Friday, May 25, 2012

Heritage History is a Winner in More Ways than One!

I have mentioned over and over again how much we like to read in our home. That's why when we first started homeschooling I chose a literature based history curriculum (which shall remain nameless since this post is not about them). I have always loved history thanks to my history loving dad who always took us to historic spots on vacation, and, also, thanks to our founding fathers who so wisely were able to see into the future and knew that little old me would be a schoolboy during the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and, therefore, would make me fall even further in love with history because of the historic events in 1976. Was that a run-on sentence? I've never been good at grammar. But, I digress.

Anyway, that really great literature based history program is perfect for John Allen, my oldest, but, after I began homeschooling his younger brother, Joshua, I was quick to realize that the same history curriculum that we had been using would probably not work with him. You see, John Allen's program is a lot of reading - good reading - but still a lot and it is very strict about staying on schedule. If you don't daily stick with the provided lesson plans, then you aren't going to finish that year's study in the prescribed time and therefore not be able to go on to the next year's fantastic study. I had been grateful, however, that I wouldn't have to buy all of the books involved with the program again because I had already used them with John Allen, but, alas, most of them wouldn't be used again for Joshua - at least not for a while.

What I needed to find was a great literature based program that didn't require you to stay on such a strict schedule but still used great books as it's core. One that preferably didn't cost an arm and a leg to buy all of the suggested books.

Enter Heritage History!

I was so excited to when I was chosen to review this curriculum because it really is a complete program - books and everything! It was all on one convenient CD. We are really loving this program.

Let me tell you why.

All of the books are included! First of all, these aren't typical comprehensive history books. There are some books here that cover a broad range of time, but for the most part these are not your typical boring history texts. Instead, the student reads good "Living Books". You've read where I've mentioned Living Books in my posts before. Living books are good biographies, historical sketches, historical fiction, etc. that will engage and excite the reader. We received the "Young Readers" CD from Heritage History. The "Young Readers" CD has books that are written for the elementary student. Although the upper level Heritage History CD's are geared toward particular time periods, the Young Reader Compact Library covers a broad range in order to give the elementary student a good overall foundation for later years.

We also love the fact that there are books that have short biographical selections or historical sketches in them and there are books that are complete biographies of characters or complete accounts of events. With this program you can assign the short biographies and short historical accounts for your child to read and then, if he shows an interest you can allow him to read the longer book. We are doing just that with Joshua right now. He read a few shorter chapters on the Jamestown colony and is now reading a biography of Captain John Smith.

All of the books are old! Now, at first glance that might not seem like it is a good thing. Why would you want old history books. Well, older books haven't been infiltrated with political correctness or historical revision. They tell the truth about history - the whole truth, all the truth and nothing but the truth. The only disadvantage of this is every book that Heritage History uses was written after 1923. Therefore, this curriculum does not cover 20th century history. I would give you a list of all of the books included but then I would have to list over eighty...YES 80+! books that came with this one curriculum. Other sets have other books. I will tell you that Heritage History provides books from such well known authors as H. E. Marshall, Helene Guerber, Jacob Abbott, Alfred J. Church, James Baldwin, Mary Macgregor, Andrew Lang, Samuel Harding, and John Haaren just to name a few.

Don't think, however that just because a book is old doesn't make it interesting. I've even picked up (or how would you call that with an e-Reader? Dialed up?) a couple of the books and read them. They are very good! It was one of those times that I wondered to myself where these books had been hiding all of my life. They are better than most of the modern historical books that I've read.


Everything is included on just one small CD! It's all there. The books, timelines, teacher guide, users guide, maps, pictures...all of it is included. You don't need to supplement with anything if you don't want but, of course you can if you'd like. It's nice to know that I don't have to go searching around for things to use. I just pop in the CD and go from there.

All books are transferable to your e-Reader, tablet or ipad! In fact, you actually get three copies of each book on you CD. One that is formatted for PDF so that you can print it out if you'd like. One that is formatted for MOBI for e-Reader devices like the Kindle. One that is formatted for EPUB which is what most tablets or newer e-Readers use. I've already transferred many of my books onto our tablet for Joshua to use. Very easy and quick to do!

The curriculum is very flexible! Remember me saying that Joshua could never make it with a history program that required you to get so much done in a year? Heritage History is not one of those programs. You can take your time with this and work at a pace that is good for your child. They do include what they call a "Book Selection Register" to help keep the student accountable, but there is no set amount of reading that a child must do every day.

The program is also flexible in that it provides the materials but then leaves it to the parent to decide how to use them. For highly creative folks that like to do develope their own unit studies, etc. this is perfect. You would also think this would be perfect for folks like us who are very busy, but, if you have read my posts for any length of time, you would know that I am not one of those highly creative people that can just whip up a unit study or lapbook on command. But, read further.

The program is once again very flexible in that it can be used on its own, or along side or supplemental to other curriculums. This was a joy for me to find out! Just recently we reviewed another history curriculum that we loved. It provided ideas, a suggested timeline with suggested historical figures and events that we should study. However, it didn't provide the books! We are using Heritage History hand in hand with that other history curriculum and it is working out fantastically!

So, how much does this interesting, flexible, complete program cost? Well, you would think that with over eighty excellent books (and these aren't little picture books mind you!) that it would cost well over $100. Well, if you thought that you would be wrong! How does $24.99 sound?!? Yes! I said $24.99! Even the more time period specific older levels are $24.99! Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above to go to the Heritage History website to find out more. Already have a curriculum that you are satisfied with but would love to have more supplimental books. Heritage History sells most of their reproduced books seperately as well, so click on through to check out what they have to offer. It's a win/win situation!

Some of the time specific older studies were reviewed by some of the other TOS Homeschool Crew members and you can find out what they thought of those levels by clicking here. Happy Home Educating!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent Heritage History's Young Readers history curriculum CD for free in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day Camps are Coming! Day Camps are Coming!

Mrs. Lass teaching an object lesson

I have been so busy preparing for our Day Camps lately that I haven't been blogging as much this week. Last week was a boon for my blog posts because of the "Five Days of..." Blog Hop and other reviews that I had due. This week has kind of been a flop because I've been working around the house and our mission building to get it ready for our annual summer big event - Day Camp!

This year we are hosting three mini day camps here at Good News Mission. I call them "mini" Day Camps because they only last about four - five hours. It is very difficult to get the kids that live in the projects up early in the morning so we don't really begin until 10am. We serve breakfast before that, but that isn't included in the camp program. We end camp around 2pm.

Trust me, it is a wild and woolly day in between 10am and 2pm! We start off with a big game that is designed to be able to add kids in as we go since some kids are always straggling in late. This game is strategically played in our front area where the neighborhood kids can see. Any kids that might have had second thoughts about coming that day are soon convinced after seeing the fun that we are having. After the opening game and a cool drink of water (it gets hot even in the mornings here in TN), we start our Bible time. The public school system has a wonderful summer lunch program where they deliver to set locations in our town every week day. We are very fortunate to be one of those locations but we have to be flexible so that we can be ready when the lunch lady comes at around 11:15 - 11:30. For that reason my opening Bible time is usually rule reminders, contest announcements, some songs and the verse - things that I can end quickly and come back to after lunch.

Bible Time

After lunch we finish up loose ends from the opening then divide up the kids - usually in older/younger groups for our Bible time. While I teach the Bible lesson to one group, the other group goes into another room with our dear friend and fellow missionary Lois Lass to review the verse and work on a project that complements the story. After about a half an hour we switch.

