Thursday, March 31, 2016

Miracles Can Happen Now!


so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:5
I know that I have been sadly missing on my blog the past few weeks, but I have been working and getting ready for a big event that is going on right now called "The Movement". We really have been seeing miracles happen this week! It has been amazing. The body of Christ is coming together in our little town of Livingston, Tennessee.

Below is our theme song for this weeks event. Miracles can really happen even today. We need to pray and believe!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Scripture Sunday - The Movement!

Luke 19:40 New International Version (NIV)
 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet,
the stones will cry out.”
I have known the above verse for a long time, but recently it has really had an impact on me. I have had the great privilege to work with a fantastic group of men who had a vision. This vision was to bring the church of our community together as a united body of Christ by throwing aside denominations and church doctrines. The body of Christ was never meant to be divided into denominations that tend to only argue with one another instead of working with each other for God's kingdom.
We have brought together 8 pastors from different churches along with worship teams from different denominations for an eight night event called "The Movement". Below is the flyer about it.
So far we have had three amazing nights with three great speakers and three great worship teams. God is at work in Livingston! The rocks are not having to cry out this week! I can't wait to see what God is going to do tonight, the rest of the week, and in the future!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Help Kid's Learn Biblical Theology with Theo - A TOS Review Crew Review Review
It's amazing how God works sometimes. Just recently Joshua and Jacob, my two youngest, and I were talking about some of the Christian videos we used to watch. I couldn't believe it when Joshua began rattling off the names of characters and plotlines that I had long forgotten. We had a great time remembering things we had learned about the Lord and great times we had together. It made me realize what a great impact Christian videos can have on kids. It's something that, in this time of electronics and video games, a lot of people (including me) seem to have forgotten. I was thinking about how we could begin to incorporate Christian videos into our family life again, especially for Jacob our youngest, when I remembered that I was chosen to review the Theo Vol. 1: God's Love DVD from is a great company that distributes, as it's tagline says, "Christian Movies To Inspire and Entertain". We have reviewed some of their videos before and have always been pleased. Theo Vol. 1: God's Love is no exception. We were very pleased with it as well.

Theo Vol. 1: God's Love is actually three short videos and one bonus video all wrapped together with a fantastic booklet that provides discussion questions and devotional ideas that you can use for a full week. I was pleasantly surprised at all that was included in one small package. Joshua and Jacob loved the videos so much that they practically begged to keep watching them so we ended up viewing and discussing them all in one setting. You could, however, view and discuss one video and then use the daily devotionals to continue talking about the theme and learning from God's word for the next seven days. Review
As the title suggests, all three of the videos along with the bonus video have to do with God's Love. The videos feature Theo, a kind, elderly, professor man, his two mice friends Luther and Belfry and a cute little unnamed blue bird. The stories usually revolve around some predicament that Luther and Belfry have gotten themselves into and how Theo uses their problem to teach them a lesson in Biblical values.
Each video lesson is approximately 10 minutes long and opens with the predicament, continues with a very well done animated Bible story and then closes with Luther and Belfry hopefully learning the Biblical lesson.
Lesson One - Saving Faith - In this episode Theo teaches about genuine saving faith through the story of Abraham and Sarah.
Lesson Two - Loving Obedience - This episode deals with obedience. Theo uses the story of Jonah to teach Luther and Belfry about obedience since they seem to get into trouble wherever they go.
Lesson Three - Forgiveness - The story of the forgiven but unforgiving servant is the Biblical emphasis for this episode since Luther and Belfry need to learn how to forgive each other.
Bonus Episode - The Good News! - The bonus episode is all about God's saving grace.
As I mentioned before, each lesson, excluding the Bonus Episode, comes with a Parent Guide that includes an introduction to each lesson, scripture references, discussion questions, a family activity, final thoughts, a closing prayer, and a weeks worth of nightly devotions to extend the lessons. They were all very well written. We enjoyed the discussion questions and the family activities are well chosen to accentuate the lessons theme. I am planning to redo the lessons with my youngest and use the very interesting and thought provoking devotionals.
Theo Vol. 1: God's Love is a keeper with us. The kids are already asking if I can order volume's two, three and four. As I mentioned before we have enjoyed every video we have gotten from and plan on ordering more great features from them. To find out more about Theo Vol. 1: God's Love or, just click on any one of the highlighted links in this post. Other members of the TOS Review Crew reviewed other titles from and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Watching! Review
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Friday, March 18, 2016

