Posted in Resources, Reviews

How Do We Know God Is Really There? Children’s Book Review

how-do-we-know-god-is-really-there-.jpg Apologia is launching a new series of picture books for children, designed to introduce kids to the important questions of the Christian faith. How Do We Know God Is Really There? is the first in the series.

How Do We Know God is Really There? follows a boy and his father as they go about their usual evening routine, viewing the night sky through their telescope. This quiet moment leads to one of those terrific parent-child discussions we parents are familiar with – the son asks the question which forms the title of the book. The father’s proof of God’s existence draws upon the topic of astronomy, and includes Edwin Hubble’s observations of our expanding universe and the fact that everything has a cause.

This book makes a great read-aloud and is designed for children up to about age 8. My 9 year old daughter still enjoyed reading it, though. The fanciful drawings by Chrisopher Voss and sturdy, sewn binding, make this a beautiful book. You can see for yourself: download a sample of How Do We Know God Is Really There?, which contains the opening pages of the book.

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How Do We Know God Is Really There? is just $16.00 US plus shipping.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

**I received How Do We Know God is Really There? as part of the Mosaic Reviews program. All opinions are my own.**

Posted in Reviews

Remember – Movie Review

Remember MovieChildren used to begin government school at age 6, for Grade 1. Then Kindergarten/Primary was introduced to prepare children for Grade 1. Many jurisdictions have a Pre-Kindergarten or Junior Kindergarten now, and there are even preschools offered in some government schools today. Some parents who choose not to “do school” in the early years (or even choose to homeschool throughout the school years), muse that one day we will hand our children right over to the government at birth.

Remember tells the story of a dystopian future, a future where children are taken from their parents at birth and raised by the state, for the good of civilization (just as Plato proposes in his “Republic”). I don’t know about you, but I tend to love Sci-Fi style, dystopian stories, and this one didn’t disappoint.

I was surprised at how great the special effects were, especially because this is a small, independently made film. The all-original music was very well done, and added to the tone of the movie. Remember was written by a homeschooling father in Alberta, Canada, where it was also filmed. It was named “Best International Narrative Feature” at the San Diego Christian Film Festival. While it does have Christian overtones, it isn’t heavy handed and I think Christians and non-Christians alike will enjoy this movie. It would be a great addition to any high schooler’s study of dystopian literature.

Check out Remember right now with this trailer:

Visit Remember’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/remembermovie To order for just $19.99, go to http://www.theremembermovie.com. Options are also available to purchase and show to your homeschool group or church group, and bulk discounts are available.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

**I received a copy of Remember in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

Posted in Reviews

The 5 Money Personalities: A Book For Every Couple – Review

imageThe 5 Money Personalities is by Scott & Bethany Palmer, a married couple of financial advisors. They have found over the years that everyone has a primary and secondary money personality.  The 5 Money Personalities are:

  • Saver
  • Spender
  • Security Seeker
  • Risk Taker
  • Flyer

By reading the book, and taking the Money Personality Test together, I learned that my husband is a Saver-Security Seeker. And I am a Saver-Spender! That sure sounds like any oxymoron doesn’t it, but I think those two sides of me tend to balance each other 🙂 I even learned more about the dynamics of that in the book. We found out a bit of they “why” the two of us get along so well when it comes down to money – in large part because we discuss it openly, and we don’t hide money matters (which the Palmers call “financial infidelity”).

Inside The 5 Money Personalities’ pages, in addition to learning yours and your spouse’s Money Personalities, you will:

  • Relate to money squabble stories from other couples
  • Learn about Opposite Dynamics
  • Tackle financial infidelity
  • Practice The Money Dump™ and The Money Huddle™
  • Handle challenges like gift-giving and holidays with The 5 Money Personalities™ Survival Guide

This is a great video overview of what The 5 Money Personalities is all about:

Did you know that 70% of divorced couples divorce at least in part due to money problems in their relationship? A sobering statistic! The 5 Money Personalities is something every married couple should read, whether you’re newly married or have been married for twenty years. The Palmers believe that it takes 90 days to institute a new habit in your marriage. So take the Money Personality Test here with your spouse right now, read the book together, and form some new habits.

