Review: “S is for Smiling Sunrise” by Vick Wadhwa

Smiling Sunrise Review

I’m happy to review a wonderful children’s book today called S is for Smiling Sunrise by Vick Wadhwa of WordsBright.

I was afraid this would be “just another average kids book.”  But it isn’t, and I really like it!

It’s beautiful and colorful and immediately grabbed my 4-year-old son’s attention.  He looked through it and listened to the CD singing the words of it twice when he first saw it.  Then he said, “I wish there was a DVD of it.”  I think he’d love to see the illustrations with song up on the big screen!

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The book is described as “a new take on ABCs.”  It’s “an alphabet book of goodness, beauty, and wonder.”

The well-made hard-back book has 32 pages.  It begins with a gift page to write who it’s “for” and “from,” so this would be a great gift for someone.  I love how 10% of the earnings from the book are given to help disadvantaged children.  It’s recommended for ages 3 and up, but my 2-year-old daughter enjoyed it and learned from it as well.

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Each letter of the alphabet has its own page.  There is a photograph or illustration with a 4-line poem.  The focus of each poem is to inspire and encourage children in creativity or in the wonder of our world.  They are encouraged to be kind by saying “thank you” or by giving gifts to others. They are encouraged express themselves through art.  They are taught about nature–butterflies, the ocean, and leaves.  You can use the book to teach preschoolers their colors, the seasons, names of animals, and health lessons like drinking plenty of water and eating healthy food.

As a believer, I would love to find a Scripture to include with each page in the book as well.  For example, on the G is for Gift page, we could learn “It is better to give than to receive.”  On the F is for Flowers page which talks about looking and pausing, being happy and peaceful, we could learn the verse, “Be still and know that I am God.”

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There are some free resources on the Wordsbright website.  You can get a free mp3 download of the song, which sings every word from the book.  It’s 5:25 long.  I do have a suggestion for the song.  It’s sung with a woman’s voice in the lower octave.  I would recommend it being recorded with a woman singing higher, or even with children’s voices!  That makes it easier for the kids to sing along. The other free resource is a Teacher’s Guide.  It’s in 2 parts: for Preschoolers and for Grades K-3.  There are lots of ideas there for using the book for teaching lots of different concepts.  This is a common way that I teach my preschoolers, so it’s nice to see it written out for moms or teachers who might need some suggestions there.  For example, on the W is for Words page, there are lots of words listed such as sharing, effort, and gratitude.  The Teacher Guide gives some questions to ask the kids like, “Why should we choose our words carefully?” She gives an activity to play a word game with the words.  You can even download the Words poster from the website and display it.

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So, overall, S is for Smiling Sunrise is a very nice addition to our home.  I know my children will enjoy reading it and hearing it read to them over and over.

Follow them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wadhwavick

Wordsbright Review
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Book Review: “To the Sea” by Callie Grant

Build Your Bundle 2015 Pre-Sale Giveaway
To the Sea

I have a new Graham Blanchard book to review today. It’s To the Sea by Callie Grant.  It’s a small board book for preschoolers and toddlers.  It tells the story of a little boy who goes to visit the seashore.  This sweet 22-page book shows the experiences the little boy has such as building a sandcastle and wading in the water.  The last page has the Scripture Genesis 1:31 where God saw everything He had made and it was very good.

The illustrator is Jeremy Tugeau, and I loved the pastel watercolor illustrations on each page.

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The Graham Blanchard books are divided into categories.  This one is called a Praise book, because it can be used to teach children to praise God (specifically in this book for His creation). It “wonders at the miracles found in everyday life and praises the God who made them!”

There are numerous ways to use To the Sea in order to guide your child in thinking about and learning different things.  Talk about our senses and what the boy is seeing, smelling, tasting, etc.  Talk about the seashore, the sand, water, animals that are seen there.

To the Sea is available today. See it at the Graham Blanchard site.  See it at Amazon: To The Sea

Here is another Graham Blanchard book review:

http://ichoosejoy.org/2014/05/31/review-of-graham-blanchard-books-close-as-a-breath-jesus-saves-me-and-little-seed-a-life/

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(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write an honest review. This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review: “Really Woolly Nighttime Lullabies”

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We received a very cute book recently called Really Woolly Nighttime Lullabies
by Bonnie Rickner Jensen and illustrated by Donna Chapman.
It’s a sweet padded board book, just perfect for ages 2-5.  I’ve been reading it to my 2-year-old daughter.

*Encourages child to spend time with God at bedtime and have a peaceful night sleep

*Teaches little ones about God’s many loving attributes, through Bible verses and prayer starters

This book begins with a “Note to Parents” explaining about the importance of lullabies and the best way to help children go to sleep is with “gentle reminders of God’s love and care.”

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Then there are 19 sections, each with a Bible verse, poem, a short prayer, and cute illustration.  I truly enjoyed reading these poems to my child.  They are well-written and full of important truths.

Here is an example: The title is Discover.  The verse is “God takes care of us richly. He gives us everything to enjoy.” 1 Timothy 6:17  The poem talks about imagining doing different things such as going to discover a far-off place or playing drums and cymbals. And the prayer thanks God for imagination and creation for there’s so much to be thankful for and discover!

