The Best Customizable Online Typing Program ~ Review

The Best Customizable Online Typing Program In today’s world typing is a necessity. Wheather you are typing up school work, working online, or typing in the office, you need to be able to type not only quickly but efficiently. The problem is that learning how to type isn’t the easiest thing.

When we were given the chance to review a different typing program,  UltraKey Online Family Subscription from
Bytes of Learning, I was a little hesitant. Would it be the same as all of the other typing programs we had tried? I think AJ has used at least ten different typing programs over the years. Some were free, others low cost, and one a little on the expensive side. Each program approached the idea of typing a little differently. Some were great but geared for young students, other were boring and meant for adults. Some programs made her work on the home row forever and made her lose interest and others moved too fast and she would feel defeated.

She knows where most of the letters are, but she still uses the hunt and peck method most of the time. To be honest, my fingers stray from the home keys a little more than I would like to admit. I really wanted her to be able to type. UltraKey claimed to be adaptable so I thought that maybe it would be different, and maybe AJ and I could both improve our typing.

UltraKey Online Family Edition

What is the UltraKey Online Family Subscription?

This is an online typing program. You can purchase a year long subscription for either 3, 5, or 8 users. Once you have made your purchase, you are given your own website where you can manage your family. Set up is quick and easy!

The Set-up Options

First you are taken to your dashboard. This is the part of the program that really stands out from any other typing program we have used in the past. The dashboard is broken into four sections.

Overview – This is just a page that explains how the dashboard works and what all of the other screens do.

Enrollment – This section lets you set up accounts for each family member. You simply enter their name, a log-in you want them to use, and a password. Then they are ready to start learning.

Family Management – This lets you set goals for the entire family. We didn’t use this section because AJ was my only student using the program.

Student Management – This is the best part! You are able to set goals for each student individually. There is also an option to let the student set their own goals, or for them to take a short test and have their goal set for them. AJ was set at beginner, her goal is just to get 90% accuracy. Where my goal is set to 14 words per minute with a 94% accuracy.

Another section under the Student Management is Settings. Here you can really customize the program for your student.


  • You can select a background and keyboard color.
  • There is the option to change the skin color of the hands on the keyboard. I thought this was a really cool feature.
  • There is the option to turn the Spoken Support on or off. AJ likes hers on. Every time she starts a new section all of the instructions are automatically read to her. I selected for it to speak only on request.
  • Step by Step learning lets you decide if your student needs to go through the posture lessons, finger lessons, lessons, and skill checks in order, or if they can complete them in any order. We chose the middle option which makes AJ do the lessons and skill checks in order, but lets her skip the posture and finger lessons.
  • You can set the practice amount. It lets you choose between light, medium and heavy. So you can decide how much practice is right for your student.
  • You can decide whether or not to allow backspacing while typing.
  • The final setting is to select how they will do their skill checks. There is an option to set the check for a certain amount of time, or a length of text.

All of the settings give the option for them to be locked, where the student can not change them, or to allow user control where the student can change their own settings. I decided to leave all of the settings unlocked except for the backspacing one.

It may seem like a lot of options, but you can select them in under a minute. If you don’t select any then there are some preset ones that go into effect until you change them.

The Student Management section also gives you access to reports. I will explain more about them later in the review.

The Lessons

When the student logs in for the first time they will be given the option to take a short test to help them set a typing goal. Then, depending on the settings they will be able to start a lesson, learn about posture, or finger placement. The posture video and exercise are nice. I actually learned something new! Did you know that all of your fingers don’t have to stay on the home row all of the time? I was always taught that all fingers had to stay touching the home row if they were not typing another key. That is not exactly true, and it has made a huge improvement in my typing!

A customizable online typing program!

The lessons are fairly simple. You select the lesson you want to work on and then do a short warm up to get you ready for the lesson. Most lessons have you learn three new letters at a time. Once the warm up is complete you learn each letter in a separate lesson.

