Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fast Track Bible Pack by Wizzy Gizmo (Homeschool Mosaics Review)

Wizzy Gizmo – what a name!  It makes me think of moving parts and motion experiments.  Spinning tops and building things with little pieces – things that can only be explained by using the term “gizmo”.

But what is it really?  It’s a company created by parents, pastors, worship leaders, Sunday School teachers, and Homeschoolers who are committed to equipping children for life, by planting them firmly in God's Word.  They believe that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

You know I think it’s a great company and product if I come out of “review retirement” for it (pictures to come – blogging retirement has made me fuzzy on how to get them to post!).   I was provided a free FAST TRACK BIBLE PACK set by Wizzy Gizmo set in exchange for an honest review through the Homeschool Mosaics review program.  


The Fast Track Bible Pack contains 27 5” x 9” cards – one for each book of the New Testament.  The set also includes a summary card, which lists all the books in the New Testament along with basic info on each book (theme, author, when it was written, and how many chapters are in the book).  The cards are durable, on cardstock, and the set sells for $14.99.

The front of each card is an overview of a New Testament book and includes a summary, the book’s major theme and key verse, who wrote the book, and when it was written, why it was written, to whom it was written. 

The back of each card gives deeper info, including the book outline, key chapters, key passages, key doctrines, and key people.

Did I mention the cards are beautiful?  A beautiful, mini Bible study.


Again, the cards are beautiful.  Durable.  Easy to hold.  Appealing.  

The cards are great for exploring New Testament books by looking at an over or digging deeper.  

I love that my girls will just pick them up to read.  We educate classically (well, at least for the most part), so I love repetition and memory work.  The cards are so appealing that they look at them repeatedly.

They’re portable.  I may get another set to keep in the car.

I love that this company’s mission is to bring glory to God by providing engaging, Biblical content.  

I love that *I* can learn with these cards too!

The cards are a great complement to any Bible study for children.


I wish I’d known about these sooner!  

I hear an Old Testament set is in the works – I wish they’d hurry and finish!

I can’t wait until the full set of Bible Verses Every Kid Should know is finished!  (See the link to these in the “Be Sure To” section just below.)


Check out Wizzy Gizmo’s Audio Dramas and their Book Series.

Make use of Bible Verses Every Kid Should Know – they’re working on these, but the resources that are already posted are fabulous! When finished, it will be a 52-week series, and the printed set will be available for purchase.  The cards are ‘themed’ according to the theme of the verse (Confession, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.).  Each verse includes a devotional,word definitions, and an activity sheet.  Fabulous!  

Sign up for their NEWSLETTER.

Find out more about Wizzy Gizmo, the characters, their products, and products in development HERE.

Find out about the founders of Wizzy Gizmo HERE, including methods to contact them directly.


Contact Wizzy Gizmo HERE.



One of the reasons we homeschool is to instill a love of God and knowledge of His Word in our girls.  Even though they’re getting older, I’m still constantly looking for engaging resources to help me with that goal.  These cards fit that goal perfectly, and would be a great addition to any Christian homeschool curriculum.  Every family should have a set of these – they’re wonderful for children of all ages, and parents too!


Check out other reviews HERE!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

myWorld Social Studies – Pearson Education (Review)


This past year in our co-op we studied American History.   When we received Pearson Education’s myWorld Social Studies for Grade 5 (titled Building our Country, volume 5a), I was excited to be able to reinforce some of what we learned last year.  Little did I know that not only would it do that, it would encourage my children to want to learn more about our country’s history.

We’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.”  For this review, I need to change that to “don’t judge this book by your first glance at the inside.”  When I first peeked inside, I’ll admit to being a bit surprised, and unconvinced that the book I was holding was for 5th grade.  Through our use of this book, I’ve re-discovered that a book doesn’t have to look “grade level” intense to deliver the needed material.




The program includes (excerpts from the website):

Student Worktext

Promotes active learning, supports students who are learning to read in the content-areas, and promotes active reading strategies. The Student Worktext encourages greater interaction with the content and more active reading leading to long term retention of skills and concepts. Your child will love writing, drawing, circling and underlining content as they connect, experience and understand the world of Social Studies.

Each chapter incorporates a real life story that relates to the lesson providing the basis for discussion. Lessons feature a variety of activities providing your child an opportunity to interact with the material to apply their knowledge. Checkpoints are featured throughout to ensure that your child understands of the material.

myStory Video DVD-ROM

The myStory Video DVD features engaging videos with actual students that explore the Big Question of each chapter. Video icons within the student book indicate that a corresponding video is available on this DVD. These videos allow your child to see children of his or her own age explore the Big Question and the key ideas in each chapter, to go on video field trips, and to watch a character from the chapter come to life. Through these video features, your child will make a personal connection to the lesson, building long-term understanding and knowledge.