The 5 Money Personalities is just $15.99. I’m looking forward to handing my children each a copy when they get married someday!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

**I received a digital copy of the 5 Money Personalities through Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Posted in Resources, Reviews

Financial Literacy for Teens: enRICHed Academy – Review

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Raise your hand if you went off to college or university not having a clue about managing your money. How quickly did you rack up debt on your credit card (or cards)? I didn’t want my own children to start off on their own, learning the hard way like I did. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to review a program with my 14 year old son, that was designed to start him off on the right foot.

enRICHED Academy is a comprehensive educational set that teaches teens and young adults how to earn, save, invest, and manage their credit and career. If you watch the Dragon’s Den, you may have see it on tv. It comes with everything you see above: 6 DVD’s, 2 workbooks, 10 goal cards, a write-on-wipe-off marker, and this Financial Report Card poster…

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The set also includes a bonus from Genworth – a “Saving for a Downpayment” DVD and info sheet. The DVD’s cover the following:

DVD 1: Money Myths

DVD 2: Understanding Credit and Credit Cards

DVD 3: Choosing Your Career

DVD 4: How to Build Wealth – Part 1 Stocks

DVD 5: How to Build Wealth – Part 2 Real Estate

DVD 6: Goal Setting and Building Your Brand

The first DVD was a good overview of the program. Kevin Cochran, the host, is personable, entertaining, and engaging. After the DVD was finished, we reviewed the information with the first workbook, Guidebook 1, and, much to my delight, my son had absorbed every little bit of information presented. Even my accountant husband was impressed. We proceeded together through the entire program, adding in anecdotes of mistakes we had made in our young lives. The program started some great discussion! By the end, my son had a great grasp on good and bad debt, how to save and invest, and even has a list of 10 goals for this year.

This program is a must-have for all teens and young adults, whether you are homeschooling them or not, and whether you live in the United States or Canada (as accurate information is shared for BOTH countries). It is recommended for ages 10-23, but I believe would be more appropriate for 13 and up. In fact, I learned a few things myself through enRICHED Academy. I will definitely be reviewing the materials with my son again before he goes off to university, and I look forward to going through the program with my 9 year old daughter when she is a bit older.

Check out this YouTube video to learn more:

And be sure to check out enRICHED Academy on Facebook and Twitter.

The entire program costs $149.99 (which includes shipping, handling, and taxes!) and has a 30-day money-back guarantee!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

*I received the enRICHED Academy program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Posted in Resources, Reviews

My Home School Grades – Review

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My Home School Grades is a new web-based program created by homeschooler John Echols, along with a homeschool graduate. If you’re preparing to homeschool high school, approaching the end of high school, or even if you’re just starting out on your homeschooling journey, this is a fantastic program to keep records and design a quick and easy transcript. It is so easy to use!

My Home School Grades works on all computers & devices – it’s not platform specific. I have used it on my iPhone, iPad, PC, and a laptop. It is easy to record things on the go so you don’t forget. There is no need for a user manual, four how-to videos a few minutes each illustrate how to use the program.

Add students, classes, and activities, and you will ultimately have a great looking transcript. First add your student:
students
These little chalk drawings are the default images – you can easily replace them with your own children’s photos under Student settings. As you can see, it calculates the student’s GPA and displays it on the student profile, as well as on the transcript.
After you’ve added a student, add classes and lessons:
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You are able to choose a published program from a drop down list that appears when you add a class – all lessons & tests appear for you – just go in and add the grade. However, not all published programs are added yet, as this is an ongoing process. You can also add your own curriculum, and use whatever lesson plan you want, or go in and remove the pre-added lessons from a published program. It is fully customizable – if you are taking a dual enrollment class or a class above or below grade level, it can be added and included on the transcript. For grading, you can choose number grades, letter grades, or even use the fraction, i.e. 23/27 correct and My Home School Grades will calculate the grade for you.
You can also add activities, for the second page of your child’s transcript.
activities

 Choose activities from the drop-down menu, or add your own.

Everything is automatically inputted into a transcript format. You have the option to have the transcript only show high school classes, or only classes from Gr. 10 and up for instance, just click on “hide classes before” and then it calculates the GPA for only those years.Transcripts display your address. At present, it is not possible to enter Canadian provinces or postal codes. However, I was able to put my province and postal code in the City box, and it ends up printing on the transcript beautifully. For recreating prior years, just input grade, class, and end grade, and you have your record to build on from there.
Keep an eye on the My Home School Grades blog for ongoing new improvements. They will be adding reports required by state in future. In the next year, they are even planning the ability to allow access to your own online transcript for university admissions (likely for an extra charge).  You can also check out My Home School Grades on Facebook and on Twitter.
Sign up for a FREE 14-day trial, no credit card required! A lifetime subscription, which includes regular updates and access on all computers and devices is $49.99!
Love, Luck &
Laughter,
Kimberly
**I received a subscription to My Home School Grades as part of the Mosaic Reviews Team in exchange for an honest review. All opiniions are my own.**
Posted in Parenting, Reviews

Cleaning House – Book Review

imageKay Wills Wyma  is a Christian, stay-at-home mother of five kids, ages four to fourteen. In Cleaning House, she shares about a year-long experiment she engaged in with her children. She realized that, like so many other parents these days, she was doing too much for her children, instead of teaching them life skills and nurturing them toward independence. We parents are probably all guilty of this, at least on some level. How many parents have laughed when their adult children call them to ask how to do the laundry, or how to change the toilet roll? Perhaps we should be teaching these things to our children *before* they leave the nest?

