Tag Archives: reviews

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.

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.

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:

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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. 


Visit I Read With Audra (Audra Jennings PR) to enter the giveaway.
Will end 10/21.

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.

Lori, At Home.

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady ~ a book review

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

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady by Sharon J. Mondragon is just the book I needed. An enjoyable story combined with well-developed characters and a push toward evangelism made for a story line that I couldn’t put down. If you have ever felt comfy in your space and routine, don’t read this one because it will push you out of that comfort zone and step on your toes and rip up your routine, making you think long and hard about what you really are doing in your zest and zeal for God.

Do you like to knit or hand craft gifts and useful items? You will want to just jump right in a become a part of the Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl ministry. Here’s the summary of the story and how these ladies’ lives take quite a turn, right along with their knitting. There are surprises in both!

Margaret, Rose, Jane, and Fran had a good thing going: meet every week in the quiet of their peaceful chapel and knit prayer shawls. No muss, just ministry. That is, until their pastor boots them out of the church in his last-ditch effort to revive the dwindling congregation.

Uptight Margaret isn’t having it. Knitting prayer shawls where people can watch is the most ridiculous idea she’s ever heard of, and she’s heard plenty. Prayer belongs in the church, not out among the heathen masses. How are they supposed to knit holiness into these shawls if they’re constantly distracted by the public? But with no choice, the others embrace the challenge. They pack their knitting bags and drag Margaret–grumbling the whole way–to the mall with them. She can’t wait to prove them all wrong when it fails miserably, and show the pastor that she always knows best.

Without the familiar mold the group has been stuck in, their own losses, pain, and struggles rise to the surface. And the people and situations they encounter every time they try to sit quietly and knit are taking them a lot further out of their comfort zone than they ever imagined. Can they find the courage to tackle the increasing number of knotty issues they learn about in the community–or will the tangle be too much to unravel?

I found the story of Margaret, Rose, Jane, and Fran a joy to read. I just wanted to curl up with something cozy and a glass of ice tea and just read. I wanted to know how these ladies were going to fare when they had to leave their comfort zone, especially as I read about how grumpily Margaret was taking the challenge. Once they met Sarah, I just knew something bigger was happening. And then it grew. And grew. And grew. And you know what I saw? God meeting the open hearts with people who had no idea what God could do. It made me wonder about how much I was in my comfort zone, closed off from that big and wide and messy world that needs God. I adored this story and have told my teenagers that I think they would enjoy it, too.

The characters that come into the story are amazing and I found myself really rooting for them. From pregnant Amy with the purple hair to the prayer requesters who would not sign their prayer request, from the lady who is missing her father to the mom whose child came boldly into the circle, characters are everything and this book is packed with them. The fabulous and well formed characters really made this book an extension of life.

But I bet you are wondering about “the dragon lady” part of it. You know, our attitudes and outward appearances often made us a dragon. When we allow that to be what rules us, we lose ourselves. So what happens when we finally give in and listen to God? He can do amazing work in our lives. So, you’ll have to read to find out who exactly is the dragon lady. But I will tell you – God knows we can all be a dragon and he is looking for us to give that part of ourselves up to Him so He can smooth us over into one who works for Him.

About the Author:

Sharon J. Mondragón writes about the place where kindness and courage meet. Her debut novel, The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady (originally titled The Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry) was the 2017 winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis award in the Short Novel Category, and she has also been recognized by The Saturday Evening Post where her short story, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” was an Honorable Mention Awardee in the 2014 their Great American Fiction Contest.
Mondragón has been active in prayer shawl ministry since 2008 and currently serves as facilitator for the prayer shawl ministry at her church, St. Paul Episcopal in Waxahachie, TX. She also knits with the Circle of Healing at Red Oak United Methodist Church. She is a Level 2 Certified Knitting Instructor through the Craft Yarn Council and teaches beginning knitting at a local yarn store.
Mondragón is the mother of five grown children and has four grandchildren. After 26 years as an Army wife, she has settled in Midlothian, TX with her hero/husband, her laptop, and her yarn stash.
Visit Sharon Mondragón’s website and blog at www.sharonjmondragon.com and follow her on Facebook (Sherry Mondragón) and Twitter (@SJ_Mondragón).

