Trust Fund Movie ~ Review

Since my foot is still not healing, there are not very many activities that AJ and I can do together for fun. One activity that we are able to do is watch TV. We were recently given the chance to watch a great movie from  Mapelle Films called, Trust Fund. We were also given the book, Love Was Near. The book is designed to be read after you watch the movie. I thought that they would make a fun family time activity for us. I was right!

Mapelle Films - Great movies

About Trust Fund

Trust Fund is a modern day adaptation of the Prodigal Son story from the Bible. The movie stars Jessica Rothe as Reese. Reese’s life is great until one day her mother tragically dies. Reese and her mother were very close and becoming close with her dad was difficult. They were both mourning the loss of her mother so even though she loved her father, they were not as close.

Reese was an aspiring writer. She didn’t want to go to college, but agreed with her dad to try it for a year. Her dad was fully supporting her, but she was not living within her means. She was quickly realizing that being an adult was a lot harder than it looked.

A modern day version of the prodigal son ,

She was lucky enough to find a publisher for the book she was writing. Having her own money from the advance made her want to become more independent. Her dad didn’t know that she spent all of the money she had received from the advance (and then some.) To encourage his daughter’s writing, he paid for her to go to a writing seminar in Europe. But she didn’t spend very much time writing. She met a guy and “fell in love.” And spent the time she should have been writing, seeing Europe on the back of a motorcycle. Reese wanted to stay in Europe with her new boyfriend, but her dad would not let her. She reluctantly returned home.

By accident, Reese saw some papers on her father’s desk. They showed that her mother had left a trust fund for Reese and her sister. Reese was angry! She thought her father was keeping her money from her. That he was being mean. She did the unthinkable. She took money from her father’s business and lest to Europe. Things there weren’t what she had thought and herd boyfriend ward not who he had said he was.

When Reese’s sister discovered what Reese had done, she wanted their dad to call the police, but he didn’t.

You will need too watch the movie to see what happens. It is a very touching movie about a father’s love.

About the Book – Love Was Near

The book is written in diary form. It is in Reese’s point of view. It shows why she did the things that she did. I really like that she didn’t make up a bunch of excuses. She admits that she made mistakes and even tells why she thought it was OK to do the wrong things in the heat of the moment.

A book to go along with Trust Fund

The book is gull of inspirational scriptures that focus on some of the issues that Reese struggled with in the book and movie. There are also numerous places in the book where you can write in it. Questions include things like, which action was worse, spending all of the money without finishing the book or telling a lie to her father. There are a lot of places where the reader is asked to give their opinion or tell what they would have done in the same situation.

While the book is designed to be used after watching the movie, I feel it would also be a great book for a teenage girl to read and work through on its own.

How We Used Trust Fund and Love Was Near

AJ and I watched the movie together. She thought the movie was good but thought that Reese made some bad decisions. I read through the book in about an hour. I really enjoyed it but decided not to have AJ read it at this time. It talks a lot about relationships with your father, and since she doesn’t have a dad I thought it wasn’t the right book for her at this time.

What We Thought

We both enjoyed the movie. The story line was good, it moved at a nice pace, and the acting was well done. There are some scenes that parents might find inappropriate for younger kids, but I think it would be fine for kids aged 10 and up. Of course use your discretion. The movie doesn’t follow the story in the average cookie cutter way. Instead there are twists and turns to keep you interested. Overall Trust Fund is a good movie with a great message!

The book was great. If AJ’s situation was different she would have read it. It discusses relationships and bad decisions. I would say the appropriate age would vary depending on your child’s maturity level. It encourages them to think through some difficult situations. I appreciate that there are scripture verses sprinkled throughout the book to help your child grow closer to God. I think the journal like feel of the book will keep teens interested in the book.

If you are looking for a great movie, then Trust Fund may be exactly what you are looking for! Love Was Near is a fun book to help you dig deeper into the themes of the movie. Together they make a great pair.

Mapelle Films has also designed a download study guide to help small groups dig deeper into the themes of the movie. So if you are looking for a good movie to watch with the family, or if you are looking for a product to discuss, Trust Fund will fit the bill!

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Home School Review Crew thought!

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Captain Absolutely ~ Review

When I was younger we didn’t watch many videos in children’s church. But every few months we would watch a video that taught a Bible story. If we were really lucky we would get to watch a video from Adventures in Odyssey. Those were always my favorite. They were full of action, taught a lesson, and were entertaining. Now there are so many great choices when you are looking for a movie or video that helps to teach God’s word, but Adventures in Odyssey will always hold a special place in my heart.

AJ has had the chance to watch a few different videos from Adventures in Odyssey and listen to some of their audio dramas. She has also willingly read a few of their chapter books. That’s saying something, because she doesn’t like to read. She has enjoyed everything that she has tried from Adventures in Odyssey. When I learned about an exciting comic book based on the characters from Adventures in Odyssey, I knew AJ would love it. We were blessed to receive Captain Absolutely from Focus On The Family, the creators of Adventures in Odyssey.

