Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Christmas Lodge - DVD Review and Giveaway

Christmas Lodge - A DVD Review and Giveaway

Thomas Kinkade

It seems that every year there are a number of new Christmas movies.  We recently watched our first one for the year.  Here's a bit about the Christmas Lodge DVD from Thomas Kinkade. 

"A place where a heart-warming past and loving future meet for one remarkable group of people."  (That's how the beginning for the synopsis of this movie reads.) 

Picture a trip to the mountains, an unplanned visit to a favorite childhood place, and the renewal of faith and discovery of love.

Mary is a young woman who happens upon a hurt little girl while on a weekend trip to the mountains.  When Mary takes the girl home she finds herself at Christmas Lodge, a place where Mary's family and grandparents went for Christmas during her childhood.  Unfortunately the lodge is in need of many repairs.  Mary decides to help the owner restore the lodge to it's previous condition.  During the restoration process Mary renews her faith, finds her one true love and is reminded about the importance of family and true holiday spirit.

We really enjoyed this movie.  It is very family-friendly and contains no offensive language or scenes.  The scenery is beautiful!  The acting and filming were superb.  This will be a new favorite Christmas movie at our house.

Visit the Official DVD Website for Christmas Lodge here .  You'll find more information about the movie, meet the cast, go behind the scenes and find a print offer for the Christmas Lodge picture by Mr. Kinkade.  You can also see a trailer for the movie!

"For an uplifting story about the importance of faith, family and the true holiday spirit, go to the Christmas Lodge."
You can order the DVD online from Amazon or Walmart, or purchase it where inspirational films are found.

For more information about the Christmas Lodge artwork click here

Lucky you, I get to give a copy away!  If you'd like to enter to win this in time for Christmas here's what you need to do:

1. Visit the Christmas Lodge website then leave a comment here about something that looked interesting about the movie or the artwork.
2.  For another chance to win follow me on Google Friend Connect and leave a comment here. (or tell me you already follow)
3.  For a third chance to win comment about one of my other reviews that you found interesting.
4.  For a final entry, leave a comment here telling me the name of your favorite Christmas movie.

(A winner will be chosen randomly from all entries at noon on November 15th.)

Good luck and 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 Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Person I Marry - A TOS Review

The Person I Marry – Things I’ll Think About Long Before Saying “I Do”  

Written by Gary Bower
Featuring the Oil Paintings of Jan Bower

Storybook Meadow Publishing Company
7700 Timbers Tr.
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Phone: 231-941-0899
Orders: 888-898-3207 * Fax: 231-947-8903
**A Bright Future Book
Printed and bound in Canada
ISBN-13: 978-0-9704621-7-6
ISBN-10: 0-9704621-7-4
All Ages

Visit Bower Books
Click here to see book reviews

We recently received a free e-book version of the sweetest book I've read in a very long time.  Let me tell you about The Person I Marry by Gary and Jan Bower.

Gary Bower has written this story in verse form, and Jan Bower has done beautiful oil paintings to illustrate the ideas in the book.  This wonderful book is about all of the things to think about before getting married--the important "internal" stuff.  The story begins with a girl going to a wedding and being captivated by the dresses, tuxes, rings, candles, curls and floral bouquets.  The girl's very wise mom sits and tells her daughter about the "who" rather than the "what" that makes a great wedding.  She reminds her daughter that the person you marry is the important part of a wedding.

The girl then ponders all of the important internal qualities to consider about the person she'll marry including qualities such as:  sincerity, kindness, courteousness, graciousness, tactfulness, optimism, perseverance, ability to laugh, joyfulness, patience, respectfulness, faithfulness, belief in God as the supreme Creator--loving God first and her second, moral purity, modesty, integrity, and many others.  She thinks that a true believer who is prayerful and hungry for God's word is a very important part of the high standards to be met because the vows made in marriage are meant to be kept.  The book finishes with a place to list the things to work on and look for in the "The Person I Marry".

My daughter and I really liked this book.  The verse form is engaging and thoughtful.  The paintings are beautiful!  This book gave us a lot to think about and discuss before my children marry.  I look forward to discussing this book again as my children are older.  This would be the perfect gift for anyone with a child old enough to be considering relationships and marriage.  I suspect we'll be purchasing this book for the children of several of our friends.

Would you like to see what other TOS Review Crew members thought?  Click here .

