Category Archives: reviews

The Manger Mission ~ a nativity book and activity set review

Disclosure: Many thanks to The Manger Mission for providing this product/product information for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive the product in exchange for this review and post.

Nativity sets are such a common and joyful part of the Christmas tradition for us. We enjoy having a number of these out each Christmas season and having a variety of styles. One thing we noticed when our girls were young is that playing with the nativity set is something they did almost daily and really enjoyed. We kept a kid-friendly nativity set where they could reach it and play whenever they wanted. The Manger Mission: A Family Christmas Tradition written by Kristin Vazquez and illustrated by Hannah Santi is just such an activity set with a hardback storybook to go with it.

The Storybook – The Manger Mission

This is a lovely little storybook about about 6″x6″. This hardback book is a fairly muted color scheme of teal, gold, grays, and white. It matches they activity set beautifully. The story introduces the three wise men, modeled on the story from the Bible found in Luke that tells of an unknown number of men, also unnamed, who traveled to Judea to find the king that was foretold in prophecy from the Old Testament. (This Bible account is noted at the end of the story.)

The story is of the three wise men recounting their journey to see the newborn Christ while they are being moved daily by the children of the home for their yearly reenactment of that journey with a nativity set.

The illustrations, of course, are modeled on the activity set. In the story, the three wise men figures are taken out of the box and are excited to start their yearly reenactment to get to the manger where Jesus lay. They talk about the different places the children place them, each day a little bit closer to the destination of Jesus’ manger. It is a sweet little story.

The Activity Set

The activity set contains 12 pieces. Each piece is comfortable suited for a child’s hand and is a piece of shaped wood. They wood is painted and the covered with a protective coating. They are coordinated with the storybook. The pieces include:

  • Shelter/Cover/Barn
  • Joseph and Mary
  • Jesus
  • 3 wise men
  • 3 animals
  • a shepherd (mine had 2 but the purchase site shows 1)
  • an angel

Notes

This is a fictionalized story that is based on the Bible, though it does incorporate a lot of the tradition of man. This includes giving names to the wise men, likely based in a denominational tradition, and noted a specific number of wise men, again based solely on tradition and not the Bible account. That does not men this is not an incredible activity set that can bring a lot of meaning to your family. This daily motion of the wise men can start at any time during the holiday season if you would like to use it that way. It could also be just a beautiful, fun activity set for the children to have fun with.

The story is fine but I did not find it super engaging. If my children were still in the age range for this, we would read the story at the beginning and then just have the activity set for the girls to play with whenever they wanted. Whatever works for you family would be just right.

This is a beautiful, engaging activity set that can add a lovely tradition to your holiday season or a play time for your children or grandchildren. It is definitely worth investment. Do remember that they are painted wood, though, so a teething child or one who likes to chew on things could damage the pieces.

This is a recommend from me. My girls are even excited to have this new nativity set to add to our collection this year and they are 17, 15, and 12. 🙂 Visit https://www.themangermission.com/ to purchase your own set or one for a gift and start a new tradition.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Math Rider ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Sharper Edge International Pty Ltd has brought a simple, intuitive math practice game to market with MathRider. This downloaded game is a way for students to practice math facts that is fun for middle to upper elementary aged students. It covers the four basic math operations – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. MathRider truly focuses on the simplicity of practice while still adding in an element of fun and play to keep interest.

MathRider is a game where the student is a horseback rider trying to complete a quest. The quests vary from time to time and from operation to operation. The student rides the horse through a scene with various shaped gates to jump. Each gate has a problem underneat it. The student must type in the answer on the keyboard and press Enter. Each correct answer to a fact allows the horse to jump the gate. As the student’s speed increases with the answers, so the horse’s speed increases. A slower answer slower the horse.

At the end of the ride, there is a summary shot that comes up. It indicates correct answers with a green bar and missed answers with a red one. The height of the bar also indicates length of time taken to answer the question.

As would be expected in a quest-based game, there are multiple items that can be won. A student can see the progress through any given quest with the quest map which marks progress with a red line.

Because MathRider is a downloadable game, you have access to it almost immediately after purchase. Additionally, it is a permanent licents, yours forever after that. There is no required upgrades or continued subscription. Multiple students can have accounts on the game at the same time. It will run on a Mac or PC but not a Chromebook or mobile devices.

