Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Barbour Publishing ~ A Review

Over the past weeks my daughter has been reading a Bible Biography Series from Barbour Publishing called Kingdom Files. The two books that we were sent to read were, Who Was Jonah? and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus?. This book series is for children ages 8-12.

Kingdom Files, part of the Kingdom Files investigation, is a series of biographies taken from the Bible that focuses on key Bible characters. Cases are broken down into three sections: 

Fact File - contains important information about the Biblical character whom God has called to do big things for His kingdom.

Action File - lays out Bible events showing the character in action.

Power File - where you will find valuable information and memory verses to help you see how God is working in your life. 

Clue Boxes - applications to help you keep track of your thoughts as you make our way through the files. 

The key verse that Kingdom Files uses is Jeremiah 29:11 which says:

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,
Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans
to give you hope and a future."

Who Was Jonah?

Action File we learn about Jonah. We all know the story of Jonah. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell the people about God. Jonah didn't like God's plan. Nineveh was a city filled with wickedness. Jonah decided to run away and hide from God. He decided to sail in the opposite direction of Nineveh and on the boat he was sailing on a huge storm began to rage. Eventually Jonah was thrown overboard and a whale swallowed Jonah. We all know what happened next. 

From the Fact File we learn that Jonah was "called to share the gospel with his greatest enemy." From the Power File we learn that God Is Faithful. God never forsakes us. Satan tries to distract us and lie to us but time and again God proves Himself faithful. God doesn't lose control or forsake us. I Corinthians 1:9 says, "God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." A clue that we learn from one of the Clue Boxes is that, "No matter what you're going through, your heavenly Father sees you and accepts your prayers. That should be as comforting to us today as it was to Jonah." 

Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus?

The set-up is the same as with the "Who Was Jonah" book. In this particular book we journey along with Mary as she is visited by Gabriel and told that she will be with child through the Holy Spirit. He son will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. We follow Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem where she gives birth to Jesus. The wise men visit Jesus. The book ends with Christ's resurrection. 

Be sure to check out the Kingdom Files website for games and activities that your child can print out. There is also an Educator Resourse page. 

I really enjoyed Kingdom Files and would definitely recommend these books to others. Be sure to check out the other books in the series. 

To read more reviews click here.

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

GrammarPlanet ~ A Review

GrammarPlanet is an online subscription based grammar, punctuation, and usage program for students 10 and up. Students of all levels can jump right into GrammarPlanet. Whether you are a beginner and are just learning what a noun is or you are more advanced and are learning about nonessential modifier comma's. Currently GrammarPlanet has 13 Units of study available with more being added. There is both a FREE and a subscription based option. The FREE version is supported by advertising. 

So how exactly does GrammarPlanet Work? 

Each unit begins with a video. The video length varies depending on how long it takes to teach the particular subject matter. As the units progress the videos tend to get longer as the grammatical concepts get more complicated to explain and put into practice. Each unit has a pdf printable summary of the topic being discussed. I had my daughter keep her printable summaries in a folder. Often times when she was working through the practice problems she would refer back to the summary sheet. There are also quizzes and tests to monitor your child's retention of the material being taught. 

The program keeps track of your students progress. We did have some issues along the way with the program freezing up in the middle of sessions. 

I was always confused as to why GrammarPlanet always categorized certain nouns as unused. For some reason they label certain words unused if they are not a part of speech that you are practicing at the time. It is a bit confusing. If there are a group of words such as "Mr. Popper's Pinguin's" you would use wings to start (--PN) and end (PN--) the grouping. This took a bit of trial and error before my daughter caught on. 

If a student gets too many problems wrong in any given unit that unit will remain locked. The student will need to redo the unit by pressing "reset" in order to progress to the next unit. The parent can opt to unlock the current unit so that the child can advance to the next unit if they feel that they child is ready to go to the next unit. I found my daughter getting very frustrated by GrammarPlanet's  "odd" grammar rules which were different from what she has been taught. It confused me too. 

One of the benefits of GrammarPlanet is that it is a self-paced program and students can take as much time as they want. There is no time limit. It is suggested that students spend no more than 15 minutes at a time per session. 

Overall, I think that GrammarPlanet is a solid program with a lot to offer. Unfortunately, it was not a great fit for our family. With that said I always recommend that others check out the site for themselves. What isn't a good fit for one family or individual may be a wonderful fit for another. 

To read more reviews click here.

Social Media
Facebook: www.facebook.com/analyticalgrammar
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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Reading Eggs ~ Review

Reading Eggs is an online reading program for ages 2-13. The Reading Eggs and Mathseeds programs offer Workbooks to complement their programs. My daughter has been working through the 200 Essential Reading Skills for Fifth Grade

Reading Eggs not only helps younger children learn to read but it helps upper elementary age students strengthen their reading skills, reading comprehension, spelling, and grammar. 