Disclaimer:  I received a free e-book copy of the above-mentioned book to read in order to prepare this review.  Opinions and comments are my own.  I did not and will not receive other compensation for this review.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Gary and Jan also have a number of other books including:  There's a Party in Heaven!, Tessa's Treasures, Wyatt's Wagon, Ivy's Icicle, Cody's Castle, I'm a Michigan Kid!, Michigan Kid Passport, and The Michigan Kid Coloring and Activity Book.  They have 12 children and four grandchildren.

Gary Bower is also a storyteller, and an encouraging and entertaining speaker.  To find out how he can serve your group, call 1-888-898-3207.

Friday, November 4, 2011

First Start Reading: Phonics, Reading and Printing/Classical Phonics - Memoria Press - A TOS Review

Memoria Press
4603 Poplar Level Rd.
Louisville, KY 40213

Classical Phonics   $14.95

First Start Reading   $29.95
Books A, B, C, & Teacher Guide

First Start Reading Student Set   $21.00
Books A, B, & C

As a member of the TOS Review Crew I receive quite a variety of products and curriculum to check out and "test" with my children.  It's always fun to see them learning, especially when they are learning something important and useful.  Our latest adventure is trying to teach my youngest phonics and how to read.  We recently received Classical Phonics and First Start Reading from Memoria Press to use in exchange for an honest review of the books.   We're having an interesting time trying these books with a little boy who would rather run and play.  Let me tell you about these books that get your child learning phonics, reading and printing. 

Classical Phonics:  A Child's Guide to Word Mastery by Cheryl Lowe (based on Florence Akin's Word Mastery)   - 126 pages     ****See a sample
Classical Phonics is an uncluttered little book which teachers and families can use with their children in Kindergarten and first grade.   Phonetically-arranged word lists allow students to practice phonics skills. The theory behind this book is that in a word list there are no context clues, so the child must rely on his mastery of letter sounds. The thought is that if your child can pronounce each word in this list correctly – pot, pat, pit, put, pet – he knows his short vowel sounds, and you can move on to long vowels!  If not, according to the author, he needs more practice.  This book has a few pictures to associate with the alphabet, but the rest of the book contains word lists.  The pictures are simple drawings, and the book is black and white with some blue margins--no flashy, colorful pictures to distract children from the task at hand.  This book provides the repetition needed to learn to read--teach/reteach the sounds and phonics rules, review, practice and achieve the ability to read progressively tougher words.  Classical Phonics,which can be used as a supplement to any phonics program, covers most of the English phonograms and sounds through second grade level.  The book contains 10 Units in 2 parts.  The lessons contain sounds, phonics rules and assessments to ensure mastery before moving on.  The book also contains suggestions to teachers regarding ear training, tongue training, eye training, and word training.  By the end of the book your child learns over 2000 different words. 

Success?  Well, not yet.  We've started the process, but I think it is going to take a bit longer for my youngest to sit still more than 10-15 minutes at a time to get a bit more out of the book.  I love seeing him attempt a word list.  We're moving slow, but we're finally moving!  Hopefully my second bookworm will be reading on his own soon.  Although many books have colorful pictures and layouts, I like the simple black and white presentation in this book--hopefully less distraction equals more learning.  The book is easy to use and priced reasonably.  I look forward to continuing to use this book as a reference tool for quite a while. 

First Start Reading: Phonics, Reading, and Printing (set of 3 + teacher guide)  by Cheryl Lowe
Let me start with Wow!  First Start Reading covers consonants, short vowels, 45 common words, and manuscript printing, accompanied by artist-drawn coloring pictures and drawing pages for every letter. Children begin reading in the very first lesson.  With First Start Reading children progress through three student books and twenty-five phonetic stories.  The Teacher Manual contains an Introduction including an Alphabet Chart, a Phonics syllabi for Books A, B, and C, a Phonics overview, and Pencil Grip and Printing Lessons.  Lesson Plans for the 3 student books are provided as well as some helpful posters.  Lessons contain an introduction of letter name and sound, ear training, letter formation and printing practice.  Lessons progress to reading and writing short sentences.  Children also draw pictures based on their reading and write from dictation.  The Student books are simple and easy to follow.  Again, like Classical Phonics, there are pictures which are relatively simple--not colorful and flashy.  I like the less distraction equals more learning presentation of the student books.  Simple, but effective! 

