Our May Reads

Our_May_Reads

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! May’s list has a ton of incredible finds from our local library. Everything on this month’s list was completely new to us, which is always fun. All of them were used in our learning to some capacity. Most of them are now on a book wish list.

  1. Ordinary People Change the World (Series by Brad Meltzer) – WE CAN ALL BE HEROES. That’s the inspiring message of this lively, collectible picture book biography series from New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer.
    A friend on Instagram shared this incredible series. We immediately pulled every available book in the set. My son is in love. So am I.
  2. Make: Magazine (Maker Media) – As the leading voice of the maker movement, Make: publishes tested projects, skill-building tutorials, in-depth reviews and inspirational stories, accessible by all ages and skill ranges.
    I happened across this publication while perusing for other periodicals. This is an amazing resource for learning! Each issue is filled with tons of incredible projects to make with detailed instructions. Check them out… Make:
  3. The Beauty of the Beast, Poems from the Animal Kingdom (Selected by Jack Prelutsky) – A stunning collection of poems celebrating “the beauty and wonder of the animal kingdom.” Poet and anthologist Jack Prelutsky has chosen 200 works by 123 poets from Carl Sandburg to Seamus Heaney, with a tip of the hat to his own “The Multilingual Mynah Bird.”
    An incredibly fun book to explore with the kids. Many animals were covered, and all of the poems lovely.
  4. The Curious Garden (Peter Brown) – While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world.
    It was the art which drew us in, but the story which kept us coming back for multiple readings. The Curious Garden is a wonderful story and quite inspiring.
  5. Art & Max (David Weisner) – Max and Arthur are friends who share an interest in painting. Arthur is an accomplished painter; Max is a beginner. Max’s first attempt at using a paintbrush sends the two friends on a whirlwind trip through various artistic media, which turn out to have unexpected pitfalls.
    An adorable read, through and through. We loved how this story explored the fun and adventurous aspect of art.
  6. What To Do With a Box (Jane Yolen & Chris Sheban) – If you give a child a box, who can tell what will happen next? It may become a library or a boat. It could set the scene for a fairy tale or a wild expedition. The most wonderful thing is its seemingly endless capacity for magical adventure…
    We’re continually on the lookout for books which encourage children to think creatively. In this case, outside the box. Mission accomplished!
  7. The Little Island (Margaret Wise Brown and Leonard Weisgard) – There is a little island in the ocean—and this book is about how it is on that little island, how the seasons and the storm and the day and night change it, how the lobsters and seals and gulls and everything else live on it, and what the kitten who comes to visit finds out about it.
    Suggested by an online acquaintance, this charming story helped us focus on our nature studies; learning to experience God’s creation through all of our senses. 
  8. A Child of Books (Oliver Jeffers) – A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy. She invites him to go away with her on an adventure into the world of stories… where, with only a little imagination, anything at all can happen.
    I confess, the cover caught my attention. It went in my basket without further thought. Was opened in the quiet of my home. And devoured entirely, from beginning to end. We loved the clever illustrations and thoughtfulness of the story. 
  9. Finding Wild (Megan Wagner Lloyd) – There are so many places that wild can exist, if only you know where to look! Can you find it? Two kids set off on an adventure away from their urban home and discover all the beauty of the natural world. From the bark on the trees to the sudden storm that moves across the sky to fire and flowers, and snowflakes and fresh fruit. As the children make their way through the woods and back to the paved and noisy streets, they discover that wild exists not just off in some distant place, but right in their own backyard.
    Another nature study find by Mom. I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the story without the tendency of some books towards glorifying nature to the point of considering man an evil. 
  10. The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs (Tristan Gooley) – Gooley has compiled more than 850 outdoor tips—many not found in any other book in the world—that will open readers’ eyes to nature’s hidden logic. He shares techniques for forecasting and tracking, and for walking in the country or city, along the coast, and by night. This is the ultimate resource on what the land, sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and clouds can reveal—if you only know how to look!
    I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. It came highly recommended so we gave it a chance and were pleasantly surprised. We learned so much from just the first chapters, we cannot imagine pushing through this book quickly. Even a single reading will not be enough to fully absorb its material. For nature explorers, this book is a wonderful guide and help!

We generally gather our reading materials from the library, but several of these have been added to our book wish list. Great reads are worth revisiting!  We were so excited to find another incredible selection this month! A few of them were excellent aids in nature study. Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading.

Your Turn!: How do you know when a book is so good, you have to buy it?

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Review: Captain Absolutely from Focus On The Family

Review_Captain_AbsolutelyComics are all the rage in our home. From my husband’s work to classic Superman, we enjoy a good graphic novel. So it was with much anticipation we reviewed Captain Absolutely from Focus On The Family. Today, we’re excited to share this fun, educational, Biblical resource with you!