Final Thoughts:

Get your hands on this book. You won’t regret the read and you might just find yourself boldly asking God to take you our of the prayer chapel and into the world.


You can win a copy of this book by entering the giveaway. Visit https://www.audrajennings.com/2021/09/win-copy-of-unlikely-yarn-of-dragon-lady.html to find the entry form.
The Rafflecopter will close on 10/19/21.

Lori, At Home.

Kids’ Devo Book: Roar Like a Lion by Levi Lusko ~ a book review

Disclosure: Many thanks to Thomas Nelson 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.

Levi Lusko has a view of life that inspires and encourages. Hardship in his life has brought him close to God and his writings share that well. Roar Like A Lion: 90 Devotions To A Courageous Faith is a book of short daily devotional thoughts to share with children. The publisher recommends ages 6-10 but my personal feeling is that it is well suited as young as 4, especially because a parent will be going through it with them.

Each of the 90 devotional thoughts includes a Bible verse, some thoughts about applying that to the child’s life, a prayer to God relevant to the topic and either a Did You Know? or a Get Ready To Roar! These two page devotions open up in a simple way deep topics to delve into and discuss from a Biblical view.

Every page of the book has beautiful, bright, and colorful artwork that will capture the mind of the child as each devotion is begun. The topics are varied but are quite relevant to the students. These include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • facing fears about school and friendships
  • dealing with peers, including things like peer pressure and bullying
  • handling emotional times like disappointment, grief, and new challenges
  • having courage to try new things
  • understanding how we fit into God’s story and plan

Each devotion even has fun facts or interesting ideas that relate to the topic of the day in some way. For kids who really absorb trivia, these help them relate as the trivia will tie back into the topic.

These devotions are written with engaging language for younger children and new independent readers. But, as with many devotions for children, it is always best to engage as a family and study the Bible and its application to our lives together. Parents understand their children, their passions, and their needs. This makes them the right for helping a student study the Bible at their level and their applications.

You can get this book today through https://www.roarlikealionbook.com/
On this website, you can also sign up to get a parent guide with additional questions to help guide your family into a deeper study each day.

I like the simplicity of these studies for young students or children whose families may be new to Bible study. The topics are handled on the level of the children yet with a draw towards knowing God more. I have not read all of the devotions so there may be something I am unaware of in the lessons that is not Biblical but I have not come across this at all with Mr. Lusko’s writings in the past. (I have read and enjoyed his book Through The Eyes of a Lion.)

Lori, At Home.

Husband Auditions ~ a book review & GIVEAWAY

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through I Read With Audra for the purpose of this review.

Synopsis: Meri Newberg is the last of her group of friends to marry. As the last single young woman, she gets “the gift.” When she gets to her place for the summer, renting a room from her brother who will be away for the time being, she opens it. And gets a shock she was not expecting. It is a list. To be more specific, it is a newspaper clipping of advice from the 1950s on how to catch a husband. Yep, she is completely embarrassed and ready to throw it out. After all, who would really do these?

  • #2 Fake a flat tire or pretend engine trouble.
  • #4 Move to a state with more men than women. We recommend Nevada.
  • #16 Work as a waitress or nurse. Men love being taken care of.
  • #19 Go to you local fishing pier and feign squeamishness about baiting your own hook.
  • #21 Ask a man to take your photograph. Chances are, he’ll want his own copy.
  • #100 Get your personal ad in front of as many eligible bachelors as possible. Like on a billboard.

Kai, her brother’s roommate, gets an idea. As an up and coming cameraman looking for his big break, he talks Meri into actually trying some of the ideas out AND letting him film them to post online for a new series. They start with #33 “Go to a rodeo. Rescue the Lone Ranger from himself.” So, she buys a lasso and a bandana and tries to lasso a man. Following these up are getting stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel (thanks to Kai!), visiting a ball game and pretending to not know where the seat is, faking needing help at a pool (just to find out the man is married), and many more hilarious set-ups. The series, Meri Me, is a huge and immediate hit. Everyone loves watching Meri try to catch a husband.

