Daily Bible Jigsaw ~ Review

Over the past few weeks I have been trying out a fun game on Facebook called Daily Bible Jigsaw. It is from Planet 316, a company who feels it is important to make the Bible approachable for both young hearts and seasoned souls.

Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316

What is Daily Bible Jigsaw?

Daily Bible Jigsaw is a free app that is available on Google Play, Facebook, Facebook Gameroom, and the Apple App Store. Each day a new five piece by six piece jigsaw puzzle is available and ready for you to solve.

Daily Bible Jigsaw - A fun free app

If you do the puzzle on the day it is available you are able to do it for free. Each day you solve a puzzle, you uncover another piece of a monthly picture. At the end of the month if you solve the puzzles every day, the picture will be revealed. If you miss a day and want to complete a puzzle later you are charged 3 coins. The coins are available for purchase, but you can also earn one each day if you can attach the power piece to another piece of the puzzle.

Daily Bible Jigsaw - A fun free app

When you start the puzzle the pieces are all mixed up and you have to figure out what the picture is. It would be like dumping out a regular jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the picture was going to be when it was finished.

To make the puzzle easier to solve there are five different tools that are available. Each tool that you use will cost you coins, but they can come in handy if you are trying to solve the puzzle faster than your friends.

Rotate – This is my favorite tool. It rotates all of the pieces so that they are the right way. If I have a low time on a puzzle, chances are I used this tool. It makes solving the puzzle so much easier. Without it I often have the puzzle upside down or sideways for a while before I figure out that it needs to be changed.

Daily Bible Jigsaw - A Fun Free App

Guide – This tool lets you look at a picture of the completed puzzle. I haven’t used this one very often, but it is helpful if you can’t figure out what the picture is suppose to be.

Daily Bible Jigsaw - A Fun Free App

Sweep – This tool will sweep all of the pieces that are not connected to the sides. This is nice if you want to get the pieces you need to still work on to the side so that you can work on them. It is mainly a time saver.

Daily Bible Jigsaw - A Fun Free App

Magnet – The magnet will randomly connect two pieces together. I didn’t find this tool very helpful, but it is a good option to have.

Daily Bible Jigsaw - A Fun Free App

Edges – This is a helpful tool, it hides all of the pieces that are not edges. It makes it so that you can quickly put the edges together.

Daily Bible Jigsaw - A Fun Free App

When you are finished with the puzzle a scripture verse is added to it and you have the option of sharing the picture on Facebook.

Daily Bible Jigsaw - A Fun Free App

You are also shown your friends times and where you rank among them.

Along with the daily puzzles there are also bonus puzzles that are a little more challenging that you can try. Some of them are free while others cost a few coins.

What We Thought of Daily Bible Jigsaw

I tried to play the game each day, but often found myself using coins to catch up on a few days. Overall this game was a nice addition to my day. It is quick and easy but challenging enough to make you think.  The pictures are beautiful and I have seen a variety of them over the past few weeks. There have been breathtaking landscapes, animals, and other adorable pictures. I like that it is an easy way to share scripture verses. I also enjoy being able to challenge my friends and try to beat their time. The only thing I didn’t care for was that it was not compatible on my kindle. I usually play games on my kindle instead of my computer, but that is just a personal preference.

If you are looking for a fun addition to your day, give Daily Bible Jigsaw a try. The best part is it is free!

Daily Bible Jigsaw {Planet 316 Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set ~ Review

Over the past few weeks AJ and I have been reading and studying Homer’s Iliad. We received the Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set from Memoria Press it has made the process of learning about these ancient texts a lot easier. We looked forward to reading these Epics and were excited to get started.

Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set

The Iliad

Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set
We received a copy of the Iliad translated by Samuel Butler. The book is 447 pages long and is broken up into 24 books. The print size in the book is nice. AJ commented that she didn’t have to squint to read the words and that she could actually see them easily.

Along with the book we received a Student Guide and a Teacher Guide. For each book in the Iliad there are two pages in the Student Guide to complete. The first section lists important places and characters and gives more information about them. The next section has comprehension questions. These vary in difficulty. Some are simple answers that are pulled straight from the book while others require a little more thought.

The third section is Quotations. A few quotes from the book are listed. The student is expected to become familiar with these quotes and know them for tests. The final section is Discussion Questions. These questions are mostly opinion based. An example from book 15 is;

 Who is the better warrior- Ajax, son of Telamon, or Hector. There isn’t a correct answer but the questions do force the student to think about the story on a deeper level.

