Reading Eggs Review

If you are looking for a fun, no fuss way, to improve your kids reading skills, then you might want to check out Reading Eggs and their award winning online reading program.

Reading Eggs is used by over 10 million kids worldwide.  That is quite an accomplishment for a reading program.  They have also achieved numerous awards and can be found in many homes and schools.  We were recently asked to review a six month subscription to Reading Eggs which also includes Reading Eggs JR and Reading Eggspress.  We were also given a subscription to Math Seeds.  You can get your very own 4 Week Free Trial and see if Reading Eggs is a good fit for your family.

Reading Eggs

Online Subscription

Reading Eggs Jr. for Ages 2-4

Reading Eggs Ages for 3-7

Reading Eggspress for Ages 7-13

24/7/365 Access

Reading Eggs Special Features

Reading Eggs is an online reading program available for either a 6 month or 1 year subscription.

Reading Eggs contains 120 animated reading lessons (plus additional lessons in Reading Eggs Jr. and Reading Eggspress).  Each lesson involves around 12+ tasks or mini-lessons.  Some of the other special features of Reading Eggs includes:

  • Student Dashboard for independent student navigation (and motivation) of lessons, spelling, games, books read, etc.
  • Phonics
  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Letters
  • Sight Words
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Fluency
  • Songs
  • Games
  • Kids earn spending “eggs” they earned for completing lessons and quizzes that can be used in the arcade, designing their avatar, spend in the store, etc.
  • Printables: Worksheets, Awards for completing Lesson Maps and Quizzes
  • Over 2,500 Online Books To Read each with a Comprehension Quiz (of 5 to 10 questions each).
  • Spelling Quizzes / Driving Tests
  • Parent Dashboard: track lessons and quizzes completed, scores, and books read.
  • Parent Emails (also keep you updated of student progress)
  • Homeschool Guide (Grades K-2)
  • Additional Supplemental Books Available

How Does It Work?

Reading Eggs helps kids succeed in their reading abilities by focusing on mastering skills and strategies which are essential for reading success. The Reading Eggs developers are an experienced team of teachers, educational writers, animators, and website and app developers.  Reading Eggs is beneficial for kids just learning to read as well as kids with strong reading skills. It is also beneficial for kids with learning difficulties, struggling readers, and English As A Second Language (ESL).

There are 3 Levels to Reading Eggs and in all it covers kids from ages 2 to 13.  No prior knowledge is needed to start the program at the lowest level, Reading Eggs Jr, however those in Kindergarten (and some Preschoolers too) should be able to begin at the Reading Eggs level.

Reading Eggs will actually teach the kids to read through a series of progressive lessons that takes them from not yet able to read to master a second grade reading level.  Students with stronger reading skills will progress quicker than beginners.  Reading Eggspress is the next level in the program and covers skills from first through sixth grades.  This level offers lots of reading comprehension challenges, books, and more learning games.

There is a comprehensive 35 page User Guide available to help parents learn to use the programs.

The basic motivation for kids is to make progress is earning golden eggs they can store up and spend like cash within the program by doing tasks like lessons, quizzes, books, etc.  In the Reading Eggs program there are 12 Maps with 10 lessons on each map to master (120 lessons).  At the end of each Lesson Map is a quiz for kids to take before they can move forward to the next Map.

Lessons also contain printable black and white activity worksheets as well as colourful activity pages to complete.

The worksheet printables also include lesson plans for each lesson.  There are 120 Lesson Plans to help the parent understand the big picture of what the child is learning and how the online lesson and worksheets go together and additional suggestions to enhance the learning skills.

The links for the downloadable printable worksheets that include lesson plans, and more colorful activity pages for each lesson are found in the “bonus” section of the parent dashboard for additional practice.

After completing about five (5) lessons in Reading Eggs, kids will have earned enough eggs to begin using the Games section.  At Games, they can choose a game they want to play.  The more eggs they earn, the more they can spend, and the more games they can play.  Kids love playing games, and games become a reward for the efforts they make, and it motivates them to want to do more.

Reading Eggs now offers a Homeschool Guide for parents for kids in grades K-2.  There is a schedule for each grade and it integrates reading, math, science, and social studies and offers a suggested schedule of lessons, activity pages to complete, spelling, books to read, and learning themes. The Homeschool Guide can also be found in the “bonus” section.

Videos:

Watch this video to learn more about Reading Eggs (Math Seeds is now a separate subscription):

Watch this video to learn more about Reading Eggspress (ages 7-13):

Requirements:

Reading Eggs online programs can be accessed on a Computer with high speed internet service and an operating system of Windows 7 (or higher), or Mac 10 (or higher), iPad, and is available on some Smart Phones (Apple, Android, etc).  It is currently not supported on some devices (Dell Venue 7, Kindle Fire Tablets, Pendo Pad, Thompson Tablet, or Tesco Hudl Tablets).

Our Experience:

My kids love using Reading Eggs.  Reading Eggs is colorful and engaging.  This fun program has helped my kids practice reading, spelling, and grammar skills in a fun interactive way.

For the purpose of this review, I will focus on the Reading Eggs level of the program and share with you some of our experience using this program with my 5 year old son who is new to Reading Eggs, and my 10 year old daughter who has some previous experience.

Though it is a “no-fuss” learning program (meaning the kids are not frustrated and resisting to use it), instead it is just the opposite and my kids do fuss if I they don’t get to use it.  The kids are very motivated to get on the computer and practice their reading skills each day.

I have my own dashboard when logged in as the parent.    I can see my kids progress in each program we are subscribed to.  I also receive an email after my kids complete quizzes describing their reading progress and what skills and concepts they learned.

A special feature that I like is the option to choose starting my kids off at a specific lesson (there are about 120 different lessons), or letting them start at default mode which is at the beginning lesson on Map 1, or I can have the kids take the placement test.  The placement test includes 60 questions.  The test stops when the kids miss 3 questions and places them at the level where the missed questions corresponds to their skills.  A parent can choose for the kids to continue where the placement test says they should be, or have them “Redo Placement Test”, or you can just adjust the lesson they are on within any level without retaking the test.

My kids also have their own dashboard when logged in as the student.

Even the youngest of kids are able to learn how to navigate their dashboard after a few times of using it because of the colorful pictures.

From the kids dashboard they can navigate around Reading Eggs.  They can read stories, do spelling, quizzes, games, shop, etc.  To get to their Lesson Map, they choose the “My Program” link and it takes them to their books and lesson options.  Then they can choose the Lesson link and it brings them to their Lesson Map.

Here is my 5 year old son pointing to his avatar when it was on lesson 9 on Map 1.

Another fun feature for Kids is to design their own avatar for their dashboard.  There are unlimited options in the design.

When they have unlocked more of the program based on their lessons, more options show up on their “Program” page.   In this picture below, you can see how my daughter’s page differs from her younger brother’s page.  She had master 106 lessons and was ready to start lesson 107.

After they choose “Lesson”, it takes them to the Lessons Map and hers opens up to lesson 107 on Map 11.

Another favorite feature for my kids is the driving test.  Each of my kids are different, but my daughter especially enjoys doing these.

Math Seeds

We were also given a complimentary subscription to Math Seeds and I wanted to briefly mention it here.  It is an online math program that operates in a similar way to Reading Eggs.

Math Seeds was created by the same team that created Reading Eggs and shares the same dashboard with Reading Eggs if you have subscribed to both programs.  However, you have the option to only subscribe to Math Seeds or only to Reading Eggs if you wish.

In Math Seeds, my kids collected golden acorns to spend instead of eggs.  Math Seeds involves 180 lessons with numbers and math skills for kids ages 3 to 9 years old.  They have recently expanded the program to cover some skills at the third grade level (including times tables fractions, angles, subtraction with regrouping, etc).

Math Seeds Video

Here you can see the parent dashboard that shows one of my kids Math Seeds progress.  We haven’t spent a lot of time in Math Seeds yet as we mainly focused on Reading Eggs during this review.

Final Thoughts

Pros:

  • Access 24/7/365 (use it anytime on your schedule)
  • Kids love it.
  • Kids can complete online lessons independently or you can expand learning with parents and additional lesson printables and suggested reading that reinforce the learning.
  • Proven reading improvement.
  • Affordable  ($49 for 6 months and $59 for 1 year).
  • Keeps parents/teachers informed of progress (emails and dashboard reports).
  • Parents can tweak program by moving child ahead or back in lessons, and can have child repeat placement test if desired.
  • Printables
  • Homeschool Guide

Cons:

  • Non-Christian Worldview.  May or may not be a good fit for everyone.

This “con” won’t pertain to everyone, but some religious objections may arise to the non-Christian worldview and undertones of some lessons and book options within the program.  Some families choose to homeschool rather than send their kids to public school for religious reasons.  This program is used in state sponsored public schools in the USA, and other countries and corresponds to common core education and also has many non-Christian themes that some families do not wish their kids to participate in.

Thankfully, parents can tweak the lessons if they see themes they might object to by skipping a specific lesson and moving the child up to the next lesson, or choosing not to read a specific book.  Another way to use the program is avoid using the books that you object too, but still have the kids take the lessons and read other books, and then use what was in the lesson as a teaching point of discussion about your faith with your kids, and this is the way we handled it. You have some flexibility to make these adjustments through the parent dashboard.

Overall, kids of all ages like the Reading Eggs programs.  With all of it’s colorful interactive games and ability to earn spendable eggs and awards for achievements, it is easy understand why it is so successful in teaching and motivating kids to read.

If you would like to try before you buy, be sure to try out the free lesson on their website, or sign up to get your 4 Week Free Trial subscription.

Social Media

Keep up with all the lasted news, product updates, free offers, and special sales at the social media links for Reading Eggs:

• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/readingeggsUSCA/
• Instagram (handle): readingeggs
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/readingeggs @readingeggs
• Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/readingeggs/
• YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ABCReadingEggs

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using Reading Eggs in their home.

Please share.

Brinkman Adventures Review

My kids love listening to exciting stories.  Brinkman Adventures delivers!  Brinkman Adventures introduces kids to Christian missionary heroes who’s lives encourage children in their faith as they share their breathtaking adventures to various locations around the world and their faith in God.