Once the keys are learned you move on to practicing words. This uses letters you have previously learned along with the new letters. At this time if you make a mistake, you can not go on until the correct letter is typed.

A customizable online typing program!

The next step is practicing sentences. Again, the previous letters and keys are included. Each screen has three sentences for you to type. You are then given a rating in stars based on your speed and accuracy. Then you are given the choice to practice more, or move onto the skill check.

There is also a game section where you can practice your typing in a fun environment. We decided to wait to play the games until she passes all of the skill checks.

Skill Checks

I like that you have the option to select how to take the skill check. AJ was having a hard time with the time limit tests because she would worry too much about the time. When I had her change to the paragraph or two instead of the time, she did so much better. I on the other hand was the opposite. I found my scores higher when I set a time limit.

There are even options for which passage you want to use for your skill check.

A customizable online typing program!

After completing the skill check you are told your results, and what you need to improve on. For example, I was once told I was typing too many extra keys, and AJ was told she was striking the wrong keys. Then you are told if you passed your goal or if you need to try again. Then you can go onto the next lesson.

The Reports

The reports are another thing that sets the UltraKey Online Family Subscription apart from other programs we have used in the past. You can see reports on your goals, specific information about your last skill check, or your overall progress.

A customizable online typing program!

On the progress report you can see at a glance how many lessons were complete, how many skill checks were completed, and how your speed and accuracy were for each skill check. The reports are easy to print for your records.

A customizable online typing program!

How We Used the UltraKey Online Family Subscription

Both AJ and myself used the program, but I didn’t use it as often as I wanted to. Each day AJ would log in with her own log in and start her lessons. Her practice amount was set to heavy, so for every part of the lesson she had to do three pages of practice. Some days she would do the practice and skill check the same day, but most of the time she did them on separate days so that I could make sure she was remembering what she was learning. She has a few lessons left to go before she finishes the program, but she is making great progress.

A customizable online typing program!

I used the program as more of a refresher. I know where most of the keys are, and I type fairly quickly, but I don’t keep my hands on the keyboard correctly and I use the backspace way too often. My goal was to get in the habit of typing correctly and using the correct fingers for each key. I used the program a few times a week and would stay on the lessons until I felt my fingers and brain were working together to type the keys correctly. I have a ways to go, but I am seeing great improvements. While typing this review, my hands have stayed in the correct position and I have made way fewer mistakes than in the past.

What We Thought

I am extremely glad that we decided to give this program a try. The ability to customize the lessons to each person was truly a blessing. The lessons were short and engaging and there was plenty of practice. The reports are helpful for record keeping, and for seeing your overall progress at a glance. The program ran well and we never had any issues. Both AJ and myself have seen an improvement in our typing and we plan to continue to use the program to improve on our speed and accuracy. If you are looking for a great online typing program, I highly recommend the UltraKey Online Family Subscription!

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say.

UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Wulf the Saxon ~ Review

Wulf the Saxon - The newest audio drama from Heirloom Audio Productions

Over the years our family has been blessed with a few different audio adventures from Heirloom Audio Productions. I was a little hesitant to review the very first title that we were given because I had heard so many great things about the audio dramas, and I didn’t think it was possible for them to be that good. They are! And our family has been hooked on them ever since. We were recently given the chance to review their newest title, Wulf the Saxon, and we couldn’t wait.

What is Heirloom Audio Productions?

Heirloom Audio Productions

Heirloom Audio Productions is a company that takes the historical books from G. A. Henty and brings them to life through audio adventures. Their goal is to build character in the next generation by bringing the lessons of history to life. The audio dramas are so much more than just an audio book. You are able to listen to a full on theater production. Each part is played by an actor, some who have had amazing roles in the past. One of those actors is Brian Blessed, who was in Star Wars among other things.

Along with the brilliant voice acting you are able to hear things like; the wind, swords swinging, the ocean, and other noises that help you to see the story.

