook more slowly as there is much to digest.

As experienced homeschoolers, we were able to appreciate Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask as confirmation of what the Lord has already shown us, a refresher in how to better answer questions we face, and fascinating history on the adventure of learning and homeschooling. Of particular interest to us were the chapters “Is That How It’s Done in Public School?”, “Isn’t Sheltering a Child Harmful?”, “What About Being Salt and Light in Public School?”, and “Do You Know What Causes That?”. These chapters touched on issues we come across on a regular basis even though we’ve been homeschooling for several years. Readers will find every chapter engaging, simple to follow, and helpful.

Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask is an exceptional addition to Mr. Wayne’s selection of homeschool books. Being released this month, Answers for Homeschooling is a book we’d love to see in the hands of every homeschooling family. Whether new, struggling, or merely needing answers for those skeptics in your own learning adventure, Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask offers something for everyone. We pray the Lord blesses this book, and uses it to reach many for His glory and their benefit.

If you’d like to learn more about Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask and Master Books please visit them at their website, and on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube!

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Your Turn!: Which homeschooling question do you most commonly face?

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Our January Reads

our_january_readsThe new year is underway and it’s been a while since we’ve shared what’s recently hit our reading shelf. It has been a wonderful few months of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. Our list has a few reads which were recommended for personal development, and others which added to our learning fun. All were an adventure!

We’ve broken down the list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Books for Adults

  • Of Mess and Moxie (Jen Hatmaker) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Jen Hatmaker, beloved author,mess_and_moxie Big Sister Emeritus, and Chief BFF, offers another round of hilarious tales, frank honesty, and hope for the woman who has forgotten her moxie.
  • People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks) ⭐⭐⭐ – From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March, the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war.
  • Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor E. Frankl) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival.

Learning Books for the Family

  • Welcome to New Zealand: A Nature Journal (Sandra Morris) ⭐⭐⭐ – A gorgeous guide to creating a nature journal that will inspire kids around the world to chronicle what they see in their own backyards.
  • Stupendous Science: 70 Super Cool Experiments You Can Do At Home (Rob Beattie & Sam Peet) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Learn to make ice cream with salt, a book_of_bonessmartphone projector, a lava lamp and more with this brilliant book of simple home experiments!
  • Seek and Find: National Parks ⭐⭐ – Travel through twelve of the most-visited national parks in North America.
  • Storyworlds: Nature (Thomas Hegbrook) ⭐⭐- Explore the beauty and wonder of nature in this wordless picture book-and let your imagination bring everything to life!
  • In Focus, 360 Degrees (Libby Walden) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Ten illustrators take a complete look at the world around us, traveling the globe to find a fresh perspective.
  • Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures (Emily Hawkins) ⭐⭐⭐- From the team behind the best-selling Atlas of Adventures comes this prehistoric journey of discovery.
  • Maps (Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Much more than an ordinary atlas, this book of maps is a visual feast for readers of all ages, with lavishly drawn illustrations from the incomparable Mizielinskis.
  • The Book of Bones: 10 Record Breaking Animals(Gabrielle Balkan)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- It’s a book of world records… of bones! Guess whose bones are the longest, shortest, heaviest, spikiest, and more. With touchable skeletons!

Storybooks

  • The Wonderling (Mira Bartok) ⭐⭐- Mira Bartok tells the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.
  • Brave Red, Smart Frog (Emily Jenkins) ⭐⭐⭐- Step into a wintry forest where seven iconic fairy tales unfold, retold with keen insight and touches of humor. language_of_thorns
  • The Book of Dragons (E. Nesbit) ⭐⭐- Dragons — of all sorts — make for marvelous fun, and this collection of madcap tales is filled with them.
  • The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine (Mark Twain & Philip Stead) ⭐- A never-before-published, previously unfinished Mark Twain children’s story is brought to life by Caldecott Medal winners Philip Stead and Erin Stead.
  • The Language of Thorns (Leigh Bardugo) ⭐⭐⭐- Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.
  • The Magic of Misfits (Neil Patrick Harris) ⭐⭐- From beloved award-winning actor, Neil Patrick Harris, comes the magical first book in a new series with plenty of tricks up its sleeve.
  • The Glass Town Game (Catherynne M. Valente) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Charlotte and Emily Brontë must enter a fantasy world that they invented in order to rescue their siblings in this adventurous and fiercely intelligent novel.
  • Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) – Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was interesting. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… Generally I enjoy Neil Gaiman books, but this one is especially dark and odd. The Magic of Misfits was a well-told story. I enjoyed it. Please note there is a character with two dads; it is not essential to the story but there none the less. The Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures was beautiful, but one should expect, “…millions of years ago…”. People of the Book was incredible! However, it did have a little language and, while no great detail is given, an affair is touched upon. Of Mess and Moxie is a riot, but not one for your teenage daughters. And, finally, The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine. It said Mark Twain. It also said previously unpublished. Maybe unpublished for a reason?

