Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls (A Homeschool Crew Review)

I'm always on the lookout for new fiction books that will catch my kid's attention and really draw them into the story.  The kids prefer adventure books with characters about their age or have animals in them, so when we were offered the opportunity to review the first two books from the series The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls published by WorthyKids/Ideals, it definitely peaked my curiosity in the hopes that it would be something they would enjoy.  For this review, we were offered the books The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Beginning (Book #1) and The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: Race to the Ark (Book #2).

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls is a series of children's books written by author M.J. Thomas who came up with the idea to write them after his lack of finding books to read to his young son that would teach the Bible in a fun but imaginative way. Having graduated with Bachelors degree in Biblical Science from Liberty University, he set out to write a series of children's books that withheld to Biblical accuracy in combination with characters and adventures that would capture the imagination of young readers.

The end result is a series of time traveling adventures that follow the story of Peter, his sister Mary and his dog Hank as they unlock the mystery hidden inside a collection of scrolls discovered by their archeologist Great Uncle, Solomon.  Each scroll transports the trio to a significant event in the Bible where they have seven days to decipher the message in each scroll.

Each paperback chapter book is relatively short at roughly 100 pages with cute black line illustrations. and are geared at readers aged 6-8 years old.  In addition to helping readers learn about popular Bible stories, these books also cover topics children can relate to such as sibling rivalry.

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Beginning

Readers are introduced to 9-year-old Peter, his dog Hank who is the "World's Smartest Dog", and his older sister, Mary, who was adopted from China. When their parents head off to Africa on a month-long trip, the kids (and Hank) must stay with their Grandmother's brother, the very old, Einstein resembling Great-Uncle Solomon who tells the children about finding a glowing clay pot in a cave. The pot contained several ancient scrolls, each sealed with a wax seal that can only be broken by those chosen.  That night, the children are awakened by the sound of a lion that leads them to the scrolls where they discover that Peter can break the seal when they are transported to the beginning of creation, the creation of man,  the naming of the animals and the creation of woman.  But when a playful monkey takes off with the scroll, the kids come face to face with a snake in the garden  With the help of the Archangel Michael, the children must solve the mystery of the scroll in order to return home.

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: Race to the Ark

When the children hear the roar of the Lion again, they know it's as the children must once again solve the mystery of the scroll.  Evil vs Good, the children witness the wickedness of the world that leads to God's wrath while meeting Noah and his family, the single righteous family left on earth as they help in the loading of the animals on the ark. But when a hinge is needed on the ark, the children are confronted by The Dark Ruler (Satan) who has taken the scroll.  With the help of Michael (and a Lion), the kids are able to retrieve the scroll, but not in time to get safely back onto the ark. Will they solve the mystery of the scroll in time to return home before they drown in the flood?
time for another adventure on a damp, rainy day. They are transported to another rainy day in Biblical history, the Great Flood

What We Thought

Children's Biblical fiction is always a gamble.  Sometimes, the stories are not Biblically sound and stray from Biblical truths, weaving the authors personal beliefs into the story.  I was very glad to see that while some liberties were taken to create a fictional story that children could relate to, the general truths of the Bible were well represented. Most children can listen to a Bible story and they picture the event in their mind with their own creative embellishments.  These books are much the same, taking a familiar story and presenting it in such a way that children can both imagine it and relate to the children in the story.  There are some points that some might take offense to and feel as if the Biblical truths were altered - for example, during the story of the Creation, the Bible says that God saw that his creations were good.  However, in the story, this is actually verbalized with God speaking the words "It is good".  I personally have no problem with this alteration, as it's a bit difficult for a child to visual God actually thinking something is good versus God actually saying it.  Yes, it's a liberty that alters the story, but it does not deter away from the general facts of the story.

For us, we found these books to be an enjoyable read aloud. However, Ashleigh did not want to wait for us to finish the books as a group and took it upon herself to read the second book, Race To The Ark, on her own.  This speaks volumes to me in regards to the draw of the books, as Ashleigh rarely puts her Kindle down from watching unwrapping videos to actually pick up a book.  The writing is on par for her reading level and she was able to finish the book within two days independently.