About the CD

Wulf the Saxon comes on two CDs and will keep you entertained for two and a half hours. It is recommended for kids aged six and up. The story takes place in 1065 when Edward the Confessor is on the thrown in England. Wulf is a Saxon and a land owner. He is young though, and a little immature. He gets into an argument and a scuffle and ends up getting punished. The punishment seemed unfair to me. He is sent away for a whole year, but this punishment might have been one of the best things that happened to him. During that year he grows up, matures, and learns to better serve his people. When he comes back he is given a higher title.

Wulf the Saxon
Wulf and a lot of other Saxons ended up having trouble at sea. Their ship was destroyed and they found themselves captured by Count Conrad. Wulf and another page ended up escaping and traveling the country with little food to try and get help. Did they make it? What happened next? You will have to listen to the story yourself to find out!

How We Used It

This is the first time that we received just a CD. Normally we are also given a study guide and other goodies. In the past we used the study guides to help us learn more about the time period and to help us with discussion questions. This time, I decided to just listen to the CDs and talk about them. I did miss the study guide in the beginning. They normally had questions after each track that I could use to make sure that AJ was understanding the story.

But I quickly realized, that she enjoyed the story more and was able to pay better attention when I wasn’t stopping the CD and asking her questions in the middle of the story. There was still a lot of learning taking place. We talked a lot about the hierarchy in England, the different places that were mentioned, and more.

What We Thought about Wulf the Saxon

This story did not disappoint! It had everything that we have come to expect from Heirloom Audio Productions. There was suspense, love, fighting, underlining morals, and so much more. You feel like you are in the story. If you are looking for a great way to bring history to life, I highly recommend any of the audio dramas from Heirloom Audio. I think Wulf the Saxon is one of my favorites right now, but that is probably just until the next one comes along!


Heirloom Audio Adventure Club

If you enjoy the audio dramas from Heirloom Audio, you might want to check out the Live the Adventure Club. With the Club you will have access to teaching resources (like the study guides), access to 500 old time radio shows, a community forum, and hundreds of fun games and activities. You can take your adventure to the next level!

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

Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Weave Your Word in Me ~ Review

I am always on the lookout for a good Bible study for AJ. By now she knows all of the major Bible stories, but needs to dig deeper into the Bible. The problem is that a lot of Bible studies for kids are babyish and don’t really go beyond the basics. Most of the Bible studies that do dig deeper require a lot of writing and too much reading for one lesson. Or I find one I like, and it doesn’t match with the Bible version we are using. I usually tweak the Bible studies so that they fit AJ. But it would be nice to not have to do that. When I heard about a new Bible study from Kid Niche Christian Books designed for tweens I was anxious to have AJ try it out. She is a little beyond the age range, but it looked like a great fit. We received Weave Your Word in Me — Part 1 and were eager to get started.

Kid Niche Christian Books

What is Weave Your Word in Me?

Weave Your Word in Me is a Bible study designed around four units, God the Father, God the Son, What God Wants, and God the Holy Spirit. It is broken into two parts. Part one has 36 lessons and focuses on the first two units, while part 2 has 44 lessons and focuses on the last two units. The parts can be purchased together or separately. The study comes hole punched and ready to be put in a folder.

One great thing about Weave Your Word in Me is that it works with six different Bible translations. It works for; ESV, KJV, NABRE, NASB, NIV, and NKJV. This study not only teaches about the Bible, it also teaches about prayer. It uses a kid friendly version of the Lord’s Prayer that your child reads through during the study. It also helps them make their own prayers.

The pages are bright and colorful. Each page has illustrations of some kind. They have plenty of room to fill in the answer, even if you have a student who has large writing. I think the best part is that the pages are not in a bound book. You can take the pages you need out and then just add them to their folder once they are finished.

The Lessons

Each lesson is a little bit different offering a variety of activities. The student is instructed to read a few verses in the Bible and answer some questions. Sometimes they are short answer questions. Other times they are fill in the blank, filling in charts, true or false questions, drawings, or even acting out scripts.