Since The Iliad was written so long ago, it can be a difficult read. The Student Guide tries to make it as simple as possible. In the appendix there are genealogical charts and other helpful information to help your student keep track of who is who and which side different cities are on. We found this section very valuable.

The Teacher Guide for The Iliad is different from other Memoria Press guides we have used in the past. While the Teacher Guide has all of the information contained in the Student Guide, it has so much more.

Each book begins with Background and Drill. This section gives more in depth information about important topics. There are also sections on Discussion Help, questions the students should mark for tests, Teacher Notes, and additional assignments for the student to complete. There are writing assignments for almost every book. These include memory work, summaries, compare and contrast, opinion, and more.

There are three tests included in the Teacher Guide. These tests are not easy! When your student is able to pass the tests they will have a great understanding of The Iliad.

The best part of the package was the Instructional DVDs. Sean Brooks gives a video lecture for each book in The Iliad. The lectures were not boring, in fact AJ enjoyed watching the lectures. Mr. Brooks is excellent at explaining what is going on in each book and why it is important. I felt the DVDs were what made me feel confident to teach these books. They really took the study to the next level.

The Odyssey

Iliad & Odyssey Complete Set
Our copy of The Odyssey is also translated by Samuel Butler. It is 358 pages long and broken up into 24 books. Like The Iliad, the text size is nice and the book is well made.

The Student Guide and Teacher Guides are set up very similarly to the guides for The Iliad. I appreciate that because when we get to The Odyssey AJ will already be familiar with the set up.

There looks like a lot of fun assignments to go along with The Odyssey. One that I think AJ will like is from book 7. It asks the student to choose a location for Scheria and defend it geographically. They have to describe how to get back to Ithaca from that point. I like that they are forced to think deeper.

I watched a few of the DVD lectures, and they did not disappoint. I am sure that AJ will like them as much as she likes the lectures on The Iliad.

How We Use It

At first we tried to use the program as it is designed in the Teacher Guide. The student reads a book each day and completes the work. Together both books should take around 18 weeks to complete. The study really seems to be written for more of a classroom student with classwork and homework, than for a homeschooled student. It was just too much for AJ. This book is not an easy read and requires a lot of concentration. We are not classical homeschoolers and she had never heard of the Trojan War. I think a student who is use to Memoria Press would be able to catch on a lot faster.

After a few days I decided to change things up. We are currently not using the Student Guide at all. We are reading a book out loud over a day or two depending on the length and then on the following day watching the lecture and discussing the discussion questions.

My plan is to have her read through both books and watch all of the lectures. When she is done and is more familiar with all of the characters and what is happening in the story she will read them again. At that point I will have her fill out the study guides, take quizzes, do the memory work, and dig deeper. I plan to give AJ a high school English credit when she is completely finished.

What We Thought

If you are looking for a way to teach your child these difficult texts, this is hands down the way to go. I don’t think you will find a better study. Between the Teacher Guide and the Instructional DVDs you will have everything you need right at your finger tips.

First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Bessie’s Pillow ~ Review

This year AJ has been learning all about modern history. Learning about things that happened only decades ago instead of hundreds of years ago has been really interesting to her. It is amazing how far our world has come in such a short time. Most of the topics we are learning about happened after my grandma was born. Knowing someone who was actually alive when wars and other things happened really puts things into perspective.  One topic that AJ has really enjoyed learning about is the American Dream. And how that dream wasn’t easy for a lot of people.

We were recently given the chance to review the book, Bessie’s Pillow by Linda Bress Silbert. It is an amazing book from Strong Learning, Inc. that is based on a true story of a young immigrant’s journey to America. I thought that the book would be a great way for AJ to get a better understanding of the personal side of history. It is easy to learn facts, but it is nice to get a look into how people felt and handled what was going on. AJ seems to enjoy books that are based on a strong female character, so I thought that she would enjoy this book.

Bessie's Pillow 

What is Bessie’s Pillow?

Bessie’s Pillow is a 276 page soft covered historical fiction book. It is broken into 40 chapters and includes a section called Bessie’s America. This section is full of historical information about the things going on in Eastern Europe that drove hundreds of thousands of people to immigrate to America in the 19th and 20th century. It also includes information about what America was like in that time period.

The book is told in first person point of view. It starts off with 18 year old Boshka Markman waiting to leave her family and everything she knew to come to America. It was 1906 and Lithuania was no longer a safe place for her to live. At such a young age she would leave her family and make the long difficult journey to America on her own.

