Friday, September 30, 2011

What Is He Thinking?? Rebecca St. James Book Review & Giveaway

What Is He Thinking--What Guys Want Us to Know 
    About Dating, Love, and Marriage

by Rebecca St. James
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY  10017
Copyright 2011

ISBN 978-0-446-57267-5
$14.99 US / $16.50 Canada

I recently received a copy of What Is He Thinking by Rebecca St. James to read and provide a review.  Let me tell you about this book that will be pulled out a lot in the next few years.

In this book Rebecca interviews a range of men from high-profile to guy-next-door.  The interviews focus on single guys ages 20-35, and a few older mentors such as her dad, life coach and pastor.  The men interviewed answer questions such as:

  • What is the most attractive quality to you in a woman?
  • Is modesty truly attractive?
  • Is neediness a turn-off?
  • What do you find beautiful?
  • How can we be dependent on God for our identity, not on you?
  • How can we help you with boundaries physically?

Rebecca talks about her own dating life, single life, struggles with loneliness, and treating men as brothers in Christ while trusting God with your dating life.

Within this book Rebecca touches on

  1. First Impressions:  What Are Guys Really Looking For?
  2. Understanding Guys:  What Are They Thinking...About Us?
  3. Understanding Us:  Flirting, Body Image, and Major Turnoffs
  4. Spiritually Connecting:  God and Guys
  5. Physically Connecting:  Modesty, Sexuality, and Boundaries
  6. Getting Serious:  What Are They Thinking...About Marriage?
  7. Married Mentors:  What Did They Learn?
  8. An Open Floor:  What Do Guys Want to Say to Us?

There is also an Appendix containing her survey question for you to interview some of your guy friends.

Each chapter ends with "A Few Takeaways for You and Me" such as:

  • With quality guys, looks are only one component of attraction.
  • Don't talk too much.  Leave some mystery!
  • Regard dating as something that is precious; don't overdate.  God calls us to guard our hearts.
  • Don't settle for a man who will not value and cherish you.
  • Have a life apart from the relationship.
  • Good relationships take WORK!
  • Put your trust in God, not in the guy you're dating.
  • Set standards and ideal ahead of time.
  • Guard your heart.
Rebecca also provides some other ideas such as:
  • Top Ten Turnoffs For Guys 
  • Your Identity (a list of qualities about your identity and related Bible verses
  • Top Ten Things Guys Do To Keep Their Minds Off Sex
  • Three Ways to Guard Your Thought Life
What I Thought:  I really enjoyed this book.  It touches on a lot of things that often never get said or thought about in a relationship.  Rebecca offers a reality check for girls/young women who are just starting to date, already in a relationship, or just trying figure out guys and the whole dating scene.  The responses to her survey questions are honest and thought-provoking.  While sharing the responses to her questions, Rebecca shares a wholesome and modest twist on the topics and includes plenty of scripture references.  This would be a great book for any teen/young adult girl to read and discuss.  We'll be talking about the ideas in this book  while dealing with our growing up soooo fast daughter.  I really appreciate that Rebecca tackles the somewhat difficult things to talk about in a way that is easy for teens to read.

Go here to find Rebecca on Twitter  or watch her on YouTube here
You can read about Rebecca on her official Website or Facebook page 
Read more about the book at this Facebook page

For a preview of the first 10% of the book go here

Did this book sound interesting?  Why not enter the Giveaway?

I get to give one lucky person a copy of this great book.  I will be drawing a winner Friday, October 14th at noon.  Here's what you have to do to have a chance to win:

1.  Leave a comment here that you're interested in the book.
2.  For another entry tell me your favorite Rebecca St. James book or song.
3.  For another entry follow me on Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs and leave a comment here that you are following.

Blessings and good luck to all who enter!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Carlito C. Caterpillar's MathHouse Game Card Set

Carlito C. Caterpillar's MathHouse Games
Domenico Marcario, M.S. and Art direction by Ron Eddy
Copyright 2011
Eyes for Learning LLC
Winetka, IL
For More Information:  or

I recently received a free copy of Carlito C. Caterpillar's MathHouse Game Card Set, a new game and educational tool, to use and review.  Created by Domenico Marcario, M.C., this game card set helps parents teach their kids math skills through games while building relationships at the same time.

Carlito C. Caterpillar’s Sensory Math Teaching System takes advantage of the natural way children learn, through sensory experiences.  This helps kids understand by doing rather than  passively watching someone else do the thinking for them.