We were recently sent Brinkman Adventures Season 4 for review.

Season Four of the Brinkman Adventures contains over five (5) hours of exciting stories with a Christian focus.   These stories were inpired by the exciting missionary lives of Dr. Nik Ripken, Carl Ralston, and others.   There are twelve (12) exciting stories included in Season 4 and each story lasts just under a half hour.

Episodes included in Season 4:

DISK 1

  • A Paradise Lost (Episode 37)
    • Location Focus: Missions Family Camp in Wisconsin
    • Theme Focus: God is in control
  • Remember Nhu (Episode 38)
    • Location Focus: Cambodia
    • Theme Focus: Perseverance
  • Aisha’s Fear (Episode 39)
    • Location Focus: Overcome Fear with Love
    • Theme Focus: Middle East

DISK 2

  • Heart Song (Episode 40)
    • Location Focus: Russia
    • Theme Focus: Tenacious Faith
  • The Crashed Kitchen (Episode 41)
    • Location Focus: Zambia
    • Theme Focus: God doesn’t make mistakes.
  • Crisis In The Congo (Episode 42)
    • Location Focus: Congo
    • Theme Focus: People over projects.

DISK 3

  • The Mysterious Palm Feller (Episode 43)
    • Location Focus: Congo
    • Theme Focus: Confronting Evil
  • War of the Raccoons (Episode 44)
    • Location Focus:  Wisconsin
    • Theme Focus: Faithfulness in Work
  • The Five Guys (Episode 45)
    • Location Focus: Secret Location
    • Theme Focus: Listening to God

DISK 4

  • Toughest Man (Episode 46)
    • Location Focus: Secret Location
    • Theme Focus: Surrendering Everything
  • Cambodian Quest (Episode 47)
    • Location Focus: Cambodia
    • Theme Focus: Going Deeper With God
  • What Brings Us Together (Episode 48)
    • Location Focus: Wisconsin
    • Theme Focus: Glorifying God

These stories are great for the whole family!  We love listening to all the Brinkman Adventures stories.  They are thrilling, funny, encouraging, and sometimes a bit hair raising, and they keep the kids on the edge of their seats.  We have been blessed in the past to review these wonderful stories in our homeschool.  Be sure to read about our review of Season 3 so you can see more about how our family uses these in our home.

Some of the important, silly, and adventurous faith building things my kids have learned about while listening to these stories are:

  • unshakable faith in God
  • surrendering everything to God
  • houseboats in Cambodia
  • frozen prisons in Russia
  • dangerous alleys in the Middle East
  • dodging angry hippos
  • taming rogue robots
  • trust in God during times of pain

Brinkman Adventures introduces families to unsung Christian heroes,  real men and women who have devoted their lives to sharing the gospel and the struggles and triumphs they went through.  These stories strengthen your faith and provide important discussions about life and inspire teachable moments for faith building with your kids.  They just might inspire you and your kids to do more for God in your daily life, your local community, and maybe inspire them to reach beyond their local community too.

Be sure to check out these REAL STORIES that are featured in Season 4.

There is a page called FUN STUFF  where you will find a few  PDF sketches you can use as coloring pages from various episodes, and some videos to watch about missions and about the making of different episodes.

About Brinkman Adventures:

Brinkman Adventures was created by Ian Bultman and his family.  They are radio stories that tell the adventure of various missionaries and Christians around the world.  His children and extended family play many of the characters as they retell these stories and really bring the story to life.

The stated purpose / mission / goal of Brinkman Adventures on their website is “to reach as many people as possible with these incredible, life changing stories. Our board is passionate about the scope and breadth of this ministry and the potential for future opportunities such as curriculum, family camp & mission scholarships. By God’s grace and through His empowering we hope to inspire, motivate, and facilitate the next generation of Christian world changers.”

So far, they have created 5 Seasons with 12 episodes in each one.  Be sure to check out their website and FREE audio samples to learn about all of these great adventures.

Be sure to check out this video interview with Ian Bultman and his family to learn more.

New Development:

In addition to the wonderful audio adventures, Brinkman Adventures has developed a new venture: Mission based CURRICULUM! The curriculum centers around the Brinkman Adventures Audio Series. Their hope is to raise up a new generation of youth who have a heart for world wide missions. Check out this brief video for more information.

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Brinkman-Adventures-152895116079/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BrinkmanAdventures/

Blog: http://blog.brinkmanadventures.com/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using Brinkman Adventures in their home.

Please share.

CTCMath Review

If you are looking for online math curriculum for your kids, or a supplement to the math curriculum you are already using, then you might want to check out a Family Membership to CTCMath.

CTCMath

Family Membership

Online Subscription

1,400 Math Lessons

Access

24/7/365

At Your Convenience

CTCMath is an online Math Curriculum and Math Supplement program with over 1,400 Video Tutorial Lessons in all grade course levels.  Video lessons are taught by Pat Murray and he has a very pleasant easy to understand voice with an Australian accent.  Every lesson has a tutorial video, a written lesson summary, questions, and quizzes.

Math Courses & Lessons:

CTCMATH has courses for every grade level include:

Elementary Grades:

  • Kindergarten
  • First Grade
  • Second Grade
  • Third Grade
  • Fourth Grade
  • Fifth Grade
  • Sixth Grade

Middle School Grades:

  • Basic Math
  • Pre-Algebra
  • Elementary Measurement
  • Elementary Geometry

High School Grades:

  • Algebra 1
  • Algebra 2
  • Triganometry
  • Geometry
  • Calculus

As you can see from the above grade course list, they have something for every age level.  Lesson lengths for the various grade level courses varies.  For example an Elementary School lesson might consist of a 2 to 4 minute video, and then another 5 – 15 minutes of problems to complete.   The Middle School and High School lessons might include a 4 to 10 minute video, and then the assignment problems might take another 10 to 30 minutes to complete depending on the level of difficulty.

Video Example 2nd Grade:

Summary Example 2nd Grade:

Video Example 3rd Grade:

Summary Example 3rd Grade:

Video Example Geometry:

Summary of Elementary Geometry Lesson:

CTCMath offers both monthly and yearly memebership options.  You can subscribe to CTCMath for one individual student, or get a subscription membership for the entire family for one low price.  See the current special at the time of writing this review at the bottom of this post.

Parents are kept informed of their student’s progress every step of the way.  Parents have their own dashboard in addition to the student’s dashboard.  In addition to checking on student progress, parents can make changes to assignment tasks and more if desired.  Parents are also sent progress emails and weekly summary reports.

Our Experience

We have been using CTCMath since we were first introduced to it three years ago.  It is an audio visual online math program and it has greatly helped my kids (who learn better with audio visual courses than text book courses) math scores improve.  The various CTCMath course levels my kids have used over the past several years include:

  • Kindgergarten
  • First Grade
  • Second Grade
  • Third Grade
  • Fourth Grade
  • Fifth Grade
  • Sixth Grade
  • Basic Math PreAlgebra
  • Elementary Geometry
  • Algebra

I was very excited to learn that we would be reviewing this program this fall for the The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew.  Though we have a paid subscription to CTCMath, we were also sent a new Family Membership 1 Year Subscription for the purpose of writing this review and they added the additional time onto our current subscription.  The folks at CTCMath are very easy to talk to and you can always email them with any questions or needs you have.

All of our kids use CTCMath as their main math curriculum.  Our oldest kids have used the program the longest, since 2014, and our younger kids have used it for about two years, and the youngest son who is 5 years old, is just starting out.  Kids can move around to different grade levels if they choose.  If one level is to difficult, you can go back to the previous level and build those skills needed to be ready for the next level.  You can also move ahead if a level is too easy or if your kids already have learned those skills.  There is an optional placement test with suggestions if you wish for your kids to take the test, CTCMath will offer suggestions about where they have mastered certain skills and where they still need more work in a specific level.

Also I have tried out several of the lessons myself in the past as a parent, and recently I asked CTCMath to give me one of the student spots (you can have up to 10 student spots with the Family Membership).  This isn’t necessary as parents can do any of the lessons they want to from their dashboard.  But I wanted to put myself into my kids shoes, and log in as they do and have a student dashboard in addition to the parent dashboard and just try it on for size.  The kids think it is hilarious that I became a student too.

For this review I skipped around and tried out several lessons in Kindergarten, Second Grade, Geometry, and Algebra. Though the younger levels were fairly easy and went quickly, it took me longer to complete the lessons in the upper levels.  The methods to solve the questions for each lesson are clearly explained.

Math and Bible are our first and second courses of the day.  We have two computers for the kids to use (we recently got these inexpensive ones when our one nicer computer died).  So usually two kids are working on their CTCMath at the same time (usually the first two that wake up), and the other kids (who wake a little later) are usually working on Bible or another course while they wait for a computer to be available.

My younger kids typically spend about 20 minutes on their math lessons each day and the older kids typically spend about 40 to 60 minutes each day.  Typically they view a video lesson, then complete the assignment or quiz.  If the lesson is fairly quick, then I ask them to complete two lessons that day. Most days they complete two or more lessons. The program automatically shows the children on their dashboard what they still need to complete to move forward to the next level.  They love getting awards and love the opportunity to repeat lessons and improve their score.

The parent dashboard lets me know when they have logged in, what video lesson they viewed, and how they scored on the lesson questions.  This gives us a chance to talk about where they might need to review some more or retake the lesson.  It also allows me to set tasks or assignments for them to do if I wish or just let it alone in default mode.  I receive email reports from the program when the kids have achieved various levels in a section: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, and weekly updated summary reports too and these are available on my dashboard, but it is really nice to get the email too.  I can also delete a lesson so the kids will repeat the lesson if I feel they need more practice.  I also have the option to print out each lesson tutorial page.  A nice option is that you can create a folder or a binder with the printed lessons and a copy of their worksheet answers, and awards if desired.

All of my kids are different and learn somewhat differently. I like that I have to option to set the passing grade level for each of my kids at a level that works best for them.   The default level to move forward to the next level is to acheive an 80% or better on the lessons within the current level, though you can skip around on different lessons within a level as much as you want.  It is up to the parent to decide if they want to leave it at default or to adjust the passing score based on how challenging they feel the work is for the student and if it needs adjusted.  For a few of my kids that are either just starting out or are slower to grasp details, need directions explained more than once, and need a little more room for mistakes, I have left the level for passing the lesson at 80%.

