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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Review: Unauthorized by Chara Games

Unauthorized_ReviewWhat better way to learn than through hands-on experiences and games? Whenever possible, we pull out these fantastic learning tools and have fun. This month, we had the privilege of reviewing Unauthorized by Chara Games and we can’t wait to share it with you!

Chara Games firmly believes in creating games which encourage believers in their Christian faith and spread joy to all those who play. They have created such games as Commissioned, 3 Seeds, and Unauthorized. Unauthorized, offered to us for this review, is a strategy game wherein players either help grow the underground church or stamp it out by using influence and deduction.

Unauthorized is a card game packaged in a small, sleek box with a fantastic graphic on the lid. The game includes 12 role-playing cards which include both pastor, police, and neutral roles. Besides the role-playing cards, two decks of experience cards are included for play. The game is played in a series of four rounds, with the overall goal being to have either won over a majority of players to the church or have the underground church stamped out and/or imprisoned by “the state”. Intended for 6-12 players, Unauthorized may be adapted for slightly smaller groups if needed. While the card game did come with instructions, our family found it helpful to watch the video link to better comprehend set-up and play. Once we were established, game play began. Unauthorized_Play

Afternoons in our home are generally reserved for electives and fun family time. This was the perfect opportunity to review Unauthorized and test out our skills at deduction. The six of us camped out and the playing began. One game was agreed upon initially. This would allow us time to learn the game and smooth out any wrinkles. The game took approximately forty-five minutes from start to finish. We were pleased to find we enjoyed the game tremendously. Our first game was immediately followed by a second, per the kids’ request, finishing in about thirty minutes. We cleaned up and went about our evening, only to find the kids asking to play the game several more times later that same night. The game seems to be a hit!

Having kids ranging from ages 10-16, we thought the game would be more easily played by our oldest three children. Perhaps our ten-year-old son might not have the deductive skills needed to fully appreciate this game. However, after a game or two he caught on quickly. Game play itself was quick, easy, and fun. Unauthorized_ExperienceCardsWhile initially the kids were at odds with playing the role of “the state”, they quickly came around and delved into each of their roles. It is fun trying to guess each person’s alliance and convert each role’s loyalty. (I secretly suspect a few of my children attempted to change their own character’s alliance, but you didn’t hear that from me.) The experience cards themselves were wonderful learning tools, allowing us to share real life scenarios where these issues might be valid. Overall, the game was a success. Our family likes the game and we’re learning quite a bit from playing.

Unauthorized is a perfect way to help teach strategy and influence, as well as launch great conversations on church history. We enjoy the game tremendously. Games are lovely learning tools. Unauthorized is going to be another fantastic resource we’ll be pulling out frequently.

If you’d like to learn more about Chara Games or Unauthorized please visit them at their website and on Facebook and Twitter! To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Chara Games has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: Do you have a favorite Bible game? Share it with us!

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Series Review: Curriculum 101

Curriculum101One of the biggest struggles homeschooling families battle is which curriculum is best for their children. We become overwhelmed by the amount of curriculum available, struggle to find the right fit for each of our children, proceed to doubt each choice made for at least the first several weeks, and continue to search for new ways of teaching well after we’ve already begun our year.

To this end, we thought we’d spend time launching discussions on all things curriculum.

What you’ll find in this series: Encouragement, help, tips, hints, and open discussion on what’s worked for our families and what hasn’t.

What you won’t find in this series: A push toward any curriculum in particular.

Our desire is to spend time in open conversation with you readers! We would love to share how we’ve taught each subject; what’s worked for us; and ways we’re still attempting to improve in each subject. What we don’t want to do is fit your child into our homeschooling box.

We’re praying you’ll join us in this adventure. Consider this an open invitation to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you readers on each topic; letting us know your thoughts, tips, and links to related articles.

Reading
Writing
Arts/Crafts
Bible
Grammar & Composition
Arithmetic
History & Geography
Science
PreK Helps
Music
Computer Sciences
Coding
P.E.
Foreign Language

May this series enrich each of us. And, may the Lord use this time to encourage us all in our homeschooling adventures. ~Cristina

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Our August Reads

Our_August_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! August’s list has several finds from our local library. Everything on this month’s list was completely new to us, which is always fun.

