Sunday, May 27, 2018

Adventures in Australia & New Zealand

Adventures in Australia & New Zealand is part of a collection of books by Master Photographer Jim Ostermeyer that takes your child on a trip around the world to explore creation. In these books your child will learn educational facts, be enriched by moral messages, and enjoy amazing photography from around the world. Each book teaches a moral lesson such as confidence, faith, and following your dream. Adorable plush animals can be purchased on the website to go along with the books.

Adventures in Australia & New Zealand takes your child on a journey with Joey, a baby kangaroo. “Mother Kangaroo clucked coaxingly, ‘Come out, Joey, and see the golden bushes on the side of the mountain.’ But Joey stayed hidden deep in her pouch.” Having never left the safety of his mother’s pouch Joey must learn to be brave. To survive he must face his fears. His mother knows that he must come out to see his world. Joey’s mother begins to describe all of the beautiful things he is missing out on by staying hidden deep within her pouch. As Joey hesitatingly peaks his head out his world explodes with lovely sights, colors, and beauty. From a crimson rosella chirping and whistling on a tree branch to a baby koala sitting high up in a tree, Joey begins to discover the world around him. Joey comments, “If I hadn’t chosen to be brave, I would have missed this!” Joey is very happy to be able to dive into the bottom of his mother’s pouch when a cockatoo flies straight towards Joey and his mother. Soon Joey begins to explore his world from outside the safety of his mother’s pouch but still by his mother’s side. He encounters an echidna, a large goanna lizard, a sea lion, a dolphin, and so many more amazing animals. Joey learns that an albino kangaroo hopping around, about his age, wasn’t much different than Joey besides his coloring. At one point a tall emu frightens Joey and Joey sticks his head into his mother’s pouch. She is a bit disappointed. “She hoped that soon he would have faith and confidence and not live in fear.” With his mother’s patience and love Joey learns that he can live without fear and be confident, faithful, trust, and love. He is ready to face the world!

Not only is this a touching story of a mother kangaroo and her joey, but also it is a story filled with a lot of educational information on animals. Did you know that the koala is not a bear and that when they are born they are the size of a jellybean? Or did you know that the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo is one of Australia’s most recognizable parrot species? The Bleeding Heart Pigeon gets its name because of the red spot on its chest that looks like it has been wounded. You may be surprised to know that sheep outnumber humans 5 to 1 in New Zealand. Your child will learn so many interesting facts while enjoying spectacular photos of Australia and New Zealand and many of the animals indigenous to those areas.

My 11-year-old daughter absolutely loves animals. She was so very excited about getting this book. She snatched it up and read it several times through on the first day it arrived. My 8-year-old enjoyed me reading this book to her. She loved the story of Joey and his mother. She was more interested in the story than all of the animal facts. Both of my daughters loved the beautiful photography throughout the book. My 11-year-old said, “I really, really liked this book. I want my mom to get the rest of the books in this collection. I have always loved animals and love reading about them. I would really recommend this book. The story was so cute and I loved all of the animal facts and information.” My 8- year-old said, “Joey’s mother was so patient and loving. Sometimes I wish that my mom had a pouch that I could climb into especially when I am scared. I bet a kangaroos pouch is really warm and cozy. I am so happy that Joey learned to not be afraid.” I really liked this book and would most definitely purchase more of the books in this series. Adventures in Australia & New Zealand relays a great story emphasizing “Confidence” while providing children with animal knowledge. Definitely check out this book as well as the rest of the books in the series.

I reviewed this book for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, March 2017.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Dolphin Neurostim Therapy

Dolphin Neurostim Therapy is an all natural effective pain therapy device. About two months ago I was walking through the neighborhood with my daughter and fell. I broke my knee cap and tore the labrum in my shoulder. Since then I have developed Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. I am trying to find non pharmacological methods of pain relief to deal with my pain. A friend of mine has this duel Dophin and suggested that I come to her house so that she could work on me. The Dolphin Neurostim is "designed to treat chronic and acute soft tissue pain by applying concentrated micro current impulses to trigger, motor, and acupuncture points, providing quick and effective pain relief." The Dolphin is now available for purchase without a prescription. I am currently seeing an alternative Pain Management Therapist who uses similar methods via an Electro Acuscope/Myopulse Machine. I  was excited to find out about the Dolphin and that it was something that could be purchased for home use.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Home School Navigator ~ A Review

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum is an online program for elementary age students. For the older students there are also Interactive Notebooks available. There are six levels to the Home School Navigator program. They follow to rainbow. 

