Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Crew Review: 2013 Blue Ribbon Awards


Each year at the end of a Crew Year, Crewbies have the chance to vote on their favorite product – and this year I actually remembered to do it!  I’ve linked up all 45 (yes, 45) reviews that I did during the 2013 Review Crew Year on my right side bar and if you’d like to see who won the Blue Ribbon Awards for this year visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


I have to say that, while some of my favorites didn’t make the majority of the products I voted for won!  Like Apologia, Notgrass and YWAM.  I have to say that seeing these great companies win an award is so exciting – a lot of these companies have put much time and effort, blood, sweat and tears into what they do and this is just a little pat on the back.  I’ve been happy to be a part of the TOS Crew this year and please stop by to check out who won an award.

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Crew Review: Apologia; Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics #grow4christ #hsreviews

Most of my readers know that I love using Apologia  science curricula in our homeschool and we wrapped up Swimming Creatures right as the newest installment came up for review – Exploring Creation with Chemistry – so you might say I was a tad excited.  Along with the text Apologia also sent notebooking journals – I received a regular journal and the junior journal to use with my 7 and 9 year old since my oldest is moving on to their middle school science.  This set is geared towards grades K through 6th grade but I’ve been using it with my 7 year old 2nd grade son and my 9 year old 4th grade daughter.

Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics by Jeannie Fulbright is the newest addition in the Young Explorer series for homeschool science curriculum and it fits in great with the series.  The book covers 14 lessons which covers Chemistry and Physics matter, matter, building blocks of creation, mechanics, energy, light and more that spans a full 28 weeks – for a full school year.  I tend to follow the daily schedule that is included inside the pages of the journals, which makes knowing what each child needs to complete each day easy.  It is set up for 2 days a week, for us that usually means Tuesday and Thursday but there have been times where the children and I are excited and we do science four days a week completing one lesson in a week.

Isn’t that cover pretty? I love the bright colors, it just makes it seem more fun to study this area – that most children don’t experience until their later years. The inside is also filled with a lot of colorful pictures that my children and I liked to look at as we studied the text, I read it aloud to them and stop as we need to too look at the pictures or do the “Try This!” sections.  One difference I’ve also noticed in this newest science is that there are more hands-on experiences like Try This and actual projects – which use more items found around the house and made it easier for us to complete these activities as we came across them.  They still include a list in the back of the book of all items that will be needed divided up by the lessons you’ll need them in.  One suggestion is to gather all non-perishable items and store them in a box somewhere and getting the perishables as they come up in the study.  Unfortunately, that isn’t an option in our tiny space so I just gathered them by the week as they came up.  The text sells for $39.00 and with the beautiful colors and pictures and hands-on stuff makes it well worth that price.

To my children and I the journals are what really makes this a great science curricula – there is no printing or extra bulky binders to store, it’s all in one spiral bound journal that is easy to store in their school drawers and also to put away after end of the year assessments are done to look back on at a later date.  Each journal is geared toward a child’s ability, the regular journal is said to be for the child who can write independently and also can take notes.  That said my 9 year old hates writing so I still help sometimes by taking dictation from her but she really needed more in depth study than the junior journal could do.  The regular journal has smaller writing lines, no coloring pages, what do you remember questions to answer, bigger crosswords and copywork in both cursive and print as well as the much enjoyed mini books to cut out, assemble and write in.  The regular journal sells for $24.00 and is a big time saver in both planning the lessons and getting the work done.

The junior journal is for the younger student who isn’t quite writing on their own yet or has limited writing ability and that is obvious from the bigger lines with a middle line to aid in handwriting.  The junior journal is more ‘fun’, with coloring pages – I let my little guy color these while I’m reading and he seems to be better able to focus on what he’s listening to when I let him do that.  Like the regular journal there is copywork in both cursive and print but it gives bigger lines including that mid line to help them – I don’t force this with him and let him instead chose to do the print copywork or not.  The crosswords are also not as in depth as the regular but it gives him enough to think he’s doing the same thing his older sister is.  It does not have the ‘What do you Remember’ pages and that and the coloring pages are the two major differences, as the junior also includes the mini books to go on a page at the end of the lesson.  The junior journal sells for $24.00 as well and like the regular, this saves a lot of time in planning and completing science work.