A nice feature of MathRider is the statistics page. This page shows you what questions have been attempted and color codes the master level on it. Green indicates mastery. Red indicates no mastery. There is a range of hues between those that indicate where on the spectrum a student’s master of that question is.

An example on this one is 4×7. The 28 is a red box. When you click that, it brings up an animated showing of the answer in pictorial form as well as numeric writing. See next picture. This page has a lot of information on it, including overall standings with what has been attempted. Under top challenges, you can see the top 3 questions that have been a struggle for this student. There is also a bar indicating improvement.

Overall, this is one of the better fact practice games we have tried. My daughter is 12 and thought she would really like it after trying the trial of the program. After she had done it several times, though, she got bored with it and felt it took too much time for her since she just wanted to practice the facts she struggles with. That could be a variation on there that I didn’t fine and that would be great. I think if we had tried MathRider several years ago, she would have loved it (as would have our middle giggly girl) and begged to use it daily. It just wasn’t a good fit for a middle school student. I would highly suggest checking out their free trial if you are needing something to practice math facts.

Be sure to read more reviews on the blog of the Homeschool Review Crew from families with students at other ages to see how they got along with MathRider.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Redwall Study Guide from Progeny Press ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Progeny Press is a company who seems to be best known for their literature guides. They have a large line of literature study guides to help students dive into good stories and learn from them. We were given Redwall Study Guide e-guide for the purpose of this review. The Crew also reviewed Wagon Wheels Study Guide (grades 1-3), Cricket in Times Square Study Guide (grades 4-6), and Frankenstein Study Guide (grades 10-12). Redwall is targeted for students in grades 6-10.

The downloadable Redwall Study Guide came in an email, as it would after purchase. I had to download it to my computer. It is an interactive file meaning the student can type their answers directly into the PDF file and save it as their own copy. When we have used the e-guides in the past, my active and easily distracted child did well with it on the computer. My students who prefer to work quietly on their own or with me prefer to have it printed. Either way is possible with the e-guides.

Each study guide from Progeny Press contains the same general format with the material specific to the story. The guide contains some general information for the teacher, an introduction of the authors of the guide, and a synopsis of the story. There is also an author introduction and background information on the story. Then you jump into the meat of the guide. Next you’ll be given some suggested activities to set the stage for the story. Redwall’s Before You Read activities included exploring the idea of fantasy stories, considering protagonists that are animals, and setting up to create a map of Redwall Abbey as the story is read.

Then you get into the book. Redwall has three parts and the guide is set up to follow those. Most guides follow the chapter breakdowns of the book. Redwall’s three parts are The Wall, The Quest, and The Warrior. Each section contains the following:

  • Vocabulary
  • Questions
  • Thinking about the story (more questions on a higher taxonomy level)
  • Digging Deeper (most of these apply a bible verse to be considered)
  • A writing assignment or class discussion, and
  • Chapter activities

Some chapters include an additional part such as looking at dialect or author techniques like cliffhangers.

The study guide closes with final project suggestions and ideas.

As noted previously, we received a downloadable PDF. This is internet linked for some of the resources so you do need to be aware of that, particularly that it links to Pinterest for ideas and suggestions.

Summary of Redwall: This is a fantasy story about Redwall Abbey and the animals that live there. When the rat hoarde decides to invade and take over, the animals must band together. But without the famed sword of the warrior hero of the abbey, they are unsure of whether they can hold out. Matthias will be certain to lead them to victory but can he find the sword that is do desperately needed?

My thoughts on the story and guide: It is a fine story but it was not an enthralling one that had me on the edge of my seat. My girls would not get into this story much at the age range of this particular study guide. The story would have been super appealing when they were in upper elementary but not as middle school or high school students, though it would fit fairly well into a middle ages time period study. I think this one would work best as a read-aloud story for middle elementary students or a independent read for an upper elementary. I don’t know that the study guide really supports these ages though, as it is designed for middle school and high school.

If you are looking for solid, easy to use literature study guides, Progeny Press could be just the resource you need. Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about how the other families utilized these study guides and about the stories.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

1 John: Relying On The Love of God ~ a book review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product from the publisher New Growth Press for the purpose of this review.

1 John: Relying On The Love of God is a small group Bible study published by New Growth Press. It is a part of the Bible study series The Gospel-Centered Life In The Bible. This study is written by Scotty Smith. I received a PDF file for the purpose of this review.