Just getting to America was a challenge. There are numerous health checks and inspections to make sure she was healthy enough to enter America. Once she finally reached America she was told that her name would have to be changed to make it more American. From that day on she was known as Bessie.

Bessie was a strong woman. We see her grow from a young 18 year old child to a strong wife and business woman. She faces struggles and overcomes them. She is kind, compassionate, and has a strong spirit.

Beyond the Book

Just reading the book will teach you a lot about history. But the author has taken it a step further. She has created a site, Bessie’s America that takes learning about the time period to a new level. There are picture from the time period and tons of information about daily life back in the beginning of the 1900’s.

There is also a teacher’s guide. The guide includes; discussion questions, a timeline of events, character analysis, themes, symbolism in the book and more. This book can easily be a jumping point for a full on history and language arts study.

Unfortunately, when we were reading the book there were some issues with the website and the links were not working. Now that it is working, we have enjoyed looking through and learning even more about the time period.

What We Thought

Originally the plan was to read a few chapters a day as a read aloud. After the first few days though, it seemed impossible to stop after a few chapters. The book was exciting and AJ didn’t want to stop reading. We ended up finishing the book in a few days. It was well written and really gave insight into what it was like to be an immigrant in America.

There were a few difficult to read chapters, because lets face it, Americans were not always the most welcoming to immigrants. It is sad that Bessie had to face those difficulties, but I am glad that they were included in the book. I feel it is important to share both the good and bad parts of history. That being said, you may wish to read the book yourself before handing it over to your child. I think a 5th grader could easily read the book, but I know AJ would not have been emotionally ready to read it in 5th grade. She is in 8th grade now and the book brought up a lot of great discussions, especially considering all of the talk about immigration in our political world.

Overall, if you are looking for an exciting, well written, inspiring story of a strong female character who overcomes many difficulties, Bessie’s Pillow may be exactly what you are looking for.

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

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer
 

Creating A Masterpiece ~ Review

Art is a subject that is often neglected in our homeschool. I would rather teach algebra or writing than art. I think it has to do with the fact that I am not artistic. I would have never passed art in school if it wasn’t for the tests and reports. AJ is very critical of her art and often gets upset when it isn’t perfect, so we often just skip it. When we were given the chance to review the Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece, I thought it would be just what we needed to improve on our artistic abilities.

Creating a Masterpiece

What is Creating A Masterpiece?

Creating A Masterpiece is an online collection of step by step art lessons taught by artist Sharon Hofer. Each project has video lessons that are broken up into small sections. It is the next best thing to taking an art lesson in person. There are a variety of different mediums to explore for beginners through more advanced artists.

When you purchase a subscription to Creating a Masterpiece you will have access to all of the videos in each level. Some of the mediums covered include:

  • oil painting
  • watercolor
  • pastel
  • charcoal
  • pencil
  • ink
  • carving
  • wood burning
  • acrylic
  • silk painting
  • and more

The idea is that your child will be creating masterpieces, not just crafty projects.

How We Used Creating A Masterpiece

We decided to start at the beginner level with watercolor. Our first project was an African Sunset.

Creating A Masterpiece Projects

We were both amazed with the details that we learned. We were able to finish the project in just a few lessons. The directions were easy to follow, and I think that they turned out nicely.

The next project we completed was Floral Medley. This project was a little harder for both of us.

It had more drying time and was a little more open to interpretation. After trying the project a few times, I think they came out okay. AJ is still working on understanding how art can be abstract.

Creating A Masterpiece Projects

The final project we were able to complete was a lesson from level 1. It was a color pencil project and I expected it to be quick and easy. The Tropical Clown Fish actually took the longest to complete.

Creating A Masterpiece Projects

The directions were very easy to follow, but there were a lot of steps. The fish is suppose to look as though it was painted even though it was done in colored pencils.

Creating A Masterpiece Projects

Throughout this project, AJ thought she was doing a horrible job. But once the finished project was revealed she was quite proud of herself.

In the future we plan to try out more painting projects as well as some pastels and charcoal projects.

What We Thought

I knew that AJ and I would learn a few new techniques while using Creating A Masterpiece, but I was surprised at how much we learned. After completing a few projects AJ is a lot more confident in her abilities and excited to try out the techniques that she has learned in her own paintings.

The directions for the projects really are simple enough that a child can understand. One thing I liked was that although the lessons were simple, the instructor didn’t talk down to artists. I think artists of all ages will get something out of this program.

