Sunday, April 23, 2017

Color My Conversation–A Homeschool Review Crew Review

Northern Speech Services
Learning good communication skills is hard for anyone. Trust me, I know. We have four teen boys and one pre-teen. And, two of those along with their older 24 year old brother are on the autism spectrum. In this day and age, with teen language the way it is and with the rise of electronics where people of all ages use abbreviations and slang when they type, good communication skills have fallen along the wayside for almost all children. It is, however, especially difficult for boys that are on the autism spectrum. That is why I am so glad that we were sent Color My Conversation from Northern Speech Services.
Color My Conversations (CMC) is an excellent program that creatively teaches all kids, but especially special needs children, methods of communication that are fundamental to life and the kit that we received came with absolutely everything that you need. And I mean everything! Everything down to the markers that you use is included. We didn’t really need to buy anything special at all. That is unusual for curriculums today. I was amazed.
The teaching instructions and any printouts needed are located on CD that is also included and that brings me to something else I really liked about the program – the ease of using. Everything is written out for you. From the words that you are to say to suggestions on how to work with an individual child – everything is written out for you.
Finally, I really like the fact that Color My Conversations takes you from the very basics of conversations to more complex conversations in twelve lessons. Don’t worry, though, it is given to you in bite sized segments. The twelve lessons are:
Beginner Level – The Three Basic Conversations
Lesson One – The Yellow Conversation
Lesson Two – The Short Conversation
Lesson Three – The Long Conversation
Intermediate Level
Lesson Four – “WH” Questions – Who, What, When, Where, and Why
Lesson Five – Interrogative Reversals – Yes! No! Maybe So!
Lesson Six – Making Comments Count
Lesson Seven – Topic Changer Pro
Lesson Eight – Speaking Loud and Clear!
Lesson Nine – Beading
Advanced Level
Lesson Ten – Shared Topic – My Topic – Your Topic
Lesson Eleven – Field Assignments – Smile! You’re on Camera!
Lesson Twelve – Customized Conversations
Let me take you through a typical lesson. Lesson one has to do with “Yellow Conversations”. Yellow Conversations are the very basic conversations – and I’m talking very basic – it’s the hello and goodbye of the conversation. You see, I told you that this course gave you things in bite sized segments.
1. You start of by sending home a parent letter (already written out for you on the CD) that explains what the lesson is going to be about and what the parent can do to review what has been learned with the child when they get home.
2. The lesson manual then gives you an overview of what is going to be learned along with all materials that you will need to pull from the box. Remember – everything is included.
3. Next is the actual lesson. As I said, everything is written out for you from the introduction, to the “basic training”, to the practice, to the “wrap up and homework challenge”. It’s all there along with some suggestions and helpful hints. There is even a keep it fun section for ideas on how to review the lesson throughout the week. You can choose from catchy songs (the music is included on a CD) to other suggestions. If there is anything needed for the review suggestions it is included!
4. Finally, there is a discussion of the lesson that is just for you that reemphasizes what is really needed to be taught in this lesson and answers some basic questions.
Northern Speech Services Color My Conversation
I really, really like how simple it is to use this curriculum but how much in depth it goes. It really does build from the basics of a conversation to the more complex elements of a conversation. I originally thought that this would be perfect for Joshua, but I have been using it with Jacob and he really loves it. There is a special section in this curriculum that talks about how break down each lesson to use with special needs children but I haven’t found that I needed it yet with Jacob. Perhaps I will need to use it with the more complex lessons. As I have mentioned many times before I also really like how this curriculum includes everything. This program is a real hit with my family.
To find out more about Color My Conversation from Northern Speech Services just click on any one of the highlighted links above. You can also connect with them by clicking on one of the social media links below. Many of the other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this awesome program and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy homeschooling!
Color My Conversation {Northern Speech Services Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Web Design by CompuScholar–A “Wow! Wow! Wow!” Homeschool Review Crew Review.


CompuScholar, Inc.

Wow! Wow! Wow!