You can see  Really Woolly Nighttime Lullabies for yourself in this Flipbook

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(I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tommy Nelson.  This post contains affiliate links.)

Review of “Thick as Thieves” by Susan K. Marlow

Thick as Thieves Book Review
 

I have the pleasure today to review Susan K. Marlow’s newest book, Thick as Thieves.  It’s book 1 of the series Circle C Milestones.  The author’s website is Circle C Milestones, and the vendor is Kregel Publications.

This historical fiction book is paperback, 173 pages and is recommended for ages 12 and up.

There is also a downloadable Study Guide that’s great for homeschoolers to use for a more thorough literature study or even to help turn this into a full unit study! I can envision studying about horses, California and California history, ranching, cattle branding, and music and art from the late 1800s.  The study guide is free (you can get it now) and has 40 pages.  The activities in it include vocabulary, idioms, characterization, answering questions about the story, drawing, learning about foaling, a crossword puzzles, Scripture memory, synonyms and antonyms, math problems from the 1880’s, training foals, timelines, lice, similes, cattle rustling, The Palace Hotel in San Francisco, and dime novels. There are also answer keys for everything.

A Brief Summary of the Story:

The main character is Andi, who is a 13-year-old girl and the youngest child at the Circle C Ranch.  She has a mother, 3 brothers, and 2 sisters.  She loves her horse Taffy, and the story opens as Taffy is ready to give birth.  She works with her brother to save the horses’ lives. She is so excited to be able to train the foals.

Andi goes to school in Fresno and in a suprising and exciting manner end up befriending a poor girl named Macy who isn’t very lovable.  Another story line is that cattle rustlers are about and begin stealing horses as well.  Andi, her new friend Macy, and the Circle C Ranch are all in the thick of it.

My Review:

I really enjoy reading juvenile historical fiction, probably because I love reading to my kids so much.  But I have never read one from this time period: 1882.  It was really fun learning about life on the ranch, in Andi’s school, and in the California town.  I really loved how Andi deals with the real struggles of trying to follow and trust God because sometimes it’s really hard to!  The theme of the book is “Friendship: unselfishly giving support and expressing compassion to another.”

Here is one of my favorite quotes:

“Macy nodded. Tears filled her eyes, and this time she didn’t try to hide them or brush them away. ‘Ain’t nobody ever been as nice to me as you,’ she said. ‘Ain’t nobody tried to be my friend neither. Why would you–a respectable girl from a rich family–bother with the likes of me? ‘Specially when I’ve been so mean and spiteful.’ . . .

Only one reason mattered–the real one. ‘It’s because I decided to care.’ ”

Compassion and showing kindness to all is a virtue I want to teach my children.  I know that Thick as Thieves gives a great example for all who read it to follow.

The story is also well written and exciting to read.

Follow on Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/CircleCAdventures
http://twitter.com/SuzyScribbles

The next book in the series Heartbreak Trail comes out July 2015. My daughter and I will excited to read it!

Koru Naturals Review
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Review/Giveaway “The Adventures of Pajama Girl”

I have a lot of giveaways this week, so keep checking back in!

 

We’ll start today with a cute children’s book called The Adventures of Pajama Girl: The Coronation of the Cupcake Queen by Sandra Hagee Parker.  This hardback book has adorable illustrations by Sarah Bussey.  The story is based on the Commandment in Exodus 20:15 “Thou shalt not steal.” The main character is Ellie who says she’s the Pajama Girl.  She has a little sister, Princess Sis. Pajama Girl’s adventures happen every night as she sleeps. One night she puts on her cupcake jammies and has the adventurous dream that our book is about.  First, she prays that God will give her sweet dreams, and then she ends up in a kingdom of cupcakes! She and Princess Sis sample the treats and see a parade come by. Then they go to the castle and meet the Cupcake Queen, who is sad because someone has stolen all the sprinkles.  Ellie and her sister discover what happened and everything ends happily.

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The Adventures of Pajama Girl and the Coronation of the Cupcake Queen is a sweet book, and was thoroughly enjoyed by my 6-year-old daughter. There was only one thing I didn’t like about it, and that was that is was written as a poem but doesn’t follow a very strict poetical meter, so it wasn’t fun to read aloud.  I think it would have been better if it had been written in prose.

You can get some free downloads and and have Pajama Girl fun at PajamaGirl.com.  And if you buy the book from any store or online and then enter the receipt at http://pajamagirl.com/downloads.phpyou’ll receive 10 free Pajama Girl Activity Sheets sent to you via email.

Giveaways valid in US & Canada only.  Enter on the Rafflecopter below.  The winner will be chosen Monday April 6 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

This post also contains affiliate links.

Review/ Giveaway “Duck Commander Devotions for Kids”

Duck Commander Devotions for Kids Review

I have a great book to review and give away today:  Duck Commander Devotions for Kids by Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard, illustrated by Holli Conger and published by Tommy Nelson.