The system contains activities and games for parents to play with their children. The material is presented in 3 stages (with a total of 20 steps and 2 games in each step) covering quantity, numeration, and operations. The active learning mode of this system has been noted to result in deep and thorough understanding of the concepts.  The games suggested can be played with items you already have such as socks, paperclips, fish-shaped crackers, cereal oat rings, etc.

Here's a breakdown of the Stages and Steps included:

Stage 1: Quantity

Steps 1-10 include:  Alike It or Not, Hungry Lion, Climb Up, Neighbors, In a Row, More or Less, Eye Spy, What Do They Make?, Put It Together and Measure Up

Stage 2: Numeration

Steps 11-14 include:  I'll Trade You, Counting Bead, Piggy Banker and Jump and Skip-Count

Stage 3:  Operations

Steps 15-20 include:  Gluing and Scissor Action, Grid/Matrix & Folding Action, Combining Operation, Taking Away Operation, Duplication Operation and Folding and Sharing Operation

The designers of Carlito C. Caterpillar’s MathHouse Games have a goal of making it fun to experience and play games while learning math.  Parents play games with their children – special games designed to demonstrate mathematical concepts to children.

The makers of the Carlito products say that one of the secrets is "JUST DON’T TELL YOUR CHILD THEY ARE LEARNING MATH WHEN YOU PLAY THESE GAMES."

You can visit the makers of the Carlito products here .  At the website are a few downloadable goodies too.  You'll find Carlito C. Caterpillar’s Hall of Fame Certificates of Excellence and Manipulatives to simply download, print and tape.  Kids can check out Carlito's Free Music Downloads and become enrolled in the Carlito Hall of Fame.

You'll also find information about new products at the site such as the new Carlito books and iPad app.

You can also visit the Carlito Facebook page here .

My thoughts:  This is a fun tool for parents to use with their kids.  The games are simple, easily assembled from items you most likely already have, and engaging.  I liked that the kids really get into the games and don't even think about the fact that they are learning something.  We've taught our kids a lot with a great variety of games--because it works!  I'd really encourage checking out the Carlito products if you have a child that loves games.  We really like relationship-building activities like games for connecting with our kids, and when they learn something in the process it's a win-win situation.

At first glance at the product name one might think this is a deck of cards of some sort.  It is actually a durable set of cards, attached with a metal ring, which describe the stages of learning math.  Instructions for gathering needed materials and game directions are found on these cards--not the games

Bring on the Fun - Now For the Giveaway

Are you interested in checking out the Carlito C. Caterpillar's MathHouse Games 20 Steps to Learning Math?  I will be drawing a winner of the MathHouse Game Card Set on Saturday, October 8th at noon.  Here's how you can get in on the random drawing:

1.  Leave a comment here that you're interested.
2.  For another entry leave a comment here about your favorite learning game.
3.  For another entry leave a comment here about another one of my blog posts.
4.  For another entry follow me on Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs and leave a comment here.

Blessings and good luck to all who enter!! 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, September 23, 2011

Aletheia Writing Magazine - Creativity For Christian Teens - A TOS Review

Alethia Writing Magazine - 
Creativity for Christian Teens
P.O. Box 1602
Lansdale, PA 19446

$26 US   $29 Canada (price includes shipping)

Ages 13-19

4 issues per year, 40 pages, colored illustrations and pictures
Recently I received a free copy of Aletheia Writing Magazine to read in order to provide a review for the TOS Homeschool Product Review Crew.  This quarterly magazine is a place where teens can share their artistic and writing talents.  The magazine is open to all Christian teens and their families, and many of the teens who have been published in the magazine are homeschoolers.  Teens who are chosen to be published receive no pay but receive 3 free copies of the magazine.

Each issue includes art and writings of contributing teens, a Writer's Challenge, the Featured Contributor, a book review, Glory to God for the Beauty of Nature, Ancient Ink and and an interview or other feature.  Here are pictures of the cover of the Fall 2011 issue and it's table of contents to give you an idea what the magazine is like.


Aletheia means "truth" or "unveiling", and the art and writings chosen for each issue are those which "unveil" Christian truths.  (The stories and poems in the magazine are not about apologetics, Bible doctrine, plainness, etc..)   Content that is accepted includes:
  • biographies of Classical authors, composers, musicians and artists 
  • historical and culture essays
  • philosophical essays
  • personal experiences of growth and faith
  • other related topics regarding wisdom, nature, stewardship, etc.
  • no violence, inappropriate sexual content or profanity is accepted
Fiction Book Reviews are also acceptable if they nurture faith and life.  The Book Reviews do not necessarily have to be about books written by Christian authors and may include different types of genres.  Philippians 4:8 is a suggested reference for acceptable content. (true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, praiseworthy)  The Publisher/Editor, Nick Muzekari, is also a writer and provides insight to teen authors who are trying to improve their writings.  Submissions are all submitted electronically and contributors are contacted within 1 week to 3 months.