After Bible time we finish our day with crafts, more games, or some other special activity. We then hand them a snack on their way out the door to return home around two in the afternoon. Mrs. Lass and I do the teaching and Sarah runs around (sometimes like a chicken with her head cut off!) and acts as trouble shooter. We also have a wonderful volunteer group of five or six teens that come every week to help lead games, listen to verses, help with crafts and act as general crowd control.

To finish off the week Friday is always water day. We have a giant slip and slide, watar balloon battles, shaving cream fights, water wally-ball and a whole host of other wet games! Trust me, by the time the week is over we are tired and ready for a break.

Faithful Volunteers

Last year we averaged around 25-30 low income kids per week. This year many of our kids have moved away, but many others have moved in. Please pray for a good reception as we go around the neighborhood and pass out fliers over the next few days and pray for all of the work and planning that still needs to get done. We are excited but a little overwhelmed right now.

Also pray for additional funding. Good News Mission is run by donations and the money that comes in monthly barely pays for the electric, phone and insurance for our ministry building. Sarah and I are full time missionaries and are supported separately by churches and individuals. With all of the trips back and forth that Sarah will have to make to be with her sister this summer (see below) we may not have extra funds to pay for things out of pocket as we did in the past.

We had more ministry planned but had to cancel some things because of extended family health reasons. Sarah's sister is probably facing brain surgery in June for a non-malignant tumor and we wanted to be available to help when needed. Please pray for Sarah's sister Phene and her daughter Olivia as they deal with all of this and pray for Sarah as she may have to miss a few days of Day Camp (and many days in between day camp) to run to Oak Ridge, about 1 1/2 hours away, to be with her family.

Only one person on the slip and slide at a time please!

We appreciate and covet your prayers. If you want to know more about Day Camps or our ministry here at Good News Mission you can contact us at the address/email below.

Summer 2012 Schedule:

June 4-8 Day Camp One
June 18-22 Day Camp Two
July 16-20 Day Camp Third
July 30-August 3 VBS in Toccoa, GA with Mrs. Lass

For more information on our ministry please contact:

Tim and Sarah Tinkel
Good News Mission
829 Hi Tech Drive
Livingston, TN 38570
Email -
Phone - 931-823-9320

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WriteShop - An Innovative Writing Curriculum that Starts with Young Kids!

I love to write, but I am not good at teaching writing. There are certain things that I could whip up a lesson plan for easily, but writing is not one of them. That's why I am so glad that there are a lot of great writing programs out there for high schoolers and that John Allen is a fairly good writer.

However, what do I do with Joshua. I have seen writing activities for kids in there language books but even those don't really start until third or fourth grade, maybe second grade. I haven't really seen a good concentrated writing curriculum that is aimed toward younger kids...until now!

We were very blessed to receive WriteShop Primary - Book B to review with the TOS Homeschool Crew. WriteShop is a complete writing program that actually begins with younger students - as young as kindergarten! Okay, this is just little old me talking, but you would think it silly if parents or schools didn't start some sort of basic math even in pre-school. It may not be formal math, but at least counting. So, what school skill do we use almost every day other than math? Writing! We may not write complicated research papers every day, but we write notes, emails, letters, and a lot of other things. But, when do we usually start teaching writing? As I said, not until at least second grade and sometimes later. Oh, we teach that we start a sentence with a capital and end it with some sort of punctuation. We teach kids to copy sentences in order to improve their handwriting skills. But, do we teach them how to put their thoughts down on paper in a way that makes sense to others? Do we teach them them how to write a proper paragraph? What about teaching them how to write letters, a nursery rhyme or a news article? Wouldn't it be nice if we taught them those things at a younger age instead of waiting until later elementary and even perhaps middle school?

WriteShop believes that you can at least begin to teach these things to a second grade, first grade and, yes, even a kindergarten student. And these aren't just the cursory "copy what you see and this is how you do it" type thing. The students are actually involved with the thoughts and content of what they are writing. Now, don't get me wrong. Your child isn't going to be Hans Christian Anderson or one of the Brothers Grimm when they are done, but he's not going to be Isaac Newton after you teach him the first year of basic math either. But, you didn't wait until third grade to teach him basic math did you? Why wait until third grade to teach him such as important skill as writing.

Wait! Before you throw up your hands and say there is no way you can add another thing to your curriculum let alone a complicated writing program, WriteShop is not complicated and doesn't take a long time to do each day.

Here's what I really like about WriteShop.

  • It's flexible - This isn't a set in stone curriculum where you have to do so much each day. You can adjust it to your student. They have a Two-Week Lesson plan where you do a little bit of writing four out of five days a week. They have a One-Week Lesson plan for students that are highly motivated and want to do more where you spend a little more time on writing four days a week and maybe even on a fifth day. They have a Three-Week Lesson plan for younger or challenged students where you work two days a week and can spread activities over to "off  days" if you need to.
  • It's flexible - The books aren't "set in stone this is what you have to use at this time" kind of books. We are using the Primary Book B which is for a third grade with no writing experience like Joshua. Or you could use the Primary Book B for a second grader who is on grade level or even a first grader who is above grade level. The books are designed to be used with multiple aged students and the writing activities are designed so that the topics can be used with multiple aged children and not make them feel childish.
  • It's flexible - These books can be used with different aged kids at once or there are lesson plans included that show you how to use a couple of different WriteShop levels together at the same time.
Have I mentioned that the WriteShop books are flexible? I have? Well, then let me go on and tell you some other reasons that I like this writing program.
  • It's easy to use - Everything is written out for you (see above for a sample). Yes, you will have to familiarize yourself with their innovative approach, but really the book lays everything out for you. As I said before, writing is not something I would know how to teach on my own. I may be able to throw a history unit study together with some (probably little - but some) degree of success. Not writing. I need something that spells everything out and WriteShop pretty much does.
  • Everything is included - I've seen curriculum where you have to buy the teacher book. And then you have to purchase the student book. Then there's the extra supply packet and the teaching videos and the...and the...and the. By the time you buy everything you have to quit homeschooling to go get a second job to pay for all of the stuff! With WriteShop all you need is the Teacher's Guide and the reproducible (and very inexpensive - we're talking less than $5) Student Activity Set Worksheet Pack.
  • The advanced preparation is easy to understand and easy to find - Okay, let's be honest, we would all like a curriculum where you just pull out the book and go with it. WriteShop does have some things that you have to prepare in advance, but it isn't a whole lot of stuff and it's easy to find in the book. It's not one of those things where you pull out the book, get into the middle of the lesson, and then realize you need this, this and this. WriteShop has it all laid out ahead of time for you.
  • The innovative approach - now, when I say innovative, I really mean it's one of those "Duh! Why didn't I think of that!" type things. So what is this approach? Read further.
This wonderful innovative approach is called "Guided Writing Practice". It's really the core of the whole curriculum. You'll be doing this a lot. It's something I kind of did as an educational therapist. As an educational therapist I guided my students to think. That's exactly what you are doing with "Guided Writing Practice" - you guide them to think. It's not a "do as I say" or "write what I write" type thing. You are simply asking questions to get them to think. Recently one of the activities was for Joshua to write a letter to a friend. The conversation went something like this.