Focus On The Family

What is Captain Absolutely?

 Captain Absolutely
Captain Absolutely is a 108 page soft cover comic book. It starts off in Metroplitanville, a city that has no sense of right and wrong. Two friends, Darren and Josiah, are working in the library. When all of a sudden, there is a powerful nuclear explosion. Josiah is suddenly in a section of the library that he had never been to before. The area had a bunch of copies of the same book, the Bible. While Josiah was waiting to be rescued he read the Bible and learned God’s truths. That is when he is transformed into Captain Absolutely. His new mission is to share God’s truth with the people of Metroplitanville. He soon realizes that he wasn’t the only one who was transformed by the nuclear explosion. His friend Darren is now his arch-nemesis, Dr. Relative. Darren had been thrown into the philosophy section of the library and discovered relative truth – where there is no right or wrong, everything is relative.

While Dr. Relative and a handful of other villains try to further corrupt the city of Metroplitanville, Captain Absolutely uses God’s Word to help save them. Like most comic books it is filled with battles, problems, and super powers, but this book doesn’t glorify violence. The bad guys are put in jail and there isn’t any blood or gore. Captain Absolutely even tries to help the bad guys learn about God’s truth.

Throughout the book you will run into familiar characters. The back of the book gives a list of all of the characters and a little information about them. It also tells the story of the real Josiah in the Bible, a person who changed his life after finding God’s Truth.

What We Thought About Captain Absolutely

AJ loves this book. The pictures are amazing! They are full of vivid detail and the characters seem very life like. Often the pictures seem as though they are going to pop off of the page. I like that the book teaches morals and values in a fun way. There is a scene where all of the clothes in the mall are replaced with very short shorts and skimpy tops. The scene points the child to look up 1Timothy 2: 9-10 which says:

likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

There are many other examples throughout the book that teach important lessons.

The end of the book even has a list of Big Questions the reader should discuss with their parents or youth pastor regarding things in the comic book. Some of the questions include; is it okay to steal a Bible, why can’t you scare people into following God, and does God love bad people. It is a great starting point to some in-depth discussions.

If you are looking for an entertaining book for your child to read that is full of God’s Truth and morals this is exactly what you are looking for. It is also great for reluctant readers and those who love comic books. Both AJ and I would highly recommend Captain Absolutely!

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

Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}
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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}
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Online Christian Filmmakers Academy ~ Review

One of my favorite things about school was being on the yearbook committee. I learned a lot about taking pictures and editing them and I even had a chance to take and edit a few videos. As AJ gets older, one thing I want to make sure she doesn’t miss out on is the fun aspects of school. She is really interested in photography and takes pictures from a perspective that I often don’t even think about. If she was in a public school I think she would probably want to take an elective based on film or drama. There is only so much I can teach her about those subjects because I don’t exactly remember everything from 7th and 8th grade.

We were recently given the opportunity to review Online Christian Filmmakers Academy from Family Gravity Media, a division of Families For Christ Ministries, Inc.. I thought that it would be a great way for AJ to learn more about making videos. I didn’t realize how much I was going to learn in the process!

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}

What Is Online Christian Filmmakers Academy?

It is an online course taught by Ken and Zack Lawrence. They are a father son team that has been working in the video production industry since 2004. The course is taught using numerous short information packed videos. They are interesting, well made, and really explain concepts in a way that even a complete beginner can understand. One thing that I really liked was that you can watch the video as many times as you need to in order to grasp the different concepts.

The course is broken down into five modules.

Module 1 – The Camera

This section covers so many aspects of the camera. We currently only have a point and shoot camera but a DSLR camera has been on my wish list for a long time. This section will make picking out the right camera a lot easier when the time comes. We learned about lenses, frame rate, shutter speed, and so much more. Unfortunately, since we don’t have the right camera yet, we couldn’t do any hands on learning on those topics. It was amazing how much I didn’t know about picture taking! This section also covers camera support and tripods though. We plan to implement what we learned in that lesson in our future photography.

Module 2 – Cinematography

This section was all about lighting. I find lighting to be an issue in my photography, so this section was one I looked forward to. We both learned so many tips that I think will help take our pictures to the next level. Some of the topics covered include: hard verses soft light, color, temperature, painting with light, and framing.

Module 3 – Sound

This was another section that is jammed packed full of information. We learned about different microphones, how to capture sound, and how to add in sound after the fact. This requires a lot of expensive equipment, but it was fun to learn about.

Module 4 – Pre-Production

This section covers all of the things you need to do before the video shoot. It covers things like writing the screenplay, pre-production paperwork, and assembling a team.

Module 5 – Production

This section covers; the crew, set hierarchy, set etiquette, directing, the slate, and filming step by step. We haven’t made it this far through the course yet, but I look forward to watching the videos and learning more.