RED is approximately a Kindergarten level. 
ORANGE is approximately at the 1st grade level.
YELLOW is approximately at the 2nd grade level. 
GREEN is approximately at the 3rd grade level. 
BLUE is approximately at the 4th grade level. 
INDIGO is approximately at the 5th grade level. 

Parents are given access to every single level in order to determine exactly where their child needs to be placed within the color system. You choose which level to start your child on and can change levels if you find that a level is too easy or too hard. Each level has 36 weeks of lessons. Here's what included:
  • 36 Week Course
  • Daily Reading, Writing, & Word Study Lesson Plan
  • 60 Instructional Videos
  • Word Study Program
  • Activities That Encourage Multiple Learning Styles
  • Monthly Skills Checklist
  • Portfolio Maintenance 
  • Monthly Goal Sheet/Portfolio Check-In
  • Review Games
My daughter worked through Level Indigo. 

I was not impressed with the YouTube videos of the Read Aloud Books. The person reading the books stumbles through the words and is not the best storybook reader. My daughter opted for reading the books herself. I agreed with her on this one. A storybook reader needs to be animated and draw the listener in and this was a huge flaw in the program. 

I really liked the Literature/Comprehension part of the program and the variety of  activities. I was not the biggest fan of the randomness of the Writing/Grammar part of the program. I liked the Word Study/Vocabulary section and would have liked the word list to have been longer being that this was 5th grade. I really could have done without the Computer Skills section. Not a bad idea, could take or leave that one. My favorite section by far was the Independent Reading and the Interactive Notebooks. With my older children, at this grade level, I had them write chapter summaries. This was a fun alternative. I liked how the Interactive Notebooking really requires the student to interact with the novel. 

The program is broken down into the following categories:
  • Read Aloud
  • Literature/Comprehension
  • Writing/Grammar
  • Phonics/Word Study/Vocabulary
  • Computer Skills
  • Independent Reading
  • Poetry Extension 

Some of the Read Aloud books included the following.

This is a worksheet from the storybook Nobody Asked The Pea.

Word Study/Vocabulary

Interactive Notebooks
If you know anything about lapbooks then you can think of interactive notebooks as a form of a lapbook of sorts. It is a fun way of interacting with a novel. 

I like how everything is laid out in easy monthy, weekly, and daily chart based printables. After completing lesson you can choose to upload or submit to complete the lesson. 

Here is a Scope and Sequence detailing every level.

Overall, Home School Navigator is an okay program. While I am not a huge fan of this program I always encourage others to look into the program for themselves. What isn't necessarily a great fit for one family may be the perfect fit for another. 

To read more reviews click here.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

T is for Tree ~ A Review

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC  from Reformed Free Publishing Association  is a whimsical book that not only teaches young children their ABC's but it also helps them learn scripture to hide in their heart. This hardbound book is definitely a treasure for the little one in your life. This book is 32 pages in length. The recommended age is 3-6 years old.

A is for ANTS
Though weak and small in size, 
They gather food all summer.
May God make us as wise. 

"There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer."
Proverbs 30:24-25

Wow, what great nuggets of truths to be teaching our young children. Even though ants are small, God enables them to preform mightily! This is a great time to teach our little ones that even though they are young God can use them to further His kingdom. What a great time to talk further about ants and how they are able to lift twenty times their body weight. Isn't God's creation amazing! There are so many directions that you can take just this one page to prove God's goodness, faithfulness, and creation. 

E is for EAR
To hear what's wise and true; 
Like seeking hidden treasure
Found only by a few.

"My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom...and searches for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God."
Proverbs 2:1-2, 4-5

God's Word is treasure! Hearing, learning, and memorizing scripture is what the Bible commands us to learn and hide within our heart and become wise. Books such as this one plant seeds within our young children's minds and hearts to know God's Word. I love that not only can a young child learn their alphabet but they can learn Bible truth's while doing so. 

The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful. Each one perfectly illustrates the letter of the alphabet and scripture so well. Each page also has an accompanying border that adds an extra special touch. Connie Meyer did a phenomenal job at writing and illustrating a book to capture a child's attention. 

This book would make a great addition to your church nursery, church library, classroom, baby shower gift, birthday gift, or a gift for any young child you your life. Even though the recommended age for this book is 3-6 years of age, in my opinion, children much younger and older most definitely will enjoy this book as well. 