So, how's it going?  Well, we're coming along with the sounds and reading process.  My son now realizes that not all combinations of letters are actually words.  He's quite excited to figure out how to sound out the words he sees, but he isn't so crazy about slowing down to write the words.  We're working on the writing in between, but we're not stressing about the fact that the writing and reading are not coming at the same rate.  (We're also using a reading game to work on site words.  Watch for a review of The Reading Game soon!) We're remembering that each child is different.  We're also remember that our first child didn't feel confident reading until about age 9.
This mom is liking this combination of books and thankful for the blessing we've received from Memoria Press. 
click here to view sample pages from Book A
click here to view sample pages from Book B

Memoria Press offers a full refund of the price of  their products for 60 days.  If you are not satisfied with your purchase for any reason, you can return it in resalable condition, and they will issue an exchange or refund for the full price of the products.

Reviewing for the TOS Crew is never dull - stop by here to see what other Crew members thought of these books.

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received First Start Reading and
Classical Phonics free in order to prepare this review.  I have not and will not receive further compensation.  Comments and observations are my own.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Excellence in Literature - Introduction to Literature - A TOS Review

Excellence in Literature - Introduction to Literature (English 1)
Janice Campbell
Everyday Education, LLC
P.O. Box 549
Ashland, VA 23005

Print or instant download e-book - online books in 2012.
Print Book $29(+s/h)/E-book $27- 132 pages

Purchase here
Free info sheet/5 year booklist here 

We've been using an excellent literature and composition course for about a month.  Let me tell you about it.  This college-preparatory course, for grades 8-12, uses focus works including novels, short stories, poems, and drama.  Context readings are also included to provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.  The book contains the course outline, assignments schedules, models of the papers to be written, and evaluation information. 

While library books can be used, the author suggests purchasing your own copies so that underlining, notes in the margins, etc. may be used while reading.  (We used thrift stores and Paperback Swap.)  There are a lot of internet resources included to encourage responsible computer use--and also to save money (free).  The only required readings are the book and the focus texts. 

Introduction to Literature allows students to gain an understanding of the development of literature and practice literary analysis through essays, approach papers and other writing.  When they are finished the student should understand the process of writing through the use of resources like a writer’s handbook, dictionary, and thesaurus. The goal is to have an understanding of representative texts by major authors as well as an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.   Analysis of literary texts and presentation of ideas in writing are thought to make your student competent in essay organization, style, and mechanics.


Introduction to Literature readings include:
  • Short Stories: A White Heron, The Purloined Letter, The Diamond Necklace, The Ransom of Red Chief, A Worn Path, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • Other Literature:  Around the World in Eighty Days (Verne), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Twain), Jane Eyre (Bronte), Pygmalion (Shaw), Treasure Island (Stevenson), Animal Farm (Orwell), The Tempest (Shakespeare) and Gulliver's Travels (Swift)
 **Books listed are focus texts only. Context readings are also assigned within each unit. In addition there is an Honors reading selection for each unit. 

Example Unit contents:
  • Unit 1 includes:  Focus Texts, Context Reading, Honors Readings, Unit Focus, Introduction, Something to Think About, Be Sure to Notice, Assignment Schedule for 4 weeks. 
  • Unit 2 includes: Same as first unit plus The Author's Life, Poetry, Audio, Video, Visual Arts, Music and Online Links
More information here
Free sample unit here 
The Excellence in Literature program is self-directed and encourages independent learning and college-style study habits.  There are 9 four week units with week-by-week lesson plans in each school year.  The material covers Medieval, Renaissance, Neo-classical, Romantic, Realist and Modernist time periods.  All volumes contain instructions, models, and a glossary.  The additional context readings provide an understanding of literature in its historic and artistic context. (Links are also included.)  Extra readings are suggested for an Honors option to allow for advanced college placement.  The planned material can be mixed and matched according to your needs/desires.  The author suggests a minimum of one hour per day of reading and writing.  She also suggests an additional 20-45 minutes of vocabulary work. 
Take it or Leave it--My thoughts? 
We've been reading through the short stories and beginning the first suggested books.  Here's what I'm thinking . . .
**The stories have been more advanced reading than our previous materials used - great for vocabulary building.  My 14 year old is definitely up to the challenge, which is interesting since she used to fight reading. 
**My student is not excited about writing, but this has been a great opportunity to work on those skills. 
**The suggested work time is appropriate. 
**I really like the focus on independent learning and study skills.  We're trying to work on tackling more topics this way too. 
**The materials have been inexpensive and easy to find. 
**We'll probably be extending the coursework a bit further time-wise, but thankfully, this program accomodates that.  Although I did take some college literature classes, a college education is definitely not required to use this well-planned course.
**The links included contain great additional information.
**The program/book list is easy to follow and contains excellent choices for reading even if you do not choose to use the EIL program. 
**The book we received contains an enormous amount of material for the price--definitely a great buy!
Janice's suggested websites include: • http://Everyday-Education.com • Education blog: http://Janice-Campbell.com • Entrepreneur Blog: http://DoingWhatMatters.com 
•National Association of Independent Writers and Editors http://NAIWE.com
How the author chose the books article here
Cathy Duffy's review here