You may have noticed a few changes to our review format. It’s a work in progress, but one we hope will work better for you readers and us! Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading!

Your Turn!: What’s sitting on your bookshelf, waiting to be read this coming month?

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Review: The Thrifty Time Travelers Series

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“What follows is the guidebook, exactly as it was discovered on a sidewalk outside Frank’s Pizza in Manhattan in AD 2018.”
~ The Thrifty Guide to  Ancient Rome (Uncorrected Text)

I love books. I love history. I love hearing my kids laugh. So when I have an opportunity to combine all three into a fun afternoon of reading, you know I’m going to be all over it. This month we had the opportunity to review The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers and The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution: A Handbook for Time Travelers by Penguin Random House and Jonathan W. Stokes and we can’t wait to share this funny, educational book series with you. We’re still cracking up laughing and enjoying the multitude of lessons to be found within their pages!

Set in the distant future, The Thrifty Guides are a humorous look at what happens when we travel back in time to discover the history of the world. Both are written from the perspective of Time Corp, presenting a complete vacation package for tourists. Each book seeks to help you make the most of your trip offering locations you might wish to visit, events you could participate in, and people to have lunch with. Currently three Thrifty Guides are available: The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution, The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome, and The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece.

We received an advanced reader edition of both The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome and The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution, along with a clever “Passport for Time Travelers” which included passport stickers for both our travels and an additional passport sticker for The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece. Suggested as early reader novels, our ten-year-old son was given these books to be used during his reading time after Mom had ensured the books were both clean and met family standards.

 

Ancient RomeThe Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers is a snappy, informative travel guide that comes in the package with your time machine purchase in the year 2163. It contains information vital to the sensible time traveler:

  • Where can I find a decent hotel room in ancient Rome for under five sesterces a day? Is horse parking included?
  • What do I do if I’m attacked by barbarians?
  • What are my legal options if I’m fed to the lions at the Colosseum?
Designed as a parody of Fodor’s, complete with humorous maps, reviews of top attractions (Julius Caesar’s assassination is a must-see!), and tips on who to have lunch with (Hannibal, assuming he doesn’t kill you). If you had a time travel machine and could take a vacation anywhere in history, this is the only guidebook you would need.
Chapters include Roman Entertainment, Julius Caesar, The Roman Civil War, Quality Time with Cleopatra, and more! Our favorite portions of this book are “Important Warning Before Time Traveling”, “Top Five Ways to Die in Rome”, “How to Pilot a Horse”, and “Cleopatra’s Perfectly Normal Family Tree”. “People to Have Lunch With:…” is especially funny, and “Friendly Message from Your Corporate Overlord at Time Corp” is sure to have you rolling.

American RevolutionThe Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution: A Handbook for Time Travelers is a snappy, informative travel guide that comes in the package with your time machine purchase in the year 2163. It contains information vital to the sensible time traveler:

  • Where can I find a decent hotel room in colonial New England? Are credit cards accepted?
  • How can I join the Boston Tea Party without winding up in a British prison?
  • What do I do if I’m being shot at by a cannon?
Designed as a parody of Fodor’s, complete with humorous maps, reviews of places to stay and top attractions (Don’t miss Paul Revere’s midnight ride!), and tips on who to have lunch with (Alexander Hamilton, naturally). If you had a time travel machine and could take a vacation anywhere in history, this is the only guidebook you would need.

