Review: The Great Escape by M.J.Thomas

https://thehomeschoolmomblog.wordpress.comIt’s here. It’s finally here! You’ll forgive us if we’re jumping for joy and ridiculously excited to share with you The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls (Book #3): The Great Escape, the newest release in The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series from M.J. Thomas and Worthy Kids/Ideals. Our copy arrived a few days ago and we can’t put it down.

Worthy Publishing Group is an established book company whose mission is, “To help people experience the heart of God.” Of their five distinct imprints and vast selection of titles, Worthy Kids/Ideals creates vibrant children’s literature including The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. The series began with THESE two amazing stories, and is followed by The Great Escape.

“Join Peter, Mary, and their dog Hank as they discover ancient scrolls and travel back in time to stories in the Bible. They find a world filled with wonder, adventure, and danger. They must search for clues to solve the secret of the scrolls … or they will be stuck there forever… Perfect for emerging readers ages 6 – 9, homeschooling families, and lovers of adventure, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls brings beloved Bible stories to adventurous life.”
~ Secret of the Hidden Scrolls

In our newest story, The Great Escape, Peter, Mary and Hank find themselves transported to the deserts of Ancient Egypt where they meet the Pharaoh’s daughter and experience firsthand the ten plagues God brought upon the land in order to free His people. Along the way they meet an old enemy hiding behind a new identity; one who will stop at nothing to prevent the children from completing their mission and returning home. Together the children discover, “GOD IS POWERFUL AND WILL SET YOU FREE”! Hidden Scrolls

I’ll be honest. One of the main reasons this mama is so excited for the release of Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape is that now my eleven-year-old son can stop asking me – every. five. minutes. – when his book will finally be here. While the official release date was the first week of April, an advanced copy was kindly sent our way just a tad early. Thus the minute the calendar said March, the mailman’s deliveries were met with anticipation. The moment it arrived he pounced on it and barely let it go long enough for his mum to read it herself. What a fantastic problem, don’t you agree? I love watching my children enjoy good, Bible based literature and Secret of the Hidden Scrolls is everything lovely.

Specifically targeted for 6-9 year olds, homeschoolers, and those who love adventure, our family has found Secret of the Hidden Scrolls to be a perfect fit. Our son was able to finish his first read-through in approximately one hour. (I say his first because, since, he’s read through it several more times. Which goes to show just how much we love this series!)  We were especially blessed to find we received a signed copy of the The Great Escape, which meant the world to my son. As with the first two books in the series, we appreciated the inclusion at the back of the book complete with specific references to Scripture covered and notes on the story itself.

Hidden+Scroll+Activity+Sheet_ScrollStealerIn addition to enjoying this fantastic read, we made sure to visit The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls‘ website. There we were able to sign up to be part of the Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Club. We just know it’s going to be fun! We were also able to enjoy the Activities page and read the Story Behind the Story. (For those just discovering this series, Secret of the Hidden Scrolls website is also the perfect place to preview each story or order a set for the family!)

We are absolutely excited about this book, and the entire Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series. Now, just like Mr. Thomas’ son, Peter, we’re anxiously awaiting another one! We’re not sure when it’s coming, but we feel certain another read is on its way. Until then, it looks like we’ll just have to re-read and be patient.

If you’d like to learn more about The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls by M.J. Thomas or WorthyKids/Ideals please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

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Your Turn!: In The Great Escape, Peter and Mary discover firsthand what it must have been like enduring each of the ten Egyptian plagues. Given the last plague as the worst, which of the other nine plagues would have affected you most?

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Review: Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason

“To demonstrate the veracity of Scripture, this book will address every alleged Bible contradiction that I have seen posted on the Internet. Whereas there may be a few obscure claims of contradictions that I have not seen, this list covers the most often used examples…”
~ Jason Lisle

review_keeping_faith_in_an_age_of_reasonWe’re coming to the end of another school year in a few short weeks. While half of me is wondering where in the world the time has gone, the other half is already gearing up for another fun learning adventure. As we prepare our routine and curriculum, the first area of study which occupies my attention is Bible and logic. We’ve spent this year laying a solid foundation in fallacy detecting. With the help of Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason from Jason Lisle and Master Books, it looks like our studies will just keep on getting better.

Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason is a thorough study of over four hundred alleged Bible contradictions circling the world-wide web, and solid answers to each claim. Backed by Scripture reference, Mr. Lisle does an outstanding job of helping the reader define terms, understand common fallacies, and delve deeper into the Word of God. Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason is broken down into helpful categories including: Quantitative Differences; Names, Places, and Genealogies; Timing of Events; Cause and Effect; Differences in Details; and Yes or No?. While readers are welcome to read through each section in order, the beauty of this resource is that there is no wrong way to study these claims. There is no priority of one claim over another, nor a specific order in which they must be read; readers are encouraged to prioritize each selection according to their needs and still gain a great deal of wisdom.

As I launch into planning the upcoming school year, this resource will definitely be playing a key role in our daily Bible lessons. While no age is specified for this particular resource, having giving the book a thorough read, I believe Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason will be best appreciated and beneficial to those above elementary levels of education. Our plan is to have our three girls – in high school and junior high – join me in reading through a short set of claims with open Bibles at the ready. The goal will be to methodically work through two to three ‘contradictions’ daily; spending approximately twenty to thirty minutes during our time together.

Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason is exactly what I was looking for in the next step of our learning adventure. I appreciate Mr. Lisle’s introduction to common fallacies. It’s as if this book picks right up from where we are leaving off this learning year. I like that each claim stands on its own – allowing us the freedom to move within the text at our own discretion. I love that each claim lists only Bible references; encouraging our children to not take anyone’s claims as truth, but to seek out Scripture for themselves. Keeping Faith in the Age of Reason is incredible! While, in truth, we have other resources of this nature which lay out alleged Bible contradictions, my husband and I both agree this book exceeds them all.

Building on our foundation of fallacy detecting, this fantastic resource will help my children better understand Scripture, strengthen their faith, and arm them with the answers they need. I am excited to be adding Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason to our learning routine next year, and know we will be blessed by this thorough study of God’s Word. With our most important lessons ready to go, I am now able to better focus attention on the remainder of our learning adventure. As always, this coming year is going to be amazing!

If you’d like to learn more about Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason and Master Books please visit them at their website – where you can download a preview of this incredible resource – and on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube!

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Your Turn!: How do logic, apologetics, and catechism play a role in your family’s learning routine?

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Review: “Intricacies of Snow” Unit Study by Creation Illustrated

review_creationillustrated_snowunitNature Study is an important part of our learning routine. Planning nature study, however, can take time. To aid us in our homeschooling adventure, Creation Illustrated kindly offered us an “Intricacies of Snow” Unit Study to review the benefits of having resources and activities already organized for us.

Creation Illustrated is dedicated to sharing Biblical truths and character building lessons through the story of creation. In publication since 1993, Creation Illustrated produces books and other related resources in addition to their quarterly magazine issues. One such resource is a collection of unit studies available for purchase. Creation Illustrated is for all ages, with unit studies specifically geared toward children grades 5-8. Our family was able to review the “Intricacies of Snow” Unit Study which corresponds to the Winter 2018 Issue.

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We received a digital copy of the “Intricacies of Snow” Unit Study, along with a free digital copy of the Winter 2018 Creation Illustrated Magazine. Quickly perusing the unit study, we noticed many available areas of study included: Reading Resources, Educational Videos, Writing & Penmanship, Vocabulary & Spelling, Bible Study, and several more. Excited to get started, we made sure our learning materials were in order and our Winter 2018 Magazine issue was on hand.

As we started the “Intricacies of Snow” at the tail end of the winter season and our local mountains were being sprinkled with powder, we thought this would be a wonderful addition to our weekly nature studies. To begin our unit, I read-aloud the original article “Intricacies of Snow” from the Winter 2018 magazine. Then we began our two-week study. As we snow_modelswere using the unit as a nature study, we chose not to make use of all areas – such as math and penmanship – but did use a great deal of the unit. Videos, Bible Study, Spiritual Lessons on Snow, Snow Science and more were included in our lessons.