I’ve been reading a devotion a day to my kids (ages 4-9)  for the past few weeks.  We’re really enjoying this book!  Each of the 104 devotions is on two pages.  You’ll find a little story (often relating to someone from the Duck Dynasty crowd and usually funny) that helps to explain about the lesson from Scripture to be taught that day.  Then there is a short prayer to pray and a “Duck Commander in Action” which gives an action step or application to put the lesson into practice.

Now, we have never watched the show, only seeing a few snippets here and there.  But the Robertsons are still famous, and we were able to learn about them through this book.  They’re funny and God-honoring.

I love the lessons taught and the practical “Duck Commander in Action” applications.  The illustrations are really fun, too!

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Here is an example: One devotion is titled “The Bible, Our Powerful Sword.”  The Scripture is from Hebrews 4:12 “God’s word is alive and working. It is sharper than a sword sharpened on both sides.”  The lesson tells about Uncle Si who had a cup with him when he was fighting in a war in another country.  The cup reminded him of home.  He kept it close to him.  But the Bible is even more important and we need to keep it close to us always so we can use it as our weapon against Satan.  The action step is to say Psalm 18:1 “I love you, Lord. You are my strength” out loud 10 times and then to make a sword out of paper and write the verse on it.

Duck Commander Devotions for Kids is hard-back, 224 pages, with a blue ribbon bookmark.  See inside the book here.  It’s for ages 4-8.

Here is a Promo Video about it!

 

Now, Enter on the Rafflecopter app below to win a copy of Duck Commander Devotions for Kids! The winner will be chosen in February 18 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tommy Nelson in order to write this honest review.)

Book Review: “The Daniel Plan” by Warren, Amen, and Hyman

The Daniel Plan reviewThe Daniel Plan review

I just finished reading The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life by Warren, Amen, and Hyman.  I can tell you that there haven’t been too many books I’ve read that have actually changed my life, but this one did!

I was intrigued by it because someone close to me had recommended it when she was going through cancer treatment.  I saw how she changed her eating habits and was inspired by it. But I couldn’t seem to get to the point where I could make those changes myself.

So I started reading The Daniel Plan.  I learned that it isn’t using willpower to change how you eat, but there are 5 parts to the plan.

In order to get healthy, you need to change and grow in 5 essential areas: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends.

  1. Faith— Growing in your spiritual life is the most important component.  If we understand that it is God who created our bodies and created us for a purpose, we are much more likely to focus on making the changes He wants us to make.
  2. Food— I learned so much about food in this chapter, what are the best foods to eat, what I shouldn’t eat, and why.
  3. Fitness— Not only do you learn why fitness is important and how it helps your body, you learn all kinds of ways to add fitness into your daily activities.  There are even lots of exercises with pictures to help you to do them at home.
  4. Focus— It is our brain that is often the saboteur to our getting healthy.  We need to recognize the destructive thoughts and take them captive in order to get our brains to help and not hurt us.
  5. Friends— If we have an accountability group, we are far more likely to be successful in these life-changing habits of getting healthy.

 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Where God guides, he provides.  What he calls you to do, he equips you to do.  He doesn’t need your strength and willpower, but he does need your commitment.”

“God designed us to experience joy. In fact, we crave it and search for it. Unfortunately, when stress builds up, joy escapes us, and we wind up overeating, overworking, overstressing, overdoing, and even over-sitting.”

“Even the setbacks on your journey can help you move forward. If you pay attention and track your progress, a bad day gives you good data.”

The Daniel Plan gives a very well laid-out plan for a 10-Day Detox.  It includes a shopping list, a daily menu of 3 meals and 2 snacks for 10 days, and recipes for each meal and snack.  I decided there was no reason not to do it.  At the end of the detox, here is what happened: I learned that I really could go without sugar, gluten, dairy, or any additives/preservatives for 10 days!  The food was fun and filling, so I wasn’t missing anything. I lost about five pounds.  I learned that I don’t have a problem with gluten or dairy.  I learned that you really do stop craving sugar if you stop eating i! I learned that there is sugar in all kinds of things I didn’t expect when I started reading labels–like the chicken at Chick-Fil-A, salad dressings, ketchup, etc.  And I learned how to buy and cook all kinds of new foods and recipes!

I connected with a Facebook group where we encourage each other in our new focus on a healthy lifestyle.  This helped me make it through 21 days of a no-sugar challenge!  And now we’re doing 21 days of regular exercising.

The last part of the The Daniel Plan book gives you a plan for 40 days to make the healthy lifestyle a habit.  They have a specific exercise plan and food plan to follow.  I have been lax about the food for the last couple of weeks (although I have still been exercising), so I need to do this 40 day plan and get the habits fully set!

 

I love the recipes in The Daniel Plan, and I also purchased The Daniel Plan Cookbook: Healthy Eating for Life, which is only $4.99 on Kindle version right now!

(Remember, you don’t need a Kindle to read a Kindle book.  Just read it on your computer or download an app to read on any e-reader, smartphone, iPad, etc.)

I’ve now lost 10 pounds and am so happy with my new healthier lifestyle!

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Daniel Plan from BookLook Bloggers in order to write this honest review. This post contains affiliate links.)