Other TOS Review Crew thoughts here

Complete Curriculum (5 levels) in a binder $139/E-book $135 (Volumes include: Introduction to Literature, Literature and Composition, American Literature, British Literature, World Literature)

If you purchase a book from Everyday Education and it does not meet your needs/expectations, returns within 30 days for a full refund of  purchase price are available.

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received a free copy of EIL's Introduction to Literature to use in exchange for an honest review.  I have not and will not receive further compensation.  All thoughts and comments are my own.  I am  not obligated to provide a positive review. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Another George Washington? Marshall Publishing - George Washington Carver: His Life and His Works DVD - A TOS Review

George Washington Carver:  
His Life and His Works DVD


Marshall Publishing & Promotions, Inc.

Click here to purchase

2009 Marshall Publishing & Promotions, Inc, A Kaw Valley Films Production 
KVFD-106  Length 29 minutes, Color DVD
Subject Areas :  U.S. History, American Biographies
Age Level 4th Grade through Adult
ISBN 978-1-9636134-12-0 UPC 894190001868

Regular Price $24.95
Web Sale Price  $19.95

As a member of the TOS Review Crew I recently received a free copy of the DVD George Washington Carver:  His Life and His Work from Marshall Publishing.  Let me share a bit about this biographical DVD to give you an idea of it's content and quality.

First, a little bit of background about Mr. Carver:

George Washington Carver, often referred to as the "peanut man", was born into slavery during the Reconstruction years in the South and lived a life filled with poor health (whooping cough while young), poverty (when he finally did put his money in a bank he lost it all) and prejudice (due to his Negro heritage).  Carver is known for his research into and promotion of alternative crops to cotton, prompted by the destruction of crops by boll weevils and depletion of soil nutrients caused by not rotating crops.  He's considered an expert in  agriculture and horticulture and is an accomplished artist of the beauty of nature.  While researching and teaching at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama he worked with land management and compiled a list of over 300 uses for and by-products of peanuts (cosmetics, dyes and paints, plastics, gasoline and even nitroglycerin). 

George is an example of what hard work, a positive attitude and a good education can produce, even under hardship. George is commemorated on January 5, George Washington Carver Recognition  Day, the anniversary of his death. 

**Interesting tidbit:  George W. Carver only used the "W" to be recognized because there was more than one George Carver.  Although asked about the "W" and jokingly accepting the suggestion that it must mean "Washington", the W didn't mean anything--George never even used it.  Like our president George Washington, George W. Carver was, however, a man of many important firsts in his family, his race, and the agricultural field.

The first thing we noticed about the DVD started at the very beginning -- lots of bright, colorful nature pictures, especially flowers.  As we learned about George we found out that he was an artist and won a prize for his picture of a flowering yucca.  George's story unfolded, in chronological order, with a sprinkling of George's words and thoughts.  We also learned about the struggles George went through as well as opportunities he encountered.  Who knew peanuts could be used for so many things? 

We like historical and biographical books and stories of all kinds.  This DVD is a keeper.  At about one half hour long, it captures your attention, is informative, and is easy on the eyes with wonderful images.  There is pleasant music in the background too.  When it finished my daughter even said "That was neat.  It was good." (We also talked about how this story reminded us of a book we read about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor.  My husband commented that he had seen a different TV special on Mr. Carver but thought the Marshall DVD was much better.  We'll be watching this again.
In addition to the DVD there is also a Study Guide (see the website) which gives additional information and discussion questions. 

Keep or toss?  We will definitely be keeping this DVD.  The suggested age is appropriate.  The price is reasonable for the quality of the DVD.  I'm thinking this will be a good start to a science project at some point too -- something like 101 Things To Do With Peanuts.  Marshall Publishing has done a great job, and I'm interested in checking out some of the other DVDs they offer.

Marshall Publishing also offers books and DVDs about animals, fire trucks, jets and planes, monster trucks, motor sports, rockets, space ships, trains and trucks.  Music CDs are also available.  Other educational and historical DVDs include Lincoln and Gettysburg, the History of the Oregon Trail and the Pony Express, the Historic Expedition of Lewis and Clark and several more.  Go here to see more choices.