Chapters include The Boston Tea Party, The Battles of Lexington and Concord, The Siege of Boston, The Declaration of Independence, The Battle of Cowpens, and more! Fun  features we enjoyed are “Your Odds of Being Hit by a Musket Ball” and “Your Odds of Being Hit by a Rifle”, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting… to Be Shot by a Cannon”, “A Message From the Good People at the Time Patrol”, and “Letters From Time Corp’s Complaint Department”. Thrifty_Guides

Written by former teacher and rising Hollywood screenwriter, Jonathan Stokes, The Thrifty Guides were very funny, simple to read, and educational. There were a ton of fun facts, silly illustrations, and interesting notions on the concept of time travel. We enjoyed them tremendously and couldn’t wait to tell you all about these wonderful books. If you’re a fan of history, or happen to be studying any of these areas in your learning adventures, you’ll definitely want to give these books a try.

On sale now, you’ll find The Thrifty Guides to be a wonderful addition to your learning bookshelf. We had a great deal of fun reading both The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome and The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution, and look forward to searching out The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece soon!

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Your Turn!: If you could travel back in time to any era, which would it be?

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Our November Reads

Our_November_Reads

November is over and we still can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner. Where has this year gone? It has been a fantastic adventure of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. Before we finish dusting off the ornaments and immerse ourselves in holiday cheer, we’re taking a few moments to share our list of reads during this past month. November’s list has a few reads which were recommended for personal development, and others which added to our learning fun.

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie) – Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.
    It would seem generations of people grew up reading this book. I was not one of them. In fact, I had never heard of it. That said, I found the book enjoyable if a simple read. Most of the tips included seem common knowledge, but perhaps at one point in time they were revolutionary?
  2. The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg) – Award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed.
    This was another interesting read I was referred to from an online “friend”. I found it fascinating to read, and enjoyed it tremendously. 
  3. What Is… (Series by Penguin Random House) – Covering everything from revolutionary battles to natural disasters, social movements to witch trials, Penguin’s What Was? series dives into our world’s most important historical events.
    A favorite series in our home and learning. As we’re currently studying the American Revolution, this was our current focus. This series makes learning fun for the younger of our children and yet gives them plenty to think on.
  4. Benjamin Franklin’s Wise Words: How to Work Smart, Play Well, and Make Real Friends (KM Kistyal) – This book presents 50 of Benjamin Franklin’s famous “wise words” from Poor Richard’s Almanack, his personal letters, and other writings, with sage advice on everything… Sayings are paired with hilarious illustrations and witty translations for modern audiences.
    I’ll be honest, yet again it was the illustrations which caught my eye. However the pages within are gems. I see us returning to it repeatedly.
  5. Brave Red, Smart Frog (Emily Jenkins) – Step into a wintry forest where seven iconic fairy tales unfold, retold with keen insight and touches of humor.
    Our family is a fan of fairy tales; we can’t get enough of them. This book was charming; filled with lovely illustrations and quaint stories. I might have to purchase this one.
  6. The Book of Dragons (E. Nesbit) – Dragons — of all sorts — make for marvelous fun, and this collection of madcap tales is filled with them. Some of the legendary monsters are funny and mischievous, others are downright frightening, and a number of them are wild and unpredictable.
    More fairy tales! This book is a classic, and entirely fun.
  7. The Earth Book (Jonathan Litton) – Explore the incredible place we call home! Marvel at the physical planet, learn how the weather works, meet some of the most influential people from the past and present, and much more.
    In this circumstance I will again confess the illustrations caught me. And while I still stand by the beauty of the visuals within, I will admit the worldview dimmed the loveliness of the book. Skip over the nonsense, if you would – detailing man’s evolving from monkies, and more – and partake in the fabulous other lessons included. 

While we gather our books from the local library, the bulk of our month’s list came from readers like you and acquaintances from online forums. We’ve enjoyed hearing and seeing new books being discovered; encouraging us to do a little searching of our own.

We’ll be taking a break from our regularly scheduled book list during the month of December in order to fully enjoy the Christmas holiday, and to share a special new series the Lord has placed on our hearts! Be sure to join us, and then check back here again in January as we share another round of fabulous, and sometimes not so fabulous, reads.

Your Turn!: How do you feel about self-help books?