What We Thought

AJ learns well with videos and has enjoyed this course so far. She has started to use some of the things she has learned already with her photography and hopes to make a few videos in the future. She likes that they are short but interesting. We plan to go through these videos a few times to make sure we learn as much as possible.

While I don’t think you can learn everything about film making by simply watching these videos, I think they cover way more than the basics. They would be helpful for someone who wanted to improve their photography, a person looking to make better videos, or a person who is thinking about going into the film industry.

Currently the price for year long access to the course is $299, but through November 30 if you use the code, FALLCREW16 you will get $100 off of that price. If your teen is interested in film, this could make a great Christmas gift.

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

Online Christian Filmmakers Academy {Family Gravity Media}
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Working It Out ~ Review

One subject that I enjoyed learning about in school was poetry. I enjoyed breaking down poems and trying to figure out what they meant. It was always an enjoyable experience, but something that took some effort. When AJ started to learn about poetry however, she hated it. She was a very literal thinker and the idea of nonsense poems was hard for her to understand. We worked on poetry for a while and eventually she started to enjoy it. She even wrote some decent poems of her own. Now that she is older, I have been trying to incorporate some poetry that has more meaning. It has been a little difficult to find the right balance for her.

We were recently given the chance to review a product from Everyday Education, LLC called Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert. I thought that it would be a great product to help AJ learn more about poetry.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

What is Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert?

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

This book (we received an e-book) contains over 50 poems that were all written by George Herbert. He was a poet who was born in 1593. George Herbert lead a rather fascinating life even though he didn’t live to see his 40th birthday. He was a well educated man who ended up becoming an ordained minister.

Working it Out is a collection of poems that can be used as a devotion. The interesting thing about this book is that it is written in a way to help even those who are not poetically gifted to understand and enjoy the experience of reading poetry.

The poems in Working it Out are broken into 12 main categories.

  • Looking Back, Moving Forward
  • Letting Go
  • Confession
  • Grace
  • Separation
  • Petition
  • Praise
  • Depending on God
  • Grief
  • Prayer
  • Special Blessings of the Church
  • More Insights

The number of poems in each section varies, as does the length of each poem. Some are only a few stanzas long where others are pages long.

After each poem there is a breakdown of the poems meaning. I like how the breakdown lets you see the poem as much more than just words on a page. Each poem has the following explanation:

  • The Big Picture – This section gives an overall meaning of the poem.
  • The Parts of the Picture – This section breaks down the poem by stanza. Literary elements are discussed in this section.
  • The Parts of the Picture Come Together – This section explains the movement throughout the poem. I personally felt this was one of the most helpful sections.
  • Reflections – These are questions about the poem that ask you to reflect about the meaning of the poem.
  • Scriptures for Further Reflection – These are additional scripture verses that relate to the poem.

How to Use Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

You can simply read through the book and learn a lot of information. After reading each poem you learn about the meaning of it. Through this process you and your student will be able to grow in the knowledge of poetry while becoming closer to God.

If you want deepen the learning process there are ideas in the book to help take the learning to the next level.

You are encouraged not to rush through this book. It is actually meant to be used over a school year by learning about one poem a week. There is a lot of flexibility to help you make the process of learning about poetry enjoyable.

How We Used Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

Learn the meaning behind poetry while growing closer to God!

We started off by reading through a poem at the beginning of the week. Then the next day we would read it again and discuss what she thought the poem could mean. The process was difficult for AJ so we would read through the meaning of the poem a few times.

After learning about a few different poems I could see AJ was just not ready for this book. Instead we have decided to just read through a poem each week and talk about any literary elements she can find. I have also had her color code a few of the poems. She would highlight words that had to do with love red, and words that had a sad connotation grey.

It the poem, “The Flower” I had her mark the words about spring in yellow and the words about winter in a dark color. The poem is about renewal, and while she may not understand that yet, I know that the next time we come to this poem and try to understand its’ meaning it will be a little easier for her.

What We Thought About Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

It is a well put together study, but it ended up being too far over her head. She is in 8th grade right now and I think she will be able to get far more out of the study in another year or two. She is able to read the poems fine, but even when I help to explain their meanings, she seems a little lost. I look forward to using it with her in the future though, because it is a neat way to learn about poetry.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to teach their child about poetry. It breaks everything down and makes the process a lot easier. It is also great for personal growth and reading too. I have read through quite a few of the poems and have enjoyed them. The best part is I can see the meaning behind the poem and compare it to what I thought the poem was talking about.

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about Working it Out and two other products from Everyday Education, LLC

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
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CHSH Download Club ~ Review

AJ is a kid that enjoys doing worksheets, so I am often on the look out for things to supplement the topics we are learning about.  The problem is that since she is in 8th grade, a lot of  worksheets and unit studies that I find are too easy for her. Sometimes I make up my own worksheets for her to complete, but most of the time I just don’t have the time. We were recently given the opportunity to review the CHSH Download Club  from CHSH-Teach.com. When I first looked at the Christian HomeSchool Hub, I knew that it would be a resource that I would use frequently over the next year.