Captain Absolutely is a graphic novel which focuses on using a Biblical worldview to battle everyday challenges such as fear and guilt. In Captain Absolutely we meet our hero, Captain Absolutely, and learn how he gained his incredible power. We are taken through a series of subsequent events in which Captain Absolutely meets several villains – Dr. Relative, Cap’n Crastin, Fear Chemist, and more – who wish to ruin the town of Metropolitanville and take over the world. Captain Absolutely uses his knowledge of Scripture to fight each enemy, while kindly showing them the error of their ways.

Captain Absolutely is a full-color paperback graphic novel. The pages within are printed on glossy paper, in tune with traditional modern comics. The illustrations themselves are fun. The story is fast-paced and silly while faithfully teaching Biblical truths, complete with Scripture reference for each argument the Captain uses to defeat his foe.

As Captain Absolutely touches on important Biblical topics and discusses the gravity of truth, we handed our story to an expert both in the field of comics and apologetics… my husband. In addition, both our oldest daughter, our son, and myself read through the story.  This was not a required read for the kids, merely something we strategically placed in anReading_Captain_Absolutely advantageous position of the learning environment to encourage interest. The reading took approximately forty-five minutes for my son and husband to read through together; about twenty for me and my daughter individually.

We found Captain Absolutely functions under the assumption the Bible is true. We are presented with basic worldviews and how a Biblical worldview responds to each argument. This is not a philosophical defense of truth, but a sharing of Biblical wisdom. With that said, all of us enjoyed this graphic novel. My husband found it to be a good foundation for younger children learning Biblical truths. He recommended the story for children aged 8-12, but noted finishing the entire novel in one read might be a bit taxing. To fully absorb the concepts being presented and prevent fatigue, perhaps reading Captain Absolutely over a few days time might be of benefit. My daughter and I thought the stories to be quite silly, with many good points made for the reader to think on. Our son laughed continually through the reading; the storyline made for many good talking points and further truths to be shared. He thought the silliest “villains” were Edward Snooze – who fought Captain Absolutely with pillows – and Cap’n Crastin – who’s heartfelt desire was to be on television.

When passing comics to our children, we parents are continually on the lookout for appropriate content. Captain Absolutely met all of our requirements: It was clean, engaging to the mind, easy to follow, and as an added bonus, pointed our children to Christ. Our son learned a great deal through his reading, and this initial story has laid beautiful groundwork for future discussion of truth and Biblical wisdom.

If you’d like to learn more about Focus On The Family, as well as Captain Absolutely, please visit them at their website. You can also find Focus on The Family on social media sites such as FacebookTwitterPinterest, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube.

To read additional helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into High School Essay Intensive please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

Review Crew Disclaimer

Your Turn!: Is there a Christian comic you’d recommend?

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Review: High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing

High_School-Essay_IntensiveOur oldest daughter will be a junior this coming month! With scholarships, grants, college SAT’s and ACT’s right around the corner, we can’t think of a better time to review High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing. Read on as we share this new resource to hit A Homeschool Mom’s shelf!

High School Essay Intensive is a writing program, including a case containing five DVD’s which comprise the course and a Portable Walls for the Essayist folder. Printed on the folder are helpful tips for becoming a better writer: Types of Essays, Transitional Words & Phrases, Essay Models, and more. Included in the Portable Walls for the Essayist folder is the High School Essay Intensive course work. This course work is to be completed as the student watches the DVD’s and Mr. Pudewa teaches lessons. Topics covered in High School Essay Intensive are “General Strategies for Essay Writing”, “Understanding and Preparing for the New ACT Essay”, “Understanding and Preparing for the Redesigned SAT Essay”, and “Strategies for the ‘Personal Essay'”. In addition to the DVD’s, we also received a code to video stream these same lessons. This is an especially helpful resource for students using computers which no longer have disc drives or prefer this medium.

While there are many ways in which High School Essay Intensive could be completed, we chose to do a “crash course” and finish the entire set in a two-week period of time. Normally I would not recommend this course of action, but I was a little impatient to finishMr. Pudewa Teaching the material. The main reason for our hurry was an IEW conference being held by our homeschool group. What better way to fully immerse ourselves than to have completed the curriculum and then attend the conference as a review? Our second reason for the rush was a desire to fully train our oldest daughter for the college and scholarship essays she is currently filling out by the stack.

