Imagine The Great Flood ~ Book Review

I am always on the look out for exciting books that portray strong values. I especially enjoy it when those books are based on biblical events. Reading books based on the events in the Bible gives us the chance to see how characters might have felt in certain situations. While fiction can’t and shouldn’t take the place of the Bible, it can give us some perspective. We were recently given the chance to review a book from
Barbour Publishing based on the story of Noah’s Ark. The book is Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich.

About the Book

Imagine. . .The Great Flood is a 110 page soft covered Christian kids book. It is geared for kids ages 8 to 12. The writing in the book is large enough for younger readers to easily see, but there are not any pictures. I feel that some of the vocabulary ( words like trajectory and plummeting) used in the book may be a little difficult for some 8 year olds to understand. But with a little help they won’t want to put the book down.  Imagine. . . The Great Flood is the first book in the Imagine series, a series that aims to bring the Bible to life for kids.

IMAGINE... The Great Flood

About the Story

Imagine. . .The Great Flood begins with ten year old Corey finding out that his family was moving to Florida. He wasn’t happy with the idea of leaving his friends or his school. His mom told Corey that he needed to trust and rely on God. Later that day Corey’s dog started running and Corey began to chase him. The next thing Corey knew, his head was hurting and the world around him disappeared.

When he opened his eyes, Corey saw two lions and met a man named Shem. As he looked around, he saw a great big boat. He soon found out it was Noah’s ark. Corey knew the story of Noah and his ark, but he was confused as to how he got there. He ended up helping Noah and his family on the ark. Corey learned that getting all of the animals on the ark wasn’t an easy task. They faced numerous obstacles because the others thought Noah and his family were crazy for building a boat. They had never seen rain so the idea of a great flood was unconceivable.

Things became more difficult when Corey met the evil Elizar. He practiced dark magic and didn’t want Noah to succeed. Through out the book Elizar tries to stop Noah and tries to tempt Corey with his dark magic. Corey finds himself in quite a few dangerous situations where he has to trust in God. In the end, Noah finishes his ark and Corey ends up home safe. He meets new friends and learns that moving wasn’t all bad.

One of my favorite quotes from the book was from page 109.

Mom was right. Things change. But God doesn’t.

Imagine. . .The Great Flood ~ What We Thought

AJ and I both read through the book. It took me about 45 minutes to finish it, while it took AJ a few days reading a little at a time. Even though we already knew the story of Noah’s Ark, this story kept us interested. We both really enjoyed the book. After reading through the book we reread the story of Noah’s Ark in the Bible. It was nice to compare the two. I like how they stuck to the facts that are in the Bible but added in things to make the people and events seem very realistic. The author’s use of adjectives lets the reader easily picture the events of the story.  The story moves at a fast pace and there are cliff hangers at the end of most of the chapters. I look forward to the next book in the series, Imagine… The Ten Plagues. It comes out in March 2018.

AJ’s only complaint was that there wasn’t any pictures. Most books geared for 8 to 12 year olds have pictures, and I think this book could benefit from some.

If you are looking for an adventure filled book for young readers, then Imagine. . .The Great Flood may be exactly what you are looking for. Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about Imagine. . .The Great Flood .

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}
 

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Unauthorized ~ A Game Review

Our family really enjoys playing games together. It is a great opportunity to spend time together and practice logical skills. We have reviewed a few products from Chara Games in the past, and enjoyed them. So when we were given the chance to check out their new game, Unauthorized, I was excited.

What is Unauthorized?

Unauthorized is a fast paced card game that is designed to be played with six to twelve people. It is for ages 12 and up. While each game is a little different, game play lasts about 30 minutes. The game takes deduction and reasoning skills.

UNAUTHORIZED
The idea behind the game is simple, you are either going to build the underground church or crush it. It sounds confusing, but once you get started it is easier.

One player is picked to be the pastor and another is picked to be the police. The pastor is loyal to the church, while the police person is loyal to the state. All of the other players are neutral characters. In games with 8 or more players two players are police, and in games with 10 or more players two players are pastors.

UNAUTHORIZED
Each player is dealt a set of cards. The police will receive all red cards, which show loyalty to the state. The pastor will receive all green cards, which show loyalty to the church. The other players will receive a mixture of red and green cards. There are also some wild cards that are half red and half green. The player’s hand will determine their loyalty. If they have more green cards in their hand they are loyal to the church. If there are more red cards in their hand they are loyal to the state.

Game Play

There are four rounds. During round one each player plays two cards down based on their current loyalty. In rounds two through four players pass one of the cards in their hand to another player and then play one card down based on their current loyalty. Getting a new card can switch your loyalty, and that’s the idea.

UNAUTHORIZED
After the cards have been played, each player then takes their turn. The player has a choice of completing one of four actions.