Okay. Before I tell you what is “Wow! Wow! Wow!” I need to tell you a story. It’s a sad, sad, story. It begins when a father asks his son, John Allen, by now a young man in his early 20’s, if he would like to review a really neat online Web Design course by CompuScholar, Inc. John Allen has always enjoyed working with the computer and, in fact, when he was in high school, helped review another course by the same company. Back then the company was known as “Homeschool Programming” and included books in the learning process. Now, though, as I mentioned, they are known as CompuScholar, Inc. and their courses are all online. Well, anyway, dear old Dad registered John Allen for the course using the very easy registration process and was thinking that John Allen was merrily working his way through the course when, lo and behold, when Dad went to check on the progress about half way through the review period, he found that John Allen had not been working through the course because of extra hours of work and other outside obligations. Well, after scolding said son for not mentioning this to his dear old and now panicking Dad, his father decided that it was partially his fault for not checking up on him sooner. So, Dad rolls up his sleeves and decides to just take the course himself. After all, since the Web Design course is written for kids in 6-12th grades (middle school and high school) Dad thought it would be easy but also expected it to be boring since this was not really his thing. Well, although Dad did not get through as much as some other reviewers probably did, Dad did get through quite a bit and is loving the course. The following is dear old Dad’s review (aka me). I hope you enjoy it.

As I mentioned above, the course is written for kids in grades 6-12. CompuScholar. Inc. suggests that, although no programming skills are needed, familiarity and ease of using the computer is recommended. As they mentioned to we reviewers, if a family is petrified of computers and needs to take their computer to Geek Squad every week to clean off viruses then this may not be a good fit for them. Really, though, although I can maintain my blog pretty well, I have no other programming skills at all (except for an ancient college computer class back in the early 80’s soon after desk tops were introduced so I really don’t think that counts anymore) and I found the course fairly easy to navigate and very interesting.

The registration was equally as easy. This course can be used in a classroom setting, so a number of students can be registered and tracked if that is what you purchased, but, of course, this is not what we used it as. I did, however, register myself as the teacher and registered John Allen as the student (which of course, to my dismay he never used) and the process was simple.

The course itself is easy to use but, now this is where the “Wow! Wow! Wow!” comes in, you learn so much! Don’t worry, all of the information is given to you in small bits and pieces, and is given to you in several different ways. In this course there are 28 Chapters. In each chapter their are three or four lessons, a project, and a chapter exam. Each lesson has taken approximately 30-45 min. for me to complete. So, depending on how quickly you get a lesson done and/or how many lessons you want to do in a day, you could complete this course in one semester of homeschooling or if you just do one lesson/project/chapter test a day, then it would take you about a whole homeschool year to complete.


CompuScholar, Inc. Web Design

Let me describe a typical Chapter to you. You begin by watching a video of the lesson. As I said above, the whole process of developing a web page from beginning to end is taught in bite size pieces. For example, Chapter Two: Your First Web Page, you begin to learn how to prepare your computer to use HTML. Lesson One talks about Root Directories, Lesson Two teaches about Home Pages, Lesson Three teaches essential HTML Symbols and in Lesson Four you learn about HTML File Layout. In each lesson you first watch a video. After the video you read the lesson text. I really like this approach because it reaches both the auditory learner and the visual learner. After watching the video and reading the text there is a lesson quiz that has five multiple choice questions. For each quiz you are given three chances before you have to submit your answers to be graded. After the lessons in each chapter there is an activity where you practice what you have learned. In Chapter Two the activity is called “Body Text Experiments” and, as the name applies, has to do with Body Texts. The experiments are always explained fully and I have had no difficulty understanding them. Finally there is a Chapter Text which is also multiple choice. The quizzes, activity and chapter test are weighted and each grade represents a part of your total grade for that chapter. It is very easy to navigate through everything. All you have to do is click on the next icon and you are there.

That’s it for a complete chapter. They are very easy to figure out and to do. By the time you are done with all of the lessons you will have learned how to create a multi page website complete with graphics and audio visual content. What the course does is take you through developing a practice website about Raptors so that you can use what you learned in the practice website to build your own website.