The unit study itself seemed to contain a great deal of writing, thus we chose to alter the until slightly and do a great deal of the work in verbal prompts and open snow_crystalconversation. This was especially helpful for my son who struggles with focusing during lessons. We found the Reading Resources and Educational Video selections quite enjoyable. However, we should note, not all video references were Biblically based and some had an evolutionist viewpoint. The kids found a misprint/misspelling while completing the Snow Word Search, but we worked it out and enjoyed the activity. Spiritual Lessons on Snow was fantastic and we gained much by our time spent on this selection. Hands-on Snow Science was fun; making snow crystals and paper snowflakes. We were even able to diagram various snow models, learning the multitude of shapes God has created and discovering more about the famous Mr. Snowflake Bentley.

fall_2017_creationillustratedIn addition to our original choice of “Intricacies of Snow”, Creation Illustrated was also kind enough to send us a complimentary copy of the “Pine Trees” Unit Study which corresponds to the Fall 2017 Issue of Creation Illustrated Magazine. While we have not yet had the opportunity to put this unit study to use, we did note “Pine Trees” seems to follow along the same lines of content and will more than likely be included in a future family nature study.

spring_creationillustrated

Coming Soon: Spring 2018!

Our time with the “Intricacies of Snow” Unit Study was well spent. Using this learning resource made planning nature study a smooth process. We had a lot of fun learning about Mr. Snowflake Bentley and working through hands-on Snow Science. Now, on to our next nature study. Perhaps “Pine Trees”? I think so.

If you’d like to learn more about the “Intricacies of Snow” Unit Study, the current Winter 2018 Issue, or Creation Illustrated, please visit them at their website and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Creation Illustrated has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew.

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Your Turn!: Mr. Snowflake Bentley spent a great deal of time taking photos of snowflakes. What is your favorite subject when taking photos?

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Our March Reads

our_march_reads

It has been a fun month of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. March’s list had a few book club reads, picture books, and others which added to our learning fun. As usual, all of our reads 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!

Picture Books:

  • The Word Collector (Peter Reynolds) ⭐⭐⭐ – Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him — short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multisyllable words that sound like little songs. Words that connect, transform, and empower.

Books as Learning Resources:

  • Curious Kid’s Nature Guide (Fiona Cohen) ⭐⭐⭐ – Filled with fun facts and 100 full-color, beautiful, and scientifically accurate illustrations, this nature guide will inspire kids to go outdoors and discover the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest.
  • The Brick Bible: The Old Testament (Brendan Powell Smith) ⭐⭐⭐ – Brendan Powell Smith has spent the last decade creating nearly 5,000 scenes from the Bible—with Legos
  • The Brick Bible: The New Testament (Brendan Powell Smith) ⭐⭐⭐- Over 1,000 “brick” photographs depicting the narrative story of the New Testament.

Books for Fun:

  • A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine ‘L Engle) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Meg’s father had been experimenting with the fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him.
  • The Book of Joy (Douglas Carlton Abrams) ⭐ – Two great spiritual masters share their own hard-won wisdom about living with joy even in the face of adversity.
  • A Thousand White Women (Jim Fergus) ⭐ – The story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians.

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 acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… The Brick Bibles were fun; it was great seeing the creativity which went into each panel. A Wrinkle in Time was a book club read and always a treat. It’s one of my favorite childhood series. The Book of Joy was another book club read of mine, and rather a disappointment. It was an interesting concept and I enjoyed hearing the exchange between the two gentlemen; however, I found the book itself to be lacking. Several references to scientific studies failed to have citation and no strong foundation was laid for the overall concept. I had hoped for more. A Thousand White Women was yet another mom book club read for the month. The historical fiction was brilliant, and wonderfully written. But, please note, this book is not meant for children. There are several references to intimacy and some language used; which is a shame as the story itself could have stood on its own two feet.

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. Aren’t books so much fun?!

Your Turn!: Some words sound appealing to the ear. Do you have any favorite words?

