Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course Review

One of my big pet peeves is "hunting and pecking" on the keyboard.  I am sure this is because of my Business Teacher background.  I think it is extremely important to learn to type properly using the right keystrokes, but I have been unsuccessful at motivating Buddy to learn typing.  This is why I was very interested when we recently received The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach to review.  I hoped it would help Buddy learn the importance of typing and the proper method of typing.
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The Typing Coach Online Typing Course is a self paced course that was designed by a veteran typing teacher.  It uses a student centered systematic approach to break bad habits that students may have already developed like typing with just two fingers.  It is designed to teach students not to focus on the keyboard or monitor while they are typing.  The course uses a variety of audio, video, and written instructions to teach students.  It teaches them proper posture, finger positioning, and how to improve their typing speed and accuracy.  There are seven lessons to work through along with lessons on posture, a practice and testing area, and a final assessment.  The lessons are designed for mastery so after your student goes through them, they are highly encouraged to repeat them.  The goal is that by the end of the course your student will be able to type at least 10 words per minute with no more than one error per minute.  If your student continues to work on the lessons with the goal of mastery, they should be able to get to the point where they are typing 45+ words per minute.  The cost of this online course is just $17 per student per year which is very affordable.  The lessons cover:
  • Having Good Posture
  • Home Row
  • Top Row 
  • Bottom Row
  • Shift Keys
  • Typing Practices
  • Number Row
They are designed to focus on one row of the keyboard at a time to help with mastery and reduce errors.  The lessons are thorough and like I previously stated, the student can repeat them as many times as needed to achieve mastery.  There is a printable student manual that is used throughout the course.  There is also a specific area of the program used for practice and testing.  Students age 12 and up can work through this program independently while younger students will need more help.

Buddy working on the reading part of a lesson.
Buddy and I sat down and watched the course introduction together so we knew what we could expect from this program.  I printed off the student manual, typing checks, and the progress chart for him and got him working on the "Before Snapshot."  This was a short assignment for him to complete so that it showed him where he was starting with his typing.  I have to admit that his "Before Snapshot" was not good.  He is not a fan of typing properly even though it drives me nuts when he types using the two finger method.  So I wasn't surprised that his beginning numbers weren't great.  After that he started on the posture lesson.  He does have good posture.  Then he worked his way though the home row and top row lessons.  These took him a while because he found that he couldn't pass the assignments until he actually started typing the way The Typing Coach teaches with your hands on home row.  Once he started using the proper finger positions his typing got much better and he was able to pass the assignments and tests.  He is currently working on the bottom row lesson and even though he has struggled some, he is still trying to work his way through this whole course.
A page of the student manual
Buddy thought this online course was okay.  He did not like looking at the student manual for what to type versus other programs that teach you to type using the computer screen.  He also said he preferred that the program would be either all audio or all reading and not a mix.  There were a couple of things that he did out of order because he would forget to see which part came next.  He does plan to finish the course because he knows as he enters high school he will need to type more papers and documents.

As a parent with a Business Teacher background, I thought this was a very good online course.  I completely understand why The Typing Coach teaches you not to rely on looking at the monitor or your hands and I prefer that my kids do learn to type without looking at the monitor.  I did think going between the audio and reading was confusing at first, but if you pay attention, you won't have any issues at all.  I liked the format of the practice and testing area and that this area kept track of your work progress.  Also the program is very user-friendly and The Typing Coach is quick to respond if you need help and does his best to take care of your issue.  I intend to work my way through this course to brush up on my typing skills as it has been awhile since I last worked on my typing speed.  I wanted to get this done before I had to type my review, but my focus has been on finishing up school and settling into our house so I will work on my typing speed this summer.
Buddy working on Home Row
Overall, we think this is a good online typing course.  You should check it out to see if it is a good fit for your students.  You can find out more information on The Typing Coach on their website and on Twitter.  You can find out more about The Typing Coach Online Typing Course we used here.  As always you can check out what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this course as well by clicking the banner below.
The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Review of Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc. and a Giveaway

My daughter loves crafts, especially painting.  I love that she loves painting, but I don't love cleaning up messes from painting.  We found a happy medium for painting without a mess when we recently received Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc. to review.  My daughter was very excited to try out a thinner paint stick so she could do more detailed work since we have previously tried out Kwik Stix.
Thin Stix by KwikStix, Thin Stix, Mess Free, Non-Toxic, Tempera Paint, Tempera, Fast Drying, No mess kids art, kids art supplies
Thin Stix, like their predecessor, are Solid Tempura Paint sticks that come in many colors.  We received a 6 pack of the classic colors which include red, yellow, green, blue, black, and brown.  They are about the size of a thick marker which is an easy size for little hands to hold.  They are easy to open and easy to use.  You just pull off the cap, twist the paint up a little, and paint.  They feature a fast drying formula that allows them to dry in just 90 seconds with a paint-like finish.  You can use them on paper, poster board, cardboard, wood, and canvas.  You can even layer the colors on top of each other with our creating a mess because they dry so quickly.

