The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls 3 & 4 ~ Review

About a year ago AJ and I had the chance to review the first two books in a new Christian book series called, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls . We really enjoyed the books. They were interesting, full of excitement, and taught great values. When we were offered the chance to review books three and four from WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group we jumped at the chance. If they were half as good as the first two, we knew we would love them!

About the Series

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls follows a brother and sister team as they go back in time. Peter, Mary, and their dog Hank are staying with their Great – Uncle Solomon for a month. While they are there they find all kinds of mysterious things in his home. Uncle Solomon is an archaeologist and tells them about the Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. When they open one they are transported back in time. In the first book they got to see the creation of the world. In book two they road along on Noah’s Ark. Books three and four will take them on other amazing adventures.

One great thing about this series is that it doesn’t have to be read in order. If you want to pick up book four you can read a short two page prologue and you will know what happened in the other books. That said, I think it would be a little more exciting to read them in order.

Book 3

The third book in the series is, The Great Escape (Book #3) . It takes place directly after book two ends. Peter and Mary find a sarcophagus in one of the rooms in Uncle Solomon’s house. The kids find a scroll with a triangle on it and soon find themselves in the very hot desert of Ancient Egypt. They visit a pyramid and float down the Nile River. They end up meeting a girl who they find out is Princess Shephara. Her father was the Pharaoh of Egypt.

Secret of the Hidd

Along the way the kids meet Aron, Moses, and the Angel Michael. Then they watch as the plagues happen in Egypt. Just as the Red Sea began to was out the Egyptian Army, the kids and Hank were back at Uncle Solomon’s house safe and sound. Throughout the book the kids faced many dangers. But they trusted in God and He kept them safe. At the end of the book the kids listened to the story in the Bible and Uncle Solomon explained that most of the people never made it to the Promised land, but that was a story for another day.

AJ said her favorite part in this book was that the kids got to dress up like Egyptian royalty and stay in Pharaoh’s palace.

Book 4

The fourth book in the series is, Journey to Jericho (Book #4). This book starts with Peter and Mary sneaking around Uncle Solomon’s house. They find a secret room with all kinds of gadgets and learn that before Uncle Solomon was an archaeologist, he was a spy! He gave the kids their own code names. Peter was The Bear and Mary was The Monkey. They found a secret room and a scroll with two angels’ wings on it. After opening the scroll they soon found themselves on the desert in a beautiful tent. They eventually find out the it is the Tabernacle.

Secret of the Hidden Scrolls book 4

On their journey, Peter and Mary meet Joshua.They find out that the Israelites have been wondering in the desert waiting to reach the Promised land. But that they had to get past the walls of Jericho. The kids find themselves in a little bit of trouble after sneaking in to Jericho and being spotted. They, along with a few Israelite spies find a woman named Rahab. She hides the spies and keeps them safe. Eventually the Israelite people cross the Jordan River. Peter and Mary are afraid that they won’t solve the secret of the scroll in time, but they do. Just as the walls of Jericho begin to fall, the kids and Hank are safely back at Uncle Solomon’s home.

AJ’s favorite part of this book was when the Angel saved the kids from the man in black.

How We Read the Books

These books say they are geared for kids grades 1 through 3. I personally think they would be too difficult for first and second graders. I feel they are more on a fourth grade level, but that is my opinion. Even though they are written for younger kids, older kids will enjoy the action and adventure.

AJ is way beyond the reading level. But she really enjoyed them. I found them to be a quick enjoyable read as well. The plan was for me to read them and then have AJ read them. But they came in the mail on a day I was sick. She took the first book and read it in about two hours. Then asked to read the next one. She ended up finishing both books in a day. I read them a few days later, then we talked about them.

At the end of the books it tells you where you can find the stories in the Bible. We read through the stories in the Bible and discussed the differences. While these books are based on the Bible, there are some small differences.

Our Thoughts

We were pleased with both book three and book four. Each of them stuck to the basic story that can be found in the Bible. While AJ and I were both able to guess what the secret scroll would say after only a few chapters, I think younger students will have fun trying to figure out the mystery. These are solid books that are free from bad language and other morally questionable content.

If you are looking for an adventure story that will appeal to both boys and girls and has a strong biblical basis, this is the series for you! Book 5 is now available. We can’t wait to read it!

Find out what other members of the Home School Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below!

The Great Escape & Journey To Jericho {WorthyKids Reviews}
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IXL ~ Review

When AJ was in public school she had access to a fun learning site called IXL Learning. She would go on each day for a few minutes and have fun learning new concepts. It was something she enjoyed doing. But when she left public school, her account expired. In the beginning she would still go on and try their free version, but it only lets you answer around ten questions a day. Eventually she was no longer interested in doing the ten questions a day, so we forgot all about IXL. That is until we were offered a chance to review an annual subscription! I didn’t know that IXL had learning opportunities all the way through high school, but once I did I was thrilled for AJ to have a chance to try it out.