The Reading Egg Online and App engage children 2-13 in reading. Before your child starts their initial work in the Reading Egg program they have a Placement Test that the student can take. I opted for my daughter to not take this test since she is older and I was confident in where she was at reading wise. For younger students or for the parent that is unsure of where their child is at in their reading the Placement Test is an excellent place to start. The 5th grade dashboard is filled with a wide range of engaging activities. In the Stadium students play games involving vocabulary, spelling, and grammar usage. In the library students can read books and then answer comprehension question to earn eggs. In the English section their are videos and then 20 questions. The Target section challenges your child to achieve goals. The My Lesson section is the daily lesson that covers all topics including spelling, grammar, reading comprehension, reading skills, etc. The program keeps track of your child's overall progress and rewards them with trophies. Overall, the Reading Egg online program is really quite impressive. 

The 200 Essential Reading Skills for Fifth Grade workbook has 36 weeks of lessons for students to complete. The 5th grade workbook focuses on comprehension, spelling, and grammar. The workbook includes a Year Planner shows all of the concepts that the student will be covering in each week over the course of the 36 weeks. This two-page scope and sequence is very helpful.  

Each week is broken down into a 5 day week. In just 15 minutes a day your child will begin to improve their reading and comprehension skills. Here is the weekly breakdown:

Day 1 Comprehension lesson ~ Annotate text and answer questions
Day 2 Comprehension lesson ~ Annotate text and work on short answer questions 
Day 3 Spelling lesson ~ introduces a rule or spelling pattern, 20 spelling words 
Day 4 Spelling lesson ~ proof reading skills, 10 challenging words
Day 5 Grammar lesson ~ language instruction, defining grammatical terms

Every 9 weeks there are Comprehensive Reviews to reinforce learning. 

The workbook is colorful and definitely appealing to students. Each days lessons are short enough that students are not overwhelmed or put off, but still long enough that they are learning and progressing in their reading skills and comprehension. The variety of content is constantly changing and being recycled so that students are not repeating the same activities over and over again. 

Some of the activities included in the lesson are:

  • hidden words
  • complete the sentence
  • short answer
  • word endings
  • annotating
  • multiple choice
  • highlighting
  • matching
  • missing letters
  • underline spelling mistake and write word correctly 
  • alphabetical order
  • word clues
  • crossword
  • fill in the blank
  • write the spelling words
  • summarize passage
  • rearrange letters to make a word
My daughter has actually really enjoyed working through this workbook. We have stopped her current spelling curricula and are going to use this workbook in its place. I really like what she has been getting from this program. I like how the workbook and the online Reading Egg program complement one another.

I would highly recommend Reading Eggs to others looking for a fun and engaging way to help students phonics, reading and comprehension skills. Reading Eggs also has a companion called Mathseeds that is for students ages 3-9. Workbooks are also available for the Mathseeds program. 

To read more reviews click here. 

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/readingeggsUSCA/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/readingeggs/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/readingeggs/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/readingeggs/

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Training Mazie

Karis and Mazie checking out the book selection at Half Price Books. Half Price Books
has a very pet friendly atmosphere and welcomes furry friends. One this 
particular day Mazie encountered a Mastiff and did not react. One of the 
important qualifications to be a service dog is that they cannot bark, growl,
lunge at other dogs. Mazie did an amazing job at maintaining her focus, which was 
remaining at Karis's side. 

Mazie has many younger children at our church that absolutely adore her. They know 
that they are not allowed to pet her until after Sunday School and the service is over. 
Right before we leave we allow them to come and love on Mazie. Mazie sits or lays on the floor
and allows the kiddos to love on her. Mazie puts up with A LOT of loving. Again, it is
very important that Mazie be willing to remain sitting or laying down when others approach
her. She does great with both adults and children. 

Karis is homeschooled but does go to co-op classes once a week. Mazie started
going the last couple of weeks of last year. Mazie was excited about getting ready 
to go to work on the first day of co-op this year. 

Our wonderful trainer, Valerie Fry, teaches group training sessions. This is a picture of 
Mazie and her litter brother, Walter. Valerie just happens to trains many of 
Mazie's siblings from Mazie's litter as well as previous and future litters. 

Mazie patiently waiting her turn to participate in group class. 

On this particular day we went to the University Park Fire Department. One of the fellow
fireman suited in full gear with oxygen tank. We wanted to have our dogs experience 
an encounter with a fireman. We have had to call 911 several times for Karis as well as for 
her siblings. Thankfully, we haven't had to call since having Mazie. Even though firemen do
not come suited up like this for medical emergencies they do often come when you call 911. 
When the fireman came around the corner Mazie did not react! She remained composed. No
barking or growling!! Good girl Mazie! 

Mazie's older sister, Stella was with us. Her younger brother, Captain, who is 4 months old
was also there as well. Miriam Richard who fostered Mazie for the first 6 months of her
life is pictured aside Karis. 

