Thursday, June 30, 2016

For Such A Time As This

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

I Went to Court the Other Day. He Sobbed!

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

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

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

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

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

My heart began to sob as well.

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 8:28 says:

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

God Still Works in Children's Hearts!

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

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

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

Funny Pose

Regular Pose

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer Ministries are in Full Swing!

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

LearnBop for Families - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

LearnBop for Families Review

Having children on the autism spectrum can be difficult at times. Especially when it comes to teaching them different subjects. Many children on the spectrum are very literal thinkers. If anything is abstract it could be difficult for them to understand. Math is a very difficult subject for Joshua. Although math can be very literal in some ways, often it is very abstract and it is hard for him to grasp the concept. We have found some math programs that work but we are always looking for other math curriculum that we could use. When we found out that we were to review LearnBop for Families from LearnBop we were intrigued to see if it was something that would work for us.

After an easy registration and login I was able to register Joshua. There was a neat area where Joshua could pick his own graphic to represent himself that was fun. For each child you can either choose a "Roadmap" by grade or one by subject. The roadmaps will guide the student through the grade or subject that they are learning and can be changed at any time. The lowest that you can go is third grade and, since Joshua is very deficit in math, that is what I chose to start him out with.

LearnBop for Families Review

We began with a quick evaluation to see where a student stood in the beginning area. The first area was multiplication and division. Okay, here is where I have to totally confess and come clean! I could pretty much tell right away that this was over Joshua's head. He just was not ready for this. Now, mind you, it wasn't the program at all, I just realized that he was not quite ready for third grade math and, since that was the lowest he could go, there was nothing we could really do. Thankfully, for this product a parent was able to use the program and then right the review. So, with the view of possibly using this in the future with Joshua or Jacob, that's what I did. I went through some of the program with my "would this work for Joshua" thinking cap on. I found that I think it would, indeed, be wonderful for Joshua after we have had some review of second grade math this year.

After the quick evaluation I was taken to the video section. A lady with a very nice sounding voice explained the concept in three different ways in three different videos. I really liked the graphics and the way she explained the concept in different ways so that if a student didn't quite "get it" in one video he might in another. That would be excellent for Joshua. The videos were also short - less than five minutes long which would also help to keep Joshua's attention. More videos were available to watch if needed, but a student is only required to watch three.

After the videos comes the evaluation time. The goal for Joshua was set at 90%. A student has to complete at least five questions (bops) in each evaluation. I really enjoyed the way a student could ask for hints if they were unsure how to complete a problem. I also liked the fact that there were different methods of doing a problem. Some were word problems, some were picture problems, some you had to fill in the blanks, some you had to choose numbers from a drop down menu. That really kept it interesting which would be good for Joshua as well as make him think. I really like the encouragement that is given along the way as well.

After completing the steps in the first area and making at least a 90% score then the student has the option of going back to review or moving on to the next concept.

As I said above, I really think that LearnBop for Families by LearnBop is going to be really useful for us in the coming year after a review of second grade math with Joshua and also with Jacob. I am looking forward to using it. If you want to know more about this great program just click on any of the highlighted links above. To find out what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this math program just click on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!

LearnBop for Families Review

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Progeny Press - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