The video quality is great, and it is nice to be able to watch and re-watch the lessons. I was very impressed with Creating A Masterpiece and would recommend it to any artist looking to improve their skills. If AJ and I can create projects that look this nice, I an sure that those with more experience could create something spectacular.

 

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Circle C Stepping Stones ~ Review

AJ is a very reluctant reader. If a book isn’t about animals or scientific in nature, there is a strong chance that she will complain and drag her feet when reading a book. Her reading skills have greatly improved over the last few years but her desire to read hasn’t. Thankfully, I have discovered a few different authors that she enjoys. One of AJ’s favorite authors is Susan K. Marlow. When I found out that we were going to have a chance to review two of her new books, I was thrilled. AJ is older than the recommended age for the books, but I knew she would enjoy them.

We were sent two fun filled adventures from Kregel Publications ; Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top. These books are part of a new series called Circle C Stepping Stones. They take place between Circle C Beginnings and Circle C Adventures when Andi is nine years old. It is perfect for 7 to 10 year olds who are not quite ready for longer chapter books and for anyone who is interested in Andi’s story.

If your family hasn’t been introduced to Andi and the Circle C Ranch, you are missing a great series of books. They follow the life of Andrea Carter, a little girl growing up in California in the late 1800’s. Her family lives on a ranch and she finds herself in numerous adventures. She is a spunky girl who tries to do the right thing but learns valuable lessons about growing up, faith, and family along the way.

Andi Saddles Up

This 104 page soft covered book is broken up into 12 chapters and a History Fun section. It starts off with Andi turning nine years old. She gets a brand new saddle for her horse Taffy and wants to learn how to trick ride. Her brother tells her it isn’t safe and instead shows her a special place on the ranch. Andi ends up meeting a new friend in her special spot, but their two families are feuding over land and the girls are told they can’t be friends. Will Andi listen, or will she try to trick ride on her own? Will the girls be able to stay friends, or will the fighting adults keep them apart? You will have to read the book to find out.

Andi Saddles Up
This book is full of lessons. From friendship, to obedience, to compromise. There is also a lot of historical information to learn as well. Your child will learn a lot by reading the book, but they can take their learning a step further by using the free Study Guides that go along with the book. They have reading comprehension questions, vocabulary, poetry, math and science activities, and more. The Study Guide is paced so that your child can finish the book and activities in 28 days, but AJ finished them in a week.

Andi Under the Big Top

This soft covered book is 105 pages is also broken into 12 chapters and a History Fun section. In this book the circus is coming to town. When Andi and her family go to the circus they see all of the fun and excitement. There are acrobats and elephants, and even a bare back rider. Andi meets a young boy who works at the circus, and she thinks that Henry is lucky to be able to be at the circus every day. Andi soon finds out that his life isn’t very easy. He had ran away from home and now wanted to go back but couldn’t. Will Andi find a way to help Henry? What other adventures await? You will have to read the book and find out for your self.

Andi Under the Big Top
This book drives home the importance of helping others and of family. Using the Study Guide will give your child the opportunity to learn more about the circus. They will even have a chance to make their own stilts! They will also learn about trains and telegrams. There is a lot to discover in this Study Guide.

How We Used the Books

When the books came in the mail, AJ grabbed them and started to read. She started with Andi Saddles Up and was thrilled to learn more about Andi’s adventures. I printed off the Study Guide and had her do a weeks worth of work each day. It took her about an hour to read three chapters and do all of the Study Guide activities. If she was younger, I would have probably had her read a chapter a day, but she was easily able to handle the expedited pace. The following week she read Andi Under the Big Top and completed the Study Guide, but she didn’t make the stilts. She had a great time reading and working on the Study Guide.

What We Thought

These books were not a disappointment! They lived up to the fun adventures that we have come to expect from Susan K. Marlow. They are wholesome, exciting, and make for some good discussions. One thing that AJ likes is that while the books can be read as a stand alone, they really go well together.

I can’t believe how well put together the Study Guides are, or that they are free. (You can purchase them pre printed. Downloading them and printing them yourself is free) They are well thought out and a lot of time was put into them. AJ was writing poetry, adding up the cost of circus snacks, doing cross word puzzles of vocabulary, filling in maps, and learning about the historical time period. The activities make the book come more to life.