Me: Who would you like to write a letter to?
Joshua: Hmmm. How about Bailey.
Me: That would be a good choice. What would you like to say to him?
Joshua: I don't know.
Me: Did you do anything fun recently?
Joshua: I played outside.
Me: What did you do outside?
Joshua: I played with my brothers and friends.
Me: So how would you say that?
Joshua: My brothers and our friends have been playing outside?
Me: Good job! Write that down.
(Joshua writes it down.)
Me: Is there anything you would like to tell him about when you played outside?
Joshua: It was really hot.
Me: Good! Now write that down.

That's what "Guided Writing Practice" is all about. Guiding your child to think on his own and begin the writing process. It's that easy and Joshua and I love it!

Now, I said that "Guided Writing Practice" was the core of the curriculum. What are the other things that you do? Well, if I told you that I would have to kill you! No, not really, but if I told you all of the great things that this curriculum does then this post would go on and on and on! You'll have to stop by the website to find out more.

To find out more about WriteShop just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. The book that I got, WriteShop Primary - Book B teacher's guide is only $29.95 for the plastic coil bound physical book or $26.95 for the ebook download version. The Activity Set Worksheet Pack is only $4.95 for the physical pack or $4.50 for the ebook download pack. WriteShop has more curriculum than just early elementary curriculum. They also have middle and high school programs, so if you have students in that age range then click through to find a great program for them as well.

As always, many others on the TOS Homeschool Crew reviewed other levels of WriteShop and you can find what they had to say by clicking here. Happy Homeschooling!

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free physical copy of WriteShop Primary - Book B teacher's guide and the accompanying Activity Set Worksheet Pack in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ahoy Maties! Get Ready for CapJaxMathFax!

Ahoy there maties. Welcome to CapJaxMathFax. Captain Jax - CapJax for short - has developed a fantastic game to help you swabbies learn your math facts. After you swab the decks and hoist the sails you can be learning your addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. It's real easy to sail on this here boat. All you do to get you sea legs under you is register your name and you're all set to go. After that you just choose which facts you want to work on, then choose how hard you want the problems to be. If you pick the first level with addition or subtraction then the problems will be 1+1, 2+1, 3+1, if you are working on addition or 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, etc. if you were working on subtraction. With level two you would be working on 2+1, 2+2, 2+2, or 2-1, 2-2, 2-3 and so on. I think you get the picture. Each time you choose a level you have the option of only working on that level, or working on that level and all of the levels below it. It's really easy and I promise they'll be smooth sailing...

Oh for Pete's sake I'm going to stop the nautical terms. I'm too tired and I'm getting sea sick just thinking about it. Actually CapJaxMathFax is just as I described above. A very simple and easy to use program to learn you basic math facts. Joshua has loved it. You can set it on practice mode where you just practice whatever facts you want to practice or you can set it on the "Play for Rating" mode. When you play for rating, you, again, get to choose what facts you want to practice, but only 10 come up in a row. The clincher is that you have to answer within 3 seconds to get credit for mastering that fact. The 3 second time can be adjusted higher for younger students or with students that are having a hard time or lower to give more of a challenge to quicker or more advanced students. You then see your rating on a chart. Joshua is working on his addition facts right now in order to be able to spout them off more quickly without using his fingers. He kept advancing up the chart (your goal is to get to 1000) but has now plateaued and is not advancing much. I'm thinking about adjusting his time limit to give him more of a chance to see success.


There are also other ways that you can challenge a child. For example, you can click the 12's box and work solely on 12's using all four processes. For example, the problems may include 12 x 8, 12 + 8, 12 - 7 or even a division problem using 12. Or, you could click the "Word Thinkers" box (not shown above) where words show up instead of symbols - 3 increased by 7, 8 multiplied by 9, 12 minus 4, etc. You can even click a box and have your high schooler - yes, this is for all ages - study negatives. The problems might look like this (-8) x (7), or (144) / (-12). You can see how the whole family can benefit from working with this program. I even set an account up for myself and was challenged.

There are charts and graphs so that the parent/teacher can easily see what progress each child is making and even print out for each student, or even for the whole family/class. There are even printable blank charts for a child to fill in with color markers or crayons to show how he is advancing. Really this is a very simple to use, no frills program that has no extras like flashing rewards or fancy graphics, but it is well put together and packs a lot of flexibility into one program. This program would work well for a any child but especially a student that is easily distracted by a lot of extras like graphics etc.

I really like CapJaxMathFax and the price is unbeatable. For $29.95 you get a license for the full downloadable program that can be used on Windows or Mac OS X. Or for $5.95 more for shipping and handling you can purchase the CD version. There is even a full program trial version where you can try the program out with you children before purchasing. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above to get to the CapJax website.

As usual other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew reviewed CapJaxMathFax and you can find what they had to say by clicking here. Happy Sailing...err...I mean...Happy Homeschooling!

Disclaimer: As a member off the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free download of CapJaxMathFax in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Traveling With Kids Part 5 - Our Favorite Trips

This one has got to be the hardest post from my "Five Days of Traveling with Kids" series to write because we have been to so many neat places. We tend to find the out of the way places that aren't touristy (is that a word?). I'm going to just go ahead and jump right in and start listing some of our favorites in no particular order.

  • BCM Missionary Conference  - Okay, this one is kind of cheating. This is geared toward all of the BCM (Bible Centered Ministries) missionaries but anyone can go. It is held almost every year at a great camp and retreat center called Camp Sankanac in eastern Pennsylvania. There is a great group of ladies from EG Ministries that run the children's program every year and they are fantastic! Over the years my boys have been inside a whale, measured Noah's ark, made candles, made volcanoes...and much, much more. And they learned a lot in the process! We love conference!
  • Aunt Carol's House - Okay, again this is cheating. You can't really visit my sister's home (well you could but she might be giving me a call very quickly). You can, however, perhaps glean from our experiences. Remember, a vacation doesn't have to be at a fancy place. Any place new is worthy of exploration. There are new stores to visit, new parks to explore. What's might be ho-hum to the locals could be exciting to you and your family. We always have a great time visiting my sister. (Sorry, no links to this one. My sister doesn't have a website!)
  • Sandy Hook - Part of the Gateway National Recreation Area - When we visit my sister, we do try to take at least one day to explore a new out of the way place. One year we visited Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook is on the New Jersey side of the Gateway National Recreation Area. There are also units of the recreation area in New York, but we haven't visited those. Sandy Hook is amazing. It has the oldest working lighthouse in the United States - dating back to the 1700's! It also has an old fort, a lot of old buildings and a bunch of beaches to enjoy. It was a blast the day we went. The tour of the lighthouse was awesome and the beaches were really nice. Be careful, though, when we were there a section of the expansive beach was set aside as a clothing optional beach but, there are miles of beaches and unless you knew where it was you probably wouldn't pick that one. It is marked anyway. I can't remember if that particular beach was in the recreation area or on the outskirts. It's hard to imagine a nude beach in part of a National Recreation Area.
  • Philadelphia Historic District - Okay, so this one's not so "out of the way" but it is one of our favorites. This was another "give Aunt Carol a break" day and is a must see if you are any place close. We visited Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, sat on top of a double decker bus on a bus ride of the historical was fascinating! We loved it. Put on your walking shoes, though, and make sure that you have a stroller for the real littles to ride in.
  • Virginia Safari Park - I mentioned in one of my other "Five Days of Traveling with Kids" posts that we like to take two or three days to travel a distance that could be covered in one long day. We then take it easy and stop at sites along the way. On one such drive we stopped at the Virginia Safari Park. It was hilariously fun. It's an actual drive through zoo with animals that come right up to your car or van. You can buy buckets of food to feed them and they will actually stick their heads right in the windows to get a snack. They allowed us to open the sliding doors of the van but make sure that the children were secured in some way. John Allen loved it. Joshua was afraid at first but calmed down after a while. Jacob, on the other hand, would have nothing to do with it! He was scared to death. He climbed into the back seat with a terrified look the whole trip. They also have a petting zoo and a bird habitat that you walk into and birds roam freely. John Allen was trying to be a good zoo keeper and coax one of the birds to come to him. Instead the bird got very irritated, cornered John Allen and wouldn't let him leave. I had to form a barrier between the bird and my son and ease my way to the door until he could escape. Good memories! This is a must see if you are traveling through VA on I-81!