Like I already mentioned Little Miss was very excited to get her hands on these Thin Stix.  She was anxious to see if she could draw finer lines and write with the Thin Stix because this was her only complaint about the Kwik Stix, they were too thick to reach in tight spots.  Little Miss drew on cardstock, regular printer paper,construction paper, and wood popsicle sticks.  The Thin Stix go on super smooth and dry quickly.  This let her layer colors for a project for a church fun night.  She also loved that she could write words and have them be legible with the Thin Stix since this wasn't something she could easily do with the regular Kwik Stix.  She could use the Thin Stix to flat to get a wide line or use them tipped to the side to make a finer line.  She loved being able to do fine work with the Thin Stix.  Little Miss loves that she can paint and clean up her own mess.  I love that she can paint without make a mess.  It is a win-win for both of us.  I also had fun trying out the Thin Stix.  I sat down with Little Miss and drew a picture using the Thin Stix and they glide across the paper.  I was also able to write words which was fun to do.  Now Little Miss is hoping they bring out more colors of Thin Stix.
Drawing with the Thin Stix flat on the left and tipped on the side on the right line.

The picture I drew with Thin Stix.
We DEFINITELY recommend the Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  They are recommended for ages 3 and up.  They would be great to give as a gift.  The Pencil Grip, Inc. also has several other products they offer.  You can find out more about all they have to offer on their website, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  You can buy Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors we received here or from ToysRUs website.  

Now for the really good news!!!  The Pencil Grip, Inc. has graciously offered to provide a set of Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors to one lucky reader of this post (U.S. Residents only please).  Enter using the Giveaway Tools widget below.  This giveaway runs from now through Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at 11:59 pm EST.  Good Luck!!!!

As always you can find out how my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew have been using their Thin Stix by clicking the banner below.
No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Feature Wall

I LOVE going antique shopping!!!  I don't know what it is about looking at all the old treasures, but it intrigues me.  Back when we were searching for houses we looked at an old farmhouse that had the coolest feature wall in their dining room.  It was filled with antique kitchen tools and I fell in love with it.  Not longer after viewing that house, it sold, but that feature wall was still rolling around in my brain.  I had planned to make one at our old house, but when we found the barn, I knew exactly where my feature wall would be.  So anytime I have been out at antique shops I have been buying old kitchen tools to put on my wall and just saving them for when the wall was ready.
Kitchen Feature Wall, A Glimpse of Normal Blog
This is the before...what it looked like when we moved in.
Today was that day!!!!  A HUGE, HUGE, HUGE thank you goes out to Buddy, my son, who wanted a project he could work on today and I am sure I owe him a super big ice cream sundae from our favorite hidden gem ice cream spot.  I laid out the items the way I wanted them on the wall and he took charge and got them put up for me.  The only brand new items on this wall other than the paint of course, are the  EAT letters.  They are from Michaels Stores, a local craft store.  They are part of their cute lettering lines they have and they fit perfectly with all the antique items.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how it turned out and I can't wait to go find some more items for my feature wall.



Now I can't wait for when we begin the kitchen remodel so I can add in my antique decor that goes on the cabinet tops.  I love that I can add to this wall as I find more items.  What do you think?  #ireallyliveinabarn

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Review of Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity

Sometimes being a homeschool parent is really hard.  To the outside world we look like we have it all together, but on the inside we feel like we are messing it all up.  We need support and encouragement on our homeschool journey just like we give our kids.  This is why I was excited to receive Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity to review recently.
Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue, Homeschool Rescue, Help for Homeschool Parents, Homeschool Parent Resource
Only Passionate Curiosity is a website that was created by a fellow homeschool mom, Heather Aliano.  She knows homeschooling because she is currently homeschooling 4 kids so she has been right in the thick of it, like other parents.  Her website offers many resources from free resources to great printables that you can purchase.

Her latest offering is Homeschool Rescue.  This unique e-course has been created specifically for homeschool parents who are struggling and want to refresh their school.  This self-paced course gives you lifetime access to over 20 video lessons to listen to, printable homework assignments that coordinate with each video, resources for homeschooling success, online support from other homeschool parents, and bonus content that is regularly being added.  One thing that makes this class unique is the way it is run, it is sold and run in sessions.  Sign ups for the class open for a couple of weeks at a time, they are currently open from now until May 31, 2017.  Then when sign ups end, the course will begin and run from June through July.  It is self-paced, but the online support part will be presented live in a private Facebook group so that Heather can give each "class" her full attention and support.  When that class nears completion, the next sign ups will start.  Running the class in sessions allows for more personalized support via the private Facebook group and email.
Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue
The Homeschool Rescue course is currently divided into 5 modules with more modules coming soon.  Each module focuses on a different area of homeschooling from fixing the broken parts of your homeschool to time management to teaching different age kids and more.  Each module is then broken down into individual lessons to listen to.  Then you complete the homework for each lesson which encourages deeper thinking about the lesson and the direction you want your homeschool to go in.  Each lesson is only 20 minutes or less and the homework assignments are usually only 1-2 pages.  Each lesson also includes resources that Heather suggests that apply to the topic she discusses.  There is also bonus content that you receive when you purchase the course.  There is a 60 Day Course Plan that you can follow for completing this course in just 60 days, but if this plan doesn't work for you, you can go at your own rate.