The teachers guides are equally simple to use. Each lesson has it’s own teachers guide that goes over what is taught in the lesson. It also has added helps for the teacher that is overseeing the course. While the information is helpful, it is not necessarily needed to complete the course. There is also an answer key for the teacher to use as well. Because I am taking the course using my teacher password, I have not been able to really use the other features that are included like the gradebook feature but I hope to be able to use it soon because I am going to really push John Allen and some of my other boys to take this course.

As you can see, I am really impressed with this course. I am learning so much and loving it! To find out more about the Web Design course by CompuScholar, Inc. just click on any one of the highlighted links above. Many of the other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed other courses by CompuScholar, including their Digital Savvy course, and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Computing!

Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What A Day it Has Been!


Today is done. What will tomorrow bring?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

As I sit here and contemplate what a crazy day it's been, I can't help but thank God for his blessings and for using Sarah Trull Tinkel and me in ways that I often don't understand.

It all began while I was doing my devotions and praying this morning. I got a call from the social worker for our foster boys asking if we could pick up their brother a day early to come and live with us. Originally we thought that they were going to wait until the end of the school year for Robert to come and live with us. Then, last week, we were told it would be Thursday. However, the boy's home where he was at needed another bed so they asked us to pick him up today. I quickly went to tell Sarah then went to finish the review that I was working on.

While finishing the review, I got a call from a strange number listed as a Nevada number. My caller ID said it was listed as a spam number so I didn't answer. A few minutes later the same number came up on my phone again. I thought I swiped my phone to reject the call but apparently answered it. I heard a voice coming from the phone so I picked it up to ask who it was. It ended up being one of John Allen's friends who had gotten into some trouble and had spent the night in jail. We consider him like a son. We quickly jumped in the car to make arrangements for him to get out of jail. He is staying with us for the night and Sarah is going to go to court with him in the morning. Please be praying for our young friend. Because we live in a small town, I’m not going to mention his name but God knows the whole situation.

While we were dealing with him, a friend who volunteers at a local food bank called to say that they had a lot of food today and suggested we come by. Knowing that we would have a full house of seven wonderful young men to feed, we gladly stopped by. While there I was introduced to a man and asked if I would pray with him. We ended up talking for about an hour while he told me his life story including his running from God. He knew that God was calling him back. Through tears we prayed together and I promised that I would be in contact with him again. Please be praying for Chuck.

After picking up David and Skiler, stopping by McDonald’s to get everyone something to eat off of the dollar menu, and going home to unload the McDonalds food and food bank food, we were finally on our way to pick up Robert in the boy’s home an hour away.

Robert quickly got settled in and soon all of the boy’s wanted to go to the city park to play basketball. They had heard of Sarah’s basketball skills (she played in college) and invited her to come. I watched from the car since, as many of you know, I am not an athlete. Soon, a young man came over to the car. I quickly recognized him as a boy who used to come to our day camps a few years ago with his brother and sister. He apologized for not coming to any of our events for the past couple year or so and explained that the reason was that his mom had left them and he and his sister were now living with their father. The two youngest brothers who were too young to come to day camps were living with their father (a different father from the two oldest) and the middle brother who had still another father, was living with the mom in a homeless shelter in Nashville. After talking for some time with him, I found out where he was living and invited him to come to our teen boy’s Bible study on Thursday nights. Please be in prayer for Christian, his sister and his three younger brothers. It is a tough situation.

Finally, while I was talking to Christian, I look up to see Sarah and another boy sprawled out on the court. Yes, Sarah and the boy had gotten tripped up and their was a wipe out. As I type, Sarah is beside me in the bed and Jacob, our youngest is between us after he got sick and threw up in the bathroom. Please pray for both Sarah, who is aching from the fall and Jacob.

So, I am here contemplating and listening to the sound of a full house of boys and young men settling down for the night. As I do I wonder what tomorrow will bring but know that whatever it is God will be with us.

Thanks for all of your prayers.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Joshua Has Done It Again!


Joshua State Bowling 2017

The end of the bowling season seems to be Joshua’s time to excel. Last year he had a fantastic finish to his first year of bowling. He far exceeded his goals at the Tennessee State Junior Bowling Championships. This year he did even better! Not only did he have a great tournament but he bowled his highest ever single game with a score of 228! And, this year he was in the top 10 in every single category. No, make that the top 6 in every single category and in three out of the five categories he was in the top 5! Below are all the details.