Each month, Wyma introduced new chores and their resultant skills in her children’s lives. From making the bed, to weeding, cooking, and even finishing a deck chair, Wyma worked on equipping her children for the future, and ridding them of their sense of entitlement. She shares about her year long odyssey in an engaging and entertaining manner.

The birthday breakfast my children recently made for me.
The birthday breakfast my children recently made for me.

Like many homeschooled children, my son and daughter already do quite a bit around the house. Cleaning House did inspire something in our own home though. My 14 year old son makes supper from time to time, and my 9 year old daughter occasionally likes to make breakfast for supper. So I sat them down with a meal planning form and asked my son if he would like to make a meal of his choice twice a week and my daughter if she would like to make a meal of her choosing once a week. My daughter immediately asked why she couldn’t make supper TWICE a week, too! I asked which two days a week they each wanted and now we sit down once a week and they tell me what they would like to prepare next week. My son’s favourite dish to make is Beef Stroganoff. My daughter just loves to make meatloaf.

This book is a must-read for every Christian mom, whether you want to be entertained, inspired, or both. But don’t take my word for it, you can Read Chapter One hereCleaning House is available at your local or online bookstore for the retail price of just $14.99. You can also check out author Kay Wills Wyma on Facebook.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

**I received Cleaning House through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.**

Posted in Contests, Resources, Reviews

A Super Duper Fun Way for Kids to Open Up: Review AND Giveaway!

superduperSuper Duper Publications began 27 years ago, with a Speech-language Pathologist and two lesson plans. Now it’s an online store full of great learning games for your child, whether they have a learning disability or not, and whether they are in public school or homeschool.

Fun Deck

Do you have a quiet child, or a child with challenges? Sometimes it can be hard to get children to open up.  I am a big fan of using games in our homeschool. Super Duper Publications’ All About You, All About Me Fun Deck is a great way to encourage social skills while having some plain old fun!

I played with these cards with my 9 year old daughter. She doesn’t have any problems expressing herself, but she does LOVE to ask “what’s your favourite ______” questions all the time. This game helps her get her fill of asking all those questions 🙂 The All About You, All About Me Fun Deck includes game ideas and a classroom activity. We liked playing “Die-ing to Know”, which included rolling a die to choose the number of cards you get to answer each turn, and the player with the most cards at the end, wins. I love that just like with other great products from Super Duper, this card deck comes in a sturdy, tin case.

You can watch a video all about the All About You, All About Me Fun Deck on the Super Duper YouTube channel:

In addition to Youtube, you can check out Super Duper Publications on PinterestFacebook, and Twitter.

The All About You, All About Me Fun Deck is $12.95 US. Also be sure to check out TopicTalk™ Conversation Card Game, MagneTalk Early Classifying, and the Lids ‘n Lizards® Magnetic Photo Vocabulary Game. Save 15% off any purchase now through June 30, 2013 at Super Duper with the Promo Code: KSBLOG202

And Super Duper Publications is generously giving away the winner’s choice of the above four games! Sign in below with either Facebook or your email address and then simply follow the Punchtab directions to enter. This is open to Canada and the US until May 30th at 11pm Atlantic Time (10pm ET). Good luck!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

*I received the All About You, All About Me Fun Deck from Super Duper Publications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Posted in Free Homeschooling Resources, Resources, Reviews

Saving Memories Forever – Review

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Saving Memories Forever was created by Harvey and Jane Baker, who dreamed it up after researching their family history and completing their family tree. Saving Memories Forever is both an app (for android and Apple) and a website. Record and upload your precious memories using the app, and then you and your loved ones can access it on the website. Once it’s uploaded, you can even click to share on Facebook that you have recorded a story. Your website is private, so those who do not already have access to your website can simply ask you for access. You don’t have to be connected to the Internet to do the actual recording, which is great! You also don’t have to be in person to record, you can always use Skype for those loved ones at a distance 🙂

You have the ability to tag your recordings – if you or your family share about your yearly trip to Florida and tag it with “Florida”, you can bring all those recordings up at once to reminisce.  Here are just a few ways you can use Saving Memories Forever:

  • Record precious memories and family stories, in person or using Skype
  • Record you or your loved one cooking a favourite recipe and share how you tweak it, then upload the recipe to the website to go with your recording
  • If your spouse travels or is in the military, they can record while away and you can share with your child
  • Record a daily log on your children’s homeschool progress and include documents.
  • record for a project, interviewing someone about past history ie The Great Depression or a war.