Not us but you can see what it's like!

  • Virginia Museum of Transportation - On the same trip that we went through the Virginia Safari Park, we visited the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Another must see in Roanoke, VA, again right off of I-81. There were planes and cars and...oh the trains! There were big trains and little trains. They had trains that you could walk through a huge model train exhibit. The kids had a blast and so did Mom and Dad!
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway - Did you know the Blue Ridge Parkway is actually a national park? I remember my dad took us on The Blue Ridge Parkway when we were on vacation once when I was little, and I wanted to carry on the tradition and drive through it with my children as well. I didn't remember all of the little historical stop offs and exhibits. We loved spending time driving down it. We visited an old railroad at one exhibit, bought arrowheads at one of the national park centers, drove through an old town and visited an old general store, picnicked...we had a blast. If you ever have the chance to drive on the parkway you have got to do it!
  • Boxerwood Gardens - I've already talked about this fascinating place in one of my other "Five Days" posts. It is really a neat place that isn't advertised nearly as much as it should be. We were looking for a place to picnic and let the kids run and play on one of our trips home from conference/Aunt Carol's and stopped at a welcome center in Lexington, VA. They recommended Boxerwood and we are so glad they did. You must stop in to check it out and meet Uda the dog. Get it You Da Dog! Yep, that's what they named her and she fits right in. So friendly to the kids. Again, it's a must see!
  • Creation Museum - If you haven't visited the Creation Museum near Cincinnati, OH then you must if you are in the area. It is fascinating. We loved the whole thing. Except, of course, John Allen's artificial eye falling out during one of the movie presentations. But, that's a post for another time! Anyway, the planetarium is great. It is worth the extra cost.
  • Hollywild Animal Park - I won't say much about this safari/zoo because I am in the middle of writing a post all about it. It's one of our recent adventures. But, check the link out and if you are in Spartanburg/Greenville, SC area then make an effort to go. You will love it!
I could go on and on talking about our many adventures. Like to...
But, it's time to bring this post and this series to a close. It has been a fun week. I hope that I have given you some pointers on traveling with kids. I know I have enjoyed reading your responses and suggestions. We'll have to do this again sometime! If you missed any of my other "Five Days of Traveling with Kids" posts here are the links to them all.

Traveling With Kids Part One - Packing "Have Tos"
Traveling With Kids Part Two - Traveling "Have Tos"
Traveling With Kids Part Three - Overnight "Have Tos"
Traveling With Kids Part Four - Homeschooling on the Road

And don't forget all of the other TOS Crew members who participated in "The Five Days Of..." blog hop. Just click on the link below to get to the main page and explore. Have fun!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Go Science! - Great God Centered Science Videos!


I have never been very good at teaching science. Oh, I enjoy science well enough. I probably enjoy it now more than I did in school. Unfortunately, though, teaching it is not my gift. By God's blessing, this year has been a year where we have gotten quite a few science related items to review with the crew - including a few science videos. I wrote a review a few weeks ago about a wonderful science video. Recently we received a couple more videos called "Go Science" that have been equally great. Perhaps even greater, because these videos are done from a Christian perspective.

The great author and host of each Go Science video is Ben Roy. Ben teaches at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga and used to be the director of a science program on TV. So far he has produced six volumes in this series:

  • Volume 1: Motion and the Laws of Gravity
  • Volume 2: Simple Machines, Sound, Weather
  • Volume 3: Magnetism, Electricity, Engineering, and Design
  • Volume 4: Chemistry, States of Matter, Life Sciences
  • Volume 5: Air, Flight
  • Volume 6: Water, Space, Solar System
We were blessed with getting Volume 5 and Volume 6. Since these videos are recommended for kids ages 6-14 Joshua got the nod to review these and loved them. He couldn't wait to do science because he loved the experiments and loved the host, Ben Roy.

Ben Roy knows how to work with and communicate with children. His voice is always brimming with excitement and always includes the kids - both the kids that are helping him with the experiment and the children that remain in the audience.

I was just as fascinated by how well he interacted with the children as I was with the experiments. Of course, Joshua was just excited about the experiments.

Here's an example of one of the experiments from this series. You can see what I mean about Ben Roy's interaction with the kids and why Joshua liked the experiments so much.

Can you see why we like these videos so much?

The two volumes that we received had 12 experiments on one (Volume 5) and 9 on the other (Volume 6). Each experiment last for 3-6 min. so each volume was around 40-45 min. long. Some of the experiments that were demonstrated on our videos included:

Volume 5

Bernoulli Effect
Can Crush
Cartesian Diver
Pour Air
Balloon Balance
among others.

Volume 6

Water Disappear
As Cold As Outer Space
Living in Space
Make A Rocket
among others.

As you can see from the clip above, each video was well done (they were originally done for a religious television show), fascinating and informative. But, probably the main thing that I like is that they are God centered. As the description on the website says:

Each spectacular demonstration of physical or chemical science has a spiritual application and points to our Creator!


These videos are distributed by Library and Educational services, a great company that sells much more than just these videos. You can check out these videos and all of the great Library and Educational Services products by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. The Go Science videos can be purchased for just $8.97 per volume or $47.95 for the set of six volumes. Other TOS crew members received other volumes of the Go Science video series and you can find out what they had to say by clicking here. Happy Homeschooling!

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received Volume Five and Volume Six of the Go Science Video Series from Library and Educational Services in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

Five Days of Traveling With Kids Part 4 - Homeschooling on the Road

***I'm so sorry that my day four post is late. Unfortunately life happens and it certainly had happened the past day or so.***

One nice thing about homeschooling is the freedom. You aren't tied down to school schedules or calendars. You can come and go as you please. Being missionaries requires us to go quite often. The bad thing about it is that school must go on. Oh, there are some homeschoolers that are year round and homeschool through the summer, but, still, if you travel a lot, you must do some homeschooling while you travel.

An obvious choice, and the choice for many, is to take your books with you. We've done that with not much success. When we're busy with running around to and fro, you tend to forget to set time apart to hit the school books. Besides, it's not much of a vacation for the kids if they have to have their nose in a book all of the time. Instead, I have sly ways that use to educate my kids on the road. So secret and so tricky that they don't even know what is happening. Fortunately for you, it isn't so secret that I would have to kill you if you found out. In fact I'm going to come right out and tell you right now.