1 John is themed with love and it is the identifying characteristic the John uses in a lot of his writings. The introduction to this study reads:

John referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Surely, this was not because John felt Jesus loved him more than the others, but because John treasured the love of Jesus so deeply.We identify ourselves by the things we treasure. They become the things that most define us. For John, nothing defined him more than the love God has for us in Jesus.

This is what the author of this study really wants us to get a grasp of, to understand in this study. Because 1 John is a shorter book than many others in the Bible, this study is only eight lessons long rather than the 10 that seem to typically be in this series of studies. It is expected that this study will be completed in a small group. It appears to me that it would be a stronger study in a group but would work almost as well as an individual study. Each lesson is structured to take approximately an hour to complete.

Each lesson is structured in the same manner as the other books in this study series. It includes the Big Idea (theme of the lesson), Bible Conversation (reading the passage and discussing it), Article (written by the author of the study), Discussion (questions to consider and draw the group deeper into the theme of the lesson and challenge thoughts and understanding), Exercise (applying the theme and lesson to your life and creating change in you), and Wrap Up and Prayer (closure for the lesson). There is also a section at the end titled Leader’s Notes. These notes include background and information to help the leader guide the lesson and answer some of the questions brought up in the Bible Conversation and the Discussion sections. The notes section is not an answer key as these are not right and wrong sorts of questions. But it is there for consultation to aid the leader.

Personal Thoughts:
We recently went through 1 John in our Sunday night worship series and I am looking forward to going through this study more in depth. I am looking forward to the author’s approach to this. I have found his writing easy to read and his thoughts seem to be grounded in the Bible, rather than a personal take on things.

On a less positive note, I find it difficult to evaluate a book like this when it is in PDF form. I do much better with printed Bible studies. I prefer them. This format is especially difficult when you need to access the Leader’s Notes, which are at the very end. Then you have to scroll back to look at the question and scroll to the end again for the notes, etc. I think I would like this better and find it more enjoyable if I had a printed book.

Overall, I did enjoy this study. Be sure to check out other titles in this study series from New Growth Press, including PsalmsJonahRuth, Exodus, Mark, Ephesians, Titus, Revelation, and Ecclesiastes. You can read my review of some of them here on the blog.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Ecclesiastes: Life In The Light of Eternity ~ a book review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product from the publisher New Growth Press for the purpose of this review.

Ecclesiastes: Life In The Light of Eternity is a small group Bible study published by New Growth Press. It is a part of the Bible study series The Gospel-Centered Life In The Bible. This study is written by David Gibson. I received a PDF file for the purpose of this review.

Ecclesiastes: Life In The Light of Eternity is a study of the book of Ecclesiastes. It is somewhat unusual to study Ecclesiastes but it is a great book to study. It is chock full of wisdom cloaked in poetic, often puzzling, language. This study helps break down that language and get at the heart of the message. Right from the introduction, the reader is struck with a challenge to what is often just taken for granted about this book.

This study of Ecclesiastes is part of a series and it is set up the same way as the previous ones. There are 10 lessons and each lesson is intended to be structured for about an hours worth of study and discussion. It is intended for a small group study but I found this one accessible for individual study, as well, which is honestly how I prefer my study right now. Your small group needs to be a place where hard, deep questions and statements can be dealt with openly and honestly without judgment because that is what Ecclesiastes gets to the heart of – living life for God when so much on this earth is not.

The lesson structure is set up in six sections.

  1. Big Idea
  2. Bible Conversation
  3. Article
  4. Discussion
  5. Exercise
  6. Wrap up and Prayer

The Big Idea introduces the theme of the lesson. The Bible Conversation gets you into God’s word, reading the section that the teaching covers. The article is written by the book’s author and is intended as a main teaching section for the lesson. Discussion covers the article and helps to group members to think deeper about the lesson and teaching. The exercise is supposed to help the group members apply the teaching to their life. Wrap up and Prayer is a short closure to the lesson.

The themes for the lessons in Ecclesiastes include:

  • wisdom
  • happiness
  • time
  • justice
  • words
  • death
  • life
  • planting
  • aging
  • eternity

These themes are quite relatable and can have a great impact on one’s life. I found that my favorite part of the lessons were the exercises because they really brought into view the life of Christ and our lives as Christians. It brought a lot of New Testament scripture into the conversation and I found that refreshing.

This study does include a section at the end of the PDF titled Leader’s Notes. These are notes on the theme and the Bible Conversation, in particular. It is intended to help guide the discussion as needed. It is not a simple right and wrong answer key.