What is the CHSH Download Club?

I  had never heard of the CHSH Download Club before this review, but I wish I had. The CHSH Download Club is an online resource that gives you access to thousands of pages of educational materials. It includes worksheets, literature studies, full curriculum, supplemental materials, flash cards, puzzles, coloring pages, and more. For one small price of just $25 a year (or $99 for a lifetime membership) you have access to everything on the site. There are materials for grades preschool through high school.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
The site makes it easy to find exactly what you need. The materials are organized by; subject, grade, and month. I have to say that I was amazed at all of the different things available, and I was thrilled to see that there is an entire section for high school. It includes:

  • Literature Studies – Including Shakespeare
  • English Composition and Language Arts – 4 Years of High School English
  • Social Studies – Including a full World History and American History course
  • Math – Including a Collage Level Algebra Book and Answer Key
  • Science – Including Biology and Physics

AJ won’t be in high school until next year, but I looked over a lot of the high school resources and think we will probably use the World History and Biology courses next year.

How We Used the CHSH Download Club

We are studying modern history this year. We have been learning about different important people throughout history. I looked through our history curriculum and saw that AJ would soon be learning about Amelia Earhart and the Wright Brothers. So I looked to see if there was any information on either of the two topics. There was!

I quickly found three resources for Amelia Earhart under the Social Studies topic of “People throughout History.” There is a unit geared for 3rd through 6th grade and a unit geared for 4th through 8th grade. There is also an Amelia Earhart shape book. I decided to use both of the units about Amelia Earhart. The first one she did was the one geared for kids in 3rd through 6th grade. That one basically had her read about Amelia Earhart and then fill in charts and answer questions about the reading. I felt that study would have been perfect for the 3rd through 6th grade age range. After she finished with that unit she was going to start on the 4th through 8th grade unit. Unfortunately, when I clicked on that unit it said that the file was not found. I was a little disappointed about that.

This is just one of the many products from the CHSH Download Club!

 

The next unit study I had AJ work on was Wright Brothers: Bicycles to Airplane. It is an 85 page unit study that has 17 different tasks for the student to complete while learning about the Wright Brothers. It begins with pages of information about the Wright Brothers. There are a variety of different tasks including; creating a magazine cover about the Wright Brothers’ flight, making an anemometer, researching aviation, locating important places on a map, art projects, poems, giving a speech and more. AJ didn’t complete all of the tasks (we still have another week left) but, this unit study is great. It includes so many hands on activities to help students learn about flight. I was excited to see a study that was geared towards older students, and look forward to other studies in the future.

These graphic organizers make learning new concepts fun!

We also used various worksheets throughout the review period. AJ enjoyed the blank periodic table that she could fill in. She also liked the different charts and venn diagrams that were available in the Graphic Organizer download. There are 80 different ones to choose from.

We planned on using one of the literature studies for the novels that AJ is reading. There is a study for almost all of the books she is reading this year.  Even though the literature studies are for grades 4 through 8, I found them to be too simple and easy for AJ. They were mainly simple questions about the plot of the novel and didn’t ask any thought provoking questions. I think it may have been perfect for younger students, but not for the 8th grade level.

What We Thought About the CHSH Download Club

After trying out various products from the CHSH Download Club I think it is well worth the cost. There really is something for everyone. Almost all of the resources I looked at were well made and well thought out. I enjoyed how easy it was to use the site and how quickly the downloads came up. Other than the one file about Amelia Earhart, there were no glitches on the site.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
If you are looking for a way to supplement your child’s learning then the CHSH Download Club may be exactly what you are looking for. This would be perfect for those who enjoy unit studies or those who want to dig deeper into a concept. We have tried a few different sites over the years that have downloadable resources, and I think so far that this one is the best, especially if you have older students.

Find out what other members of the Review Crew had to say by clicking the graphic below.

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
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VeritasBible.com ~ Review

I am always looking for ways to make learning fun for AJ. One subject that I don’t want her to dread doing on a daily basis is Bible. I want the time she spends learning more about God’s word to be enjoyable, but I also want her to really be learning. I have heard wonderful things about Veritas Press so when we were given the chance to review a one year family subscription to VeritasBible.com I was eager to get started.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review
VeritasBible.com is a fun and interactive way for your child to learn about the Bible. The family subscription lets you have up to five students working on the program. There are three courses that your child can work on, Genesis to Joshua, Judges to Kings, and The Gospels. Each course covers 32 major events in the Bible. With the subscription to VeritasBible.com you have access to all three courses, you can skip around and work on a little of each course, or stick to one. The choice is yours. Each course has enough lessons to last an entire school year.