Interested in seeing what other TOS Review Crew members thought?  Click here

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the above-mentioned DVD in return for a fair and honest review.  I did not and will not receive further compensation for this review.  All comments and opinions are my own.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What Did You Say? NorthStarGames - Say Anything Family Edition - A TOS Review

Say Anything Family Edition 

Office: 301.493.4331
Fax: 866.433.8069
3-6 players - 8 years and up
30 minutes to play
$19.99  (Available at Amazon, Target or a number of other stores.)

Visit NorthStarGames on Facebook or Twitter

What are you playing for family game night this week?  Lately we've been playing a fun game, Say Anything Family Edition, from NorthStarGames.  As part of the TOS Review Crew I received this game free in return for a candid review.  Let me tell you a bit about the game.  (We also received Wits and Wagers Family Edition at the same time.  For more information see my previous review.)

Say Anything Family Edition is a fun game that is fairly easy for young and older players.  The game is very quickly explained and contains short, easy-to-understand directions and rules.

The game contains:  360 questions on 60 question cards, wipe-off pens, wipe-off boards, a Select-o-Matic 6000 spinner, player Meeple tokens, a wipe-off score board and, of course, the directions/rules.

Each person takes a turn being "judge".  The person who is judge for the round reads a question from one of the game cards.  (Example:  What would make a long car ride more fun?)  Players then write down their answer to the question.  Players don't have to know a "right" answer--just "say anything" they choose as an answer.  The judge then spins the Select-o-Matic 6000 to the answer they would choose from the answers given--without showing their choice.  Players put tokens on the answer they think the judge will pick.  When the judge's choice is revealed, points are awarded according to which answer was chosen.  Points are then recorded on the scoreboard.

The game is quite easy and quick to learn.  Creativity and imagination are definitely a plus in this game.  Part of the fun is coming up with the most outrageous or likable answer to capture the attention of the judge. The price is reasonable.  The age suggestion seems appropriate since this game works best if players can read and write.   This is definitely a game we'll dig out frequently.  A thumbs-up all the way around at our house.  My daughter preferred Say Anything, but really had fun with Wits and Wagers too.  We like games that let the kids have a more even chance of winning against an adult.  NorthStarGames has another winner!

Visit the NorthStarGames site to check out the Say Anything and Wits and Wagers games.

Another great feature --Free Parts Replacement. - If any game parts fail or get lost within the first year of ownership NorthStarGames will deliver an identical or comparable replacement to you free of charge. All that is required is for you to e-mail a request for the needed part along with your mailing address, and the parts will be sent out within two weeks.

More TOS Crew member thoughts

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received the Say Anything Family Edition game free to play with my family in order to provide this review. I did not and will not receive further compensation. All comments and opinions are my own. I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Cooper and Me - Book Review and Giveaway

Cooper and Me
Monique & Alexa Peters
Copyright 2009
Second Edition 2011
ISBN 978-0-9829418-0-5
Hardcover, 27 pages

Purchase the book here

For more information and fun stuff for children check out the website.

Check out Cooper and Me on Facebook too!

This is a sweet book which is illustrated by 11-year-old Alexa Peters and co-written with her mother, Monique Peters. Alexa wrote this story after thinking of her own experiences on her first day of school. The story tells about a girl who is nervous while waiting for her first day of school. The girl wants her best friend, Cooper, her Labrador Retriever, to go to school with her. Since that is not possible, her mother helps her get past her fear by providing a replica of Cooper to take to school.

This story deals with fears about starting school, separation anxiety and trying new things. A short but helpful story, Cooper and Me is written by a child, for children. The simple but colorful illustrations add fun to the story.  At the end of the story there is a page to record thoughts about the reader’s first day of school. Additionally, the authors have included a few other helpful sections including:
  • Life Lesson – Dealing with Separation Anxiety and New Places 
  • Connections – Ideas for Discussion 
  • Learning Together – Scripted Discussion Questions
Another neat thing about this book is that a portion of the proceeds from the book go to the Happy Hearts Fund, a group that helps children through education and sustainable programs in natural disaster areas.

Cooper and Me, Inc. has plans to continually expand their existing lines with stories and resources that address the many issues young children face. The company also is looking forward to expanding their franchise into other technology and entertainment platforms.