The lesson ends with a My Prayer section. This section has a prayer partially written out that the student needs to finish. They finish with things they learned from the lesson and add things of their own as well.

The lessons range from one to three pages long based on the topic of the lesson. Lesson 2 is “Where God Lives” and is only one page. Where lesson 22 is “Jesus’ Lessons in Faith.” It is three pages long and has more verses to read.

How We Used It

I had AJ work on the Bible study about three days a week. Most days she finished a lesson in about twenty minutes. There were a few of the lessons that were longer. For those she did half of the lesson one day and then finished it the next day. She was able to complete the study fairly independently. When she was finished with the main part of the lesson we would check it with the answer key and then she would do the prayer section. I think younger students may need some help, but strong readers should be able to complete the lessons on their own with a little help.

What We Thought

Both AJ and I were pleased with this study. She enjoyed the colorful pages and different activities. I enjoyed that she was learning more about God and that she was reading verses all over the Bible. I didn’t think that she would enjoy the prayer section, but I was wrong. She enjoyed it and even asked me not to read those sections because they were personal. I have seen some growth in her from this study so far.

I feel this is a very solid study that will help your student know who God is and how to talk to Him. We plan to finish this study and then order part two. It is affordable and an enjoyable part of our day.

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

Weave Your Word in Me {Kid Niche Christian Books Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer


Super Cool Evangelism Tools ~ Review

A few weeks ago I shared my opinions about a fun 3D pumpkin shaped tract from Let the Little Children Come. The pumpkins are an amazing way to spread the gospel in a hands on way. One neat thing about Let the Little Children Come is the variety of tracts and evangelism tools that they offer. We were blessed with a chance to review their Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack. After seeing how different the pumpkins were, I was excited to see what the sampler pack had to offer. This pack is an affordable way to see the high quality tools they offer.

Let The Little Children Come

What Comes in the Sampler Pack?

The Sampler Pack has 10 of the company’s most popular tracts and tools. These are way beyond your basic tract. They are colorful, interactive, and meant to be looked at for more than a few minutes.

 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks

Animated Tracts

The sampler pack comes with three animated tracts. They are booklets that come with a striped piece of plastic. When you pull the plastic over the pictures in the booklets, the pictures come to life! While each tract is a little different, they all end with the three step process of being saved (Admit, Believe, Invite), and a sample prayer.

 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks
John 3:16 Animated Tract – This tract tells the well known verse over a few pages. The colors are bold and the pictures are simple yet entertaining. This tract would be perfect to hand out all year long.

Where’s Everybody Going? Animated Tract – This is another tract that is great to give out all year. It tells how God created the world and how He wants to be with us, but that sin separates us from Him. It then goes on and explains how we can become closer to God.

The True Story of Christmas Animated Tract – This was my favorite animated tract. It tells the story of the birth of Jesus in a way that will appeal to kids and keep them interested. The pictures include baby Jesus crawling and angles flying in the sky. It is beautifully made and would be perfect to hand out during the holiday season.

Pop-up Tracts

The sampler pack comes with two pop-up tracts. Who doesn’t love a pop-up book? These are made of a quality paper that won’t easily rip. The colors are beautiful and the pop-up pictures add a touch of entertainment.

 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks
The Lost Easter Egg Pop-up Tract – Looking for a tract to hand out in time for Easter? This one is perfect! It uses three kids and an egg hunt as a way to tell the story of the lost sheep. It is unique and full of excitement.

The Most Amazing House Pop-up Tract – This tract tells how God prepared a place for us in heaven, and what we need to do to get there. It is perfect to hand out year round.


These are neat little papers that change as you fold them in different directions. While they are very unique and I think kids will enjoy them, they are a little hard to figure out. If you try and force them to fold they can rip. I think older kids about 8 and up would enjoy them, but younger kids may find them a bit too frustrating.