  1. Role Power – Each player card has a role power listed on it. Some of them include; switching a card with someone else, playing a card from your hand on another player’s pile, imprisoning people, or taking and taking a card out of someone else’s pile. Again, the action would have to benefit your current loyalty.
  2. Speak to a Neighbor – This lets you look at a neighbor’s hand. This comes in handy when you are going to pass a card on to the person.
  3. Seek Parole – If you are put in jail, you have limited options on your turn. To get out of jail you need to seek parole by drawing a card. If you get a red card, you are out of jail. But if you pick a green card you are forced to stay in jail.
  4. Conduct a Public Execution – This can only be preformed by the person playing the police, and can only be done once in a game. The police person can pick a person to kick out of the game.

Once each player has played and passed their cards, and picked an action to complete, the round is over. The deal is then passed to another player and the next round begins.

When all of the rounds are over each player’s loyalty is determined. If more are loyal to the state, the state wins. If more are loyal to the church wins. There isn’t an individual winner.

How We Played

Unfortunately, we were not able to get six people to play. I thought I would be able to get five people together, but with having so many appointments after my surgery, it was difficult to make the time for everyone to get together. We ended up playing with three people. This is not ideal, and I know the game would be way more action packed and entertaining with more people. But we worked with what we had.

Each person was dealt two hands and played each one independent of the other. We have done this with other card games. As long as you play focused on the hand you are currently playing, not on what you know the other hand has, it works out. We dealt one player a police and a neutral, one a pastor and a neutral, and one two neutrals.

A few times having the two hands confused AJ a little bit, but overall the game worked out. Each time we played it became a little easier and the switching loyalties became easier to get use to. The only odd thing is that every time we played, the church won.

What We Thought

We were completely confused on how to play after reading the directions. After we set up the game we didn’t understand how to actually play. We ended up watching the video online that explained exactly how to play and then we easily understood the concept. I really wish that the written directions were as easy to understand as the video. Just adding a few more details to the instructions would make it a lot easier to understand.

The gameplay was a little confusing at some points. Switching dealers each round and passing cards to different players made it so we had to keep the directions out. There were a few times we had to stop the game and reread the directions to determine what we were suppose to do next.

Here is the video to help you understand a little bit more about the game.

Once we really understood the game, it was fairly simple to play. Trying to switch the loyalty of other players was exciting and it kept the game moving. It would be great for a large group of people. It is quick enough to keep interest, and t a single winner or loser, it is a group win. This game teaches a lot of logical thinking skills. The cards seem very durable, and look like they will withstand many years of game play. Now I just have to try and get more people to play with us.

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

Unauthorized {Chara Games Reviews}
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Marine Biology ~ Review

A few years ago AJ was looking at one of the catalogs from Apologia Educational Ministries and she saw their old Marie Biology course. She begged me to get it for her. She loves animals and plans to have a career caring for them in some way. At the time she was too young for the course. Technically she is still too young to take the course because it is an advanced biology course and she just started ninth grade. But when we were given the chance to review Apologia Educational Ministries new Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set  and Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CDI knew that I couldn’t turn it down!

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set

The advantage set comes with the textbook, the student notebook, and a solutions and test manual. We also received a separate test booklet. In order for your student to successfully complete the course you will need to purchase the Slide Set and the Dissection Set. There is a lot of hands on learning with this course!

About the Textbook

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set
The textbook is amazing! It is over 550 pages. The book is broken down into 16 modules that each take around two weeks to complete. They are:

  1. The Oceans of Our Planet
  2. Life in the Sea
  3. The First Four Kingdoms
  4. Marine Invertebrates I
  5. Marine Invertebrates II
  6. Marine Vertebrates I
  7. Marine Vertebrates II
  8. Marine Ecology
  9. The Intertidal Zone
  10. Estuary Communities
  11. Coral Reefs
  12. Continental Shelf Communities
  13. The Epipelagic Zone
  14. The Deep Ocean
  15. Ocean Resources
  16. Effects of Humans on the Sea

This is a college prep course that is designed to be taken after the student has taken biology. It covers a lot of information and uses advanced vocabulary. But there are plenty of diagrams, pictures, and experiments to help students understand difficult concepts. At the end of the book there is a glossary, reference figures and tables, fill in the blank module summaries, a list of needed lab supplies, and an index. It is a big book that is packed full of information.

What Does a Marine Biology Lesson Look Like?

In a typical day your student would read through four to eight pages in the textbook and answer two (give or take) “On Your Own” questions. They may also do an experiment or two.

All of the experiments have a purpose listed. Some of the experiments are very simple to preform but they teach an important concept. For each experiment there is a list of materials, a question that needs to be answered, instructions on the type of hypothesis the student should write, a detailed procedure, and instructions for a conclusion. I was pleasantly surprised to see such detail. I am confident that students would be able to preform most of the experiments with little help. (Except for the dissections.)

At the end of each module you will find the answers to the “On Your Own” questions. Each one has more than just a simple answer, it goes further in depth to explain the answer. I think this is a great idea because it will let your student check their answers and make sure they are understanding the topics.

There is also a study guide for each module. Each module is a little different, but they all have vocabulary for the student to define and questions for them to answer based on the entire module.