Personally, I really liked these books. I thought the story was very cute. My teenager even joined us at reading time to listen to the story as she thought they were really cute as well.  I also liked that the relationship between the brother and the sister are not perfect - Peter often feels jealousy and insecurities in regards to his sister, not in a bratty way but in a way that most children with siblings often feel.  I also liked how these are children who do not seem to have previous knowledge of the Bible stories they are experiencing and are learning as they work to discover the mystery of the scrolls.

I would highly recommend these books as an addition to any library for younger readers and I am sure that they would be as enjoyed by your family as they were mine.

For more information about The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls, be sure to visit their website.  You can also learn more at the following social media platforms:

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. {WorthyKids/Ideals Reviews}

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

What a Way to Start the Day

Ever have one of those days where the moment you wake up, you just know it's going to be a pretty miserable day??

That's how yesterday was.

First, my dog woke me up way too early. This was after it took me forever to fall asleep because I couldn't stop coughing.  Kenny typically doesn't wake me up to go outside, but today, he did.. Because he obviously dug something out of the garbage can that did not agree with him.

Kenny not feeling good. 

After letting him out, I decided to check my email since once I'm awake, I'm awake for good..

And this is what I found.

Sometime between the time I went to bed and the time I woke up at 7am, my computer took a nice spill to the floor and magically replaced itself where it was.   Turned out, Garrett woke up sometime during the night and came into the living room and knocked it off the couch.  Luckily, it still works.  Hopefully, I can limp it for a bit of time as I can't afford a new one til taxes. :(

As if that weren't enough.. Remember I mentioned that the dog must have eaten something that did not agree with him?? Well, unbeknownst to me, he had an accident sometime during the night near the sliding door in the back half of the living room.  I never go over there, so I didn't catch it right away.  Garrett found it, with his shoes..And proceeded to track it all over the carpet.. 10 minutes before we had to walk out the door to my husband's unit picnic.  Garrett, then afraid I would be upset at him, proceeded to try to clean the mess off his shoes himself, instead smearing it all over them.  *Rolls Eyes*

Soooooo, after scrubbing his shoes in the tub to get them clean, I had to drag out the carpet cleaner and clean the carpet.  OOH what a way to start the day.

But, thankfully, that seemed to be the end of the bad luck..  I did manage to get the carpet cleaned before we had to be at the picnic and so we headed out the door.   They were hosting a picnic with hot dogs and hamburgers at one of the parks on base for my husband's unit.  The weather was beautiful and the kids got to run around and play and meet a few new kids.

Ashleigh trying to play "Cornhole"..

Beautiful Alyssa, enjoying the nice breeze and beautiful weather :)

My husband took pity on me and rather than making me cook dinner, we ordered pizza..  So that means I got away without stepping 1 foot in the kitchen since we had lunch at the picnic.. YEAH Me!! ;)  However, I do not pay extra for 2 liters from the pizza place, because they charge like 4 bucks for them. So, we made Kool-aid.. Garrett ended up spilling a bunch on the floor while getting his serving. So, I thought it was a good time to teach him how to use the mop and clean the floors. LOL  It was time to mop anyway, as I had neglected doing the floors since first Garrett and then I were sick for the last few weeks.

So okay, it wasn't such a bad day after all.  But I could have dealt without all the frustration in the AM.. lol

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Let's Go Geography (A Homeschool Crew Review)

One thing I have always been disappointed in with the public school system here in the United States is that world geography tends to fall to the back burner in the course of education.  Schools often teach State geography for the state the child is located as well as the states of our own country, but when it comes to world geography, very few students who graduate from high school can locate countries like Germany and Ireland, much less all 195 countries that are recognized today.  When searching for a geography course for the kids, I was really disappointed that most curriculum covers more of what would be considered biomes like deserts and swamps or geographical features such as what are mountains, rivers, and lakes but very few curriculum out there focus on teaching students to identify foreign countries on the map. This was something that was very important to me to teach my children and was extremely excited when we were given the opportunity to review the full first-year world geography curriculum from Let's Go Geography.