What is IXL?

IXL is an online learning site. It can be accessed through some apps or it can be used in a regular browser. There is a Kindle app, but at the time of this review it was unavailable for me. (I found out that while the IXL app didn’t work on my Kindle it will work on most. Mine is very old, we have had it since 2012. After the review I tried it on AJ’s 5th generation Kindle and it worked. I was also told by other reviewers who have 7th generation Kindles, that the App worked fine for them.) AJ ended up accessing IXL through the Silk browser on her Kindle Fire and had no issues.

IXL offers both math and language arts for grades K through 12. It also offers science and social studies for grades 2 through 8, and Spanish for all grades.

When your child logs on each day they can pick the topic they want to practice. Then they are given questions in that topic. Some of the questions are multiple choice, while others require them to input the answer. Once they submit each answer it is graded instantly. If they enter a wrong answer an explanation is given to help the student know what they did wrong. For math they may be reminded of a formula or be shown how to solve the problem. In language arts they may be given a tip or a definition of a word to help them out.

Then they just continue to answer questions. As the student gets more and more questions correct their score goes up and they are able to earn ribbons. When they have truly mastered a topic they can earn a special ribbon for 100%. Earning that ribbon takes answering quite a few questions. When they earn that ribbon, you can be confident that they really understand the concept.

Flexibility

One of the best parts about the program is that it is very flexible. With your parent account you can decide if your student sees the grade level they are working on (6th, 9th, K), or if they just see a level (A, H, C). This would be helpful for those who need to work at a lower level than their grade level. It is also nice in the older grades when not everyone is working on the math that is typical for their grade level. AJ is in Algebra 2, but the 10th grade math is Geometry.

There are also options that let your child see how long they have been working on a problem. It is great to have the option to hide or enable the timer depending on your child’s needs. When AJ was younger a timer would have stressed her out. Now it motivates her to see how many questions she can answer in a time frame.

There is a placement test available if you want to see where your child should be placed. It is optional. I personally find that with older students placement tests can take forever because they have to answer so many questions correctly for each level. We decided to skip the test and just have AJ work on the 10th grade level. There was a topic in language arts that she was struggling with. She was shown a topic in a lower level that would help her in the current topic. She went to that topic, worked on it a little, and then came back to the initial topic and was able to earn a ribbon.

How We Used IXL

Since AJ already has a set math program we decided to use IXL as a supplement to practice skills we already covered this year. She started out in Matrix Vocabulary. There she had to answer questions about types of matrices, dimensions, and more. She earned a 100% ribbon after a day. She didn’t want to stop until she earned the ribbon. Then she went on to work in the matrix category for a while before heading to the section on Radical Functions. Some she was able to earn ribbons in quickly, while others took her a little time.

Right now we are working on complex numbers in math, so today she started on the introduction to complex numbers topic. I don’t think you could use this as a full math program unless you have a very dedicated self learner, but it is great for practice and review. The questions don’t seem to repeat and there are endless practice opportunities.

Spanish

Spanish was one of AJ’s favorite topics. She logged on and worked on a topic each day until she earned a 100% ribbon. Then she would go on to the next topic the following day. I liked that it was more than just vocabulary. The spelling had to be correct and there are sections where the vocabulary is used together. She ended up keeping a notebook with the vocabulary to help her remember it. The Spanish section would be perfect for those who are just learning or those who need a refresher!

Language Arts and Other Sections

AJ was a little less enthusiastic to work on Language Arts. I had her pick a topic, or I picked one for her and had her practice about 10 minutes a day. She spent a lot of time in grammar topics and word usage. She didn’t earn many of ribbons, but she did learn a lot. In this category she liked to skip around and not stick to a specific order.

We didn’t try out the social studies section because it was for 8th grade and lower, but we did try out science. AJ loves science and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it out. She spent time labeling cells and learning about their functions and labeling different diagrams. I found her copping the diagrams into her notebook so she would have the information later. She enjoyed the science section and I think it would be great to use after learning about a topic.

What We Thought About IXL

I was very pleased with our experience with IXL. Setting up an account was simple, I could easily check on her progress, and I was sent emails weekly about her activity and any awards she earned.

The ribbons kept her motivated to work on the topics, while the instant feedback helped if she felt discouraged. I liked the fact that she could move to different topics when she wanted and that she could visit both lower and higher levels when she wanted. I felt the feedback she received when she entered an incorrect answer was solid. It helped to explain and teach the concepts. I feel she has learned a lot using IXL and I plan to have her continue with it.

Click on the graphic below to find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about IXL. There were reviewers using several different levels.

Immersive, Adaptive Learning Online {IXL Learning Reviews}
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For the Temple ~ Review

We have had the chance to listen to quite a few audio dramas over the past few years. Our favorite ones by far are the ones from Heirloom Audio. We were given the chance to try out their newest audio adventure, For the Temple, and we were excited to try it out.