Overall Thoughts:

I liked this study. I found it quite deep and challenging and I will enjoy working through it a bit more in depth as my current study comes to a close.

I did not care for having to work with the PDF file. It is just cumbersome and not enjoyable to work with, especially as it doesn’t scroll smoothly on my laptop but instead slides side to side as I try to scroll. Also, if the leader’s notes are needed, they are at the end of the document and it is not a simple click to get there. Rather you have to scroll all the way to the end and then back and forth as you work through whatever questions you were consulting the notes for.

Be sure to check out other titles in this study series from New Growth Press, including Psalms, Jonah, Ruth, Exodus, Mark, Ephesians, Titus, Revelation, and I John. You can read my review of some of them here on the blog.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Psalms: Real Prayers for Real Life ~ a book review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product from the publisher New Growth Press for the purpose of this review.

Psalms: Real Prayers for Real Life is a Bible study in the series The Gospel Centered Life In The Bible from New Growth Press. This study on Psalms was penned by Barbara Miller Juliani and Patric Knaak. I received the Study Guide with Leader’s Notes in PDF format to use and review.

Psalms: Real Prayers for Real Life is a 10 week study designed for a group, not individuals. It begins with an introduction, 10 lessons, an article titled “How and Why To Keep Praying The Psalms”, Leader’s Notes, and a list of resources for further reading. The PDF is 129 pages, so out of the reach of printing at home for me.

Each of the 10 lessons is set up in the same form. There is a start to the lesson with a few words of introduction and then the statement of the Big Idea for the Psalm in view for that lesson. It is followed by the reading of the Psalm and the Bible Conversation. This engages the group in discussing the ideas for the Psalm in view and getting some talk going about the depth of the issue and ideas. These questions for not have a single right answer so this will challenge some. There are suggested answers in the Leader’s Notes at the end of the file but they are not the only possibility. It is suggested that these are only looked at after some other options have been considered. The Lesson 1 Bible Conversation also includes some general information about the Psalms so that better understanding of them is possible.

Following the Bible Conversation, there is an article written by one of the authors relating to the Psalm. Each of these articles are about 3-4 pages in length and often relate a personal application of the idea of the Psalm by the author, followed with some human insight into the the idea. Questions follow this article asking the group to dig into their own lives to think about the idea and to uncover some areas to explore. There are no right or wrong answers for these so there are not any notes at the end of the file for these.

After the questions, there is an exercise designed to help the group apply the lessons from the idea to their own lives in a helpful, productive manner. It is an individual application so will be completed by each person. After completion, it is a good idea to discuss what group members are willing to share about how they completed the exercise. The exercises vary from considering prayer and writing specific areas in your life to pray about, doing some creative writing, considering what you value, facing your fears and praying about them, to many other ways to approach the topics of the Psalms. Each is designed to engage you more deeply with the word of God in the Psalms.

Each lesson ends with a wrap-up and prayer time. This is a dedicated time for considering prayer needs and praying as a group over what was learned and how to apply it.

It is expected that each lesson will take about an hour. There are time designations on each portion of the lesson, such as saying the article will take approximately 5 minutes. I feel like this is a bit short on the time frame as when I was working through it on my own, it would take about an hour for me to complete a lesson and I was working without a group for discussions.

My Overall Thoughts –

Honestly, I find it difficult to evaluate a book like this when it is in PDF form. I do much better with printed Bible studies. I prefer them. This format is especially difficult when you need to access the Leader’s Notes, which are at the very end. Then you have to scroll back to look at the question and scroll to the end again for the notes, etc. I think I would like this better and find it more enjoyable if I had a printed book. As it is, I found this very difficult to engage in this study.

Another reason I found this a difficult book is that it is unusual for a Bible study to ONLY group format. This one is highly so and thus individual study of this topic using this study was not enjoyable. I think it would be a very good study in group format with people you know and trust. Because the topics of the Psalms are very personal (fear, anger, loneliness, discontent, etc.), I think having a way to effectively utilize this as a personal Bible study would be good.

Overall, this is a strong group Bible study for a group that is comfortable with each other.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Teach Sunday School Bible Breakdowns ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Teach Sunday School is a company that creates printable Bible study materials, including this one – Bible Breakdowns. They have created a number of materials that we have used previously, including Books Of The Bible At-A-Glance and Easter Escape Room. I have found these materials to be neat, compact, and effective in sharing the information they are intended to. In choosing the Bible Breakdowns, I have not been disappointed, finding them useful for the purpose I had in mind when I saw them.