An experiment with eggs, water and salt water to demonstrate buoyancy. It was a lot of fun!

As I said we aimed for two days a week or sometimes four depending on the level of excitement of the children (or mom).  The try this sections really helped keep my children’s attention since it breaks up the readings more and enables all of us to concentrate versus a long, uninterrupted reading.  I didn’t always have everything on hand for all the hands-on projects but I either tried to substitute or we’d skip it depending on what it was and if I could obtain the items, sometimes we’d back track and make it up another day.  So far though the favorite project has been making our own lava lamps.  I’m hoping with using this homeschool science curriculum that once they get to the higher grade levels it’ll come easier and even make it more enjoyable.  If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents thought visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Crew Review: At Home in Dogwood Mudhole #grow4christ #hsreviews

About the Book (from the site):

When Y2K looms and modern life fails to satisfy, Franklin Sanders and wife Susan go from nuclear family to multigenerational farm. Despite Susan’s admonition that they acquire nothing that eats, they gain dogs, chickens, horses, cows, pigs, ducks and sheep. Their children move back in and bring their spouses, filling Dogwood Mudhole with grandchildren. It’s no Green Acres, but through sheer persistence and good humor, they learn to farm. At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, a three-volume collection of letters, provides a running account of an attempt to live an authentic life, as Franklin writes every month for seventeen years a personal letter to his The Moneychanger newsletter readers.

The author, Franklin Sanders.

Have you ever read a book that makes you feel like you truly know the people in it?  If not, then I feel very sorry for you – and you just might want to grab a copy of Volume One: Nothing that Eats from At Home in Dogwood Mudhole – and get to know Franklin Sanders’ family and all their 4 legged critters.  Feel free to read the sample chapter, titled Pig Persuader and see if you don’t get hooked.  I read this book over a period of four days, there is a lot of good things to ponder in this book, not the least of which is Scripture and how the family’s faith plays into their daily lives.  I’ve only been to Tennessee twice, once when I was too young to remember – think still in utero and this past April to the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area and loved it – I’m a country girl at heart but seeing TN from one who lives there gave me a lot more perspective.

I’m not a agrarian farmer nor do I ever see my family becoming farmers – but I do relish the idea of a home in the country with a few chickens (even though I can’t eat their eggs), and maybe a goat and a pig or two – this book gave me quite a bit to go, not so much a step by step guide to farming but more of a look-how-hard-this-can-be but also it’s-so-rewarding view.  I will say this is a down home country man and his writing illustrates that – animals like pigs aren’t pets they are food, dogs can be missed and cried over but in the end they are still animals – which is much as how I view things.  Lest you think this is all about farming and animals – think again, this book has much enlightening views of how much God has intervened and kept His hand on their lives, which is refreshing to hear and their faith reminds me of my Great-Grandparents simple country faith of a day gone by.

Also within the pages of the book is some history, the family is active in doing re-enactments of the War between the States (the author himself refrains from calling it the Civil War, because we can all agree there was nothing civil about it) as well as doing speeches and listening to others about the South and their part in the war.  Did I mention I’m a country girl, but my family is also from the South after arriving from Ireland and Germany so a lot of the information he gives about Tennessee specifically and the South generally resonates with me.  This is probably one of the best books I’ve read in a long time because the whole thing had me thinking, pondering, laughing (I embarrassed my oldest by laughing out loud while reading the doctor waiting room) and even tearing up a little – I ran the whole gamut of emotions and well they like Great Pyrenees, which in and of itself makes for a great book!

I’d definitely recommend this book to those who long for that simple time of when farming was a way of life, who wants to take a look back when family was truly what mattered and those who do farm even on the small scale – Volume One is available in softcover for $22.95 and e-book format for $16.95 and Volume Two is available for pre-order.  I forgot to mention these are letters, from the newsletters Franklin Sanders sends out to his readers, compiled into a book – and they span 17 years – and while it’s fun to read and look back at how we were all preparing for the worst in Y2K – there is a lot of precious gems to also glean from this book.  I’d say this is definitely a book geared for the older teen to adults as there are some descriptions of animal burials that younger children may find disturbing.  He also gives contact information for places that he feels are a treat to patronize as well.  Anyone up for a trip to Tennessee?