Being a veteran homeschool mom, I wasn't exactly sure how I would use this course.  I have been homeschooling for 10 years, but I was very curious about this course because I know it is never too late to revive your school and we have made a lot of changes in the last year or so including a big move.  The kids have done great with all the changes, but I have been feeling like I wasn't on top of my game and I was hoping this course would help me get my focus back and help me give our school a direction.  It has done exactly that and I couldn't be happier!
The first module requires you to take a tough look at your school and really see what is working and what isn't going so well.  I can't lie and tell you that this module was easy for me because it wasn't.  I had to face the fact that I don't always give our school the full attention because I am also busy being a mom, wife, blogger, and friend.  Sometimes while the kids are working on school, I am not giving them my full attention because I am trying to do too many other things and label it multi-tasking.  This module really opened my eyes to the fact that next school year, I need to determine a schedule that works for us so that I can focus on each task I need to complete one at a time - school time is only school time, etc.  This module also helped me sit down with my hubby (our Superintendent) and discuss what we really wanted to set as overall goals for our school and for each of our kids.  It took me longer to go through this module than I thought it would, but I really spent some time digging deep and discussing with my hubby what I thought I needed to change and what he sees that I might need to change.

The second module is all about time management and organization.  This is where I need a lot of help.  I have a tendency to think I can do it all and do it all at once.  It was very good for me to work through this module and see what I could say "NO" to and what I needed to change the priority level for.  It also has a lot of great ideas for teaching your kids to help around the house and for getting routines for housework set up.  I am just getting into the third module because I have been taking my time on the homework and really doing deep digging for my answers because we want our life at our new house to be a fresh start and I don't want to fall into the same old routine we always had that didn't always work for us.

This course has been a great tool for me and I definitely recommend it if you want to make changes in your homeschool.  Like I said before I wasn't sure how I would use it at first, but now I see that it is a must if you are questioning any part of your homeschooling.  Heather has done a fantastic job of providing support and encouragement in this journey of homeschooling.  She is also very direct and intentional with this course.  She wants to make sure that homeschool parents are not burnt out and are giving their best to their schools and this truly comes across during this course.  She gives a multitude of ideas and resources for lots of different areas of homeschooling.  The private Facebook group for the course has been a great place to chat with fellow homeschoolers and get ideas and encouragement.  I will be finishing up this course this in the next few of weeks and I look forward to finishing it to continue finding my direction for our school and get us set up for next Fall.

There are 2 different pricing options for this course and while it may seem costly as first, you do gain lifetime access to the course so any updates that are added you will also receive and you can work through the course again anytime you need to.  You can learn more about the Homeschool Rescue course and get signed up for it if you choose to by clicking here.  You can learn more about Only Passionate Curiosity and all they have to offer on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+ pages.  You can also learn what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew learned by working through this course by clicking the banner below.
Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}

Saturday, May 13, 2017

This Week....

This week I have tried to sit down and write a few times.  This week is our first week of summer break.  This week my brain has been mush.  This week you get a random list of stuff floating in my head.
  1. We finished our school year and are on summer break.  This means a relaxed schedule and the only school work we do is review work.  
  2. We have been getting lots of things done around the house.  I just haven't gotten pictures of them all yet so that I can share with you.  I promise that post is coming.
  3. We finally bought curtains for our house, that is the good thing.  The down side of it is they all need to be altered due to the weird size windows we have.
  4. I'm finally teaching Little Miss to sew on the sewing machine.  Curtain alterations are a good thing to let her learn on.  Straight lines and thick material makes it easier to teach her.
  5. I only have 3 more rooms to paint in the new barn.  I'm starting to do the happy dance about that one.
  6. It's almost time for camping season to start.  I can almost smell the bon fire.
  7. I only have 2 crochet projects and 1 cross stitch project going right now.  If you have crafting attention problems like I do, you will realize how much self-control that shows on my part.
  8. This week I have been in my car a lot.
  9. This week was the first horse show of the season for the club we belong too.
  10. This week has flown by.
This week I kept it short and sweet.  
This week I want to wish you a Happy Mother's Day!!!  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Review of Algebra for Breakfast