What We Liked :  
  • The concept of a magazine written by and for teens.  
  • The short stories, poems and book reviews were well-written.  
  • The pictures and photographs included in the issue we read were great--very talented contributors.  
  • We also liked that the magazine as a whole was put together in a very professional manner.

What Didn't Work For Us:

While this mom is into writing, my teen daughter is not.  She said the magazine was okay, but she didn't get very excited about it's contents.  She did like the artwork and photographs much more than the writings.  As a whole she thought the magazine would be good for teens who are more interested in writing and perhaps a bit older.  I found some of the content to be age appropriate for my 14 year old, but I think 15-19 would be a better fit.  I was not terribly thrilled about some of the fantasy content, but that comes from personal preferences for materials we read and my personal beliefs.  My daughter said that depending on what she was reading she wouldn't necessarily have guessed from the content that this was supposed to be for "Christian" teens.  However, even the items I was not excited about were well-written.

To see what other TOS Crew members thought of this magazine click here

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Product Review Crew I received a free copy of the above-mentioned magazine to read in order to provide this honest review.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.  Opinions and comments are my own.  I did not and will not receive further compensation for this review.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Before Five in a Row - A TOS Review

Before Five In a Row
by Jane Claire Lambert
Five in a Row Publishing
P.O. Box 707
Grandview, MO, 64030-0707
ISBN 978-1-888659-04-7
Steve Lambert at

$35, exclusively available at

This is a guide for parents which contains creative ideas for learning readiness activities.  It is for adults to use with children ages 2-4 years old.  The book contains ideas and suggestions not printables and worksheets.  **Ideas not Activities**  Not all stories or activities have to be used or even done in the order presented.

Lately I've been using Before Five in a Row with my youngest.  My youngest is not one to sit down, be quiet and listen to a story unless he's in the mood.  He has loved all of the books we've read that were suggested in this book.  We have discussed shapes, sizes, alphabet, colors, counting, animals of many kinds, and so many other things while reading together.  This book has made the transition to sitting and listening a bit easier for me and my son.  We've had fun reading stories, singing songs and sharing one-on-one time.  Katy No-Pocket, ABC Bunny, Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon are the current favorites around here.  We only accomplished some of the many activities suggested, and I'm thinking we'll continue looking at and discussing the stories and concepts for some time.

Did I need this book?  Does anybody need this book?  No, the book is not required reading.  This book  
does make the one-on-one learning of basic concepts easier and more memorable--and definitely fun.
I really like the way related Bible stories are provided for each story.  The book and the stories used come from a Christian Worldview, but are not specifically Christian teaching.  FIAR does provide
another book for Biblical teaching.

Let me give you an idea of how Before Five in a Row is presented:

This book is a guide to aid parents in engaging their children in creative learning readiness activities.  The book contains 23 mini-units based on favorite classic children's books including:

  • Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?
  • Yellow Ball
  • My Blue Boat
  • The Little Rabbit
  • Ask Mr. Bear
  • Blueberries for Sal
  • Goodnight Moon
  • The Big Green Pocketbook
  • The Runaway Bunny
  • The ABC Bunny
  • If Jesus Came to My House
  • Caps for Sale 
  • The Carrot Seed
  • The Snowy Day
  • The Quiet Way Home
  • Play With Me
  • Prayer for a Child
  • I Am an Artist
  • Angus Lost
  • Katy No-Pocket
  • We're Going On a Bear Hunt
  • The Red Carpet
  • Corduroy
  • Jenny's Surprise Summer
Part One of the book contains Stories and Activities.

Each story section includes:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Illustrator
  • Copyright Date
  • Awards Received
  • Summary of the story
  • Reference and discussion ideas for a related Bible story

In addition, depending on the story, the following concepts are discussed as they come up in the stories):

  • Language Arts & Literature (alphabet, vocabulary, rhymes, nursery rhymes, poetry, etc.)
  • Science (weather, ponds, animals, plants, gardening, human body, shadows, health, etc.)
  • Math (numbers, counting, subtraction, shapes, etc.)
  • Art (colors, drawing, painting, watercolor, collage, etc.)
  • Character (Emotions and Relationships, fear, contentment, gratitude, thankfulness, etc.)
  • Music (suggestions for using songs with stories, discussion about basics notes, melody, etc.)
  • and more.
Part Two of the Book is the Parent's Treasury of Creative Ideas for Learning Readiness.  This section include activities for reading readiness, ideas for incorporating music, suggested additional resources,  
ideas for building your child's coordination and small muscle control, bath-time and kitchen activities and more.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with a toddler/preschooler.  It's a good read, has lots of  great ideas and suggestions and might make finding that one-on-one time reading together a lot more fun!