EdTechLens - Rainforest Journey - A TOS Review Crew Review

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

I think that I've written before that science is one of the weaker subjects to teach for me. We struggle through it and the kids learn, but teaching it isn't one of my favorite things. So, I am always looking for creative ways to bring science to life for my kids. When I first began homeschooling, I wasn't a fan of online teaching. I wanted more of a personal approach with my kids. As we have worked with some online programs, I have realized that working online can have it's personal touch. I had never thought about an online science program, though, until we had a chance to review Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens.

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

Rainforest Journey is an online learning program that covers every aspect of the rainforest in five units. Each unit has 1-5 chapters and each chapter has 1-5 lessons. Each lesson takes about 15-30 minutes to complete depending on the grade level (right now they have kindergarten through fifth grade) and if you do all of the lesson activities. We worked on the 3rd grade level with Jacob and 15-30 minutes was more than enough time to complete everything with him. The five units for the 3rd grade level are:
  1. The Big Picture of the Rainforest
  2. Adapt or Die!
  3. Animals
  4. Plants and Fungi
  5. Ecosystems
It was super easy to register and sign in to Rainforest Journey. After I registered myself  and Jacob and Joshua, EdTechLens gave them very unique sign in names. The program itself was also super easy to use. After a student signs in they are taken to the main screen where they can choose to continue where they left off or review something they have already learned. Future lessons are locked until they complete all of the lessons leading up to it.

I really appreciated that everything goes step by step and they give bite sized information. Each lesson is three or four screens. Each screen is usually introduced with a colorful picture or a short film clip and then has a three or four sentence paragraph explaining the concept being taught. When I first saw Rainforest Journey I was concerned about how Jacob would do since he is a slow reader. I had nothing to fear however because at the end of each passage there is a speaker icon that the student compress and the passage is read to them. After the regular passage there is an enrichment passage that goes into the subject in a bit more detail. It can also be read back to the student. After once page is completed he just clicks on the arrow for the next page and repeats the steps. Thee are bonus videos and enrichment activities throughout that are very interesting as well. At the end of the lesson is a pdf review worksheet that I can either print out for him to complete or read from the screen and complete it orally with him. The whole process is extremely easy for him but the lessons have so much detail!

The Joshua's 5th grade level is exactly the same but each lesson goes a little deeper with a little more detail. I like that because I can have a discussion with both of them together about what they learned.

It is also very easy for me as the teacher. They have an abundance of teacher resources both to help me keep track of where Jacob and Joshua are and how well they are doing, but also how to help teach and interact with them during the lessons. I really like the way that Rainforest Journey's encourages the parent/teacher to interact with the child. They encourage you to:

  • Look
  • Ask
  • Read
  • Discuss
  • Summarize
They even supply you with a lesson plan template to use that goes into detail with suggestions in how to bust accomplish each step.

They also provide three different types of assessments. Now, I am not a super big assessment person. My kids are not good test takers and I feel there are better ways to find out how much a child has learned. However, I really enjoy the different assessments that Rainforest Journey gives. There is the Depth of Knowledge assessment that shows a picture, asks the student a question about the picture and gives four multiple choice answers to chose from. The Factual assessment is much the same but has no pictures. It simply asks the questions and gives multiple choice answers to chose from. Finally, the Open Ended assessment asks an open ended question that can either be discussed or the student can write his answer out. Each assessment on Jacob's 3rd grade level had only four questions in each so it is not overwhelming for him.

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

I really like Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens because it can be personal where I can sit by Jacob (or Joshua) and watch and discuss things with him, or I can give it to him to do on his own and talk it over with him later. I have no worries about the reading, because he can click and listen to everything being read to him. He loves the pictures and videos and we have had some lively conversations about them. I also really like that if I choose to use the assessments they won't be overwhelming.

Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens is a real hit with us. I plan on allowing both Joshua and Jacob to complete the course because they both love it and it is easy for them to use. The information they give is thorough but not overwhelming and everything is beautifully done. We have learned so much in just the little time that we have been reviewing Rainforest Journey. To find out more about EdTechLens and Rainforest Journey just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To find what the other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say just click on the banner below. Happy homeschooling!

