Friday, September 15, 2017

Unauthorized–Another Great Game from Chara Games–A Homeschool Review Crew Review.

Chara Games

I was never fond of many of role playing/strategy games growing up. It seemed that a lot of the ones available were ones that were controversial in the Christian world. A few years ago we were introduced to some new strategy/role playing games that weren’t necessarily Christian but didn’t really have anything controversial about them. We really enjoyed playing them. Last year were introduced to Chara Games when we reviewed their game Christian based board game - Commissioned. We loved it and were very excited when we were chosen to review another of their games this year. This time it is a very cool card game called Unauthorized.

Soon after the game arrived I gave it to my oldest son John Allen to look over. He is the strategy game expert and, since so many times strategy games have complicated rules, I thought he would be the best one to figure them out and explain to the rest of us. I am not one that is good at explaining rules – I usually need them spelled out to me – and because this game requires at least six players I knew I would need someone that would be able to communicate effectively to a number of people. What we happily discovered was that the rules were simpler than we thought. They still needed some explaining but weren’t really that difficult. Even I was able to understand the rules and was able to build a strategy the first time played.


To begin the game, you are dealt a Role Card at random. Depending on the number of players at least one person is always a pastor and at least one person is a policeman. The other players are neutral players such as the matchmaker, clerk, merchant, counselor, teacher, thief, etc. Thankfully all of them are two sided with a woman on one side and a man on the other so, for example, if you are a man, and got the thief card, you turn your card over to the man thief and leave it face up on the table. Each person has a different role power that I will briefly explain in a minute. The players are then dealt seven random Experience Cards. The only exception is that the policeman is always starts off with seven red cards and the pastor with seven green cards. Those cards determine if you are loyal to the church or loyal to the state. If you have more green church cards than red state cards then you are loyal to the church. If you have more red cards than green then you are loyal to the state. The number of green and red cards you have during the game can change so that may change your loyalty and you must then change your strategy. Your goal is to make sure you stay loyal to whatever you are loyal to, and to sway other players to your side.

There are only four rounds in the game so the game goes fairly quickly. The first time we played, of course, took a little longer because we were just getting used to the rules, however, the game usually only takes around 30 minutes. At the beginning of each round all players either play one or two cards face up in front of you, or pass a card to another player and then play a card. Each round instructs you to do something a little different at the start of that round. Then each player takes a turn and can choose one of four actions. You either use your role power to do something, speak to a neighbor and ask him to show you his cards, seek parole if you are in prison, or conduct a public execution if you are a policeman.

At least with us, most of the time we chose to use our role powers. Each player has something different that they can do with their role power. For example, during one game I was the merchant and I could swap one card with another player. I have also played as the teacher and I could draw a card from the pile, look at it, and give it to a player of my choice. Remember, as I am doing this, I am always trying to sway another player to my side as well as make sure I maintain my loyalty.

At the end of four rounds we put down the cards in our hands beside the cards that have already been played in front of us and that determines which side wins the game. The game can be very fluid. At one point you are loyal to one side and are working toward that goal, then someone could play a card that would change your loyalty and your entire strategy changes. It’s really a lot of fun and strategic.


John Allen is very smart when it comes to things like this and caught on to the strategy right away. He loves playing this game. It took me a little while longer but I am getting the hang of it now. Poor Sarah. Even now she is having a hard time figuring out the ins and outs of it all. The rest of the kids are in between but we all agree it’s we really like the game.

It also makes one think about real life in countries where the goal of the state is to really crush the church and the goal of the church is to just stay alive! It is really though provoking.

I think you’ve gotten the idea that we have really enjoyed playing Unauthorized by Chara Games. To find out more about this game and other games by this great company click on any one of the highlighted links above. Many other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this game and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Remember, Christmas is coming and this would be a great gift! Happy Game Playing!