VeritasBible.com - The best way to learn the Bible!

When you first start on VeritasBible.com your student picks an avatar and then decides the course that they want to start with. During the review period AJ jumped around between the courses, but the course she worked on the most was Genesis to Joshua.

The student follows a path where they need to complete lessons in order to move on. AJ said that the paths reminded her of a video game.

VP7

Each lesson is comprised of videos, games, Bible reading, review, and memory work. Each lesson has about 15 parts but they are all a little different.

In the beginning of the lesson characters from Biblical times introduce the topic in short videos. These are well made and funny. Both AJ an I were giggling a few times. The Bible event is talked about and explained by one of the characters.

After the event is described there is often a section of the Bible that the student is asked to read and answer questions about. Sometimes they may be multiple choice questions, matching questions, or ordering questions. There is instant feedback and the student isn’t able to move on until the correct answer is given.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

In between the activities there are short videos where the characters explain more about things in the Bible.

The student often is asked to apply knowledge from their own life to the event in the Bible. In this lesson the student is asked which thing would be an example of moral decay. Again, the student can’t move on until the correct answer is given.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

There is review in every lesson. In this lesson about Noah and the Flood, the student plays a game where they need to answer questions about the Fall in the Garden of Eden. For each question they get correct they earn more time to play a game. The questions aren’t all simple, but because there is so much review AJ is really retaining the information and able to answer almost every question correctly.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

There are also activities that help the student remember where everyone fits in the story. This activity had her put the people in order on the time line.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

There are Bible Cards to go with each course that are sold separately. During the lesson the Bible card for the event is read. Since we didn’t purchase the cards I have AJ write down the information from the cards and keep them with her notes. I think they would be a good item to purchase.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

The lesson ends with a multiple choice quiz about the lesson. The student is shown their grade, but it is not recorded in the system.

VeritasBible.com - The Best way to study the Bible

Most of the lessons also include the memory song. It is a slightly annoying but catchy song that lists all 32 of the events in order. AJ loves the song. I think it is a great way to help remember the order of the events in the Bible.

As you can see, this is a very thorough way to learn about the Bible. I had AJ take notes on each lesson so that she was able to remember all of the details. The student is kept engaged, there are a variety of activities, and plenty of games to make learning fun.

The only issue we had with the program is that because it is so vibrant and full of information, it can take a while to load. When AJ did the program on the desktop computer she never had any problems, but when she used it on the laptop with wireless internet the lessons often loaded slow and had issues. I am sure it was because of our internet, but if you have issues with your wireless internet that may be something you want to consider before purchasing. There is a free trial, and you don’t even need to give a credit card, I recommend that you try is out and see how your kids like it.

One thing that I wish would change about the program is the fact that it has to be done in order. I wish that we could skip to the 11th event, “Sodom and Gamorah” if we wanted without having to do all of the lessons before that.

I am thankful that we were able to review VeritasBible.com AJ and I have both already learned so much. I am making it her Bible curriculum for next year because she loves it and I love that she is really learning. I think that Veritas Press really lived up to all the hype, they really do make amazing products.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review
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The Glass Castle ~ Review

AJ is quite particular about the types of books that she enjoys reading or listening to. She has broadened the types of genres that she enjoys over the past few years, but if it isn’t about animals or an exciting adventure then she most likely isn’t going to enjoy it. According to her a book is only good if she can see the story in her head and really feel like she is on an adventure with the characters. When we were asked to review The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins from Shiloh Run Press I was a little hesitant. I didn’t think she would want to read another book when we were so close to the end of the school year. Then I read a phrase about the book, “The setting of Chronicles of Narnia meets the adventure of Alice in Wonderland.” After reading that, I thought it would be something that AJ would enjoy.

The Glass Castle, an exciting adventure story perfect for middle grade kids!

The Glass Castle is a 251 page hard-covered book that is broken into 41 chapters. It is an action and adventure book for middle grade students. There are quite a few moral lessons woven through the book along with a few Bible verses. Even though prayer and God are mentioned a few times throughout the book I personally would not consider it a faith based book. I think that most kids with a fifth grade reading level or above would be able to read it independently.

It was a great book and AJ would give it 5 out of 5 stars. That is a big complement coming from her.

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}
(There are some spoilers below)

The Glass Castle follows the story of 13 year old Avery. She is walking with her brother and feels like she is being followed, and it turned out she was. She ends up being kidnapped and is later told that her brother was taken as well, but that she wouldn’t be able to see him. Avery ends up in a room with a bunch of thirteen year old orphans. The only problem is that Avery isn’t an orphan, or is she?