About the Marine Biology Student Notebook

The student notebook is a spiral bound, soft covered book that is just over 500 pages. The beginning of the book has a daily schedule. It is completely broken down and tells the student what pages to read, which questions to answer, and if they need to complete an experiment. While it would be possible to figure the schedule out with just the textbook, I found this very helpful. I could just tell AJ to look at the schedule and check off the box when she was done.

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set
There is a section that explains how to take notes when reading. For each module there are a few pages for the student to write notes. I like that idea because all of their work and study materials are then in one place.

One major advantage of the Student Notebook is that it contains all of the questions from the textbook. Each “On Your Own” question is written and has plenty of room for your student to write their answer. It also has the study guide and the fill in the blank module summary from the book. The Student Notebook isn’t a necessity. Your student could answer the questions on their own paper and copy the module summary, this is just a more convenient option.

The back part of the Student Notebook is the Lab Notebook. It has the same information that the textbook has, purpose, materials, question, hypothesis, and procedure. There are also color photos and diagrams for some of the experiments.  After the procedure, there is a section for the student to fill in information about the experiment. There are sections for their hypothesis, observations, sketches, and conclusions.

While we found the Student Notebook very convenient, there were a few things that we didn’t care for. The paper is very thin. A few pages have already ripped at the spiral binding. AJ likes to write in pen and the ink bled through to the other side. She had to switch to pencil. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it bothered her. Our other complaint is that we would have preferred the labs to be with the study questions instead of in the back of the notebook. Then all of the information for each module would be together. Again, this would not be a deal breaker. I would absolutely by the student notebook.

Solutions and Tests Manual

Apologia Educational Ministries
The Solutions and Tests Manual is a soft covered book that is over 200 pages long. It has detailed answers for each module’s study guide, tests for each module, and the solutions for the tests. There are also four quarterly tests with solutions as well. I know that I wouldn’t be able to grade the tests without the use of this guide.

We also received a small test booklet. It is a 50 page booklet that is stapled together and simply has all of the tests. It is convenient to be able to hand the student the booklet without the answers, but there really isn’t enough room for the student to write their answers.

The tests for this program are fairly difficult. The student is expected to give full vocabulary definitions and answer a variety of questions. Some of the questions are a little confusing and make the student think. If a student passes the test, you can be sure that they really understand the information. These type of tests will help prepare your student for higher level science courses.

AJ is not use to these types of tests. We are slowly transitioning to more difficult tests, but these were a little too difficult right now. Her other classes are not “college prep” level. We will revisit the tests in the future. Right now I have her do a definition matching page that I made up and I reword some of the questions. The textbook tells you to base the grade of your student on their tests and labs with little if any points for their daily work. We have never been big on tests, so I plan to grade a little differently. That’s the beauty of homeschooling, you can do what fits your family.

 

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD

The Audio CD is perfect for slow or struggling readers, or those who are auditory learners. It is the textbook read by Marissa Leinart. This isn’t a substitute for the book though. Your student will need to look at the graphics and diagrams and read a few small sections that Marissa Leinart doesn’t read.

Marine Biology 2nd Ed Audio CD
AJ is a slow reader and this was a huge help! Not only did it help her get through her work faster, but it helped with pronunciation of difficult words. Ms. Leinart reads the book very well. It is at a decent pace and her voice is easy to understand.

Our only complaint is that it is not a regular CD. It is an MP3 CD so it can only be listened to on a MP3 compatible CD player or on a computer. We had to listen to it on my computer. It worked out, but it would have been a lot easier to be able to listen to it in her CD player that has better volume.

Sometimes AJ tends to space out when she listens to things. What we did was listen to the CD for a section and then have her read a section. She alternated reading and listening to the textbook. It worked out well and she seems to have retained a lot of the information.

What We Thought about Marine Biology

This was our first time using a science course from Apologia, and I can see why so many people recommend them. The textbook is beautiful. It has so much information that is just waiting to be absorbed. They have a good balance of reading, writing, and hands on learning. The lab experiments have a purpose and are not just busy work. I like that with the exception of the microscope slides and the animals to dissect, most of the labs use easy to find materials.

The other great thing is that the course is customizable for your family. If you are on a strict budget then you can buy just the textbook and the solution guide. Or if you want a little more convenience with everything laid out for your student, you can add in the Student Notebook. If you have a struggling reader or a student who would rather listen to a lesson then the MP3 Audio Book is for you. They even have a DVD option where a teacher teaches the lessons and your student can watch.

We are very thankful that we were picked to review the Marine Biology course. AJ has learned so much and enjoyed the process. Right now we are trying to decide if we want to continue with Marine Biology or if we should put it away for a few years and come back to it when she is a little older. I thought she would do fine with the course even though it is for older students. We have had to take the course slower and adjust a few things. This isn’t an easy course, and it isn’t meant to be. I would not recommend this course for younger (8th – 10th grade) students. Follow the guidelines on their website. Your student really needs a good understanding of basic biology to benefit the most from this course.

If your student is ready for an advanced science course and they love animals, then this is the course for them! There is so much to learn.

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

Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}
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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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