However, two of my kids learn quickly, seldom need anything explained more than once, are very detail oriented and math comes easy for them.  I have increased the passing level for lessons at 90% for these guys and their scores are usually consistently at 95% to 100% every time.

A very nice feature for the younger grades is the ability to improve one’s score.  The younger grades are much easier fix mistakes and improve one’s grade by retaking the lesson and quizzes as many times as you like and then the top three scores are kept and averaged together.

However, in the older grades, students are only allowed to take the lesson one additional time if they want to try to improve their score.  The first score is kept and if you retake the lesson that second score is kept and the two are averaged.

For the older student, it is much harder to improve your score just by retaking the lesson if you didn’t score very high to start with.  If you did very bad the first time, for example perhaps only got 50% correct, and then re-watched the video and understood what you did wrong and got a 100% the second time you took the lesson, then your grade is a 75% and not a 100%.  This part of the program is frustrating for the older kids and for me as a parent.  The kids were very motivated in the younger levels because of the opportunity to record their highest score or highest three scores.   I wish the program would allow the first score to be discarded if the teen student shows improvement in their knowledge and understanding of the lesson, especially if they are able to master the lesson and get a 100% the second time around.  I do love the feature for the younger grades that allowed them to retake the lesson as many times as they desired and then it averaged the top three scores and threw away the rest.

I found it was easier to listen to the video lesson, then select to view the optional written lesson summary below the video before moving on to the other tabs to view and complete questions, worksheets, and quizzes.  I don’t know why I never realized the importance of the written summary in this program before.

This tip became very helpful for one of my kids.  He is 12 and likes to hurry through the video and jump right into the questions before really understanding the method.  He has finished pre-Algebra and is now taking some lessons in Elementary Geometry and Algebra.  I have had to ask him to listen again to the video lesson when he is struggling with answering a problem.   Sometimes he fusses about listening more than one time to the lesson, though his two older brothers have no hesitation to listen to the lessons as many times as needed to get the understanding.  This one’s personality is different and he doesn’t like to repeat anything and gets frustrated if he has to repeat it.  Though when he plows through things in life, he often ends up redoing them because he didn’t listen or didn’t review before jumping ahead.  So having the written summary of the verbal lesson has made a huge improvement for him in his Elementary Geometry course.  Though he is dedicated to do his lessons and he is highly motivated (sometimes will complete three or four lessons in a day), he likes to do his lessons quick and doesn’t prefer to redo them.  So he now is able to reduce his mistakes by reviewing the written summary after hearing the video lesson. Win! Win!

I am definitely rusty on the upper grade level courses like Algebra and have struggled to help my three older boys with Algebra type problems in their course work over the years.  For some time now I have wanted to take the upper level math courses, but I find it hard to sit down on a regular basis and get it done with my other responsibilities.   When I was in school, I struggled in math, especially Algebra.  I never took Calculus or Trigonometry back then.  Thankfully I had a wonderful Algebra teacher in college who took extra time to tutor me back then and though I struggled through it, I passed the course.   So I am greatful for the CTCMath program with video lessons where my kids have an instructor that is tutoring them in these areas that I am not as strong in.  However, I plan to do better and be a student of CTCMath myself and use this program to it’s fullest potential to improve not only my kids math skills, but mine as well.  With a family subscription opportunity, why not learn or relearn these great skills right along with my kids?

What do the kids have to say? 

I caught up with two of my guys and asked them to share their thoughts about using CTCMath:

View from my almost 15 year old son (this boy has completed over 230 CTCMath lessons):

“I am currently taking Algebra.  I have taken CTCMath 5th Grade as review and completed 6th Grade and Basic Math and Pre-Algebra courses.   As long as I stayed with it and wrote down the examples, I did fine.  The questions with lots of Algebra calculations involved are the hardest. But it is easier when you have a person explaining it rather than just seeing it on paper in a book.  CTCMath is my favorite class.  I like that you are not listening to a robotic computer voice, but you are listening to an actual person instructing you step by step.  I had another program before that was not like this and I hated it. My younger brother tried this program on the individual membership and liked it and Mom wanted me to give it a try.  It worked out a lot better and I finally felt like I understood my math.  I like CTCMath and it is the best way for me to learn math.”

View from my 12 year old son (this boy has already completed over 470 CTCMath lessons over the past few years):

“I am currently at the end of the Basic Math PreAlgebra course. I am almost finished with Elementary Geometry too. I have taken CTCMath lessons in 3rd and 4th Grade as review, and completed the 5th Grade and 6th Grade courses.  I like using CTCMath. I am looking forward to starting Algebra soon and hope to bypass my brothers!”

Printables

You have the option of printing out student awards they earn. You also have the option to print lesson worksheets with some of the courses, mainly the middle and upper grade levels.  So far we printed only a couple of awards and do not usually print the rest because of the cost of ink.  But I like having the option to print things if I want to, and I think if I get some extra time, and extra ink, printing all of these things out and putting a binder together for each of the kids of their lesson summaries and awards would be a nice thing for each of them to have.  This feature would also help homeschool families who are required to create portfolios.  However in the state we live in, portfolios are not a requirement, but would be nice to keep as a keep sake and for later review if desired.

Final Thoughts

Our family has really enjoyed using CTCMath for the past three years.  I have seen a huge improvement in my slower audio visual learners as well as my kids who are quick to learn no matter what method is offered.  I would encourage families with all types of learners to look into using this program with their families and see if it meets their needs as either a full curriculum or a supplement to a curriculum.  I think most families would be pleasantly surprized as we have been at how well this program works.

CTCMath Special Offers

60% Off  & Free Trial Offers

Be sure to check out the CTCMath website and Social Media links for all the latest sales and special offers, news, tips, and product updates. They are currently running a Special Sale of 60% off + 6 bonus months for Homeschool Memberships.  They also offer a FREE Trial to try before you buy.

Social Media

CTCMath (US and Canda)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ctcmath?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ctcmathofficial
Periscope: https://www.periscope.tv/ctcmathofficial
Pinterest: https://au.pinterest.com/ctcmath/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWn5e6974bpIEAe46VnovZw

Maths Online (Australia Only)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mathsonline.com.au
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/MathsOnlineAU

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using products from CTCMath in their home.

Please share.

Closer Than Before

Are we are closer than before to the return of the Son of God?

I think we are.

When he was asked about his return, he had a lot to say.  Some of his words about his return can be found in the book of Matthew.  There are also many other verses in the bible that talk about his return too, especially the book of the Apocalypse also called Revelation.

Matthew 24:6-30

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.

Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.

But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.  For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  See, I have told you beforehand.

“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.  For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

There is so much going on in this world that points to his soon return.  This generation is truly in a high watch time.  I encourage you to read and re-read the scriptures, especially about his return, as the time is now closer than before.

I hope you are waiting and watching with expectation.

Be blessed!

Please share.

Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math Workbooks Review

Practice makes perfect, and My First Letters from Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math Workbooks is a perfect fit for my son who is learning his ABC’s.

Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math Workbooks are consumable student workbooks that have a patent pending method for handwriting practice.  They may look simple at first glance, however they have several special features that helps kids improve handwriting skills.

The special features in all of Channie’s Workbooks include a thicker quality recycled paper that won’t rip as students write on it.  They also give the student the option to write on the pages while in the workbook, or remove the pages and then write on them if desired.  Every page in these workbooks includes color-coded shaded “writing blocks” with lines (both vertical and horizontal lines) that clearly establish the placement of the upper-case letters, lower-case letters, and numbers. These writing blocks are the key in establishing mental habits of neater writing skills. The goal in using this product is that through confidence building and repetition of consistent letter placement within the writing blocks, a student’s handwriting skills will become neater and independent.

These workbooks were created by a mom who wanted a better way to help her son improve his handwriting skills.  The method she developed made a big difference for him.  Since that time she has created several easy to use resources (nearly 26 items for sale including bundled options) to help kids practice and improve their handwriting skills.  Her products are available for sale on her website and several retail stores.

These are just a few of the products Channie’s has to offer:

  • My First Letters: Is an 80 page handwriting pad with letters to trace, corresponding pictures to color, and shaded blank lines to practice handwriting letters of the alphabet. (PreK – 1st Grade) $12.95
  • Easy Peasy Alphabet:  Is an 80 page workbook with two letter tracing pages for each letter of the alphabet and blank pages to practice handwriting. (PreK Grade – 1st Grade) $12.95
  • Quick & Neat Alphabet Pad: Is an 80 page handwriting pad with blank color coded pages for handwriting practice. (PreK – 1st Grade) $12.95
  • Easy Peasy Cursive: Is an 80 page color coded writing pad for practicing cursive handwriting.  It includes pages with letters to trace, pages with words to trace, and blank pages too. The vertical guide lines are slanted to help improve proper letter placement. (1st Grade – 3rd Grade) $12.95
  • One Page A Day: Double Digit Math Problem Workbook:  Is a 50 page math and numerical writing workbook.  Each page contains 25 double digit math problems to solve.   These pages help children learn how to consistently write numbers correctly and neatly in line for addition and subtraction equations, and improve their math skills.  (1st Grade – 3rd Grade) $12.95

This video helps explain more about this patent pending handwriting method in Channie’s Workbooks.

Our Experience:

My youngest son is enjoying using the My First Letters Workbook.   I have added it to his daily homeschool workbox and it only takes a couple of minutes for him to do.  We have used some printable worksheets for handwriting practice so far this school year, but he is a beginner and is not confident in writing just yet.  Having this workbook for more practice with the correct letter placement and confidence building is a nice to addition to his daily routine.

Inside the front cover is a reference for each letter and number the kids will practice while using this workbook.  There are 3 practice pages per letter, including tracing the capital letter and coloring a corresponding picture, tracing the lower case letter and coloring the corresponding picture again, and writing both upper and lower case letters repeatedly without tracing.