After some exploring Avery realizes that she knows where she is, not because she had been there before, but because her mother had told her all about it in stories when she was little. Avery thought those stories were just fairy tales, but it turns out that they weren’t. Avery realizes that they are all in the castle of an evil King. For some reason the King had ordered all 13 year old orphans to be destroyed and the kids were all being held in the castle for their own protection. She soon learns that the kids all do work in the castle, and really they almost run it. From dress making to baking, they do it all. These 13 year olds are much wiser than their years. She becomes friends with a girl, Kate, who seems to know much more than any one else.

Avery wants to escape and return home, but she is told her brother will be harmed if she leaves. Just when she is about to try and escape the kids decide to elect a child king to be in charge. A kind boy named Tuck ends up being elected King, and surprising everyone he appoints Avery as the new queen.

She needs to find out more about the castle and why they are all there. Upon exploring the castle she learns that the King is sick and needs an heir to his thrown. But that isn’t all she finds out. Who was the first Queen, and why did her mother know so much about the castle? Who can she trust, and are her feelings for a boy clouding her judgment? Will the kids escape?

Unfortunately, by the end of the book you won’t have the answers to most of those questions. I am all for series of books and cliffhanger endings, but I hate when a book ends and the majority of the problems haven’t been solved. Especially when the next book won’t be available for a few months! I really felt this book needed at least one more chapter to tie in some loose ends and I hope that the next book is able to answer those questions. I look forward to reading the next one, I am sure it will be as good as this one.

I wanted to read a few chapters a day to AJ, but we got busy with school and doctors and just didn’t seem to find to sit down and read the book. I sat aside an entire school day where we did nothing but read the book. It turned out to be a good thing, because we wouldn’t have wanted to put it down after a few chapters. I expected some complaining from AJ, but she didn’t want me to stop reading. I read the book to her in a little more than five hours, and it was a very thrilling experience. From the first chapter to the end we were learning new details, making discoveries, and attempting to figure things out. I’ll admit that I kept reading ahead because the story was so intriguing.

One thing that I really liked about the book was that it was clean. There wasn’t any magic or witches, and while there was some obvious chemistry between a few characters there wasn’t as much as a kiss between them. There is mention of a drunk man and a few people die, but there were no details. I really think that most parents would be comfortable with their child reading The Glass Castle.

If you have a kid who enjoys adventure and mystery, then The Glass Castle may be just the book for them. Mom will probably like it too.

Find out what other reviewers had to say about The Glass Castle by clicking the graphic below.

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}
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Heroes of History ~ Review

I am always looking for a way to change up our school day. Since the next topic we are planning to study is American history after the Civil War, I have been on the look out for books and activities to help AJ learn about that era. When we were given a chance to review a book from YWAM Publishing, I knew that I wanted to pick an influential person to learn about. We were given a physical copy of Heroes of History Theodore Roosevelt: An American Original and a Digital Unit Study to accompany it. Since we reviewed a book from YWAM last year, I knew that we were in for a treat.

Theodore Roosevelt Review

 

Theodore Roosevelt An American Original is a 201 page soft covered book that is broken into 17 chapters. The book starts with a 39 year old Teddy Roosevelt marching up San Juan Hill as part of a Volunteer Cavalry. Then the book goes back in time and starts with him at five years old during the Civil War. His parents were on opposite sides of the war, and that made for a difficult time. His mother was helping out the South while his father was helping the North, even though he wasn’t fighting. The book goes on to tell about how sick Teddy was as a child and how he decided to make his body work by exercising and training. We learn that the Roosevelt family came into a lot of money and that because of that, Teddy and his family went on amazing vacations. He sailed up the Nile River and visited numerous countries in Africa and Europe. We learn about Teddy’s love of animals and his love of taxidermy.

The book then continues to show how he got into politics. It tells the sad way he lost his mother and wife and how he finally came back to society. Then the book talks about his road to the presidency, the obstacles he faced and how he dealt with them.

The book is easy to read and understand, but it does have some advanced vocabulary throughout the chapters. Reading the book alone gives you a great understanding of who Theodore Roosevelt was, but when you combine it with the Digital Unit Study, there is so much to learn.

The Digital Unit Study has options for classroom use, small group use, and for homeschool use. It is broken into two sections. The first section is the real study guide it is 71 pages long and has comprehension questions, social study activities, related themes, and more. The second part of the unit study is the printable pages. It included a fact sheet to fill out about Roosevelt, a world map, map of America, a map of New York, and a time line to fill in. The study guide is full of information to make the book really come to life.

I wanted this book to be our history study. Each week we read through three chapters of the book (except the first chapter that was really short.) and AJ answered the comprehension questions from the study guide. She also looked up different social study terms as we came to them. The Roosevelt family went on a lot of trips. AJ used the maps to chart their journeys. There are dozens of writing prompts, crafts, and ideas for places to visit while reading the book, we haven’t done those yet, but we still have a few chapters left to read.