Team – His four man team placed 5th out of 35 teams in their division.

Doubles – He and his partner placed 6th out of 58 doubles teams in their division.

Singles – He placed 5th out of 72 bowlers in his division.

All Events Handicapped – He placed 6 out of 73 bowlers in his division.

All Events Scratch – He placed 3 out of 73 bowlers in his division!


Congratulations Joshua!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

God’s Spring Blessings to the Tinkels–Part 2–Our Plants and Trees


Spring 7

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, Matthew 6:28

The other day I mentioned how much we enjoy watching the birds all year long but especially in the spring. God has blessed us with many different types of birds that have come to the feeders that we have in the yard of our new house.

God has also blessed us with many different types of flowering plants and trees. When we lived at the mission house a few years ago we did a lot of planting. We enjoyed planting all kinds of flowers, bushes and trees. When the mission and house were sold, Sarah said that she wouldn’t plant again until we owned our own home. Well, now that we own our own home, Sarah is thinking about planting again. However, the previous owners have done such a great job of landscaping that we are waiting to see what flowers and blooms this spring before we decide what we are going to add. We have loved watching more and more beautiful things bloom each day. Below are some of the things that we have enjoyed seeing thus far. Thank you Lord for all of your blessings!

Spring 1Spring 2

Spring 3Spring 4 Spring 5

Spring 6Spring 8

Spring 10Spring 11Spring 12Spring 13Spring 14

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

We Love History and We Love Memoria Press History–A Homeschool Review Crew Review


Memoria Press


“These are a few of my favorite things!”

Do you remember that song from The Sound of Music? Well, today I’m going to talk about a couple of my favorite things. My first favorite thing is history. I know I have talked about this before but we really do love history around here. It began with my parents. They would take us to wonderful historic places like Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Plymouth Rock, etc. I also had the great pleasure of being a teen during our countries Bicentennial in 1976 so that helped stoke my love of history. I have tried to pass that on to my children and, thankfully, do to some excellent curriculum, books, and, of course, vacations to some great historic sites ourselves, my kids have developed a love for history as well.

Another one of my favorite things is Memoria Press. My first experience with this great classical curriculum company was when we first began to homeschool John Allen, my oldest, I decided I wanted him to learn Latin since that was the basis for many language. That began his love of Latin and our love of Memoria Press. We used one of their Latin curriculums and John Allen excelled. We have used several things of theirs over the years. So, what could be better than a history curriculum from Memoria Press? Well, that’s what we got! We were blessed to receive The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History Set.

These two awesome sets actually consist of five books and a set of flashcards. The first book that I want to talk about comes from the The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set. The whole set is actually based on H. A. Guerber’s historical works by the same name. I love original historical books that were written before the time of rewriting history and political correctness. This is an honest portrayal of what really happened in the early days of our great nation. Original written in 1899 this 211 page combination of these two books is divided into 85 short stories that cover “Our Country so Long Ago” all the way to “The Spanish-American War”. The stories are well written and interesting. In fact, it’s books like this on which I based the history curriculum that I put together for our two autism spectrum boys. This book fits in marvelously with the other books that I’ve been using. My kids have learned so much by using old historical textbooks such as this.

The two other books that come in this set are The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Student and Teacher Guides. These 32 lesson books cover all of the chapters in the original H. A. Guerber textbook. Each Lesson has four sections. The “Facts to Know” section covers several events, items or people that a student should know about and memorize. Such things as William Penn, the Seven Years’ War and The Statue of Liberty are included in this section. The “Vocabulary” section simply has the student define different words that may be new to them in each story. Section 3 – “Comprehension Questions” ask questions about the different stories that the student must answer in two or three sentence. Finally, the last section, “Enrichment”, has the students locate different historical areas on the map, list things on a timeline or other chart, and then do some other activity such as write a journal entry or memorize a particular poem or document. My kids love doing this type of work because they love history and this is something that they can exceed in. Often I will ask them the questions or vocabulary definitions because they have difficulty with small motor tasks, but really there is not much writing at all in the student workbook and each lesson is only about two pages long. The Appendix in the back has the maps, charts and documents that are referred to in the lessons. The Teacher Guide has all of the same things that the Student Guide has but has all of the answers filled in. It also has four tests that cover about 8 lessons each that can be given to the student.