 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks
Gospel Buttons FlipAbout – This has pictures of a cross, a heart and heaven. Once you follow the directions and explain the story that goes along with the pictures, the child will have fun folding and going over what the pictures represent. When you order a pack of the FlipAbouts they will come with directions about how to use them. You can find more information about how to use the products online.

John 3:16 FlipAbout – This FlipAbout tells the verse. It has bright pictures to help keep the kid’s interest.

Other Cool Evangelism Tools

While their tracts are amazing, sometimes you need an activity or something different to keep kids interested in a lesson. The sampler pack comes with three cool evangelism tools.

 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks
Wordless Book – This book is small, durable, and glossy. Each color represents part of the story. The wordless book is a great way to spread the message of salvation.

Silicone Salvation Bracelet – Medium – The bracelet comes wrapped in a paper that explains the meaning of the bracelet. It has five colors; yellow, green, white, red, and black. While wearing the bracelet the different colors can remind the child about the story of salvation.

Wordless Bracelet Kit – If you want to make the wordless bracelet, then this kit is what you need. It comes with the beads, the cord to put them on, and instructions for a lesson. This would be a fun craft to do in Sunday School.

What We Thought about these Cool Evangelism Tools

The sampler kit came with one of each item. You can purchase the kit to see just how well made and amazing these tracts and other tools are. Or you can order a larger quantity of the product that will work the best for your situation. We were very pleased with the different options. With all of the high-teck gadgets that kids have, you need to do something to grab their attention. The products from Let the Little Children Come does that. If you are looking for a new product to hand out or are looking for a way to get people interested in actually reading and benefiting from tracts, I highly recommend checking out the products from Let the Little Children Come.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about the Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack by clicking on the graphic below.

Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools {Let the Little Children Come Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Sex By Design ~ Review

Parenting teens has always been a bit difficult. Their bodies are full of hormones and they are nether kids or adults. But the world that we live in today makes it even more difficult. Our kids are bombarded with sexual images everywhere. From music, to movies, to commercials. Being sexy is “cool” and staying a virgin until your wedding night is almost unheard of. AJ and I have had the sex talk numerous times. We have discussed why waiting is important, but I am not naïve. I know that there are temptations everywhere. And I want her to be prepared.

This summer AJ attended a co-ed church camp. When She came home she told me that she kissed a boy. It was a dare and just on the cheek, but I was caught off guard. I was extremely glad that she trusted me enough to tell me about the kiss, but I knew that we needed to step up our sex talks. It was perfect timing when about a month later we were given the opportunity to review an amazing purity based course from Abby Ludvigson called Sex by Design Unpacking the Purpose and Practice of Purity. This isn’t a program that just tells teens not to have sex, it explains why waiting is so important. I was excited to start the program with AJ.

What is Sex by Design

Abby Ludvigson Sex by Design
Sex by Design is a video based course about purity presented by Abby Ludvigson. Abby is a 33 year old woman who has dedicated her life to doing relationships God’s way. She is a former teacher turned missionary who speaks to teens from her own experiences. This isn’t a sex-ed course. Your child should know the basics about sex prior to this program. The program is made up of three parts.

The Film Series

The series is broken into seven segments that are each about 25 minutes long. They are designed to be watched with your teens so that you can talk and discuss points as you go along. The segments include information from Abby and has stories from teens who have faced difficult decisions themselves. The segments are:

  1. Plan Ahead: Living Pure in a Sex-Saturated Culture – This section focuses on deciding to live a pure life. It talks about avoiding drugs and alcohol that can cloud your judgment and setting boundaries.
  2. Counting the Cost: Every Decision Has a Price Tag – In this section Abby talks about the physical, emotional, and spiritual costs of sex before marriage.
  3. Dating: Doing Relationships God’s Way – This section doesn’t tell you how you should handle dating. Instead, Abby gives you tools and advice so that you and your teen can make a plan for when, why, and who they will date.
  4. Sex: God’s Purpose and Plan – In this section you will learn about what the Bible says about sex and God’s three main purposes for sex.
  5. Modesty: God Cares What I Wear – This section debunks some common myths about modesty like, “modesty only applies to girls.” It also talks about why modesty is important and how you can stay modest but be fashionable at the same time.
  6. Pornography: Its Deception & Steps to Get Out or Stay Out – This section talks about the negative effects of pornography and discusses temptation.
  7. Secondary Virginity: Running Back to God – In this section, those who have already had sex will be assured that God still loves them. They will learn how to become closer to God and make the decision to stop having sex until they are married from that day forward.