AJ likes the story and has enjoyed following along with the Roosevelt family’s journeys. I have been reading the book out loud to her and she looks forward to finding out what is coming up next. If she enjoyed reading more, I could see the Heroes of History books being a great spine to our history study next year. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t work for her. I wish it would because the books from YWAM are full of history and bring a person to life. You get to know them so much better than you can in a few pages of a text book.

If you are looking for a book to supplement your history studies, or if you are looking for a good biography, these are great.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}
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Memoria Press Literature ~ Review

When I was in middle school and high school I really enjoyed literature. We would spend about a month on a book and by the time we were finished we learned so many things. We talked about all kinds of literary terms and often would spend an entire class period marking up passages in the books. Since I loved diving into good books I wanted AJ to have the same kind of experience as I did. Unfortunately, I hadn’t found a great literature curriculum that I could afford, so I decided to make up my own literature guides. I enjoy doing it and she loves them, but they take a long time. I knew I need to find a few well written study guides before next year, but I didn’t know where to look.

 

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
 

As I began looking for literature curriculum to use with AJ next year, I came across Memoria Press. We enjoyed a history study from them last year, so I thought that AJ would enjoy their literature. A few weeks later I was blessed with the opportunity to review the Eighth Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press. AJ is in 7th grade right now, but the books in the 8th grade set looked like ones that she would really enjoy.

 

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

 

I was thrilled when I opened the box from Memoria Press. It included Student Study Guides and Teacher Guides for; The Wind In the Willows, As You Like It, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Treasure Island. Each Study Guide was a little bit different.

Treasure Island

Treasure Island Literature Guide

The Student Study Guide for Treasure Island is 89 pages long. It begins with two pages of directions explaining how to use the literature guide and then a two page introduction about the author, Robert Louis Stevenson. The guide is broken into lessons that cover either one or two chapters. Each lesson follows a similar layout.

  • Reading Notes – This section gives information about unknown characters or terms.
  • Vocabulary – In this section your child gives definitions for an average of eight to ten words. Then they are asked to do additional dictionary work for two of the words.
  • Comprehension Questions – Your students answer five or six questions about the reading in complete sentences.
  • Quotations – A quote from the chapter is given and your student writes which character (or if it was the narrator) said the quote.
  • Discussion Questions – A few questions are listed for your student to discuss orally. Some of the questions are opinion based where others focus on morals or the reasoning behind a characters action.
  • Enrichment – The Enrichment section is not found after every chapter. It includes additional activities to go along with the reading. Some of the activities include; drawing, map work, finding definitions, research, and composition activities.

After about every six chapters there is a Mastery Word Review where your student completes vocabulary activities based on vocabulary that they learned in the previous chapters.

At the end of the book there is an Appendix of Nautical Terms. This section is really neat. It not only has terms, but types of knots, parts of a ship, and sailing directions. I think this section would really come in handy while reading the book.

The Teacher Guide is an exact copy of the student guide with all of the answers filled in. The back of the guide includes answers to some of the discussion questions. There are also six reproducible quizzes, a final exam, and answer keys.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Adventures of Tom Sawyer Literature Guide

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Student Study Guide is 79 pages long. While it is similar to the Treasure Island Guide there are some notable differences. This guide starts with a short one page guide about how to use the book and then it goes into a section about how to mark a book. This section made me smile. It is very basic, but it shows the student how to read closely and mark important things in their book.

After the section about marking the book the student is instructed to read the preface of the book and answer some questions about it in the Study Guide.

There are 36 lessons in this book, one for each chapter in the book. Each lesson follows the same layout.

  • Reading Notes
  • Vocabulary – They are only asked to define about 5 words, there is not any extra dictionary work.
  • Comprehension Questions
  • Quotations – This time they are asked who said the quote and who it was spoken to or about.
  • Discussion Questions
  • Focus Passage – In each Focus Passage the student is asked to find a certain paragraph in the chapter and answer questions about it. The first few have simple comprehension type questions about the paragraph. As they move through the book they are asked to list words that describe mood, or for phrases that show certain things about a character. At times they are asked to paraphrase parts of the paragraph or to describe what was going on.

Like Treasure Island, this Teacher Guide has all of the student pages with the answers filled in. It also has six quizzes and a final exam.

As You Like It

As You Like it Literature Guide

The Student Guide for As You Like It is 42 pages long. Since this is a play by Shakespeare the Student Guide is a little different than the others. It begins with a two page introduction to Shakespeare followed by a two page introduction to the play. Following the introduction is a Character Log with the name of twelve characters from the play. The student has to describe each character and their strengths and weaknesses as they read the play.

The rest of the Student Guide is divided into seven lessons, a question about the Epilogue, and 80 short answer review questions.

Each Lesson has:

  • Vocabulary – Ten to fifteen questions where they are only asked for the definitions.
  • Journal Prompts – Three to five activities including some fun activities like; making the family tree of a character, comparing and contrasting characters, diary entries from different characters, monologues, pictures, and more.
  • Quotes – The student is given three or four quotes. The need to tell who spoke it, who it was spoken to, the situation, the meaning, and the reaction.
  • Comprehension Questions – There are about fifteen questions in each lesson. Many of the questions have multiple parts.