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Review: Paul the Apostle from Beartruth Collective

Paul_the_ApostleBeing obsessive compulsive I am seriously bothered by not walking up and down each and every aisle at any given event. From garage sales to street markets, I want to see all
possible booths before I decide I am officially done for the day. Sometimes I go home having only gained much-needed exercise, and other times I find a gem tucked amidst the crowd. At one such recent conference I had the pleasure of discovering Paul the Apostle from Beartruth Collective, and it made my day!

Beartruth Collective believes in the power of the Gospel and teaching children the true Word of God. Using the medium of comic books, their mission is to share Jesus Christ with the world. The Beginning, Noah, Moses, and, my recent find, Paul the Apostle are only a few of the titles currently available.

“…Our intention has always been one of ministry and education. We’re using a science fiction visual language to illuminate the story of Paul the Apostle and ultimately, the life-transforming message of Christ Jesus…”
~ Beartruth Collective

Paul the Apostle is a science fiction adaptation of the Biblical, historical story of Paul from the book of Acts. Its beautifully illustrated pages take us through Paul’s conversion, his ministry for God’s kingdom, and ultimately his arrest. Throughout Paul the Apostle, helpful Scriptural references are found as footnotes leading readers to the Bible, encouraging them to read God’s truth for themselves. Suggested for children ages 7-15, Paul the Apostle is a hardcover graphic novel with full-color illustrations. Told using cleverly imagined creature characters and set in a futuristic world, Paul the Apostle will draw in children while teaching about this amazing Bible hero.

In addition to fulfilling my quota of steps for the day, this summer’s homeschool conference provided us the opportunity to meet Mr. Mario DeMatteo, publisher of Paul the Apostle, and our first glimpse of this fantastic graphic novel. Several weeks later Mr. DeMatteo kindly offered us a copy of Paul the Apostle, and we haven’t put it down since. Paul the Apostle arrived fairly quickly, and while I had intentions of sitting down with my new read later that same day, my adventurer tackled the graphic novel before I had the opportunity. I finally found a quite moment to read it myself; after which I began reading through it once more with my son.

I’ll be honest and admit it was the imaginative, colorful illustrations which initially caught my eye when seeing Paul the Apostle. However, after taking just a few moments to look within its pages, I was drawn into the story. It is Beartruth Collective’s heart for the gospel which has us sharing this incredible graphic novel with all our friends. Never have we seen the story of Paul told in such a unique manner.

Paul the Apostle is set in a futuristic world, and we found this to be incredibly fun; as were the creature characters! As both parent and educator, my favorite aspect of the graphic novel was the multitude of Scriptural references found as footnotes throughout. Practically every page leads readers to the Word of God and His truth. What a fantastic tool in teaching our children to search the Scriptures for themselves!

My obsessive desire to look at everything has once again paid off, and in a big way. We are so excited about Paul the Apostle and the ministry happening at Beartruth Collective. We know God is going to do amazing things using this ministry, and we’re looking forward to following their journey; reading the many other valuable comics they continue to create.

If you’d like to learn more about Paul the Apostle or Beartruth Collective please visit them at their website, and on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

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Your Turn!: Did you have a favorite graphic novel growing up?

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Review: Thin Stix Creativity Pack by The Pencil Grip, Inc.

Thin_Stix_Creativity_PackI confess, amongst all the art supplies tucked away in our home, tempura paint has not made a strong play. So when we were given an opportunity to review Thin Stix Creativity Pack by The Pencil Grip, Inc. we were beyond excited.

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has been creating quality products since 1992. Amongst their lines you will find pencil grips, therapeutic products and toys, school and office supplies, and fidgets. Thin Stix Creativity Pack is a twenty-four piece collection of tempura paint sticks. No water needed, you simply remove the cap, twist to expose the paint, create to your heart’s content using this vibrant set of colors, and watch it dry in seconds. Thin Stix Creativity Pack comes with primary, neon, and metallic colors. Thin Stix Creativity Pack is washable, and is egg, nut, and gluten-free.

Our family was given a Thin Stix Creativity Pack which we immediately began to use. Our daughters, aged twelve and fourteen, initially tested out colors without a project in mind. Having a better feel for the medium, both set about creating their own piece of work. Each Art_Project_1chose to work with paper, painting a picture with the Kwik Stix. Thin Stix Creativity Pack has since been used when working on nature journal entries, homeschool projects, and personal creations.