Before long, Kai begins to wonder about whether this is really such a good idea after all.

My Thoughts

This is a fun, quirky, page-turner book. I absolutely adored the pluck and spunk Meri shows in all of her feats of auditioning men using The List. It was such a fun read that I couldn’t put it down. It was such a nice change to have a clean Christian romance. So many times, there is just enough “romance” in those types of books that I will not read them. This one? Not a smidge of the inappropriate. In fact, I handed it to my teenage daughter (she’s 17) because I knew she’d enjoy this too. And she did. She couldn’t put it down, either. We both thought this was such a fun look at dating and how the online world is integrated into life now. I appreciated also how the characters’ Christianity was included without it being such an “in-your-face” part of the story that it becomes unreal and unrelatable. I can heartily recommend this fun read to teens and adults alike.

A major plus? I really like the emphasis on knowing yourself and what you can and should be, that doing something like getting married before you are ready to be the person you need to in a marriage is crazy. I really like the ending. I won’t spoil it but it is quite surprise and brings a smile to the reader’s face. It is what I would hope would happen for every young man and young lady contemplating marriage.

About the Author

Angela Ruth Strong sold her first Christian romance novel in 2009, then quit writing romance
when her husband left her. Ten years later, God has shown her the true meaning of love, and
there’s nothing else she’d rather write about.

Strong’s books have since earned Top Pick honors in Romantic Times, won the Cascade Award, and been Amazon best sellers. Her book Finding Love in Big Sky recently filmed on location in Montana and will air soon. She also writes articles for SpiritLed Woman. To help aspiring authors, she started IDAhope Writers where she lives in Idaho, and she teaches as an expert online at Write That Book.

Besides writing, Strong teaches exercise classes, works for an airline, and enjoys Harley rides with her husband and camping with her three kids.

Learn more about Angela Strong at www.angelaruthstrong.com, or find her on Facebook (Angela Ruth Strong Fan
), Instagram (@ang_strong), and Twitter (@AngelaRStrong).

And now for the giveaways!

I Read With Audra is hosting the giveaway for a copy of the book. Visit her blog to complete the Rafflecopter entries.
https://www.audrajennings.com/2021/08/win-copy-of-husband-auditions-by-angela.html This will end September 14, 2021.

Also Angela Ruth Strong is giving away a round-trip airline ticket. Visit https://mailchi.mp/50fe6fc73514/husband-auditions-book-launch to sign up for her emails and be entered to win.

Lori, At Home.

ACT Mom ~ a Crew review

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

With students in high school and some uncertainty with which direction their next steps will be, we decided to take a look at ACT Mom so that when the ACT test comes up in the coming year or so, our girls are prepared. ACT Mom online is a self-paced program designed to help students improve their scores on the standardized ACT test. ACT Mom is the outcome of a mom who wanted to help her students do better on their own tests, improving their chances at scholarship money for college. She recounts that she was quite successful in helping her students raise their ACT scores, thus increasing their scholarship opportunities.

The ACT Mom Online Class is set up in 4 sections to correspond to the sections of the ACT test. These sections are English, math, reading, and science. Each of these sections has its own set of instructional videos and work to correspond. The videos go through the section in detail, helping the student learn test taking strategies specifically for the topic. Two of the sections – math and reading – are skills based and so some of the videos are directed at refreshing the skills and helping students think about them in a test-taking way. The other two sections are not based on skills so the videos are a lot more about the strategies to approach the test with. 

ACT Mom Online includes the videos and a 3 ring binder that is sent to the student. This binder is used in the teaching videos so it is a bit hard to start the class before it arrives. The binder includes some lined paper, some graph paper, a zippered pencil bag, and a complete, released ACT test from a previous year that is in plastic page protectors. The zippered pencil bag contains a dry erase marker, an erasing cloth, and sticky notes. All of these are important pieces of the program that ACT Mom is going to teach the student about how to take the test.