Review: Strengthening the Heart of a Homemaker

 

Have you ever found yourself weary as a homemaker?  Find strength and encouragement for your homemaking journey with Kristen Smith’s new ebook Strengthening the Heart of a Homemaker.  It’s a devotional guide which gives you encouragement, guidance, devotions, and printables!

I had the privilege of looking through a copy myself.  It’s really lovely!

The 4×6 printable Scripture verses are my favorite part.  I love the fonts, colors, and graphics.  There are so many different ways to use them–print them out on cardstock or photo paper and put them up in various places in your home, make a set of them by using a ring, put some in frames, etc.

The ebook starts with an encouraging introduction.  Kristen divides the rest of the book in sections of different homemaking topics:

  • General Homemaking
  • Caring for Yourself
  • Health & Wellness
  • Food & Cooking
  • Pregnancy & Babies
  • Motherhood & Parenting
  • Marriage
  • The Homemaker’s Faith
  • Faith for Children
  • Homeschooling
  • Finances
  • Working from Home
  • Special Events

For each of the thirteen areas of homemaking, you’ll find

  • 4 decorative printable Scripture cards
  • 1 printable journal page
  • 1 devotional guide featuring reflections and questions to consider

As homemakers, sometimes we get weary and need a boost of encouragement. This 100+ page resource offers 52 printable Scripture cards, multiple journal pages, and heartfelt devotional guides that offer strength for the homemaker’s heart.

I have 2 suggestions which I’d love for Kristen to work on in an update.  I wish the pages were numbered.  After printing them out a couple of pages got out of order, and it took me a while to figure out where they went.  Also, all Scripture verses are in the King James version.  I prefer to read and memorize the English Standard Version.

The price is only $7.95, so be sure to check it out and see if it will help encourage you in your homemaking walk!

To celebrate the launch of her new ebook, Kristen has an awesome giveaway going on at her blog!  There are 2 prize packages, each worth more than $100!  You’ll find Lilla Rose hairclips, essential oils, Norwex cloths, jewelry, books and ebooks, bath sets, and Tupperware!

 

(I received a complimentary copy of this ebook in order to write this honest review.)

Review: Samantha Sanderson On the Scene

I have finished the second book in the Samantha Sanderson series, called Samantha Sanderson On the Scene. These are books written for tween girls by Robin Caroll and published by Zondervan in 2014. It’s a paperback book 264 pages long.

Synopsis:

Sam Sanderson is a junior high student who is a cheerleader and works on the school newspaper.  Her dream is to become an investigative reporter like her mom, who travels often. Sam’s father is a police officer, and Sam is an only child. In this story one of Sam’s friends is being bullied.  Sam decides to do a series on bullying for the school to get the subject out there and to help catch the bully who is hurting her friend. There is also a theme of divorce throughout the story as Sam interacts with several kids whose parents have divorced or are considering it.  Sam even fears at one point that her own parents might divorce.  But her parents are strong believers and demonstrate how to work through differences and conflict.

What I liked:

The main theme is great.  Bullies are cruel and should be stopped.  I liked how we learn about it from the perspective of the victim, the friend, the parent, the police, and the school staff.  The more knowledge we all have, maybe some bullying will be stopped.  I also like how the book is written from a Christian perspective.

What I didn’t like:

There was a common thread throughout the book that there was a horrible fear from Sam’s friend Makayla that her mother might homeschool her.  This was described as almost a fate worse than the bullying!  As a homeschool mom of a homeschooled middle school-aged daughter who read the book, this was very disheartening to me!  I’m shocked that the author included this subject so often in the book (about 6 times), and can only conclude that she is trying to persuade people away from homeschooling, just as much as she wants to inform them about the dangers of bullying.  It was so bad that as much as I enjoyed most of the other aspects of the book, I won’t be recommending this one and we won’t be reading anymore of the series (unless, of course, Robin Carroll chooses to apologize and to write about the many positive aspects of homeschooling in a future Samantha Sanderson book.)

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this honest review.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review: Weird and Wonderful Creations

 

Here’s a fun book for ages 4-8: Weird and Wonderful Creations published by Zonderkidz.  It’s a full-color hardback book with 123 pages.  It’s actually 4 books in 1!  The four books are: Spiders, Snakes, Bees, and Bats; Big Bugs, Little Bugs; Sea Creatures; Poisonous, Smelly, and Amazing Plants.  As you can probably tell from the titles, this is a book that would appeal to boys!

Each page has a wonderful photograph of the animal or plant that is being discussed on it.  The photos are definitely the best part of the book.  The words (sentences) are written on an easier reading level.  Some young children will be able to read the book independently.  The parent or teacher reading it will learn a ton of facts about each animal or plant!

There was one thing that I found a bit frustrating, though.  Sometimes a page would tell about something, but then the picture wouldn’t relate to it.  For example, on the page which tells us that baby mantises are called nymphs, it would be nice to have a picture of some nymphs–maybe side by side with an adult mantis.