Having no prior experience with IEW, we went into our review with open minds. Our focus during our review was on “General Strategies for Essay Writing” and “Strategies for the ‘Personal Essay'”, as these have the greatest application for our family at this point in time. We found the DVD/Stream lessons to be easy to follow and entertaining. Mr. Pudewa has a comfortable manner in his teaching, addressing his filmed audience by name and offering funny anecdotes to keep the viewer interested. Course work allowed students to take careful notes while following along with lessons, using a fill-in-the-blank method of note taking. While the title of the course, High School Essay Intensive, and the nature of the topic might seem heavy, we were pleased to find the lessons manageable and even fun. There were several new skills we learned; ones we will be implementing from this point forward. We especially appreciated Mr. Pudewa’s explanation of introductory sentences and a TRIAC method of writing paragraphs.

As we have written essays during our lessons for years, and are new to Institute for Excellence in Writing, I was extremely interested in reviewing High School Essay Intensive. I was pleased to find we are on the right track with our writing, yet we’ve learned new skills we can apply to future papers! While we chose to move quickly through the curriculum, we will be re-visiting it at a slower pace at various points to keep the information fresh in our minds.

If you’d like to learn more about Institute for Excellence in Writing, along with High School Essay Intensive, please visit them at their website. You can also find Institute for Excellence in Writing on social media sites such as FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

To read additional helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into High School Essay Intensive please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

Review Crew Disclaimer

Your Turn!: Do your children stress when an essay is assigned?

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Review: The Secret Bridge by Lamplighter Publishing

The_Secret_BridgeEvery once in a while, we come across a read which sparks the imagination and edifies the soul. This week, we’re happy to share with you a new read we had the pleasure of reviewing. The Secret Bridge by Lamplighter Publishing was a joy from beginning to end, and we know you’ll want to hear all about it!

Lamplighter Publishing’s aim is to develop Christlike character one story at a time, and this book hits the mark! The Secret Bridge tells the story of young Bridget Channing, and her journey toward a meaningful relationship with God. Through trials, tribulations, and a helpful friend, Bridget learns what it means to cast her cares upon the Lord and fall in love with her Creator.

We first meet Bridget on a sea voyage to England, following the death of her father. While aboard, she befriends Godfrey Bullingham, a naval officer who desires to see Bridget settled well. When disappointing circumstances leave Bridget homeless and with little to live on, Godfrey saves the day by proposing marriage. At first hesitant to accept, Bridget quickly realizes marriage might be her only option and accepts the offer. After a hasty ceremony, Bridget is taken to Godfrey’s hometown where she will be staying for the year while he is away at sea. Everything seems to be working in Bridget’s favor until her husband asks her to keep a secret. A big secret. Throughout the remainder of the book, we experience Bridget’s struggle to keep the secret hidden while more and more secrets become known to her. In the midst of her trials, Bridget meets a most unusual gentleman who encourages her to “Acquaint thyself with Him.”Secret_Bridge_TitlePg

The Secret Bridge was cleanly written, which is a requirement when choosing our books. Thus, any of our children could have read the story. However, I had a personal desire to read the book myself and took possession first. I had planned to read the book slowly, perhaps taking a few chapters at a time. I quickly realized this was not possible. The Secret Bridge was too good to put down. I finished the entire book in one night!

I will note, this story might be best suited for young ladies. There is no action in the book and a great deal of conversation whilst drinking tea. We should also point out that while the main purpose of the story is to encourage a closer relationship with Christ, there is a distinct romantic element to the story; particularly at the beginning of the book. I would recommend The Secret Bridge to young ladies in middle school or older, as the topic of marriage and proper courtship would be more appropriate for that age category.

As I devoured the story, there were a few points which caught my attention in particular. Mr. Jocelyn, the gentleman who speaks with Bridget, is a naturalist! While the study of God’s creation plays no significant role in the story, I appreciated reading of his love of nature and his desire to teach children through his hobby. It was also interesting to note the back story of the tale, which centers on a family dispute as far back as the time of Secret_Bridge_IllustrationHenry VIII. As we are currently studying this era in our history lessons, this was a fun circumstance and a God moment. While not important in any way to the story, it would be remiss if we failed to mention the gorgeous cover of this book. Mole skinned, engraved leather, and gold embossed. It’s a beautiful book.

The Secret Bridge was a joy to read! I can’t think of a single thing I disliked about the book. The story itself was lovely to read, well-told, and edifying. The character lessons throughout were encouraging, even for one who has walked with the Lord for years. We look forward to exploring more exciting reads at Lamplighter Publishing!

If you’d like to learn more about Lamplighter Publishing, along with The Secret Bridge, please visit them at their website. You can also find Lamplighter Publishing on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

To read additional helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into The Secret Bridge, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

Review Crew Disclaimer

Your Turn!: In The Secret Bridge, Bridget has a developed a hobby of wood carving. Which hobby/handy-craft would you most like to acquire?