  1. My Side of the Mountain – Trilogy (Jean Craighead George) – This coming-of-age story about a boy and his falcon went on to win a Newbery Honor, and for the past forty years has enthralled and entertained generations of would-be Sam Gribleys. The two books that followed–On the Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful’s Mountain–were equally extraordinary.
    This was an assigned read for my son. He fought me at first, but quickly began to enjoy the story. I’m sure many of you have already read this charming story. It’s a classic for a reason.
  2. 100 Birds and How They Got Their Names (Diana Wells) – Learn the mythical stories of the gods and goddess associated with bird names. Explore the avian emblems used by our greatest writers–from Coleridge’s albatross in “The Ancient Mariner” to Poe’s raven.
    Part of our nature study focus for the month of August, this book took us by surprise. Where we expected to find dry facts, we discovered lovely detail and fun facts.
  3. The Periodic Kingdom (PW Atkins) – Just how does the periodic table help us make sense of the world around us? Using vivid imagery, ingenious analogies, and liberal doses of humor P. W. Atkins answers this question. He shows us that the Periodic Kingdom is a systematic place. Detailing the geography, history and governing institutions of this imaginary landscape, he demonstrates how physical similarities can point to deeper affinities, and how the location of an element can be used to predict its properties. Here’s an opportunity to discover a rich kingdom of the imagination kingdom of which our own world is a manifestation.
    In my attempt to make chemistry more appealing – as exploding experiments are not as easy to come by as my children would like – we were led to this book. The author does a fine job of fully explaining the periodic table, making it a land of possibility and a joy to discover.
  4. Bees: A Honeyed History (Piotr Socha) – How does bees communicate?… What does a beekeeper actually do? Who survived being stung by 2,443 bees? This encyclopedic book answers all those questions and many more with a light, humorous touch.
    Well-illustrated books are a draw for us. Even if that was the only pull, this book would be worth a second look. However, we’re blessed to announce the educational pages within are just as wonderful as the illustrations. (It should be noted the author is not writing from a young-earth perspective. Expect to see the phrase “millions of years ago” and the like. Just to you know.)
  5. Atlas of Adventures (Rachel Williams) – Set your spirit of adventure free with this lavishly illustrated trip around the world. Whether you’re visiting the penguins of Antarctica, joining the Carnival in Brazil, or a canoe safari down the Zambezi River, this book brings together more than 100 activities and challenges to inspire armchair adventurers of any age.
    I think I might have developed a thing for maps. And globes. Which I suppose is technically about the same thing. Atlas books are high on my list right now and I appreciate each and every one. This one is especially charming; filled with unexpected, fun details about each region of the planet.
  6. Atlas of Animal Adventures (Rachel Williams) – From the team behind the best-selling Atlas of Adventures. Head off on a journey of discovery, with this book that collects together nature’s most unmissable events from between the two poles, including epic migrations, extraordinary behaviours, and Herculean habits. Find hundreds of things to spot and learn new facts about every animal.Yet another spectacular atlas from Ms. Williams. I’ll be holding onto this read until the library demands it be returned. Or I’ve bought my own. Whichever comes first. 

We generally gather our reading materials from the library, and several of these have been added to our personal 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!: Do you have a favorite focus for nature study? We’d love to hear all about it.

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A Homeschool Mom’s Favorite STEM Books

AHM_STEAM_ReadsFollowing our list of favorite nature books, we thought it would be fun to share the few books we check out on a regular basis which relate to a STEM or STEAM line of study. As we feel our general course of learning does a great job of covering these areas of education fairly well, the list is not terribly long. But, you know us, we’re constantly looking and continually adding.

We know a multitude of books cover this topic. The list you find below is by no means exhaustive. Give is a look and see what we might be missing:

A moment of truth here… I find the acronym STEM, or STEAM, a bit frustrating. After all, doesn’t STEAM cover pretty much everything our children are supposed to be learning? One or two subjects aside. I’m confused over how this term is at all special. I was under the impression we’d been teaching these things all along. I know our general course of curriculum covers science, basic engineering, mathematics, and art. Even technology is discussed and explored over the course of our learning. I would even argue that literature and history are taught using this model as well, as we read about the history each genre. They are in our household. I’m going on the assumption most other homeschoolers are as well. How is STEM different from what we’re already doing? Something to think upon further.

While our normal course of study does a wonderful job of covering STEAM to a good degree, it is fun gathering additional reading materials which bolster these topics for our children. The few books we check out on a regular basis are favorites, and ones we’ll continue to enjoy again and again.

“Great are the works of the LORD; They are studied by all who delight in them.”
~ Psalm 111:2

Your Turn!: Share your favorite STEM/STEAM books! Which would you recommend we read?