I learned quite a lot from this book!  Did you know that fireflies once were used in China to light up lanterns? My favorite section was about the ocean animals, where we learn about jellyfish, sea horses, whales, and sea turtles.  In Spider, Snakes, Bees, and Bats, we learn about those four animals in general.  In Big Bugs, Little Bugs we learn about butterflies, goliath beetles, and praying mantises, and lightning bugs.  In Poisonous, Smelly, and Amazing Plants we read about a mushroom called the fly agaric, the corpse plant, the Venus flytrap, and redwood and sequoia trees.

There is an index in the back so you can easily find the animal or plant you’re looking for. And I loved that we learn that God is the amazing creator of all these creatures!

 

(I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this honest review.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards!

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As you may or may not know, I have been a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew since this time last year.  The purpose of the Crew is to review educational products from different companies who want to target the homeschool audience.  We are a large number of mom bloggers, so there are enough of us that we don’t have to review every single product.  These reviews are usually a bit more intense than the other reviews I do because we are required to use them for 6 weeks with our child (or children).  I noticed that by looking at the awards offered for the number one reviewed products this year that many of the top ones I didn’t even get to review!  So, maybe I’ll have to pick those next year if I get the opportunity!

But today I’d love to award the Blue Ribbon to my favorites that I did review this year.

First, I’ll list the reviews with their links so you can read about them if they interest you:

SchoolhouseTeachers.com–  a website with numerous courses on it

KinderBach– online preschool music (My 4-year-old’s favorite!)

Motivated Moms– ebook and app daily chore planner (actually tells you what to do each day!)

Talking Shapes– preschool app to learn about letters

Amazing Science DVDs– fun science demonstrations (My 8-year-old’s favorite!)

If He Had Not Come– Christmas book about Jesus

Egglo– glow-in-the-dark Easter Eggs, with a book and curriculum for having an outreach at your church

Curiosity Quest- fun DVDs that bring you on a fun and educational field trip

Philosophy Adventure- an interesting approach for studying high school philopsophy (my 13-year-old son’s favorite!)

Kinder Cottage Books– reprints of old books

Happy Kids Songs– song downloads to teach about different character qualities

7-Minute Planner– a comprehensive planner for moms

Under Drake’s Flag– CD story about Sir Francis Drake

Purposeful Design– a “coffee table” book about God’s creation

Snake Oil Party Potion Game– fun word game to encourage creativity

Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids While Loving the Little Ones at Your Feet by Kendra Fletcher- ebook encouraging moms of preschoolers

Go Science DVDs – A group of kids take part in science experiments in these Christian-based DVDs

And I award the Top Ten Blue Ribbons to. . .

Spelling You See – innovative approach to teaching spelling.  I’m still using this with my 8-year-old.

Spelling You See Review

UberSmart Math Facts– a simple math flash card program.  We’ll get back to using this soon.  It’s so helpful to have daily drill on math facts.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

CTC Math – Online math program that teaches.  Two of my kids are still using this.

CTC Math Review

Brinkman Adventures – a homeschooling family records these adventure story CDs about missionaries around the world.  When they make new CDs, we want to listen to them!

Brinkman Adventures Review

Micro Business for Teens– a course for teaching teens how to start and run their own businesses.  I will have my future teens do this when they get older.

Micro Business for Teens Review

My Student Logbook– a simple, but wonderful way to keep track of schoolwork and assignments throughout the year.  My 11-year-old daughter uses this daily.

My Student Logbook Review

Trident Case – strong cases for iPads (and other devices).  I love this case–it’s still on my iPad.

Trident Case Review

HomeschoolPiano – online piano courses, with a jazz influence.  A wonderful course.  My oldest wants to go through it as soon as he has time.

Homeschool Piano Review

Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate – a book for homeschool moms. I need to read this again–it was really good!

 

IXL Math and Language Arts– an online website to practice math and language arts skills.  This was the review that surprised me the most.  I was extremely pleased with IXL! Four of my kids still love using it daily.

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(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.)

Book Review/ Giveaway: “Rescue- Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture”

I now have a teenager, and next year I will have 2! It won’t be long, in fact, until I’ll have 5 teenagers all at once!
So, when I was offered the opportunity to review Candy Gibb’s book Rescue: Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture, I felt like I could use a refresher course on what to expect from the teen years, as well as what the new issues are that I’ll be facing.

Rescue is a very helpful book for learning about parenting teenagers.  The author Candy gives much wisdom herself.  She is the mother of three children, but she is also the Executive Director of a major Crisis Pregnancy Center in Amarillo, TX called CareNet Pregnancy Center. She has an amazing story of redemption, the video of which can be found here.  She deals with tough teen issues daily, so it was so good for me to read her advice on how to approach these tough topics.

But the book doesn’t just have words of advice from Candy.  She has assembled a group of recently graduated teens –mostly college students– into a group she calls the Lifeguards.  In each chapter she has each of them share from their own experiences.  Wow- what an eye-opener.  I’ve already been feeling lately that things truly are different for my kids that they were for me, and that there is a generation gap between us that I wish weren’t there.  I know reading Rescue is going to help me with that.