My son did not want to write the letters without tracing during this review, though I am sure he will embrace this task as his confidence increases.  So after a few tries getting him to write them, I decided I would not push him to write the “on your own” letters yet, and let him just work through the tracing pages for now.   So we mainly concentrated on tracing the capital letters for the purpose of this review, and will practice the lower case letters and writing the letters without tracing soon.

He was aware when he slipped with the pencil and missed tracing on the line.  The shaded color coded boxes with guide lines make it very easy to see when you get off track.  He tried to erase a few of his stray lines and re-trace them, but I told him not to worry about trying to do it perfectly and just give it his best try and we would move forward so he did not become frustrated with this task.

We are still working on how to hold the pencil correctly and he insists on holding it his own way.  However, at age 5, I am not pushing him to be perfect with these skills just yet. We have an upcoming review on a pencil gripping device for beginners that will hopefully help him improve his pencil holding skills which will help him complete this handwriting workbook with even greater accuracy .

As long as he is trying his best, that is acceptable to me.  I have raised 6 kids, and 5 of them are boys, and most boys seem to do things their own way at this young age.  I have noticed that as they get older, they develop a desire to perfect their skills, so I am not worried about perfection right now.  My daughter was always more receptive to instruction about “how” to do a specific task correctly, however her brothers on the other hand at this age and seem to be more of the mindset when they tackle a task to just “get it done”.

These handwriting workbooks are very easy to do, they take very little time, and are practical for teaching kids how to write neatly.  I would encourage everyone to pick up a few of these books for daily practice at home and on the go.

Social Media

Be sure to check out Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math Workbooks on their social media links for all the latest news, tips, and product updates.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/channiesworkbook

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbWgCFOVT77TeTsf_5fzufA

BLOG: https://www.channies.com/blog/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using products from Novare Science and Math in their home.

Please share.

Super Teacher Worksheets Review

If you are looking for supplemental curriculum worksheets for your kids, then I would encourage you to check out the HUGE variety of printables available with an Individual Membership from Super Teacher Worksheets.

Individual Membership

Online Subscription

Thousands of Printables

Unlimited Access

$19.95 per year

Super Teacher Worksheets has THOUSANDS of printable worksheets for students of all ages, available in a wide variety of subjects in English (and many also in Spanish).  All you need to do is download the worksheet you want and print.

Student Printables:

    • English-Language Arts Worksheets (reading and writing)
    • Grammar Worksheets (parts of speech (nouns, verbs, etc.) and all other grammar topics)

  • Spelling Worksheets (spelling lists and worksheets)
  • Handwriting (print and cursive)
  • Holiday Worksheets (all holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th Of July, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, etc)
  • Languages (Foreign languages including basic Spanish and French)
  • Fraction Worksheets (basic fractions, mixed numbers, adding and subtracting fractions, etc)
  • Generator Tools (Create your own worksheets, calendars, and more!)
  • Geometry (perimeter, area, shapes, lines, line segments, rays, angles, etc)
  • Math Worksheets (adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, algebra, integers, place value, telling time, etc)
  • Middle School Math (6th, 7th, and 8th grades)
  • Skip Counting Worksheets (count by 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 10s, 25s, and 100s)
  • Music
  • Art
  • Kindergarten and Pre-K Worksheets (shapes, counting, phonics, and the alphabet, etc)
  • Phonics Worksheets (consonant and vowel sound, as well as blends and diphthong, etc)
  • Puzzles and Brainteasers
    Challenging puzzles and brainteasers for your students.
  • Reading: Chapter Book Worksheets (popular chapter books, including Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, Stone Fox, Flat Stanley, etc.)
  • Reading Comprehension Worksheets
  • Safety, Bullying and Health (bullying, Internet safety, fire prevention, saying no to drugs, and lots of health and safety topics)
  • Science Worksheets, flashcards, games (weather, human body, machines, space, electricity, animals, economics, etc)
  • Social Studies Worksheets (explorers, geography, map skills, and communities)
  • Worksheet Unit Sets
  • ESL Worksheets

Parent and Teacher Resources:

  • Grade books,
  • Sticker charts,
  • Awards,
  • Crafts and Templates,
  • Sample report cards
  • Lesson planners,

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Word walls,
  • Templates,
  • Lined paper,
  • Calendars,
  • Student agendas,
  • And MORE!

Other Resources for Teachers:

  • File Cabinet Online (You can place the files you want to use in your own personal online filing cabinet)
  • Smartboard Notebook Files (works with Smartboard interactive whiteboard)
  • Promethean Flipcharts & Lessons (works with ActivInspire Flipchart software by Promethean)
  • SplashTop ( works with JPGs on your iPad with SplashTop software)
  • Excel Gradebook
  • And More!

Our Experience:

We received the Individual Membership one year subscription for the purpose of this review.

As a mom of 6 kids, I am loving the huge variety of educational printables available.

Super Teacher Worksheets has a lot to offer and we will be able to use these resources all year long.

I would like to share with you a few of the many printables I have used with my kids over the past few weeks.   These are just a drop in the bucket of the thousands of worksheets in various subjects that are available.

 

ABC Printables:

I love all of the ABC resources.  There are posters, letters with pictures to color, hand writing practice pages, mini-books, flash cards, and more.

ABC Flash Cards:       

I also printed out several fun coloring, tracing, cutting and gluing pages, and a mini-book on shapes for him.

Language Arts: Reading Comprehension Game

Grammar Worksheets:

Most worksheets with “question / answer” also have an Answer Key available too.

Math and Geometry Worksheets:

Geography:  States and Capitals Worksheet

Calendars:

I printed off a monthly student calendar and used the Calendar Generator option to create my own personalized calendar.

It allows you to either print it blank or with main holidays listed, and you have the option to type in info on each day.

The Calendar Generator only lets you type in up to 40 characters, including spaces, per date.  I found for a few of the days, I needed more characters or the option to change the font size to fit the words properly.

So on the next calendar I made, I left the dates blank, except for a few holidays they already had pre-entered on those dates, and then I saved it to my computer.  After that I was able to personalize it by adding colors and stickers on special dates with my computer before printing.  Then after I printed it, I wrote the additional information for each date by hand and placed the calendar in my binder.  Even though I wasn’t able to use the calendar template like I wanted, I do like having the opportunity to generate a calendar, and it is useful to hand a simplified calendar to my kids.

Lesson Plans and Worksheet Units:

I also printed off a few of the science lesson plans and worksheet units.  These resources are wonderful!  There is a short lesson, fun diagrams and charts we used for coloring and memorizing, and questions and answers about the lessons.  I hope to post a couple of new stories soon with the various activities we did.

Human Body Worksheets:

Your Brain Lesson Plan:

Simple Machines Lesson Plans (5 page article on Simple Machines)

Simple Machines Mini-Book:

Simple Machine Worksheets:

There are many Simple Machine worksheets to choose from.  Some of the worksheet options were: fill in the blank, multiple choice, essay questions, word scrambles, cross word puzzles, scavenger hunt type worksheet of simple machines you find around your home, etc.  You can also generate a spelling list with Simple Machine related words.

There was also a Simple Machines board game to help kids remember what they have learned about machines.  I printed this off, cut out the player cards, and glued the playing board to a file folder.  You could also laminate it to make it water proof and help it last longer.

To round out our learning about Simple Machines, we dug through Daddy’s tool box to identify some of the simple machines he uses in his tool box.  We also built some simple machines with legos for hands on learning.  Soon I will post a future story about the Simple Machines unit study we did.

Awards:

Another feature I liked was the colorful award certificates.  My kids enjoy receiving awards for special activities they accomplish.  I have noticed on their math and reading programs, when award certificates are offered for achieving various goals, it encourages them to keep doing their best.

I printed out the artist award to encourage my youngest son as he is learning coloring in the lines, using scissors, gluing, and various craft and art skills in his kindergarten curriculum.

Super Teacher Worksheets is a great resource for homeschool families.  For one low price of $19.95 you can use it for your whole family for an entire year.  There is a printable for just about everything you need to supplement your homeschool curriculum and plenty of templates to generate new worksheets and help with lesson planning if you don’t find one already available that meets your needs.

Social Media

Be sure to check out Super Teacher Worksheets on their social media links for all of the latest news and product updates.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/superteacherworksheets
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuperTeacherWks
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/superteacherwks/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/superteacherworksheets/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using products from Novare Science and Math in their home.

 

Please share.

The Craziest 24 Hours!

This event happened a few years ago.  I wrote this story in my journal, but never published it.  I was recently looking back at some of these old stories I wrote and thought it was about time to share this one.  It was a doozy of a 24 hours.

 

It has been a crazy 24 hours!

Yesterday we had a thunderstorm that brought some much needed rain, but knocked out the power to the homestead. No power means no water, no flushing toilets, no lights, no digital technologies (TV, Wii, Computers, Internet, etc), no stove to cook on, and generally no happy kids! Oh they are happy for a bit, if you distract them with games and snacks, but they are not so happy without their favorite meals and modern conveniences.

We had just finished the main part of our day and our school work when a major thunderstorm hit.  I called my husband and asked him to drive carefully coming home as the storm was producing high winds and lots of lightening.  He got home safely and we had supper, and  we were cleaning up just as the thunderstorm knocked out the power.  We did not prepare for being without power and the repercussions. I had a few individual bottles of water on hand in the pantry, but otherwise I did not have enough water that would last for more than a few sips for 8 people.  We contacted the power company who said the power was expected to be back on by 10 pm. That was good news as I thought we could survive for a few hours and would have water and power by the time we were headed to bed.

We went outside to play for a bit and get some energy out. The kids played tag, rode bikes, and played Frisbee until dark. Dad and I sat on the porch and enjoyed sitting together and watching them play.

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At dark, there was no moon to speak of, and soon the mosquitoes became horrendous! They were biting viciously and eventually we couldn’t take the pain anymore and we had to go inside. The house was stifling hot and humid, but at least it stopped the sting of mosquitoes.

We lit some candles. I didn’t have very many candles though.  At this point, I really missed my Amish style lanterns I used to have. They operated by using oil and a wick. They would be perfect on a night like this. But they broke in the last move, and I haven’t been able to replace them yet.

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Thankfully we had these few scented candles to get us by and they lit up the rooms just enough. They actually gave off a surprising amount of light and we were able to read, draw, and play games by candlelight.  Eventually, one by one, daddy and kids dropped out of the games to fall asleep on the couch.  I think daddy might have fell asleep first though.