Let's Go Geography is world geography course for grades K-4th (although, in my honest opinion, older students can benefit from it as well). Lessons are written by Carol E. Henderson, a mother to five now-grown high school students who currently works as a geography teacher.  Providing a tour of the world, the course breaks down into three full years of 36 weeks each (with four weeks of breaks built in each year) to cover 79 countries on all seven continents, with 6 weeks focused on regions of the United States (two regions per year).  Years are broken down into two semesters.Purchasing options are available for both the full year subscription or per semester to help a variety of budget options (and coupons are available for discounts).

Each lesson takes about an hour to complete and includes five chapters for each country.  A sixth chapter includes printables needed for the lessons.  Each chapter includes various activities and crafts that help introduce the student to the geography and culture of the country.

Chapter 1: Map It! -  Basic map work invites the student to locate the country on a world map,  identify major cities of that country, and also countries and large bodies of water that share borders with that country.

Chapter 2:  The Flag - Students learn to identify the countries national flag and learn about what symbolism of the country is represented.

Chapter 3: The Music - Students are given the opportunity to listen to each country's national anthem and are provided the lyrics.

Chapter 4: Let's Explore -  Historic landmarks, tourist attractions, culture and people from the area are all explored through videos, photography, and facts. Additional supplemental reading material is also listed in this section.

Chapter 5:  Create! - This section provides hands-on craft activities with step by step instructions.

Chapter 6:  Printables - This final section provides additional printables such as notebooking pages, coloring pages and printouts of the flags suitable for a larger classroom setting.

Using Let's Go Geography

This curriculum is simple to use as everything is already thought out and planned in an easy to follow
format.  Each weeks lesson is located online at the member's website and can be downloaded in PDF format to be used. These lessons, which are roughly 25-30 pages in length, can then be printed out or they can be viewed from a computer. A few lessons I even downloaded to my Kindle, however, the PDF reader on Kindle readers do not allow for clickable hyperlinks which means that links for National Anthems or videos are not useable. For this reason, I do not recommend using them on Kindle readers.  

For our schedule, we split these lessons over the course of 5 days, doing one section per school day.

Map work is always a favorite in our house. For some reason, the kids really like maps.  Let's Go Geography includes plenty of map work if your kid is a map fiend like my own are.  Each country lesson typically includes two maps to work with - one of the continent that the country is located so that the student can see the country in relation to the region of the world it is located and a second map that is more specific to the country that shows the capital city and other larger cities.

Students are also able to color flags which they then paste onto a third map and then draw a line to that country.  So, honestly, it's more like three maps per unit, although, this particular map is shared and used through various lessons.  Students can also print out the optional passport in which they can paste the flags for the countries they visit in the corresponding area of that country.  This is a really cute little extra but does cost a few dollars extra in addition to the subscription.  The kids have really begun to look forward to the day when we get to cut out the flags (they color them on Tuesday when we learn about the flag and its symbolism and then I would allow them to cut the flags out on Friday where they could place it both on their map as well as into their passport at the end of our lesson.

Fridays also meant it was Create! day, which had included some pretty neat little crafts that tie in with the lessons they have learned through the week.  For example, for our first lesson about the Northeast Region of the United States, we talked about Maine and the many lighthouses that can be found along their rocky coastline.  To tie into this, we made a really quick lighthouse using a red solo cup, a battery-powered tealight and a water bottle.

For the second lesson about Hawaii, we could have opted to make a paper lei. Unfortunately, I didn't have some of the necessary materials (more colored paper, yarn and pony beads) and did not have access to purchase them on base, so we did skip that project and instead just opted to color the coloring page which featured a green sea turtle and black coral.  However, the following week, we had a really neat project were they were to paint around a template of a maple leaf to represent Canada. The kids decided instead of using paint to use black paper and their sidewalk chalks and created a really cool "Negative effect" picture that they were realy proud of. Ashleigh even made hers to look like the Canadian flag with red and white.