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Review: The 10 Minute Bible Journey

10_minute_bible_journeyIf your family is anything like ours, you enjoy finding new homeschool resources which inspire further learning and build a stronger Biblical foundation in your home. We’ve recently discovered a new tool which is blessing our morning routine. The 10 Minute Bible Journey by Master Books is everything we could ask for in a Bible study, and more!

The 10 Minute Bible Journey is a fast-paced, apologetics-infused synopsis of God’s Word!

Study 52 accounts that weave the chronological, gospel-centered storyline of the most strategic and amazing events from Creation to Heaven. Filled with vibrant, full-color images, an illustrated fold-out timeline, and exciting “faith facts” that confirm the Bible is true, this book is designed to help Christians of all ages spring to a new level in their understanding of God’s Word and their relationship with Jesus Christ.
~ Master Books

I had originally obtained a digital download of this resource, but immediately knew a physical copy would be desired. Within a few weeks a hardback, full-color copy arrived at our door. Not wanting to waste any time, we immediately added The 10 Minute Bible Journey to our morning routine and the adventure began.

Every weekday morning since, we have begun our day with prayer and a daily Bible Journey. Journeys contain key concepts being covered, an apologetic lesson centered on a chronologically told Bible story, primary passages for families to read, an included key verse, a prayer, and a full-color illustration. No specific age range was given for The 10 Minute Bible Journey, however we find the resource works well for all our children, ages ranging from eleven to sixteen. Our youngest is well able to understand the lessons, while even us adults are gleaning a few new facts while reading. Each day’s lesson could well be completed within the parameters of ten minutes, but our family finds the lessons are a springboard for deeper conversation. Thus, our Bible Journeys extend slightly beyond this time frame, taking anywhere from fifteen to twenty minutes. And, truthfully, I couldn’t be more pleased with these results.

Included in The 10 Minute Bible Journey is a thoughtful “Creation to Forever” Timeline we’ve found very helpful while progressing through our chronological studies. In addition, a “Summary First” Bible Read-through Plan has been inserted in the back of the book. Families can follow this chronological reading plan in order to read through the Bible in one year. “Tips for Family or Small Group Studies” help make the most of this wonderful resource. And “Endnotes” – filled with additional resources, links, and thoughts on each day’s lesson – help us dig deeper into our journey.

With only fifty-two lessons one might easily complete this book within a short time frame. While our family will indeed finish our initial read-through shortly, I am looking forward to starting over from the beginning and taking each journey at a slower pace. We could easily stretch each Journey into a week’s adventure, gleaning the most out of these fantastic lessons and included resources.

Merely upon looking through The 10 Minute Bible Journey I knew the Lord would use this resource to bless our family, and I was not disappointed. Our daily journeys are being used to teach all of us important Bible lessons and help us have a deeper understanding of our Savior. Our morning routine just keeps getting better!

If you’d like to learn more about The 10 Minute Bible Journey and Master Books please visit them at their website where you can a preview of this incredible resource, and on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube!

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Your Turn!: On average, how much time does your family spend on Bible each morning?

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Review: Drive Thru History Adventures

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”

-Dave Stotts

review_DTHAOne of the things you come to learn about Dave Stotts, host of Drive Thru History Adventures, is that he loves cheese! You will also discover his passion for history. The two come together perfectly in Drive Thru History Adventures, a unique online platform dedicated not only to teaching history itself, but instructing with a Biblical perspective. It has been a month-long adventure reviewing this incredible resource, learning more than we could have imagined. And the fun has just begun!

What is Drive Thru History Adventures? This amazing online platform contains a wealth of history curriculum and more, based on the popular Drive Thru History video series. Included in Drive Thru History Adventures are a helpful Dashboard updating us on features added to the website, Curriculum, Resources, Community, and Adventures TV. Curriculum covers three separate areas of learning: Bible History, American History, and Ancient DTHA_watchingHistory. Each study includes twelve to eighteen episodes. Each episode provides students with a video lesson, suggested readings, worksheets including answer guides, and more! Resources include: Articles, Expert Papers, and more! For those who are interested, “Community” offers an opportunity to join a private Facebook group where families can discuss lessons learned and all things history. Adventures TV gives complete access to all the incredible videos from Drive Thru History Adventures, all in one convenient location.