Here are the chapters you’ll find in Rescue:

1- Your Family

2- Faith/Identity

3- Teens, Sex, and Society

4- Technology

5- My Teen is Struggling with Homosexuality

6- Pro-Life & Pro-Choice

7- Communication

8- Mentoring

9- Preparing Teens for College & Beyond

10- Building an Ark

 

The format of the book includes “Commentaries from Candy,” “Let’s Ask the Lifeguards,” “Treading Tips” (practical nuggets of wisdom that sumarize the lessons), and “Life Preservers” (relevant and encouraging Scripture).

You will find that Rescue is written from a biblical perspective.  She encourages us to have our teens in church. But it is so much more practical and real that that.

 

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Teaching your teen to find value and identity in the Lord is more critical than teaching them to eat healthy and helping them get into the university of their choice.  Remind your teenager of the Lord’s calling on their life.”

“A lack of identity is prevalent due in part to the influence of  social media. . .  Often times, when someone posts a selfie, it’s to get a response. . .  ‘Do you think I’m beaufiful?’ or ‘How would you rate me?’ ”

“Prepare your teens for the ridicule they will likely face from their peers if they choose to remain sexually pure.  Help them develop ways to deal with it.”

 

Rescue: Raising Teens in a Drowning Culture is completely filled with practical advice such as this.  I’m so happy to have a copy of the book to give away!

Giveaway:

Update:  The winner is AmySD!

 

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Rescue in order to write this honest review.  I also received one to give away.   This post contains affiliate links.)

Review of “Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation”

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Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation by author Jay Schabacker is a new book we have been reading in our home lately, and I’m happy to review it for you today.  You can see more about it at the Purposeful Design website.

There are several ways to describe this beautiful book:

  • It’s a great Coffee Table book, for guests to pick up and leaf through.
  • It’s an informative and enjoyable book for reading aloud to your kids about our God’s awesome creation.  (My 9-year-old daughter especially enjoyed me reading it to her.)
  • It’s a book that can be used by junior high or high school students who are studying science.

Purposeful Design Review

The book is usable with all ages, is a sturdy hardback book of 91 pages, and costs $18.95.  You can purchase it here.

 

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One of the best parts of the book is that it’s full of beautiful pictures!  There is lots of Scripture sprinkled through as well.

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The format of the book is that there are 7 chapters–one for each day of creation.  Then the author goes into detail about some of the things that were created on that day.

For each chapter here is what you’ll read about:

Day 1:  God created the heavens and the earth, the planets continuing their orbit defies the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Day 2: God created the atmosphere and water, how the rain cycle works.

Day 3: God created the dry land and vegetation, why apples are so healthy for us, ways in which plants are useful.

Day 4: God created the sun, moon, and stars; how the suns rays and earth’s tilt give us our seasons, why sunrise and sunsets change from day to day; using this information to build Stonehenge and the Ground Zero Memorial; the benefits of our moon; ocean tides; how leatherback turtles take advantage of the tides; stars and celestial navigation.

Day 5:  God created the birds and fish, how birds and fish benefit us, birds’ instincts, salmon, how fish swim, why ice floats, funny-looking animals in the ocean.

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Day 6: God created land animals and people, domestic animals such as camels and cows, amazing uniqueness of humans, our amazing bodies (including the appendix), cells, brain.

Day 7: God rested and taught us to rest, too.

The only thing negative I have to say about the book is that some of the photographs are not high quality (are somewhat blurry), as you might see in the photo below.

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Overall, I am very happy with Purposeful Design and am glad to have it in our home now.  Some parts are very detailed, which can be great for older kids and adults to learn some amazing things you never knew before!

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Also included to use with the book is the Young Explorer’s Club curriculum, and it’s free!  You get student pages that are fill-in-the-blank, and a teacher’s guide with all the answers.  Here are a couple of pages from the Young Explorer’s Club:

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Another child just wanted to draw the days of creation as I was reading about them:

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Visit Jay Schabacker, the author, on social media!

Blog: www.Jayschabacker.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/pages/Jay-Schabacker

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/Jayschabacker

LinkedIn: Jayschab

 

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Review: Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner


Wow–another wonderful book to review for you today!  I recently received Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner. She is the National Youth Director of Consituting America.  Her mother Janine Turner is the Founder and Co-Chair of Constituting America (and an actress).

Our Presidents Rock! is for kids and is all about the U.S. Presidents.  It’s a paperback book 316 pages long and jammed packed full of important and fun information about each of our American Presidents.

 

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The book begins with an Introduction page which gives an inspiring explanation of how anyone can become President. Next it explains how to read the book (like I explain below), and a couple of pages explaining the role of President as given by the U.S. Constitution.  (They also have a book called Our Constitution Rocks! that I’ll have to check out.)

Each president has several pages devoted to him.  You’ll find the same subheadings for each one:

The Bottom Line — A couple of sentences about his presidency

What Were They Thinking? — Some of his views about major issues

Why Should I Care? — Why you should learn about and understand this particular president’s policies

Breakin’ it Down — His life prior to becoming president

Presidency — His most important events and accomplishments

What Has He Done for Me Lately? — What this president did that still affects or influences us today

Presidential Times — Some of the major events in America and the world during his presidency, written like a newspaper with articles

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Quick Facts — Several different boxed fun tidbits such as Fast Stats (about the man), Liberty Language (definitions), Election Results!, Fun Facts!, Thoughts on the Constitution (things he said or thought about the Constitution), Congressional Corner (important legislation passed during his time in office), Platform Speech (important lines from speeches he made), and Presidential Personality (how he carried himself as president and in his personal life), a Timeline, and Pictures of the president and his wife.