Parent and Teen Guidebooks

You will receive two guidebooks. One for yourself and one for your teen. They are very similar. The main difference between them is that the parent book has a transcript of each video in the book. They are soft covered books. The parent edition is 165 pages while the teen edition is 112 pages long. The guidebooks are designed to be used along with the videos. There is a section to fill out for each segment. Each segment follows the same basic set up.

Abby Ludvigson Sex by Design

  • A Note From Abby – This is a short one page note that introduces the topic that the video will cover. It often has a breakdown of the major topics your child will learn about.
  • Film Outline – Your student will fill in information from the video. A lot of these are fill in the blank type questions where the answer comes directly from the video. There are also a few short answer questions.
  • Scripture Verses – A list of verses that your child should look up. They go with the segment in some way.
  • Truth Statements – These are facts that should help your child. An example from segment six is, “Right and wring are based in God’s Word and He is my moral authority.”
  • Follow Up – This section has discussion questions and additional information about the topic. Sometimes the student is directed to read additional articles about the topic.
  • Personalize It – This section takes the learning further with activities that will help the student apply the lesson to their own life. An example from segment five is flipping through magazines and looking at the clothing, then deciding what would need to be changed to make the outfit modest.
  • Apply It – This is the final section. In this section your teen actually applies the learning to their own life. In segment three one of the ideas is to create a family dating contract.

The end of the guidebook has a Bible Study to help your teen find strength in the Bible. There is also a 1st Peter Principle section. This section helps your teen figure out their own beliefs (about purity) so they can share them with others.

Online Resources

For each segment, Abby had compiled a vast amount of resources to take the learning further. She has found articles, videos, and downloads that you can use for free. She has even made a list of books and resources that you can purchase if you want to. I was amazed by the selection.

How We Used Sex By Design

There are numerous ways to use this program. You can have your child watch the videos and fill in the film outline in the guidebook while having numerous discussions. You can spend a few weeks on each topic doing all of the activities. Or you could even spend longer by adding in some of the additional resources. It is a very flexible program, but it is designed to take some time. You could spend a few days on each segment and finish the entire thing in less than a month. But your child would not get everything out of it.

Abby Ludvigson Sex by Design
AJ is 14 and no where near ready to date emotionally. What we are doing is spending a few weeks on each topic learning the basics. She is watching the videos, filling out the outlines, and looking up the scripture verses. When it makes sense she does an activity from the other sections of the guidebook. We are doing a lot of discussions. I plan to go through this series with her again once we finish it. Taking the lessons deeper and doing different activities each time. Sex and purity isn’t a one time discussion. It is ongoing and I think that constantly talking about the reasons to stay pure make the message more meaningful.

What We Thought about Sex By Design

I think this program is brilliant. So many programs teach abstinence but don’t explain it. Abby explains why you should remain pure and explains the big picture without coming off preachy. I think she is a great role model for teens. A child can hear that they shouldn’t have sex from their parents hundreds of times, but coming from another young adult who is practicing what they preach is powerful. I remember signing a purity contract when I was 12 or 13. All I knew was that sex was not okay until I was married. I think a program like this would have helped our church group back then, because it gives reasons.

Abby is a great speaker who keeps your attention and balances out the serious nature of the discussion with wit and humor. It almost feels as if you are having a discussion with a friend. I appreciate that she doesn’t lay out what dating should look like. She encourages the teens and their parents to work together to find out a  plan that works for their family. Every family is different and this lets the program work for numerous families. I like that it has a great deal of flexibility, letting each person take their learning as deep as they want to.