200 Questions About American History Set
Grades 5-8

The 200 Questions About American History Set includes a Student Book and Teacher Guide as well as a set of flashcards to drill students with. This set is exactly as it is named – 200 Questions About American History. They are 200 important questions that all students should know. It is a complement set to the H. A. Guerber set and most of the answers are taken from the H. A. Guerber textbook. In the student book, the chapter where the answer is found in the Guerber book is given. There is also a helpful chart at the beginning of the book that lists where the answers can be found. The one difference between this set and the Guerber set is that this set goes beyond where Guerber ended. For the historical events beyond The Spanish American War it is recommended that you purchase Volume 4 of Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. Again the Teacher Guide includes everything the Student Guide includes along with the answers but also includes seven tests that can be given throughout the year. The flashcards are very handy in reviewing the 200 important events. My boys really excel by using flashcards in their learning and these question on one side/answer on the other cards are very helpful.

These are definitely going to be used throughout our course of learning American History. As I mentioned before they go along fantastically with what we are already using. We are very pleased with them.

To find out more about The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History Set just click on any one of the highlighted texts above or check out the social media links listed below. Some of the other Homeschool Crew Members reviewed other items from Memoria Press and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!

Social Media Links:
Twitter:  @MemoriaPress


First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, April 3, 2017

God’s Spring Blessings to the Tinkel’s–Part One–Our Birds


Matthew 10:29-31

"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. "So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

Spring has sprung here at the Tinkel Estate and this is the first post of a short series on God’s spring creations around our home. We love our new house and property and we love looking out each day to see what trees and plants are blooming. The previous owners did a magnificent job of landscaping. They kept some of the beautiful trees that were on the property as well as added more gorgeous trees, plants and bushes.

We’ve added by putting out our birdfeeders. We have loved bird watching since our early days of marriage. It was really Sarah’s grandparents that really inspired me to be an ornithologist (bird watcher). They had bird feeders up all over their yard. In fact, the large standing birdfeeder in my pictures below is one that grandpa made. It stood outside of their kitchen window for years and now stands outside of our huge picture window. We love our feeders and our birds. Enjoy the pictures.

Bird 6Bird 1Bird 3Bird 5

Thursday, March 30, 2017

We Love The Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit–A Homeschool Review Crew Review


Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio

When I was given the opportunity to possibly review the Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit from Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio I debated about whether to ask for it or not. After all, I had just reviewed it about a year ago and used it with my Teen Boy’s Bible Study. Unfortunately, though, that was also the time when three of the boy’s were taken and put in foster care and didn’t have a chance to go through the study. We are very blessed to be able to call those three boys our sons now and I thought it would be an awesome idea to take them through the study as well. I had all of the material, but since we have moved, it has been lost in the shuffle so I was very excited when we were chosen once again to review it.

I absolutely love the Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit and the author. I didn’t have any reason to contact him for any reason this time, but I had a few questions the first time around and he was so helpful and personally responded to my questions and even gave me some personal tips on how to use it with the group of boys that were attending the study at the time. The author and material are fantastic.

The Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit consists of five parts:

  • The Manhood Journey introductory CD.
  • The Manhood Journey Embarking Group Guide
  • The Manhood Journey 1 on 1 Guide
  • A Pack of 10 Manhood Journey Maprochures
  • A complementary copy of Wise Guys: Unlocking Hidden Wisdom From the Men Around You by Kent Evans


Father's Starter Kit | Manhood Journey

There are actually six modules in Manhood Journey. Embarking is the first module and although the other five modules can be done in any order, it is recommended that Embarking be done first since it sets the tone for the other modules. All of the studies should be done with boy’s ages 8 through there teen years and their fathers if possible, but, if the actual father is absent from the boy’s life for some reason, another male figure that acts as the father, such as an uncle or mentor, can attend.