Bible Breakdowns has both an Old Testament pack and a New Testament pack. We were given both for the purpose of this review and both have come in handy. There is a single page for each of the books of the Bible, except for Matthew which is broken down into so many subdivisions that it includes 2 pages. Each book includes a heading that notes the name of the book, whether it is Old Testament or New Testament, and which book of the Bible it is. (Job for example has 18 and OT to designate the 18th book of the Bible found in the Old Testament.) It has a short written summary next. This is followed by how many chapters there are, the type of book it is, the date it was written (or approximate date), the period of time covered by the book, and the author. Then it is broken down by chapter and verse, with each break given a subject or theme. Job includes 7 sections. Finally there is a list of a few of the most popular verses from the book, including their ranking within the book and within the whole Bible.

These are very similar to the Bible-At-A-Glance pages yet they organize the information differently and highlight different parts. As you can see in the image below, much of the information is the same – book placement, author, date, etc. But the Bible-At-A-Glance page does not include the chapter and verse breakdown that is in this set. This set allows the user to have a checklist of what to read and a helpful subject or theme for what will be read. This can really assist in keeping one on track and moving forward. And some books are much easier to read when you know what the theme is of what is coming up. You can see this comparison below.

So, how do you use these? I am using them a couple of different ways.

First, our Bible bowl book this year is Joshua. So all three of the girls have a copy of Joshua to keep with their materials for that. When we really settle into the studying for that, I will be asking them to check it off as they daily read, as I expect them to get through Joshua 6-8 times during our study. Each time through I’ll ask them use a different color pen to mark the passages so they can see progress clearly.

Second, I have printed it all off on half-sized sheets and included them in the mini-3 ring binder that I have with the Bible-At-A-Glance pages, also from Teach Sunday School. This is a resource I keep on our bookshelves for use at any time. I have recently had my daughter who was working through Proverbs take a look at this resource. We have often picked it up to help us get an idea about a book of the Bible we are studying.

Third, our 5-8 grade students at Bible class (my youngest is in this group) are reading through the Bible chronologically. I’ll be sharing the pages for each of the books she reads as she goes through. She has already started both Genesis, Exodus, and Job.

These really have quite a wide variety of uses. If I were teaching the 2nd-4th grade class at church this quarter, I would carry this with me each time we started a new book, just to have another way to view the book we were starting. Overviews are such a great way to get a handle on the start of a new book each time.

There are many great ways to use this resource from Teach Sunday School. I highly recommend that you visit their website to order the download for the product or, if you are looking for more ideas on how you might use it, visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about how other families have been using this Bible resource with their family.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Science Vocab with The Critical Thinking Co. ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Vocabulary can be a tricky thing, can’t it? Sometimes is just sticks with us while other times, it just seems to leave our heads as quickly as it enters. This is why I like activities that utilize vocabulary without it seeming like drill and kill. The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a book that we have been using that is a great fit for this – Science Vocabulary Crossword Puzzles.

The age range for this workbook is grades 4-6 but it has been a nice fit to start out the school year for my 7th grader. It is not super challenging in the grand scheme of things but it is getting her focused and she is really enjoying it. Because of how the clues are written, it is challenging her to recall vocabulary words from a great variety of science areas. This is helping bolster her science knowledge.

The book is an 8 1/2 x 11 softback book with perforated pages to make them easy to remove from the binding if desired. Photocopying of the material within one home for multiple children is allowed. We did not do this. Miss J utilized the book as is, writing directly in the workbook. There are 8 major topics covered in these crossword puzzles: living things; earth’s land, water, and resources; weather; solar system; matter, energy and force; human body; science and scientists; inventions and discoveries.

The crossword puzzles are designed with ample space for each of the letters. There are the typical set of puzzle clues for across and down. There is a choice box with answer options to choose from. At the back of the book, you find a completed puzzle for the answer key. There is also a list of the vocabulary words for each puzzle at the back of the book.

Miss J has been completing one puzzle each school day. She is allowed to choose which one she will do. This has proven to be a fun way for her to expand her vocabulary and to challenge her recall of known information. We require her to answer as much as possible from memory before asking for help or looking for help online or in books.

getting help on the Periodic Table of Elements

This does not by any stretch of the imagination constitute a complete science curriculum but it is a fun, simple enrichment activity or review. It is a fun way to start a year or to introduce a topic area. It could be a jump start for a research project or a rainy day activity. A sick child could do a lot with a book like this, also. With so many options, this is a resource that I can easily recommend.