You can read what other homeschool parents thought of At Home in Dogwood Mudhole on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Crew Review: Carole P. Roman #grow4christ #hsreviews

I enjoy introducing my children to different cultures from around the world but sometimes we aren’t needing an in depth study or reference book but just an over view and that is where Carole P. Roman with Away We Go Media comes into play.  I was sent four books in the If You Were Me and Lived In…. series to review and they were well received in our house:

  1. If You Were Me and Lived In…..Mexico
  2. If You Were Me and Lived In…..South Korea
  3. If You Were Me and Lived In…..France
  4. If You Were Me and Lived In…..Norway

Each book begins with showing the child what the country’s shape looks like, then where it is located on a globe. This is great for learning geography that is so often missing in today’s world – even I wouldn’t have been able to tell you right off where Norway was until I read this book to my children – sad, but true.  After seeing on the globe where the country is the children begin to read about what it would be like to live there and be a citizen of that country and it’s traditions.  My children and I really liked knowing what some of the names are for girls and boys such as Minjoon for a boy and Soobin for a girl in South Korea.  Children are also introduced to the money that is used in that country, as well as foods, holidays and places to see there using that language – no worries, there is a pronunciation guide at the back of the book to help with saying the words.

I used the books pretty much as a way to keep them occupied when they were done with school and during some doctor appointments we had. They enjoyed laughing at me as I struggled to pronounce some of the words in the books and I laughed right along with them!  It really opened up some discussion as well as to the differences in America compared to the other countries cultures and not so different celebrations such as Mexico having a day to celebrate Christopher Columbus’ discovering of America which is called Descubrimiento de America.  This opened up a lot of discussion since we’ve studied Columbus this year and so that allowed my children to recall the events we learned about him.

The books are geared towards ages Pre-K to 8 years old but all three of mine ages 11, 9 and 7 really enjoyed them and of course my 11 and 9 year old read them to my 7 year old as well.  Each softcover book measures 8 1/2 inches by 8 1/2 inches so they fit great on a bookshelf and the pages are fairly heavy duty as well for those children who are a little rough on their books.  Each book is between 20 and 30 pages and the type is large so even a beginner reader should be able to help read or read on their own with maybe some guidance in regards to the foreign words they may not be able to pronounce.  The prices vary slightly depending on the book but it’s safe to say that they are all right around $9 or under and are also available in e-book format as well.

In reading these books I also used the blow up globe that was sent in my package to try to really reiterate what we learning and also tell the children how to find the country without the aid of the book by using other geographic clues to find it.  These could easily be used to make a unit study on your own or do as I did and just use it as some fun but hidden educational time to just bond with your children through a fun and exciting story about another place that they may never get to visit but can learn about.  If you’d like to see what other parents thought about these books please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws


Crew Review: EEME #grow4christ #hsreviews

Hands-on science?  Electronics?  Interactive videos and quizzes?  If this sounds like something you may be interested in or having been looking for to use in your home school then keep reading to learn more about EEME.  The projects are geared for children ages 7 to 12 years old, which was great because I knew my son, who just turned 7 in July would enjoy something like this to put together and learn a little more about electronics.  I was given the Genius Light kit which had everything we’d need to put together a light with a photo receptor allowing the light to turn off automatically in bright light and on in the dark, to review.

It was my hope that I would be able to help my son put together the light by watching the videos with him and putting the light together, but since I’m not electronically inclined we opted to have dad help us.  We sat down together to begin watching the videos and started putting together the light box, as I said the kit comes with everything you’ll need to assemble it such as the bread board, wires, light, resistor, and batteries.  All you’ll need to do is to get on your computer and begin watching the videos and start assembling the light box – had my 11 year old joined in I’m sure she would have been able to put it together on her own.  It took us about 1 1/2 hours to watch the videos and put together the whole thing, mainly because some of our wires didn’t look like the wires in the videos (which is why I’m glad hubby was helping because I wouldn’t know how to substitute the other wires).

