Friday, July 22, 2016

Beric The Briton - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

A few years ago I found out about a fantastic 19th century Christian historical novelist named G.A. Henty who wrote fantastic books about great historical events from the past. They are especially written for boys, but are read and enjoyed by men and women of all ages. I found one for John Allen and he immediately fell in love with Henty and his books. Little did I know that a few years later I would have the opportunity to review a great new audio series from Heirloom Audio Productions called The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty. As soon as we put it in our CD player and pressed play it was an immediate "WOW"! These audio adventures are fantastic. It is like sitting in a movie theater only you don't need to see it with you eyes, it is so well done that you can see it in your mind as you are listening. These are superior quality productions. We were on the first leg of a three week ministry/vacation trip when we listened to the first audio, "With Lee in Virginia" and we were so impressed that we ordered another one to be delivered to one of our stops so that we could listen to it on the way home. Last spring we added a third one to our collection.

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

So, imagine how thrilled we were when we found out that we were going to be able to review yet another audio adventure from the series, Beric The Briton. And, yes, it is every bit as good as the other three that we have. I mentioned before that these are quality productions. What makes them so good is that they feature award winning actors and actresses in their audio adventures. Beric The Briton has famous thespians such as Brian Blessed from Star Wars, Tarzan and King Lear; Brian Cox from The Bourne Identity and Braveheart; Tom Baker from Dr. Who; Honeysuckle Weeks from Foyle's War; Cathy Sara from Downton Abbey; and John Rhys-Davies from The Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones. These are award winning actors and, in my opinion, give award winning performances Beric The Briton as well. But, that's not all! This 2-CD/over two hour production also has a musical score that is written by an Emmy Award winning composer, John Campbell.

What I really enjoy about this series, though, outside of it being "wow" to listen to, is that it is historically accurate and always has a Christian theme. Beric the Briton is about a young man that ruled during the occupation of England by the Roman Empire. He leads his people against the mighty Roman forces and, along the way, learns about a man named Christ. I won't reveal all of the details, you'll have to listen to it yourself, but I can tell you that you will laugh, cry, cheer, be nervous, and experience all types of other emotions while listening. My kids are spellbound every time they listen to one of these adventures and that's something unusual. You see, two of my kids are on the autism spectrum and have ADHD. It's got to be something special to keep them spellbound for 2 and a half hours. These are truly that good.
Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

But that's not all! Depending on what you order you may get a study guide that enhances your study. The study guide has discussion questions to help you talk with your children about the Christian and historical aspects of the Beric the Briton audio adventure. You may also receive a download to the mp3 version so that you or your children can listen to them on their own., a poster, a special mp3 version of the soundtrack, and more.

We are super impressed once again with this series. This is probably the best CD audio book series that we have ever listened to. It is more than just an audio book, it is truly and audio adventure. To find out more about Beric the Briton and other audio CD's from Heirloom Audio Productions just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To find out what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought, just click on the banner below. Happy listening!

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review
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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ArtAchieve - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

I grew up in a great little town that, thankfully, knew that it was important to fund the arts in their school system. Probably not enough funding, but they did fund it and the teachers were great. I was always involved in music so I remember those teachers much more than the art teachers, but there is one middle school art teacher that really stands out in my mind. Mrs. Howell was a great teacher that really made art exciting. That was really the only formal art education I ever received. I never took art in high school or college, but to this day I still love and appreciate art all due to that dear and dedicated teacher.

Because of my appreciation of art, I have always wanted to find a good art program for my kids to use in homeschool. Although I love art and am okay at drawing, I would be a terrible art teacher. So, when I found out that we were reviewing the Entire Level I online art program from ArtAchieve, I was excited. Finally a good art program for the two youngers!

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
We began with some simple lessons that taught the basic way to draw and how to shade but the real fun begins with lesson two which just happens to be free lessons that anyone can download then we advanced to other lessons. There are quite a few free lessons that you can download after a simple registration. After a child has done the free lessons and you can evaluate what level you think that they can handle, then you can choose one of the three different levels and either download individual lessons with a small fee for a one year license, or you can download the entire level which is cheaper than downloading all of the lessons individually.