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The book ends with a comparison of Washington’s and Obama’s cabinets and a fun comparison of the Presidents’ heights!

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My take:

I feel this in now a valuable resource in our home.  I love how it’s easy to read and contains so much information. As we know, all history and political books have a bias, and I’m glad that Our Presidents Rock! leans to the conservative side.  Here is a quote from the chapter on Calvin Coolidge “Had any other individual served as president during this time and not allowed the country to ‘run itself’ as Coolidge did, the United States likely would not have reached the level of accomplishment she did during this time.”

I’ll use this great resource book for my elementary through high school students.

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(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to write this honest review.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review: “The Legend of St. Nicholas”


Today’s review is of a Christmas book you might want to get this Christmas: The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey.

In this modern-day story, Nick is a young boy who is going Christmas shopping with his dad.  He’s not real excited about getting something for others; in fact he’s hoping there is money left over so he can get something for himself.  As he is wandering around the store, he hears someone say his name.  It’s a mall Santa who is telling the story of a boy named Nick.  This is the same Nick who would grow up to be St. Nicholas.

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Nick’s parents loved God and taught him to do so as well.  They were also wealthy.  When they died, Nick was still young.  He realized that God had a plan for him–to give his money away to those in need.  He did that secretly, including to some girls who needed the money for their dowries, and he threw the money in through their chimney!

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I enjoyed reading The Legend of St. Nicholas.  The story was cute–how the modern day Nick learns about the 4th Century Nick and decides that he wants to be like him and be generous as well!  I also loved the illustrations.  The book is filled with beautiful paintings by Richard Cowdrey, and it was fun to see the snowy owl which appeared on many of the pages!

 

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to give this honest review.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

 

 

 

Review: If He Had Not Come by David Nicholson

Christmas Book Review
Are you looking for a new Christmas book to read to your kids this year?  I’ve found one for you!  Today I am reviewing If He Had Not Come by David Nicholson.

This story is best for ages 6 and up and is a beautiful physical hardback book in full color.

David Nicholson has reintroduced the story which is a classic Christmas story by Nan F. Weeks.  It is illustrated by Charles Jaskiewicz.

I really enjoyed reading If He Had Not Come.  My first thought was that it reminded me of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life!” Remember what happens there?  George is faced with a new reality of what life would be like if he hadn’t lived.  Well, in this story we see some evidence of how our world would be different if Jesus hadn’t lived.  It’s powerful to read about the differences!

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A young boy is the main character and is excited about Christmas the next day.  Before bed he reads the Bible with his dad and they read John 15:22 where Jesus says, “If I had not come. . . ”  He goes to bed thinking about that.  When he wakes up he goes downstairs and doesn’t see his parents anywhere.  But there are other things missing as well: the Chrismas tree and presents and decorations!  He goes outside and finds that the factory down the street is running that day. When he asks the foreman why they are open on Christmas day, he says he’s never heard of Christmas and doesn’t know what the boy is talking about.  He goes from place to place trying to figure out what is going on, and no one seems to know anything about Christmas.  He runs to his church, but it’s not there.  He runs to the Children’s Home to watch the kids open Christmas presents, but it’s not there either!  There is just a sign in each place that says, “If I Had Not Come.”

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He then sees a sick old man and tells him he’ll run to the hospital to get him some help, but the hospital isn’t there.  And the homeless shelter doesn’t exist either.  Signs that say “If I Had Not Come” are everywhere.  Finally, the boy runs home and goes up to bed.  Soon he wakes up and realizes it had all been a dream, but a very powerful one!  Christianity  has made an enormous impact in our world and in our society.  Christians who care about others have built hospitals and homeless shelters and children’s homes.  They have spread the love of Christ all around, and if He had not come, our world would be vastly different today.

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After the lovely story with fine illustrations, there are several pages that a parent or teacher can go over with their children.  The discussion questions were quite interesting and I enjoyed doing these with my kids.  There is also a page that explains how to share the gospel and how to accept Jesus as one’s Savior.

David Nicholson took a wonderful old story and put it in a great package to share with kids.  I’m sure you’ll like this book just like I did!

The price is Casebound Hardcover for $18.95 and E-Book for $3.99.

Visit the If He Had Not Come Facebook page!

 

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Review: The Berenstain Bears Blessed are the Peacemakers

Here’s another great Berenstain Bears book written by son Mike Berenstain called Blessed are the Peacemakers.

This story is based on the verse from Matthew 5:9 where Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

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The cubs are at school and we find that there are several groups who are always bickering with each other.  They’re trouble-makers and tease and bully.  Everyone joins in for the all-school play, though.  And it’s pretty ironic that the lead girl and boy (for Romeo and Grizzliet) are from rival “gangs.”  Problems continued to happen until they were actually on stage, and a fight breaks out in front of the audience!  Even the parents got involved.  It’s Squire Grizzly and Preacher Brown who became the peacemakers and helped everyone realized what they were doing was wrong.