If you have an Andi fan, you need to check out these books. If you have a younger child who is interested in adventures, horses, or the old west, you need to check these book out. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Andi Series {Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

The Beginner’s Bible ~ Review

When I was little I remember receiving my very first Bible. It was The Beginner’s Bible. I read it all of the time and until a few years ago, I still had it. It was even the first Bible that AJ used when she was younger. I loved the short stories and she loved to flip through the pictures. It had a lot of use and we both learned more about the stories in the Bible from it.

The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}
Even though AJ moved onto a regular Bible a while ago, I was happy to find out that Zonderkidz had recently come out with a updated version of The Beginner’s Bible. AJ and I were eager to check out the new version.

What Is The Beginner’s Bible?

The Beginner’s Bible is a  Bible geared especially for kids ages 4 to 8. It is a hard covered book full of vibrant colors and kid friendly language. It is over 500 pages long with large text to make reading easier.

Since there are some words that may still be a little hard for kids to understand, there is a short but helpful Bible Dictionary at the end of the book. When your child comes to a word in italics while reading the story, they can turn to the end of the book and find out what it means.

The Beginner’s Bible includes the major stories from both the Old and New Testaments including; Adam and Eve, The Ten Commandments, Samson, David and Goliath, The Birth of Jesus, Lazarus, and many more. It also contains lesser known stories including; Jars of Oil based on 2 Kings 4:1-7, and A Gift for Jesus based on John 12:1-8.

At the beginning of each story you will find the book, chapter, and verse where the story can be found in the regular Bible. I think that feature is one of our favorite things about this Bible. It makes it easy for the child to see that these are not just a bunch of fairy tales, but that they are real stories from the Bible.

How to Use The Beginner’s Bible?

There are so many ways to use this Bible! Younger kids will enjoy listening to the stories and looking at the beautiful pictures. Older kids can spend time reading and learning on their own. It is also a great book to practice reading. Having your child read a few stories a week will not only help to improve their reading, but it will help them learn more about God’s Word. There are quite a few worksheets and coloring pages that you can print off to go along with the stories to make Bible time even more exciting.

What Did We Think About The Beginner’s Bible?

The biggest difference between this new Beginner’s Bible and the one that I grew up with is the illustrations. These seem to almost jump off of the page.

The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}

They have taken the pictures that AJ use to love to look through and made them even better! It is still the same great story Bible that tells the important stories of the Bible in a way that kids can easily understand.

If you are looking for a good Bible, this is one you should check out!

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about the Beginner’s Bible by clicking on the graphic below.

The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}
Crew Disclaimer

Chemistry 101~ Review

AJ’s favorite subject has always been science. She loves to figure things out, complete experiments, and just learn all about the world. Currently her goal is to become a veterinarian, so we know that she will need to take as many science and math courses as possible in high school. The only problem we have is that she is not a kid who learns by reading out of a book. She needs to see things and do things to understand a concept.

AJ will be starting high school next year, so we have been looking for a good science course for her. I had not found a course that I really loved. Then we were given the opportunity to review Chemistry 101 from The 101 Series. It was exactly what we were looking for!

What is Chemistry 101

Chemistry 101 is a high school level chemistry course that is Christian based. Each lesson is taught in video form by Wes Olson. The videos are interesting to watch and packed full of information. There are 19 different video segments that range from 20 to 45 minutes long. There are almost 11 hours of video.

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
The course is broken into four sections.

The Road to the Periodic Table

This section has eight video lessons that take you from the very beginning of chemistry to the basics of the periodic table. He goes into a lot of history and explains how some scientific terms got their names. This is the longest section of the course. I expected AJ to find some of the background information boring, but she didn’t. The way that Wes explains a topic is perfect. It is easy to see that he is very knowledgeable and that he enjoys science.

Chemistry Essentials

This section has five videos. It goes into the main parts of chemistry; neutrons, isotopes, ions, compounds, molecules, and balancing equations. Going in to this review, this section was the one I was worried about. AJ has not gotten this far in the course, but I went through and watched a few of these lessons. I was impressed! Each topic is explained completely. It takes the some what confusing parts about chemistry and makes them easy to understand.

This isn’t a math heavy course. The way he explains how to balance chemical equations is simple but can be applied to more difficult equations in the future.

Meet the Elements

This section has four videos. In these videos you learn more about the elements on the periodic table. This section continues to review concepts from the previous lessons while diving deeper into the qualities that pertain to different groups of elements on the periodic table.

The Future

This section has two videos. In them you will learn about how science has been used for the good and bad and what scientists are currently working on. It is amazing to think that these little atoms can do so much harm or good in the world.