I was really impressed with the choices that were selected for the videos that accompany the lessons.  For example, the video for the Star Spangled Banner is of the Combined Military Academy choirs,  one of the videos for Canada features native people from Nunavut, and the video for the Haiti national anthem shows school-aged children singing their national anthem in French (with English translations for the subtitles). I would have preferred to have the video links to route to Safeyoutube or a similar site rather than to Youtube as while the videos themselves were perfectly appropriate for all ages, many of the comments on the videos were not.

Overall, I've been really impressed with this curriculum and it has fulfilled my search for finding a grade-appropriate world geography program that actually teaches the countries of the world.  Currently, only Year 1 is available but Year 2 and Year 3 will be available in the future. A recent study showed that 11 percent of young citizens in the US couldn't locate the US on the map, 29 percent could not locate the Pacific Ocean, 58 percent failed to locate Japan, 65 percent could not find France and 69 percent could not find the United Kingdom. I personally do not wish for my kids to be part of those statistics, that's why I'm very glad to have a quality program like this available to teach the kids where those countries are located, plus many, many more.

#hsreviews  #geography #homeschoolgeography #geographyforkids

To learn more about Let's Go Geography, please visit their website. You can also find them on the following social media platforms:

Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Imagine...The Great Flood (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Has your child ever wondered what it would be like to live during a significant time in Biblical history? To see first hand how one of the stories that they love so dearly actually happened and to apply what they learn from the experience to their modern day life?  If so, then Barbour Publishing's book Imagine...The Great Flood by Matt Koceich would be a wonderful addition to your reading library.

Imagine...The Great Flood is the first book in a new series by author Matt Koceich. The second book of the series, Imagine...The Ten Plagues is scheduled for release in March 2018.  The book is a soft cover paperback comprising of 110 pages and is geared for readers age 8-12 years of age.  It is published by well-known Barbour Publishing, a company who specializes in Christian publications of both Nonfiction and fiction books for both adults and children.

The book follows the story of Corey, a young boy who is upset when he finds out his family will be relocating to Florida from Texas.  When Corey has an accident on a visit to the park, hitting his head, he finds himself transported  from the safety of his mother and his beloved dog to the moments leading up to the Great Flood, Corey finds himself face to face with Shem, Ham and Japheth, the Nephilim, the evil Elizar, and Noah himself.  Corey finds himself in several dangerous situations and learns that by putting his faith in God, God will be merciful and that while we don't always know and understand God's plans for us, he's always in control.

This was a great book for a read aloud for the kids while we took our lunch break.  It was a quick read, being only 15 chapters.  We simply read two chapters a day over the course of two weeks and were able to finish the book at a reasonable page.

Because this is a fictional book, there are some additions to the Bible story that many are familiar with. In my opinion, this story doesn't change the truth to the scriptures but falls in line with what a child, especially a young boy with a vivid imagination, might visualize the story of Noah.  We had a few discussions in regards to the evil wizard, Elizar and how he would easily be a fill in for Satan if I child was imagining the story, especially a child who might be having a dream following hitting his head. 

One small issue I had with this book is the rushed ending.  Events jump from Corey coming close to drowning and then picks up 3 months later in Florida.   However, I'm  also an adult who reads literary masterpieces and this book is aimed at smaller children who are going to be much less picky.  For a children's book, this story has plenty to it that will keep children entertained, asking questions and relating to Corey.  My kids especially, with us being a military family, know that at any day, their dad can come home with orders that will mean picking up, moving to another state (or even to another country) and having to make new friends.  That made this book very relatable to both Garrett and Ashleigh.

#hsreviews  #biblestories #bibleadventure

For more information about Imagine...The Great Flood, be sure to click the website where you can order your own copy today.  You can also find more information about other children's books and Christian books offered by Barbour Publishing by visiting them at the following social media sites:

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hemis and Cudas and Chargers Oh My!