There are 22 lessons in this project to watch online and several interactive quizzes where children answers questions about what they’ve just watched or assembled.  I helped my son in answering the questions as he has a hard time paying attention for long periods of time and since my husband wanted to do it all at one time so that is what we did, as he assembled I helped my son with the videos and answering questions.  Initially, I wanted my son to help build the unit but after dropping the wires we decided it would be safer to have dad help build and I help work the videos.  It was interesting so see the project come together from several different parts to one working product as well as being incredibly educational.

EEME was started when a dad, named Jack, couldn’t find suitable hands-on science projects for his own child and so EEME was started to aid parents who want to help their children in the area of science and math – I think it’s commonly called STEM.  At first our box wasn’t working correctly but after contacting Jack it seems the box is more receptive of natural light as it went off in natural, outdoor light better than in our indoor light – my son was delighted in this as for some reason he likes items that light up and one that turned off and on by itself provided a great experience for him.

There are currently five kits and you can subscribe to EEME to get one kit shipped to you a month – that’s five months of hands-on science – for $18.95 a month (there is also an option to have it gifted, so if you know a grandparent who’d like to help out it’d be a great Christmas gift shipped every month).  If you’re still not sure you can sign up for free by simply entering your email at EEME to watch the videos for free to see if you’d enjoy getting the kit to put it all together.  If you’re ready to order know that you’ll get free shipping and can cancel anytime you’d like.  Also please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see what other parents thought about EEME and the Genius Light Box.

(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Crew Review: Rosie’s Dolls Clothes Patterns #grow4christ #hsreviews

I have two daughters which means we have several 18 inch dolls, compliments of Grandma, and when I had the chance to review Rosie’s Doll Clothes Patterns I knew I had to grab this chance because not only do we own dolls I also have a dream to teach my daughter’s to sew.   Since I wasn’t taught to sew nor have I really taken to sewing, I can do it, but it’s not one of my better pursuits – I knew Rosie’s would be a great way to introduce my daughters to the many aspects of sewing such as setting up a sewing room, how to cut, chose fabric and actually sewing several different outfits for their dolls.  Learn How to Make Doll Clothes Video Course is a great way to teach girls how to make their own doll clothes so that naked dolls are a thing of the past.

As the name implies Rosie or Rosanne who is a mom came up with Rosie’s Doll Clothes Patterns as she realized the need for affordable doll clothing for her daughter’s dolls – as most of us know, doll clothing can be quite expensive and when fabric can be purchased for $1 a yard on sale that makes making your own very affordable.  The video course comes with over 130 instructional videos that take the viewer step by step through all the steps of learning to sew and also how to put together a garment. It’s your own home ec/sewing instructor for only $47.46 and with that also comes with 8 free patterns and 12 months of access (there is an option to buy a DVD so you’ll have it forever). You’ll be able to make a dress, shorts, underwear, and pumpkin costume and more with this awesome program – and there is nothing to download!

I have been able to have my daughter’s watch the videos on their own while learning the hows and whys of sewing – such as why good light is a valuable tool to have versus a dark room. There are also videos to teach how to use a serger but I don’t have one of those so I didn’t have my girls watch them – although it might be a good idea to have them go back in case we ever do get one. You can pick and chose which videos pertain to your situation – such as if you do have a serger you’ll want to watch those videos. Since a year’s access is allowed there is no rush or schedule to follow in watching the videos and working through each one. The patterns are in PDF format so just download them and print them off – there are guides to make sure the patterns are printed correctly and in the size you need – I printed ours on heavy card stock so that they would last awhile, especially with the pins to hold it to the fabric.

I printed off the patterns my daughter’s wanted – the pumpkin and the underwear – and let them cut out the patterns and then place them on the fabric and cut the pieces out. Now, that being said – I had all intentions of having them sew the pieces together and having them put on a fashion show with their finished pieces, BUT my machine decided this was the time to start acting up and I haven’t been able to get it to sew correctly. However, even though I haven’t been able to have them sew the garments yet – following the step by step videos is a huge plus for me – as usually I turn to online videos to figure out how to do things and since it’s all there, the directions, patterns and videos there is no need to search the net to find what you are looking for, and the videos are high quality, easy to view and easy to hear. I cannot wait to get my machine working and put together some cute and easy to sew outfits for my daughter’s dolls and have them making them along with me.