I will admit that I was a little concerned with the final segment. At first I thought that it might come across as giving permission to have sex since God will forgive you. I was pleased to find out that I was wrong. Abby covers the topic with grace. She explains that God will always forgive you but makes sure the viewer understands that sex changes you and is not to be taken lightly. The segment also focuses on guilt, shame, and God’s grace. If you have a teen who has been sexually active in the past, this would be a great segment to start with. I am not ready to show AJ this segment quite yet, but I feel confident that when she is a little bit older it will be something I am happy to watch with her.

AJ has enjoyed the program so far. It isn’t her favorite subject, but she is learning and gaining great skills for the future.

Overall Abby takes a topic that can be difficult to talk about and not only explains the reasoning but gives the students the tools they need to succeeded. If you have a teen or tween who you want to remain pure, this program can be a big help.

Click on the graphic below to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about Sex by Design.

Sex by Design {Abby Ludvigson Review}
Crew Disclaimer

Brinkman Adventures Season 4 ~ Review

Two years ago our family was introduced to Brinkman Adventures.   At the time were blessed with the opportunity to review the third season of the exciting audio drama, and we really enjoyed it. The company tells about the adventures and trials of real life missionaries while keeping you on the edge of your seat. When we were given the chance to review another adventure, Brinkman Adventures Season 4 we were thrilled! We couldn’t wait to see what kind of adventures they had in store.

Brinkman Adventures

About Season 4

Brinkman Adventures
We received a digital download of Brinkman Adventures Season 4. It is also available as a physical product that comes on four CDs. There are twelve different adventures to enjoy giving you almost five hours of entertainment.

  • A Paradise Lost
  • Remember Nhu
  • Aisha’s Fear
  • Heart Song
  • The Crashed Kitchen
  • Crisis In The Congo
  • The Mysterious Palm Feller
  • War of the Raccoons
  • The Five Guys
  • Toughest Man
  • Cambodian Quest
  • What Brings Us Together

We enjoyed all of the episodes. One of our favorites was Aisha’s Fear. It was about a woman, Aisha and her husband Mahad. Mahad didn’t like the westerners and was overall a very hateful man. He beat his wife and would refuse to sell his products to Christians. After a while Mahad became very sick. The Christians who he refused to sell products to became his only customers because other people in the area were afraid of catching his illness. The Christians helped Mahad and cared for him when he was sick, even though he was hateful to them in the past. Eventually Mahad accepted Jesus and became a changed man. After seeing how her hateful husband changed, Aisha decided that she wanted to accept Jesus. But doing so was dangerous. It was a crime. Aisha not only accepted Jesus, but told many people about Him. She ended up getting thrown in jail, but she didn’t lose her faith. In the end, the person who threw her in jail was amazed with her bravery and released her.

This episode shows the dangers that are faced daily by not only missionaries, but by those who they minister to. It shows that you can overcome fear with love and that God can change the heart of even the most hateful person.

Each adventure tells the story of a different missionary from around the world. There are adventures in the Middle East, Russia, the Congo, Cambodia, along with other undisclosed countries. Each adventure not only tells about the trials each missionary faced, but also teaches a valuable lesson.

How We Used Brinkman Adventures

AJ and I listened to the episodes together. After listening to each adventure we went online to the Brinkman Adventures website to learn even more about the true stories of the missionaries. In order to make the stories appropriate for younger audiences, and to have the episodes flow well, sometimes elements of the original stories had to be changed a little bit. The website allows you to dig deeper into the stories. We listened to some of the episodes more than once because we enjoyed them so much.