Thin Stix Creativity Pack is a unique product. We had not previously worked with tempura paints in stick form, and were excited to see how they faired compared to paint and brush. Our initial reaction to the Kwik Stix was one of surprise. Considering the name, we anticipated a fine tip to the colors. Instead we found the tips to be as wide as my middle finger. While this did not initially complicate matters, we learned Kwik Stix were better suited for larger projects not involving detail.

Working with the Kwik Stix was easy and clean. The tempura paint went on smoothly leaving texture similar to a crayon. While Kwik Stix are advertised as drying in ninety-seconds, we found ours dried much sooner. Kwik Stix are indeed vibrant in color. What impressed us most was the ability to overlay a light color paint over a dark color without Art_Project_2any issues. No color rubbed off onto our paint sticks and the top color retained its bright hue. We did note neon colors tended to be lighter in opacity, working similarly to a highlighter. Metallic paints did have a glittery undertone to them, but were not as strong as our kids would have hoped.

Overall, we were pleased with the Thin Stix Creativity Pack. We would recommend their use in large projects which do not require detail and for use with little hands. Our kids enjoyed this experiment with color and creativity. Having added Thin Stix Creativity Pack to our supply closet, we’ll definitely continue to use these for larger projects and with friends who come to visit.

If you’d like to learn more about Thin Stix Creativity Pack or The Pencil Grip, Inc. please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitter or Pinterest! To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Thin Stix Creativity Pack has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: Do you have a favorite color?

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Our October Reads

Our_October_Reads

October isn’t quite over, but we can’t wait to share this month’s short list of incredible reads with you. It never ceases to amaze us how many books we finish in a month. The lists we share here are merely books we’ve used in a homeschooling/parenting capacity; there are many more which we read on our own! October’s list has a few reads which are making a major impact on our learning routine, and others which are helping us glean the most from our nature studies. Everything on this month’s list was absolutely fantastic!

  1. The Fallacy Detective (Nathaniel Bluedorn) – Thirty-eight lessons on how to recognize bad reasoning. Learn to spot errors in others’ logic, and your own. Learn to identify red herrings, circular reasoning, statistical fallacies, and propaganda. Each lesson presents several examples of poor reasoning often illustrated by cartoons and then provides an exercise set in which you identify the fallacies. This book features a Christian view of logic and was written by homeschoolers for homeschoolers.
    Several homeschool families suggested this book. Going on faith we purchased a copy and started it near the end of this month. The book is very simple, but it is a good starting off point for young learners or those new to logic.We should also note this book deals with informal fallacies, not formal logic. That said, we cannot begin to express how much we are enjoying the lessons and how much we’re learning. It’s fantastic!
  2. The Thinking Toolbox (Nathaniel Bluedorn) – Just as you use the wrench in a regular tool box to fix the sink, so you can use the tools we give you in this book to solve thinking problems. The Thinking Toolbox follows the same style as The Fallacy Detective with lessons, exercises and an answer key in the back.
    We purchased this book as well, hoping it would be a good companion to The Fallacy Detective and were not disappointed. The lessons are short, of benefit, and offer great discussion points. I’m so glad we invested in both of these. 
  3. Audubon Guides (National Audubon Society) – The full-color identification photographs show creatures as they appear in natural habitats.
    While we’re sure most of you have come across these books before, we noted we’ve never mentioned them being used in our learning and wished to add them to our list. Lately they’ve been making a strong appearance in our nature studies. We love the multitude of photos and information to be found within. If we had the room and finances, I’d love to own more. 
  4. This Beautiful Day (Richard Jackson) – Why spend a rainy day inside? As three children embrace a grey day, they seems to beckon the bright as they jump, splash, and dance outside, chasing the rain away. The day’s palette shifts from greys to a hint of blue, then more blue. Then green! Then yellow! Until the day is a Technicolor extravaganza that would make Mary Poppins proud. A joyous homage to the power of a positive attitude.
    An online recommendation we found at our local library! We loved the artistic appeal of this picture book, and the gentle reminder to be creative with our free time. A great library find. 
  5. The Shape of the World: A Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright (KL Going) – A little boy who loves to find shapes in nature grows up to be one of America’s greatest architects in this inspiring biography of Frank Lloyd Wright.
    I’m a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. I have been for years. So when an online book forum suggested this read, I quickly found it at our local library. We loved learning of Wright’s childhood, and how his love of nature influenced his future work. The artwork in the book is a little wanting, but the concept is lovely; as is the short story itself. 
  6. The Beetle Book (Steve Jenkins) – Beetles squeak and beetles glow.
    Beetles stink, beetles sprint, beetles walk on water. With legs, antennae, horns, beautiful shells, knobs, and other oddities—what’s not to like about beetles?
    Nature books are a weakness for us. We found this gem while scouring the local library for nature study and couldn’t be happier. The illustrations are lovely, and the pages are overflowing with facts to amaze learners. 