The premise of the course is that if you understand the type of question, you can do better on the test. You don’t necessarily need to understand the actual information, rather, you just need to understand the strategies. In the reading sections, there are five sessions, The first is a general introduction to the test section. The rest all correspond to the different types of reading passages that will be tested. She talks about how to pace the test and how to personalize that (part of which will require taking the released tests several times to understand which types of passages you personally take easiest and which are harder for you. In the videos, after talking about the passage and some testing strategies for that type of passage, she has the student take the practice test that is included in the 3 ring binder, writing on the page protectors with the dry erase marker. She then goes over all the questions, talking about why the answer was what it was and which questions tend to trip students up most often and why. 

In the math sections, she spends some time going over the actual math skills that will be tested. Part of this will include𝛑 the testing strategy about how answers may be given. An example is that while in a math class, students will be expected to plug in the numerical value for 𝛑. In the test, however, the answer will not expect that and will in fact include the symbol for 𝛑. This is both a strategy for time (saving time by not working out more than required) and a strategy for how to take the math section itself. 

This program will be of benefit to students who know they will be taking the ACT. It is a program that will benefit the students by giving quick and effective reviews of skills that will be tested along with a review of test taking skills. 

As a parent, I have struggled to teach my students to learn for the sake of learning. I was hoping this would be a great review of material that students are expected to know for the test. I was really disappointed to learn how much of this program is just teaching the students the tricks of the trade when it comes to taking tests. If you need to up your score on the ACT, this will likely help you, but it won’t go farther than that and a simple review of a few math or reading skills. I don’t see this being of great benefit to our students. There are plenty of families that will definitely benefit and different families need different programs. That is part of what makes the Homeschool Review Crew such a great resource. Many families used the ACT Mom program and have shared about what it was like for their family, how they used it, and what they thought. Please visit the Crew blog to read what the other families thought.
Lori, At Home.

Britfield & The Rise Of The Lion ~ a book review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product from the author for the purpose of this review.

Book 2 finally arrived and was devoured quickly. Now, the wait commences for the continuation of the story. Again. Thus goes the circle of reading and waiting for a series that has caught your interest and imagination.

Britfield & The Rise of the Lion is the second book in the Britfield series about Tom, the possible rightful heir to the British throne. But with the history, even the name, of the Britfield family erased from everything, who knows where the truth is to be found. And, can Tom make it to that point of finding the truth still alive since there are those who do NOT want to relinquish their powers?

In Britfield & The Lost Crown, book 1, Tom and his friend Sarah escape from a terrible and dangerous orphanage. In doing so, they find many people trying to capture them and maybe even kill them. But why? As they make their way across England via hot air balloon, they crash land at Oxford and find an unlikely source of help and friendship. Making their way to the Archbishop of Canterbury, they find that he is a friend of the Britfield family and can help Tom find the truth, and perhaps his parents. He sends them across the English Channel toward France, but halfway across, an explosion sinks the ferry.

Thus opens book 2, Britfield & The Rise of the Lion. Tom and Sarah find themselves in Mont-Saint-Michel, a ancient and massive monastery. After months of recovering, Tom and Sarah are living through the daily activity in the life of a monastery. Sarah is put to work in the library and discovers something interesting. Tom knows they need to leave and with the help of Brother Gabriel, they escape. They quickly find themselves being chased, yet again.

Making their way to Paris, they seek safety in the Notre-Dame Cathedral with the Archbishop. After months of having expected them and them not arriving, the surprise was great but he was thrilled. Providing them with the care and food and sleep, they find they are not safe. The chase continues through Paris where they run into their friend from Oxford, Oliver. With his help, they begin to search for the people and places needed to verify whether or not Tom is a Britfield and the rightful heir to the throne. Of course, they are followed by the assassin who is charged with getting rid of Tom, and anyone who knows about him, completely so that the power of the 13 is never revealed.

Oliver takes them out of Paris to safety, or so they thought, at his uncle’s house. There, they continue to unravel the mysteries and find that the deeper they go, the more nefarious the situation is and the more danger they are in. Just in time, they escape from the uncle’s house through a secret passage and make their way to where it is believed that the Britfield family is hiding.