For more information about the author and this and other Five in a Row products click here

To see what other  TOS Crew member thought of this book click here

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Product Review Crew I received a free copy of the above-mentioned product to use in order to provide an honest review of the product.  I have not and will not receive further compensation for this review.  Opinions and comments are my own.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Have a Riddle for You - It's a Giveaway and Review

Jeremy Riddle - Furious CD - from Vineyard Worship

Vineyard Worship artist and worship leader Jeremy Riddle has a new CD entitled "Furious" available as of today from NewDay Distribution.  Dove Award winning producer Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Matthew West, David Crowder Band) has contributed the backbone of the album.  They've created a great release!

I recently received a copy of this CD to provide an honest review of it.  I am so glad that I accepted the opportunity.  You can't help but worship while listening to the music and lyrics of this talented man.  The music, lyrics and worshipful focus of the CD are uplifting, entertaining, convicting, and will leave you different than you were when you started listening.

Jeremy is not not new to Vineyard Worship, but I had not heard him before.  I've heard him a lot lately though because we've been playing this one quite a bit.  This former junior high youth pastor facilitates a worship community of over 200 people.  Why not check this one out if you need something uplifting that will draw you into worship?

It's Another Giveaway - This is a Great CD!

In addition to receiving a copy I also get to give one away.  I will randomly draw a winner at noon on Sunday, October 2nd.  The winner will be posted here.  Here's how to enter this giveaway:

1.  Leave a comment here that you're interested.  Tell me if you have a favorite Vineyard artist.

2.  For another entry visit Jeremy's Facebook page and tell me about something you find there.  Leave a comment here.

3.  For another entry follow me on Google Friend Connect and leave me a comment here.

4.  For one more entry follow me on Networked Blogs and leave a comment here.

Blessings to all who Enter!

For more information about this CD visit Jeremy's page at Vineyard here
You can also find Jeremy on Facebook here
You'll find Jeremy on Twitter here
You can even get it now on  iTunes !

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

It's A Giveaway! The Shunning DVD from Hallmark Channel

The Shunning 
Hallmark Channel
A Film by Michael Landon Jr.
88 minutes long

DVD Review and Giveaway

I recently received a free DVD copy of the Hallmark Channel's The Shunning movie to view and provide an honest review.  Having read about the bestselling Lancaster County books by Beverly Lewis but not having had a chance to read them, I'm very glad I was given the opportunity.  This movie was really good.  Although I can't compare it to the book for obvious reasons, I now want to get the books and read them.
Have you ever made choices and regretted them later in life?  Have you ever wondered what if I had only ... ?  In this movie from Hallmark Channel you get a glimpse of how that scenario could play out.
"Before she succumbs to cancer, the dying wish of Laura Mayfield-Bennett is to be reunited with the daughter she never knew. Unfortunately, that daughter, Katie Lapp, is a member of the Amish order. Katie is about to be married, but uneasy about the path ahead. Now she discovers the secret her parents have kept from her: she's adopted."

The film, based on the first novel of the best-selling "The Heritage of Lancaster County" book series from author Beverly Lewis, stars Danielle Panabaker & Sherry Stringfield.

The acting and storyline of this moving movie kept me watching with eager anticipation to see what would happen next.  Although I understand the concept of shunning, I cannot imagine having to shun my own child.  This movie touches this parent's heart and makes me appreciate my daughter and her choices.  This one really made me think about those "what-ifs" we all have in the back of our minds.  The only downside to the movie was that it made me want to know what happened next--guess I'll have to wait to find out.  I'll be visiting the library soon to find out from the books.  I'll also be eagerly waiting for Hallmark to follow-up this fabulous movie.   

To find out more about the movie visit the Hallmark Channel page here
Visit The Shunning Movie Facebook page here
To see a trailer for The Shunning click here

Beverly Lewis, author of The Shunning, was born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. Author of more than eighty books, Beverly has a great interest in her mother's Plain heritage after having heard stories about her maternal grandmother being "shunned". Beverly has written many Amish-related novels, beginning with "The Shunning," which has sold more than one million copies.