I have been using the app on my iPhone and iPad and have found it very easy to use! Here is the opening screen:

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From there, you can “Add Storyteller”, which could be your child, a relative, etc:

 

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Choose the category that best suits what you want to be recorded:

 

 

 

Then select your question (there is always an “other category” for those questions that don’t fit) and then start recording! Here are the questions under “Other Stories and Songs”:

 

My kids and I have been enjoying recording our own memories so far. We’re anticipating a visit by my parents this month and are looking forward to asking them to record some memories in person. I wish this wonderful app had been around when my own grandfather was still with us!

The Saving Memories Forever app is free for Apple or Android. There is also a Premium Subscription available for just $3.99 US per month. To see the difference between what you get for Free vs. Fee, check out the Saving Memories Forever website. Join up for a free account, download the free app, and give it a try, now!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

I received a free Premium Subscription to Saving Memories Forever as part of the Mosaics Review Team in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Resources, Reviews

Spanish for You! – Review and Freebies

SFY-logoDebbie Annett is the creator of Spanish for You! She has been teaching Spanish to students in Kindergarten through high school for 14 years, and developed her own curriculum because she saw a need for:

  • flexibility and the ability to work at your own pace
  • something that provided the ability to accomplish a lot of learning without a big outlay of funds
  • something easy to use for schools or students
  • an audio of the entire textbook in Spanish (not just parts)
  • the ability to place students at their grade level
  • something that’s fun, easy and effective, and can be used even if the teacher and/or student don’t already know Spanish.

SFYI received the entire Spanish for You! Fiestas (Celebrations) package for Grades 3-8, as part of the Mosaic Reviews team, in exchange for an honest review 🙂 I used the Fiestas Lesson Guide for Grades 3-4 to teach my 9 year old daughter.

Each book (Gr 3-4, Gr 5-6, Gr 7-8) has 5 lessons, which are each designed to be worked through over several weeks. Weeks are set up with 4 days, but you can go at your own pace, slower or faster. They are set up for between 24-30 weeks so they take you through an entire school year with breaks. In each lesson, learn vocabulary and commands (ie “make” the pizza), and then verb conjugation and usage, and grammar, and put it all together. Speaking, reading, writing skills and grammar knowledge are all included so you can build a base and your child can go on to high school Spanish instruction.

Every Spanish for You! package comes with a soft cover textbook (I received a PDF version for review purposes), the lesson guides for the grades you order (the full package includes Gr 3-8), self-checking worksheets (PDF download), two audio files (MP3 download – both recordings of the entire book, one is Debbie Annett herself, a non-native speaker and the other is a native speaker from Mexico), activity pictures of all the vocabulary in the book (PDF download – for making flash cards and other activities). Within the lesson guide there are many activities that can be used in a classroom, and Debbie herself uses them in a homeschool co-op weekly. The worksheets are designed as “self-checking”, so students can make their own corrections. You can do the included activities and games altogether as a family, while following the individual lesson plans for the different grades. More games & activities are available free on the Spanish for You! website. We enjoyed learning about Spanish cultural celebrations such as The Day of the Dead through the Fiestas theme.

Debbie recommends the following materials to use with the curriculum:

  • coloured card stock
  • scissors and glue stick
  • dry erase squares and dry erase markers (You can buy posters with dry erase sides and cut them into large squares for the kids to use.)
  • index cards (cut them in half to get more mileage out of a package.)
  • dice
  • Bingo markers – items to mark Bingo cards – you can use dry macaroni, paper squares, buttons, paper clips, whatever

You can see for yourself what Spanish For You is like, with these freebies: Free Mini-Lessons and Free Worksheets. And you can visit the Spanish for You! Blog for more great ideas for teaching Spanish, including some great ideas for using flash cards, and not as boring old rote memorization 🙂

SFY-EstacionesYou can choose to purchase the Gr 3-4, 5-6, or 7-8 package Travelsor the full Gr 3-8 package of either the Fiestas (Celebrations) or the Estaciones (Seasons), in full program or the 4-6 week trial of the new, Viajes (Travels). Prices range from $9.99 to $64.95 US. Teacher lesson plans for the classroom are also available, so far for the Fiestas theme only, for $12.95 – $14.95 US. Visit the Spanish for You! website for all your purchasing options.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Posted in Resources, Reviews

The Ultimate Planning System: Apologia Planners – Review

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Apologia is a family-owned corporation which offers homeschoolers Christian textbooks, books about homeschooling, retreats, and online classes. Their mission is to help you stay the course in homeschooling. Apologia now has a set of planners to help the whole family get organized, The Ultimate Planning System!