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Dragons Love Tacos 2!

Oh no, the world has run out of tacos! What should we do?

A. Check emergency taco supplies
B. Eat emergency taco supplies
C. Panic
D. Fire up that time machine in the garage
E. All of the above

We’ve got to save the tacos! The dragons are here to help. Just keep them away from all that spicy salsa. You remember what happened last time.

Dragons Love Tacos_2_TourInspired by the release of Dragons Love Tacos 2, we asked ourselves this important question: Could we help save the tacos by going back in time to the Renaissance? Did they even have tacos during the Renaissance? What better way to discover tacos during but to visit a Renaissance Faire! My dragons and I piled into our time machine, lovingly called a car, and blasted into the past.

The journey was surprisingly shorter than anticipated, and met with much anticipation. We arrived to discover things looked quite different from what we were used to. We felt a little under-dressed as we were presented at court, but the queen kindly disregarded Dragon w/ Fanour attire and graciously allowed us to peruse her kingdom in pursuit of our goal… tacos!

We got excited when we saw this beautiful creation. It was shaped like a taco, but alas, was not. It’s called a Spanish fan; which was quite pretty, but not fit for eating. It seems you can use them for creating a soft breeze to cool your dragon scales.

Dragon TeaWe did find dragon tea, but tea is not tacos! Our new friends allowed us to take in the lovely aroma, but there is no substitution for our favorite crunchy snack.

Everywhere we went, we asked for help. It seemed no one even knew what a taco was! Much to our surprise, even ingredients for tacos were not to be found. Lettuce, it would appear, is hard to Dragon w/Mancome by. And tomatoes… these people from the Renaissance would not sell us a tomato. There seems to be a rumor about them being poisonous? Imagine that.

After a quick return to court, thanking the queen for her kindness and generosity, we were forced to admit defeat. It seems the Renaissance does not have tacos! Wait… what’s that you say? We’re on the wrong continent! Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place?!

A History Lesson: If you and your dragons wish to learn more about tacos and their illustrious history, The Smithsonian has a fantastic article which might come in handy! Who knew this tasty treat has been around since before the 1800’s and was a favored snack amongst minors (the silver kind, not the little ones who mess up our houses).

Don’t Skip the Giveaway!: Enter for a chance to be one (1) grand prize winner and receive a set of Dragons Love Tacos and Dragons Love Tacos 2 (ARV: $17.99 each), or to be one (1) of five (5) second place winners to receive Dragons Love Tacos 2 (ARC: $17.99 each).

Dragons Love Tacos 2

Click the above image to enter our giveaway!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 1, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Tour Schedule: If you and your dragons would like to explore more adventures centered around this fantastic book, check out this incredible list of bloggers showcasing Dragons Love Tacos 2!

Week One:
May 1 – In Wonderland – Jane Austen Taco Hunt
May 2 – The Children’s Book Review – Review
May 3 – A Homeschool Mom – Tacos in the Renaissance
May 4 – Inspiration Laboratories – Tacos in Space
May 5 – Ali’s Book Nook – Dragon Paper Doll Activity
Week Two:
May 8 – The Book Nut – Tacos in Ancient Greece
May 9 – A Story A Day – Tacos During the Civil War
May 10 – Pirates n’ Pixie Dust – Taco Pirates
May 11 – Margie’s Must Reads – Review
May 12 – My Little Poppies
Week Three:
May 16 – As They Grow Up
May 17 – YA Book Nerd
May 18 – Swoony Boys Podcast – Review & Mini Swoon
May 19 – The Plot Bunny – A Dragons Love Tacos Playlist
Week Four:
May 22 – Reading is Better with Cupcakes – How to Properly Eat a Taco
May 23 – No BS Book Reviews
May 24 – Mundie Kids –Time Travelling with a Dragon Checklist
May 25 – The Book Shire
May 26 – Artsy Momma

FTC Disclaimer

Your Turn!: If you could go back in history, which time period would you most like to explore?

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Our April Reads

Our_April_Reads_2017

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! April’s list has a few incredible finds from our local library. Everything on this month’s list was completely new to us, which is always fun.