I cannot say enough how much I enjoy Rosie’s Doll Clothes Patterns it’s a fantastic way to learn how to sew – and it’s beneficial to both mom’s and daughter’s and even sons if they want to learn how to sew as well and make something for their sisters. My 9 and 11 year old were able to use the site easily, younger girls may need more help and supervision if using scissors and a sewing machine. If you’ve never sewn or not sure how to teach someone to sew, this is a perfect solution to being able to learn or have someone teach your child how to sew, which is a very useful handicraft to know how to do.  The recommended ages for this is 8 years old and up. You don’t have to take my word for it though (and most of the others have a sewing machine that allowed them to craft the outfits as well) please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read other reviews from other homeschool parents to read what they thought.


(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Crew Review: Chess House #grow4christ #hsreviews

My husband has loved playing chess and he tried and tried to teach me how to play – and I eventually gave up until Chess House came up for review and my son started asking to learn how to play.  I was sent the starter chess learning set for this review and it’s been a big hit in our house, and my son seems to be quickly mastering the game, or so it seems.  This level, the pawn level or beginner, is good for ages 4 and up and all of the included pieces are able to put up with rigorous and rough play that accompanies young children.  The set came with a carrying case, a 20 by 20 inch chess board that is easily rolled up for storage, solid plastic pieces with regulation 3 3 /4” king, and DVD – the carrying case stores it all and makes everything portable for fun at the park, in a hotel, or anywhere that you can roll out the board.

Chess House was established in 1972 and then in 2006 Elliott Neff opened Chess4Life in Washington state after seeing a need for others to study and learn the game of chess.  Honestly, until watching the DVD I had no idea how much goes into the game of chess and at first one can feel a little overwhelmed but the DVD makes it fun and entertaining to learn this timeless game.  The DVD aims to give everyone who wants to learn a good foundation so that that bad habits and game form don’t have time to take root – such as when my husband was teaching me I had no idea that there are a reason for letters and numbers and even diagonals.  Files and ranks and diagonals make so much sense now and I have an understanding how some actually play chess with a friend in another state by simply stating what file and rank they want to move their piece.

As you master each level you and your child(ren) can move up through the other levels such as Knight, Bishop, Rook, Queen, and King – but what is great about this beginning level is that you and your child can move at your own pace without feeling pressure to master the game quicker than needed.  In the pawn level you’ll learn what each piece is worth, how to start each game with a winning strategy, as well as learning more techniques in the enclosed activity booklet.  Elliott Ness is the man in the video and his engaging style makes it fun to watch and learn as you get to know the game and how to play with others who also enjoy the game of chess.

The beginning set sells for $39.95 and it’s well worth the price to learn this fun and engaging game of strategy and the site says for all ages, although the DVD is geared at ages 4 and up. All 3 of my children ages 11 1/2, 9 and 7 years old and I found the DVD to be of great help – I love that I can learn along with my children in how to play this game and eventually we won’t need our beginning DVD to be able to enjoy a rousing game with one another, maybe we’ll even need to invest in some of the other levels.  If you already have your own board and pieces but aren’t sure how to use them, you can also buy the DVD on it’s own for $20.00 – the running time is 49 minutes and it worked on both my DVD as well as my laptop PC for easy viewing while playing.

If you’d like to see what other parents thought about Chess House please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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Crew Review: YWAM Publishing; George Washington: True Patriot and study guide #hsreviews #grow4christ

One thing that I love about homeschooling is that I can fit in more books that fit into what we are currently studying – and that was the great thing about YWAM Publishing – reading a book that correlates to our studies of American History.  I was given an e-copy of the book George Washington: True Patriot and the Unit Study Curriculum Guide that goes along with the book to review.  YWAM started out by the printing and distribution of tracts during the 1972 Munich Olympic Games and then moved to Seattle in 1987 and now has over 150 of it’s own books.  A portion of every purchase goes to help their ministry in many countries such as: China, India, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Uganda, the Philippines, and others in need.

