Today's Wisdom

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review of Jim Hodges Productions Audio Books

Jim Hodges Productions Review
Since reaching the middle school and high school years, we have relied more and more on audiobooks in our homeschool. Jim Hodges Productions has produced many audiobooks. We were sent In the Heart of the Rockies to review. It is recommended for ages 10 and up.

In the Heart of the Rockies is available in a MP3 CD format or an instant downloadable format. The CD will play in a computer CD drive, DVD player, or any MP3 compatible CD player.  Please note that the files will not play in a standard CD player.

The MP3 CD version costs $25 and the digital download costs $18. We received the MP3 CD and listened to it on my laptop. It lasts for 10 hours and 53 minutes and is broken down into 19 chapters on average of 35 minutes each. You can purchase these and other audio books online at Jim Hodges Productions or by sending a check.  

In the Heart of the Rockies is by G.A. Henty and set during the early American history time period of the 1860's. We were introduced to Henty earlier this year and have fell in love with his novels. He accurately portrays history with the remarkable skills of a storyteller. We used the free version from Gutenberg to follow along as Jim Hodges read to us the story of Tom Wade. The book is not necessary but it aids my oldest son who is currently a 10th grader to really comprehend what he is hearing. He is receiving both the visual and auditory learning that he needs. My 6th and 8th graders listened in as well.  

Jim Hodges Productions Review

In the Heart of the Rockies takes you on the adventures of Tom Wade as he leaves his England home a boy at the age 16 and joins his Uncle Harry in Denver, Colorado to help mine for gold so that he could help his sisters earn money for their family finances. Both of his parents had already passed away and they left behind Tom and his four sisters.  He felt leaving for America was his best option to help take care of his sisters.  His Uncle had previously sent a letter to his mother (before she died) telling her of his good fortune and letting her know that he could put Tom to work easily and "make a man out of him."  After many toils and troubles some of which include frigid temperatures and Native American warriors, he finds the fortune in which he set out to find.  As the story draws to an end and Tom returns to England two and a half years later, he has turned into a man just as his Uncle Harry had promised.  The story is full of vivid vocabulary that help you visualize the surroundings of Tom and the Colorado Rockies.

Also available for purchase is a study guide.  The study guide cost an additional $12 but in our opinion is well worth the extra cost.  The guide covers two chapters at a time and has a place to discuss vocabulary, history and comprehension questions, and an activity section.  There are also three quizzes included. It includes all the answers to each question and quiz at the end.  Some of the activities include research, geography, Venn diagrams, charts, experiments, character traits and more making it really simple to make each of these novels into a complete unit study.  We used the study guide together as a family and pick and chose what activities we found most interesting.

Click the banner below to find out what my crew mates thought of some of the other audio books available from Jim Hodges Productions. You can also find Jim Hodges Productions on Facebook.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review of Clued In Kids Treasure Hunts

Clued In KidsReview
Do you want to have a house full of laughter in less than 10 minutes?  Then, this review is for you!  We recently received 2 treasure hunts from Clued in Kids. They offer lots of different themed hunts to appeal to everyone but for this review we will focus on the Halloween Treasure Hunt and the Princess Treasure Hunt Clue Book.

Our family loves treasure hunts!  The hard part for me is often trying to come up with the clues so now the hard part is done for me so we can focus on the fun!
Clued In KidsReview
The Halloween Treasure Hunt is downloaded as a PDF product and can be purchased and downloaded right away for $5.99.  The clues print 2 to a page so you will need to cut the page in half and then you are ready to hide the clues. Also included with the hunt is one of my favorite pages, a page telling you exactly where each clue should be hid! There is also a note at the bottom of each clue addressed to the hunt leader telling them exactly where the clue needs to be hid.  They have truly made this as simple as possible!

The clues are designed so that you can place a child's name on the top if you feel they will need it.  Sometimes the excitement of the hunt may bring on the selfishness to find all the clues and not share so this little step remedies that situation!  It is also gives the parent an opportunity to assign the easier clues to a younger child and the more difficult clues to an older child.  

Some of the activities included in cracking the clue include multiplication, logic skills, reading skills, solving riddles, unscrambling words, dares, decoding, finding hidden objects, and many more.