Unauthorized {Chara Games Reviews}

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Carole P Roman Children’s Books Are Awesome!–A Homeschool Review Crew Review

Carole P Roman Blog

Yesterday I wrote about two of our loves. My love of history and my love of reading. I could go on and on about why I love these two things, but it that would take up a whole blog post and that isn’t the purpose of this review. At any rate, I have at least succeeded to instill these great loves in my biological children to some extent and am trying to instill them in the other fantastic children God has placed in our home. It’s beginning to work, but again that is for another post.

Sometimes our two loves of reading and history collide and sometimes they don’t. When we heard that we would be getting two books from Carole P. RomanIf You Were Me and Lived in. . . the American West and If You Were Me and Lived in. . . Elizabethan England we were super excited. However, when we found out that we would be sent two bonus books – If You Were Me and Lived in. . . Viking Europe and If You Were Me and Lived in. . . the Ancient Mali Empire we were absolutely thrilled! Some of the Carole P. Roman books were reviewed last year by the Homeschool Review Crew but we weren’t one of the ones that were able to review them. We heard they were fantastic so we had high expectations. We were not disappointed!

Each book tells you exactly what the name implies. What it was like to live in that time period!

Books by Carole P Roman

My kids really loved If You Were Me and Lived in. . . the American West. We have been studying American History and this supplemental resource really fit in with our curriculum. It talked about what it was like to move from the the east to the west back in the 1840’s during “The Great Migration of 1843” We talked a lot about the arduous journey that the imaginary but true to life family took. They liked the fact that the author wrote the book from the perspective of a boy around their age so, not only did they learn what was expected from an adult during the journey but what was expected of a child as well. We were amazed at how many supplies the Conestoga wagon had to hold but how creative the travelers were in where they placed everything. The boys were super glad that they didn’t have to take that trip themselves and work as hard as the children did and eat the foods that they ate. We all agreed, though, that it did look very adventurous. The book goes on to explain what had to happen when the weary travelers finally made it to their destination and had to set up their new homestead. It was all fascinating to read and the awesome, detailed, pictures that the illustrator, Paula Tabor drew added to the learning experience.

Books by Carole P Roman

I really enjoyed If You Were Me and Lived in. . . Elizabethan England. This book was is written from the perspective of a young girl, but, just as in the above book, the role of boys, women and adults were also explained in detail. I had no idea what everyday life was like during the time of Queen Elizabeth in the 1570’s. Life wasn’t just difficult for adults but for children as well. Although the book was written about the life of a family who owned a bakery and were of the middle class, it also described the poor class and the rich class of England in those days. Again, this book enlightens us as to what they ate and wore and how much things cost during that period as well as what the people did for fun and entertainment. It talks about the types of housing and the living conditions of the poor, middle class and the rich. It is fascinating! Again the pictures add a lot to the learning.

There is a lot packed into both of these small books.Both are around 40 pages long and include a small section at the end that describes famous people from that area and a glossary of words and terms used in the books.

The two bonus books that we received - If You Were Me and Lived in. . . Viking Europe and If You Were Me and Lived in. . . the Ancient Mali Empire – were equally fascinating. They come from a slightly different series of books by Carole P. Roman that goes into a little more detail about the time period and place that each book is talking about. Although they cover basically the same types of things and each has a section that describes famous people from that time period and area as well as a glossary, each book has well over 70 pages. The pictures are also drawn by another illustrator, Mateya Arkova, but they are equally as good.

We absolutely love these books! I’m sure you will to. To check them out just click on anyone of the highlighted links above. Many other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed other books by Carole P. Roman and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below.

Oh Susannah, Bedtime Stories, Captain No Beard, If you were Me ... {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Progeny Press Literature E-Guides–A Homeschool Review Crew Review.

Progeny Press

I know that I am probably going to start sounding like a broken record, but there are two things that most members of the family really love are reading and history. At least my biological kids love those things and I am trying to instill that love in my other children as well. Tomorrow I am going to be writing about a fantastic homeschool resource for history, but today I get to write about another wonderful resource that has to do with reading.