 What I enjoy about the YWAM book we received is that there isn’t any revisionism of the truth of George Washington, both the good side and the ‘bad’ side including his antics as a child and how much he chafed under his mother’s henpecking.  Of course, there is also the continual theme of faith in God through out and how his faith colors his outlook on life.  This book takes place in the years 1732 to 1799 and if you’d like to see where it fits with YWAM’s chronology of the Heroes of History series please view the chronological list, which will be helpful if you’re studying another period of history.  Since we’ve been studying the American Revolution, George Washington and that time period this book fit in well with our current history studies and we used it as a supplement to that.

There are 18 chapters in this book and makes for an interesting and engaging book to read either aloud with your children or having them read on their own – it’s fast paced but will leave them with a thirst for history, geography, government and even science as they read.  The Unit Study and Curriculum Guide is a wonderful resource to use as you’re reading the book and it covers key quotes, chapter questions, social studies, community links, related themes to explore, student explorations, a display corner and even a culminating event.  To begin with I just read through the book and discussed the questions with the children as we finished each one, which worked well and I’d review what we read from the day before when beginning the next day’s reading.


If you’re wondering how to integrate a reading book into your studies or into a unit study – then the curriculum guide is what you need.  It is great for all ages, I used it with my 7 year old non reader and non writer, my 9 year old and my 11 year old and it fit in well with each of them – obviously I didn’t have my non writer doing essays so you, the parent, can decide what each child is capable of doing.  There is no wrong or right way to use the guide – another item of note that I appreciate – as I don’t like feeling ‘tied’ to a guide – that’s what this is a guide, you chose what to use and how to use it.  Such as the key quotes suggestions are given for using them for memorizing, discussion about their meaning or display – I’d also like to say they are great for copy work assignments.

I loved the idea of the display corner, unfortunately, due to lack of space I wasn’t able to implement this idea fully but I love it.  There is an included list of things that you can purchase or even get a hold of free online or at your public library such as books – it really helps in immersing the children in that time period and who the man George Washington was.  The chapter questions were what we really made the most use of and there are four questions per chapter covering vocabulary, a fact from the text, a comprehension question and an open ended question which always led to a more in depth discussion than I would have considered.  Student explorations are things for the student to do like essays, creative writing, hands-on projects, audio/visual projects and arts and crafts.  While most of the explorations are geared for single student use there are included ideas in brackets to extend it to several students.  One activity we did is the timeline – I required my oldest to add more information to her timeline than her younger siblings.


There are also other books and resources listed that will give you even more to research and study upon for this particular time period as well as more on George Washington – there will be plenty of activities and information to make this a full fledged study into the American Revolution time period if you have the time to do so – I’m aiming to go back through and make even more use of the curriculum guide because it is so chock full of activities and learning opportunities for the children.  The George Washington: True Patriot book is geared towards ages 10 and up (again I used it with ones younger and they did fine) and is 224 pages and is available in paperback or e-book for $6.99 and the Unit Study which can be used for a variety of ages and/or grades is 64 pages and sells for $7.49 in paperback and e-book forms.


You can read what other parents thought about this and another YWAM product by visiting the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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Crew Review: Fundanoodle: I Can Write Cursive #hsreviews #grow4christ

In most schools today cursive and the teaching of how to write it are falling away and even being done with completely, which is unfortunate for our children.  It used to be that children would only write in cursive and then learn print in school, then it switched until now cursive is no longer thought of as a necessity.  That is why I’m happy to tell my readers about the company Fundanoodle which makes some very high quality curricula in a wide array of areas for math, writing and other areas for ages 3 years old and up.  I chose and was given Purple: I Can Write Cursive book to use with my 9 year old (she was 8 at the time we received this and began to use it) as I hadn’t really focused on cursive with her yet.