A bit about the author's background:

"In 2010, 11-year-old Alexa Peters, along with her mother Monique Peters, found a meaningful way to turn her passion and love for writing and drawing into an opportunity to “give back” to other kids. Starting at a very young age, Alexa created illustrated stories about her daily experiences, and from the pages of her sketchbooks came the idea for her first book, Cooper and Me. The story of a little girl’s fears about starting school evolved into a timeless tale about overcoming separation anxiety and trying new things – basic emotions all people experience throughout their lives – but this time, written by a child, for children. As retold in Cooper and Me, Alexa’s own story had a “happy ending” – a clever, compassionate solution that involved taking a small replica of her beloved pet to school with her. The first book introduced the family’s real-life dog, Cooper the Labrador Retriever, and the mother-daughter team began imagining a series of stories featuring Cooper that would engage little kids while guiding them through the ups and downs of daily life. In addition to the original Cooper and Me, four more story books are set to publish throughout the next twelve months, all containing relatable life lessons inspired by Alexa’s experiences, with illustrations based on her drawings of Cooper."

About the Happy Hearts Fund:

"While on their journey of writing and publishing, Alexa and Monique Peters felt it was important to apply their passion for helping children to a charity that truly made a difference in kids’ lives. Their search for an organization to which they could donate a portion of the proceeds from the original Cooper and Me book led to an alliance with the Happy Hearts Fund, founded and run by Petra Nemcova, the supermodel who was directly affected by the tsunami in Thailand. Happy Hearts improves children’s lives through education and sustainable programs in natural disaster areas. As of July 2011, the Happy Hearts Fund was active in nine countries, has built/rebuilt 50 schools and kindergartens, and has benefited more than 31,000 children and 335, 000 community members. Last year, Alexa and Monique accompanied Petra on a trip to Peru to see the Happy Hearts Fund in action, which they found truly inspiring.

In a related effort to help raise awareness for the Happy Hearts Fund, Bridget Mason Doran, Cooper and Me’s musical director, wrote a song called “One Heart” and recorded it with a group of talented young children. They were brought together because of their passion for music to help spread this important message of hope and giving back. The “One Heart” song is available on iTunes, and a portion of the proceeds from its sale is also being donated to Happy Hearts. Check out the Happy Hearts Fund and ways to donate at www.happyheartsfund.org."

Love this book!  Even though we homeschool, I would definitely give this book to a child who is hesitant about starting public school.  I just love the story and illustrations.  I'm also excited to see a child who is reaching out to other children and on the way to helping out a great cause.   It's definitely worth visiting the website too!

It’s a Giveaway – It’s a Giveaway—It’s a Giveaway

I get to give one lucky person a copy of this delightful book. I will be drawing a winner, chosen randomly from all entries, at noon on November 3rd. Here is how you can enter the giveaway.

1. Leave a comment here telling me you’re interested.
2. For another entry, visit http://www.cooperandme.com/ and tell me one thing included on the Fun For Kids section, leaving a comment here after your visit there.
3. For an additional entry follow me on Google Friend Connect and tell me in a comment.

Good luck to all who enter. Blessings!

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.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meeples, and Colors and Trivia, Oh my! Wits & Wagers Family Game - A TOS Review

Wits & Wagers – Family Edition

Office: 301.493.4331
Fax: 866.433.8069

3 to 10 players -- 8 years and up
20 minutes to play -- Family Trivia game

$19.99 US/$15.23 Canada
Visit NorthStarGames on Facebook or Twitter

Does your family have game nights?  Are you a trivia fan?  If you answered yes to either question you might want to check out this game that I received from NorthStarGames as part of the TOS Review Crew.

Wits and Wagers Family Edition is one of those games that you or your 8 year old can win.  The game is very easy to learn and does not require a lot of skill.  First each person picks what color Meeples they want to be. (colorful little wooden people-shaped pieces)  Next, one person reads a trivia question from the 300 family-oriented questions.  (For example, how many teaspoons are there in a tablespoon?)  Each person then writes what they think the answer should be on their own mini whiteboard with a wipe-off marker.  The answers are then lined up and all players put their Meeples on what they think is the correct answer--whether it is what they wrote or  what someone else guessed.  Finally, when the answer is revealed points are accumulated depending on whether Meeples are on the right answer.  There is also a wipe-off scoreboard to keep track of player results.  That's it!  This game is quite easy, lots of fun, educational, and can be played in about 20 minutes.

The game contains wipe-off markers, mini whiteboards for each player, trivia question cards, Meeples and a scoreboard.