About The CD

The CD is about 2 and a half hours long. It is recommended for kids ages six and up because it may be a bit scary for younger kids. As you listen to the story you can hear the background noises in the town, hear the Sea of Galilee, and hear weapons crash against each other. This is a story that will have you on the edge of your seat as John has to make a decision on the best way to save the Temple.

About The Study Guide

The study guide has questions for each track of the CD, three Bible studies, and background information. Each track has three different types of questions.

  1. Listening Well – These questions are basic and  can usually be answered simply by listening to the audio drama. These questions have to do with the basic plot and what is going on in the story. For example one question is, “On what day, month, and year did the Roman’s begin their attack?” From listening to the audio drama it would be easy to answer the question.
  2. Thinking Further – These questions are usually a little bit more opened ended. You may need to think carefully about an action of a character or a moral problem. Sometimes you may need to research something to be able to find the answer. Often you will need to look to a verse in the Bible to be able to form and answer. For example one question is, “How does Titus plan to get the melted gold from the temple? What will his armies have to do to accomplish that? How is this a fulfillment of Luke 21:6.” 
  3. Defining Words – This is a list of words that are used in the story that you may not know. Some of the words seem obvious while others are words that are not often heard. Some of the words from one of the tracks include; inevitable, access, conduit, granary, and, obliterate.

The Rest of the Study Guide

The Bible Studies are simple. One is about how God is our only savior. Another is about proper worship, and the final one is about Christ being our temple. Each of them have questions to think about and then a list of Bible verses to look up. They are all simple to complete, but will make you think.

The background information has a lot of information about the Temple and various events in the Bible. AJ and I both found it interesting and learned a few things from reading it.

There are also diagrams, food ideas, and more to explore in the study guide!

How We Used For the Temple

Our original plan was to listen to the audio drama and complete the study guide at the same time. We ended up getting the study guide a little later than we expected, so that didn’t quite work out. Instead we listened to the audio drama and then later looked at the study guide. We read through the background information and completed one of the Bible studies. We are going to be studying the Roman’s in history next month, so I think we will listen to the CD again and at that time AJ will answer some of the questions from the study guide.

What We Thought About For the Temple

Like the many other audio dramas from Heirloom Audio, this one did not disappoint! The story was exciting, taught a good lesson, and really brought history to life. You get to see more than just facts, you get to see how real people were pushed to their limits and had to make decisions on right and wrong, and how to trust God. This story seemed based on the Bible more than any of the other dramas we have listened to, and I didn’t hear anything that I disagreed with. I would highly recommend it!

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about For the Temple!

For The Temple {Heirloom Audio Reviews}
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Devotions For Young Women ~ Review

The new year will be here before we know it. One thing that I try to do each year is find a new devotional for AJ to work through. She doesn’t always finish on time, because sometimes other products come up. But I like to have something new for her to work through under the tree. It can be hard to find products that are good for her age. She is past the little girl devotions, but usually doesn’t find the adult ones interesting. I look for something that is short and to the point and geared for teens.

This year we were given the chance to review a new devotional from ZondervanWe have tried various products from them in the past, and have never been disappointed. We were blessed with a copy of Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women. I was sure that AJ would love this new devotional, and she did!

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women

About Beloved

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women is written by Lindsay A. Franklin. This devotional is beautiful hard covered book that is well made. The floral design that is on the front cover is carried over to each page of the book. The maroon, purple, and pink color scheme give it a girly theme. It is about 370 pages long with a devotion for each day of the year. The devotions are numbered, not dated so it is simple to start whenever you want. And if you skip a day, you won’t feel like you need to catch up. There is an attached ribbon that is used as a book mark to help you keep your place.

This devotion focuses on the different women in the Bible. It includes women like; Mary, Ruth, Deborah, Anna, and Ester – along with many others. It focuses on Proverbs 31 along with many other verses in the Bible that are often overlooked in other devotions. You will cover various verses from Genesis to Ester in the first 312 days. The remaining the days you will spend time studying verses from the New Testament.

What A Day Looks Like

Each day you begin by reading a verse or verses from the Bible that is written at the top of the page. The verses are in NIV format, so if you prefer another version you will need to find the verse in your own Bible. Then You read a few paragraphs about verse. At the end there is a question on most days. It might be about the verse, about yourself, or even about how you can apply something to your life.  Sometimes it is just a place to reflect on the verse. On the bottom of the page there is a few lines for you to write your answer.

Reading and answering the question will take less than 15 minutes a day, prayer time not included. The devotions are short and to the point, but they are well written and make you think.

How We Used It

Since it is Christmas time, AJ and I have been reading some of the devotions towards the back of the book. We started on day 313 with Luke 1:5-7. In this verse we were introduced to Elizabeth and Zachariah’s story and how they had not been blessed with a child. The devotion was about trusting God and his timing. It happened to be a verse that I needed to be reminded of.