The book is a 70 page spiral bound book with pages that measure 9 inches by 12 inches and are thick, durable paper that put up to a lot of mistakes and erasing and so on.  This is geared for ages 7 and up or those in 2nd grade and up but as my readers know I can tweak things and this was useful and will continue to be used by my 9 year old daughter to learn how to write cursive.  Max and Alphie, two characters from Fundanoodle will guide the child along in their lessons as well as giving the child some interesting facts and trivia along the way.  For easy removal the pages are perforated, this is great if you’d like to hang them up as posters or to free up clutter of completed lessons – my daughter and I preferred to leave the pages in.

After learning the lowercase letters they’ll learn their uppercase letters and then begin to put it all together into words and sentences.  Max guides the child in how to form and make the letter, while Alphie gives the fun facts and trivia.  After the child writes the letter several times by tracing, they then write it on their own and then evaluate their best letter – you can have them circle it, star it, put a sticker on it, or however they’d like to recognize their best letter – after that they’ll join some letters to either just join letters or to actually make words.  As they learn their uppercase letters that is when they begin to write sentences all in cursive using what they’ve learned about joining letters, upper and lower case and putting it all together.

I love that it progresses fast enough to keep a child’s attention but slow enough to make sure that they grasp the concepts and actually learn them before moving on.  There is no schedule so I just followed my daughter’s pace of how she wanted to complete some days she wanted to do two pages and others just one – it’s quite laid back in how you want to make it work for you and your child.  There are certain features built in to this program like muscle movers that aid in fine and gross motor movements, visual motor which aids in the eye and hand cooperation, sensory as it encourages touch and visual learning, and brain builders which encourages problem solving, finding and confidence.  I’m grateful for a fun way to teach cursive to my daughter so that we can make her writing look more legible and make her assignments go faster.  This book sells for $8.99 and depending on how you schedule the lessons could be used for a year’s worth of cursive curricula.

If you’d like to see what other parents had to say about this and other Fundanoodle items visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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Crew Review: The Presidential Game #hsreviews #grow4christ

We’ve been studying American history this year in our home school and so when the chance to review a game that adds fun to our studies came about I was all over that.  The Presidential Game is for ages 11 years and up and even if you’re playing just for fun or to add to your history or government studies this is one game that the whole family can enjoy. The game comes with a 20” by 30” game board, 1 score pad, 3 blue dice, 3 red dice, 80 politics cards, 40 write-your-own politics cards, 150 Republican chips (red), 150 Democrat chips (blue) and 1 electoral webmap calculator access code.  The game sells for $35.00 and you can also purchase the game hat in either Republican (red), Democrat (blue) and white for Independent for $24.95.

We teamed up with my hubby helping to guide us while playing, my oldest and my son played on one team while my middle daughter and I played on another.  We found out quickly that you run out of chips, but can easily win the game if you only campaign and not do any fundraising – of course that isn’t how real Presidential races work but it was a fun game to play.  I will say the 7 year old and almost 9 year old did lose interest fast so we encouraged them to help put the chips where we told them as well as had them rolling the dice during our turns which helped them stay in the game.  There were quite a bit of directions in how to play the game so that is why my husband was the one helping us in understanding how to play the game.

All three children getting the layout of the game.

It doesn’t matter if you align with Republicans, Democrats or as an Independent or as none of the above – the game is fun and full of strategy and does help players understand a bit more what goes into campaigning and fundraising.  The WebMap calculator adds a bit of technology to the game, there will be a code so you can access the calculator for free while you are playing the game. You can track which states each party wins as well as track how long your race to be President is going – 1 hour of play equates to about 30 weeks of campaigning/fundraising.  I tried to use the WebMap on my iPod touch and it wouldn’t stay open, so our next time we play since I have a laptop now we’ll be accessing it on the laptop to make it easier to keep track of which party has won which state.

My oldest trying to decide how to disburse her team’s chips.

 It is definitely a fun and unique way for children and adults to learn a little about what it takes to run for the chief of America.   I look forward to many more nights playing this with the children and maybe getting together with friends to play with as well – it can be great fun to get together and play games and maybe even make some patriotic snacks to go along with the game playing.  If you’d like to see what other homeschoolers had to say about The Presidential Game visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

(c) 2013, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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