Time and time again, Tom and Sarah get close, just to have it all pulled out from under them. The fast-paced, constant adventure and challenge is comprised of twists, turns, unexpected friendships, and unbelievable betrayals. Is Tom a true Britfield? Can he find his parents? Can he survive the assassin and keep Sarah safe, too? And with a surprise revelation at the end, what else will come up that will impact his future?

This is a definite read for anyone about 5th grade and up. It is an adventure and lots of fun. For those in upper middle school and up, it is likely a quick read over just a few days.

If you desire to turn this into a unit study or a topic study, that would be super easy to do. The first book is highly supported on the website, with readings, pictures, and more corresponding to the places mentioned in the book. It would also be easy to do simple, or complex, research on these places and people related to them. Studying geography fits in naturally to a book of this sort. Additionally, architecture could easily be studied since important places such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre-Dame Cathedral are mentioned. The Louvre would open up studies of art and artists. The mention of the fictional Britfield Codex would allow a study of a true codex that exists from history. These are just a few options for utilizing this interesting story for education if you are looking for that. Additionally, there is a study guide available for purchase to go along with Britfield & The Lost Crown.

Visit the Britfield website to order and learn more.

Lori, At Home.

The Fallacy Detective ~ a Crew review

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

In this crazy time of information being thrown at us from all angles with all types of bias in it, knowing how to evaluate it is an asset we cannot afford to skip teaching our children. Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn, authors of The Fallacy Detective, gave us a great teaching resource for just this purpose. This soft back book contains 38 lessons on how to identify bad reasoning and to spot common errors in reasoning. Knowing these reasoning pitfalls can help not only in identifying them but also in avoiding them ourselves.

A fallacy – what is it? A fallacy is an error in logic or reasoning. The Fallacy Detective addresses a number of fallacy types and groups them into four categories – avoiding the question, making assumptions, statistical fallacies, and propaganda. Within each of these categories, there are several different fallacies addressed. These include red herrings, faulty appeal to authority, hasty generalizations, fear, pity, loaded questions, circular reasoning, straw man, and so much more. In addition to the four categories, there is an introduction, a section on using your mind, a game, and an answer key.

Each lesson includes an explanation, some examples and how to consider them, and a section of exercises for the student to work through. The answers can then be checked against the answer key at the back of the book.

We have used this particular logic book with 2 students now. And it has gone 2 very different ways, as you would expect. My middle child used this book in conjunction with another book by these authors as part of a logic and debate credit in her 9th grade coursework. She is quite independent so she read each chapter, completed the exercises in the book, and then checked her work. Any that she did not get an answer in agreement with the answer key, she brought to me. We discussed her answer vs. the answer key. Her logic was often faultless, picking up on a few inconsistencies in the answer key. If she could justify her answer to me, I gave her full credit for it. She worked through this book at about 3 lessons per week. It definitely helped her in her debate abilities when evaluating what the other side was presenting.

My youngest child is currently using The Fallacy Detective. She and I are doing the reading out loud together. I then read the exercises and she answers them with me. Writing is not a strong point for her so I am not requiring that from her with the book. The thinking can be quite challenging and when your student struggles to put thoughts to paper, that just amplifies difficulty and frustration while losing the purpose of the exercise. So she is answering out loud. We then check each answer against the answer key, talking about where the given answer explanation differs from her own thinking. I am not giving a correct or incorrect for her answers. We are completing one lesson per week at this time. When we go back to full school, I expect to bump it up to two lessons per week, planning to complete this before Christmas.

I like this program. It includes a lot of cartoons, including reprints of one of our favorites – Calvin & Hobbes. These comic strips are great representations of many of the ideas that the authors are trying to get across. There are also fun illustrations done in grey scale. The writing is not complicated and is intended to help students understand how others are presenting information to them. It helps equip the students to sift through the barrage of media to pick out the falsehoods being presented to them, locating the important bits. This is a necessary skill in today’s world and work places. This is a good place to start on this skill.

Just a fair warning, though – it may make your student a much stronger opponent when they present their ideas to you AND when they disagree with something you present to them. Beware! 🙂

Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about how other families have used The Fallacy Detective and Archer and Zowie, a sci-fi book about friendship.

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