The places to hide the clues are easily found household items such as by the forks, in the washer, by the toothbrushes, in the sock drawer, etc.

Here you can see some of the clues and the final hiding place for the treasure was to be placed inside a pumpkin.  Since we had not carved our pumpkins yet, I had these as decoration and they worked perfectly.  

For this treasure, I chose a totally gross science kit that went perfect for a Halloween treasure.  The kit came with this little trash can which fit perfectly inside the pumpkin so I just tore off the box label and placed it inside.

So, the fun continued as we enjoyed our gross science. 
Clued In KidsReview

Next up, we enjoyed the Princess Treasure Hunt Clue Book. This is a physical clue pad booklet and can be purchased for $8.99.  I originally chose this product to do with our little girls at church during our annual Princess of the King party but our time ran out and we could not get it in.  So, having my own little princess, I knew exactly what to do.  Double the hunt, double the fun!

Some of the activities included with this hunt were finding the Capital letter jewels, practicing your best and lowest curtsy, decoding with butterflies and flowers, gem patterns, and much more.

Again, the places to hide the clues were easily found in a household.  If doing this hunt at church, we would have just held on to some of the clues (such as the sock drawer) and let the little princesses do an activity to receive the clue (like walk to me in high heels). 

The final treasure for this hunt was found in the washing machine.  For this treasure, I simply put together a goody bag that included some chocolate, some craft kits, and a fun card game.

These are recommended for a wide variety of ages including some for ages 4 and up.  We had so much fun with these and my children are middle school age.  Middle schoolers still enjoy fun learning too!

Here are a few pictures during the hunt.

Other Places To Find Clued in Kids

If you sign up for their newsletter, you can receive a free hunt.  Clued in Kids is offering up a Christmas special over at their blog as well.

They also have subscription packages available where you can receive a new hunt every month.  

  •   3 month: $14.99 one-time
  •   6 month: $25.99 one-time
  • 12 month: $44.99 one-time 
Happy Hunting!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review of New Liberty Videos - The Forbidden Book

New Liberty Videos Review
New Liberty Videos has produced a line of Christian DVDs whose tag line is "Christian DVDs changing lives now and for eternity." We had the opportunity to review The Forbidden Book.

New Liberty Videos Review
This DVD lasts approximately 58 minutes and carries you through the history of the English Bible.  It is recommended for a general audience but it may be over the heads of younger children and discusses some hard topics.  You would definitely want to preview this before sharing it with your children.   In our house, we have already discussed some of the torture proceedings of the early church so my children were fine with watching.  

It is presented in a documentary style with narration that takes you through the history of the English Bible.

It is broken down into these subtitles...
  • The Dark and Middle Ages
  • The Culdees
  • John Wycliffe
  • Chains of Freedom
  • William Tyndale
  • the martyrs
  • Martin Luther
  • King James Bible
  • Apocryphal Books
  • The Bible's Influence In America
This DVD will take you on location to England, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland where you will follow the footsteps of such brave men as John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, William Tyndale and so many more.  You will find out the obstacles they faced as they persevered to bring the common man the English translation of the Bible.  

Some of the images included are (many more images and artifacts are included - this is just a few)...
  • 1000 year old Torah on sheep skin paper
  • some of the first Hebrew Bibles
  • The Latin Vulgate.
  • building remains still standing today as well as some of the first churches to contain the title Christian on them
  • Oxford and Cambridge Universities
  • actual page from Tyndale's 1526 New Testament
  • the Geneva Bible
  • images from Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Our Thoughts and Usage

We loved seeing the images included in the DVDs as well as the locations.  It really made you feel as if you were on a virtual field trip.  

The narration style and classical background music made it a little difficult for my children to stay intrigued but stopping the video through out and discussing it at the subtitle points helped with that tremendously.  They would have had a very difficult time watching the entire DVD at one sitting.  We love learning together as a family but I think this would also be a great series of videos to include in any high schooler's curriculum. 

Brian Barker, producer of New Liberty Videos has been working in the motion picture business for 40+ years.  Some of the other DVDs available from New Liberty Videos include...
You may purchase these DVDs online here or by sending a check.  You may also preview some of the DVDs at New Liberty Videos. There are several pricing options available.  Shipping is free no matter which option you choose!