Here's how we homeschool on the road:
Obvious Ways:

  1. Books or books on tape. Have a book that needs to be read? Get the book on tape and use it to pass the time away while riding in the car. I mentioned in Part 2 of this series that on one trip I read a whole book to the kids. It was one of those trips where Sarah's mom came along and shared the driving while I was regulated to one of the middle seats with the rest of the kids (but I'm not bitter!). Anyway, we all enjoyed the book - even Sarah and her mom.
  2. Make sure the places you visit have historical or cultural value. Even homeschoolers are entitled to field trips every once in a while. Tomorrow I'll be talking about some of our most memorable vacations/trips but I'll tell you now that we love visiting state parks, museums, historical sites, zoos...and, of course, you can count them all for homeschooling!
  3. Music and art class. Listen to classical music. Have your children draw pictures. You have a captive audience when they are in the car. There may be some moans and groans, but, if you are enthusiastic about listening to Mozart then they will be as well.
I'm sure there are many more obvious ways that I can mention, but why accentuate the obvious?

Not so Obvious Ways:

Here's where the fun begins. I get to talk about the sneaky stuff.
  1. Geography - John Allen loves maps. Little does he know that while he using his pocket atlas to follow our route he is learning map skills, directionality, state identification...a myriad of things!
  2. Geography - remember the license plate game I mentioned in part 2?  Why not give your children a map of the United States with just the states outlined and labeled with the state name and have them color each state in when you see a license plate instead of just writing the state's name down?
  3. Social Studies - Do your children know what road signs mean? Do you talk about what they see on billboards? What about just plain old site seeing out the window? When we traveled through Arkansas last summer we saw planes parked right next to houses. We had a great time discussing crop dusters and watching them in action.
  4. Language - Think those rhyming games, word games, memory games, etc. are just for fun? Think again! Especially with younger children, those things are all part of their development.
  5. Cultural Studies - Ok, I'll admit it! We come from small town Tennessee. There isn't an extensive foreign food section in our grocery stores. When we visit my sister in New Jersey, however, we can visit huge grocery stores that have huge foreign food sections. Have you ever bought a snack from another culture? What about a Mexican soda? We always buy something from another country to taste whenever we are able. Just a couple of weeks ago we were someplace that had an Indian store so we purchased some snacks from India. Great lessons!
  6. Nature Studies - Remember that post where I talked about stopping at interesting places to eat lunch? State or local parks are great places to stop and learn about nature.
  7. Nature, U.S. Studies, History - Take the scenic route. Often, on our way home from visiting my sister in New Jersey we'll take it in two (or three days) and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. We try stop some of the historical exhibits, scenic overlooks, and cultural centers along the way. It has become a favorite for thing for us to do. Why not look on the map and take it easy on the way home from someplace. Find an "off the beaten path" drive to travel on. Stop a lot. Have fun. It's also very educational as well.
I think you get the picture. There are so many things that you can do while you travel that is also educational. Count it as homeschool. Be creative! Did your child make a craft at the conference you attended? Did you collect shells at the beach? Did you have your child keep a journal of the highlights of the day? Did you allow your child to take pictures? Don't be afraid to count those things as homeschool! Hey, if the public school teachers pretty much shut down for about a month after the standardized tests, then you can count a bunch of things like what I mentioned above for homeschool.

Do you homeschool on the road? What are some of the things that you do? Leave a comment and tell us all about it. We'd love to hear from you.

Also, don't forget to check out Day One, Day Two, and Day Three of this five part series "Five Days of Traveling with Kids". Just click on the links and they'll take you straight to each article!

This series is part of a huge blog hop called "The Five Days of...". There are over 65 bloggers participating. Click on the banner below to find out all of the interesting things that they are blogging about.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Traveling With Kids Part 3 - Overnight "Have Tos"

We packed in part one. We traveled in part two. The title of this post talks about Overnight "Have Tos", but we still aren't quite ready to head to the hotel! First I'm going to talk about how the Tinkels roll when it comes to overnight stays on the road.

The Preparation

Often when we travel we can go the whole distance in one day. Just as often, however, the distance necessitates us spending the night at a hotel. Yes there is an art to getting ready to stop for the night. Here's a few "Tinkel Tips".
  • We never make hotel arrangements ahead of time. Usually you don't need to. Of course there was that time when the Olympics were going on in Atlanta way back in '96 and we were traveling home to FL from TN with a one month old child, but we won't go there right not. No, usually we have no trouble getting a hotel. Not having a hotel or set stopping place makes it handy if we are having a good day on the road or not.. If we are having a good day then we are probably making good time and can go even further than we thought. If we are having a troublesome day then we may want to stop early. How do we do it? Read point two.
  • Do you remember that we talked yesterday about stopping at those Welcome Centers that you see when you cross over state lines? Well, another thing that we do, other than pick up travel brochures, is pick up some of those Hotel Coupon Guides. You know the ones that I'm talking about. They are usually outside in a newspaper type dispenser. But, instead of having to pop in quarters to get them, they're free! There's usually a red one, a green one, and sometimes even a glossy magazine type one. When we feel that the natives might be getting a little restless, then we start leafing through the coupon books to see what we can find. We look ahead to the hotels located at upcoming exits, and Mom and Dad discuss the options. Once we've decided on a hotel, whichever one is not driving calls on the cell phone and books the room (whatever did we do in the days before cell phones?). There are a few things that we insist upon though.
  • Number one - the hotel has to have an indoor pool. It's amazing how many hotels have indoor pools these days, and the price is not bad. An indoor pool - preferably with an adjacent hot tub - is great for the kids to get all of the jitters out of them after the long ride in the car. The hot tub is great for Mom and Dad to get the jitters out of them after the long ride in the car! Just recently we stayed at a hotel with an indoor water park! It was amazing!
  • Number two - we insist on a couple of safety features - for everyone's sake, but especially our children. The first is that the hotel must have indoor hallways. We've stayed at the outdoor balcony type hallways, but we prefer indoor ones with outside doors that lock so that you can't get in without a room key.
  • Number three - this is a Mom thing but it is worth repeating. We really like having a hotel with a refrigerator in the room. Even if we are just spending the night, a refrigerator is so handy.
  • Number four - also a Mom thing but also worth repeating. We like staying in populated areas. One with more than just one or two motels. It makes it easier to find a place to eat, and it's just plain old safer.
  • Another thing that we usually do is pack an overnight bag, complete with bathing suits of course, so that we don't have to haul in all of our luggage. I really should have included this in my day one post, but forgot so I'll add it here.
Now that we have prepared for the hotel we're ready to arrive.

The Arrival
Everyone has their own routine when they arrive at a hotel. Here's what we do.
  • After check in we have we take a quick peak at the room and take a potty break. Depending on the time, we don't always unload. Instead we look for a place to eat.
  • This is the one meal that we don't scrimp on. We don't eat at expensive places, but we don't eat fast food either. Preferably we try to find a buffet of some type. At buffets they usually have something for everyone. That make it a lot easier for us and usually there is no fussing from the kids. Here's how we find a place.
  • Number One - we keep our eyes open when we drive in to the hotel.
  • Number Two - we ask at the front desk when we get there. They are the experts. They know the area and can sometimes even get us discount coupons.
  • There is one scenario where we don't go out. That's if we get to the hotel at a late hour and the pool will close before we get back. Then, it's unload, go straight to the pool, and check for delivery pizza.
  • After eating and a swim in the pool, it's off to the room. We usually buy no snacks at the hotel, we just use the snacks that we brought or use leftovers from the picnic that we ate for lunch.
Thankfully, usually the kids (and parents) are tired from the drive, more worn out from the swim, and, since our bellys are full, we're "fat and sassy", ready for bed, and will sleep peacefully.