This past weekend, we loaded up in our car and headed to the 18th Annual Moparty at the Blvd, hosted by the Antelope Valley Mopar Club. While we have participated in a small Cars and Coffee meet with the same group, this was the first official car show that we had the opportunity to participate with.  We went in knowing that our car would not win any of the awards (our car is completely stock) but was a fun time none the less.

We had been invited to participate a few months ago, shortly after we had gotten our car, but it almost did not happen as poor Garrett has been feeling extremely under the weather for nearly a month now.  He had gotten a case of strep throat which had made him miserable. After two rounds of antibiotics, he was finally back to what resembled his normal self and we felt comfortable enough to take him out.  

While the show didn't officially start til 3pm, we arrived much earlier to get our spot and to allow for last-minute detailing on the car.  Driving from base to Lancaster means plenty of road grime which is not acceptable when showing a car.  So, the Wasp got plenty of TLC right up til start time (after already having the interior detailed the day before as well as a good wash). 

We weren't alone in our last minute detailing.  Prior to the start, I took a walk to look at some of the cars and saw lots of people doing the same thing.  You can expect that at a car show, especially one that hands out trophies, everyone is going to be working hard to make their car look as great as possible. 

And there's our baby, all ready for show. (We did end up opening the hood a bit after taking this photo). 

Two things that go well together are Cars and American Flags. First was this patriotic display from a man who had served in the US Army as a tank driver who proudly displayed his American Flag and a POW-MIA flag.  

Second, the Los Angeles County Fire Department was on hand for a flag display during the singing of the National Anthem.  

With our car prepped and the show in full swing, we left our car and walked around to admire all the other participant cars.  From new to old, there were so many wonderful vehicles that were well taken care of.  There were 13 categories for participants to compete with well over 200 cars entered. 

Here are some of our favorites from the show (not including the Yellow Beauty we brought with us - we're pretty partial to that one  lol)

This beautiful 1970 Barracuda took home Best in Show, which was well deserved.

And this Charger Scat Pack won in the catagory for top Club car from 1984 and up. (And just so happens to belong to a friend of ours, so we were thrilled to see it win.)

This car was 2nd place in the Club category. 

While not 100%, Garrett still managed to have a great time and enjoyed all the cars. But it was obvious that he still has a bit of healing to go, as he had a number of meltdowns, mostly over wanting cold water to soothe his throat.  Still, we managed to get a few smiles out of him. 

Alyssa really enjoyed looking at all the cars as well.. She's grown up around car shows and drag racing, so this was right up her alley.

Not sure if Ashleigh is giving me a thumbs up, or trying to hitch a ride with one of the nicer cars ;) Also, somehow, she managed to end up looking like a grease monkey.

 One of the entries had a RC car that looked like his Dodge Ram truck and he zipped it up and down the line.  The kids got a real kick out of watching it each time it zipped by where we were sitting.

As the sun went down, it meant that it was getting closer to time for the handout of the awards. A few people left at this time which made for a really great backdrop.  I love this particular picture as it is probably my favorite that I took the entire night.

And here's everyone waiting to find out which cars won their catagories as well as to find out if they had won the raffle.  This was a charity event, so all prizes were kindly donated and all raffle tickets went to support the local AV Children's Charities :)

We did not expect to win anything, after all our car is absolutely stock with only one modification that is not even noticeable, but it was so much fun to get out and see all the cars and visit with other car owners.  And while we didn't win our catagory, we did enjoy seeing people stopping to take a close look at our car.  A few people even stopped to take pictures of themselves with our car.  Something about a bright yellow car I guess ;)  We were the only yellow Challenger in the show, so that was something unique about us ;)

With prizes handed out, it was time to head home.  If we're still here next year, you can bet we will be entered in the 19th Annual Moparty.  We had so much fun and there's a real camaraderie between owners. It's also a very family friendly event.


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