What We Thought

Season 4 did not disappoint! It was just as good as season 3. These audio adventures are well done. The sound effects, different voices, and attention to detail make you feel as if you are actually in the different countries. If you are looking for a way to introduce your children to the work that missionaries do, Brinkman Adventures would be a great place to start. The audio drama would also be perfect as part of a geography study, a way to keep your kids entertained while in the car, or just as something to listen to for fun.

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

Brinkman Adventures Season 4
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Captain Bayley’s Heir ~ Review

Over the past few years our family has had the chance to review a few different titles from Heirloom Audio Productions. We have enjoyed every one that we have had the chance to listen to. Their audio dramas make you feel like you are watching a movie with your eyes closed. They never disappoint, so when we were given the opportunity to try out another one of their audio dramas, we were thrilled! We were given a copy of Captain Bayley’s Heir and access to additional goodies, like a study guide online.

Captain Bayley's Heir

About Captain Bayley’s Heir

This audio drama is about 2 and a half hours long. It is broken up onto two CDs with a total of twenty tracks. Like all of their audio dramas, this title is recommended for ages six and up.

The story begins with a kind and considerate boy named Frank. He lived in England and attended school. Unlike most of the other boys who attended school, Frank was friendly to everyone, even those who were a lower class than he was. In the beginning Frank jumps in a freezing lake to save a poor dog who was drowning.

Frank and his school friends decide to break school rules and go out, during this time Frank was in a fight and had to defend himself. The boy whom he was in a fight with ended up black mailing Frank. If Frank didn’t give him 10 pounds by the next day the other boy would tell the headmaster of the school. Frank didn’t have the money, his friends told Frank to pray about the issue. Amazingly, Frank received an anonymous letter with exactly ten pounds in it. The next day Frank paid the boy off. He thought the issue was resolved.

But it wasn’t. He was called into the head master’s office where he was accused of stealing the money. He was told that if he didn’t confess that he would be expelled from school. Frank wrote a letter to his uncle explaining that he was innocent. He asked that if his uncle believed him that he write a letter back to him. Sadly, Frank did not get a response. He decided to leave school and head to America so that one day he would be able to clear his name. He became a ship hand and was on his way to California.

Frank had quite a bit of luck on his travels. It was obvious that God was watching over him. Will he make it to California? Will he clear his name? Why didn’t his uncle respond to his letter? Who sent Frank the money in the first place? You will have to listen to the audio drama to find out.

About the Study Guide

We decided not to use the study guide this time around. Since we joined a co-op, AJ’s weekly work has to now fit into four days and we are still adjusting to it. Once we find our grove, I think we will at least do some of the activities in the study guide. This study guide is set up like the others that we have used from Heirloom Audio. For each track on the CD there is a section in the study guide. Each one has three types of questions.

Listening Well – These are basic questions about the plot of the story.

Thinking Further – This section can include many different things. Sometimes there are questions that make you form an opinion, other times there may be historical information for you to research. These are usually our favorite questions because there often isn’t a simple right or wrong answer.

Defining Words – This is vocabulary that is used in the audio drama that may be unfamiliar to some listeners.

The study guide is a great way to expand on the audio drama, especially if you are learning about the time period in history. Our favorite part of the study guide has always been the Bible section. They take some of the themes or moral issues from the audio drama and make it into a Bible study. This study guide has three simple Bible studies. They are on; God’s Grace, Becoming a Christian, and Honoring Your Parents.

Captain Bayley’s Heir ~ What We Thought

We enjoyed this audio drama as much as we have enjoyed the other ones from Heirloom Audio that we have reviewed in the past. The audio work is top notch. From rain and wind to horses and trains, everything can be distinctly heard. You really feel as if you are back in time with the characters experiencing the adventure with them. The story is exciting and keeps you wanting more. One thing that we enjoyed was hearing the story of how the song, “Amazing Grace” was written.

If you have a child who doesn’t enjoy learning about history, I would highly recommend having them listen to one of the audio dramas from Heirloom Audio. Learning history from a personal point of view makes a big difference. See what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought by clicking on the graphic below.

Captain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
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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.

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.

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.

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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