When I was in school I was introduced to great literature and the classics but it really wasn’t until later on in life that I began to read those things more. Thankfully the homeschool curriculum that we have used over the years has helped me to encourage that love in my homeschooled boys as well. One of those homeschool companies is Progeny Press and their literature “E-Guides”. We have reviewed them in the past and my boys have learned a lot so we were thrilled to be chosen to review The Silver Chair E-Guide this year.

First of all, we love the Chronicles of Narnia books by CS Lewis, and have long awaited the next Narnia movie coming out – The Silver Chair – so we were really excited by this one. If you haven’t read any of the Narnia books then I really encourage you to read them. The Silver Chair begins when two children, Eustice and Jill are swept into another world called Narnia. There they are given the task to find the son of the king who disappeared many years before. Unfortunately they keep forgetting the instructions and, after much bungling, they fear that they may have completely failed in their mission. Trust me, it’s a very enjoyable book!

We also love Progeny Press and their E-Guides. They not only make sure that the student comprehends what they are reading (or in our case what is being read to them) and learn a bit of grammar and vocabulary along the way, but, since Progeny Press is a Christian company, they also intertwine Biblical truths into the lesson.

The E-Guide is divided into three sections. After some preliminary notes to the teacher and a short section about the author the first section contains some Pre-Reading activities. These get you ready to read the book and prepared for the lessons. Since remembering the different instructions regarding how to find the king’s son was important in the book, there is a pre-reading activity regarding memorization. Without going into much detail I will tell you that caves are a big part of the book as well so there are some activities concerning caves. Another activity talks about allusions which are used a lot in the Narnia books. These are the types of things are introduced in the Pre-Reading section.

Silver Chair - E-Guide

The second section is the meat of the E-Guide. They have taken the book and divided the chapters into five groups – each group containing two or three chapters in each (the last group has four chapters). For each group they have Vocabulary and Comprehension Questions done in a variety of ways. These are basic questions that make sure you understand what you are reading. The “Thinking About the Story” questions go a little further into the story. This is where they get into grammar a little bit. Since this study guide is written for 5-7th grade, they talk about a little more advanced things than nouns and verbs. For example, the section on chapters one and two contains questions on foreshadowing, imagery, and similes. The final section is the “Digging Deeper” section where the study compares some things in the book to things that you might learn in the Bible. Since CS Lewis was a Christian and meant for this to happen in his books, this section is very interesting. You can’t imagine how many Biblical truths are taught in his books. There are also some alternate activities that you can choose from in each section as well.

The Final section is what I would call the wrap-up section. The is an Overview with a lot of questions that wrap up the study that could be used as a final exam. There are also “After You Read” suggestions that include creative writing suggestions, art suggestions and more. A separate answer key is also provided.

We have really enjoyed working through all of the Progeny Press  E-Guides that we have done over the years and have really enjoyed working through The Silver Chair E-Guide. To find out more about this product or any other products that this company has just click on any one of the highlighted links above. Many other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this and other product from Progeny Press and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!

Study Guides for Literature {Progeny Press Reviews}
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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Find Out Below! A Homeschool Review Crew Review!

Let the Little Children Come

Like many Christians I have a difficult time with what to do on Halloween. When I was younger it was just a fun day to dress up. There were no terrible masks or dressing up like hideous or satanic looking characters. There was also no talk or even rumors of demonic worship. Unfortunately the days of innocence at Halloween are long gone. So, I have struggled with what to do. Thankfully many churches have trunk-or-treat events or other fall celebrations and that is what we usually took our kids to. Now that most of my kids are older, though, what do I do now? Do I lock my doors and turn out the lights and ignore the kids to make a point. Or, do I try to use this day for God’s glory knowing that what man meant for evil God can use for good (Genesis 50:20). When I was invited to review the Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tract from Let the Little Children Come I had my answer.

Let the Little Children Come is an awesome company that provides innovative and unique evangelistic tools for children. I used some of them, including the Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tract recently at a camp that I taught Bible at and the kids were really amazed. I’ll write more about the other amazing tools later, but first lets talk about this great product.

Let the Little Children Come Halloween Tract

I love the idea of a small box to put the candy in and pass out to the kids. However, this box is much more than a carrying case for candy, it’s much more! It’s a complete salvation tract on the inside! Take a look at the picture below.