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Debra Bell, creator of The Ultimate Planning System, is also the author of The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. This is the system she used to homeschool her own children K-12 and raise them as independent learners. The Ultimate Planning System consists of:

A planner for mom (I received one of these) – The Ultimate Homeschool Planner:
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Or choose this alternate cover style:

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A planner for any student (my 9 year old received one of these) – The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students:

the-ultimate-daily-planner-for-students

A planner for your teen (my 14 year old received one of these) – The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens:

the-ultimate-weekly-planner-for-teens

The planners are designed to work together. They are undated so that you can pick them up and use them at any time of the year. Deb illustrates in The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, how to organize a monthly planning session, and weekly planning breaks – great ideas to get more organized and include the children in planning!

Mom’s Planner
I love my planner! The one I received is perfect for me, because I love the bright colours, and purple happens to be my favourite colour (I like writing in it using my coordinating purple pen). One of its best features is two pockets, one on each inside cover!

planner pocketI don’t know about you, but I am always stuffing papers in the front cover of books etc. and they always fall out, so this is a great feature. The covers are sturdy and wipe clean and The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is also a full 8 1/2 by 11 inches, so there is plenty of room for including pretty much everything you could possibly want inside its pages. I also like that it’s a printed and coil-bound. I’ve tried digital planners and computer-based planners, but I never seem to use them consistently.

There are yearly pages, monthly planning pages, and weekly planning pages. During your weekly planning break, you write down your plan for the week from your monthly plan. Weekly planning pages include 6 blank columns across the top and 6 blank rows along the side. You can break them down per child, subject, day, or however you like to organize your time on the page. I had to sub-divide the rows so that we could fit in all our subjects, but if you work on a semester system like Debra, there are more than enough. There are 48 weeks included, so you can even use this planner year-round if you like.

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is more than a planner and academic record. Because we homeschool moms tend to focus on the struggles in our homeschool, there is room each week to write about our victories and the hand of God in your life and homeschool. The “Battle plan” included weekly is for areas you want God to work on in your own life. Are you looking to be less quick to anger this week? Write a verse here that will help you with that.

Also included in the back of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner are teaching tips and so much more! It’s impossible to show you everything here, so download the Table of Contents and Sample pages of the planner on the Apologia website to see more.

Student Planner:
The student planner is designed for the child to copy the daily schedule from Mom’s planner into their own planner. Meet for a Monday morning Tutorial/Meeting. The student gets 20 minutes of face time with you, to discuss what they need to do each day and let them decide in which order they would like to do them. They have 8 lines per day to list what they need to do, a place to check when it’s done, and a place for Mom & Dad to check off to approve that it’s complete. There are 6 days per week listed, and you can also include chores if you like. There are also fun trivia questions throughout these weekly planner pages.

My 9 year old daughter loves her planner and has spent much of her time filling out the About Me section at the front of her planner.
Min-planner

The Student Planner can be used for all ages. For very young children, who aren’t yet writing easily, you may want to just stick with the planner for Mom and share it with them. Some teens may prefer having this daily planner instead of the Teen version.

The Ultimate Daily Planner for students also includes a history timeline and so much more! Check out the Student Planner page on the Apologia website for sample pages.

Teen Planner:
The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens is small enough to fit in a backpack or a purse. It assumes teens are working independently, learning how to plan their time in preparation for university or college. Your teen can meet for 20 minutes each Monday morning with you, to discuss the week together. Tell them what they need to accomplish that week, and let them decide what they’re going to do each day – great for fostering independence.  Semester planning pages, weekly planning pages, monthly planning pages are included. Monthly planning pages also include some brain science snippets about how our brains work. Weekly planning pages also include SAT words at the top. Time circles are included on each weekly planning page to help them manage their time if counting hours for credit time is something you’re doing. It can also help you know what subjects they need to spend more time on, or if they’re under or over-challenged. These weekly pages also include space to doodle and make notes – perfect for my fidgety children 🙂 There is a place for credit tracking, algebra and physics review pages, a guide to Punctuation, and more! Check out the Teen Planner page on the Apologia website to download sample pages.

All Planners are available on the Apologia website Planner page. The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is just $28.00 US, and the Teen and Daily planners are each just $19.00 US.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

I received the Ultimate Planning System from Apologia in exchange for an honest review as part of the Mosaic Reviews team.