To read more reviews click here.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018


My teenage son has enjoyed constructing and fiddling around with the Brixo Blocks Maker’s Kit from Brixo. This 115-piece kit includes: conductive bricks, sound sensor bricks, proximity sensor bricks, technic conductor bricks, activity sensor bricks, light bricks, magnetic logo bricks, motor bricks, a base brick, a battery brick (+Bluetooth), a mini screwdriver, and crocodiles to ensure that the bricks are properly connected. Brixo Creations has a mobile app are available for free via the App Store and Google Play. The Brixo Blocks Maker’s Kit 115-piece set isn’t actually available on the site anymore but the Brixo Blocks Maker Kit 127-piece set that is currently on their site retails for $149.99.

Brixo Blocks are intended for ages 6 and up. While Lego® has no affiliation with Brixo, Lego® compatible ideas are included. The Brixo kit comes with basic building instructions and troubleshooting. Due to the fact that there are electrical components there are safety instructions included. The really cool feature about Brixo is their app, Brixo Creations. With this app, you can share your original designs, see what others have created, and find out how to build other cool Brixo models. The app for iOS actually gives the user the ability to control their creation remotely enabling the blocks to move, light up, and more. So Brixo Bricks are not just ordinary building bricks as you probably already figured out from the above descriptions. For example, the Power Bricks are “smart, Bluetooth enabled power blocks that can be programmed and controlled using your phone.” The Light Bricks actually illuminate your creation and shine in different colors. The Magnet Bricks “contain powerful Neodymium magnets to operate the proximity switches.” Of course, central to any of the creations are the Motor Bricks which are what bring your creations to life. This would be a great enrichment activity for home or a school setting. I am a huge proponent of hands-on buildings sets and gets kids creating.

My son has both seen and read about Brixo and was excited to get his hands on this set. He was impressed by the quality of the pieces and the basic concept behind the Brixo model. He had fun building and exploring his options with this set. After downloading the app via the App Store, he really enjoyed interacting and seeing all of the possibilities with the larger sets. My son has always been a huge Lego® fan and was excited that Brixo provided Lego® compatible ideas. He was impressed with iOS capabilities associated with Brixo sets, especially the larger, more complex sets.

While my son enjoyed this particular Brixo set it was very limiting with regards to what you could actually build and do. He said that for the price it was a definite drawback and disappointment. With that said, he really would like to get a couple of the larger sets in order to build some of the more complex models that he has envisioned as well as ones that he has seen on the App Store links that others have posted.

I definitely would recommend Brixo and think that it is a great educational, enrichment, and fun building set. The one drawback is that the sets are quite pricey. Brixo sets would be great for the individual that loves building and is interested in small machines and how this run and work. Check out all of the Brixo Kits on their website.

I reviewed this for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2017

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Reading Kingdom ~ A Review

Reading Kingdom is an online program that teaches children ages 4-10 how to read and write with comprehension at a 3rd grade level (Lexile 750). 

Reading Kingdom teaches 6 main skills which include:
  1. Sequencing
  2. Motor Skills
  3. Sounds
  4. Meaning
  5. Grammar
  6. Comprehension
It is recommended that your child log in and work 4 days a week. Depending on your child's ability lessons will take approximately 15-30 minutes a day. That may seem like a wide range but depending on the child it will greatly vary. Some kiddos will grasp onto the material and blast through lessons at lightening speed while others may struggle and need much more time. What is great about the program is that it isn't a competition to keep up with anyone else. Reading Kingdom is about each individual child. 

Reading Kingdom is designed in a way that after your child takes their placement test the program automatically is designed to take advantages of a students strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses. Why is this so very important? The program takes out the stuff that your child already knows which then speeds up their progress and gets them ahead. Each of the 5 levels within Reading Kingdom has an assessment at the end of each level to ensure that the student has mastered the material in each level before moving on. 

As a parent you are able to access your child's Reading/Writing level at any time via a password protected link. If you feel that the material is too easy or too hard for your child you can move your child up or down. There is also an option to increase or decrease response time. The program automatically keeps track of your child's progress. 

My daughter who is in the 4th grade was at a higher reading level than what this program offered. Therefore, it was not a great fit for her. With that said she worked through the last level of the program to give her opinion as to what she thought about it and this is what she had to say, "I think that Reading Kingdom is a pretty neat program. Kids get to read, type, and so much more. You have to remember stories and fill-in-the-blanks. The animated stuff is kind of cool. I think I would have really liked Reading Kingdom when I was younger." 