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A Homeschool Mom’s Favorite Nature Books

AHM_Favorite_Nature_BooksNine times out of ten, my children would rather be learning in the field. There is something about being out-of-doors which opens the mind and heart to learning. Unfortunately, as this post is being written in the last days of summer and we’re generally a good hour and a half from any decent nature center, this isn’t much of an option. Thus, we turn to our second best option – and always a viable one – books! Today, we’re exploring our favorite nature books and asking you to help us add to our growing list.

We’re sure an abundance of nature books exist. An entire section at our library can quickly attest to this. But there are a few which rise above the rest, making them invaluable to our learning and inspiring to the soul. These few either currently grace our home shelves or are begging to be added:

Whew! Quite the list, isn’t it? We’re sure we haven’t even come close to being finished with adding to it. There are just so many lovely reads waiting for us to bring them home.

Learning in the field might currently be on hold, but plans are underway to get us back into the wild outdoors and explore God’s creation. For now, we will content ourselves with admiring the pages within these magnificent books and dreaming of all the outdoor adventures to be had once cool weather comes our way. Well, cooler, anyhow.

“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.”
~ Job 12:7

Your Turn!: Share your favorite nature books! Which would you recommend we read?

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Review: Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart (Young Readers Edition)

Wicked_Bugs_ReviewBetween all our nature walks and exploring of the great outdoors we come across some very interesting creatures. I wish I was better at identifying all of them, knowing details on their structure and tidbits of fun facts my children might enjoy. So when Algonquin Young Readers contacted us and offered a copy of their young readers edition of Wicked Bugs: The Meanest, Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth we were overjoyed. Today, we’d love to share this incredibly fun and educational resource with you!

In the young readers edition of Wicked Bugs: The Meanest, Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth, Amy Stewart’s information-packed, impeccably researched New York Times bestselling book for adults has been adapted for middle grade readers, bringing to life weird and dangerous creatures with full-color illustrations by the talented Briony Morrow-Cribbs. Organized into thematic categories (“Everyday Dangers”, “Unwelcome Invaders”, “Destructive Pests”, and “Terrible Threats”), Wicked Bugs entertains as much as it informs, delving into the extraordinary powers of many-legged creatures.

Algonquin Young Readers graciously sent us an early release copy of Wicked Bugs. When our book arrived, included in our package was an illustrated leaflet advertising the book’s release on August 8th of this year and an oddly adorable stuffed bookworm by Giant Microbes.

Before turning our attention to Wicked Bugs, we took a moment or two to giggle over our newest stuffed animal. I confess I have never actually seen a live bookworm, much less one which is stuffed. This was a special treat! We then took a moment to peruse the included leaflet to get a preview of what was to come in our new book. Wicked Bugs isGiantMicrobes_Bookworm
filled with chapter after chapter of intriguing creepy, crawly creatures. The book is incredibly thorough, giving fun details children of all ages will appreciate. The full-color illustrations are liberally peppered throughout the read, adding an up close look at our nature friends.

Wicked Bugs is an incredible resource. We very much enjoyed reading about each intriguing insect. One of our favorite chapters included “Zombies”, a truly chilling selection of insects which inhabit other creatures and force them to do harm on their behalf. The “Death Watch Beetle”, referred to by Edgar Allan Poe in his frightful story “The Tell-Tale Heart” was fun as well. Many such educational factoids may be found following the colorful descriptions of each bug.

While I shudder at the thought of running into any of these mean, deadly, gross bugs in real life, we truly enjoy this read. The illustrations are wonderful and add to the charm of the book. The book itself is a simple read. While intended for middle grade readers, we believe young readers would appreciate having selections read to them; removing the barrier of hard to pronounce scientific names.

Before setting Wicked Bugs on the bookshelf and adding it to our nature section for continual referral, we definitely wished to take a moment to visit the Wicked Bugs website. Who knew what exciting adventures, resources, and activities might be available? We were not disappointed. We found a downloadable lesson plan for Wicked Bugs, discovered where Wicked Bugs have been viewed as part of a national traveling exhibit, read a special Q&A session with Amy Stewart, and viewed the Wicked Bugs trailer. The trailer is definitely a highlight of the site!

While I certainly hope we never run into any of these “Wicked Bugs” while on our nature walks or outdoor explorations, it has been tons of fun learning about God’s creatures and adding tidbits of knowledge to our homeschool adventure. We’re very pleased to add Wicked Bugs to our growing nature studies resource shelf!

In addition to Wicked Bugs, Amy Stewart has written several other fascinating reads including The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. To learn more about Amy Stewart, Algonquin Young Readers, and Wicked Bugs, please visit their websites or follow on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, and more!