  1. Lindbergh: The Tale of the Flying Mouse (Torben Kuhlmann) – A story of toil and triumph—inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight! These are dark times . . . for a small mouse. A new invention—the mechanical mousetrap—has caused all of the mice but one to flee to America, the land of the free. But with cats guarding the steamships, trans-Atlantic crossings are no longer safe. In the bleakest of places . . . the one remaining mouse has a brilliant idea. He must learn to fly!
    The illustrations are what sell us on Torben Kuhlmann’s books. They are simply amazing. But you’ll love this adorable story about a little mouse with big aspirations. The kids thought this was a perfect read. 
  2. Beautiful Birds (Jean Roussen) – In this stunningly illustrated introduction to the world’s most beautiful birds, Jean Roussen and Emmanuelle Walker pay homage to an alphabet of birds in all their feathery fancies.
    A nature study read for the month, the colorful illustrations were wonderful and definitely helped us explore the world of exotic birds. 
  3. Before After (Anne_Margot Ramstein) – Just as day turns into night and back again, a many-tiered cake is both created and eaten down to a single piece. Each spread or sequence of spreads explores a before and after.
    A wordless book I wanted to explore with the kids, this book is perfect for littles or the art of storytelling. 
  4. The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts (Maja Safstrom) – Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Or that ostriches can’t walk backward? These and many more fascinating and surprising facts about the animal kingdom are illustrated with whimsical detail in this charming collection.
    I’ll be honest, I picked up this book because of the cover itself. It’s adorable! However, I was pleased to find the pages within just as charming. We recently discovered there’s a sequel! This was a great book for nature study. 
  5. Three Swords for Granada (Walter Dean Myers) – In the year 1420, the cats from the kingdom of Spain attacked their foes: dogs led by the cruel Fidorean Guards. Full of bravery and ready to give their lives for their country, the cats begin a swashbuckling journey of swordplay and derring-do.
    As we are studying the Renaissance, this seemed a perfect read for the younger kiddos. Three Swords is a cute book and a fun read. 
  6. None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us (Jen Wilkin) – Jen Wilkin leads us on a journey to discover ten ways God is different from us – and why that’s a good thing. In the process, she highlights the joy of seeing our limited selves in relation to a limitless God, and how such a realization frees us from striving to be more than we were created to be.
    One of my parenting/mommy books of the month, I discovered this read through an Instagram account I follow. Each chapter was a blessing and an encouragement. Grab it, you won’t be sorry.
  7. Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too (Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish) – With humor and understanding, Faber and Mazlish explain how and when to intervene in fights, provide suggestions on how to help children channel their hostility into creative outlets, and demonstrate how to treat children unequally and still be fair.
    Parenting can be tough sometimes, so this book suggestion piqued our interest. While the overall principles were sound, we were saddened to find the concepts within were not grounded on a moral foundation. While this is not mandatory in writing a parenting book – by any means – we, personally, prefer it. Without Christ, we are nothing. 

We generally gather our reading materials from the library, but I know a few of these have been added to our book wish list. Great picture books are worth revisiting!  We were so excited to find an incredible selection this month! A few of them were excellent aids in nature study. Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading.

Your Turn!: Do you have a favorite “wordless” picture book?

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Review: Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels”

Drive_Thru_HistoryIf you’re like us, you enjoy incorporating media in your learning day. When that same media helps us draw closer to the Lord and gives us a deeper understanding of the world He created, you know we’re jumping for joy. This past month, we had the opportunity to review Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” by Drive Thru History® and we’re incredibly excited to share this resource with you!

Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” is a beautifully boxed DVD set which includes 3 DVD’s, with a total of 18 episodes, and an 118 page study guide. Throughout Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels”, our host, Dave Stotts, takes us on a tour of Israel showing us the footsteps of Christ and bringing Biblical history to life. Used in tandem with each episode, the included study guide will prompt further discussion with thoughtful questions and illustrations to spark the mind.

Rather than include Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” in our daily homeschool studies, we instead chose to incorporate the episodes into family time at the end of each day. Drive_Thru_SetSnacks in hand, we gathered around the television and watched an episode each evening, Monday through Friday during the course of the review.

Our immediate impression was of the care which was taken in creating such quality material. The boxed set itself was lovely. The study guide was clearly laid out, with brief questions even our youngest was encouraged to participate in answering. The episodes themselves were fantastic. Cinematically, the videos were incredible. The quality was beyond expectation and overflowing with professional graphics. Frankly, we’ve never seen a history series better made!

As our review took place around the time of Easter, Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” couldn’t have come at a better time. As we progressed through each episode, we were shown such incredible sites as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth. We saw the Church of the Nativity, the Herodium, the Sea of Galilee, and so much more. We followed the gospel message from before Christ’s birth to His resurrection.

Study_GuideOne fun aspect of Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” pertained to Dave Stott’s vehicle throughout the series! Lovingly named “Steve McQueen” by its actual owner, Dave Stotts showed the kids how to make Car-B-Que. We refuse to give away this little tidbit. Watch the series to find out what this is, and why you need to try it!