Typically older students learn about algebra starting in junior high or high school, but what if you didn't have to wait that long to teach students the concepts of algebra?  What if you could teach children the concepts of algebra as early as 3rd grade?  This idea of teaching algebra concepts at a younger age was intriguing to me so you can see why we were excited to recently review Algebra for Breakfast.  The Grades 3/4 Lessons from Algebra for Breakfast has helped Little Miss gain a better understanding of algebraic concepts even though she just finished 3rd grade.
Algebra for Breakfast, Math Enrichment, Math Supplement, Algebra For Breakfast
Algebra for Breakfast is an online video-based math program created and taught by Bob Hazen.  Mr. Hazen is a teacher who took his ideas about learning and really explored them more.  Through his years of work with various students in the math classes he taught and through helping his own children learn, Mr. Hazen has identified a half dozen principles that make algebra and all arithmetic fun and rewarding for kids to learn.  The principles he has identified help reveal the unity of math in ways that cross grade levels and topics.  This means that the earlier your kids learn these principles, the earlier they can learn and understand algebraic concepts.  Learning these algebraic concepts at an early age will help students struggle less in upper elementary math, junior high math, and even high school level math classes.  Algebra for Breakfast was designed to teach these principles to students in Grades 3/4 and Grades 5/6.  This program is taught using hands-on activities, music, manipulatives, and games.
Little Miss and her Math Dice
We received the Grades 3/4 lessons of Algebra for Breakfast to review.  This gave us access to 40+ lessons of this supplemental math for six months.  We also received a set of Math Dice, a Skip Count CD (ours came in the form of a digital download), and access to Printable Worksheets for each lesson.  If you purchase the full membership package you also get a set of math manipulative blocks that are required for this program.  The lessons cover topics such as:
  • Countability
  • Single Variable Expressions
  • Known vs. Unknown Values
  • The Skip Counting Principle
  • The Meaning of Variables
  • Equivalent Amounts
There are many, many more topics.  The lesson content is released incrementally so that students can't rush through it.  This makes sure that they take their time and work through the material at a pace that will help them understand the concepts being taught before they more on.  The lessons include an introductory video that introduces the concept they will learn that day and one or two videos that teach the concept.  Each lesson also includes a Parent's Corner that has videos with helpful tips for parents and also includes the answer keys to the worksheets.
Little Miss was excited to start her adventure with Algebra for Breakfast.  I think even more exciting for her was that she was going to be doing the same type of math as Buddy, who was working on Algebra I this year.  Once I got our account all set up on the website, I had some prep activities to complete.  These prep activities were quick and easy activities where I assembled and learned how to play the games that are utilized in this course.  Once I finished those activities and dug out the set of math manipulatives we own, Little Miss was ready to get started.  Mr. Hazen teaches the videos in a classroom setting with real students so Little Miss felt like she was right there with him.  She would watch the introductory video to see what she would learn that day and see what manipulatives she needed to have ready for the lesson.  Then she watched the lesson video/videos (some days there were 2) and then had me print off the worksheet for her.  After she watched each lesson, she would race to the table to do the worksheet.  Little Miss was excited because she could do the worksheets all by herself and the best part was that she was understanding the lessons and getting the answers right.  She loves using the manipulative blocks and relating those to the concepts being taught because she is my hands-on learner.  This really helps it all sink in for her.  She had finished her math that we normally use for the year so I had her working on this a little more than the 2 days a week that the program recommends.  I had her doing at least 3 lessons a week and then I would ask her questions off the worksheets she had completed to review the lessons and keep them fresh in her mind the other 2 days a week.  Little Miss also liked the games she got to play with the Math Dice.  One of the very first lessons had her playing a game with them and she thought it was pretty fun.  She has completed 15 lessons of this program so far and she can't wait to finish the rest.
As a mom and teacher, I am really impressed with this program.  The videos are clear, concise, and they break down concepts so that they are easy to understand.  I appreciate the classroom setting so that my daughter can feel like she is in the classroom with the other students.  I appreciate that Mr. Hazen encourages deep thinking and that he uses manipulatives to help make the concepts real.  I feel that this program is very well put together and that Little Miss has really learned a lot from it.  I am excited that she wants to work on this program and that she is excited about learning algebra.  I never really thought about teaching algebraic concepts at younger ages, but I am truly happy to have found this program and I do recommend it to others.  I feel that it is worth the cost of it and they offer several options for pricing for each level they offer.