So, what's the verdict on this one?  We really like this game.  Even though it is for ages 8 and up, my 6 year old likes to team up with one of the players.  The kids sure like it when they are right and mom or dad guess wrong.  We all found ourselves learning little tidbits about many things while having fun.  The price is reasonable, the age suggestion seems accurate.  We found that we could even play with 2 people, but I would     suggest at least 3 players.  We have been enjoying this game and will be playing it for some time.

You can purchase at Amazon  or Find a store near you 
Visit the NorthStarGames site to check out the Wits and Wagers and Say Anything games.  
Another great feature --Free Parts Replacement. - If any game parts fail or get lost within the first year of ownership NorthStarGames will deliver an identical or comparable replacement to you free of charge.  All that is required is for you to e-mail a request for the needed part along with your mailing address, and the parts will be sent out within two weeks.

Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received the Wits & Wagers Family Edition game free to play with my family in order to provide this review.  I did not and will not receive further compensation.  All comments and opinions are my own.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Educating the WholeHearted Child - Apologia - A TOS Review


 Educating the WholeHearted Child, 3rd Edition
Clay Clarkson with Sally Clarkson
ISBN:  978-1-932012-95-8

Apologia Educational Ministries
1106 Meridian Plaza Suite 220
Anderson, IN 46016

For parents who are educating their children ages 4-14

As a member of the TOS Review Crew I recently received a free copy of Clay and Sally Clarkson's Educating the WholeHearted Child.   Let me tell you about this interesting and challenging book which is about discovering God's design for raising children. The book is meant to provide a homeschooling model based on biblical principles of nurture, discipleship, instruction and learning. The book I received is the newly revised and expanded version. The Clarkson philosophy is that Christian homeschooling should begin with the sure foundation of a Christian home. This book provides tools that are suggested to help parents ensure that foundation. The cover of the book says it all when it states "Discipleship, Whole Books, and Real Life! WholeHearted Christian Home Education for Ages 4-14".

  See the Table of Contents here

The Table of Contents Includes a Preface, Introduction  and  4 sections including Home, Learning, Methods, and Living.  These sections are followed by a Postscript Challenge about Keeping Faith in the Family.  The final part of the book contains Resources including suggested books and forms.


Take a peek at some of what is in the major sections of the book:


SECTION 1: HOME (Covers things such as Learning to Be at Home With Christ, Learning at Home to Be with Christ, Shepherding Your Child's Spirit to Long for God and more)
  • Ten Good Biblical Reasons for Homeschooling 
  • Biblical Principles to Consider
  • Specific Scriptures to Consider about parenting, your children, christian life
  • Be Ready to Live by Faith
  • Be Confident as a Homeschooling Parent
  • Answering the Legal Question
  • Answering the Education Question (chart - classroom vs. home education)
  • Answering the Socialization Question (chart - conventional vs. home school)
  • Answering the Qualification Question (chart - classroom teacher vs. parent-teacher)
  • The Biblical Case for Home Nurture
  • LifeGIFTS - Grace, Inspiration, Faith, Training, and Service
  • Feed Your Children with Fish (Faithfulness, Integrity, Self-Discipline, Humility) and Bread (Bible, Relationships, Eternal Perspective, Authority, Disciplines)
  • Leading with Sympathy (vs. Strictness)
  • Leading with Encouragement (vs. Guilt)
  • Leading with Love (vs. Neglect)
  • Leading with Instruction (vs. Information)
  • Correction (Spiritual, Verbal, Behavioral, Physical Discipline)
  • Protection (Unhealthy Appetites, Unwise Relationships, Ungodly Media)
  • Building Mental Muscles (Language, Appetites, Habits, Creativity, Curiosity, Reason, Wisdom
  • Cultivating a Positive Learning Attitude
  • Cultivating a Positive Teaching Attitude
SECTION 2: LEARNING (Covers things such as Living and Learning Together at Home, Creating a Home You Can Learn Within and more)
  • Giving Your Child a Designer Education
  • Schools of Schooling (Public, Private, Independent, Homeschooling)
  • Schools of Homeschooling
  • Curriculum-Centered - Printed Curriculum, Virtual Learning
  • Content-Centered - Classical Approach, Unit Studies, Principle Approach
  • Child-Centered - Unschooling, Moore Formula, Montessori Method
  • Home-Centered - Whole-Book Method (Living Books), Charlotte Mason Method
  • 12 Pillars of WholeHearted Learning
  • 5 Focused Study Areas (Discipleship, Disciplined, Discussion, Discovery, Discretionary)
  • Designing a Learning Room
  • Building a Home Library
  • Acquiring Good Books
  • Living Book vs. Textbook Chart
  • Books to Avoid
  • Managing Home Media
  • Evaluating Curricula and Workbooks
  • Deciding About Tests and Grades
  • Personality and Learning Styles (Doer, Helper, Mover, Shaper)
SECTION 3:  METHODS  (Covers Discipleship Studies Methods, Disciplined Studies Methods, Discussion Studies Methods, Discovery Studies Methods and Discretionary Studies Methods)