The final page has “Activites and Questions from Brother and Sister Bear”

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There are 3 questions to talk about with your child and 2 activities to get out and do.  These help to add to the teaching of the book.

 

(Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Blessed are the Peacemakers in order to write this honest review. This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review “Samantha Sanderson at the Movies” by Robin Caroll

I enjoy getting books that would be good for my tween daughter (who just turned 11) to read.  She loves to read and she loved reading the Samantha Sanderson books.  When we received them I didn’t have time to read them yet; my daughter read them in a matter of days!

The first book in the Faithgirlz! Series for Tweens by Robin Caroll is Samantha Sanderson At the Movies.  We are introduced to Sam who is a 7th grader in public school and her best friend Makayla.  The scenes go from school, fun places (movie theater, football game), church, and Sam’s home.  Sam has a great desire to be an investigative reporter like her mother.  Sam’s father is a police detective.  The story starts out at the movie theater when Sam helps to discover that a bomb has been planted there.

The entire story is that Sam is reporting on the crime at her school’s new blog site.  She continually has to make decisions about what would be appropriate to print, and she often makes bad decisions, such as all but accusing certain people of committing the crime when there was no proof.  She justifies what she does by saying that that’s what a reporter does.  At the end of the story she learns that she didn’t do it very well.  Her mom and dad talk to her about writing things that are kind–not just true.  And listening to her father’s wishes and keeping his trust, instead of just writing what she wants to because she’ll get more comments.

The story was very well-written.  Nothing about the writing bothered me (which seems to be common in lots of books these days).  I loved the ways living out the Christian life was seemlessly woven into the story.  Sam talks to her youth director at church and gets advice on witnessing to her friend at school who isn’t a Christian.  She prays with her dad and talks with her mom about God.

The only negative thing I have is that there was so much more time that Sam spent justifying writing what she wanted than there was of her admitting she was wrong and listening to her parents explain the best way.  I fear that maybe my daughter didn’t quite catch all of it.

Overall, I recommend Samantha Sanderson At the Movies as a book that would be great for a Christian tween girl to read.  Now, I’m off to read Samantha Sanderson On the Scene!

 

(I received a complimentary copy of Samantha Sanderson At the Movies in order to write this honest review.  This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review: 2 Adventure Bible “I Can Read” books

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It’s always fun to receive some new “I Can Read” books for the beginning readers in my home.  Here are two unique ones I’d like to review for you today: God’s Great Creation and Moses Leads the People.

The Bible Stories come from The Adventure Bible–a very popular Bible for kids.  These small paperback books are 32 pages long and are written for Level 2, which is described as “High-interest stories for developing readers”.  They are $3.99 each.

The illustrations are by David Miles and are very fun and colorful!  The last page of each book has a memory verse, description of Bible people to know, and “Words to Treasure” (an explanation about something described in the story).

God’s Great Creation is a retelling of the creation story–the six days of creation and what God created each day, his creation of Adam and Eve, and their disobedience and being sent out of the garden.  But at the end, we are told “God was planning how to help his people.”
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Moses Leads the People tells us about the wonderful man of God Moses who lead God’s people out of slavery in Egypt.  We see him talking to Pharoah, learn about the plagues, and see the Red Sea part and God saving His people.

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I’m so glad to have these books that my younger kids can read to themselves and learn about the Bible at the same time.

 

(Disclosure: I received these books complimentary in exchange for this honest review. This post also contains affiliate links.)

Review of 3 New Veggie Tales Books

We have 3 great new Veggie Tales books in our home that I’d like to share with you today.

First is Yuletide Ice Cube Fair by Karen Poth.  The Veggie Tales characters are all getting ready for Christmas!  They ice skate and then hear the bell calling them over to the annual ice cube carving contest.  Everyone works hard creating their incredible carvings to display what Christmas means to them.  The finalists are a shopping mall, angels singing, the peas winning the prize, and a Christmas feast.  But the winner is Junior who carved a tiny stable with a little baby and a shepherd kneeling down.  That displayed what Christmas truly is about!  You’ll also find two Scriptures from Luke 2 in this paperback book of 20 pages.  The book is best for ages 4-8.

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The next two books are Level 1 “I Can Read” books.  These are always a hit in my home where I have beginning readers.  The titles are Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend and The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper, both by Karen Poth.

 

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In Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend Sheer luck Holmes and Bobby Watson have to solve the mystery of what happened to their friend who disappeared from the pizza place. They find a note he left that said he was leaving because his feelings had been hurt. The ones who hurt his feelings confess, find Sniffy, and ask for forgiveness.

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In The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper Bob and Larry and trying to solve the mystery of the Masked Door Slammer. But the story is really about bob who is really in a bad mood. He gets madder and madder as the sort goes on, and finally he loses his temper. Larry explains that Bob is being just like the Masked Door Slammer by losing his temper. Bob realizes that he is right and chooses not to “let his anger run wild” anymore.

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(Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of these books in order to write these honest reviews.  This post also contains affiliate links.)