We were given the Entire Level I package to use for free and as soon as I opened up the first lesson on the Czech Cat I was impressed. Each lesson is taken from an art object, building, or something from around the world. Even before you buy a lesson they describe it fully, tell what you will need and about how long the lesson should take, describe the object that you are drawing and where it came from AND (this is what really sold me on it) they give complete cross-cultural lesson suggestions with links to websites, reading material and more for several subjects. The Czech Cat lesson has suggestions and links for Geography, Literature, Science and Writing. Wow! There was a link to a fantastic website on the Czech Republic and another link to a special hotel just for cats in the Czech Republic - we laughed hysterically at the hotel - and those two sites were just two sites included in the Geography part! There were many more selections included for other subjects. We are geography buffs so this was worth it all for us, but I digress. *smile* Back to the ArtAchieve Review!

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
My computer recently crashed so I am on a borrowed computer.
When I get my new one the above picture will be replaced with on of Joshua's creations!

After you check out those items and get into the art lesson itself you'll find out that the art lesson is just as fun. With most lessons that we have checked out so far you either have the option of doing the lesson via Power Point or with video. I have checked out both and they are both wonderful. I kind of like the video better because it actually has an instructor with a super calm and kind voice that takes you through the lesson. Again, everything that is needed is included at the beginning of the video and, after each step, you are encouraged to stop the video to give you time to complete the work. I said earlier that everything is online, but there are a few things that you need to print out ahead of time. Usually it is a simple warm-up activity and an outline picture of the actual thing that the student is going to be drawing. For the Czech Cat project, we printed out a warm up activity that included the six different types of lines that a person uses when they draw a picture. This warm-up was of six different boxes with lines in them and a blank box below. All we had to do was copy the lines that we saw above in the boxes underneath. Did you know that all pictures use only six different types of lines? Isn't that amazing? But I digress again. Can you tell I'm excited.

Everything the student does is to be done in silence with calm music in the background. The music is to put the student in a creative mood while the silence (except for the music of course) is required in order for the student to concentrate. As I mentioned before everything is explained step by step. For the warm-up and the basic drawing step of the Czech Cat, the student is encouraged to use a fine tipped permanent marker. I questioned the use of the marker at first, but it was explained that this forces the student to think before he draws and not to keep erasing and erasing until everything is perfect. The instructor explained that not even a professional artist likes everything they draw and usually you won't be happy with your picture until everything is done anyway. After the outline of the cat was drawn step by step, we were encouraged to choose five colors of colored markers and, again, step by step we were shown how to fill in the outline. We were to be creative and did not have to do it exactly like the instructor. Then you can even take a picture of your masterpiece to upload and send to them in order for them to put on their website! Okay, you might think that with all of the step by step stuff that the video would be super long. In fact, it was less than 25 minutes long to watch. Of course, since you have to pause to do your own work, the actual project will take longer, but there are natural breaks where you can stop and then continue another day.

As you can see, I am really impressed with this program. I am also impressed with some of the things that I didn't go into much detail about like how to keep art fun and not stressful for a child. That is a big thing with our autistic boys. If they get too stressed it could lead to a melt down. So far, no meltdowns yet with this program! I am also super impressed with how they use objects from around the world. This is truly not just a learn how to draw class but an art appreciation class as well. I was also pleased that most items needed were either around the house or could be bought easily. We can't wait to explore some of the other lessons that we haven't done yet! This is a keeper!

To find out more about this great curriculum from ArtAchieve just click on any of the highlighted links above. To see what other crew members had to say about this level and other levels from ArtAchieve click on the banner below. Happy Drawing!

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
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Friday, July 8, 2016

The Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin Reader I and Workbook I - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

I think that I have written before how much my family likes languages. When we first began homeschooling when our oldest, John Allen, was in 4th grade, one of the things I was determined to do with him was emphasize the study of different languages. We began with Latin since it is the basis for many different tongues. Now, let me tell you, the curriculum we used wasn't a "oh let's learn how to count to ten and the days of the week and look how good you are doing" type curriculum. This was a serious study of Latin. He loved it and, even today, loves Latin.