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After the younger kids were asleep, my oldest challenged me to a game of Chess. Oh boy. I love playing with him, but I am no good at Chess, and HE KNOWS IT!  He didn’t take advantage of my lack of skills though and just wanted to play with me and that was really special. 10 pm came and went. No electricity returned.  11 pm came and went, and still no electricity.  Finally even the two of us couldn’t hold our eyes open any longer and we also went to sleep.

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The house was so hot and humid. I could not hardly stand it.  I was drifting in and out of a sleep wake state and eventually gave up waiting for the power to come back on and went to bed.

But in the heat of the night, I could not sleep well. I drifted in and out of a miserable unrestful dreamy state. 2 am came and went. 3 am came and went. Each time I woke back up, I would pray “Please God, help me to go to sleep and stay asleep”. Finally, at 4 am the power came back on and my body relaxed from exhaustion and I drifted off to sleep to the soothing sound of a fan blowing hot humid air around the room. I was so greatful!

I don’t know when the dreams came in the night, but at some point I had two different dreams.  I dreamed of a tornado headed my way. In my dream the kids came to get me and told me there were “twisters” outside. I was not sure why they said “twisters” until I had looked out the window and seen 10 tornadoes spinning right next to my house and family. Amazingly, the twisters never caused damage. They just spinned nearby. The sky was completely dark, except for these tornado twisters that stood spinning.  Then in a second dream, I thought I was a secret agent, (maybe for the FBI agent or something) taking down a drug cartel. I have never dreamed anything like that before in my life.

I didn’t get to sleep for long though.  My husband woke me at 4:30 am. He needed to get ready for work, as he usually leaves the house by 5:30 am, and he couldn’t get ready today because though we finally had power, we still had no water.  We are on a well and live in the country, and something must have happened to the well when the lightning storm took out the power yesterday.  I told him about my dreams as they were so vivid and seemed so real.

My husband wanted to wait until it was light outside to figure out the well problem, because he didn’t want to trek through the yard in the dark at 4:30 am and climb down into a dark damp dingy well house to figure out what was wrong.  We didn’t have the money to hire a plumber for an emergency call either. Their emergency rates are outrageous!  So he decided to wait until daylight to try and figure out the problem.  We didn’t have much choice, and it wasn’t safe to try to solve it in the dark, and he couldn’t go to work until the problem was solved.

All I wanted to do was go back to bed. But that wasn’t going to happen. My head was pounding from a lack of sleep. Then the youngins started waking, up and needing their needs met.  By now, I felt desperate for water.  Even though it was dark, we needed to get some water from the stream to try and flush the toilet before one more person added their gift to it this morning. With 8 people using the toilet the night before, and it sitting over night, the room next to the bathroom was not smelling to good this morning. I was so grateful that there was a stream of water from all the rain from the storm. I didn’t mind getting it even in the dark. My husband actually got the water while I (had the easy job) held a flashlight for him to see, and held the door for him to carry the water in.  We made two trips of five gallons of dirty stream water at 5 am.  What a blessing it was to get the toilet to wash down the contents and rid the room of the smell. It was time to light another candle!

Next we did a bible study, and waited for it to get light outside.

We studied James 2 and the verses that really spoke to my heart this morning were verses 1-17

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.

For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,
and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him,
“You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man.

Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.”
Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.
For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?

If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Soon it started getting light outside.  It is amazing how it can go from complete darkness, to a dimly lit sky, and then to a sun rise where you can clearly see all around.  With renewed hope and determination, my husband and I went to the well house.  He removed everything in the little house/shed (his tools and various items stored in there), and then lifted the trap door in the floor. My job was then to hold the flashlight for him.   There is a hidden room down there under the ground that houses the well pump.  While I pointed the flash light for him, he was able to climb down in the dark and damp little room and work on the pressure switch that had shorted out during the power outage, and he finally got the well running again. Then he had to come in the house and prime all the faucets and flush air out of the lines. Finally after 10 hours of no power, and 13 hours of no water, we finally had water again! Yeah!

Now to really start the day.  My husband quickly got his shower and headed off to work.  The kids and I had breakfast, and began our schoolwork.  I was really glad our electrical power was restored so the rest of our day could return to normal.

I was looking forward to an easier day now that the crisis was over: normal meals, normal baths, normal toilet flushes, and just a normal day of our schoolwork because some of the homeschool curriculum the older kids have is on the computer, so electricity was a necessity today if we were going to make progress.  I also caught a few minutes of the news and learned there were tornado sightings during the storm last night.  Wow, so my dream about “twisters” actually happened.

About 11:30 we took a break and headed outside to play while I prepared lunch. I was so happy about this break. I desperately needed a break.  The stress of the storm, power outage, water outage, and lack of sleep was really catching up to me.  I couldn’t get my headache to go away, I just needed a few minutes of peace and quiet and to get lunch made.

Within minutes of playing outside, the children were running to me that a police officer was coming up the driveway.  It is a really long driveway and we are up on a hill so you can see from the yard when a car pulls onto the drive.   I ran outside to see what was going on.  My heart began too pound so fast, I couldn’t imagine why a police car would be coming up the driveway to my house.  I actually felt faint after all of the stress we had just had.  Things certainly were not turning out normal today.  I hoped it wasn’t anything to do with my husband traveling to work and I couldn’t imagine anything else it could be.

The officer pulled up the long driveway and got out of his car.  The kids were excited, but I wasn’t.  He carefully came up to the kids and I in the yard, then stuck out his hand for a handshake and introduced himself to us as a state trooper all while he glanced around.  I thought this was very odd, but it soon became apparent why.  He informed me that there was a fugitive on the loose.  He was with the drug task force and they were in the middle of taking down a drug ring and while making arrests one man had got away and ran through the woods and fields and they expected him to be near by our farm.  The police officer asked if the children and I would go inside, and stay inside and lock the doors until the police had him apprehended and let us know it was safe.

I could not believe all this was happening.  I was exhausted and had no energy for another crisis.  I gathered all the kids back inside, locked the windows and doors.  After several hours went by, and watching several police cars come and go as they tracked the drug fugitive, I realized that my second dream had come to pass.  So I called my husband at work and said “You are not going to believe…”

It was the craziest 24 hours ever!

Please share.

FMD Food Journal Motivation

I am hoping to do the FMD method of eating again.  As I get older, I realize I need more motivation to take charge and get my weight to a healthy level.   I recently shared a post about my efforts to improve my health called Improving My Health One Day At A Time.  FMD is a proven method of eating that still falls in line with the principals I shared that were important to me.

However, I haven’t used FMD for a couple of years.   It has been on my mind to start again.  It is a wonderful way of eating and rotating the main sources of energy: carbs, proteins, and fats during the week for a total of 4 weeks or 30 days.  However, I struggled the last time I did the program.  I had challenged myself to do 90 Days, but I was going through some health challenges that I couldn’t figure out, I struggled to eat as planned 5 times a day, afford the amount of protein, and I desired my favorite comfort “foods” which are sweet creamy coffee, honey, and dairy.

I first used FMD in 2013 and had lost 18 lbs in 30 days on it.  I saw several improvements in my health from the nutrition program and fuel source rotation.  Besides the rotation of fuels (carbs, proteins, and fats) each week, there are a few foods (corn, wheat, white potatoes, sugar, honey, dairy, and coffee are the main ones) that are completely eliminated for 30 days to help give the thyroid and adrenal glands a rest, remove candida overgrowth, and rev up the thyroid which increases the metabolism.  Hence the acronym FMD stands for Fast Metabolism Diet.

At one point while trying to figure out what was going on with my health, and desiring more sweets and comfort foods, I tried a different meal program called THM that is similar to FMD, but it includes cycles through the carbs and fats more often as long as they are spaced at least 3 hours apart.  THM also includes more food varieties including lots of deserts, comfort foods, and ice cream, and only eliminates sugar, wheat (unless it is sprouted first), and white potatoes, but still includes lots of dairy (cheese, butter, yogurt, etc) and creamy coffee.  It really is a terrific program and I was able to loose some weight (at about 1/2 the rate of FMD but more satisfying) but my my health issues, hives, continued and I suspected I was also allergic or intolerant of the main sweeter used in that diet called Stevia and a Stevia Erithrytal Blend.  I also tried the Low Carb plan that so many folks have been able to loose lots of weight on and is similar to Phase 2 of FMD for a little bit that keeps carb intake below 20g a day, and again it brought my weight down a few more pounds.  But on Low Carb (LC) it was really hard to go with only 20 carbs per day, all week, with no treats, and my allergy to something I was eating continued.  So I gave up trying the different diets / meal plans for a while.

FMD focuses on eating 5 times a day, with a focus on protein.  It divides a week into 3 Phases alternating pairing proteins with the other fuels of fats and carbs.  It is generally considered a 4 week plan to help you rev up your metabolism but can be a forever plan if you desire.  I’ve listed out what is in each Phase below under the heading “Meal Plan For 1 Week”.

Below is also a food journal entry I made last time I followed FMD in 2015, and I thought I would share it online today to help motivate myself (and anyone else who might need a little push) to get started again and make health a priority.   Sometimes just putting something in front of your view is enough motivation to move forward.   I used to record my foods, supplements, and how I felt about the day in my food journal.  Sometimes I also noted how much water or exercise I had.  I should have been more diligent to record more details at that time because it helped me succeed back in 2013.  As you can see from the meals I ate, if I repeat a meal plan like this, I will need to make adjustments for the elimination of eggs when I make the new meal plan.  You can see more food journal entries and goals from that season of my life the post meal planning strategy and my 15 Goals for 2015. You can see lots of food photos of what I am ate on my Instagram account if you are interested.

When I journaled this particular week back in 2015, I had joined an online challenge group for FMD and was really excited about it.  However, I failed at getting through the full 90 day challenge (three sets of 30 days).  30 days is the normal length of the program, and I struggled to make it an ongoing lifestyle vs. just a 30 day or 90 day plan.