For more about Beverly and her books visit here 

******Giveaway Alert******

I get to give a copy of this great movie to one lucky winner.  Would you like a chance to watch this great movie?  Here's how to have a chance to win a DVD copy in my giveaway.

1.  Leave me a comment here that you're interested in winning the movie.  Tell me if you've read Beverly's books and note your favorite.

2.  For another entry visit The Shunning Facebook page and leave a comment here.

3.  For another entry follow me on Google Friends Connect and leave a comment here.

4.  For another entry visit "Pondering on the Prairie" on Facebook and leave a comment there then tell me here.

One winner will be drawn randomly at noon on Sunday, September 25th.  Blessings to all who enter.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions’ 16CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It's a Wrap - The Theo Presents Winners Are . . .

The winners of the Theo Presents DVD giveaway are Notable Scraps and Jamie.  (Watch for an e-mail to verify your mailing address.)  Blessings to all who entered.

Coming up next - Jeremy Riddle CD giveaway!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Theo Presents - Check Out This New Animated Series to Teach Kids Theology - DVD Review & Giveaway

Theo Presents

2011 Whitestone Media of Burbank, CA

I recently received a free copy of the the new Theo Presents DVD to watch with my family in the hope that I would provide a review on this blog.  This DVD is great!  Let me share a bit about it with you.

This is a fun animated series centered around the adventures and teachings of the main character, Theo (animated theologian), a student of Godʼs Word. Theo lives in an English village, in the heart of the Cotswolds, and entertains many guests, including two mice, Belfry and Luther -- one on the larger side and one skinnier.

The series guides children and adults through a systematic study of theology.  Sin, God's character, the Bible, salvation and godly living are some of the doctrines presented with easy-to-understand illustrations. These stories are cute, funny and wonderfully animated. Belfry and Luther help viewers learn about the Gospel of the Christian faith. This multi-media resource includes a DVD series, curriculum, books and iPhone/iPad app. This DVD is great for kids of all ages and can be used for Sunday school lessons, Christian school curriculum, missions, evangelism and homeschooling.

This great educational series was created by Michael Joens, a producer and director of animated commercials and producer/director of McGee & Me and Adventures In Odyssey for Focus on the Family. Mr. Joens' hope is that God uses Theo to present the Gospel message all over the world.

I received a copy of this DVD to watch with my family to provide an honest review. I have to say that the DVD was short, but filled with excellent information. My 6 year old loved it! As soon as it was done he asked if he could watch more. When he was told that it was done he asked if we could start it again. He watched it 4 times in 2 days--each time soaking in the Gospel message. He still keeps asking for it!  The whole family really likes this DVD!  We loved the mice characters. I really liked the animation in the DVD--fun but not overly silly.

Here's a short note about the episodes (as shown at

Episode One: Saving Faith
9 minutes

Meet Theo, a kind English gentleman who knows a lot about the truths of God's word. Theo is a theologian, and in this episode he teaches us what it means to have faith. There are many things people can believe in, but not all things are faith-worthy. To illustrate a life dedicated to believing in the right thing, Theo shares the example of Abraham. The Lord had favor with Abraham, and because of his faith he was greatly blessed.

Bonus Episode: Good News - Free
5 minutes
In this bonus episode, Theo shares the good news – the gospel. He explains that we all fall short because of a problem called sin. All human beings have sinned and are in desperate need of a Savior. Jesus Christ is the Savior that came to redeem mankind from our sin which separates us from God. We must accept this free gift of salvation in order to have eternal life.
Episode Two: Loving Obedience
9 minutes

Luther and Belfry are two field mice that have befriended Theo, and really want to please him. They usually get mixed up in all sorts of mischief where ever they go. In this episode, Theo tries to instruct the young lads in obedience, and uses the story of Jonah to illustrate the consequences of disobedience, but also to show the many blessings that come when we obey.
Episode Three: Forgiveness
10 minutes
Forgiveness is not an easy thing to do, especially for Luther and Belfry. Theo tries to help his little furry friends understand what it means to forgive and why it’s so important. Theo shares the parable of the “Unforgiving Servant”, and how that story is such a great example of why forgiveness is a special act of love that Christians should show one another,

God's Love contains the first three Theo episodes in a single volume. Episode 1: Saving Faith. Episode 2: Loving Obedience. Episode 3: Forgiveness.

Total Running Time:  28 minutes
Episode Four: Armor of God - Coming Soon
10 minutes

Can you name all the pieces of the armor of God? In this episode, Theo gives us a lesson in what each of the pieces represents as well as how we can use them in our Christian life to fight against the enemy of our souls. In addition, we see that Luther and Belfry find themselves faced with a different kind of enemy, a sly and devious cat named Scratch.