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review
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Monday, March 14, 2016

Jacob's Snappy and Fetch Surprise! I Never Expected This!

We had a surprise a couple of days ago.
Well, let me clarify, at first it was a concern. Someone had messed with my laptop. I woke up and could tell that something just wasn't right. Of course, immediately I opened up my computer to make sure nothing had been tampered with. What I found, however, was a complete shock!

Jacob's two favorite stuffed animals had been using with my laptop! Yes, I said his two favorite stuffed animals - Snappy and Fetch. They wanted to send a special message to Jacob and my computer seemed to be the easiest source.
Here's what I found!
So, what is this all about? I guess we will have to wait for a future post to find out!
We later helped Snappy and Fetch out and added music and credits. Here's the newly edited version.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Here to Help Learning - We Have A Winner! A TOS Review Crew Review.

Here to Help Learning Review
My two oldest boys are very creative and love to write. My youngest is also very creative and I think will be a good writer as well. The problem is that they need some help with the mechanics of writing and putting it all together. Unfortunately a lot of the homeschool writing curriculums out there are either kind of fun but with no substance or have a lot of substance but comes across as very academic and boring. With my kids, especially with two of them being on the autism spectrum, we need a writing curriculum that has both substance and is fun. We have found a winner! The Here to Help Learning Homeschool Writing Program is that curriculum! But wait! There's an added bonus. Here to Help Learning is Christian and teaches values while it teaches writing. What a deal!

Okay, now that I think I made it clear that we are enjoying Here to Help Learning, let me tell you some reasons why.

#1 - It gives you choices. If your child is just beginning learning how to write, it is suggested that they begin with paragraph writing. Do you have a child who has some paragraph writing experience but needs a little more help? Never fear, their are three levels of paragraph writing to choose from. They call them "Flights".

If you have an older child who has some writing experience, you should probably choose one of the three essay writing flights. Although there can be some interchanging between the paragraph and essay writing flights, the flights get progressively more advanced as you move up. As I mentioned before, at the beginning you are just learning how to organize your thoughts and write a good paragraph, however, when you finish essay writing flight three, you will have written a whole six chapter book!

I also like the choices within the lessons. I chose to put Joshua and Jacob both in Paragraph Writing Flight One. Jacob is new at the writing process so this was a perfect flight for him, and I feel that Joshua needs to brush up on the basics so this seemed to be a good choice for him as well. Besides, the scope and sequence says that at the end of this flight the student will have written and published there own picture story book and I thought that this was pretty cool and would give them the excitement to keep going. However, I was concerned that it would be either too hard for Jacob or too easy for Joshua. I had nothing to fear. Even within the lessons, they give choices. Jacob may not have to write as much as Joshua. They are encouraged to do what they can do.

Here to Help Learning Review

#2 - It is bite sized. I like the fact that a student doesn't have to work for hours every day. The Here to Help Learning Homeschool Writing Program is designed to be done two days a week for 45-60 minutes each day for the paragraph writing flights and perhaps a little longer for the essay writing flights.

However, don't think that they will be laboriously sitting and writing for almost an hour each day. Even the lessons are divided into sections. There are really five sections that Jacob and Joshua have been covering each week.

On the first day there are four areas covered. The "Pre-Flight Checklist" makes sure that you have everything needed for that day. The "Flight Check-In" covers the verse for the course, the character trait being learned during that writing project and other incidentals that need to be gone over. During the "Take Off" time there is usually a game that is played that helps the students learn basic writing techniques. Then there is a warm-up activity to get the creative juices flowing. Finally, the "Full Throttle" time delves into the main lesson, a discussion, and sometimes a pertaining craft.

The second day is the "Flying Solo" day where the student works on their own to complete a part of the project.

Even the projects are divided into bite sized pieces. Each project takes five to six weeks to complete. Then another project is begun that builds on what was previously learned.

It really is that simple. You watch the videos, do the fun worksheets and learn! Oops! Did I forget to mention that all of this is fun. I guess I need to cover that in #3.

#3 - It is just plain fun! It is fun for me because there is hardly any prep time. I just go to the weeks lessons,  review what is going to be learned that week, print out the worksheets, and cue up the videos. It really is that simple!