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Your Turn!: What’s the “meanest” bug you’ve discovered in your learning adventure?

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Review: In the Reign of Terror by Heirloom Audio Productions

Review_Reign_of_TerrorThere’s nothing quite like a solid audio book for a long drive. During a recent road trip we had the privilege of reviewing G.A. Henty’s  In the Reign of Terror produced by Heirloom Audio Productions. Now, we’re hooked and can’t wait to share this enjoyable resource with you readers.

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, In The Reign of Terror, tells the story of sixteen-year-old Harry and his terrifying experience during the French Revolution. Harry is sent to France by his father to improve his education. While living with a Marquis and his family, Harry’s attachment to them increases even as he becomes more fearful of a growing threat towards them. Before long, citizen arrests begin and the household must flee for safety. What follows is a story of danger and adventure as the family attempts to save the king, free friends, and rescue family. Unfortunately, not everyone will make it out alive.

Having planned a long day-trip, this seemed the perfect opportunity listen to our audio book. We fueled up the SUV, popped in our disc, and prepared to enjoy. We were able to finish disc one of two on the drive down – approximately one and a half hours on the road – and the second on the drive home. Everyone in the family was present, making listening more fun. We discussed both story and overall impressions as we progressed through In The Reign of Terror.

Having listened to only a few audio books over the course of our learning, we looked forward to this new adventure. We were not to be disappointed. In The Reign of Terror is voice by an incredible cast including Brian Blessed, John Rhys-Davies, Jack Farthing, Cathy Sara, Christian Greater, and Jill Freud. The story itself is intriguing from beginning to end. We enjoyed it tremendously. Audio quality was superb. We can’t imagine this story being retold any better.

Our favorite part of the audio drama was both the opening and close of the tale. Here we were given a comparison of the French Revolution with our own American Revolution. Henty does an excellent job explaining how one was fought for independence, the other to usurp authority. One just; the other chaos.

In addition to the physical audio book, we were given access to “Live the Adventure Club“! Live_the_Adventure_ClubAs a member, we would 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 were 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 In The Reign of Terror e-book, the official soundtrack, a printable cast poster, inspirational verse Bonus_Materialsposters, and much, much more. One feature we were anxious to view was the Study Guide & Discussion Starter. The Study Guide gives a brief biography on G.A. Henty then proceeds to tell us of historical figures mentioned in the book. The Study Guide was broken down by tracks from the audio book 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 the French Revolution. 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 could 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.Old_Time_Radio_Vault

We could continue listing the multitude of incredible resources to be found at Live the Adventure, as well as expound on the amazing audio dramas available at Heirloom Audio Production. There just isn’t enough room on this post or time in our day to do it justice. Suffice it to say we wish we had found this resource ages ago.

For now, we’re making up for lost time and enjoying In the Reign of Terror along with Live the Adventure Club. The next time we’re on a love drive, I know what we’re taking along to make the trip more enjoyable… Another G.A. Henty audio book from Heirloom Audio Productions!

If you’d like to learn more about In the Reign of Terror, Live 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!: Which is your favorite G.A. Henry novel?

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Our July Reads, or The Series is The Thing

Our_July_Reads_2017

While this monthly post generally shares the list of books we’ve read during the current month, we’ve just noticed we haven’t yet returned the list of learning books we checked out last month. In fact, these same books have been gracing our shelves for several months and I have no intention of returning them until they force me. It might be time to break down and just buy them. Maybe. Instead, the family has chosen to spend this month focusing on various series we enjoy. Perhaps some of them have found their way into your home?

  1. Fablehaven (Brandon Mull) – For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite.
    This is a fun series my girls enjoyed. Every magical creature you could imagine is found within its pages. Very imaginative. 
  2. The Ranger’s Apprentice (John Flanagan) – They have always scared him in the past — the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied….
    My little lady didn’t know what to expect with this series and had misgivings at first. She quickly gained an appreciation of both characters and storyline. This series is long, but worth every page. 
  3. The School for Good & Evil (Soman Chainani) – This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.
    I read this series before my children came across these books. I was drawn to the storyline and the idea of roles being chosen simply by looks. Upon further reading, we are forced to acknowledge external appearances do not always indicate the person within, and true love is friendship. The girls loved the series, and it gave us plenty to discuss.
  4. The Cat Who... (Lilian Jackson Braun) – A series of twenty-nine mystery novels and three related collections by Lilian Jackson Braun, featuring a reporter named Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats, Kao K’o-Kung (Koko for short) and Yum Yum.
    Not the most action packed of series, I do enjoy the mystery of each story and the silly antics attributed to Koko and YumYum. The books are clean and easy reading.