Each Episode costs $4.99.  The Bonus Episode is FREE.

**Notice that the first 3 are also available together on one DVD.

You can find coloring pages from Theo at the Kids Corner here
You can visit the Theo Presents Blog here

Lifeway Christian resources has also created curriculum to use with the Theo series. The curriculum is designed for small groups and appropriate for elementary age children.

Each volume contains a DVD with 4 Theo episodes, 4 printable teaching plans, worksheets, and parent pages. Each volume also includes the bonus “Good News” episode and teaching plan on the gospel.

Volume 1 – Theo: Foundations of Faith – $39.99
Volume 2 – Theo: Foundations of Salvation – $39.99
Volume 3 – Theo: Foundations of the Christian Life – $39.99
Go here to go to Lifeway to order curriculum.

To check out this series on Facebook click here
To get more information and purchase Theo Presents from Amazon click here
Click  here to go to the Theo Presents website
To find more multimedia resources from the Theo Presents series check here

This DVD is now available having been released yesterday, September 13th.  You should really go get your copies now.  Maybe one for you and one for a friend?

Would you like to get a free copy of Theo Presents?  Read on to find out how to have a chance to win the DVD.

Here's the great part about reviewing Theo Presents --  Instead of giving away 1, I get to giveaway 2 copies!!  Two lucky winners will receive a DVD with Episode 1 - Saving Faith and the Bonus Episode - Good News.

To Enter the Giveaway

1.  Leave a comment on this blog telling me your favorite Christian series for kids.
2.  For a second entry visit Theo Presents on FaceBook and leave a comment on this blog.  Click on "Like" too if you like what you see.
3.  For another entry follow me on Google Friend Connect and leave a comment letting me know or tell me you already follow.
4.  For another entry find Pondering on the Prairie on FaceBook and tell me how many people "Like" it.

Two winners will be randomly drawn at noon on Sunday, September 18th.  Winners will be announced here and also contacted individually to confirm a mailing address.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Opinions and comments are my own.  I will not receive further compensation for this review.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Time 4 Learning - A TOS Review

Time 4 Learning 
 6300 NE 1 Ave, Suite 203 Ft Lauderdale, FL 33334
(954) 771-0914
Fax: (954) 827-7600

$19.95 for the first child/$14.95 for each additional child/monthly membership

Ages PreK-8th Grade
For my latest review as a member of the TOS Homeschool Product Review Crew our family received a free month membership to Time 4 Learning.  Let me tell you a bit about Time 4 Learning and show you some screen shots to help you get a feel for it too.

A Time 4 Learning membership includes 1000+ multimedia lessons delivering standards-based math and language arts lessons--science, social studies and art are also an option in most grades. Art is available after the first month of membership for fourth through eighth graders. Each student gets an individual login and access to multiple grades--the grade above and below their own in most subjects.  Students are able to work fairly independently while completing activities.  Parents have access to lesson plans, teaching tools and automated grading and progress reports.

The math and language arts curriculum are designed to meet all state standards, but science and social studies lessons may need to be supplemented to meet individual state requirements. Online lessons and activities may be used or worksheets may be printed if desired.

Demos are available for viewing, and a Curriculum Overview is also shown on the website.

Preschool Colors Game

Latin & Greek roots

This online curriculum can be used for summer review, after school, preschool early learning, homeschooling, special needs learning, or just plain fun. Time 4 Learning can be used alone or with curriculum such as K12, Charlotte Mason, Singapore Math, Saxon Math, ABeka, Five in a Row, Sonlight, Switched on Schoolhouse, Bob Jones University.  The program even works fine with lapbooking and unschooling.  Art is available after the first month of membership for fourth through eighth graders. For many families Time 4 Learning is also a great fit for their special needs students (ADD/ADHD, autistic, dyslexic, visual learners).


Here's How It All Works
This computer-based curriculum does not require you to download any software-- members just sign in and get started.  Preschool, elementary school and middle school are split into Lower Level and Upper Level on the site log-ins.  Topics for the various grades may include:
  • Math
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • PreAlgebra & Algebra Online
  • Online Art program - Time 4 Art (after the first month of membership)
  • Spelling Skills - including word lists by grade
  • Writing & Reading Skills (Online Reading Programs, Reading Comprehension, Writing Software, Phonemic Awareness, Phonics Curriculum, Elementary Grammar and Vocabulary)
Parent Community & Forum

Parent resources include a Parent Forum, Scope & Sequence and Lesson Plans.
In addition, parents also have access to information regarding:

  • Homeschool Portfolios - Homeschool Record Keeping 
  • Homeschool Curriculum Reviews of Time4Learning 
  • Secular Homeschooling 
  • Getting Started Homeschooling Guide 
  • Homeschool State by State Information 
  • Information for Homeschool Charter Schools

At $19.95 per month for the first child and $14.95 per month for each additional child the price is not too bad for the materials covered.  I suspect many larger families would not be able to afford the program easily since this is monthly.  There are no contracts, and you can cancel anytime by giving notice to discontinue membership. Time 4 Learning also offers a  2 week money back guarantee!