We generally gather our reading materials from the library, but most of these were suggestions from other homeschooling friends and online acquaintances. Who knew Instagram would be a source of book inspiration?

Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading!

Your Turn!: How many Audubon guides do you own?

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Review: Captain Bayley’s Heir by Heirloom Audio Productions

Captain_Bayleys_Heir_ReviewThe past week found us on another long drive. What better way to enjoy the trip than another fantastic audio adventure! This time around we brought along Captain Bayley’s Heir by Heirloom Audio Productions, and we can’t wait to share this fun resource with you.

Heirloom Audio Productions is “passionate about bringing real history to life”. This is obvious by the great lengths they put into each production. Their vast audio collection includes such titles as Under Drake’s Flag, In Freedom’s Cause, With Lee in Virginia, and more. Our story, Captain Bayley’s Heir, follows eighteen-year-old Frank on his journey of discovering the grace of God.

After Frank is falsely accused of stealing and on the path to being expelled from his school, Frank flees to America in hopes of clearing his name. What follows is an exciting adventure exploring the American wild west and the hunt for gold. We encounter formidable storms, cowboys, indians, and experienced gunmen. We learn about the dangers of traveling cross-country and the lure of the California’s Gold Rush. Through Frank we experience the powerful grace of God as he struggles to prove himself and be reunited with those he loves.

We prefer listening to audio theatre in one sitting; interruptions are a bother. Thus, anotherCaptain_Bayley_Read day-trip gave us the perfect opportunity to enjoy this wonderful audio drama. We were able to listen to the entire first disc on the drive to our venue – approximately an hour away – and the second on our return trip. On this outing, three of the kids and myself were along for the journey. We discussed both story and overall impression as we progressed through Captain Bayley’s Heir.

Having previously enjoyed In the Reign of Terror by Heirloom Audio Productions, we were excited to see what our newest adventure would bring. We recognized the familiar voices of Brian Blessed and John Rhys-Davies, with the included talents of Jade Williams, Ian Porter, Finty Williams, and David Shaw-Parker. Audio quality was superb. We can’t imagine this story being retold any better.

We found the character of Frank a little unusual. We are a little dumbfounded as to why he thought escaping to America would clear his name and prove himself noble, instead of sticking it out and standing by his innocence. This was a long point of discussion on our drive. In addition, we thought a definite ending would be given to our tale and were shocked to find our story didn’t finish as expected. Frank’s initial adventure wrapped up beautifully – he returns home to find himself exonerated and loved by family – and yet a back story regarding a love interest and friendship is left unresolved. As our narrator gently put it, “I will leave that to your imagination. For there are always more stories to be told, and more adventures to be had.” Interesting…

Captain_Bayley_CDAgain, in addition to the physical audio book, we were given access to “Live the Adventure Club“! As a member, we have access to the Adventure Library which contains bonus content for all purchased audio books. We could view Educational Treasures such as Adventure Study Guides, The Crash Course on the Constitution Lecture Series, and much more. We may view parent resources, kid activities, and the community forum. Our favorite features are the Rare Early American & World Curriculum, the Old Time Radio Vault, and The Day in Henty History.

By choosing the “My Library Feature”, we were able to not only listen to our audio drama via this alternative medium, but view bonus materials. Bonuses included an original Captain Bayley’s Heir e-book, the official soundtrack, a printable cast poster, an inspirational hymn poster, and more. One feature we enjoyed was the Study Guide & Discussion Starter.