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women
We continued reading through some of the devotions that focused on the book of Luke. We normally read through the book of Luke around Christmas, but this has been a different experience. It has been neat to read the same verses but to have more to take away from the story – as if the story wasn’t amazing enough. We see a big emphasis on trusting God, being different, and family. It has also been nice to look at the Bible from a woman’s perspective.

I also read through a few other various devotions to see what they were like. One talked about how God used women in biblical times, and how he uses them now as well. Another talked about how God’s power was bigger than giants. But this wasn’t referring to David and Goliath. It was referring to a verse in Judges where Jael won Israel’s war. I have read through the Bible numerous times, but I didn’t remember that story.

You are introduced to over 60 women throughout this study.

What We Thought

I figured AJ would enjoy it. She has another devotion by the same author called, Adored 365 Devotions For Young Women. She enjoys it as well. The author has a way of writing that is perfect for young women. It is funny at times, interesting, and she makes you think of things differently.

If you are looking for a great devotional for a young woman in your life, I highly recommend, Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women.  It would make a great gift.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below!

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women {Zondervan Review}
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Guitar 360 ~ Review

AJ received a guitar this year for her birthday.  She took piano lessons for a little while, but has been asking to learn how to play the guitar for years. She finally had her own guitar and was excited to start learning. The only problem was that guitar lessons near our home were quite expensive. For eight 45 minute sessions with kids ranging from six years old and up it was going to cost over $150. That is only about six hours of instruction where the instructor’s attention would be divided among up to eight kids. On top of the price was the difficulty of getting her to the lessons. We ended up holding off on the lessons. Her grandma taught her a few chords and she looked some things up online to teach herself.

While she did learn a few things, she was not progressing very quickly. She was also picking up bad habits that she saw others using. Then we were blessed with the chance to review an online program that would teach her how to play. We received the Semester 1 Bundle (including 5 weeks of Absolute Beginner bonus content + the 13 weeks of Semester 1) from Guitar 360 Method. It came just in time for AJ to sign up for the talent show at our co-op.

About Guitar 360

Guitar 360 Method
Guitar 360 is a set of online guitar lessons that are taught by Krisz Simonfalzi. The intention of the lessons isn’t just to help you learn to play a few songs on the guitar. Instead the idea is to give you a solid foundation in the guitar. After the 13 weeks of lessons, you should have the knowledge and confidence to play well and to create your own songs.

The course is broken into 13 weeks of lessons. Each week there is a goal for the lessons. The first week the goal is Foundations for Versatile Rhythm Guitar, where the goal for week six is Understanding Chords. Each week has a group of videos that teach about the goal. They vary in length from a short 2 minute video that teaches some vocabulary, to longer videos that teach techniques. In addition to the video lessons there are also printable PDFs with information.

You are able to view the videos as many times as you want. Once you feel you understand the topic you are able to park the lesson complete. Most lessons have practice videos that you should work on on throughout the week to make sure you are comfortable.  Some weeks also have quizzes to check what you have learned.

The best part is that you are able to view the videos as often as you need to, and you can go back to previous lessons. The course is self paced and simple to use.

How We Used It

AJ had already been practicing a song with some free music she found online to get ready for the talent show. But she wasn’t playing it correctly. I decided to have her continue to practice the song while slowly working through this program. She would log in on her Kindle Fire and watch the lessons and practice along with the practice videos to improve her technique. She is still learning so she spent some time on the free beginner lessons that Guitar 360 offers. They are still the same high quality videos, with the same entertaining teacher. They just focus on things that absolute beginners need to know.

I can’t believe they offer the beginner lessons for free. I think the beginner lessons helped her to become more confident to work on the first semester of lessons. She still has a while left to complete the course. Right now she practices a few days a week. But eventually that will increase.

Playing Guitar at talent show after Guitar 360

As for the talent show, she played a song and did a good job. It wasn’t perfect but it was easy to see her technique has improved along with her confidence.

What We Thought

AJ loved the lessons. The teacher was full of energy and obviously passionate about playing the guitar. The videos were professional quality. The variety in the videos kept her interested. Her favorite part was being able to watch the videos as much as she wanted to work on her technique. The best part for me is that she can practice where ever she has internet access. I don’t have to find a way to get her to the lessons.

The value of the program is amazing. For less than it would cost for six hours of instruction at the local community center, you can have access to more than 13 weeks of lessons. Right now the company is offering 20% off if you use the coupon code HOMESCHOOL20 at checkout, which makes this an even better deal!

If you or your child are interested in learning to play the guitar, I would highly recommend Guitar 360. I can’t wait to see what she will be able to do once the course is finished.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

 

Guitar Lessons with Krisz Simonfalvi {Guitar 360 Method Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Starry Night Master Kitz ~ Review

When AJ was younger adding art to our school day was easy. Now that she is older and spends so much time on the basics, art can easily be pushed to the back burner. She has a few art classes at co-op so she is experimenting with different mediums. But we haven’t done very much art together lately.