The Embarking study itself is a six week study that, as I said, is an introduction to the other modules. It talks about the five major things that should go into a boy’s (or man’s) life to make him a Godly man. They are called the “Five Big Rocks” and there is a fantastic object lesson in the first week’s study that introduces the whole concept. If the five big rocks of Trust God, Know His Word, Pray Fervently, Build Relationships, and Serve Others, are in a man’s life then all of the other less significant things will fall into place. The other five lessons cover those “rocks” in detail.

The Manhood Journey Embarking Group Guide is excellently written with an introduction and opening time, Bible and discussion times, and a closing time with Father/Son homework. Everything that you need is included in the Group Guide down to the questions that you ask the fathers/and or sons. Even the Bible verses, in the NIV version (unless otherwise indicated) are written out for the leader. I really love the discussion time. The verses are right to the point and the questions are thought provoking but also fun. Some of the questions could be a little difficult for younger children, but can easily be adjusted. This group time can easily be done in about an hour.

Another thing that I really like is the Manhood Journey 1 on 1 Guide. It is to be used during the week, between group studies, by the father and son. It involves a message to the dad before they begin. It then goes on to give a review of the previous week’s lesson and then a further discussion of the lesson. Again, everything is written out in detail including the verses and the questions. If the father wants to go into more detail with his son, there is also a “Digging Deeper” section. Although this guide is for the father and son to use during the week, between the group studies, it can also be used by a father and son by itself if there is no group study available to attend. I really like that.


Father's Starter Kit | Manhood Journey

The Introductory CD and the Mapbrouchures are just supplementary material that go along with all of the modules. The Introductory CD is simply an introduction to all of the modules while the Mapbrochure is a fold out map that can be hung on the wall to track your progress as you work your way through all six of the modules in the Manhood Journey studies.

Wise Guys: Unlocking Hidden Wisdom From the Men Around You – is an excellent bonus book that was written by the author of the Manhood Journey studies, Kent Evans. This 200+ page book talks about how a man of any age can seek out and use wisdom from other men who have walked through life before them. It is filled with humor and a lot of wisdom. I would recommend this book for anyone whether you are going through the Manhood Journey study or not.

We absolutely love the the Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit from Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio. Although we are not completely done with the six modules, we have loved what we have done so far. To find out more about this awesome product just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To find what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew have said about this product just click on the banner below. You can also connect with them through social media. Those links are listed below as well.

Social Media Links:
Manhood Journey
Twitter:  @manhoodjourney
City on a Hill



Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit {Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

God Has Truly Supplied All of Our Needs!


front window picture 1

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19 | NIV |

God has indeed blessed us and met our needs. The house he has given us is a real blessing and we want to use it for his glory. Not only does it have enough room for my ever increasing family – soon there will be 6 awesome boys living in our home – but it also has enough room and is a beautiful location for ministry.

The view from our huge front window is absolutely gorgeous. We placed some of our bird feeders in our front yard the other day and the birds have already found it and they are swarming it.

God knew our needs and has truly blessed us with a beautiful home for our family, a wonderful location for ministry, and an awesome place of relaxation.

Thank you Lord for your wonderful blessings. Thank you for taking care of our needs by giving us overly and abundantly more than we deserve. Please help us to always use our home for your glory. ~ Amen

front window picture 2

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bessie’s Pillow–A Homeschool Review Crew Book Review


Strong Learning, Inc.


We absolutely love history at our house. I was blessed to be raised by a father who loved history and I have tried to instill a love of history to my children as well. So, when we got the chance to review Bessie's Pillow from Strong Learning, Inc. we were very excited. We weren’t disappointed!

Have you ever had something in your family passed down from generation to generation that intrigued you? You might have wondered what the history or the significance of the object was? That is sort of what Bessie’s Pillow is all about. However it’s not just about the pillow but it is about 18 year old Boshka Markman (Bessie) who immigrated from Lithuania in 1906 to escape the persecution that many other Jewish people were experiencing in Europe.

Let me tell you, from the very beginning of this book my middle child, Joshua, was hooked. He practically begged for me to continue reading it to him since we used this as a read aloud for he and his younger brother Jacob. The book is super well written by Bessie’s granddaughter, Linda Bress Silbert and covers not only her immigration experience but her first years in America, her marriage and her family.