  • Discipleship (Bible Knowledge, Bible Reading, Bible Devotions, Bible Study, Bible Instruction)
  • Disciplined (Beginning Reading, Language Arts, Writing and Composition, Math, Thinking Skills)
  • Discussion (Reading Aloud, Reading Alone, Narration, History, Geography, Fine Arts, Unit Study, Context Study, Memorization and Recitation, Speaking and Presentation, Storytelling)
  • Discovery (Creative Arts, Drawing and Coloring, Creative Play, Nature Study, Creation Science, Hands-On Science, Foreign Language, Computer, Internet, Audio/Video Production)
  • Discretionary (Real-Life Learning, Private Lessons and Mentors, Library, Field Trips, Study Groups, Home Workshops, Living and Learning Notebooks, Standardized Tests)
SECTION 4:  LIVING  (Covers Family, Structure, Order and Support)

Father - The Head of the Home
  • The Godly Father (FATHERS - Faith, Authority, Training, Humility, Encouragement, Responsibility, Service)
  • 7 Secrets of the Home TEACHER (TEACHER - Time to Talk, Enthusiasm to Explain, Ability to Apply, Confidence in Christ, Humility to Help, Encouragement to Explore, Responsibility to Remind)
Mother - The Heart of the Home
  • Walking With God on his PATH (Purpose, Assurance, Trust, Heart)
  • Following God's Heart for Moms
  • The Life-giving Mother (LIFE - Love and Liberty, Inspiration and Imagination, Fun and Feasting, Engaging and Enjoying)

  • Knowing Your Purpose, Priorities, Plans, Principles, Personality, Breaking Point, Provider, Path
  • Characteristics of an Orderly Home
  • FIRST 5 Priorities of Home Management (Managing Family, Information, Rest, Stuff, Time)
  • Homeschool Support Groups, Books, Mentors, Small Groups
  Here's a peek at what is in the Resources section of the book:

  • A:  Books for the WholeHearted Family (Family Sampler list of Favorite Books including Classic Children's Fiction, Modern Children's Fiction, Illustrated Storybooks, Fables, Fairy Tales, and Fantasy, Poetry and Art, History and Biography and Miscellaneous Sets, Series, Readers)
  • B:  Books for WholeHearted Learning (Sampler of Books for Christian Homeschooling including Home and Parenting, Fatherhood and Motherhood, Young Men and Women, Devotions and Discipleship, Homeschooling and Books, Reading and Writing, Thinking and Speaking)
  • C:  Forms for WholeHearted Learning (Including Agenda, Overview, Planner, Task List, Project Planner, Reading Record, Book Report, DiscipleSheet, DependableList, 24 Family Ways (Godly Character), 24 Ways (Biblical Values), LifeGIFTS Discipleship Planner, Devotional ARTS Planner, Bible Reading Record, Bible Reading and Devotional Journal, 1 month calendar planner, 1 week calendar planner, Family Chores Chart

  See a Sample Chapter here

  My WholeHearted Opinion:  Once again I am impressed by another offering from Apologia.  I really like this book.  Filled with great ideas, models and forms to use, as well as some of the most relevant and encouraging scripture, this book is one that will stay handy at my desk or bedside.  The manner in which information is arranged in this book makes it quite easy to read in small chunks--which is what you'll most likely do too considering the 376 page length.    I really enjoyed the honesty and family tidbits in the "In Our Home" sections sprinkled throughout the book too.  Although I did not read previous editions, I think this 3rd edition is definitely a keeper to refer to often.  I found many ideas for personal growth and felt challenged to examine where we need to make changes in our homeschooling.  Great job Clay and Sally Clarkson!  

  See other TOS Crew Thoughts here 
  Order Your Copy here

   Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of Educating the WholeHearted Child from Apologia to read in order to write this review.  I did not and will not receive further compensation.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.  All comments and opinions are my own.




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