It also is hilariously funny and fun for the kids. Beth, the teacher and creator of Here to Help Learning, is hysterical and very entertaining. When she is explaining a particular writing style, or talking about a project that the student is to do, she actually goes on location and dresses the part. The games are explained in an actual game show setting. And, who can resist, Captain Knucklehead our basset hound pilot? Take a look at the above short video and I think you will begin to understand what I mean. Here to help learning is just plain fun!

My kids are leaning so much through this great curriculum. I can't wait to see the books that they publish. Even thought John Allen, my oldest, is through with all of his language arts requirements, I'm thinking of introducing him to Essay Writing Flight Three because that is where the student writes a six chapter book. He has been working on a book for a long time and I think this would really help him.

As you can see, we love Here to Help Learning. We were given a one year membership but I think this is going to be one of those memberships that we keep on renewing over and over again. It is definitely a complete package that we are going to keep using. The kids love it, it teaches in small bites, it is Christian and it works! To find out more about Here to Help Learning just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To discover what other members of the TOS Review Crew think of this great writing curriculum click on the banner below. Happy Writing!
Here to Help Learning Review
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Monday, March 7, 2016

Scripture Sunday - Thanks Be To God!

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV)

Many of you have been praying about our bus. It was given to us by some fellow missionaries, Brian and Sarah Hampshire, who had transitioned into a ministry where it was no longer needed. They saw that, after the loss of our ministry building, that we were in need of a place for our Children's Bible Clubs and adult Bible studies, so they graciously offered to give us their mini-bus that is completely converted on the inside to be used as a mobile classroom. We very gratefully accepted it was suggested by our advisory committee that we raise enough funds to at least insure it for a year. Finally, last week, we were able to purchase the insurance and buy the Tennessee tags! The bus is now ready for use. We are super excited and want to give all praise to God. Please pray with us as we begin to use our bus called "The Bible Club Place" and introduce it to the people that we minister to.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Dragon and the Raven - Another WOW Heirloom Audio Productions Review!

  The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}

Last summer we had the great privilege to review a fantastic audio theater production by Heirloom Audio Productions. We were blown away by the quality of this production and how it drew us in and entertained us for hours. We loved it so much that we ordered two more of their CD's. When it was announced that we might have the opportunity to review yet another of their G.A. Henty audio productions we jumped at the chance and really hoped that we would be on of the ones chose. When we found out that we were, indeed, chosen to review The Dragon and the Raven we were super excited. It ended up being just as good as the rest!

When we received our two CD pack we could hardly wait until we could listen to it, but I told the boys that we would wait for a soon to be made six hour trip. There would be plenty of time to listen to the two and a half hour Audio Theater Adventure while on our travels. Until then, they poured over the CD case and talked about the great actors that are featured in The Dragon and the Raven. The actors that are featured in all of The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty are not run of the mill actors, they are famous actors such as John Ryhs-Davies from The Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones, Helen George from Call the Midwife, Brian Blessed from Star Wars, Tarzan and King Lear, and John Bell from The Hobbit. The soundtrack is written by John Campbell and is excellent in and of itself. This is no slipshod production.

As I have mentioned a couple of times, The Dragon and the Raven was written by G.A, Henty. My family was introduced to G.A. Henty years ago when my oldest read one of his books. He soon became one of our favorite authors. G.A. Henty lived during the 1800's but wrote historically accurate novels from throughout history. These adventures always included fictitious young men that, along with the real, historically accurate, heroes of the book did great things that inspire the reader to also do great things. Since G.A. Henty was a Christian, he does not shy away from including the roll of God and Christianity when writing about these historical feats.

The Dragon and the Raven is no different. It talks about when the Danes attacked England and one by one defeated and pillaged every kingdom until they got to Wessex ruled by King Alfred the Great. King Alfred the Great with the help of God, withstood the relentless attacks and finally negotiated a peace treaty with the Danes. I won't tell you how, or what happened, because that would spoil the adventure.

Now, let me talk to you about the production itself. I've already told you that this is no run of the mill audio. It is actually an Audio Theater Production. The easiest way for me to explain what an Audio Theater Production is would be to tell you that if you close your eyes while listening to one you are actually drawn in to the adventure as if you were part of it. I won't tell you what my kids reactions were to this adventure because it would be embarrassing. I'll just go ahead and embarrass myself. I laughed, I cried (yes I actually shed some tears), I cheered . . . I was totally drawn in to the story. These productions are truly amazing!