The main problem I was having doing FMD (and THM and LC too) at the time was an allergy to eggs that I didn’t realize I had developed.  You can use several different sources of proteins on FMD, but sometimes you need a protein with a fat such as whole eggs, and sometimes just a lean protein such as egg whites.  I was relying on eggs for protein as they are inexpensive and I had my own flock of chickens that gave us fresh eggs daily.  However, without realizing the cause of my health issue, I believe I made it worse. I was having hives on my hands and fingers that worsened every time I put them in water.  Doing dishes literally made them crack and bleed as well as itch like crazy.  It took me a long time to solve the riddle of what was happening.  After a couple of years of trying to figure it out, and having given up following any specific diet plans, the last thing I eliminated from my meals was eggs and that finally stopped the hives.

I would have never guessed that could happen to me.  I loved eggs.  I loved having my chickens.  The irony of being back on the homestead, with my beautiful chickens producing wonderful eggs, and I couldn’t have them.  It truly was bitter sweet.  I suspect the egg allergy is related to a flu shot I received while pregnant.  I learned through doing research into various medical studies that people can develop allergies to proteins that have been injected into the blood stream.  When the blood comes in contact with a foreign protein in the blood stream, the body creates antibodies to attack those proteins and increases the histamine and inflammation response.  So every time I ate eggs, my histamine went into overdrive.

It has been a huge adjustment in my life to cut eggs out of my diet for the past year and a half.  I wasn’t sure I could ever do FMD or any meal program again as I didn’t know how to substitute the eggs and not violate the rules of when to eat proteins with fats and just egg white protein.  The main egg substitutes I found that actually work for use in baking are flax seeds (fat), or bean water (carbs) and neither of these meets the requirement on Phase 2 for lean protein only, and flax could only be used on Phase 3.  So right there I could not longer use boiled eggs on days for protein in my snacks and whole eggs for protein and fat, or any baking, or even using egg whites in tuna salad.  So I couldn’t quite figure out how to solve this dilemma.

Because I really want to do FMD again, and repeat the success I once had, I recently wrote to FMD and asked them what they would recommend. Their simple answer was to eliminate eggs and find some other source of allowed protein.  Simple solution.  I just need to accept my limitations with the diet and try again and use only recipes that don’t need eggs or if a substitute for eggs works during that phase without working against it, then go ahead and use the recipe and sub the eggs.  Frustrating to have to make these changes, but doable if I put my mind to it.

One other thing about FMD is to include some exercises.  During phase 1 it is cardio focus, Phase 2 is weight resistance focus, and Phase 3 is a stretching focus.  Once again, I felt like I had a roadblock to using this part of the program.  I have a foot injury and haven’t been able to walk long on my foot.  It has made getting any amount of exercise that involves walking difficult.  When I did the program before, I was able to take lots of walks, and also went to YMCA.  But that is not an option now.  I think combining the low impact program called Ttapp for regular exercise will meet this need.

Meal Plan for 1 Week:

Here is one of my journal entries on FMD from 2015.

Phase 1  (Monday & Tuesday)

Breakfast:

Fruit
Grain/Bean

Snack:

Fruit

Lunch:

Fruit
Protein
Veggie
Grain/Bean

Snack:

Fruit

Supper:

Protein

Veggie
Grain/Bean

Phase 2  (Wednesday & Thursday)

Breakfast:

Protein
Veggie

Snack:

Protein

Lunch:

Protein
Veggie

Snack:

Protein

Supper:

Protein
Veggie

Phase 3  (Friday & Saturday & Sunday)

Breakfast:

Fruit
Protein
Fat
Veggie
Grain/Bean

Snack:

Protein
Fat
Veggie

Lunch:

Fruit
Protein
Fat
Veggie

Snack:

Protein
Fat
Veggie

Supper:

Grain/Bean

Protein
Fat
Veggie

Monday:
Phase 1 Day 1 (FMD)

B- Rainbow Turkey Chili
S- Clementine
L- Tuna and Green Apple Salad, Sweet Potato
S- 1/2 Serving Strawberry GGMS (2 strawberries, 1/2 lemon juiced, 1/2 lime juiced, 1 Tbls Braggs Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/2 tsp ginger, 2 cups water, stevia to taste)
D- Red Onion Spinach Sage Burger with Tomato Romane Lettuce on 1 slice of Sprouted Bread, cucumbers, radishes
S- 1/2 Serving Strawberry GGMS (2 strawberries, 1/2 lemon juiced, 1/2 lime juiced, 1 Tbls Braggs Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/2 tsp ginger, 2 cups water, stevia to taste)

Supplements: 2 tablets Kelp, 3 tablets Spirulina, 2000mg Vitamin C, and 500 mg Vit D

I was so hungry at breakfast, I decided to eat the chili for breakfast that I had planned to serve for lunch, and then I had to make something else at lunch. I know it wasn’t exactly correct to eat for my breakfast that was supposed to be a grain, protein, veggie and fruit. It was legumes instead of grains. But it was so delicious and nutritious!

I put the recipes and everything I ate into My Fitness Pal to help me keep track of my progress. I love this app. It calculates so many great things for me and lets me know if I am under or over my goals.

Also I know I am not going to bed early enough, and I am also not drinking enough water so these are things I need to change this week.

Here are pictures of my main meals today, but not the snacks.  Recipes coming soon!

Rainbow Turkey Chili

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Tuna and Green Apple Salad seved with a sweet potato.

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Red Onion, Spinach, and Sage Turkey Burger
Served with lettuce and tomato on sprouted Ezekiel bread, and a side of cucumbers and radishes.

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Tuesday:
Phase 1 Day 2 (FMD)

Repeat meals from Monday

Wednesday:
Phase 2 Day 1 (FMD)

B- Mini Frittatas, cucumbers, and bell peppers
S- 0
L- Grilled Chicken and Turkey Bacon on Salad.
S- Lemon Lime GGMS (lemon and lime juice, water, raw vinegar, ginger, on plan sweetner to taste) basically a fancy lemonade.
D- Sirloin Steak and Egg White on Salad
S- Off plan: Tiny bite of son’s 10th birthday cake and ice cream.

Supplements: Spirulina, Kelp, Vit. C, Vit. D

Good day. I drank 64 ounces of liquid plus the GGMS.
Still need to increase it more, but I am pleased with the progress.
I did have a bite off of son’s cake and icecream that was not on plan,
but it was important to him that I share a bite, so I am just going to trust
that it will not throw off my progress. He wanted me to eat a bite with him, but I did not have a plate or bowl, I just took a bite with my finger and then took a bite of his icecream from the scooping tool. He was satisfied with that. First thing this moring, I created a Phase 2 Mini Frittata recipe that I was happy with too and have extras in the fridge for tomorrow. But I ended up eating breakfast later than I should have and didn’t feel up to eating a snack before lunch. I had so many veggies in my meals today that I could not get down snacks in between the meals. My stomach is so full, even now at bed time.

Thursday:
Phase 2 Day 2 (FMD)

B- 2-Mini Frittatas, cucumbers,
S- 1-Mini Frittatas
L- Stuffed Mushrooms (from the FMD book)
S- Lemon Lime GGMS (lemon and lime juice, water, raw vinegar, ginger, on plan sweetner to taste) basically a fancy lemonade.
D- Groundbeef with veggies
S- O

Supplements: Vit. C,

I felt very tired today.  This always seems to happen to me when I eat meals on Phase 2 which are low-carb and low-fat on the same day.  I find Phase 2 the hardest of the three Phases.   I had hoped to create a great breakfast and make homemade chicken sausage, but I was too tired. I did not want to cook. So I just ate leftover frittatas from yesterday, and I was really glad to have them on hand or I may have skipped eating altogether.

I did make one easy recipe called stuffed mushrooms, that I had prepped the day before so the only thing I had to do was remove it from the fridge and bake it. I was so glad I did because the flavors are so wonderful.

I drank 80 ounces of liquids, a lot better than I have been drinking for a long time.  Still need to increase more fluid, but I am pleased with the progress.

Here are a few pictures of my food today.

Mini fritatas

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Stuffed Mushrooms

IMG_4336

Lemon Lime GGMS

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Friday:
Phase 3 Day 1 (FMD)

B- Chicken sausage patty, eggs, zucchini and mushroom saute, sprouted toast, blueberries
S- 0
L- Coconut Chicken Curry (from the FMD book)
S- Greek Chicken Garden Meatball
D- Grilled Chicken Breast on sprouted bread with bacon, lettuce, and tomato
S- GGMS (sugarfree lemonade with ginger and raw vinegar)

Supplements: Vit. D, Vit. C, Kelp, Spirulina, Redwine Extract, Bilbery Extract, Coconut Oil, Accidophilis, Enzyme blend.

So excited today to get back to fats, fruits, and sprouted BREAD!
I ate breakfast late and skipped the morning snack and went right into lunch. Somtimes it is hard for me to work in a morning snack in the winter if I ate a big breakfast.  I am just not hungry inbetween breakfast and lunch.
I drank 48 ounces of liquids, and I need to do better.

Here are a few pictures of my food today.

Chicken Sausage, Overeasy Eggs, Sprouted Toast, Zucchini Mushroom Saute, Blueberries

IMG_4371

Coconut Chicken Curry

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Greek Chicken Garden Meatballs

IMG_4373

Grilled Chicken & Sprouted Bread Sandwhich

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Saturday:
Phase 3 Day 2 (FMD)

B- Berry Green Smoothie, egg salad, turkey bacon, sprouted toast, romaine lettuce, cucumber, celery, carrots
S- 0
L- Pizza on sprouted tortilla (beef, mushrooms, pepper, onions, pepperoni)
S- Bulletproof Coffee (black coffee, butter, coconut oil, truvia, vanilla) This is my cheat food today and is not FMD approved)
D-
S- 1/4 cup roasted cashews, Lemon Lime GGMS

Supplements: Vit. D, Vit. C, Kelp, Spirulina, Red Wine / Grape Extract, Bilbery Extract, Coconut Oil, Accidophilis, Enzyme blend. Missing all this week was my calcium supplement and liquid herbal iron supplement. I should have taken them, even though I don’t like the taste. I want to add in cod liver oil during phase 3, but I forgot to do it. I normally would take CLO every few days or so, but since I am on this plan I would like to be sure and include it during Phase 3 when fats are encouraged.