The great part about this program is that it can be used in a few different ways. Your student can simply watch the videos to gain a great deal of information on the topics. They can use the videos as review or to prepare for an advanced Chemistry course, or it can be taken further. Included with the DVD is a 122 page PDF Guidebook. This is optional, but it really takes the course a step further. The Guidebook has additional information about each video. It includes quizzes, discussion questions, and other useful information. There is also a a 23 page Accreditation Booklet. The Accreditation Booklet has additional activities that the student can do to make this a full high school Chemistry course. It includes reports, experiments, field trip ideas, and more.

One thing I appreciated about this course is that you don’t need any crazy materials to complete the course. I know a lot of programs say that they use everyday household products, but this one really does. For the entire course the only things I will need to get are some copper wire and some dry ice. Every other experiment requires things I either have or can very easily pick up at the grocery store.

How We Used Chemistry 101

We decided to complete the program using the Accreditation Booklet. Each video section should take about two weeks to watch the video and complete the other work. It is taking AJ a little bit longer to do each section because she is not use to researching and writing so many reports. Writing is her weakest subject, and it takes her a little longer to do. For the first section she had to write two 200 word reports and complete two experiments along with starting her Chemistry notebook.

Here is her report on Distillation.

All About Distillation

Distillation was started by Greek alchemists in the first century ad. Distilled water has been around since at least the year 200 ad.

Distillation is a process where liquid is separated from other substances. It is done by heating the liquid to a point where it evaporates. When it evaporates the liquid turns into a gas. Then the gas is cooled down and condenses back into a liquid. The substances end up separated.

Distillation is not a natural occurring process. It takes place in a laboratory.

In the process of distillation the part of the mixture that is more volatile, or the part that is easier to turn to vapor, is separated from the other substances. The liquid with a lower boiling point will evaporate first.

Distillation can be used to separate salt water into water and salt. It can be used to take germs and other things out of drinking water. It can turn harmful water into safe drinking water, lowering the chances of diseases and plagues. Another use of distillation is taking fuels like gasoline and separating them from crude oil. When you think about it, distillation is really useful and helpful.

AJ is enjoying this course. Often she will space out when watching videos if she finds them boring, but that hasn’t been the case with this program. After each lesson she is able to easily answer all of the questions on the quiz. She is learning a lot and enjoying the process.

I think that I will end up adding a few additional experiments on the weeks when there aren’t any scheduled. I will also probably have her balance more equations than the course provides in order to give her more practice. Other than that we will use this course as written. I plan to purchase the Biology 101 and Physics 101 programs in the future.

If you have a student who learns better by watching and doing than by reading a book, this might be exactly what you are looking for. Chick on the graphic below to see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought.

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
Crew Disclaimer

Commissioned ~ Review

We are always on the look out for a fun family game. When it comes to games, it is usually just AJ and myself playing and it can be a little difficult to find games that are fun for just two players. I was thrilled when we were able to review Commissioned from Chara Games.

What is Commissioned

Commissioned is a cooperative strategy game for two to six players. It is recommended for players who are ages 14 and up. In the game you take on the roll of an apostle. The goal is to grow the early church, collect the New Testament, and overcome challenges along the way. You don’t need any knowledge of Church history, or history in general, but you will learn quite a bit by playing the game.

Commissioned {Chara Games}
Each game takes about an hour to play. One interesting thing is that there are different quests and two sets of difficulty cards, so you are able to play the game multiple times without repeating the same scenarios.

How to Play Commissioned

You start off by selecting which scenario you want to play and which apostle each player represent. A word of advice, don’t pick based on wanting to be a specific color. Each apostle has a different strength and you need to think your choices through. We realized that with just the two of us playing that we needed someone to be either Barnabas or Paul or we wouldn’t get very far.

The next step is to set up the game. The instructions give step by step directions with pictures, so it is an easy process. Once everything is set up it is time to start the game.

Commissioned {Chara Games}
The game is played in three main stages; ARM, LIVE, and MATURE.

In the ARM stage each player draws cards from their faith deck to use in the other stages of the game.

The LIVE stage is the main game stage. In this stage the group goes through five actions. First is the Trial where a trial card is drawn. These cards make the game. They are based on real trials that the apostles went through. Even in the easier version of the game these trials can make the game a little more difficult. A card may stop you from moving a missionary, or may wipe out a church. Some cards have multiple affects.

The next action in the LIVE stage is PRAY. In this section each player plays two cards from their faith deck that they think will help the most.