The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}

You would think that the audio production itself would be enough to convince anyone to buy this, however, and this is a big however, that is not all there is to The Dragon and the Raven. There is also a fantastic study guide. The study guide includes everything you need to make this audio adventure a complete homeschool adventure. As are most CD's, this CD is divided into tracks. The study guide has three sections for each track. They are Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. The Listening Well section is just as it's name suggests, questions to make sure that you are listening well. The Thinking Further section is also as it's name suggests, questions that help the listener think more about why things happened and help you to delve deeper into the historical aspects. Finally, the Defining Words section is, yes, as it's name suggests as well. Vocabulary words that the listener may or may not know. 

I can't say enough how much we love The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty audio productions and especially The Dragon and the Raven. Heirloom Audio Productions has once again outdone themselves. I would encourage any family that wants to instill great family values into their children and teach them history that hasn't been revised and watered down to buy these CD's. To find out more about them just click on any of the highlighted links above. To find what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members had to say about these awesome productions click on the banner below. Happy listening!

The Dragon and the Raven {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}
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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Faith Builders Bible from Zonderkidz - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

sFaith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}

I know that many of my blog readers only read my homeschool reviews and don't really know me outside of homeschool circles. They may not know that my wife and I are full time missionaries and are devout Christians. Although we fail in many ways, we try to raise our boys to know, love, and obey God. Of course, the main way to do that is to teach them the importance of God's Word and devotions and Bible study. That's why I was thrilled to be able to review the Faith Builders Bible from Zonderkidz. Zonderkidz is a division of  Zondervan.
When I found out that we were reviewing the Faith Builders Bible, I immediately thought of our youngest son, Jacob, who is every bit of a 10 year old boy. He loves challenges, he loves video games, he loves history, he loves building things, and, praise be to God, he loves the Lord. The latter two things that I mentioned are why I thought that this Bible would be great for him.
The Faith Builders Bible contains the full text of the NIrV - New International Reader's Version of the Bible and that also made me believe this might be a perfect fit for Joshua. The NIrV is based on the popular NIV Bible. The NIV is already one of the most widely used versions of the Bible because it is an accurate translation but also very easy to read. The NIrV is even easier to read than the NIV. They took the NIV Bible but replaced some of the harder to understand words with easier words to understand. They also shortened the sentences when they could and divided the chapters in to shorter segments. I found a great explanation of the NIrV Bible on

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}
So, what is so special about this Bible? Well, first of all the Faith Builders Bible is perfectly made for young hands. It is a sturdy hard back with thicker pages. It doesn't have the papery thin pages that regular Bibles usually have. But, although those are wonderful things, that isn't the reason why I love this Bible so much. As the name implies, as the pictures describe, and as I mentioned briefly above, it incorporates the use of Lego type blocks in the pictures that are throughout the book. As you can see by the snapshots above and below, these illustrations are of some of the great Bible stories that kids love. What a great idea! Combining learning the Bible with building blocks! I love the way they encourage kids to build some of the smaller pictures. That could lead them to build some of the larger pictures and, therefore, immersing them into the story! Whoever thought of this is a genius! When kids become connected and immerse themselves into something then they really learn! They add to the building theme with "Building Block Verses" that are displayed underneath the pictures that encourage the kids to memorize scripture. 
Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}
Jacob loves this Bible. He proudly carries it to church because it is his own Bible that is written in ways that he understands, and illustrated in a way that make him excited to learn more about the Bible. Because he is reading challenged, this Bible is a lot easier to read and as reading becomes easier for him he will be encouraged to read more. About a year ago we had to move into a smaller apartment so we had to put a lot of things in storage - including most of our building blocks. These are coming out of storage slowly but surely because he is wanting to use them more and more. I can't wait for him to recreate one of the larger scenes from the Faith Builders Bible.
Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}
The Faith Builders Bible from Zonderkidz is definitely an A #1 favorite of ours. Jacob and I both give it two thumbs up! I really think that you and your kids will like it as well. To find out more about the Faith Builders Bible click on any one of the highlighted links above. To read what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this great Bible, click on the banner below. Happy Bible Reading!
Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}
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