We are very grateful to the University Park Fire Department for taking the time to 
work with our service dogs. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Orbeez Wow World Wowzer Surprise

This is a follow up to a review I did on Orbeez Wow World Wowzer Surprise in July.

Orbeez Wow World Wowzer Surprise by Maya Toys were a HUGE hit with my 10-year-old daughter! Each Wowzer Surprise globe contains its own Magical Wowzer Series 1 Magical Pet. Instructions are given as to how to activate the Orbeez beads contained in the globe in order to reveal which magical pet you have. You can visit www.orbeezwowworld.com for more information. Each Wowzer Surprise toy retails for $5.99.

Let me just say, my daughter was more than exited to play with the two Wowzer Surprise toys that she got! Once you take off the outer wrapper you have what looks like a globe. It kind of reminds me of a mini gumball machine, except it is filled with Orbeez beads instead of gumballs. Next, you unscrew the top and tube the globe, foal seal off. Step three, you replace the globe cap and remove the fill water cover. Using a cup, you then fill the display globe with water. This is when the MAGIC happens!! Your Wowzer Surprise Magical Pet will appear. I will admit, it is pretty cool to watch the Orbeez bead turn translucent and all of the sudden you have what looks like a mini aquarium. There are 20 different pets in the Series 1 Magical Pet collection. My daughter grabbed the Magical Pet guide to figure out which pet she got and its name. There is one Super Rare and one Rare pet in the series. My daughter did not get either of those. My daughter got TweetHeart who is “life of the party, enjoys living life to the fullest” and Finny who is “shy & timid but brings good luck to all.” There is a spin key so that your child can rotate their pet for dancing action. They can also take the pet out and play with it. You can drain the water and replace all of the components and play again. Series 2 is coming soon!

My daughter absolutely loved her Wowzer Pets, playing with the globe, and using the key to twirl her pet around and around in the water filled with Orbeez beads. For the price I would most definitely purchase these again. My daughter is now obsessed with wanting all 20 of the pets in Series 1. The website lists these for ages 5 and older. I agree that age 5 is about right due to the Orbeez beads and choking hazard. This would be a great slumber party or birthday party idea. With the heat of the summer upon us, this would be a great, fairly inexpensive, way to entertain the kiddos indoors. Needing a gift idea for the next time your child has to go to a birthday party!

I would most definitely recommend Orbeez Wow World Wowzer Surprise. They are fun and very entertaining for kiddos.

Disclaimer - I received this in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cutie Stix

This is a follow up post to my earlier blog post in July.

Cutie Stix – Friendship Collectible Bracelets by Maya Toys were a super hit with my 10-year-old daughter. Each pack of different EZ Cut Cutie Stix come pre-cut so that they are easy to break apart. Each pack includes 5 EZ Cut Cutie Stix, 3 Mighty Beads, 1 Target Exclusive Avocutie® Bead, 2 Sets of Jewelry Clasps, 2 Cords, and 1 Instruction/Collector Sheet. Each packet makes two bracelets. A packets retails for $4.99.

The Friendship Collectible Pack is a Target ® exclusive and can only be purchased at Target ®. The Avocutie® Bead is also an exclusive bead only for Target®. So, my daughter was very excited to find out which special bead she would get in the two packs that she had! Both packs were Series 1 packs. Series 2 are coming soon. The first thing that my daughter did after opening the bag was to look to see which Mighty Beads she had. The Mighty Beads and Cutie Stix are broken down into 5 different categories: Ultra Rare, Animals, Emojis, Treats, and Garden. Each of the categories besides the Ultra Rare also contains what is called a Rare Beads. Some of the whimsical names given to these soft, marshmallow like beads are: Sassy Kisses, Cutiecake, Bitesized, Ribbet, Wonder Poo, JoJo, Cute N’ Tangy, and Wish Upon a Cutie. The first step is to separate the Cutie Stix into individual Beads. Next, you will want to insert one end of the cord through a jewelry clasp, tie a double knot, and then pull the cord into the clasp. You can now start creating and designing your unique bracelet by placing beads on the cord. When finished insert the other end of the cord through a jewelry clasp, tie a double knot, pull the cord through, and snap the clasps together. You will have enough beads to make two bracelets.

This is recommended for ages 6 and above. This would be a perfect activity for sleepovers, camp, hot summer days, movie watching, birthday parties, gift giving, or just for fun! My daughter had so much fun creating her bracelets and three weeks later she is still wearing them. She wears them when taking showers, playing outside, and never takes them off. They have held up very well. One bracelet broke but it was very easy to fix. The cord that comes with the kit is very stretchy and I was able to fix it without using new cord.

I would definitely recommend Cutie Stix – Friendship Collectible Bracelets.

Disclaimer - I received this for review in exchange for my honest option of the product.