Then there is the SHARE action. The elder of the church (this changes with each turn) picks the two cards from the faith deck that they think will help the church reach their goal.

In the MOVE action, the Elder makes two moves on the board. But they have to be careful. They need to decide how to best move while trying to keep a decent number of church members in each area.

The final action in the LIVE stage is GROW. For every church that has at least three church members, a new member is added. That is unless a growth stop was placed on the area.

Then it is time for the MATURE stage where the players use the two cards that are left in their hands to purchase more faith cards. They can get cards to help in the next LIVE phase, or they can collect books of the New Testament.

The process is complete when you run out of trial cards, the objective has been met, or until you have lost five churches.

What We Thought

The game takes a lot of strategy, some luck, and a good deal of team work. We have played it a few different times now and have had a blast. We won twice and lost the rest, but each time it is different.

Having a BLAST playing Commissioned!

When you first start to play the game it can be a little confusing. There is a lot of information presented and the game its self has a lot of moving pieces. The amazing thing is that the creators of the game have created a few videos explaining how to play. I watched the video, scanned through the instruction booklet, and we got started.

The first game was a little rocky as we learned how to play. I kept the instruction booklet close and we referred to it a few times. We even had to restart the game twice because we realized a few minutes in that we were doing things wrong.

I love that this is a cooperative game and it is helping me to teach AJ how to work through different decisions. The first time we played she would make choices that wouldn’t always have the best results. With each time we play I have seen her decision making improve.

I think this would be great to add to your Christmas lists!

We are currently reviewing the newest game from Chara Games called 3 Seeds. It is a fun card game for ages 12 and up. It is also a strategy game, but this one focuses on using time, money, and labor to earn the most points and have the best harvest. We have had a lot of fun with this game so be sure to watch for my full review in a few weeks.

Commissioned {Chara Games}
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Commissioned {Chara Games}
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CrossTimber ~ Review

I was one of those kids who was able to find pencils, key chains, and other souvenirs with my name on them almost anywhere I went. I did run into a few places that didn’t have Katie, (and yes, Katie is my legal name) they just had forms of Kathrine or Katrina. But for the most part I was able to find a personalized souvenir. AJ isn’t as lucky. She has a very unique name, and can never find her name on anything. When I was given a chance to review a Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse from CrossTimber I was excited. I thought it would be a great time to get AJ something special with her name on it. But the more I thought about it, I didn’t think that she would appreciate a framed plaque at her age.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
I thought about who I should give the plaque to and when I had it narrowed down to a few choices, I sent an email to the people at CrossTimber and asked for the meanings of a few names. They quickly responded with the name meanings and Bible verse for all of the names I had asked for. They even want a step further and sent me the information about my name. After thinking about it, I decided to get the framed plaque for my best friend, Desiree.

When we were younger she always had a hard time finding anything with her name on it. I remember one time while we were celebrating her birthday at Disneyland, we searched all over for something with her name on it. But everything either didn’t come in her name, or had a different spelling. On the last day we were there we came in contact with a cast member named Desiree and she actually gave my friend her name badge so that she could take home a personalized souvenir. Since then I still have never found anything with her name on it, so I thought that she would really enjoy the gift.

Once I decided who to give the plaque to, I had to decide how to design the plaque. There are so many different options to choose from. From butterflies to sunsets, to landscapes, and light houses, there is something for just about everybody. I had a hard time deciding which theme to go with. The website shows samples of each theme so you can see the background and font that your plaque will have. They were all so pretty.

Shop CrossTimber for personalized gifts

I finally decided to go with the Butterfly Garden theme it was bright, cheery, and easy to read. Then I had the option to pick the frame I wanted. It comes with a beautiful wooden frame, but you have the option to upgrade to a different frame for an additional cost. There is also the option to have the frame artist pick a frame that goes with the colors and design of the plaque. There isn’t an additional price to have the frame artist pick out the frame, so I decided to go with that option.

Once I finished with my order I thought I was done. That was until John from CrossTimber emailed me to ask if there should be an accent on Desiree’s name. He could have sent the plaque as I ordered it, but instead he took the time to ask if I wanted to make any changes before it was printed out. That is what I call customer service! It turns out there is an accent in her name. I don’t know how I have known her for so many years and that detail never came up, but I am glad that I was able to get her correct name on the plaque.

The framed plaque arrived very quickly. When I opened it I was thrilled. It looked beautiful. The frame that was picked out was silver and went really well with the background picture of the plaque. I love the meaning of her name, and the verse that goes with it.