She loves art so I was sure she was going to love Master Kitz The Starry Night from Kidzaw.com. These kitz give you everything that you need to recreate a work of art from a famous artist. They come in a cute reusable box with easy step by step instructions. The kitz also include some brief information about the artist and the type of art.

The Starry Night Master Kit

What’s in the Box?

Inside the box you will find:

  • Two pieces of large white art paper
  • Paint in blue, black, and white
  • A special roller
  • A sponge roller
  • Chalk pastels in white, blue, yellow, and orange
  • Star Stickers (used to block the paint from specific areas on the page)
  • A stencil
  • Directions and information about the artist.

The only thing you will need to provide is tape to tape down the paper and a plate or pallet to pour the paint on.

Making the Projects

Since there were two pieces of art paper, we decided to do the project together. AJ and I each taped down our paper. We found that taping the paper on the back and sticking it to the table worked easier than taping down the edges. Then I read through the information about Vincent van Gogh while she started the project.

First she placed the star stickers where she wanted them.

Kidzaw Master Kitz

Then she used the special roller in the blue paint to create a neat texture on the page.

Painting with the blue paint to make a neat texture

Once the blue was all over the page, she used the same roller in the white paint. We didn’t really see the white paint over the blue. AJ stated that she thought the paper should have been an off white color like they showed in the instructions. Then the white paint and texture would look a little better. Even so, the texture was neat. At this point AJ washed out the roller and we took the star stickers off of her picture. Getting the stars off was hard. Two of them ripped, but I was still able to reuse them on my page.

While she continued with the next step, I started my project.

Her next step was taping the stencil over her picture.

Using the stencil to paint

Then she used the black paint and rolled over the stencil.  At that point the painting looked really cool. The dark black was a good contrast to the blue.

The picture after the black paint was used

Then it was time to start using the chalk pastels. She started off with the yellow and orange for the stars.

The stars colored in

When it came time to add color to the town part of the picture, AJ wanted to use more than the four colors that came with the kit. She got out her own chalk pastels and had a blast coloring in the scene.

Coloring in the town with chalk pastels

In the end, her project came out great!

The final project

I was proud of mine too. I am not very artistic, but the project was fun to do and looks good too.

My final project

From start to finish the entire project took a little less than two hours. It was a nice afternoon.

AJ showing off her final project

What We Thought

Both of us really enjoyed the project. The directions for everything except the chalk pastels were simple to follow. I wish they had a little more explanation on how to use the chalk pastels. AJ also thought that four colors wasn’t enough.

There is more than enough paint to do the project a few more times, but I am not sure that the star stickers would last for more than one more picture. So if you wanted to do the project with more than two people, you may need to use something else to block the paint where the stars go. But other than the stars, I think you could use this kit over and over. AJ is planning to use the special roller on a few other projects.

The information about van Gogh was simple to read and gave basic information. I think it was a great introduction to the artist. It is not enough for an in depth study, but I feel it could be used as a starting point for a fun study. The kit would be a great addition to an artist study, or just for a fun project. AJ and I enjoyed having fun and hanging out together while completing the project.

These kitz would be a great Christmas or birthday gift for people who are difficult to buy for. They are not just for kids, adults will enjoy them too! (If anyone is looking for a fun gift for AJ, she said she would like any of the other kitz.) I would absolutely recommend these kitz to other artists, and those who are artistically challenged.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below!

Master Kitz The Starry Night {Kidzaw.com Reviews}
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Balancing Diapers and Deadlines ~ Review

I have been blogging for quite a while. When I look back at the first few posts, it is easy to see that I have come a long way. In the beginning, blogging was a way to keep track of some of the projects that AJ did for school. It was also a place for me to share about my then new food intolerance and how I was dealing with it. It started off as a hobby, but grew into something more. Now I make a little bit of money from sponsored posts, affiliate links, and a few other things. But it also costs me money to maintain my blog. I have to pay for hosting and for my domain.

Now I need to think of my blog as more of a business and less of a hobby. But that can be difficult! It can be hard to find time to work on a business while homeschooling and taking care of my family. I have signed up for a few different courses in the past that claimed they could help me manage my business and my home, but they were not really effective. They were just not a good fit for my situation. But I knew that something needed to change. Lately I just haven’t been able to find the time to blog with everything else going on in my life. I was quite excited to have the chance to try out Balancing Diapers and Deadlines from Lisa Tanner Writing. I hoped that it would be different from other courses that I had tried in the past, and it was!

Lisa Tanner Writing

What is Balancing Diapers and Deadlines

Don’t let the name of the course fool you. This course is not all about dealing with young kids while running a business. There is a section that focuses on younger kids, but there is also a section that focuses on running a business while having older kids at home. What is great about this course is that you can take away what you need and skip the section or sections that do not apply to you.