You can read more about Algebra for Breakfast and all it offers on their website and on their Facebook page.  You can read about the Grade 3/4 Lessons we received here.  I would definitely recommend that you check out the reviews of this program from my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew since we got to work on different levels of Algebra for Breakfast by clicking the banner below.
Bob Hazen's Algebra Lessons {Algebra for Breakfast Reviews}

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Review of The Secret Bridge from Lamplighter Publishing

It's no secret that I love reading, but what most people may not realize is that a few years ago I switched to reading mostly Christian fiction.  I decided that if I was going to read, I wanted to read wholesome books.  So when we got a chance to do review The Secret Bridge from Lamplighter Publishing as part of the Homeschool Review Crew I was very excited to find out it a Christian fiction book from a Christian publisher.
The Secret Bridge {Lamplighter Publishing Reviews}, Christlike character one story at a time
Lamplighter Publishing was started in 1994 by Mark Hamby who has a passion for great Christian literature.  Their goal is to provide great books that reflect the character of God and provide Scripture that can be memorized while also teaching great qualities and traits like perseverance, hope, courage, and humility.  Lamplighter Publishing edits their books using a Biblical theological framework and they strive to weave Biblical truths into every story they publish.  They have published one hundred and thirty titles so far.

In The Secret Bridge by Amy Le Feuvre, we were introduced to Bridget Channing.  She is a young woman who has found herself with no money, no relatives, and no friends after her father died.  She feels alone but is determined to persevere.  As she is traveling by ship to England, she meets the charming Godfrey Bullingham who sees she is struggling and just wants to take care of her.  As their story develops, Bridget's life get very complicated and she has to make many, many hard decisions.  Even though Bridget states that she doesn't  believe in God at first, she is quickly questioned about it repeatedly and finds herself longing to know God who can help her with many of her troubles.  Bridget starts to discover who she truly is and that she needs God in her life now more than ever.  She grows in her faith, her life, and her maturity as she learns that she can truly count on God in all situations.  The Secret Bridge truly has many layers.  It is a book that encourages us to become more familiar with Christ.  It encourages the Biblical view of waiting for Christ like a bride waits for her bridegroom.  This book encourages not only a personal relationship with Christ, but it encourages Biblical and Spiritual growth once you develop a relationship with Him.
I jumped at the chance for this review because I wanted to read this book.  It took me a couple of chapters to really wrap my mind around the setting and the plot but once I did, I had a hard time putting this book down.  It was hard for me to put this book down because the author did such a good job of making me feel like I was a part of the story.   I could picture the scenes in my mind and as the characters interacted with each other, I felt like I was right there in the room listening to them.  I enjoyed the many layers of this story from the basic story line to the much deeper representation of what our life with Christ should be like.

There are many ways that this book could be used in your homeschool.  There are many vocabulary terms you could have your student define, I found over 20 words that I needed to look up while I read the book.  There are many Bible verses referenced in the book that you could have your student study.  You could have your student study the time period this book was set in.  You could also have them study the country of England and the different social classes in England in the time period.  I think the book would be best for junior high school students and up just so they can understand the layers of the story.

I highly recommend reading this book if you want a good, clean Christian fiction book to read.  You can learn more about Lamplighter Publishing and all the books they publish on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  You can learn more about The Secret Bridge here.  You can read what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this book and how they used it in their school by clicking the banner below.
The Secret Bridge {Lamplighter Publishing Reviews}

A Review of the Entire Level IV from Art Achieve

I wish that I could teach my kids art, but the truth is I can't because this is one subject that I am just not good at.  Since my kids do love art and drawing, especially Buddy, I get excited to receive products like the Entire Level IV of art lessons from ArtAchieve to review.  These art lessons help me by giving my kids access to a subject that I can't teach.
ArtAchieve, art lessons for kids, drawing lessons for kids, art classes for kids, and homeschool
ArtAchieve believes that anyone can learn to draw and that it is an essential skill.  Their goal is to provide parents and students an approach to drawing that allows creativity while insuring successful drawing.  They believe there are many benefits to other areas of learning when your student learns to draw using their methods.  ArtAchieve uses images for their lessons from around the world and they even have Cross-Curricular Connections that show you how to tie these images to other subjects like geography, history, and literature so you can teach your students more about the subjects they are drawing.  Their lessons include a supply list, a warm-up, the art lesson - many are in both PowerPoint and video format so you can do the one that works best for your student, and a printout of the finished drawing for assessment.  The Entire Level IV is generally recommended for ages 10 and up.