Time 4 Learning will work on PC or Mac computers.  "Fast access" (DSL or cable modem) to the internet would be preferred.  Although we were able to access via laptop at various places with Wi-Fi/high-speed, this program really is not a good fit if you are on dial-up internet.  Much of the site could not be accessed at dial-up speed.  In addition, because most of the Time 4 Learning lessons use Flash technology, iPads, iPhones and iPod touch are not usable options.

Love it or Leave it?  I'm conflicted on this one.  While filled with fun graphics, the curriculum content wasn't exactly a great fit for our family.  The colorful pictures, activities and games definitely capture a child's attention.  Topics seemed to be covered adequately, but some of the content seemed too simple for the grade level given.  I suppose that could be taken care of by jumping to the next level perhaps.  This wasn't a great fit for my 6 year old because he thought it was game time rather than learning time.  Since the little guy wasn't getting into the curriculum, I opted to spend more time with my 14 year old using her level of the program.  Although she said there were some "cool" and "fun" things, she also pointed out that stuff seemed a bit too easy.  I was not surprised that she enjoyed the Playground games section.  I'm sure the kids would continue to use the program occasionally, but this wasn't a favorite for either child.

I did like the ability to check on the progress of my children through the parent account.  The reporting available could be great for documentation to prove topics covered.  This isn't a real big issue for us right now though since we frequently monitor and always supervise our children while they are online.
My bigger conflict came in the content of the curriculum.  We have tended to use Christian curriculum and resources while teaching our children.  This curriculum is definitely secular in nature.  The content was adequate but seemed odd at times and didn't quite fit for us.  This doesn't mean the curriculum was necessarily bad, but I'm not sure that I could suggest this to parents who prefer Christian, scripture-based materials.  It was fun to check out something new, but this is not a membership we would purchase.

Find out more thoughts from the Crew

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Homeschool Product Review Crew I received a free month membership to Time 4 Learning for my children to use in order to provide an honest review of the program.  I have not and will not receive further compensation.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.  All comments and opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nature Nuts - Griddly Games - A TOS Review

Griddly Games, Inc.
Head Office
633 - 5960 No. 6 Rd
Richmond, BC
1 (604) 249 5020
Recommended Ages: 8+

As a member of the TOS Product Review Crew I recently received a fun trivia game to check out.  This one is fun and educational at the same time and is even compact enough to play while you travel.  Let me tell you a bit about it.

Nature Nuts Travel Game/ Expansion Set is for ages 8 years and older and is designed to be played by 2 or more players.  This is an educational, multi-generational, travel game and expansion set for the Wise Alec educational trivia board game.

There are 4 sets of cards and a die included.  On each turn players roll the multicolored die and pick a card which matches the color rolled.  Players then read and answer questions about elementary school topics including animals, plants, and the Earth.  The fun part comes when purple (my favorite color by the way) is rolled.  The extra purple cards, also known as the Wise Alec cards, are really a surprise and might include croaking like a frog, doing a yoga pose or many of a variety of other nutty things.  Play for points or play for fun.  Either way both children and adults will learn a thing or two--plus math if you have them keep score.  Yes, that means there were a few this mom missed too.   
The game comes in a very compact box with a magnetic closure.Yeah, no lost pieces!

Unlike the Wise Alec board game, no table is needed since there is no board, just the cards.  Great for a take-along on a trip or sleepover.  The trivia questions included in the game are educational, challenging and fun.

This one gets a "thumbs up" at our house.  My 14 year old enjoyed the game a lot.  She especially enjoyed that some of the tougher questions mom couldn't answer.  We had fun, learned a lot and played a number of times the first couple of days we had the game.  The age range seems about right, and the price is reasonable.  We liked that we could throw it in a bag and take it along to grandma's house.  The game seems to be durable and is colorful.  The questions vary in difficulty allowing different skill levels to play without frustration.  The only downside we found to the game was that we played so much that we started to remember the questions and answers on the cards.  (The okay part about this is that it means my daughter was learning and memorizing the facts.)  Personally I think this would be fun for ages 8-11 ideally--younger than 8 might have a tough time with the questions.  I'm thinking it would be fun to get the Wise Alec game and use this as an add-on expansion too.  If your kids are into learning games, this is a good option.