1 DVD   = $14.95 each
2 DVDs = $12.95 each
3 or more DVDs = $ 9.95 ea or 6 DVDs = $49.95 Total
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekly Wrap - Another Week Bites The Dust

Another week has passed us by and we finished up week 9. Still plugging along through American History which is my all time favorite history to study.

We all found it eye opening to take a peek inside The New-England Primer.

A few more pictures from our week. 

 In our life

I'm feeling fall fever coming on - anyone else?! We had revival this week along with our normal schedule.  It was awesome and always a great time of reflecting and growing. It all starts with me - love this song!  Click here if you can't see the video.

Read Alouds

Finished Amos Fortune - so good and yes I cried.  The tradition continues. :)

So now we're reading Madeline Takes Command.

Weigh In

Maybe I should just skip this section. Can I? Ok, I guess I will not. Good news is - still the same weight. Bad news - no exercise or tracking.

What I'm reading

Still reading these and would highly recommend them all!

The Best Yes Lysa Terkeurst

James by Beth Moore

Breathe by Priscilla Shirer

What's For Dinner

Click here if you can't see the video.

Click here if you can't see the video.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review of Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
One of the most asked questions I hear lately is - What do I do with my middle and high schooler?  As homeschooling continues to grow, so do the options and choices we have. The product in this review has some subject areas available for younger grades of 3 + but the majority of the subjects are for grades 6+ including some AP courses.

Standard Deviants Accelerate offers an easy to use online curriculum called Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses.  The subjects offered are...

Fundamental Math 
Earth Science 
English Composition
U.S. History
AP Biology
AP Chemistry
AP U.S. Government & Politics 
AP U.S. History 
AP English Composition

The subjects are taught using video lessons, review activities, quizzes, vocabulary, writing assignments, and tests. Each course is broken down into chapters and lessons. Each chapter begins with a chapter introduction and ends with a chapter review. Each lesson in the chapter contains a video to watch, a vocabulary section with definitions and pronunciations, diagram section with word back for labeling the diagram, quiz section with multiple choice answers, and a written answer section. Each subject available above follows the same format which makes it really simple for your child to feel comfortable tackling each subject on their own.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Information To Remember
  • This is an online curriculum so it is available 24/7
  • You will need an Internet connection to access the curriculum.
  • This will work on iPad, laptop, or any device that has access to the internet.
  • These courses are great supplements to any curriculum that you are already using.

How we used SDA in our homeschool

I let Jonathan (my 10th headed to 11th grader) try this review out since it was focused on higher grades.  I let him choose the course he wanted to try out and he chose Nutrition.  I also looked over the History, Biology, and AP courses myself.  For this review, we will focus on the Nutrition course and what was offered.

As with all the subject areas, you begin your lesson with a pre-assessment and introduction to the chapter.  Here is how the nutrition chapters are broken down.  Remember that each chapter is then broken down into 3-6 lessons and contains a chapter introduction and chapter review as well.

  • Intro To Nutrition: Cells and Macronutrients
  • What Your Body Does With Food
  • Food Spectrum
  • Micronutrients:  Vitamins, Minerals, and Water
  • Preventing Nutritional Disorders
  • Eating in Context
  • Where Does Your Food Come From?
  • The Savvy Eater

The videos included with each lesson were hard for us to describe.  They are extremely silly and goofy but filled with facts and information at the same time!  At first, Jonathan had his doubts that he would ever say that he liked this course.  However, almost daily he also couldn't wait to show us (his 2 siblings and myself) the craziness of the videos.  Now, he has also asked to do the U.S. History course when he finishes the one he is currently doing!  I think at first glance, both he and myself, had that deer in the headlight look and wondered how on earth any knowledge could ever come from such silliness.  I want to be clear that the videos are not dumbed down silly because they are full of facts. They just contain a fun and different twist on presenting the material.  In the beginning, Jonathan did a lesson each day and actually did not do well on the quizzes.  If you do not get an answer correct on the quiz, it will give you the correct answer and give you a link to the video at exactly the point where the information was presented.  I thought that was a great feature!  Instead of having to watch the entire video again, you could just click that link and find the answer quickly.  In the end, Jonathan began to pay attention more to the facts given, take notes, and he began to do better on the quizzes as well.