Desiree’s birthday is coming up soon so I surprised her with the plaque yesterday. She loved it and said she was going to put it up in her room right away. It was a great gift that I am sure she will enjoy for years to come.

The ordering process was so easy and the product was so well made, that I think I am going to order AJ a personalized music box for her birthday next year. In addition to single name plaques they also personalize multi name plaques, coffee mugs, and music boxes.

If you are looking for a personalized gift, CrossTimber is the place to look. These would make great Christmas gifts for pastors, teachers, and other special people in your life.

You can enter a giveaway for a chance to win a free Name Gift or $10 gift certificate!  It ends December 4th. Click on the graphic below for more information about the giveaway.

CrossTimber 2016 giveaway
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Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
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High School Spanish ~ Review

AJ has been using High School Spanish 1 from Middlebury Interactive Languages for the last few weeks and has really enjoyed it.

High School Spanish 1 is a year long online high school Spanish course. There are 36 weeks worth of work with daily lessons. A lesson takes about forty five minutes to an hour to complete each day. Each week the student is given approximately forty new vocabulary words that they are expected to learn. Throughout the week the students learn the meaning of each word as well as how to pronounce it. They are given plenty of opportunities to practice the words through different activities. In addition to learning the vocabulary the student also learns key grammar rules and how to conjugate verbs.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
AJ was excited to start the lessons. I had her copy all of the vocabulary words down into her notebook to make studying them easier, but other than that everything was completed online.

The student is usually presented with a set of eight vocabulary words at a time. They practice listening and saying the words then they go onto matching activities where they match the word to the definition or a picture that represents the definition. Once that is completed they go onto the speaking lab.

Learn Spanish with Middlebury Interactive Languages

In the speaking lab they are given about five sentences that use vocabulary that they have previously learned along with a few new words added in. The student listens to a native Spanish speaker read the sentence and then they record themselves reading the sentence. In the beginning AJ did not like recording herself because she couldn’t pronounce all of the words correctly, but now she is a lot more confident. In fact, she often tries to record herself first and then compare her pronunciation to the recorded version. I love that she has to record herself, because often when she is pronouncing something wrong and I correct her she says, “that’s what I said.” Now she can hear herself and see when she needs to pronounce something differently.

Learn Spanish with Middlebury Interactive Languages

When it comes to grammar, there are videos as well as paragraphs of information that can be read to the student to explain different concepts. After a concept is explained then the student practices what they have learned by completing short activities. They might have a multiple choice question, or they might need to decide if a sentence should use the verb, ser or estar (Both mean to be but are used in different situations. ) The student is given plenty of opportunities to work on the grammar concepts.

Learn Spanish with Middlebury Interactive Languages

Listening is another major factor when learning a new language. You need to be able to understand the words when they are spoken by someone else. This program gives your student plenty of listening practice. They are presented with different tasks throughout the week.

Learn Spanish with Middlebury Interactive Languages

They may listen to a paragraph that is read by a native speaker and fill in missing words, they may listen to something and have to check off any vocabulary word that is said, or they might listen to something and then have a quiz about it. AJ’s only complaint was that the speaker often spoke very fast. Luckily she was able to listen to it as much as she needed to to complete each task.

The student is also introduced to a new part of Mexican culture. The student watches a short video about Mexico and is then given a quiz.

Students also have weekly writing assignments where they have to write something in English or Spanish. AJ was afraid of this section, because she hates to write in English. But the assignments were not too difficult. She has completed the first 6 weeks of the program and hasn’t had any assignment that she wasn’t able to finish. Most of them ask her to write four to six sentences in Spanish using new verbs or grammar concepts that she had learned. She also had to research the Mexican flag and write information about it. This assignment was completed in some Spanish, but mostly English.

Most of the activities are graded. The student is given a point for each correct answer. The neat thing is that the student is able to complete an activity three times to try and improve their score. After they have tried it three times they can see the correct answer and have to start the activity all over. The speaking lab and writing portions are not graded. The student is given 100% participation as long as they attempt everything in the activity. I wish that there was a way for me to go in and grade those assignments instead of her just getting participation points.

With High School Spanish 1 your student will end up with a very well rounded Spanish experience. AJ loves to work on it and it is usually the first subject she wants to start with. I love that it is broken up into small activities to let the student practice. It is challenging, but she is able to handle it. I thought that this course would be ok, but it turned out to be a lot better than I expected. I think we will stick to this for AJ’s entire highschool Spanish needs.

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Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
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