As we launch into a new month, it might be time to make decisions regarding new purchases and look for upcoming reads. Until then, we’re enjoying these great series and keeping our eyes peeled for books to enjoy. There’s no doubt we’ll find what we’re looking for, the question is how we’ll fit them all into our book box!

Your Turn!: Which series would you recommend; either juvenile or adult?

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Review: Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit by ACTÍVA Products

Review_ACTIVAIf your family is anything like ours, you go through a multitude of crafting supplies throughout the course of your learning year. It can be hard to know which products will meet your family’s need and work for small hands. An opportunity to review Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit by ACTÍVA Products has helped us explore creative possibilities and learn a few new skills.

Established in 1959, ACTÍVA is a worldwide producer of instant paper mache, Rigid Wrap. They also produce other crafting products such as CelluClay Quik-Scultping Kits, Fast Mache, and more. For the purpose of this review, ACTÍVA graciously gifted our family with a Quik-Sculpting kit which included two packages of Rigid Wrap and a package of CelluClay. Rigid Wrap is a cloth gauze covered in plaster, used for sculpting with an even-textured finish. CelluClay Quik-Scultping Kits take the mess out of paper mache; just add water and you’re ready to go.

Our family used Rigid Wrap to create three projects. Our first project was a Painted Pumpkin; the second Bold Beads; and the third was a cast of a bud vase. The first two projects were found in the pamphlet included in our Quik-Sculpting Kit. A full-color version of the free ACTÍVA Products’ Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS may be downloaded online at the website, where it can be found along with many other helps. The third project was one of our own making. We also used CelluClay to create a topographical map of our home state of California. This was another self-guided project.

Working with Rigid Wrap was a breeze. The gauze material merely needed to be dipped in warm water and it was ready for use. While constructing our pumpkin and bud vase, we found the Rigid Wrap simple to use and most effective. This was much faster and cleaner that traditional paper mache. We had greater difficulty when using Rigid Wrap to make our beads. The material was bulky and rough to work with. However, we were able to ACTIVA_Kit_Contentsaccomplish our task after several tries.

Using CelluClay was a tad more challenging. Instructions were not included in our kit, thus we needed to find them online on the ACTÍVA website. There basic steps were given, but it took several tries to get the mixture right. We were finally able to create our topographical map, although the material was still more wet than was probably best. We will need to work on this in the future.

Our projects were quickly created, no one activity taking longer than thirty minutes to be constructed. Our beads dried very quickly, which was not surprising given their size. Our bud vase took approximately eight hours to dry. The pumpkin twelve hours. The topographical map around twenty-four hours. Instructions were given for a quick dry method, using our home microwave, but we did not choose this option; we chose to air dry.

After our projects were dry, we were ready to decorate and paint. But, we ran into a few challenges. Our beads were good to go, but next time we will need to smooth them out more for a sleeker look. Our pumpkin was excellent, simple from beginning to end. Our topographical map was quite lumpy; something to smooth out in the future, but it did the job nicely. Our bud vase was a complete failure. Instructions advised us to wrap our original object with syran wrap to assist with easy removal and protect the piece; then use Rigid Wrap to cast the object, being careful not to cover lips of the opening which would prevent the cast from being removed. We had chosen a straight vase and followed the Painted_Pumpkin_ACTIVAsteps carefully, but found the cast absolutely impossible to remove from the original vase. We finally had to call it a loss, tossing the entire project – glass vase and all – in the trash. Thankfully the vase was inexpensive and easy to replace.

Altogether, we found working with Rigid Wrap to be not only fun but simple to use. While we are a little disappointed our bud vase didn’t come out, we are not discouraged. I’m sure the error was on our part, somewhere, and we will revisit this again to perfect our methods. We found the packages included in the kit allowed us more than enough material to complete our projects, and left additional material for future creative endeavors. CelluClay proved less enjoyable, but to be fair this is not a preferred crafting medium for us. The materials provided were sufficient for the task, but more experience is needed to make the best use of this product. It is our opinion the Quik-Sculpting Kit may be enjoyed by children ages 5+, being simple to use and manageable for small hands.

Being able to review these creative products by ACTÍVA has been fun. We’ve had the opportunity to explore unfamiliar mediums and learn new skills. If you’d like to learn more about Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit or ACTÍVA Products please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

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

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