Sunday:
Phase 3 Day 3 (FMD)

Repeated leftover meals from Saturday.

 

Phase 3 is my favorite phase.  I love the comforting feeling of healthy fats, nuts, seeds, fruits, and sprouted BREAD!  I Love Phase 3!

Please share.

Improving My Health One Day At A Time

I try to eat healthy, but I realize that my efforts are not always enough to meet what my body needs.  The whole spectrum of nutrients our bodies need is quite mind boggling.  There are macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients that our bodies depend on for sustenance and healing.  Many of these nutrients have a specific function in the body, and if we don’t consume them, our bodies suffer sooner or later.

Some of the nutrients we need, we are able to get from the food we eat, and other nutrients we need are made by enzymes and probiotics within our system as they break apart what we’ve eaten and reformulate these ingredients into additional essential nutrients and co-factors.  Our bodies are like small factories.  As long as we give it the right building blocks, it can extract what is needed and it can also make some of the things we need that might be in a different form than what we are consuming by recombining the basic ingredients.  Some B vitamins are like this for example, some we are able to get from food, and for others if given the right building blocks, there are bacteria in our gut that can manufacture some of the B vitamins and D vitamin co-factors that are a requirement for life.

However, most people don’t get enough of what they need from regular foods anymore.  Soils are depleted and are not allowed to rest and recover and renew with organic matter to replenish the nutrients between seasons of crops.  Instead, artificial nutrients are sprayed onto the soil and/or plants and production continues to keep on producing and cut costs.  The result is plants that lack quality and nutrition.

In my own life, not all of my younger years were the greatest nutritionally. I started getting serious about what I put into my body when I was about 27 or so.  I started drinking raw milk, raising most of our foods, and taking food based supplements.  I finally became pregnant when I was almost 30 after several years of trying and hoping and praying to have a child.  I know prayer and changing the foods I was eating had a big impact on our ability to conceive. I realized right away, that building babies in the womb, and later nursing on demand and lack of sleep when you have young children, takes a lot of nutrients and energy from momma.  Overtime, my body became depleted of nutrients and just like the land that produces crops, I needed to renew my body with a layer of organic materials and rest.

A few of the ways I have found to add in extra nutrition into my body and my family is to add additional fruits and vegetables, either chopped very small so they are not noticed, or blended into a paste to mix in a recipe or into a smoothie, or dried and ground into a powder and put these into things we already eat. For example, into our chili, I add extra things like diced zucchini and spinach, and because of the spices, chili sauce and texture of the beans, you don’t even notice the hidden veggies.  When I make cookies and cakes, sometimes I grate carrots or use pumpkin puree to enhance the nutrition.  We also enjoy making smoothies.  The kids don’t even realize their smoothies are packed with fruits and veggies that often they would eat if put on a plate in front of them.  But hidden in other foods they enjoy, they consume these extra nutrients without any stress or fuss.

Adding the dried powders from fruits and veggies may be the most significant thing I am doing to bring change and healing to myself and family.   There are so many benefits to including this in our meals.  The boost it gives my food helps renew and rebuild my body from the inside out. It boosts my immune system.  This also seems to help me age more gracefully because raw phyto-nutrients heal the body, reduce oxidation, improve cardiovascular wellness, reduce inflammation in the blood stream and through-out the body, rebuilds the blood stream, repairs DNA, and protects it from breaking.

Father God created fruits and vegetables as multipurpose use for the body to work as food and medicine, as a method sustenance, disease prevention, healing intervention, and rebuilding. No one knows our bodies better than our creator.

I really enjoy listening to “experts” who look to Father God and use the natural foods and plants he created for achieving health and wellness.  Dr. Sears is one of those experts.  Dr. Axe and Jordan Rubin are a couple more who are terrific too.

Jordan Rubin recommends 3 things to consider when choosing what foods to eat:

  1. Eat only what God created for food.
  2. Eat food in a form that is healthy for the body.
  3. Don’t make any food or drink your idol.

In this video clip, Dr. Axe and Jordan Rubin team up to help you improve digestion of your foods, and offer 9 suggestions to help you maximize the nutrients from what you are eating.

In this video, Dr. Sears recommends adding powdered fruits and vegetables to your diet for better health.  He also recommends that each person do the research on anything you put into your body, as well as asking 2 specific questions before taking any nutritional supplement:

  1. Is there solid science that proves it gets into the blood stream?
  2. Is there solid science that it is effective and provides positive healthy change once it gets into the blood steam?

I hope to improve my health one day at a time, one simple step at a time, as my family and I get back to basics of wholesome foods and biblical principles of living.

Be blessed!

Please share.

If You Were Me and Lived In…Book Series Review

I have a lovely book series for kids by Carole P. Roman to share with you today.

Carole P. Roman is a well known author who has written over 35 children’s books.  She has won over 100 prestigious awards for her books.  She has written several historical series, cultural series, and fantasy adventure books for kids including:

  • If You Were Me and Lived in- Series with Cultural Focus
  • If You Were Me and Lived in- Series with Historical Focus
  • Nursery series
  • Oh Susannah- Early Reader
  • Captain No Beard Series
  • And More!

We are currently reviewing 4 books from Carole P. Roman’s investigative book series for kids called “If You Were Me and Lived In…” This series has two banches.  One branch is the Cultural focus series (3 to 8 year olds) and the other branch is a Historical focus series (8-12 year olds).

There are a lot of books in these series and she continues to add new ones. A few of the titles include:

If You Were Me and Lived in… (Cultural series)
Australia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mars, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, South Korea, Turkey

If You Were Me and Lived in… (Historical series)
Ancient China, Ancient Greece, the Ancient Mali Empire, The American West, Colonial America, Elizabethan England, The Mayan Empire, The Middle Ages, Renaissance Italy, Viking Europe

The four books our family received for this review are:

If You Were Me And Lived In The American West

If You Were Me And Lived In Australia

If You Were Me And Lived In Russia

If You Were Me And Lived In Israel

 

Here is a little more about each of these books and what we learned. 

If You Were Me And Lived In The American West

This book is softcover, fully illustrated, and contains 54 pages.  It is all about the journey on the Oregon Trail in the 1800’s and living life as a settler in the American West.

The book sets the stage pretending the reader is a 12 year old boy from Ohio in 1843.  The reader goes on a historical journey and learns what his life could have been like if he had lived during this time.  He heads out leaving Ohio on the Wagon Train with his family and others in the Great Migration of 1843 to find a better life in Oregon.

My kids really enjoyed reading this story.  They learned about the covered wagons called “conestoga” wagons. These were like primitive campers made from a large wagon with wooden wheels and an arched canvas top for shelter. These wagons held all of a family’s personal possessions, clothing, tools, herbal medicines, as well as a kitchen and pantry of food such as flour, salt, beans, potatoes, coffee, etc., and were pulled by oxen or horses.

The kids learned that life for kids on the trail was difficult.  They had to walk most of the way for several months, as they traveled about 10 to 20 miles a day, sleep on the ground wrapped in a blanket next to a camp fire, and help with chores without the aid of modern appliances.  Eventually your family arrives at their destination. Then they learn about setting up a homestead, including building a log cabin to live in and barn for animals, making yarn, chopping firewood, and planting gardens and fields, and more.

My kids also read about life for the settlers / pioneers and the Native Americans,  Sometimes these groups got along and other times they were at war with each other. Finally, there is a glossary of words and their definitions in the back of the book as well as a pictures and explanations of some of the famous people who lived during this time in history.

To Further The Learning:

To further what we learned about the American West, we built a campfire in the back yard as those on the Wagon Trail would have done to cook their food and keep warm at night.  Gathering fallen wood, splitting firewood and building a campfire is something we do quite often and the kids always enjoy it.

My kids are familiar with living on a homestead and the challenges and chores farming families have.  I grew up in Kansas and lived on a homestead for many years.  For many years in my youth and then as an adult with my own kids we have lived on a homestead and milked cows, made butter, grew gardens, butchered animals we raised and wild animals we hunted, fished in the rivers and lakes, built barns and fences, and more.   Also while growing up, we could see wagon wheel ruts left by travelers on the Oregon Trail that were still visible in many locations in Kansas.  They were also visible in places we lived in Indiana too.

On the day we wanted to cook some “American West” style foods, it rained the day before and the area we like to sit on large rocks got muddy from the rain.  So we made our food inside and took it outside at the picnic table to do our taste testing.

We tried some dried beef called beef jerkey.

We baked some cornbread.

Our Wagon Trail meal included dried beef, campfire beans topped with spring onion, cornbread, and a cup of coffee (our coffee was really coffee mixed with hot chocolate).

We tried out a second meal made of items that would have likely been on a wagon trail adventure.

This meal consisted of potatoes with meat, beans, biscuits with dried cherry preserves and coffee to drink.

The kids spent an entire afternoon recreating the story in the book.  They built a small model of the old west (wagon, horses, campfire with food and coffee, men with rifles, a river, and a gold mine, etc) on the Oregon Trail.  We looked for our Lincoln Logs to build with, but we could not locate them, so we opted to build a scene using Legos instead and it worked out nicely.

It took a while to build each scene because they built each one from scratch. My favorite thing they created was the wagon.

They built a small campfire and firewood and made coffee and cooked their food.

I thought they did a nice job with the details they came up with.

They even put a fish and a frog in the river.

And one of the travelers caught a fish for dinner too.

They included some details about gold miners too.

We also watched a few episodes of Mystery At The Museum program which features stories about artifacts from America’s past including the Old West. This was a good way to include Dad in on the learning fun because he really likes this show.  These stories are built around articles (boots, hat, gun, wagon wheel, trunk, etc) found in museums across America and explore the famous people and events that occurred in history.

This book was a lot of fun to read.  We plan to do more hands on explorations about the American West soon.

 

If You Were Me and Lived In Australia

This is a softcover 24 page illustrated book.  In this book my kids learned about living in Australia and learned some of the words that refer to their parents, food, games, holiday, and other details of life in their country.