Our only regret in doing this review is that there were only 18 episodes. We would have gladly sat through several more hours of the series, taking in the beauty and majesty of the Gospel. Our consolation is that three other series exist – Drive Thru History® – “The Holy Land”, Drive Thru History® – “American History”, and Drive Thru History® – “Ancient History”. We’re also excited to discover another series is already in the works which will center on the book of Acts.

If you’d like to learn more about Drive Thru History®, along with Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels”, please visit them at their website. You can also find Drive Thru History®. on social media sites such as FacebookYouTube, and Instagram.

To read additional helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Drive Thru History® has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

Review Crew Disclaimer

Your Turn!: If you could pick the next location for Drive Thru History®, where would you like to go?

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Dragons Love Tacos

Dragons_Love_TacosIf you’re ever in our neck of the woods, you know you’re invited to dinner. What’s on the menu, you ask? Well, tacos of course! Why tacos? Because they’re TACOS!!! I mean, who doesn’t love a good taco? Even dragons know tacos are the best.

You’ll find tacos of all kinds in our home; they’re a family favorite. Our little dragons eat them up. We’ve made everything from chicken and beef, to fish or potato tacos. No matter what kind of tacos we make, one thing is for sure, we always serve our tacos with a fresh batch of salsa.

The Recipe: What is salsa and how do you go about making a batch for your favorite dragon? We’re so glad you asked!

Salsa is a spicy tomato sauce, made from a blend of tomato and your favorite type of chile. Salsa is generally used in Latin American cooking and enjoyed with a variety of dishes, not to mention on its own with tortilla chips.

Salsa (Chile)

Ingredients:
4 Large Tomato
2 Cloves Garlic
3 Jalapeños
1 Tbsp. Better Than Bouillon (Chicken)
1/4 Cup of Water

Directions:
On a flat, cast iron skillet – or flat grill – roast your vegetables, including garlic, until nicely toasted. Immediately after roasting, place your vegetables in a plastic container with lid until cooled. (This helps remove the skins easily.) Once cooled, carefully remove the skin from the tomatoes and jalapeños.
In a blender, place your water, Better Than Bouillon, and cloves of garlic. Blend these for a moment to fully incorporate the garlic. Add your jalapeños. Add your tomato, removing any hardened centers. Blend all ingredients by hitting the pulse button on the blender three to four times, with a second between each pulse. Pour into your favorite mason jar, and enjoy!
(Tip: If you’re concerned about the salsa being too hot for your dragons, remove all seeds and veins from the chiles while removing skins. This will give you plenty of flavor but reduce some of the heat.)

The Experiment: We all know dragons love tacos, but serving hot salsa is a no-no. Just how hot is HOT? Let’s try an experiment and explore the wild world of chiles, then see how our taste buds take the heat!

Scoville_List

In our home, our dragons prefer salsa made with Pepperoncini, Anaheim, or Poblano chiles. But, just for fun, let’s see how hot we can take it before we start breathing fire!

Mom is the weakest of all, no surprise. She likes the mildest of the mild chiles. JAG is a little braver, eating salsa which makes his nose itch, but still enjoying the flavor. Little Lady doesn’t really like it at all. Hmmm. T enjoys salsa, but feels the same way Mom does about the heat. Mouse, she’s amazing. She can eat half way up this chile diagram without blinking an eye! And Pop, well he’s the king of us all. Nose itching, eyes watering; he can go three-fourths of the way up the chart and still keep on eating. Wow! Can you stand the heat?

The Giveaway: Now’s your chance! Care to try your hand at winning this adorable book, including a dragon of your own? Enter HERE for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) Dragons Love Tacos Book and Toy Sets (ARV: $17.99 each).

Dragons Love Tacos

(NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 3, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 1, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about May 5, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.)

And stay tuned because…

The Sequel: Oh, no! It seems tacos have become so popular there will be no more tacosDragons Love Tacos 2 in world as of May 2nd! What will we do? Pre-order your copy of Dragons Love Tacos 2 and help the dragons #SaveTheTacos.

If you’re ever in SoCal, just let us know. Send us an email, place your order, and taco night it will be. Unlike these dragons, however, be prepared for some pretty hot salsa. There’s no sense in doing things half way.

FTC Disclaimer

Your Turn!: What is your favorite type of taco?

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Review: Web Design by CompuScholar, Inc.

WebDesign_by_CompuScholarIncFor a while now we’ve debated building our own website. Finding a web designer can be pricey, and online forums can be restricting. So when we were offered an opportunity to review Web Design by CompuScholar, Inc., you know we jumped on board!