The art lessons available in the Entire Level IV that we received include:
  • The Hawaiian Heliconia
  • The Ukrainian Face with Hidden Surprises
  • The Chinese Horse: Drawing the Entire Horse
  • The Albatross and the Galleon Ship
  • The Bangladesh Monster
  • Draw Like an Ancient Egyptian
  • The Convent in L'viv: Shading Angular Objects
  • The Stained Glass Nativity Window
  • The Rooftops of Zagreb
  • Drawing People with Degas
Buddy was excited to work on reviewing another level of ArtAchieve.  Last year when we reviewed this vendor, his skills really improved and he has practiced the methods taught by ArtAchieve and his drawing has improved even more.  The hardest part of this review was picking which drawing to begin with.  He ended up picking The Convent in L'viv drawing because he has been working on shading in his art lately.  I printed off the warm-up sheet for him and he enjoyed drawing the different parts while after he had watched the video and gotten a little bit of history about the convent.  After the warm-up, he began his work on the convent easily following the instructions of the video.  It took him about a half hour to draw the convent and get it just how he liked it.  Then he worked on the shading like the video discussed.  After he finished, Buddy reviewed his picture like it suggests and figured out that he shaded parts of it wrong.  It was good that the program had him review this part because he can see what he needs to change.  He decided that he will re-draw the convent so he can fixing the shading another time because he liked the way his drawing turned out.  Buddy also drew The Hawaiian Heliconia.  He used the Power Point version of the lesson for this one because he does like to switch back and forth between the videos and the Power Point (it is really a great option).  This lesson helped him work on his lines and color blending.  I think that his drawing turned out really well and it is very pretty.  Buddy has also started working the Nativity drawing.  He is taking his time with this one and he wants to get it just right (this means he won't let me share pictures of it with you yet).  He has also watched the video of the Chinese Horse drawing.  He wants to do this one, but we have been trying to figure out what box his drawing of the Chinese Horse from Level III is in because he wants to be able to compare the two since he has been working on his art. 
I love that ArtAchieve has made easy to follow lessons that I can let Buddy work on at his pace.  The lessons are easy to follow and very detailed.  I also like that if I want to go deeper on the lessons, I can use the Cross-Curricular Connections that ArtAchieve offers by using the suggested accompanying resources.  I really appreciate that ArtAchieve has done the work of figuring out the accompanying resources and how you can use them.  That is a huge benefit of these lessons to me because I don't have to try and figure out resources that go along with the art if I want to do a unit study for Buddy about one of the lessons.  We both really appreciate that each lesson tells you how to critique the work and what to look for so we can know what parts Buddy got right and sometimes what part he needs to work on more.  We really do enjoy all that ArtAchieve has to offer for Buddy and how his drawing is progressing by using these lessons.  We highly recommend checking out all the levels that ArtAchieve has to offer.  You can find out more about ArtAchieve and all the levels of art they offer on their website, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+.  You can learn more about the Entire Level IV we received here.  We definitely suggest you check them out if you have inspiring artists in your house.  You can read more about many of the levels of art lessons from ArtAchieve that the Homeschool Review Crew has been using by clicking the banner below.
Art Lessons Inspired From Around the World {ArtAchieve Reviews}

Monday, May 1, 2017

May 2017 Menu Plan

Happy May Day!  I can't believe it is May already, but I guess that is what happens when you get so busy buying and fixing up a house.  House fixing is going well and we are just about at a point where we can concentrate on some of the outside stuff.  Spring is here, but today it is pretty chilly, but they are saying it will be warmer by the end of the week.  We are thankful for that.  We have lots of things coming up and lots planned for our summer so we are ready for some warmer weather.  This month we are looking forward to the end of the school year, our first camping trip of the year, and hanging out with friends.  Since May will be busy, we desperately need a menu plan.  So here is what I have come up with:
May Menu Plan, A Glimpse of Normal Blog
  1. Chicken and Noodles
  2. BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad
  3. Haystacks 
  4. BBQ Pulled Pork
  5. Dutch Oven Pizza
  6. One Pan Mexican Quinoa
  7. Avocado Bowls with Pepper-Lime Chicken
  8. Copycat In-n-Out Burgers
  9. Lemon Butter Chicken
  10. Enchirritos
  11. Lemony Chicken Soup with Greens
  12. Copycat Mexican Pizza
  13. Burrito Bowls
  14. Out to Eat - It's Mother's Day and I don't have to cook today!
  15. Crock Pot Cafe Rio Chicken Tacos
  16. Super Easy One Pot Lasagna
  17. Green Beans, Potatoes,and Kielbasa
  18. Black Bean Tostadas with Cilantro Sauce
  19. Pizza
  20. Homemade Crunchwrap Supreme
  21. Quinoa Bowls with Hummus Vinaigrette
  22. Walking Taco Casserole
  23. Skillet Chicken Parmesan
  24. Parmesan Meatloaf
  25. Hobo Dinners (foil dinners)
  26. Chicken Fajitas
  27. Dutch Oven Pizza
  28. Out to Eat - End of the school year celebration (our school year ends at the beginning of the month, but we always have our celebratory dinner on Memorial Day Weekend)
  29. Crackslaw - I have to try this recipe just because the name makes me laugh
  30. One Sheet Cilantro Parmesan Broccoli Baked Salmon
  31. Tamale Pie
There it is.  Our May menu plan.  You can find the recipes on my Pinterest board for May.  What is for dinner at your house this month?  I would love to know.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Chorizo & Sweet Potato Hash