My kids enjoyed reading about Australia.  They learned that kids in Australia eat a sandwhich made of “veggimate” spread on bread, and enjoy playing games of “cricket”.  They also learned their summer season on that side of the world is during our winter and vice versa.  The colorful pictures in the book show various places to visit, the national holiday, the market, swimming and snorkeling on the reef off the coast, and more.

There is also a pronunciation guide with definitions to some specific Australian words in the back of the book to help kids learn about life in Australia.

To Further the Learning:

To further the learning about Australia, the kids colored some pages we found online.  They also watched a nature documentary about animals from the Australian continent and learned about kangaroos, vipers, crocodiles, and more.   Another fun thing the kids did was they watched a movie called Crocodile Dundee.  It is a funny movie from many years ago, but some of the scenes, as well as the accent of the main actor Mitch Dundee, local foods, local words, etc. are specific to Australia and the kids had fun watching it.

 

If You Were Me And Lived In Russia

This is a soft cover fully illustrated 28 page book about life of kids who live in Russia.  In this book kids learn about what their life might be like too if they lived there.

They learn about words they might call their family members, and names of other kids, as well as popular foods, clothing, national New Year holiday, and famous places to visit.

A few of the other interesting things my kids learned about in this book was the kids in Russia enjoy playing out door ice hockey in the winter, enjoy playing chess, and a variation of tag called “fipe” and enjoy playing with Russian nesting dolls called “Matryoshka”.

To Further The Learning:

To enhance the learning with this introduction to what life is like in Russia, we watched a couple of history documentaries available on Youtube. One program we watched was about a family who lives in the countryside on a farm and lives mostly from what they can produce themselves from the land and river near by.  We learned that some farmers in Russia eat a lot of home grown potatoes and homemade bread. We watched another documentary about animals and people who have returned to the site where a nuclear power plant called Chernobyl leaked into the surrounding air, water, and soils and the effects the radiation has had on various living systems over the past several years.   We also watched an episode about how Russian Nesting Dolls are made.  We plan to make some Russian themed art projects later this fall.

We also made a chunky potato soup and ate it with crusty buttered bread.

A point made in the book, that is very different from our family’s beliefs, is the use of “fortune tellers” for predicting or ‘telling” kid’s future during their New Year holiday celebration.  This practice is contradictory to our faith as Christians.  This detail in the book opened up a discussion with our family about why the bible refers to this practice as sorcery and as Christian’s and followers of Yahuah Father God, we don’t participate in fortune telling and sorcery activities.

 

If You Were Me And Lived In Israel

This book is a softcover fully illustrated 32 page book.  In this book, kids learn learn about the country of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, one of the oldest cities in the world.  They learn that people from four different ancient cultures who live in Israel share sections of the city of Jerusalem (Jew, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian) and the richness of their cultures (and history of ancient buildings and events recorded in history), attracts tourists from around the world.

In this book, kids learn about common names for other kids, and words for their parents, grandparents, local foods, going to the marketplace, money, and they learn about typical treats to eat at their grandparents house.  Kids also learn the favorite game to play in Israel is “football” which is called “soccer” in the USA.

This book also includes an introduction to the national Israeli holiday called Purim which celebrates Queen Esther when she saved her people from destruction by evil Haman.  This is one of our family’s favorite biblical stories.  If you are interested in reading about this special woman and the holiday that remembers her great courage in the face of despicable evil, check out the book of Esther in the bible.

There is a clarification I would like to make to this book regarding the Purim Holiday:

The book says that Esther saved her people from “an evil king”.  However, she saved her people from destruction by Haman.  Haman was the Prime Minister, Viser, or “first in command” under King Xerxes of Persia.

Esther was a Jew and was newly married to King Xerses.  Years earlier, her people, the Israelites, had become subjects to the Persian Empire after they disobeyed Father God and he allowed them to be conquered and come under the subjugation and rule of Persia.

Haman was evil and hated the Jews and plotted a scheme to have them completely destroyed.  He especially hated Esther’s uncle Mordecai whom the king cared about because Mordecai had helped save the King’s life and was a good man.  Haman devised a plan to kill Mordecai and all of his people and tricked the king into making it law, but the king did not know it involved Mordecai or Esther or their people.

When Esther learned of Haman’s evil plans to have all her people killed and how he had tricked the King Xerxes, Esther and all of the Jews fasted and prayed. She was afraid for her life, but recognized her unique position and access to the king.  After fasting and praying, and through a series of events Esther was able tell the King what Haman had planned for her and her people.  She was able to expose the trickery and evil deceit of Haman and his intention to have all of the Jews killed through the decree he had tricked the King into allowing into law.  However, after exposing the truth, the King was very angry with Haman and wrote a new law allowing Esther’s people, the Jews, to defend themselves and Haman was arrested and hanged in the gallows that he had intended to use to kill the Jews.  Every year, Purim is celebrated in remembrance of Yahuah (Father God) grace, protection, and provision, and Queen Esther’s courage.

In this book, kids also learn a little about the healing properties of the Dead Sea.  It is the lowest place on the earth that can be traveled to by car.  The water there is so salty, nothing can live in it, yet it brings healing to the body to soak in it and many people travel there to use it as a healing spa.

To Further The Learning:

To further the learning about what life is like in Israel, we watched a few videos, and ate chickpeas (garbonzo beans), learned about barley, vineyards, made unleavened bread with flour, oil, and water, and ate hummus (mashed garbonzo beans, sesame seed past, garlic, lemon juice, salt) with a side of carrots, we ate dates, and drank grape juice.

Israel has currently been in it’s annual grape harvest and we saw pictures of an Israeli vineyard and winery.  We also went to a Middle Eastern style restaurant and the older kids ate sandwiches made with spiced lamb and the younger kids ate spiced chicken on pita bread.

Our family has used a body scrub that contains salt from the Dead Sea, mixed with herbs and oils from Israel.  The salt of the Dead Sea is special and has amazing healing qualities.  I think it would be wonderful to take a trip to Israel and swim in the salty Dead Sea someday.  But did you know, the bible prophesy’s that the Dead Sea will someday hold fresh water and spring forth with fish and new life?  It may sound impossible but it is actually happening now.  There are many Israeli’s recording this event on video and posting the videos to Youtube.  There are places along the shore of the sea, that fresh water springs are beginning to flow and fish can be found living there. Amazing!

We spent some time studying the 10 commandments that are the foundation of the Jewish and Christian faiths.  We focused on the 7th Day Rest called the Sabbath.  Modern Israel celebrates the Sabbath from sundown Friday evening until sundown on Saturday and modern Christians celebrate the Sabbath from Sunday morning until Sunday evening.  But we found as we studied the instructions that neither system was inline with the ancient Israelites, the Jews that were then called Hebrews.

Exodus 31:14
“Keep the Sabbath holy. You have six days to do your work, but the Sabbath is mine, and it must remain a day of rest.”

The kids learned that according to the instructions the Hebrews were given by Father God, the true Sabbath is celebrated on the 7th day according to each moon cycle.  When a new sliver of the moon is seen, the count begins for the 7 days and the pattern repeats 7 days for a total of 4 Sabbaths in a month’s time.  Then it starts over with the sighting of the next new sliver of the moon and then count of 7 days repeat.  This Sabbath day is Holy unto Father God and he first gave these instructions to the Israelites and they are recorded in the bible.  Somehow this information has been lost and is no longer practiced, and instead the 7th day biblical calendar and lunar moon cycle has been substituted for pre-made civil calendars where the 7th day has become a fixed day of the week.

The kids also colored pictures that represent cultural aspects and foods eaten in Israel and foods eaten during the Sabbath.

The start of the New Year is another thing about the culture of Israel that we looked at. There are cute songs on Youtube that teach the kids about the New Year and the other holidays.  When we took a closer look in the scriptures, we saw the bible has the New Year beginning in the spring (March/April) with the sighting of the barely grain being ripe for harvest coinciding with the first sighting of the moon to kick off the New Year and the Harvest of First Fruits.  However, the civil calendar of modern Israel starts the New Year in the fall (September/October).  As we learn more about Israel, and the Hebrews and early Christians recorded in the bible, verses modern customs of Jews and modern Christians, we are learning about the difference in following man made systems and traditions verses following the instructions and calendar established by our creator Yahuah.

If You Were Me And Lived In Israel was the book I was most looking forward to receiving and reading with my kids for this review.  Partly because as Christians, the story of Father God, Yahuah, and his Son is the foundation of our Christian faith and is intimately intertwined with Israel and the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews, and the teachings of the early Christians who helped build the Christian faith.  I would love to travel and visit Israel and see the ancient locations, including Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, that we have read about.

When I explain where Israel is located to my kids, I tell them to think of the Mediteranian Sea as a market place neighborhood culdesac where a huge amount of world trade takes place.  Not all of the neighbors on the culdesac get along and it has been this way through most of history.  The sea is the road for all the ships to bring in their cargo and make stops at all the ports (neighborhood driveways) along the way.   The turn around at the end of the culdesac is where Israel sits, at the far eastern end of the watery highway called the Mediteranean Sea.  The ships enter on the west, then drive their ship toward the east and past all of the neighbors (Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon on the north side of the road.  Moroco, Algeria, Egypt, etc on the south side of the road) before they reach the end of the culdesac at destination Israel where they can load or unload cargo and turn their ship around and visit other neighbors then head back out of the neighborhood and enter the Atlantic Ocean.

Final Thoughts

Each of these books are colorful and full of interesting facts about what life could be like for kids living in various countries and various times in history. These books are easy to read and fun to explore.   These books are fun to read at anytime, and would also be great to include for children doing a country, geography, or history focused unit study.

I plan to build some more unit study activities into our homeschool learning later this fall and read these books again with my kids.  We will also keep these books on their book shelf to read at anytime they are interested.  Over the years, I have learned that kids benefit from what they have learned in books even more when they can be “hands on” and take the learning adventure to a whole new level.  When I get our unit study put together, we will learn more about each country and the people and animals that live there, we will make a recipe, learn a song, play a game, practice speaking the language, read books and watch videos, and include specific related art projects for more wonderful hands on learning opportunities during this school year.

Overall, we enjoyed reading these books.  They were a great way to introduce different aspects of culture and history to young children.  I encourage other families to check into using these books in their homeschool learning adventures with their kids.

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Homeschool Review Crew

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