Let the Little Children Come Halloween Tract

As the child unfolds the pumpkin to get to the candy, a simple and concise but very accurate and Biblical salvation message appears explaining that a relationship with God is much better than candy! It explains the plan of salvation step by step in much the same way that I would explain it to a child or group of children. You can read the six “pumpkin slices” above to see what I mean. It is really neat!

It’s very easy to put together. The pumpkin tract comes ready to punched out and put together. The easy to assemble illustrations are printed on the part of the “punch out” that’s not used.

I can’t wait to use this with my Bible Club kids as it gets close to Halloween, but you can also use it for Sunday School classes, special parties, fall festivals, to use when children come to your door, or just as a special gift. There was a counselor at camp that had a birthday the week that I was there and I put some candy inside of one of the Pumpkin Tracts and gave it to him at lunch. He loved it! There are infinite ways that the Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tract can be used. Use your imagination!

To find out more about Is There Anything Better Than Candy? Box-Tract and the other evangelistic tools from Let the Little Children Come just click on any one of the highlighted links above. You can also check what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say by clicking on the banner below! And, of course, stay tuned for my other review coming up in a few weeks. Have Fun!

Is There Anything Better Than Candy?  {Let The Little Children Come Reviews}

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A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks - A Homeschool Review Crew Review

A Journey Through Learning

I knew nothing about lapbooks when I first began homeschooling. Then, I began reading more about them and thought they looked interesting but really didn't know how to put one together. Finally I reviewed an awesome lapbook company and we were thrilled with the outcome. My kids loved putting it together, I loved the easiness of it all, the boys and I all loved how much we learned. Since then we have done several lapbooks. Some we have put together on our own, but we always seem to go back to the original great lapbook company that we used to begin with. When we found out that, lo and behold, we were going to be reviewing the downloadable An Overview of the 20th Century from that same company A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks we were excited. Our youngest, Jacob, has been wanting to learn about World War 1 and World War 2 so he was super thrilled.

First of all, I really love A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks because they don't assume that just because you are buying a lapbook that you know how to really complete a lapbook. Each on of the lapbooks that I have completed from them show you exactly what materials you need for each lapbook and what you need to do to have a finished product. There are instructions that take you through the lapbook from beginning to end. They have a diagram of where you should place everything, and, they even have pictures of what it might look like. They even include the lapbook pieces for you to print out and fill out when needed.

On top of that, the information that they give you for each time period and event is excellent! An Overview of the 20th Century includes the following historical events and individuals:

  • Wilber and Orville Wright
  • Henry Ford
  • The Panama Canal
  • World War I
  • Women Gain the Right to Vote
  • The Roaring Twenties
  • Charles Lindbergh
  • The Great Depression
  • Hoover Dam
  • World War II
  • Propaganda Posters
  • The Cold War
  • The 1950's
  • The Vietnam War
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • John F. Kennedy
  • First Man on the Moon
  • Technology Boom
  • Persian Gulf War
  • The Y2K Scare

Overview of 20th Century Lapbook with Study Guide

Each event contains at least one page of excellent information about the topic as well as all of the material needed to complete lapbook section for that event. Some sections may have you write what you have learned or answer questions about a particular event. Some sections are puzzles that you have to complete that describe or use information from that event. Other sections may have you draw or color pictures or maps. Each section is unique and make the child think.

If you have an older student that you fell should do more or if you have a younger child that wants to learn more there is a list of additional Reading Material and a Bibliography to find more information. There are even extra enrichment pages that can be completed to add to a notebook or unit study. Like I said, these lapbook kits have everything!

We love putting together lapbooks and, especially love doing lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks. They are easy to use but very complete. To find out more about this great company, this particular lapbook kit - An Overview of the 20th Century or any one of the other lapbooks that they have developed just click on any one of the highlighted links above. Many members of the Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed this and other lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Lapbooking!