When Joshua, our middle child, got older, my desire was to teach him Latin as well. However, with his disabilities, it was obvious that the serious curriculum that John Allen used was not going to work for him. However, I did want something more than just learning numbers and days of the week. I am super thankful that we were chosen to review the Olim, Once upon a Time in Latin, Reader I and Olim, Once Upon a time in Latin , Workbook I from Laurelwood Books

This method of learning Latin is a super creative and fun way. It uses well known children's stories to teach Latin, hence the "Once Upon a Time" in the title of the reader and workbook. In fact, "Olim" means "Once upon a time" in Latin. As you can tell, we were sent two different books to review. First I'll talk about the Reader.

Olim, Once upon a Time in Latin, Reader I - I love the way this whole method of learning is set up, and I love the way this reader is set up. First, the authors chose a fable, adapt it slightly to make the transition from English to Latin a little more simple, print it in English, and then print it in Latin. The student is to read the English version several times to familiarize himself with the way the story is written. Then he is to begin reading the Latin version. The first story that we read was The Three Little Pigs or Tres Parvi Porci. We had a lot of fun with the Latin words because they can sometimes seem quite funny but that helped keep attention. The margins in the reader have all of the Latin words and definitions to assist with the reading. A student is to read only one page until he comes to the stop sign and then do the workbook pages that correspond.

I really like how the adjectives are marked with a triangle and the direct objects are marked with a small square. In Latin, things like that determine what endings are on the nouns. The markings remind the student to look for that. I also like that there is a pronunciation guide at the front of the reader so that the student can flip to it to make sure he is pronouncing the sounds correctly. There are a lot of similarities to how Latin and English letters are pronounced but a lot of differences as well.

Olim, Once Upon a time in Latin , Workbook I - After the student reads a page in the reader, he then turns to the corresponding pages in the workbook. At the beginning of each section, the student translates words from the page they read either from Latin to English or English to Latin. They do it in a variety of ways so usually interest is not lost. Also, since only one page of the story was read, there are not a lot of words to translate so it goes by quickly. The student can also use the reader which helps a lot. He's not expected to know the translations from heart right off the bat. There is also an answer key in the back to help if the child and parent get really stuck.

Then, there is the  Digging Deeper section that talks about the intricacies of the Latin language such as Nominative and Accusative Cases, Etymology, Verbs and things like that. This section can get a bit more complicated and that is what hung Joshua up. I isn't super difficult, but for a person who is a very literal thinker it takes some explaining. We are going to begin again in the fall and go a bit slower for Joshua's sake. I think that will help a lot.

I also like that Laurelwood Books is a Christian company and it shows in their material. There is a fun "Digging for Treasure" puzzle type activity where the student is to look for a shovel that has a Latin word and then an English word. At the end of all of the workbook pages for a particular story the book lists all of the Latin words with a blank beneath, The student is to put in the corresponding English word. When all the blanks are filled it makes a Bible verse. I love it when different things like this are put into a curriculum to make learning a little more fun.

As you can see, we really like the Olim, Once upon a Time in Latin, Reader I and Olim, Once Upon a time in Latin , Workbook I from Laurelwood Books. As I mentioned above, we are going to go a little more slowly in the fall. I actually worked ahead in order to write this review. However, the reason why we are going more slowly is because of Joshua's learning problems and not because of the curriculum. Each child is different. Some will be able to work faster through the material. As I said, the material isn't difficult, but the child is actually learning Latin while doing it.

To find out more about this product just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this product and other products from Laurelwood Books, click on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

For Such A Time As This

And who knows
but that you have come to your royal position
for such a time as this?
Esther 4:14
I've been thinking about the above verse for a few days now. It began when I was doing my daily Bible reading and praying. I was reading the first chapter of Daniel and God gave me a thought that compared Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to the teen boys that God is using me to work with.
So many of the boys have so many things that have happened in their past. Some of them are going through things now that are unimaginable to me. God revealed to me that, yes, many of them are going through things in order for Him to teach them things and for them to get their lives in order. At the same time, however, God may have put them in certain situations for others to see Him through their lives. Just as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego glorified God even in the terrible situation that they were in, so we need to glorify God in the bad situations that we are in.
The three boys that are in foster care are a good example. God gave me a great devotional to use with two of the brothers last weekend when I was able to visit them. He wanted me to tell them that yes, they were to learn something themselves while they were in the group home, but that He also wanted them to be a light for Him while they were there. Those two boys may be the only light of Jesus that some of the other boys ever see. I challenged the two brothers to pray for the other boys there and I also promised to pray for all of the boys in the home.
How about you? Are you going through tough situations right now. Have you ever thought that perhaps God has put you in that situation maybe not just for you to learn something and grow but so that His glory could be shown to others through the situation. Perhaps you are there For Such A Time As This!