The plants crossword jump started some research on trees, specifically sequoia and cyprus. She spent some time researching and reading about old trees.

The Critical Thinking Co.™ has a lot of options to choose from. In the past, we have reviewed:

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving

Pattern Explorer Beginning (Grades 3-4)

Something’s Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha

Editor In Chief Level 1

Surfing the Net: Science

We also bought and used Mind Benders Levels 3 & 4. Can you tell we have been pleased with many things from The Critical Thinking Co.™?

The Homeschool Review Crew has had families utilizing several different products from the The Critical Thinking Co.™ In addition to the Science Vocabulary Crossword Puzzles, families have used

Building Thinking Skills® Beginning 2
Tell Me a Story
Science Mind Benders®: Animals
Understanding Fractions
Vocabulary Virtuoso: Mastering Middle School Vocabulary

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more about each of these products.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Spouse In The House ~ a book review & giveaway

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the I Read with Audra program (Audra Jennings PR) and the publisher Kregel Publications.

“Two is company but three’s a crowd.” We all know this adage but what happens when two are home together all.the.time? What happens when two is a crowd? That is the concern being addressed in Spouse In The House by Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby. They know all too well how crowded a space can become when your own daily routine is crowded by someone else’s routine coming home to rest. The global pandemic has caused a stress of this sort for many. But often, retirement, health, or work (from home or together in business) can crowd a space. So what then?

Ruchti and Melby tackle the issues and attitudes that show up when home space is shared continuously. The practical and humorous approach these ladies take for tackling the issue of shared space is joyful, even when dealing with not so joyful things. Their own experiences play well into their knowledge and ideas. They also ask others who are experienced in being home all the time to share their insights, funnies, and tips.

Humor is key to the issue of being home all the time, as many know from the past 18 months. The titles of the chapters highlight the necessary humor – “The Line Down the Middle”, “Love Keeps No Record of Who Cleaned the Toilet Last”, “The Sins Febreze Can’t Quite Cover,” and “It’s Still M Rib, Adam. It’s Still My Rib Cage, Eve.” There are 20 humor filled chapters in the book, along with some helpful resources that may or may not apply to you (including resources for when your marriage is not a safe place to be). Ruchti and Melby take turns writing in each chapter, both addressing the topic at hand from their own experience, marriage, and viewpoint. These ladies play off each other and boost each other’s knowledge, providing a great frame work for growth in marriage.

I found the book to be quite helpful, even though our family doesn’t fit the HHATT (He’s Home All The Time) model. Marriage tips for every marriage come through loud and strong, because good, solid, biblical attitudes are necessary for every stage of marriage. My husband does have an unusual schedule and we home educate our three children. In addition to that, the girls are quite active in dance and that means we have unusual schedules all around. The tips from Spouse In The House really are helpful for creating a home environment where everyone wants to be, where everyone feels respected and included, and where we can work, play, and just chill. Most off all, though, it makes home a place where we all want to come back to at the end of each day. And isn’t that what family is about?

While Ruchti and Melby did write a book that is biblical in character, it isn’t a “pound you over the head with Godly attitude” book. It incorporates love and Godly attitudes into the simple, loving, and daily interactions between a husband and a wife. I found it a helpful marriage book in this regard.

About the Book, from the cover:

A frank and funny look at what to do when together is too close.

Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby know all too well how adjusting to a new, all-the-time closeness can cause the bliss of marriage to form blisters. Drawing from their experiences, and from men and women across the country in the same situation, the authors take a deep breath and dive into the root causes. They dig into what God’s Word has to say, and they offer practical tips for learning the spiritual, emotional, relational, and even physical steps that can help readers replace irritation with peace.

For any couple who wants their home to be a refuge of peace and serenity for all—not just themselves—and who wants to know they aren’t alone in the mental and physical claustrophobia of too much togetherness, Spouse in the House is a vulnerable, charming, and pragmatic breath of hope.

About the authors:

A person smiling for the camera

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events, retreats, writers’ conferences, and workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, “The Heartbeat of the Home.” 

Ruchti’s more than thirty books have garnered reader, retailer, reviewer, and other industry awards. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, is a founding board member of the Deliver Hope ministry and is part of the worship team at her church. She’s also a literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management. 