Bessie's Pillow

However, this is not just a fantastic biography, but it also comes with a study guide and some fascinating resources that make the story really come to life! I don’t know about you, but when I become entrenched in a historical novel that I really love, I want to immerse myself in that time period. Well, with the resources that come with Bessie’s Pillow you can actually see, hear and almost smell what it was like during that time period. There are movie clips, pictures and links to other sites that have to do with many topics that have to do with immigration and life in America during the 1900’s.

The online teacher’s study guide is also excellent. It includes questions and discussion topics for Language Arts, Social Studies, and, of course, History. It also has a fantastic time line that can be printed out and used while reading the book. The glossary of terms was also very helpful since many Russian and Jewish terms were used throughout the book that may be unfamiliar to the reader.

That’s not even all, though. The book itself has a fantastic section that gives more detail about many of the things mentioned in the book and what it was like living during that time period. There are also many pictures of Bessie and her family down through the years.

I know that you can tell by this review that we really, really love this book. It has become a favorite of Joshua and is also a favorite of mine. This 276 page novel can be used by all ages but an elementary ages child might need a little more help to understand some of the things that are happening and some of the language. To find out more about Bessie's Pillow from Strong Learning, Inc. click on any one of the links above. To find what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about novel click on the banner below. You can also connect with the folks from Bessies Pillow on social media using the links provided below. Happy reading!

Twitter:  @BessiesPillow


Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide–An Awesome Homeschool Review Crew Review


Home School Adventure Company

It’s interesting that this review should come up when it did. Really, it’s no coincidence but it is God’s timing. I am always amazed by it. But, I digress. The reason that I am amazed by God’s timing with this review is because of the adventurous time in life that we are in. We have three biological sons – or, as Sarah, my wife would say – we have three son’s that were born of her body, and, just recently, two of three teen brothers came to live with us as our foster sons. The third will be coming in a month or so. Sarah calls these three sons sons that were born of her heart.

I had always heard of “rites of passage” events and rituals that happened in other countries, but I had never really thought of having a special “manhood” event for my children until a couple of years ago when I read about one event that a family had for their son. Still, there were no details on how to really put one together so I struggled with how I would put together such an event for my, at that time, three boys. Having such an event came to my mind again while we were making preparations to open our home to these awesome brothers who have now become three more sons but I still had no idea how to put one together . . . until, that is, I found out that I was going to review Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide from Home School Adventure Co.

This small downloadable ebook is wonderful and has given me a pattern as to how to lead manhood event with my sons. It was actually written by a mother who wanted to have such an event for her son, yet knew that she couldn’t really participate since it was an event for other men to advise her child. So, she developed a method where she could be “unobtrusively involved” as she calls it in the book.


Celebrating Manhood a Rite of Passage Guide

It is really quite simple. I will try to give you the basic concept without giving too many details because, after all, we are encouraging you to by the book and not to say so much that you can take what I wrote in this review and use it to plan your own event. Basically, several men are invited to the special event. One or two very easy activities are prepared to break the ice and get the evening started. Each man gives a blessing to the boy. They eat a meal together. Then there is a question and answer time with questions already prepared for the men to answer about their lives and advice that they would give to the special boy who is just beginning his journey into manhood.

I hate that my description is so vague, but, as I said, I don’t want you all to be able to take away an outline as to how to do it yourself. Really, even if you could figure it out yourself, I would encourage you to buy Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide because it is much more than a book that tells you how to do it, it includes everything you need to plan the special event. From a template for the invitations, to ideas about activities, to guidelines for the special party, to special made question cards with the awesome questions already printed on them that are ready to be printed out from your computer. Everything is there for you to use.

I am so looking forward to using this guide to plan Celebrating Manhood events for all of my boys. I think that it will be special for my biological sons because it will allow men other than me to give them advice. I think it will be particularly special for my foster sons because of the very difficult life that they have had to live. They need to hear some advice from some Godly men – some that they know well and others that they don’t. I know that these events are going to be fun and very special for each of the boys.