This is an online course. Once you are registered and have paid for the course you select a user name and password and are able to access the course from any device that has internet access. The lessons are text based and load very quickly. They are written in a friendly tone and are simple to understand. There are eight units in the course.

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines

The Units

  1. Welcome to Balancing Diapers and Deadlines – This unit doesn’t have any lessons. It includes some background information about the author and explains what to expect in the course.
  2. Building Your Foundation with the Basics – This unit was one of my favorites. It talks about getting your family on-board with your business, flexible routines, and making plans for the days.
  3. Minimize Your Decisions – This unit is mostly about keeping your home in order so that you can have more time to spend with your family and on your business. There are a lot of helpful tips!
  4. Minimize Your Decisions: The Annual Meal Plan – This unit sets you up with ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and shopping lists. Around here lunch is one of the hardest parts of the day. It was nice to see a meal plan that had lunch ideas!
  5. Sustainable Growth ~ This is a unit about taking care of yourself. You can’t take care of a family and run a business without taking care of yourself. There is a lot of practical advice in this unit!
  6. Growing a Business with Your Kids Around ~ This unit breaks up kids into different age groups and gives advice on how to manage the kids needs and the needs of your business. It also has advice about kids with special needs. A few of these lessons didn’t apply to me because AJ is a teenager, but I still got a lot out of the course.
  7. Boost Your Productivity ~ This unit goes over ways that can make you more productive. From ways to start your day off better to improving your typing speed, there is a lot of great information.
  8. Closing Thoughts ~ This wraps the course up with some additional information and resources.

How to Use the Course

For each lesson there is an action plan. Sometimes they are simple like talking to your family about the goal of your business. While other times the action plan may be something more time consuming, like coming up with lunch ideas that your family enjoys to add to your menu plan. Once you complete the action plan, you can mark the lesson complete. The course keeps track of where you left off. But you can go back and reread any of the lessons as needed.

I decided to read through the course without doing the action plans first. I wanted to get a good overview of the course. Now I am going through it again. This time I am doing the action steps that apply to me. I found a lot of useful information in this course.

What I Thought

I was pleasantly surprised by the content in this course. In fact, because of some of the tips I have learned I decided to sign up as a speaker for an online conference. It is something that will hopefully take my blog to the next level, and something I wouldn’t have done in the past. It is a new adventure. I felt encouraged by the course that I could spend time growing my business, and I think you will too!

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below!

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines {Lisa Tanner Writing Reviews}
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St. Bartholomew’s Eve ~ Review

Over the past few years AJ and I have had the chance to witness history come alive as we have listened to different audio dramas from Heirloom Audio. We have visited Ancient Egypt, different parts of Europe, and even visited the California Gold Rush, all while never leaving our living room. We have listened to stories of love, loss, faith, courage, and forgiveness. Heirloom Audio is a company that puts out quality audio dramas that tell the true story of what happened in an entertaining way. Our family has come to really enjoy and look forward to the new releases, so we were thrilled when we were given the chance to review St. Bartholomew’s Eve.

St. Bartholomew's Eve

About Heirloom Audio

The goal of Heirloom Audio is to engage listeners’ imagination by taking them back in time and immersing them in a great Christian story. They do this by using amazing actors, background music, and sound effects, to help the story come alive. You can hear the wind blowing, swords swinging, and people in the streets. Even the accents used are authentic. It is the little details that make the difference!

Heirloom Audio Productions
All of the stories that Heirloom Audio dramatizes are from the books written by G.A. Henty. He wrote many books about history over the years. In fact, two of his books are on AJ’s reading lists this year. Heirloom Audio already made one of them into an audio drama. When it came time to read, The Cat of Bubastes, she read the book. And then she re-listened to the audio drama. G.A. Henty was a great author, but listening to the audio drama really brought the story to life!

About  St. Bartholomew’s Eve

This audio drama takes place in France about fifty years after Martin Luther brought Protestant beliefs to Europe.  At this time in France, and many other places, the Kings were in charge of what religion the people of the country could practice. There was a Catholic King on the thrown. He was not allowing the Protestants, known as the Huguenots to practice their religion. The Catholics thought that the Huguenots were blasphemous. Some of the reasons were because they did not abstain from eating meat on Friday’s and they sang Psalms. During that time the Huguenots were being persecuted.

St. Bartholomew's Eve
It is hard to imagine that people would be killed because of a difference of beliefs. But sadly many wars are about religion. In this story a 16 year old English boy leaves his home and goes to France. He wants to help free his fellow Protestant believers from tyranny. The Huguenots didn’t want to have to fight, but they knew that they needed to protect their right to worship God. During one of their meetings they ask,

“Whom shall we obey? The king of France or the King of Kings?”

The story has themes of courage, determination, fighting for what is right, and trusting in God, among others. We often take our right to worship, or not worship for granted. This story helps one to see that people had to fight and die for things that we take for granted every day.

This audio drama is for ages six and up. It is about two and a half hours long.

