Review: Paul the Apostle from Beartruth Collective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Your Turn!: Do you have a favorite color?

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Review: The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls by Worthy Kids/Ideals

Review_The_Secret_of_the_ScrollsThis month God seems to be wanting to remind our little family of something vital. He is in control. All He asks is that we trust Him. The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls by Worthy Kids/Ideals came at a perfect time to remind us of these truths and encourage our children to dig deeper into their Bibles.

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 has only begun with the following incredible reads:

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Beginning (Book #1) Peter, Mary, and their dog, Hank, find themselves spending a month with their Great-Uncle Solomon while their parents are off on a mission trip to Africa. After discovering their great-uncle is an archeologist, the kids begin to explore the house hoping to find something fun to occupy their time, and learn of the Legend of the Secret Scrolls hidden in Solomon’s home. According to Great-Uncle Solomon, only the chosen will hear “the lion” call and be allowed to open the scrolls, being transported back in time to discover amazing truths from God.
Sometime during their first night, the children hear a lion and rush off in hopes of excitement. What happens next is a tale of adventure, discovery, and Biblical lessons as the two children and their faithful pet find themselves experiencing creation first hand, all while attempting to discover the secret of their first scroll and steering clear of Satan. In this first incredible tale, Peter and Mary learn the valuable lesson that, “God Created Everything”.

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: Race to the Ark (Book #2) It’s been three days since Peter and Mary experienced creation first hand, and they are impatient for another adventure to begin. As rain pours down, the children begin to wonder if they will ever be allowed to open another scroll. When a game of fetch with their dog, Hank, sends them scrambling through the house, the trio discover a journal written by their Great-Uncle Solomon detailing his adventures as an archeologist. Just as Solomon is about to share his stories with the children, they all hear “the lion” roar!
The trio’s second scroll takes them back to the time of Noah. The children learn Noah has been building the Ark for over 100 years, but time is running short. In just seven days the world will be flooded, and Noah needs help finishing the Ark and gathering the last of the animals into cages. This seems a simple task until the children learn Satan will do anything he can to stop Noah from finishing. It doesn’t help that he also wishes to prevent the children from discovering the newest scroll’s secret. In this amazing second tale, Peter, Mary, and Hank learn to, “Trust God. He Will Rescue You!”

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls are paperback books, suggested for children ages 6-9 with reading levels between first to third grades. While all of my children are out of this age range, I very much wished to explore these reads given the history of the publishing company itself and the lovely illustrations gracing the front covers. Thus, I was willing to overlook the suggested age range and read the books for myself. I read through quickly, finishing both in a little less than an hour. Afterwards, I passed the books off to my ten-year-old son. He finished each book in approximately an hour. We believe the suggested age range is fitting, while the story itself is enjoyable even for older readers. At the end of each story, you’ll find a section which offers helpful information to those who wish to read more. Each book details where you can find passages in Scripture relating to the story.

While we often find judging a book by its cover to be unwise, we are happy to announce The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series is as lovely as it looks! Both stories were enjoyable from beginning to end. The characters were well thought-out and relatable. The stories well-written and entertaining. Honestly, we can’t say enough good things about these books. Our only complaint… When will there be more?!

The Lord definitely wanted to use this month to remind us of His wonderful creation and our need to trust in Him. This is the second story of Noah’s Ark we’ve read, and we’re encouraged that God is in control. The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls were fantastic reads and a blessing to our family.

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! To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls by M.J. Thomas has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: In The Beginning, Peter and Mary are able to ride dangerous animals as if they were ponies. If you could ride on the back of any wild animal, which would it be?

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Review: Imagine…The Great Flood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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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Your Turn!: How often is paper mache used in your homeschool craft room?

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Review: Trust Fund and Love Was Near by Mapelle Films

Review_TrustFund_LoveWasNearMovie night can be a challenge. Violence, language, and inappropriate material abounds. Thanks to a review of Trust Fund and Love Was Near by Mapelle Films, movie night just got easier!

Trust Fund is the first independent film to be released by Mapelle Films. The story follows Reese Donahue, a talented young author finding her place in the world, as she runs from responsibility in hopes of attaining independence and romance. What follows is a charming tale of forgiveness and true love, liberally based on the prodigal son story found in book of Luke.

Our family received a Trust Fund DVD, along with a copy of Love Was Near, from Mapelle Films. Love Was Near is a companion book to Trust Fund, giving deeper insight into lessons Reese learned during her journey. Love Was Near is written from Reese’s perspective, in first-person narrative, sharing her adventures and thoughts including “hand written” diary entries. As she closes each chapter, the reader is given questions to reflect upon which relate to lessons Reese has learned throughout the film. Love Was Near includes an introduction to be read before enjoying the movie, followed by twenty-eight chapters which correspond to the film’s storyline.