Lapbooks for Classical Conversations, Apologia, Inventors & 20th Century {A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks Reviews}

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Everyday Cooking–A Homeschool Review Crew Review

Everyday Homemaking

One of the top goals for my family is healthy eating. Unfortunately it is also one of those goals that I fail at the most. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we have definitely developed some better eating habits over the years. However, even with all of the research and trying out things that will help with our family, we haven’t found anything that has really clicked. Now, because we have three fantastic foster sons that we are soon to become the permanent guardians of, we are searching for healthier recipes all the more. I am so glad we were chosen to review Everyday Cooking from Everyday Homemaking. I have reviewed items from Everyday Homemaking before and knew that they were an excellent company, so I was anxious to review their newly revised and bigger Everyday Cooking.

I never had the privilege of seeing the older version of this wonderful cooking resource, but, let me tell you, the new version is fantastic! Just the intro and appendix are worth the price of the book! The intro (as well as the beginning of most of the chapters and, really throughout the whole book) has awesome tips on how to use your  cooking time wisely as a busy homeschooling and/or working parent. Tips on how to cook things ahead of time to pull out of the freezer on a busy day. Tips on how to make your dollar and food stretch. Tips on how to eat healthier. All of them are fantastic.

Everyday Cooking

And, oh my goodness, the appendix section is out of this world. It includes the usual things like measurements, menu planners, shopping lists, and stuff like that, however, it has so much more! Did you know that you could make your own vanilla extract? I didn’t, but they tell you how. What about low carb/gluten free sugar substitutes? Or brown sugar substitutes? Or chocolate syrup? I had no idea that you could do some of those things, but you can create those items and more. I even enjoyed reading about all of the kitchen items that are either essential or would be valuable to purchase if you want to have a healthy eating lifestyle. Are you a homeschooler? The appendix even has suggestions and planners on how to use Everyday Cooking as a homeschool tool.

And I haven’t even gotten to the recipes yet! All of them are geared toward healthy eating and making the best use of time. The sections in the cookbook include Breakfast Ideas, Appetizers and Dressings, Bread and Grains, Main Dishes & Soups & Sides, and Desserts & Snacks. There are some awesome recipes in those sections, but there is also a section that includes recipes for slow cookers and pressure cookers. I chuckled at the name of that section – “The Tortoise and the Hare”.

When we first went to Canada to help out at Mill Stream Bible Camp, they served something that was new and different for us – Baked Oatmeal. We fell in love with it but have never found a cookbook that had a recipe for it – until now that is. Everyday Cooking has a recipe for it that is out of this world. (Pictured Below) I can’t wait to try out some of the bread recipes, or “Mom’s Special Herb Dip”, or their mayonnaise recipe (I’ve never tried home made mayo), or their Cheese-Garlic Biscuits, or Curried Chicken Casserole – I could go on and on. I also like the fact that their are pictures throughout on how to do things or how things are supposed to look when done – and, even if you can’t find it in the book, they have a blog that does have pictures of most of the  recipes.


To find out more about Everyday Cooking and Everyday Homemaking just click on any one of the highlighted links above. Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this item and other items from Everyday Homemaking and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Cooking!

Everyday Cooking and Chores Systems for your Family {Everyday Homemaking Reviews}

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Canada O’ Canada

I just got back from my annual trip teaching Bible at Mill Stream Bible Camp in Canada. Don’t get me wrong, I dearly love the United States. I don’t want to live anywhere else. However, I do love Canada. It has to be my second favorite country outside of the United States. I so love traveling to Mill Stream and teaching Bible and I love the time that we have had to play tourist in Canada.

This year, though, because our foster kids couldn’t get passports quick enough, only Joshua and I went while Sarah stayed home with the rest of the family. This year was Canada’s 150th Birthday, and the theme at Mill Stream reflected that. Below are some pictures of the decorations at the camp. Also below is a recording of the song from Epcot’s Canada Pavilion that first sparked my desire to visit Canada. It is still a favorite song of mine even thought the pavilion’s movie has changed and this song is no longer performed.


Mill Stream 2

Mill Stream 1

Mill Stream 3

Mill Stream 4