Web Design by CompuScholar, Inc., previously known as Homeschool Programming, is an online curriculum teaching students the basics of building a web page. The course is broken down by a multitude of chapters. Chapter topics include Web Tools and Languages, Your First Web Page, Head and Body Elements, Connecting Your Site, and many more. Most chapters contain four to five lessons, an activity, and a chapter test.

Our original intention was to complete a chapter a day, Monday through Friday, but we quickly needed to make adjustments. We discovered CompuScholar, Inc. Web Design is an in-depth course going beyond anything we had yet experienced. Plus, with life being what it is… realistically only a few chapters a week were accomplished. Seeing as we have a year to complete the entire course, this is not a major issue. We found we were able to complete an entire chapter – on average – in a little over an hour. At times taking two hours, depending on the concept being taught.

While it might be tempting to only watch the video portion of the lesson and skip the text lesson, we would highly discourage such a course of action. Text lessons include additional information not covered in the video and help students complete the quiz which follows. In addition, the text lessons will reinforce what was learned in the video. Taking in both methods of learning ensure the student fully understands each lesson and can move forward in confidence. The video lessons are short, helpful for visual learners, and easy to follow. Text lessons build upon the video, once again providing visual aid to learners. Quizzes are extremely short, consisting of five questions, helping the student take measure of their knowledge before continuing on.

As a teacher, I’ve found CompuScholar, Inc. Web Design detailed, methodical, and well-thought out. The online system auto grades all quizzes and tests, saving me time. I need only log into my teacher account and check the progress of my students. As a teacher, I also have access to Professional Development helps such as Teacher Guides, Quiz/Test Answer Keys, and Activity Solutions Guides. These Activity Solutions Guides came in handy further along in our course, as a few of the activities were challenging.

WebDesign_ScreenShot1

We had the ability to review the Technical Support department after experiencing an issue with the activity project in Chapter Nine. Even after checking our student’s project against the solution guide, the webpage was still not loading correctly. We submitted a ‘ticket’ for assistance via Homeschool Support and received an email stating our ‘ticket’ was being processed. Within several hours, a helpful support staffer contacted us and requested copies of our files for review. He gently reminded us of the presence of activity solution guides, in case we had missed this option, and offered to review our files for errors. By the next morning we received another email with clearly labeled, highlighted, instructions to fix the issue. Within five minutes the problem was fixed, an error on our part, and we were on our way.

Thus far, CompuScholar, Inc. Web Design is fantastic, if challenging! We found the videos to be very helpful; surprisingly one of our favorite portions of the lessons. Quizzes and tests were simple, if we paid attention to the lessons. One of our favorite aspects of CompuScholar, Inc. Web Design is that students are working while learning. They immediately are able to apply what they are learning, seeing their results as they progress. We found this encouraging and helpful, keeping the students’ interest. CompuScholar, Inc. Web Design will push learners to focus and pay attention to detail. Even the smallest mistakes will result in errors of programming. However, their helpful and knowledgeable technical support team is always ready to help you get back on track.

After only reviewing CompuScholar, Inc. Web Design for several weeks, and long before we’ve completed even half the course itself, we have a new appreciation for those who maintain and build our website. Thus far, we’re about a quarter of the way through our course. We have every intention of finishing. We’ll continue to move at a consistent pace, finishing the class by the end of the year. Maybe then, maybe, we’ll feel competent enough to tackle the tough job of creating our own web page. Maybe.

If you’d like to learn more about CompuScholar, Inc., in addition to Web Design, please visit them at their website. For those new to computer sciences, you’ll want to check out Digital Savvy to learn more about these fundamental life skills! You can also find CompuScholar, Inc. on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

To read additional helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what CompuScholar, Inc. has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

Review Crew Disclaimer

Your Turn!: How digital savvy are you?

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Our March Reads

Our March Reads (2017)

This was a lucky month in the book department. We found so many reads, we almost didn’t have time to finish them all! In March, we explored a world of literature and did some learning along the way. Join us as we share our picks of the month. I wish I could tell you all of them rocked, but…