Well, we've packed, traveled, and spent the night. But, wait a minute, we're homeschoolers. Shouldn't there be a lesson in this somehow. Well, there can be. Tomorrow I'm going to talk about homeschooling while you travel. No, I'm not going to talk about doing algebra class in the car. It's going to be a lot more fun than that! Tune back in again tomorrow to find out what the fun's all about!

Have you been checking some of the other great "Five days of..." themes from this great blog hop? If not, you're missing out. Click on the banner below to get in on the fun.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ten Reasons Not to Pick Judah Bible Study! *Wink* *Wink*

I love studying the Bible, and I'm always on the lookout for good solid Bible devotionals/studies for my three boys. Recently we were asked to review a Bible curriculum that I had never heard of before. It was like none that I had ever seen and also one of the most challenging that I have ever seen. This is something that I don't think I have ever done in a review, but I'm going to start off with some negatives.

The top 10 reasons not to pick Judah Bible Study. Don't choose it if...

  1. are looking for a shallow Bible study that doesn't go deep into God's word. This would not be the one for you! Judah Bible is a deep Bible study curriculum that is going to make you and your kids think. It is very thorough and covers the whole Bible.
  2. don't want your child to cover the Bible every single year they are in school but focus on different themes each year. If you think covering the Bible every year is too much. then don't purchase this curriculum. If you think that your child having a thorough knowledge of the Bible by the time he graduates is not a good thing, then skip Judah Bible.
  3. are looking for a "ready to hand to your student" curriculum. This is not for you. You actually have to learn how to teach this curriculum. You have to study the excellent 100 page manual and listen to the eight very helpful lectures that talk about the philosophy of the program and the main Biblical Sections that Judah Bible has divided the Bible into: Creation - Creation, Fall, Flood; The Plan of Redemption Begins  - Abraham, Moses, Joshua; Kingdom of Israel - Saul, David, Solomon; Kingdom of God - Jesus, 12 Disciples; Early Church - Pentecost, Apostles, Paul.
  4. don't want to study along with your children (or with you family for that matter). Judah Bible isn't something that you just hand your kids and they do alone. Yes, there are some aspects of it that they do by themselves, but there are many more aspects where you interact with them. If you don't want to know what your kids are studying and don't want to learn yourself, then this would not work for you.
  5. don't want your beliefs to infiltrate what you think of the government. One of the whole philosophies of The Principal Approach is that the Bible has guidelines to the role of government. The Judah Bible curriculum is based on The Principal approach. If you think the Bible and government shouldn't mix in any way, then don't pick this curriculum to use.
  6. or your children don't like notebooking. One of the main ways of learning with Judah Bible is developing a notebook. Even young children do coloring pages that have to do with the lesson being learned. Older children may fill out "Key" charts that focus on Key Individuals, Key Events, Key Institutions or Key Documents or they may draw a picture or diagram, or even make a map or a chart that represents the main theme that they are studying. Even though these pages aren't supposed to be busy work or just a way to fill up the notebook but ways that encourage your children to dig deeper into God's Word, if you don't like notebooking then nix the purchase of this curriculum.
  7. don't want your older student to learn to use Bible Study tools such as a concordance, Bible commentary, Bible handbook or Bible dictionary. If you don't want that then perhaps you shouldn't use Judah Bible. Even younger students are introduced to these things.
  8. don't want flexibility in your Bible Study. With Judah Bible you can have a Bible study with just one child, several children or with the whole family. With Judah Bible you can choose what you want your student(s) to do to help describe the weekly theme - Key chart, craft, notebook timeline, etc. But, if you don't want flexibility then don't go to this curriculum.
  9. don't want a Bible study that has the potential to change your life and the life of your whole family! If you don't want that, then forget Judah Bible Study.

So, where's number 10. Well, to be honest I couldn't think of a number 10. Actually, if you haven't noticed, this top 10(9) list was all tongue in cheek. Don't get me wrong, all of the above things are true about this style of Bible study, but it really isn't as bad or difficult as I described above. Yes, it will take some time for you to read the manual and listen to the audios to gain a complete understanding of the curriculum. Yes, it will take time for you to study and get materials together. Yes, it is in depth and will require your child to think. Instead, though, of these things being negatives, they are really positives in my book.

Judah Bible Study really is a great curriculum. John Allen has really enjoyed using it and, although this has been a challenge to get to grasp the idea. After I did "grasp the idea" the whole philosophy and method became clear and I really liked what I saw.

I think you will like what you see too. The Judah Bible Study is really hard to describe in one review. To find out more about it click here or on any one of the links above to go to their website and find out more. The website will answer all of your questions, I'm sure. One of the best surprises I found about Judah Bible is that this great curriculum is only $44 for the download version - you will receive the K-12 Manual, the Elementary Notebook Ideas booklet and the 8 Lecture Teacher Training Seminar audios. For $69 + $5 Shipping and Handling you can purchase all of that in hard copy form.

Don't forget that many other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew also received the Judah Bible Curriculum to review and you can discover what they had to say by clicking here. Happy Bible Studying!

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free download of the Judah Bible Curriculum in order to try out and give an honest review on this blog.

Traveling with Kids Part 2 - Traveling "Have Tos"

In Part One of our series (if you missed it click here) we talked about packing and getting ready for our journey. Packing isn't fun, though! I'm ready for the trip to begin. Let's jump in the car and get going!

The Car Ride

Some suggestions to take into consideration before you even start. This might should have been mentioned in yesterday's post but, hey, all of my posts this week kind of dovetail together anyway!
  • We have a seating arrangement and everyone knows where they are going to sit ahead of time. This really helps with our aspy, Joshua. He likes to know what is going on ahead of time and We know that Joshua and Jacob cannot sit next to each other. For that matter, neither can Joshua and John Allen! Joshua is just his own person. He gets the back seat while John Allen and Jacob get the bucket seats behind the driver/passenger. It's a good thing that Jacob adores his oldest brother. Yes, we really need to work on sibling relationships, but that's for another post. Of course if Grandma or Aunt Lois is traveling with us then the whole seating arrangement changes but, again, that's a post for another time.
  • Make sure that each child has his space! He needs to know his boundaries. They need to know where they put there drink. They need to have space to put their individual toy bag and the goodies that we talked about yesterday.
  • Each boy also needs a pillow and perhaps a blanket available to them. Our boys like to sleep in the car. Yes, we are blessed in that area, they take after dear old Dad.
  • Is there a child that needs tissues? Is known for his spills? Tends to create a lot of trash? Have the appropriate item close at hand.
Thinking of the little things ahead of time make for a more peaceful trip.