For the purpose of our review, our family was given full access to the website, and the ability to download the free Drive Thru History Adventures app! While Mom was incredibly excited to explore every and all features available on Drive Thru History Adventures, our organized plan included sharing this resource with our oldest daughter, a junior in high school who loves history, and our son, a fifth grade student. Our daughter worked through the American History series, with the goal of several episodes per week with all areas of study complete. I had intended to have our son focus on the Bible History series, but quickly discovered the series to be identical to “The Gospels” DVD set our family had the blessing of reviewing last year, with a few additional articles. Thus, we chose to have our son focus on the Ancient History series, viewing the videos and going over additional resources with Mom. Mom focused on reviewing the Bible History series, taking in the additional articles previously unavailable.

Each series has much to offer, and while we could gladly talk for hours about the multitude of benefits this online curriculum has to offer, perhaps we should just hit the highlights…

DTHA_GospelsBible History Adventures – Bible History covers the life of Jesus Christ, from the visitation of Mary and Joseph to Christ’s death and resurrection, with the inclusion of Scriptural readings. For viewers who wish to participate in this feature, Drive Thru History Adventures has also created “The Gospels” Viewing Plan which takes families through Bible History Adventures during the months of December through April, with several episodes aligning with holidays! Using this as a weekly devotion, families will additionally be able to read through the four gospels by the close of the adventure series. We will continue to review until the coming Easter season is complete, and enjoy the additional articles as they are made available.

DTHA_AmericaAmerican History Adventures  This series discusses The United States’ loss of faith with England and the founding of a new nation. This series was a wonderful visual in helping my daughter better remember important historical events, people, and places. Mr. Stotts does an incredible job of keeping episodes light-hearted, yet educational, helping students remain engaged and interested. In addition, suggested reading selections were lovely, and a wonderful resource. We completed this series fully, and enjoyed each step of the adventure.

DTHA_AncientAncient History Adventures – This series covers everything from the rise of Western Civilization to Constantine, and the best of the ancient world. These episodes are slightly longer than the other two series, but more detailed in regard to battles and structures than the other two. My son and I finished two-thirds of the series, and will continue lessons throughout the next few weeks in order to complete the adventure. Thus far, it has been great fun. 

Working through each series was a blessing. The videos themselves are engaging, and entertaining. We loved being able to see places Mr. Stotts was discussing, walking amongst some of the most incredible historical landmarks in the world. My favorite spot in the Bible History Adventures was definitely the Holy Sepulcher. Our favorite spot in the American History Adventures was Boston, and its incredible Freedom Trail. We loved learning about Colossus and the Olympics in Ancient History Adventures.

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JAG, coloring a Drive Thru History Adventures color page.

Each episode, in all three series, included PDF worksheets students may download. These would be beneficial for parents who wish to use these as followup to the lessons. We discovered the questions in the PDF were also included within the lesson themselves and chose to forgo printing and written responses for verbal discussion, as this better fit our needs. The questions were easily answered, even for my fifth grade son, if students paid attention to the included video. Each episode included “Side Roads” and “Dig Deeper” articles to enhance lessons. Both of these were extremely valuable in gaining a bigger picture of each portion of history.

Outside of our Adventure History series, we enjoyed the additional features of Drive Thru History Adventures. Being a part of the Facebook Community page has been fun. We have the ability to share discoveries with other families, and hear the joy of their learning. Dave’s Mailbag is an opportunity to ask Mr. Stotts questions about his adventures, and history itself, and have him answer us personally! Adventures TV allows us to view all the videos from each series all in one handy location, with bonus video adventures such as “Behind the Scenes” and “Dave’s Adventures”, which teach us additional lessons on history. (Yes, there is even a video on the history of cheese!) We especially found Adventures TV to be handy when needing to review a particular video. Drive Thru History Adventures is also an app! All the videos on Adventures TV in one little app, making it easy to learn history when not at home.