Direct quotes from Jonathan - "This course is crazy and goofy but in a good way and please add more of the hippie girl."  

The homeschool pricing for Standard Deviants Accelerate is available in several ways.  For one course and one student, you can pay the annual price of $99 or monthly for $24.95.  The AP courses are available for $14.95 monthly.

Currently, Standard Deviants Accelerate is offering a wonderful deal for homeschooling families to try out their online curriculum.  Until November 15th, you can sign up to try all 14 of their subjects for 1 parent and up to 4 students for FREE for 6 months!  Click below to find out more!  This is the absolute best way for you to try these courses out and see what you think.  This is great for families with students in grades 3 and above.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Social Media Links for Standard Deviants Accelerate

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Apologia's iWitness Series

Apologia Review
Apologia Educational Ministries is one of my favorite homeschooling places to go.  We've used many of their homeschooling science, Bible, and mama resources.  They have now published a new iWitness series that includes iWitness Biblical ArchaeologyNew Testament iWitness, Old Testament iWitness, Jesus iWitness, and Resurrection iWitness.  

We reviewed the first three books in the series, which included iWitness Biblical ArchaeologyNew Testament iWitness, and Old Testament iWitness.  I believe the last two will not be available until 2015 but they are currently listed on the website where you can also find a sample.

Have you ever wondered if the Bible has changed or if what we have available to us now is the original text? Is the Old Testament different from the Hebrew Bible? What criteria did a book require to be included in the New Testament? Who wrote the books of the Bible?

Well, Doug Powell, author and designer of the iWitness series, had these and many more questions that he wanted to find the answers to.  Here we have the results of those findings.  

Apologia Review
Old Testament iWitness sample page
Old Testament iWitness contains some of the most beautiful findings and artwork ever created. The words on the pages remind me somewhat of a scrapbook style. The text is in a handwritten style. Sometimes, I found the text a little hard on my old eyes but it really did draw your attention to the pages.

In this book you will discover the differences and similarities between the Hebrew Bible also known as the Tanakh (I did not know that before reading this book) and the Old Testament.  It carries you through on a visual tour of Jewish history and traditions, Canon criteria and formation, the Torah, the Nevi'im, the Ketuvi'im, Septuagint, the Vulgate and so much more.  It is packed with historical facts including some of the discoveries that have backed up the historical facts of the Bible.
Apologia Review
New Testament iWitness sample page

In the New Testament iWitness book, you will again find the handwritten style text and beautiful full color pages including the gorgeous artwork.  This book gives you the evidence needed to decide for yourself if the New Testament is important to a Christian's fulfillment of their faith.  You will also find the answers to these questions - why does the New Testament contain the books it does, were any left out, how do we know the books have been passed down to us accurately, and so much more. It includes the writings of theologians, church fathers, bishops from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries, one of the oldest fragments of the New Testament and more to aid you in your investigation.  
Apologia Review
iWitness Biblical Archaeology sample page

The iWitness Biblical Archaeology book is about the archaeological finds all around the world just as the title presumes.  The book carries you on a visual archaeological tour beginning with the Old Testament Flood and ending with New Testament findings such as the shroud of Jesus.  You will be given the evidence to decide for yourself if the findings back up the historical information you find in the Bible.

Our Thoughts And How We Used These Books

You can purchase the books we reviewed, which included iWitness Biblical ArchaeologyNew Testament iWitness, and Old Testament iWitness, online at Apologia Educational Ministries.  They sell for $14.00 each plus any tax and s/h.  Each book is paperback with thick card stock covers on front and back and contains a little over 60+ pages.  The other two books in the series, Jesus iWitnessand Resurrection iWitness, can also be purchased online when released for $20 plus any tax and s/h.

They are recommended for many different ages, but the reading level would be 11+.  I think they would be a little difficult for my 11 year old to read by herself.  I think these are great books for family read aloud time and for high schoolers especially those studying theology and apologetics. The discussions they bring forth are invaluable.

We choose to read these books together as a family during our Bible time.  We all learned a lot that we did not know and had a great time discussing some of the archaeological finds and our thoughts on whether or not they backed up what we believe as the only true Word, The Bible.  Our favorite part of the books was the beautiful vivid pages of artwork and artifacts that every single page contained.

Other Places To Find Apologia

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