Our Thoughts

AJ and I listened to the CD’s together. Then we had a few discussions about our rights as Christians and how there are still places where people don’t have the same rights that we do. When we get to this era in world history, I plan to have AJ listen to the CD’s again. All of the productions from Heirloom Audio have been amazing. But I think this one has touched closer to home. It has brought up discussions. Every time I listen to a new adventure from Heirloom Audio I am amazed at the quality. The story is well written, the audio is perfect (played on a computer, CD player, or on the TV), and you learn a great deal.

I would also like to mention that the company has amazing customer service. I had an issue with an old CD, the one from The Cat of Bubastes. It was something they didn’t have to fix. But they did. They were helpful, kind, and fixed my issue in a very timely manner. The quality of their service impressed me. It is nice to see a company that makes a great product and stands behind it.

I would highly recommend any of the audio dramas from Heirloom Audio. Next, you can check out my previous reviews.

Captain Bayley’s Heir

In the Reign of Terror

The Dragon And the Raven

Wulf the Saxon

The Cat of Bubastes

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St. Bartholomew's Eve {Heirloom Audio Reviews}
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Brinkman Adventures Season 6 ~ Review

Over the years our family has come to love audio books and audio dramas. It began when AJ was younger and struggled with reading. We would listen to audio books to help with her literature assignments while she continued to practice reading books that were at her reading level. Eventually, we started to pick up additional books just for fun. Then we came across audio dramas, and we were hooked. AJ told me they were like watching a movie with her eyes closed.

Brinkman Adventures
We have had the opportunity to try out quite a few different audio dramas over the years and Brinkman Adventures is by far one of our favorites! This time we were given the chance to try out the digital version of Season 6: Underground Rising and it did not disappoint!

What is Brinkman Adventures?

Brinkman Adventures are audio dramas that tell the stories of real life missionaries. The names and some details are changed for safety reasons, but the struggles, triumphs, and stories of God’s love are true. The audio dramas are well made. There are plenty of background noises and music to make the stories come to life. The acting in the dramas is amazing.

Underground Rising Season 6 Brinkman Adventures

About Season 6

The digital copy was simple to download. I just clicked on the link in the email, saved the episodes to my computer, and they were ready to listen to. There are over two hours of listening adventures. In the past the seasons have been twice as long, but making the seasons shorter lets them be released sooner.

Season six has six episodes that take you from the Netherlands to Wisconsin, India, Thailand, and Burma.

  •  55 – Dutch Underground Part 1
  •  56 – Dutch Underground Part 2
  •  57 – Twice Born Fly
  • 58 – I Wonder Why?
  •  59 – Free Burma Rangers Part 1
  •  60 – Free Burma Rangers Part 2

The stories in season six are heartwarming. In the Dutch Underground we learn more about resisting evil while learning about what happened to the Brinkman’s grandparents during World War Two. There are stories about salvation soldiers, and more. The best part is that you can read more about the true stories on the website. There are videos and behind the scene information that let you learn even more.

Our Favorite Episode

While all of the episodes are great, my favorite episode from this season was number 58, I Wonder Why? It is about a little girl named Sam whose family decides they need to move to India to run an orphanage. The kids are so bad. They tease Sam’s little brother, don’t listen in school, and do not behave. Sam resents them and her family for having to leave her home and friends. Especially when the orphans, “don’t deserve to be loved.” Her parents continually tell her to love without reason, but she doesn’t understand why she should. In the end the orphans end up accepting Jesus and become nicer, and her heart is healed and she becomes kinder. Her brother is also healed from his deadly allergy.

The episode focuses on Trusting God’s plan. That can be a difficult thing to do, and I think the episode showed that trusting in God is not always easy, but that He does have a plan.

What We Thought

AJ and I listened to the episodes together at the computer. I personally prefer the CD to the digital copy because then I can listen to the episodes in the car or other places. The digital content can be synced with digital devices, but I didn’t try to figure out how to do that.

As with the previous seasons, we really enjoyed listening to season six of Brinkman Adventures. The stories were life like, the added sound effects made the story more interesting. Overall the stories told of God’s love. We plan to re listen to the first two episodes again when we are studying World War 2 again in the spring. Stories like, Dutch Underground remind you that even though there was a lot of evil, there were a lot of people willing to risk their lives to do the right thing. I can’t wait to see what season 7 has in store!

Check out our reviews of seasons Three and Four.

Take advantage of this great coupon!

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Brinkman Adventures Season 6 Reviews
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Progeny Press eGuide ~ Review

Over the years AJ and I have tried out quite a few different book studies. Some I have found free online, others I have paid for, and a majority of them I have just made myself. The problem with making them myself is that it is time consuming. I have to read through the books, find literary elements, and figure out activities. My own book studies are always fun, but now that she is in high school I find it hard to keep up. Often the free book studies I find just have questions about the plot, and I want more. I had heard about Progeny Press before, and read that their studies were very well done. So when we were given the chance to review their Perelandra – eGuide, I was interested give them a try.