Now that we are a little more settled into our dream barn, I have had more time to play in the kitchen.  More time to play in the kitchen means more time to come up with new recipes.  I got the idea for this recipe one night between trying to use up what was in the freezer and needing to go to the grocery store.  We all have those days right?  We know we should go to the grocery store, but we decide we can get by for one more day.  Yep, I came up with this recipe on one of those nights.  I decided that the combination of sweet and spicy would be perfect for dinner and that lead to this recipe.
Chorizo & Sweet Potato Hash, A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Recipes

Chorizo & Sweet Potato Hash
1 - 12-16.pkg of Chorizo - mild or hot (whatever level of spicy your family prefers)*
5-6 Medium Sweet Potatoes
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt - to taste
A Glimpse of Normal Blog

1.  Peel and chop sweet potatoes into cubes, no bigger than 1" or they will take forever to cook.
2.  Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil to large skillet and heat skillet.
3.  Add chorizo and sweet potatoes to the pan.
4.  Add a sprinkling of salt over whole pan.
5.  Cook, turning occasionally until the sweet potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Make sure the chorizo is mixed throughout the sweet potatoes.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog
*I had these rolls of Chorizo from Jimmy Dean that I got from a family member who knows we love spicy.  If you can't find rolls of Chorizo like I pictured, you can use Chorizo links that are about 12" long and have a thick casing on them.  Just use both links that come in the package and don't forget to cut open the casing and take it off.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog
My family loved this combination of sweet and spicy.  Hubby took one bite and said when are we having this again?  You could definitely add in some onions and green peppers if you wanted to, but I didn't this time because one of my family members it not a huge fan of cooked onions and peppers.  This recipe is a keeper in our house.  Let me know if you try it and what you think.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Review of Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels" from Drive Thru History®

One of our goals in our family is to make sure that our children understand that the Bible is a real book that really happened because God is real.  We have been able to do this lately by watching the series Drive Thru History® - "The Gospels" that we received to review from Drive Thru History®.  This DVD set is by far one of our favorite review products that we have ever received.
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The Drive Thru History® - "The Gospels" DVD set we received includes 18 episodes.  Each episode is 30 minutes long.  Altogether this is over 9 hours of content and it came along with a 118 page study guide to accompany the DVDs.  It is recommended for 5th grade and up, but can be watched by younger children (they may not understand the material as well).  This series is hosted by Dave Stotts, who is engaging, entertaining, and extremely knowledgeable.  The purpose of this series is to show evidence for the truth of scripture and get families excited about the Bible.  In order to do this, Dave Stotts takes us to over 50 ancient sites throughout Israel so he can tell the story of Jesus from the locations that were written about in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  He quotes Scripture as truth and reference along with siting various secular historical accounts.  The episodes include:
  • The Historical Landscape
  • The Announcements
  • Jesus is Born
  • Jesus Grows Up
  • Jesus Starts His Ministry
  • Jesus Returns to Galilee
  • Jesus Begins His Miracles
  • Jesus Teaches with Authority
  • The Sermon on the Mount
  • Jesus Travels the Sea of Galilee
  • Jesus Travels North
  • A Final Trip to Jerusalem
  • Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem
  • The Last Supper
  • The Trial of Jesus
  • The Crucifixion of Jesus
  • The Resurrection of Jesus
  • Who is Jesus? 
Drive Thru History® - "The Gospels" has been a wonderful time for our family.  We have been using this in the evenings as a wind down instead of a cartoon or kids movie.  Our daughter is 8 and it has not fully grabbed her attention as some of it is over her head, but she has been able to offer up points that have impacted her after we watch an episode.  Our son is 13 and enjoys geography and maps so this is his kind of show.  My hubby and I could have sat down and watched all 18 episodes back-to-back (that's right...binge watch) after seeing the first episode.There is so much to be said for this series, but honestly I wouldn't do it justice.  It really is a must-see-for-yourself type of series.  To give it a quick snapshot our family would like to highlight the following few points from the series:
  1. The Bible is referenced accurately and chronologically, which makes it easier to follow.
  2. The back story is often provided which better explains what the Bible is stating and gives the history of what led up to various key points.  This added detail brings the Gospel alive off of the pages.  It helps us not only see where the event happened, but it has helped us see why it was a tradition or value in that time period.
  3. Dave Stotts is active, funny, engaging and clearly believes what he is talking about.  His zeal for explaining the Gospel makes it enjoyable to watch.
  4. The interesting facts that are given throughout the series help to further build your faith foundation..  
  5. This series adds a new perspective or viewpoint to some of the most common Gospel elements.  My hubby's personal favorite was the Sermon on the Mount because know we can see where Jesus preached from and how his teaching changed the people he preached to.  I enjoyed learning why talking to the Woman at the Well was such a big deal for everyone other than Jesus.  My daughter's favorite part was learning about Peter's house.  My son's favorite thing is being able to actually see where everything happened.
  6. It made us realize just how RADICAL the ministry of Christ really was and how that 3 year ministry literally changed the world.  
  7. The map is regularly shown to illustrate the path that Jesus' life followed and how small the region was that he ministered to and it only proves all the more, how miraculous Jesus really is!
After we watched an episode (or 2 or 3 in a row), we used the questions in the study guide to discuss what we had seen and why it was important.  The study guide was very nice to have for reference and to check for understanding.  To sum it up, we definitely would recommend this series to lifetime Christians, to those newly saved, and to the unsaved alike.  There is something in every episode that answers questions or adds depth to what you already may have known.  It is a series that can be watched over and over again because you will definitely pick up on different ideas each time.
Buddy checking out the pictures in the study guide.
All-in-all Drive Thru History® - "The Gospels" is a fantastic addition to any video library, Sunday school room, or even a Bible study as it leads to deeper conversation and some soul searching thought.  My son has already asked if we can obtain the other series from Drive Thru History® and we will definitely be doing just that.  You can get more information about Drive Thru History® from their website, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.  You can learn more about Drive Thru History® - "The Gospels" right here.  You can also read what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew thought of the series by clicking the banner below.
The Gospels {Drive Thru History® Reviews} 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Review of Daily Bible Jigsaw from Planet 316