In addition to both the film and book, we were given access to a downloadable study guide for Trust Fund. While the study guide is slated for “small group study”, we found it easily adaptable to a family setting. The study includes both background on the storyline itself and characters in the movie. The study guide makes a point of sharing the original prodigal son story found in the book of Luke, making a comparison of persons found in Luke’s tale and those in Trust Fund. While you’re there, be sure to view the movie clips! You won’t want to miss out.

While movies are usually a family affair, we ladies chose to watch our first viewing of Trust Fund by ourselves. As suggested, I read the introduction in Love Was Near, then we watched Trust Fund. After viewing the movie, Love Was Near has been a great follow-up, using Reese’s questions for an open group discussion. Love Was Near is a fairly thick book. While my instinct is to rush through the material, discussing everything in one go while it’s still fresh in our minds, I do not believe this would be wise. Instead, we have discussed several points in the first chapters and will continue on through the book with each viewing.

I’ll be honest, I was a little hesitant to review Trust Fund. I not only had doubts about the nature of Reese’s prodigal story and how much would be shown, I was unsure of the film quality itself. We had nothing to worry about. The movie was beautifully made! The story is clean, entertaining, charming, and heartwarming. It is visually lovely. We’re overjoyed with the movie and excited to share this with friends. The bonus, for us, was knowing the filmmaker is a homeschool graduate. How exciting to see his success and inspiring for our children!

I don’t wish to give too much away, so there will be no spoilers in this review. However, I feel the need to point out that while this is a prodigal story, Reese didn’t seem a prodigal as much as misguided. She makes several poor decisions based on little thought and deep emotion, a lesson in itself. The film was suitable for all ages, but it is our opinion this movie would be of greatest interest to girls in junior high and above. Parents should note, while the movie is clean there are elements of romance in the storyline, should this be a concern.

Movie night is still a challenge, but with films like Trust Fund available, our options are growing. We look forward to viewing more from Mapelle Films and increasing our movie library.

If you’d like to learn more about Trust Fund, Love Was Near, or Mapelle Films please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

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

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Your Turn!: Is there an age at which your children are permitted to watch more romantic movies?

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Review: Fascinating Chemistry

Review_Fascinating_Chemistry

A new school year equals a new study in the field of science. This year we’re focusing our attention on chemistry and we can’t think of a better time to review Fascinating Chemistry by Fascinating Education.

Fascinating Education is an audio-visual approach to teaching science. Fascinating Education offers courses in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Medicine, and Atoms & Molecules. Fascinating Education is presented by Dr. Sheldon Margulies, The Fascinator, a retired neurologist who uses his life experience and expertise to help students learn. Fascinating_Chemistry_1

Fascinating Chemistry is a series of nineteen lessons which include a video, a script of the lesson and a lesson test. Each video is approximately 45 minutes in length. Videos are complete with menu and glossary, allowing the student to better follow the outline of each lesson. Students are also able to use the helpful menu feature to revisit areas which need strengthening without the hassle of scrubbing through an entire session. Lesson Scripts are an exact wording of the video lessons, including images. Several lessons contain links to lab activities for students to enjoy. Tests are given as multiple choice slide-presentations, with question helps for those who need them. After taking tests, students are able to review their test, print their test, and/or retake their test if needed. PDF versions of tests Fascinating_Chemistry_2are available. Test scores are not kept online, thus should be printed if so desired. Lesson topics include The Structure of the Atom, The Ionic Bond, The Covalent Bond, and more.

Fascinating Chemistry includes nineteen lessons total. Our family found it beneficial to break down these lessons into smaller sections, working through each lesson at a slower pace for greater understanding, rather than viewing an entire lesson in one sitting. We found the videos simple to follow and our narrator, The Fascinator, easy to understand. The lessons were clear and well laid out. The occasional labs are fun and appealing to kids.

It is our opinion Fascinating Chemistry may be used in a homeschooling setting with highFascinating_Chemistry_4 school, junior high, and/or upper level elementary students. The lessons are easy to follow and understand. Labs are equally simple. As the entire curriculum consists of only nineteen lessons, we would highly recommend breaking down the given lessons into smaller, half lessons to stretch the curriculum to fill an entire school year.

Chemistry is the name of the game for the year. We’ve just begun our adventure and are enjoying the hands-on application of all we’re learning. With the help of Fascinating Chemistry this will be a lovely journey. Now if I could only explain to my children chemistry experiments do not all need to consist of blowing things up or overflowing crucibles of foaming chemicals.

If you’d like to learn more about Fascinating Chemistry, as well as Fascinating Education, please visit them at their website. To read additional helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into the Fascinating Chemistry please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: Which area of science are you studying this year?

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