  1. Tangle Journey ( Beckah Krahula) – Gain deeper insights into how tangles can be combined to create more complex and realistic forms, how to use contour and shading, how to work with mid toned papers by adding highlights and shadows, how to use introduce color-based media, how to integrate mixed-media techniques, and how to work on various surfaces.
    This was a homeschool pick for the month. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what it meant to ‘Tangle’ before picking up this book. In fact, that might just be one of the reasons I picked up this read. However, we quickly discovered a fantastic art form easily learned by artists of any age. This was a great book for beginners and veterans. 
  2. Crafting With Nature (Amy Renea) – Fuse your love for crafting and the outdoors with this incredible compilation of DIY crafts, recipes and gifts made with natural materials you can grow or gather yourself.
    Another homeschool pick for the month. This was a fantastic read, and one to add to the shelf if you’re a wild and free learner. Included were a multitude of artistic projects to explore as a family, homeschooler, and nature lover. 
  3. The Total Money Make Over (Dave Ramsey) – Instead of promising the normal dose of quick fixes, Ramsey offers a bold, no-nonsense approach to money matters, providing not only the how-to but also a grounded and uplifting hope for getting out of debt and achieving total financial health.
    This book was a personal read for Mom. I had great hopes for this book, having heard much of Mr. Ramsey’s program. Unfortunately his wit does not transfer well onto the written page, and comes across as rather flippant and rude. The advice given is sound, but honestly nothing new. I was expecting something grand and novel; instead it was the basics. Good, but the basics.
  4. Color Lab For Mixed-Media Artists (Deborah Forman) – In Color Lab for Mixed Media Artists, color is explored through multiple lenses-nature, history, psychology, expression-as you work through 52 exciting and approachable projects that explore the infinite potential of the chromatic experience.
    Yet another homeschool pick for the month. Being married to an artist, and having children who appreciate creativity, Color Lab was a fun exploration of color. If you’ve never had the opportunity to venture into this study, this would be a good book to try.
  5. The Bad -Ass Librarians of Timbuktu (Joshua Hammer) – To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven.
    Let me state the obvious from the get-go. I did not title this book. So please be gracious. On to our thoughts… This was a good book! I wasn’t sure what to expect of this read, but found it enjoyable and full of historical detail which I had yet to explore. Because of the title, this book was initially chosen for myself, but found it to be clean and something I might possibly pass off to my high school students in the future.
  6. The Book of the People: How to Read the Bible (A.N. Wilson) – In The Book of the People, A. N. Wilson explores how readers and thinkers have approached the Bible, and how it might be read today.
    Another read for Mom, this was an incredibly disappointing book. Mr. Wilson attempts to explain his ideas on how people read the Bible – mainly as a book of good ideas and not truths – and fails to see the redeeming power of Christ. He shares his beliefs on how Jesus cannot be known from the Bible, in fact history itself cannot even give us an accurate picture of Him! Altogether a frustrating read, which will teach me to pick up a book based on its title alone.
  7. The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Others Don’t (Carmine Gallo) – Keynote speaker, bestselling author, and communication expert, Carmine Gallo, reveals the keys to telling powerful stories that inspire, motivate, educate, build brands, launch movements, and change lives.
    It had the word TED in it, so I picked it up. This read was okay, but just okay. The bulk of the story relied on, well, story telling and less on how to BE a good story-teller. There are a few good tips mixed in, but you could probably read the table of contents and save yourself the time of reading the entire book. 
  8. Thank You For Being Late (Thomas L. Friedman) – In his most ambitious work to date, Thomas L. Friedman shows that we have entered an age of dizzying acceleration–and explains how to live in it.
    Yet another ‘Mom’ read, Thank You for Being Late was incredibly long-winded and dull. In fact, I had a hard time staying focused on why Mr. Friedman even chose this title. The point gets lost amongst the multitude of details regarding microchips and the modern science of milking cows. 
  9. Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World (Michele Borba) – Bestselling author Michele Borba offers a 9-step program to help parents cultivate empathy in children, from birth to young adulthood—and explains why developing a healthy sense of empathy is a key predictor of which kids will thrive and succeed in the future.
    Unselfie was an interesting ‘Mom’ read. While I agreed with the majority of ideas presented by Ms. Borba, I found it interesting she did not establish a foundation for WHY children should be empathetic. As a Christian, I found we’re already building this into our children. Faith and obedience to Christ will naturally lead to the loving of His people. 
  10. Present Over Perfect (Shauna Niequist) – Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be.
    A great read for any parent! The Lord isn’t asking us to be perfect, but willing to follow Him wherever He leads.  This was an encouraging and edifying book. 
  11. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain (John Boyne) – When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy household at the top of the German mountains. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house.
    For those who read The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas, you might anticipate this book will have a twist. I will not give away the surprise, but you won’t be disappointed. For those who have not read previous works by Mr. Boyne, you might wish to read this yourself before passing it on to children. While the story was surprisingly clean, the nature of its content will be disturbing. Death, violence, and attempted rape are mentioned. This was an emotional book, but well told. A good read. 

The bulk of our list this month consisted of reads for me! How did that happen? No matter how many good books I have in my pile, it continues to grow. It’s a never-ending cycle. Next month, we’ll be focusing more on children’s literature and books we’ve been reading as a family. However, we’ve enjoyed this month’s focus on good books which inspire mom to keep reading and keep learning.

Your Turn!: Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction as a relaxing read?

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