Yesterday we bought all of our fun stuff for the reward/goodybags. The Tinkel family has worked the reward/goody bag system in several ways - sometimes several ways in the same trip. Here's some suggestions based on how we've done it in the past:

  • At select intervals throughout the trip - say every hour or every 100 miles - we reward them with something from the goodybag.
  • If things are getting hairy with attitudes like "he's in my space" or "he's breathing my air" then we might use it as a reward system. "If you all can get along for the next hour (or whatever) then we will give you something from the goodybag." I know. Some folks think this type of thing is bribing your children. Maybe it is, but it works for us.
  • We also sometimes let this work to our benefit. For example, if the natives are getting hungry, then the next reward will be a snack. Why have a separate reward and snack? Conquer two birds with one stone!
  • Sometimes the rewards can be a joint reward. Did one of their favorite movies just come out on DVD? Make the DVD a joint reward and pop it into the DVD player. Then you won't have to worry about another reward for an hour and a half or more!
  • A variations that we have used is to buy souvenirs along the way and use them as rewards. Did the boys see some arrowheads at that last place that they really would like to have? Sneak back in and buy them each one and use it as a reward. Or, buy something unique at a Cracker Barrel. The rewards don't all have to be bought ahead of time. Buy some along the way.
  • Another variation that I have read about but never used is to individualize each child's goodybag. Buy different things for each child depending on their likes (as I mentioned yesterday, this probably wouldn't work of our crew).
  • I've even read about them numbering the gifts. The first gift may be a coloring book with crayons. Then, the next gift may be stickers to add to it. The third gift might be colored pencils to add to the fun.
Be creative with it. Again, you know your children.

Boxerwood Gardens

We've also turned lunch time into an art. We try to save money on a trip by packing our own lunch and finding fun places to eat lunch. Here's how we do it.
  • One of our potty breaks is always at the usual Welcome Center that appears when you cross state lines. We pick up several (sometimes to Sarah's chagrin, all) of the brochures for the upcoming towns. Especially for the towns that we think we might hit around lunch time.
  • While we travel, we check out the brochures for interesting/cheap places to stop to eat lunch. Sometimes, if we can't find anything amongst our brochures we just pull of and ask.
  • We've eaten at some fun places. Like the great park called Boxerwood Gardens in Virginia or that neat park that was off of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'll talk about both of those later this week, but, make sure there is plenty of room for your kids to run.
  • If all else fails, pick a rest area and pull off. Most of them have picnic tables, and many of them are very interesting places as well. And, they come with a restroom! That's always an essential.
Our theory is - why spend a lot of money when you can have a fun/memorable lunch without a lot of cost?


Finally, here are a few miscellaneous suggestions.
  • Don't forget the DVD's that we talked about yesterday. Again make sure that you choose wisely. Make it fun for all ages.
  • Books on tape are also wonderful! We still laugh about one memorable trip where we listened to Hank the Cowdog the whole way. On another trek I read a whole book to the boys. Of course mom and grandma shared the driving.
  • Maps are fun as well as educational. We have bought several small pocket atlases for our kids at various times. John Allen loves following along and keeping track of where we are and where we're going.
  • Travel games are also a hit with us. We have gone through several of those cardboard travel bingo games where you slide the window closed when you spot a certain object. They can be purchased very little to nothing at most truck stops.
  • Another hit with the Tinkel family (from when I was a boy) is the license plate game. Each person guesses how many license plates from different states that you think we'll spot along the way. Whenever a new state is spotted the person shouts it out and Mom (or Dad) adds it to the list. It's a lot of fun when someone actually sees an unusual one. I still remember when we spotted a car with Hawaii (yes I said Hawaii!) plates and, another time, one from Alaska! We've even seen license plates from European countries (must be nice, huh?)!
  • Word games are also popular! You all know the usuals, but usually can't think of them when we need them. Like the memory word games where you start out with a and go through the alphabet saying what you are going to bring on the trip. The first person says "I'm going to Pennsylvania and I'm going to bring an apple." Then the next person continues "I'm going to Pennsylvania and I'm going to bring an apple and a baseball bat." It goes on and on until you get to z or you all just can't remember anymore. Think of your favorite word games and have fun!
It takes a little planning, but traveling in the car with kids can actually be fun. If you work at it you might actually be able to conquer the Are We There Yets and the How Much Farthers!

Well, I hope that this gives you some ideas for your next trip. Tomorrow we'll talk about "Stopping for the Night!". Yes, you can even turn that into an art! We'll cover everything from restaurants to hotels so don't forget to check back in!

Don't forget that there are over 65 other bloggers that are taking part in this big "Five days of..." blog hop. Click on the banner below and check out all of the fun topics. Happy Traveling!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Oral B is the One for Me!

Do you remember that old TV show Green Acres. You know, the one whose theme song said "Green Acres is the place to be"? Well, since last week I have a new take on that song. My new song is "Oral B is the one for me"! Actually the "Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide" is the one for me. Read further to find out why.

About six months ago I was greeted with some disturbing news. I had gum disease. Gingivitis to be exact. Not something usually discussed over a lovely meal with your friends, but something I can blog about and get the information out about proper caring of your teeth.

I had gone into the dentist because I knew I needed at least one filling. During their routine check, they tested for Gingivitis and, you guessed it, I had it. They had to do the whole nine yards - deep cleaning and everything. It was not a pleasant experience. At the end of the first session, however, the dental hygienist taught me proper dental hygiene and gave me a "professional rotary toothbrush" that cost way over $100 (I can't remember now but I think I was quoted a price of over $200). And, when you add in the cost of replacement heads every so often the price gets even higher. I'm still paying off the bill for all of my dental work and dental hygiene supplies.

Anyway, I loved the toothbrush. It really changed my dental habits. Before, my teeth cleaning habits were hit and miss. I would brush regularly with a standard hand held toothbrush but I would never floss and never use a mouth rinse. I hated flossing because I never could get my hands situated the right way to floss properly.

Now, however, I am properly flossing (using one of those disposable plastic pitch fork looking floss pics), rinsing and brushing. The new toothbrush really made my teeth feel clean and gave my gums a workout. The only took soooooo, loooong. To go through all of the steps would take well over 15 min.! I actually had to schedule brushing into my day! I would floss, then rinse for at least one minute, then use a special rotary toothbrush head that went between my teeth, then switch heads for regular teeth cleaning.  I never really knew how long I was brushing because I would count down the seconds that I was supposed to spend on each quadrant of my mouth. It was actually hard work! Still, I knew I was doing what I was supposed to do. My gums didn't bleed anymore and my mouth actually felt clean.

When I was invited to participate in a new campaign for an Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide I was skeptical. Would it work as well as my dentist prescribed toothbrush? Would it actually make my brushing habits any better? My teeth are clean but not as white as I would want. Would this new power toothbrush make my teeth whiter? I decided to sign up and find out. After all, I could always go back to my old toothbrush after the campaign is over.

Well, last week it came. At first glance I was impressed. It looked like a very sturdy well built rotary power brush. I liked that it was easy to put together and that it came with a small clock ("SmartGuide") that timed how long you were brushing in each section of your mouth. But, would all of this fancy technology work? I was going to find out that evening.

I plugged it in and waited for it to charge enough to brush. A few hours will give you one or two brushes and a full 24 hours will give you days of brushing. Finally it was time to test it out. I went through my usual flossing and rinsing...but where was the in between the teeth head? It didn't come with one. Instead it had an unusual brush head with some long bristles and some short bristles. Supposedly it would clean between the teeth while brushing the surface of the teeth. Hmmm...interesting. I put the head on the toothbrush and turned it on. Immediately the small clock that was sitting on the counter changed from showing the time to counting down the seconds until I needed to switch to a new quadrant of my mouth. Neat! No more counting down in my head.

Because I am sort of a teeth cleaning nut now, I chose to switch it to the 45 second per quadrant setting instead of the usual 30 second per quadrant. Immediately the small clock switched to counting down from 45 seconds! It also has a Sensitive Mode, a Whitening Mode, and a Massage Mode as well as the Daily Clean (30 second per quadrant) Mode and the Deep Clean (45 second) Mode.