Perelandra
Perelandra is the second book in a trilogy written by C. S. Lewis. The book can be read as a stand alone book, but like most series the reader will have a better understanding if the books are read in order. AJ and I both enjoyed the Narnia series, so I figured we would enjoy this series from C. S. Lewis as well. We went into the study not reading the first book. The study guide did provide a synopsis of what happened in the first book. But I would recommend reading the books in order. Progeny Press has a study for the first book, and I wish we would have done that study first.

Study Guide Basics

We received both the study guide and the answer key. The study guide is 58 pages long. It begins with a note to the instructor that explains how to use the guide. Then it has a synopsis of the book and the previous book along with background information about the author.

The study guide is interactive. You can click on the table of contents and you are taken to that section. You are also able to type your answers directly into the study guide. This is perfect for those who don’t enjoy writing. It also works wonders to save on ink. You don’t need to print the guide off. Simply let your student type their answers in and save it to your computer. Of course if you prefer to have a written copy you can print it once your student finishes it.

The Answer Key is six pages long. The writing is very small, but it has all of the questions answered. I found the answer key helpful especially with some of the dig deeper questions. Looking at it let me help AJ when she got stuck. It also was a great discussion starter when her answers varied from the key.

More Details About the Study Guide

The study guide is designed to be used over an eight to ten week period and can count as a quarter credit for high school. During the first week the student reads the book and completes some pre- reading activities. There are a lot of different options. Some include:

  • Researching the different accounts of creation from different religions and comparing them with the Biblical account.
  • Imagining they are in the Garden of Eden and writing a description of it.
  • Researching the origins of Mars and Venus and comparing the god’s character traits in Greek, Roman, and Norse Mythology.

Once the book is read, the student comes back and does the book work. The chapters are broken up, usually two at a time. Each section follows the same format.

Vocabulary

This is one of my favorite parts of the study guide. Each section has an activity to do with vocabulary. It isn’t just a simple write the definition of a word activity though. The activities make the student look at how the word was used and what it means. Sometimes the student will need to fill the word into the blank of a sentence, and then write a definition. Other times they may need to read a passage and write their own definition before looking up the dictionary definition.  They even have to look at the context of a passage to decide which definition of the word the author meant.

There are about two pages of vocabulary for each section. One of AJ’s biggest struggles is seeing how words can mean different things in different contexts. These activities have been difficult for her, but they have helped. One thing that we liked was that there were different activities, she didn’t have to do the same activity every time.

Questions

For each section there are about four questions about the reading. These are questions that can be answered about the plot of the story. As long as the student read the book they should be able to answer the questions. But they can go back and read through the chapters again if they need to.

Analysis

Each section has about three to six analysis questions. These questions require the student to think beyond the plot of the book. Sometimes they are asked to think about what a character is thinking, sometimes they are asked to look at a character’s actions and then told to read a Bible passage. They are also asked about different uses of literary devises in the story. These are the types of questions I often find missing from other book studies. They require the student to look beyond the basic story.

Dig Deeper

Each section has a few dig deeper questions. The amount varies due to what was going on in each section. These questions go further than the analysis questions. They require the student to look at symbolism in the book, and to look at statements made by the characters. One question asks the student to go into a dark room and wait for a while. Then they are asked if they felt the way a character felt.

There is a lot of Biblical symbolism and that is explored in this section. The student is instructed to read passages from Genesis, Revelations, Hebrews, and other books of the Bible to see the parallels between the accounts in the Bible and the story.

After the questions are answered for each section then there are additional activities for the student to complete. There are options that explore point of view, the author’s use of color, the similarities between the tempting of Eve and the tempting of a character in the novel, and other activities that explore the parallels between the Bible and the novel.

How We Used It

We tried to use the study guide as written. But it just didn’t work. AJ is a slow reader and finishing the book in a week wasn’t going to happen with this book. The language in the book was difficult and at times she was getting lost in the story. I think reading the book and then doing the work would have been perfect for her while we were reading the Narnia series. At that time she hated to stop after a few chapter and answer questions. But this book was harder for her. So after two weeks of her not wanting to read and her having a hard time with the book, we decided to make a change.

I had her do the vocabulary work for the chapters and then read them again. When she was done reading the section she answered the questions. She answered some of the analysis and dig deeper questions, but most of them we are saving until she is finished with the book. Normally we rush through a book. The idea of spending ten weeks on one book seemed like a lot. But I see now that she is really understanding beyond the book. It may take her longer to get through the reading, but when she is done she will have a great understanding of symbolism among other literary elements.

What We Thought

Progeny Press
This was the first guide that we have used from Progeny Press. And I am very impressed. The study guides are very well made. The questions make the student think, the vocabulary activities make the student understand word usage, and the work isn’t rushed. The guides are affordable, and I see us using a few more in our future.

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New Study Guides for Literature From a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press Reviews}
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