There is an old saying that I use often. In fact, I just used it last week in a couple of Bible studies that I  conduct. It talks about the definition of insanity. Many say that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. We do that in a lot of areas of life don't we? We do the same things that didn't work the first time over and over and wonder why our circumstances aren't changing. We need to break out of the mold and try something new!
Can you believe that we even do that with our homeschooling? We often use the same old curriculum time and time again and expect our kids to react differently. We sometimes need to break out of the mold of using the same things and try something completely different. That has happened to me on many occasions. However (and you knew there had to be a however here someplace didn't you?), sometimes we find a curriculum that works so fantastically with our kids that we DO use it over and over again because it . . . well . . . works! The fantastic unit study "E-Guides" from Progeny Press are one of the things that has worked over and over again for us. Recently we got to review their Give Me Liberty E-Guide written for students in Grades 6-8.
First I'll tell you about the book and then I'll describe the fantastic E-Guide for the book.
Let me tell you, Give Me Liberty by L. M. Elliott is a "can't put it down" book! I actually could not put it down! It is about a boy, Nathanial, whose family came over from Ireland to the new world in the mid 1700's. The mother unfortunately died while still at sea, and the father, grief-stricken because of the loss of his wife, sold the boy as an indentured servant once the ship landed in Virginia. The boy was a servant on a large plantation for a couple of years before his world was turned upside down again. The owner gambled and got himself into financial trouble and had to sell all of his belongings, including his servants. Now what would happen to Nathanial? Well, you'll have to find out by reading the book. I will tell you that there are a lot of twists and turns in the book that you wouldn't expect and involves many famous historical figures from the Revolutionary War. I love Give Me Liberty and so do my boys! It is a great historical read.
Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}
Now for the great E-Guide Unit Study that goes along with it. The E-Guide is an "Interactive Study Guide" where, after it is downloaded, a person can just type in the answers right on the computer. Since I use these guides with both Joshua and Jacob, I usually will the book aloud to them, then alternately ask them questions and type in their answers. The guide suggests reading the whole book first and then doing the questions. However, because of my kids short term and long term memory problems, I read a section and then answer the questions for that section the next day. The E-Guides are divided up into bite sized sections that only cover a few chapters at a time so that method works well for us.
I love the different sections of the E-Guides. The first section is "Ideas for Pre-Reading Activities" for those who choose to read the whole book first before they do the questions. It has a lot of websites to look up before you read and while you are reading and some other things that you can do to help you understand the book as you are reading it.
Each section thereafter has some really neat features:
Vocabulary - Each section does it a little differently but all of them help the student with some of the more complicated and newer words used in the story.
Questions - This section asks basic comprehension questions to make sure the student understood what he was reading.
Thinking About the Story - Takes things a bit deeper than the regular questions. It talks a lot about similes and nuances.
Digging Deeper - I really like this section. It takes elements from the story and has the student see them in the light of scripture. If you are looking for a secular unit study for your child look elsewhere because Progeny Press is definitely a Christian company.

As you can see, we are huge fans of Progeny Press and the Give Me Liberty E-Guide. I would recommend this company to anyone. It is fantastic. To find out more about this great company just click on any one of the highlighted links above. Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed other E-Guides from Progeny Press and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!
Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Forbrain - A Super Unique but Useful Product - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

Except for a  year and a half break, I have reviewed great homeschool items with the Schoolhouse Review Crew for almost eight years. We have been blessed with many, many, fantastic items and some items that worked for us and some items that weren't that helpful. Some items have been regular homeschool items and some items have been very unusual. Forbrain from Forbrain - Sound for Life Ltd is probably the most unusual but, at the same time, useful items that I have ever reviewed. To help you understand what Forbrain is all about, I'm going to give you some personal examples that I think you might relate to, then I am going to tell you about Forbrain, then, I am going to interview my son, Joshua, to find out what he thought of Forbrain since he was the main person using it.

I remember when I was in elementary school how we used to have these large wooden desks with a shelf in it store all of your books and supplies. I remember laying my head down on the desk and tapping on the desk to hear the sounds. It was fun. I was almost in another world. It was a different, unusual sound than the sound that you hear every day. I didn't know it then, but it was because when my head was down on the desk my ear canal was blocked. What was actually happening was that the sound was being conducted through the bones in my head to my inner ear canal. I found out through Forbrain that this is called "Bone Conduction". The sound vibrations through bones is what is actually making the sound!

Another similar thing, but not quite the same, is when a singer will plug up one of his ears when singing. It helps them to hear their voice better so that they know if they are on key or on pitch.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

That is what Forbrain is all about. It's a very unique hearing device that looks a lot like earphones. However, instead of hearing your voice through your ear canal, you hear your voice through Bone Conduction. What a neat thing! Imagine if someone has hearing problems because of an ear problem. That could cause a lot of problems with their speech and listening comprehension. Imagine if they could "hear" their voice in another way. It could improve their speech. They could hear the way they are saying the words and with the proper help they could learn to speak better.