Ruchti and her husband, Bill, live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and six grandchildren.

Learn more about Cynthia Ruchti and her writing at cynthiaruchti.com or by following her on Facebook (@CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage), Instagram (@cynthiaruchtiauthor), and Twitter (@cynthiaruchti).

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Becky Melby has authored more than twenty novels and novellas. Spouse in the House is her first non-fiction book release.

The Melbys have four sons and fifteen grandchildren and make their home in southeastern Wisconsin. When not writing or spoiling grandchildren, she may be found touring the country with Bill in their camper or on their Honda Gold Wing motorcycle.

Find out more about Becky Melby’s books at beckymelby.com or follow her on Facebook (becky.melby.9) and Instagram (@beckymelbybooks). She also shares short blog posts each Friday on the Fill My Cup, Lord page on Facebook. 

Giveaway!!

Visit I Read With Audra (Audra Jennings PR) to enter the giveaway.
https://www.audrajennings.com/2021/09/win-copy-of-spouse-in-house.html
Will end 10/21.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Math Essentials for middle school ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

As we prepared for this fall, my youngest daughter asked to be taken off of the computer math program we had been using and to be able to do her math from a printed book. It was really good timing because Math Essentials had just come up for review with their prealgebra program. Basic Math Skills Rescue Parts 1 and 2 is a two book set of softback, consumable workbooks. Together, these two books set the stage of a strong foundation for algebra, creating an algebra readiness for the student.

Creator and master teacher Richard Fisher knows that success in math relies on readiness for the upcoming ideas and concepts. In designing Basic Math Skills Rescue, he deals with what he terms the Critical Foundations of Algebra. He feels that success in understanding these ideas will result in long-term math success. There are three areas to deal with – whole numbers, fractions, and some areas of geometry and measurement. These are all addressed in this two book set.

Basic Math Skills Rescue Book 1 includes work with whole numbers and integers, fractions, and decimals and percents. Basic Math Skills Rescue Book 2 includes work with geometry, problem solving, and some more specific pre-algebra concepts. Each book is designed for a single student to work in and includes several helps at the back as well as an answer key.

Each page has a short review section up top. This is followed by a short teaching example and two sample questions to complete together. Following the samples, there are a number of questions for the student to work independently. It ends with a word problem to solve. As noted, the answer key is in the back of the book to check work. If needed, there is also access to online instructional videos to help teach the concept. The access information for this is in each book. We have not utilized these videos since she is wanting more one-on-one help this year but it is great to know they are there if she needs help when I am unavailable.

There are some really well thought-out parts to Basic Math Skills Rescue. Every lesson includes review so you never completely drop a concept until it is the main focus again. Each lesson seems to flow smoothly into the next concept focus, never big jumps in ideas that leave a student confused. The flow of each individual lesson makes sense. Each lesson is self-explanatory but does not make it hard for a teacher to guide the lesson. There are tests for each section. There is also a “resource center” at the back of the book.

The resources at the back of the book will come in quite handy as she gets into more complicated ideas. Included at the back are a glossary of terms and examples, a list of important symbols, a multiplication table to 12s, a table of common prime numbers to 1013, a table of squares and square roots, and a table of fraction/decimal equivalents.

My 7th grader has begun in book 1 and often tackles it while she eats her breakfast. This is a solid review for her of whole numbers at this point. Each concept generally has two lessons on it. She is completing one or two lessons a day at this point. As we move into concepts she is less familiar with and needs more help, we will move to a single lesson each day. Because there is not a lot of white space on each page to work the math of the problems, she also has a notebook in which she writes her problem and does the work. She then transfers the answer into the book. Using the answer key at the back, we check the work together.

If you have seen my review of previous math products from Math Essentials, you will note that they have a book titled Mastering Essential Math Skills. Because we have reviewed it before, I was quite curious to see how it relates to Basic Math Skills Rescue. Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 (the one we reviewed and aimed at middle and high school students) covers the same topics as our current review. However, it is all in a single book and has only one lesson per concept. Additionally, there are two speed drill wheels in the review section. I do think those are fabulous and would make a great addition to this book, also. Because it is moving twice as fast, Mastering Essential Math Skills is better suited to a student who is reviewing or is fairly familiar with chunks of the concepts and just needs a bit of review help.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families’ experiences with Basic Math Skills Rescue Parts 1 and 2.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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