To visit Griddly Games to find out about Wise Alec, Nature Nuts and 2 other travel game expansion sets click here

To find a local retailer who carries this Griddly game click here

To see other reviews by the TOS Crew about this game click here

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew I recently received a free Nature Nuts add-on game for the Griddly Wise Alec game in order to present an honest review on my blog. I am not obliged to present a positive review. All comments and opinions regarding the product are my own. I have not and will not receive further compensation for this review.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How To Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids - Apologia - TOS Review

How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids
Rachael Carman, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-935495-41-3

205 pages
Geared to parents of all ages
Published by Apologia Press
A division of Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.
1106 Meridian Plaza, Suite 220/340
Anderson, IN 46016

It's that time again--TOS Homeschool Crew product reviews for 2011-2012 are in full swing. 

The first review I have the privilege of doing this year is for the Apologia book How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids by Rachael Carman. 

Let me start by saying this is a great book!  Rachael shares a lot of scripture and insight in the pages of this small but encouraging book.  Within the 205 pages this book you'll find an introduction, 5 chapters explaining the meaning of H.E.A.R.T. and an encouraging epilogue.  Some of the great stuff you'll find includes:

Introduction:  The Heart of the Matter  - This brief introduction gives the reader the meaning of the acronym H.E.A.R.T. and explains the author's entrance into the world of homeschooling.  
Chapter 1: H - Have a Heart for the Things of God - This chapter describes how to reach the hearts of your kids by having a heart for the things of God while showing examples of seeking, desiring, worshipping, and obeying God as parents.  This chapter is a great reminder that our kids see everything we do and learn from it.
Chapter 2: E - Enrich Your Marriage - This is a great chapter about how to enrich our marriages so that when our kids watch us they learn trust, sacrifice, loyalty, teamwork, forgiveness and more.  Our children can also learn things like perseverance, joy, diligence, kindness and more from watching how we relate to each other as a couple.  Having fun again, wives honoring their husbands through respect, trust, love and support, prayer and study together, and service to our spouse are a few of the key suggestions noted here.
Chapter 3: A - Accept Your Kids - In this chapter readers are asked to consider whether our children are accidents or blessings.  You'll probably read this and be left wondering if your child was born as an answer to prayer for something more than a normal life.  A cure for a dreaded disease, a missionary to share the gospel, something you don't even imagine yet.  This chapter reminds us that our kids are gifts for us put here for God's use.  Acceptance versus permissiveness is also discussed here.
Chapter 4: R - Release Them to God - This chapter is a reminder that "God has graciously loaned them (our kids) to you and me at this time and for His glory".  The author discusses the liberating aspect of this realization and encourages readers to trust God and train children with a strong emphasis on their relationship with God.  Developing a vision for God's plans for our kids and guarding that vision are also discussed.
Chapter 5: T - Teach Them the Truth - The last chapter of this book tackles the "most important thing to teach your children".  The reader, as a parent, is encouraged to make teaching kids the truth, the knowledge and understanding of God, first priority.  Six facts about the truth of God's Word are presented, and we are encouraged to "live out loud" what we read in this truth. 
Epilogue: Heartfelt Encouragement - Encouraging scripture verses and a discussion of "running with perseverance the race marked out for us" finish out this thoughtful book.

What I Thought:
I really enjoyed this book.  I think this would be a great read for all parents.  Rachael offers so much to think about with regard to our marriages, our lives as parents and what our children learn from us.  I like that she encourages us to think of our children as gifts from God for His purpose.  The ideas shared here would be great to read over and over again just to stay on track as a family.  Starting from an entry into homeschooling, without a heart for her children, and finishing with a challenge to reclaim our God-assigned place in raising our kids, Rachel describes the whole circle of her H.E.A.R.T. change with honesty and a healthy dose of related scripture.  Thumbs up to Rachel and Apologia for this wonderful book!

To see a sample chapter of How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids click here

To visit the order page on the Apologia site to get your own copy of this great book click here
To see more TOS Crew reviews of How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids click here


Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew I recently received a free copy of  How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids to read in order to present an honest review on my blog.  I am not obliged to present a positive review.  All comments and opinions regarding the product are my own.  I have not and will not receive further compensation for this review.

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