To find out more about Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide just click on any one of the highlighted links above. Many other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this and other items from Home School Adventure Co. and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Below you will also find the social media links for this great company.

Twitter:  @HomeSchoolAdven


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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Eclectic Foundations! We’ve Finally Found Something that Works! A Homeschool Review Crew Review.

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations }
Most of you all know about our struggles with teaching our youngest son, Jacob, to read. Several things have helped, but nothing has really done the trick. Nothing has seemed to really motivates him to learn – or for that matter me to teach him better reading skills. He has always had the basics down. He knows his letter sounds. It’s just a matter of teaching him to blend those sounds together. Basically just practice, practice, practice. Finding a curriculum that is easy to teach (motivates me), fun to use (motivates him), and provides the practice has been difficult. Until, that is, Eclectic Foundations and their Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B program entered our home! It is easy, fun, and provides the practice he needs plus more!
I love the fact that it is easy to use! There is almost no preparation at all and it doesn’t take long to teach. In fact, every lesson in the Teacher’s Guide is just one page. It tells you exactly what to use, exactly what to say, exactly what to focus on! It is extremely easy which with my busy lifestyle is very much needed!
Each lesson has five areas that are taught:
McGuffey’s Reader – Yes, we use the old, tried and true McGuffey’s Reader. We were blessed to receive a copy of McGuffey’s First Reader with the material that was sent to us. If you are not familiar with the McGuffey’s Readers, let me tell you that they are advanced. Just because it says First Reader does not mean it is the typical first grade reading book. At the beginning it may be easy, but at the end you are reading words beyond what a typical first grader would read.
At the top of each lesson there is a picture. Underneath there are practice words and a short story. Jacob reads the practice words that are introduced and then the story. Then I ask some questions about the story and the picture. I say “picture” because some of the questions are about the picture itself to help him use his imagination and think about what might happen next. It all takes a very short time and is more fun than a chore.
Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations }
Phonics – We were also sent a an Eclectic Foundations Language Arts B Student Workbook. It is equally easy to use and has several sections but first I’ll talk about the phonics section.
At the top of the page there is a list of words that are similar – such as silent e words. The student is to read the 10 to 12 or so words and continue to review the words he has trouble with until he can read them fluently. We were also provided with a laminated Phonics Practice Sheet Level B book with laminated reusable pages where the student is to print the words as he says them. I love this tactile method that is used to help them concrete the learning of the words.
Handwriting/Copy work – Yep, I said “handwriting”, and I am not talking about printing either, I am actually talking about cursive writing! They start off very simply with a letter a day and then work on connecting letters and copy work. I love that they are teaching cursive writing at an early age but must say that I have not tried this with Jacob yet. He also has small motor problems and I am not quite sure he is ready for this yet. I may try soon, though, because it is said that the smoothness of cursive writing is actually better for kids who have small motor problems.
Poetry – I also like the fact that kids are learning good poetry in this curriculum! And we aren’t just talking about simple little made up poems. Jacob is learning poetry written by Robert Lewis Stevenson, George McDonald and more. Each poem is in the student workbook. We’ll read the poem, and talk about the way a poem is put together and about the poem itself. For example, during the first few lessons Jacob was asked to circle the rhyming words of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s “A Good Play” poem. We then discussed each stanza.
Grammar – From the very first lesson the student is learning grammar. Often we just discuss grammar using the questions and examples provided in the teacher text, sometimes there is an exercise in the student workbook to be done, and other times we use the provided McGuffey Word Cards to discuss parts of speech. Again, I love the mix of tactile (in some lessons the student is to color the word cards red for a noun, green for verb, etc.), oral (often the student has to orally answer grammar questions) and auditory (many times the teacher describes and explains grammar concepts).
That is it! It may seem like a lot, but really it doesn’t take long at all and it goes by quickly. We are both loving it. I think we finally found what is really going to work for us! It’s simple for the teacher, fun for the student, and provides the practice needed.
To find out more about Eclectic Foundations and Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B, just click on any one of the highlighted links. Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed other levels of this program and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Eclectic Foundations can also be found on Facebook at Happy Homeschooling!
Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}
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