Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: World's Greatest Stories

My kids are big audio book lovers. When we lived in an area with longer driving times, we always had audio books to listen to when we were in the car. Now Lauren and Brennan listen to audio books nearly every night when they go to bed.

We recently had the opportunity to hear some amazing Bible stories produced by The World's Greatest Stories. I hesitate to label them audiobooks; they are far more entertaining and enthralling than any audiobook I've ever heard. These stories are not merely someone reading verses from the Bible. George W. Sarris memorizes the scriptures and then retells the story so that it comes alive. It's truly a dramatic presentation. When I listened to the story of Daniel, I could imagine the scenes in Babylon when Daniel heard "the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music" and chose not to bow down to the image of gold. (After hearing the story a time or two, the entire phrase about the music was stuck in my head.)

I love the way that the stories came alive on these CDs. I also love the way that my children will learn the words of the actual scriptures as they listen. I really wish I had ordered The Life of Christ earlier so that we could all hear "The Real Story of Christmas" this week.

The World's Greatest Stories offers six different audiobook volumes: The Prophets, The Life of Christ, Beginnings, Joshua & Esther, Joseph & His Brothers, Defeating Giants. Each one is approximately one hour long, costs only $7.95, and is available with the scriptures in either NIV or KJV. There are multiple audio clips available on the website if you'd like to hear a sample before you purchase one.

If you'd like to hear how much the other members of the review crew thought about The World's Greatest Stories CDs, please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog here.

I received CDs from The World's Greatest Stories as a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Read Aloud Challenge -- December 8

I've neglected to check in with Debra's weekly Read Aloud Challenge for the past few weeks. Honestly, I got a bit bored with simply posting the picture of Rifles for Watie. It was a lot more satisfying to post weekly updates when we were reading shorter books.

We finally finished Rifles for Watie around Thanksgiving and set aside the history based read-alouds for the time being.

Earlier today we finished our traditional holiday read-aloud -- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. "Hey! Unto you a child is born!" If you've never read Barbara Robinson's tale of how the Herdman's changed a church's traditional Christmas pageant, you absolutely must share it with your children this year.

I'm not sure what we'll start next. I know that the next week or so is going to be crazy, and I may just have to put read-alouds on hold for a while.

After our holiday craziness is over, we'll likely start back with history read-alouds. I think we've sufficiently covered the Civil War. I need to hunt for a book that covers the Reconstruction or other late 1800s events. I'm not sure I'm ready to jump all the way to World War 1 yet.

Lately Lauren's been listening to the Julie series of books from American Girl. I find it funny that Julie is one of their historical dolls -- the books are set all the way back in the 1970s. Actually, it's quite interesting to see all the historical details that are woven into the stories. We're nearly finished with the second one in the set of six books. Lauren also has the audiobooks checked out of the library, but she doesn't mind if I read the book during the day and then she listens to the exact same thing at bedtime on her CD player.

If you'd like to see what other parents are reading to their children or if you'd like to share what you've been reading, please join all of us that check-in at Footprints in the Butter.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cooper and Me Review (and Giveaway)

Lauren checks certain shelves of the library every time we go. She's drawn to certain characters and wants to reread those same books over and over.

I recently found new characters that might earn a coveted spot on Lauren's favorites list.

The Cooper and Me books are written by thirteen-year-old Alexa Peters and her mother Monique. They use the stories of an adventurous Labrador Retriever named Cooper to teach real-life lessons in a fun picture-book format.

In Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure!, Cooper and his friend Bella wander too far from home and find themselves lost in a snowstorm. The story has a happy ending, though, and everyone learns what to do when you can't find your way home.

Lauren and I both enjoyed the story. She even requested an immediate encore presentation. I liked the added learning activities, especially the way that they reinforced the lessons of what to do if you ever get lost.

You can order Cooper and Me books (all four of them) and other merchandise at CooperAndMe.com. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.  Make any purchase of $25 or more at CooperandMe.com and get FREE Shipping now through December 15th. Use the code COOPERBLOG when you check out.

In addition to getting to review a copy of this darling book, I have another copy to give to one of my readers. The giveaway ends at midnight on December 14th.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review: Pitsco Education


Pitsco Education provides hands-on projects for both classroom teachers and home educators. They are a leader in STEM-oriented materials -- ones that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The About Us page on their website talks about how they strive to create tools that "engage and inspire learners." In my mind, they just make learning fun.

Recently Addison and Brennan built seige machines (a catapult and a trebuchet) using the Siege Machines kit.

Addison followed the clear directions in the kit and easily built the catapult by herself. After firing clay balls across the kitchen, she then spied the huge bowl of Halloween candy. We didn't graph all of the results, but we do know that M&M's were the clear winners in terms of how far they traveled.

I helped Brennan with a few steps to assemble the trebuchet because it was a little more difficult to build than the catapult. It was still fairly easy to build and worked well. Unfortunately, we were only able to fire clay balls; the Halloween candy didn't work well with the fabric sling.

The Siege Machines book included with the kit gave ideas, charts, and graphs so that we could compare the effect of different variables (the amount of washers used as the counterweight, mass of the clay ball, etc) on the distance fired.

Pitsco Education's Siege Machines kit would be a perfect addition to a study of medieval times, but it's also just a fun project to build scientific investigation skills.

Brennan and Addison give the catapult and trebuchet high marks for fun! Who wouldn't love the opportunity to fire clay balls or leftover candy across the room?

The Siege Machines kit is available to order from Pitsco Education and costs $21.95. They offers hundreds of other products that will add hand-on science fun to your days, regardless of what curriculum you use. You don't even have to be a homeschooler to enjoy their products!

If you'd like to hear how much the other members of the review crew thought about Pitsco products, please visit The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog here.

I received a Medieval Machines kIt to build as a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gratitude Challenge -- Day 30

I know, I'm a day late. I'd rather be a day late for my last Gratitude challenge post than to leave it unfinished.

I'm thankful that there are so many, many things left that I could write about.

I'm thankful for this month where I've looked intentionally at my life and tried to notice all of the rich blessings God has showered upon me and my family.

Now that November is over, the temptation is to fast forward through December with my eyes set only on surviving all the hustle and bustle of the season. I pray that I continue to cultivate a thankful spirit in the midst of all the upcoming stress.

During November, I blogged nearly every day about something specific that I was thankful for. Brenda is going to continue the challenge at Garden of Learning. Instead of daily posts, she'll be hosting a weekly meme called Thankful Thursdays. I'm not sure I'll post every week, but I look forward to sharing more of the blessings I see in my everyday life.

Proverbs in 31 Days -- Proverbs 30 and 31

Proverbs 30: 7-9
"Two things I ask of You; don't deny them to me before I die.  Keep falsehood and deceitful words far from me. Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with the food I need. Otherwise, I might have too much and deny You, saying, "Who is the Lord?" or I might have nothing and steal, profaning the name of my God. "

Proverbs 31: 10, 27-28
"Who can find a capable wife? She is far more precious than jewels. ... She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle. Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her."


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