I Went to Court the Other Day. He Sobbed!

I went to court the other day. I went to support a family that was having problems with their boys. Well, let me take that back. It's really a combination of problems. The boys, who attend my teen boy's Bible Study, do have some problems, but some of the difficulties are because of the parents as well.

Two of the brothers are already in a group home because of truancy while the other was under the care of a group whose goal was to keep him in the home.

His parents had obligations to fulfill as well. The parents are divorced and both remarried. Three out of the four have problems of one type or another that the court wanted addressed.

Unfortunately the parents weren't handling their problems and addictions as quickly as the judge would have liked so he removed the remaining boy from the home and put him into foster care.

When the young 13 year old brother heard the judge he began to sob.

My heart began to sob as well.

My heart cried for the boys. They are trying so hard to do what is right. A couple of months back I asked for permission to visit the boys. I explained what I did and my relationship to them. The state workers put me on the list to visit and, then, asked if I would be willing to attend all of the court and DCS meetings as "positive support" for the boys and the family. So, as well as doing Bible studies with the boys and the parents, I have also become part of the team of people that meet together and try to resolve things so that the boys can return home.

My heart cried for the parents. They are not perfect by any means and they know it. There are times that I would like to wring their necks! But, at the same time, they are God's children. If God is never going to give up on us or them and if I am to strive to be like God then I need to love them, forgive them, and not give up on them. They live in an area that most people have given up on. They've given up on the people and given up on the trailer park where they live. I choose not to. I choose to love them and continue to seek God's wisdom as to how to help them. God is still in the miracle business!

Change has not come without difficulty, but things are progressing. The parents are finally beginning to do what they should. The boys will hopefully be put together in one home in the near future after the two oldest are dismissed from the group home.

Please continue to pray for these boys, their family, and me as I continue to pray with and for them, lead a Bible study that some of the parents attend, and try to teach them, with God's guidance to do the right things.

Sometimes ministry is really hard. Especially when you see a 13 year old boy sob. But, I know God can work miracles.

Romans 8:28 says:

And we know that for those who love God
all things work together for good,
for those who are called
according to his purpose.
I know that these boys love God, so I know all things are going to work together for good. There may be some painful times ahead, but they will make it with God's help.
Thank you for your prayers for these boys and our ministry. Your prayers are definitely felt!

God Still Works in Children's Hearts!

Two brothers have been coming faithfully to my 5-day Club this week. They were on the bus the other day when the other little boy trusted Christ as his Savior. When a child shows interest in salvation I usually don't talk to them in front of the other kids but this boy was so eager that I did. All of the kids heard as I explained salvation to the boy, had him repeat it back and they even heard his sweet prayer to the Lord.

Today a new boy came so I made sure to give the plan... of salvation again. I asked if he had ever trusted the Lord. The two brothers immediately spoke up that they had. When I asked them about it they said that they remembered what I had taught and what the other little boy had done and they wanted to accept Christ as well. So, in their bedroom yesterday afternoon the older brother accepted the Lord and then the younger brother did!

Praise the Lord! Thank you all for your prayers for our ministry!
Pictures from this weeks 5-day Club in the public housing area.
Serious Pose

Funny Pose

Regular Pose

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer Ministries are in Full Swing!

Sorry I've been so quiet on my blog the past month but our summer ministries are in full swing! Check out these pictures and video from our first week of Five Day Bible Clubs. Week One was in Hidden Valley Trailer Park and, as you can see in the pictures, it was with a bunch of young ones. We had fun none the less and my teen helper, Robert, was a huge help!

The video (soon to be added if it's not here already) is of some of the kids saying one of the verses to me. Even the younger ones were able to say it with the motions.

Please continue to pray for these children. I may be doing another Five Day Club in their area in a couple of weeks since there were some kids that were unable to attend the first week. I would also like to start a weekly Bible Club there in the fall.

Pray, also, for next week as we do another Five Day Bible Club in the middle of The Livingston Housing Authority.