The Study Guide gives a brief biography on G.A. Henty, then proceeds to break down the book by tracks from the audio discs. For each track, we were given “Listening Well” questions, “Thinking Further” queries, and “Defining Words” (vocabulary from our story). Throughout the Study Guide, we found “Expand Your Learning” panels which gave more background and depth to our tale. At the back of the Study Guide, we were given a list of resources for additional information on Victorian England and the American West. The best pages, in our opinion, were the “Bible Study” at the end of the guide. Using the “Bible Study” we can search God’s Word for truths discussed in the audio book and share these Biblical concepts with our children. For those who wish to break down the Study Guide & Discussion Starter into chapter portions, viewers may select “Start the Adventure” from the “My Library” feature and begin! Start the Adventure breaks down the Study Guide by chapter, including Read-Along Script, Chapter Quiz, Thinking Further Questions, and Defining Words sections.

Once again we were amazed by the quality to be found in this extraordinary adventure by Heirloom Audio productions. Captain Bayley’s Heir was a blessing to enjoy; one we look forward to visiting time-and-time again.

If you’d like to learn more about Captain Bayley’s HeirLive the Adventure Club, or Heirloom Audio Productions please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Instagram! To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Heirloom Audio Productions has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: If you could travel back in time, which era would you most like to visit and on which continent?

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Review: Imagine…The Great Flood

Imagine_ReviewWe’re constantly on the lookout for clean stories which edify our children and build their faith. While reading Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceic from Barbour Publishing, we were reminded to trust upon the Lord no matter our circumstances and that God is always in control.

Barbour Publishing might have its roots in being a small remainder seller of books, but recent years have proven them a reliable source for some of the best Christian books on the market. Amongst their vast collection of Christian kids’ book titles, Imagine…The Great Flood by Matt Koceic, part of the I Survived series, encourages children to explore the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark.

Imagine. . .The Great Flood tells the story of ten-year-old Corey Max and his struggle with trusting God when facing new circumstances. Corey’s family is looking to make a big move, and Corey fears what the future will bring. While playing at the park with his dog and discussing the coming changes with his mother, Corey experiences an accident which causes him to black out. Upon waking, he discovers he is no longer in the park. Instead, he is in Mesopotamia, and the year is 2400BC. There Corey meets Shem and hears about Noah’s mission to build an ark. Together with Shem, Ham, and Japheth Corey helps gather animals into the ark while trying to avoid the giant Nephilim and Elizar, an unusual man who claims to have powers, who wish to thwart Noah at all costs. During the midst of his adventures, Corey learns what it means to trust God no matter the circumstances and that God always knows what’s best.

Imagine. . .The Great Flood is a short, easy read. As the main character, Corey, is the same age as my son, I thought this would be a lovely story to enjoy together. I read the book myself, then shared it with my little boy. We found the story to be a quick read, finishing the entire book in a little less than an hour. The book is suggested for ages 8-12 and we believe this fits perfectly. While a retelling of the Noah’s Ark story, it was a fast paced read which kept us entertained and engaged.

The fears which Corey expressed about moving were heartfelt. One of my son’s close friends recently moved quite a distance and this story mirrored a few of their own worries. A favorite scene from the book takes place upon Corey’s first arrival in Mesopotamia and a meeting with lions. Instead of pouncing to attack Corey, the lions express a desire to be close to him and be affectionate. We found this charming and wondered what that might be like, having a large vicious animal act as a typical house cat might. We also found it interesting Corey tells Shem he is from the future and there is no surprised reaction. Shem receives this knowledge with great calmness and expresses no desire to know anything, entirely trusting God to see them through. Would we have responded in the same manner? The addition of the character Elizar was interesting. He seemed to be a physical representation of Satan’s evil doing and control during this period of history. The presence of this character did require a review of the actual story, with brief reminders of what the Bible teaches and the difference between the two. However, this did not detract from our enjoyment of the story as a whole.

Imagine. . .The Great Flood was a fun story. We’re constantly on the lookout for clean reading for kids and this was a perfect fit. We appreciated the gentle reminders to trust the Lord no matter our circumstance and that God always knows best. An altogether enjoyable book!

If you’d like to learn more about Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich or Barbour Publishing please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitter or YouTube! To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: Which Biblical, historical, event would you have liked to experience?

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