Overall, I think Reading Kingdom is a pretty good program. I would recommend it to others as a enrichment program. 

To read more reviews click here.

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Oral Immunotherapy

Today my kiddos and I headed to Medical City to help Dr. Wasserman and the wonderful team at Alllergy Partners celebrate their 500th OIT Graduation! Megan's life has forever been changed in a POSITIVE way because of the amazing program that Dr. Wasserman and his team began years ago. Many of you know that at the beginning of Megan's OIT journey with eggs back in 2011, I created a blog to chronicle Megan's journey through the process. I again did the same as she journeyed through her OIT with peanut. I am proud that Megan was able to have been a part of those first 500 patients to help pave the way for so many others now and in the future seeking to use OIT to gain freedom from anaphylactic food allergies. I owe a great deal of gratitude to Dr. Wasserman for dreaming big and believing in the process behind OIT. It has changed the lives of so many patients and their families! Not having to live in fear of a food or multiple foods on a 24/7 basis is a huge weight lifted off of a parent's shoulders. 

Here are links to both of Megan's OIT Blogs


Peanut OIT 

Megan will be turning 12-years-old this month. She loves to read, dance, and be with friends. If you have had a chance to read through Megan's blogs you have probably seen that despite completing Peanut OIT after some time she did have to stop eating peanut duty to developing EoE. I do not count this as a complete failure. Despite the fact that her IgE levels have gone back up and she is now considered anaphylactic to peanut again she is NOT as sensitive as she used to be. Before OIT Megan could not even be around peanut butter without reacting. If a surface had peanut residue on it she would have a reaction. If someone that consumed peanut butter touched her she would break out in hives and begin the swell, cough, and react. Today, she is able to be around people that are eating peanuts and not have issues. She can go to a baseball game. Before OIT that would NEVER have been an option. I do see this as a huge blessing. My hope for Megan is that her ability to tolerate a world "with peanuts" continues. She always carries two Epi Pen's and is educated that it is always better to err on the side of caution. But on the bright side, she hasn't had to use an Epi Pen since graduating from OIT! We count that has SUCCESS!! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Weigl Publications ~ A Review

Over the past weeks we have been reviewing several books from Weigl PublicationsA Lion's World, Glaciers: Earth Water, and There Once Was A Cowpoke Who Swallowed An Ant. With Weigl Publications books come alive on your screen. Your child has the option of reading the book themselves or having the book narrated to them. Interactive, academic based activities and skills are included with the more advanced books. With more than 1800 books in their library, Weigl Publishers and Smartbook Media have a wide range of subjects to choose from. 

Books are delivered via PDF format and in the first couple of pages in the book you will find a unique code. There are directions as to the website that you need to go to where you will then enter your code. You will then be asked to enter a word from a specific page from the book in order to confirm that you have indeed purchased the book. Once this has been confirmed you will have access to the interactive e-book. 

Once you activate the code the book is yours FOREVER, it never expires!

A Lion's World
A great first reader

This is a great book to get your early reader excited about reading. 
Learn about lions as you watch the book come alive. 

Glaciers: Earth's Water
Grades 3-6

Wow! This book is FULL of amazing content. Not only will your student learn about 
glaciers but they will have the opportunity to explore the Lightbox Glaciers Menu and 
take quizzes, learn about glacier movements, complete a glacier activity, read more
in-depth about glaciers, and so much more. 

My 11-year-old learned so much while exploring this book. 
She said, "I really didn't know that much about glaciers
before reading this book and reading through the extra content stuff. This was
a so much more fun way of learning than sitting reading a science book. I liked 
being able to click on all of the different links and choosing what I wanted to do
in the order I wanted to do it in."

There Once Was A Cowpoke Who Swallowed An Ant
Ideal for K-2

This story reminds me a lot of the story of the old lady that swallowed the fly. 
In this story a cowboy swallows an ant, with a Texas-sized sting
 and boy does he every get in trouble. He swallows a lizard, and a longhorn. He jumps 
on his horse and starts a stampede. 

I will definitely be purchasing more books in the Weigl Publishers and Smartbook Media library. These books are a great way to fill in the gaps when in the car, at doctors appointments, on vacation, to fill in the gaps in curriculum, and to just have available for your kiddos to read. I would highly recommend these to my friends, other home educators, or teachers. 

To read more reviews click here.

Confetti Eggs