We are a family that loves games, puzzles, and challenges.  So as you can imagine we were very excited to receive Daily Bible Jigsaw from Planet 316 to review recently.  This fun and educational puzzle app is available on Google Play, Apple App Store, Facebook, and Facebook Gameroom.
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Planet 316 is a company on a mission to spread the Gospel through the use of technology and the games they have created.  They strive to make the Bible approachable for all ages by developing fun, interactive experiences that can help families connect.  They have developed computer games, apps, and videos that help children of all ages and adults learn and memorize Bible verses in fun ways.
Daily Bible Jigsaw is a fun, inspirational, and free app.  There is a new puzzle released every day for you to play.  Your goal is to solve the jigsaw puzzle in the fastest time.  Once you complete the puzzle, a daily Bible verse along with the reference is revealed.  If you complete the entire month of puzzles, you reveal a bonus picture and verse.  There are several tools available to help you with the puzzles if you need them
  • Rotate - This tool automatically rotates the pieces to the correct position.  
  • Guide - This tool shows you what the completed puzzle will look like.  
  • Sweep - This tool sweeps all the unused pieces to the outside of the screen so they are not in your way.
  • Magnet - This tool will randomly attach 2 pieces together to help you if you get stuck.
  • Edges - This tool shows only the edge pieces so you can put the outside of the puzzle together first.  
All of these tools require puzzle coins so that you can use them.  You can choose to purchase puzzle coins that allow you to play archived puzzles and use the puzzle tools available in the app.  You can also earn puzzle coins by completing various challenges in the app.   Planet 316 was very generous to give us 500 puzzle coins so that we could really explore this app.  The Daily Bible Jigsaw also offers bonus puzzles to play.  Some of the bonus puzzles are free to play and some require puzzle coins to play.  If you choose to play this as a Facebook game, you can challenge friends and enter a weekly tournament.  
Little Miss and I have had a lot of fun with this app on our iPad.  The puzzles are fun, encouraging, and truly inspirational.  Little Miss and I both loved seeing some of our favorite Bible verses added to the most adorable pictures - lambs, bunnies, puppies, and more.  It was a lot of fun for us to work the puzzle each day and then challenge each other to beat the other person's time.  We used the puzzle coins that were given to us to check out all the different tools we could use and to play archived puzzles so that we could earn the reward puzzle coins.  The puzzles were easy enough to complete without the tools so if I didn't have the puzzle coins already I wouldn't feel like I had to buy them for the tools.  The tools are a nice feature of the game though if you do get stuck solving a puzzle.  I chose not to connect this app to my Facebook account because of my personal preference to not spend a large amount of time on Facebook, but I must admit that I did miss challenging my Review Crew friends by not connecting it.  This is a fun app to play to unwind or to use when waiting for your turn on the computer like Little Miss did.  It is great for kids of all ages, especially if you love puzzles.
We will continue playing this app since we both love it and I love encourages Bible verse memorization.  You can find out more on Planet 316 on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.  You can find out more about Daily Bible Jigsaw here or find it on Google Play, Apple App Store, Facebook, and Facebook Gameroom.  You can also find out more about what the Homeschool Review Crew thought about this app by clicking the link below, but before you read the reviews, I must confess that the adults of the Crew might have just as much if not more fun than our kids did.  Read on...
Daily Bible Jigsaw {Planet 316 Reviews}