The Teacher Guide is similar to the others. It has the Student Guide with all of the answers filled in. Well, almost all of the answers were filled in. The Character Log was left blank. I wish that it would have been filled in because Shakespeare is a hard topic to teach. Having those filled in would have helped me explain things to AJ a little easier. At the back of the guide there are answers to the Review Questions along with a Midterm Exam and a Final Exam. The exams both include required essay questions.

I think that this guide will make teaching Shakespeare a lot easier for me. I have not read this play yet so I think it will be helpful to have the basic answers at my finger tips.

The Wind in the Willows

Wind in the Willows Literature Guide

The Student Guide for The Wind in the Willows is 53 pages long. It has twelve lessons, one for each chapter in the book. This guide didn’t have any directions or introduction. It just starts. Out of all of the guides, this one seems a little all over the place. But it provides quite a bit of variety.

Each lesson is a little different and may have:

  • Reading Notes – These are not already filled in like in Treasure Island or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Instead the name of a character, a place, or an unknown term is listed. During the reading the student is to fill in information that they find. Often the information was not found in the book and we needed to look it up.
  • Vocabulary – The student only writes a short definition.
  • Comprehension Questions – Some lessons only have a few while others have twelve or more.
  • Quotations – The student lists who said it, when they said it, and who they said it about,
  • Discussion Questions
  • Activities– These range from drawings to reports. There is room right in the guide for most of these activities.
  • Focus Passages

The Teacher Guide is similar to the others and has answers to almost every question. It also includes five quizzes and a final exam.

How We Used It

Since there was no way AJ could finish more than one of these during the review period, we had to pick one to start with. AJ decided to start with The Wind in the Willows, after I told her that Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney Land was based on a character in the book. I ordered two copies of the book from the library and after receiving abridged and junior additions, we were finally on the way home with two copies of the the original version.

When the box arrived AJ was anxious to see what was in it. At that time I didn’t look at the other guides. We opened the guides for The Wind in the Willows and looked over them.

Memoria Press

I was disappointed that there wasn’t a schedule or pacing guide at all. There wasn’t even any instructions. When I tried to find out how long the study would take I couldn’t find information for this guide, only for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. After looking at that I decided that we would take the study slow. AJ has improved a lot in her reading and writing, but I knew it would be too much for her to read the entire chapter and answer all of the questions at one time.

I decided to have AJ look up the vocabulary words and then we would take turns reading for about thirty minutes. After the reading she did any written work (except for the activities) that she was able to based on her reading. Following that schedule she was able to complete about two lessons and the quiz each week. On the day that she took the quiz I would also have her do a few of the activities from the chapters. At first I was a little uncomfortable taking that long on a book, but AJ was learning a great deal. I felt that the questions were well written and on an eight grade level. One thing that I really appreciated is that the Study Guide gave plenty of room for AJ to write.

What We Thought

The one thing that really frustrated me was that the quizzes and tests are all in the Teacher Guides? The only guide that states that the quizzes and tests are reproducible is the guide for Treasure Island. After reading the copyright on the front of the other guides I assumed that they were not reproducible. Since I didn’t want AJ to have the Teacher Guide I ended up giving her the quizzes orally and that was very time consuming. When I read that the quizzes and tests in Treasure Island were reproducible I assumed that the other ones were probably too. Knowing that would have made the quizzes easier for AJ.

At first I thought that reading four novels in a school year was just not enough. This year I planned to have AJ read eight. I quickly realized that these four Study Guides made for a very complete curriculum. The vocabulary in each one is challenging but doable and I think it will stretch AJ’s abilities. For each book the student focuses on a different element. This makes each guide unique and will keep the work interesting.

AJ’s favorite part was the Quotations section. She enjoyed hunting through the chapter to see who said each quote. I found that having her look for the quotes made her read closer. There were even a few times that she asked to do the work by herself. Normally she doesn’t enjoy study guides unless I create them, but she enjoyed working on The Wind in the Willows.

I love that this set has her starting to read closely and having her mark up the books. I think it is a great skill to learn.

While we read through this book together I think that she should be able to complete the guides for Treasure Island and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer with very little help from me. I was very reluctant to teach her Shakespeare already, but the way the guide is written makes me confident that we will be able to read and understand it.

These guides look like they will make a great literature curriculum. We are going to set the other three novels aside for now and use them next year. I am sure that with just one or two more books added AJ will have a very full year of learning.

If you are looking for a solid curriculum, that is easy for the parent, and has plenty of variety, then I think Memoria Press is something you should check out.

Other Members of the Crew reviewed different levels of the Literature Guides. Find out what they had to say by clicking on the graphic below.

 

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
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