Hearing your voice in this manner also helps with your listening comprehension, reading comprehension when you read aloud, short and long term memory, and much, much, more! I have never seen anything like this! Forbrain is so simple but such a novel idea! Forbrain suggests that you wear the special headphones for 20 minutes a day to improve speech, focus, memory and coordination.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

And it really works! Let me fill you in on what Joshua thinks about it. Joshua thought it was very neat how he was able to hear his voice better with the special earphones on. He wore the earphones for a lot more than he needed to because he loved wearing them and hearing his voice. I feel that with time it will really help him with his reading comprehension, focus and more, just as the program says.

As you can see, we are a big fan of Forbrain from Forbrain - Sound for Life Ltd and we would recommend it to everyone. To find out more about this very unique product just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To find what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought just click on the link below. Happy Homeschooling!

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
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Saturday, June 11, 2016

MaxScholar - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

I went to a fantastic high school in Pennsylvania that, even to this day, has state of the art facilities and wonderful teachers. I learned so much and am very glad for my days there. With all of the great facilities and teachers, however, I still found when I got to college there was a gap in my education. It may have been me totally. I'm sure that somewhere down the line I was taught these things and completely forgot them or just didn't get it. One of the things that I had to learn or relearn when I got to college was proper note taking and how to write a research paper.

When I found out we would be reviewing the MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar I had no idea that it would be teaching my boys good note taking skills - the exact thing that I don't remember learning in school. MaxScholar is really two major programs and a bunch of minor programs that are kind of like the major programs. I'll explain what I mean in a minute, but first let's major on the majors.

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

MaxScholar is an online program where each child is given a login name and password. The two major programs are MaxPhonics and MaxReading. I was excited about MaxPhonics for Jacob who has a difficult time reading. MaxPhonics has four levels - Pre K, Teen, Blends and Digraphs. Each level takes a vowel, blend or digraph and teaches it in three different ways - Visual, Tactile and Auditory. In the Visual section, they show the letter(s), name the letter, say what sound it makes, show a picture of something that begins with those letters and then an actual person is shown saying the sound again so that the child can actually see how to form that sound with his lips. During the Tactile stage, the child learns how to write the letter - first in "sand" and then on paper. Finally, in the auditory section the child must pick out words that begin with the sound being learned. I really like how this is all done. It is very complete and well done.

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review

MaxReading is where a child learns how to take notes by spotting main ideas and outlining. First the child chooses a level. This can either be done on his own or through a pretest to determine his level. Once the level is chosen he can choose a topic. In the level Joshua was on the selections were Cool Places, Technology, or Media. Once a topic is chosen the student can select an actual reading passage. For the Cool Places topic, Joshua could choose between several cities around the world. After an actual passage is chosen the student is introduced to some of the more difficult vocabulary words from the passage. The vocabulary word is highlighted and the child can click on the word to find the definition, how it is used in a sentence and synonyms. After the child makes sure he knows all of the vocabulary words, he then reads the passage carefully. After that is where the fun begins! The student then is asked to highlight the Topic, Main Ideas and Important Details of the passage in different colors. After they have done so they check their highlighting with what the program says should be highlighted. Then, using their highlighting, they make an outline of the passage, check the outline, then rewrite the story in their own words using the outline. Again, this is very complete and well done. It took a while for Joshua to get used to, and it was a bit tedious for him at times, but he is getting the hang of it. He especially likes learning about the different cities since he loves Geography. I like the way the program gives the student a choice as to what type of passage he wants to read.


In the "minor" areas a student can learn prefixes, suffixes, roots and more with MaxWords; read lyrics from their favorite artists and take challenges after reading them; expand their vocabulary with MaxVocab; learn about different places around the world with MaxPlaces; and learn about famous and important people with MaxBios.

We have had a lot of fun working with the MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar. It is a very unique and different way to improve your reading and I think it is very effective. To find out more about these programs just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To find what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this program click on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!

MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs Review
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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Essential Skills Advantage - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review

Essential Skills Advantage Review

It seems that most kids these days are big into video and computer games and my kids are no different. Some folks think that because that seems to be the way the world is going, that we should just go with the times and turn all learning into computer based learning. I don't hold to that theory but I do, however, think that the computer can be used in powerful ways to learn if given the right tools. The Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage is definitely a computer based learning program that fits that description. All I can say is "Wow! Wow! Wow!" to everything that this great program has to offer.