DTHA_PatchesThis has been a month-long adventure in history study. We’ve been blessed to see some incredible places, learn of important historical figures, and gain a deeper understanding of the world God created. We were even blessed with receiving Drive Thru History Adventure patches and stickers! To say we’re overjoyed with both the website and what we’re learning would be an understatement. We can’t wait to see what the rest of this year brings, and discover new adventures with Drive Thru History Adventures and Mr. Dave Stotts.

If you’d like to learn more about Drive Thru History Adventures, please visit them at their website and on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. But don’t wait too long! Right now, they are offering “The Gospels” DVD set to those who join with an annual membership. Drive Thru History Adventures is also offering 20% off annual subscriptions for readers of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. Two great deals!

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

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Your Turn!: Which historical site would you most like to visit?

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Our February Reads

our_february_reads

It has been a love-ly month of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. February’s list has a new read we highly recommend for homeschoolers, a few which developed personal skill, and others which added to our learning fun. As usual, all of our reads 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 Homeschooling Encouragement:

  • Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask (Israel Wayne)answers_for_homeschooling ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – You’ve made the decision to homeschool. Suddenly, you find that some of those who were once in your corner supporting you are now questioning your competency as a parent and maybe even your sanity. This book equips you to answer the critic in your life with resolve and confidence.

Books Personal Skill Development:

  • Cool Crocheting for Kids (Alex Kuskowski) ⭐⭐⭐- Learn about the basics of fiber arts while creating cool stuff. The Cool Crocheting for Kids title teaches the first steps of how to crochet. Activities will help kids use what they learned to make a beaded bracelet, a fun hat, a cute clutch and more.extraordinary_hand_lettering
  • Extraordinary Hand Letter: Creative Lettering Ideas for Celebrations, Events, Decor & More (Doris Wai) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Extraordinary Hand Lettering opens your eyes to the endless possibilities in the world of creative lettering, showing you how to work with types of surfaces, such as wood, glass and acrylic, chalk, and even mirrors.
  • The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering: Create & Develop Your Own Style (Valerie McKeehan) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Valerie McKeehan, an Etsy standout whose work has been featured in magazines and websites from Good Housekeeping to RealSimple.com, teaches us everything we need to know to create gorgeous hand-drawn chalk designs. The book is also a practice space, with three foldout “chalkboards”—the inside cover and foldout back cover are lined with blackboard paper.

Books as Learning Resources:

  • Atlas of Miniature Adventures (Emily Hawkins) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Discover the world’s smallest adventures with this beautifully illustrated journey around the world from the award-winning team behind Atlas of Adventures.bees_whatonearth
  • Bees (What on Earth?) (Andrea Quigley & Pau Morgan) ⭐⭐⭐ – With links to culture, history, arts and crafts, as well as the science behind the topic, this book will help both parents and teachers to encourage children to engage with the natural world through exploration, creativity, and investigation.
  • Lonely Planet How Animals Build (Moira Butterfield & Tim Hutchinson) ⭐⭐⭐ – “From birds, to mice, and even underwater creatures, this book covers a vast array of examples from the animal kingdom and is sure to hold a surprise or two.”

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 acceptable. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… (1) If you’ll remember from earlier this month, we did a review of Answers for Homeschooling in detail. We honestly can’t say enough good things about this book. Get it; it’s fantastic! (2) I have no artistic ability, whatsoever, but I do appreciate typography in a big way. Thus, I’m attempting to learn and these resources are huge help. Now, to get a chalkboard large enough to have some fun… (3) The Atlas series is visually fun; one of the main reasons we keep coming back to it. It being a great way to learn doesn’t hurt either. (4) How Animals Build seemed like a great title, and we weren’t disappointed. It is a lift-the-flap picture book, but don’t discount it’s content; there is much to gain from this thin read. (5) And, while I am crazy scared of bees having been bitten in my mouth before, I can’t seem to stop picking up books on these amazing, little creatures. Bees (What on Earth?) is a wonderful resource for learning.

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. Aren’t books so much fun?!

Your Turn!: I have zero creativity in my bones, unless you count organization as an art. What creative skill are you working on developing right now?

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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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