The SmartGuide also had a picture of a circle divided into four sections with one section blinking to represent the first section of teeth that I was brushing and four stars with one blinking to represent the first quadrant. When I was done brushing the circle would be complete and the four stars would all be filled in. In addition to that, the power toothbrush would turn off briefly when it was time to switch to a new section of my mouth. Very easy to follow and use. So far I am very pleased.

The true test, however, is how my mouth felt. Did my teeth feel clean? Yep! Did my gums feel like they had a good workout? Check! My teeth and gums felt just the same as when I used my dentist prescribed brush and spent 15 min. brushing. Actually, though, with the new Oral B brush, I only spent half of that time brushing! It's a winner for me. I might even have to try the Whitening Mode or the gum Massage Mode. With the really neat SmartGuide I can keep track of time and brush more quickly and efficiently. Now I feel like I have the time to brush more than once a day. This could really improve my oral care habits!

So am I going to keep using the Oral-B ProfessionalCare SmartSeries 5000 with SmartGuide? So far it's a yes but check back in in a couple of weeks for an update post to see if I still like it and to see if my teeth are actually whiter.

I really do like this toothbrush so far. Oral-B has several power toothbrushes in various price ranges and for various needs that you can choose from. Right now they are even offering a $10 rebate on select power brushes. Please visit or click on any one of the links above to find out more.

Don't forget to also check out their children's power toothbrush section. I'm always trying to teach my children proper dental hygiene, especially after my gum disease incident. I don't want them going through the same thing I did. I may have to check into that rebate for a power toothbrush for them.

To find out more about Oral-B and their line of products check out the following links as well. Happy brushing!

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Oral-B and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Traveling with Kids Part 1 - Packing "Have-Tos"

With our crew of three boys, two which are on the autism spectrum, we have learned how to pack the luggage and pack the car. Packing can become an art form if you work at it hard enough. My dear wife, Sarah, is a pro at it. I'm going to touch on some "have-tos" for packing, but I'm mainly going to be talking about things that you really need to pack in order for the trip to go smoothly.

First the luggage and car packing.

I'm sure that you all know this, but it is worth repeating. MAKE A LIST! Now, we don't always make a list for the trip to grandma's house an hour and a half away, but we do make lists for our long week or two week trips. And, just like Santa, we make the lists and check them twice. Some things that we definitely list are:
  • Medications
  • Special items needed for the trip (you have to have fishing rods if you're going to the lake!)
  • Special items that you may be taking to someone on the trip (don't forget that great one-of-a-kind gadget that you found for Grandpa!)
  • Must haves that you can't buy along the way (Study Bible, special stuffed animal, lap-tops etc.).
It might help to also go ahead and list usual items like clothes, else you'll be using your travel budget to buy outfits at Wal-Mart (yes, we've learned the hard way!).

We have also discovered, over the years, how to use every available space in the car and that every item has it's place.
  • Have a toddler whose feet don't touch the floor? Use the floor space to store his needs. Diaper bag, extra pillows, pull-ups, can all be placed there and, perhaps, even make his ride more comfortable (ever travelled for a long time with flapping legs and feet that can't touch the ground?).
  • Do you have a van with bucket seats behind the driver and passenger? Put the cooler between them. It makes it handy for the kids to grab a snack and it's also easy for mom (or dad when mom's driving) to reach around and help.
  • Have an extra seat where no one is riding? Don't leave it empty! Put blankets, pillows, duffel bags with toys (more on that later) on it.
With large families, families that require a lot of things when you travel, or going on a long trip that requires more things, it is often a necessity to use every space in the vehicle. Be creative. You know your needs.

Everything is ready to load - including Jo-jo our dog!
Now for the fun part of the post.

"Must Haves" that will make your trip way more enjoyable.

I know that I have talked about some of the obvious things that you have to pack. These are some extras that we always pack to make things more enjoyable.

Reward/Goody Bags

Number one on our list is our reward/goody bag. These are things that we pass out at intervals throughout our trip. They could be anything.
  • Little toys
  • Games
  • An unusual snack
  • Coloring books w/crayons
  • You name it, you can put it in. You know your children. 
A couple of recommendations are to make sure that you have equal things in an equal amount for each child.
  • More than once we have bought two of one color and one of another or two that are the same and one that isn't quite like the others. Don't do that unless your kids are totally used to that type of thing and can handle it. Our autism spectrum kids can't. It doesn't work for them.
  • Sometimes it's good to have three different colors so that you can tell whose is whose, but at least make sure that they are basically the same.
  • If you have a child(ren) that is sensitive to bright blinking lights, smells, noise, car sickness, etc. choose accordingly. Nothing is worse than a meltdown or sick child on a long trip. It really defeats the purpose of the rewards/goodies.
  • Remember, you know your children and what they can and can't handle.
We'll talk more about this tomorrow in my "Traveling Have-Tos" post.


Electronics in a home can be a blessing or a curse and the same is true in the car. I'll repeat my mantra once again - you know your children! Here are some tips and ideas.
  • If you are blessed to own a mini-van with a DVD player in it, then that can be a God send! More than once an hour and half trip to Nashville for Drs. appointments have gone smoothly because we had a movie to pop in. If your vehicle isn't equipped with one, then consider buying a small travel DVD player. You can purchase ones that hang write over the back of seats now and the prices aren't quite as high as they used to be. When you pack the movies, take into consideration what movies will be enjoyable for all. Your 14 year old probably isn't into Blue's Clues anymore!
  • Handheld games or computer tablets. Again, they could be a blessing or a curse. Make sure you pack one for each child or at least have plans for the other kids while one is taking his turn. There is even a way to hook a game system up to your mini-van DVD player. Again, make sure that everyone will have a turn somehow and pack their favorite games.
More on this tomorrow as well.

Fun Bag

Don't forget to pack a small bag with favorite toys to play with while they are waiting for their goody bag items to start being passed out. Some ideas/reminders are:
  • Cars for the boys or small dolls for the girls
  • Coloring books and crayons, sticker books, etc.
  • Favorite books to read
  • Favorite stuffed animal
Remember what you bought (or are thinking of buying) for the goody bag so that you don't duplicate - compliment instead. If you know that stickers are going to be passed out, then make sure their sticker book is in the toy/duffel bag. One suggestion is to pack a separate bag for each child and don't forget to put it in a handy place to get to.


Snacks are a big thing in the Tinkel family - especially on a long trip. Some folks don't allow their children to eat in the car, but that wouldn't work for us. Here are a few things that we have learned the hard (or easy) way.
  • We like to try different snacks when we travel. Start with some out of the ordinary things and buy some along the way. Did you see some regional drink or snack at the last rest stop? Buy it and save it for snack time later on.
  • Make sure you take into consideration allergies. Or...
  • Make sure you think sugar or things that make your kids hyper. We can't/don't allow our kids to drink or eat anything with red food coloring in it. The results could effect them for days to come. We really try to stay away from all food coloring, but, that's just us...what's my favorite know your children!
Once again, we'll talk more about this tomorrow.

Well, I pray that relaying some of the things that work with the Tinkel family will help with your packing and getting ready for your next big travelling adventure. Tomorrow we'll talk about what we actually do on the trip to make things run smoothly and happily (for kids and parents alike).

Don't forget that this post is part of a great "Five Days of..." Blog Hop that is being presented by the TOS Homeschool Crew. Other members of the crew have chosen other "Five Days of..." themes to blog about this week. Click on the banner below to check out some of great things that they are talking about!