Let me tell you right now that there is no way that in the six short weeks that we had to review this program that we could use everything. The fact that it is the end of the school year with so many end of the year activities further hampered our efforts to try to use it all. However, we did use it and enjoyed it and will definitely be using it again! There is now way that I am going to be able to give you a detailed description of everything in one short review, but I will give you an overview of the program and the different areas of the program. Then, there was one area of Essential Skills Advantage that Joshua excelled at an loved and I will tell you about that area at the end. I do need to also let you know that although I have two students and they are all over the board when it comes to the different areas, there is no way that I could look at every single thing in each grade level, so these summaries will be very general summaries. I would definitely encourage you to go over to click on any of the highlighted links in this review and look around the Essential Skills Advantage website.

Essential Skills Advantage is a computer based program that has subjects for Reading, Language & Grammar, and Math for grades Kindergarten through 6, Science for Kindergarten through 3rd, and Geography for grades 4 through 6. It was very easy to set up everything. First they had me set up an account for myself, then set up an account for both of my children. It is a self paced program that really, the student could use himself if the parent desired or could be used with the parent supervising. There is so much information in each area that I feel that this program could be used as the main homeschool curriculum, but we chose to use it to supplement what we are presently using.  Let me describe each subject are to you.

Essential Skills Advantage Review

Reading - There are different areas of Essential Skills Advantage that I wanted to use for both Jacob and Joshua. Although Joshua has some comprehension problems when he reads, it is Jacob that I really wanted to use the reading part of Essential Skills Advantage with. He is very behind in his reading skills so I chose the first grade curriculum for him. It has areas for sight words, grammar (including sentence punctuation, dates and lists and capitals) and Reading which contains 24 "Story Time" activities where the student learns reading comprehension skills. I love the way that there are several different activities that build upon one another. For example, during the sight words level, the student works on identifying the word through sight, then auditory, and so forth until they have learned how to spell, use and define the word. Different grade levels focus on different things. For example, grade six focuses mainly on vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Spelling and Grammar - Although this is a weak area with our boys, we didn't focus on this area as much during the review period but plan on using it more in the future. The younger grades work a lot with spelling and phonics while the older grades focus on spelling, grammar, and writing skills. Again, it is self-paced and there are many activities that the student must advance through to complete each area.

Math - Again, this was an area that we didn't use as much because we have a strong math curriculum that we presently use, but we did delve into it a little. Grade one focuses on Numeration, Patterning, Measurement, and even delves into Geometry, Data Management and Probability. Grade six on the other hand does a lot with Math Operations and Number Concepts. As before, there are many levels that a student must advance through to complete each area.

Essential Skills Advantage Review

Science - As I mentioned above, Essential Skills Advantage only has science curriculum for kindergarten through 3rd grades. Each grade level has areas for Physical Science, Earth and Space Science, and Life Science. Let me tell you, though, that each area has a wealth of things that the student does. For example, just in the grade one Physical Science section the student covers - Matter, Energy, Buildings and Machines, Changing Matter, Motion, Heat, Light, Sound and, finally, Magnets. Each of those areas has at least nine activities for each one and usually more. This is definitely a complete program!

Geography - Again, as mentioned above, geography is only available to 4th through 6th grade. This was the area that I thought Joshua would enjoy and I was not mistaken. He really excelled at this area. I wanted him to work with this geography because it not only covers countries, capitals and things like that which he is a genius in, but also because it covers physical geography such as lakes, inlets, coves, mountain ranges, and things such as that. He is not as knowledgeable in those areas as he should be. It also covers maps and globes, types of maps, co-ordinates, directions and other similar topics. He has learned a lot from these areas to supplement what he already knows about the countries. Of course he delved (probably a little too much) into the World and United States Geography section as well!

As I have mentioned before, we have used some of these areas a lot and some not as much but we do plan on using it more because we absolutely love what we have used. This is a great program! I have not talked about the parent controls as much but I love the way that a parent can log in and see exactly how his child is doing in different areas.

The Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage is definitely a program that I would encourage anyone to look into whether they are looking for a complete homeschool curriculum or just something to supplement what they are using. To find out more just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To find what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought just click on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!

Essential Skills Advantage Review

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