Teacher’s Resource Library DVD-ROM

The Teacher Resource Library is a one-stop resource for the myWorld Social Studies Teacher’s Guide, lesson plans, and instruction resources. Each chapter will provide:

  • A Teacher’s Guide for each chapter
  • Lesson plans
  • An audio podcast on chapter subjects
  • Hands-on activities to engage your child
  • Editable tests for each chapter and separate answer keys

These carefully planned resources will guide you with planning, supporting activities, and testing to ensure learning is personalized to fit your child.

This curriculum (both volumes) is available HERE for $69.99.

We received the first semester of the curriculum, Volume 5A, for purposes of this review.


The intro to the book touches on reading and writing skills, then gives great summary information on our country, including maps (and how to read them), the economy, jobs, and an excellent overview of our government.

The myStory DVD – think mini field trips on a DVD!

The teacher resource DVD – it includes teacher helps, activities connected to the lessons to help reinforce the lesson, podcasts for the teacher about the lesson – and much more!  I especially love the editable resources.

A study guide and review and assessment are included at the end of each chapter – it includes a list of key points for each lesson in that chapter, review questions of reach chapter, and a short writing exercise.

The appendices (even though they’re not called that)!  The text of the Declaration of Independence (including a list of the signers) and the U.S. Constitution (including the 27 amendents) is given, along with explanatory notes and questions for thought and application.  Political and physical maps of the U.S. and select countries are also included, along with a glossary for reference.


I wish we could go on all the field trips shown on the DVD!


As I said earlier, don’t judge the content of this book by its appearance.  I thought it looked a bit “young” for 5th grade, but have been impressed by the content.

Don’t let the “textbook feel” fool you – for the most part we’re “allergic” to textbooks around here, but my girls still really enjoyed this.

The book refers to additional online resources.  Those are not available in the homeschool package in order to reduce the price to make it more affordable for homeschoolers.  Note the online activities are extra, and not necessary to make good use of the curriculum.

Unfortunately, I’ve found a couple instances where the answer key is incorrect.  However, since so far we’ve done this together, I’ve been familiar enough with the text and the correct answer for it not to be a big deal.


Check out some great homeschool RESOURCES.

Enter the monthly curriculum GIVEAWAY!


I’m re-evaluating a couple of things this summer, so I’m putting this in the undecided column.  We enjoyed it so much, though, I’m leaning toward continuing and letting the girls work independently and use the DVD and the worktext as a supplement.


To see other reviews of this product, click HERE and look for the linky tools list at the bottom of the post. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:


**Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product referenced in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dive Into Your Imagination (Who Lives in the Sea DVD) (TOS Review)

With a budding marine biologist/zoologist in our midst, anything to do with the ocean is a big hit around here – so I was excited to be chosen to review one of the fabulous underwater DVDs from Dive Into Your Imagination.

We were sent the DVD titled “Who Lives in the Sea?” – perfect for us.

Since the girls are quite a bit older than the recommended ages for the educational guides (more about those later), and because Hannah already knows quite a bit about marine life from reading and from being a Young Environmentalist for our local SeaLife Aquarium, I was a bit worried that the DVD wouldn’t hold their attention and there wouldn’t be anything on the DVD that they didn’t already know.  I shouldn’t have worried – the DVD was 45 minutes of pure education and entertainment for the girls, and they’ve watched it repeatedly.  (And those catchy little tunes really do get stuck in your head!) 


The DVD consists of four parts:


  1. Let's  Go Swim With the Dolphins
  2. Playtime With Sea Lions
  3. Baby Birds and Their Families
  4. Dinosaurs of the Sea: Marine Reptiles
  5. Eight Armed Animals
  6. Living Forever Under the Sea
  7. Nudi, Nudi, Nudibranchs
  8. Whale Sharks: World's Biggest Fish!
    Bonus Chapter: The Ocean Alphabet

Special Features

  • Meet Annie
  • Meet Craig (Craig Dobbin, who wrote the music)
  • Helping your kids love the water (tips & tricks)
  • Credits
  • Transcript of the movie (a nice feature)

The Ocean Song – a lovely introductory song and video clip

Other products – info about other DVDs offered

You can select to play the DVD in English, Spanish, or with music only.

The DVD is available at both websites (ANNIE CROWLEY or DIVE INTO YOUR IMAGINATION) for $19.95.

We were also given access to both educators guides that complement the DVD.


Guides are available for PreK – K (306 pages), and Grades 1-3 (347 pages).  Colorful and appealing, they are chock full of additional information and learning activities to go along with each chapter of the DVD.   From the website:

The Educator Guide to Who Lives in the Sea accompanies the award winning DVD of the same title by Dive Into Your Imagination. Now educators can use this revolutionary program combining ocean literacy standards with science, math, literacy, social studies, art, character education while adding a special behavior component in which students use imagination play to become scuba divers, scientists, submarine pilots, explorers, and so much more. The Dive Into Your Imagination Educator Guides combined with the award winning DVDS, and soon to be released books and ibooks will engage your students while they read, watch, listen, collaborate, and do.

Who Lives in the Sea Educator Guides are available in two age-group versions. Each educator guide covers eight chapters with 6-7 activity station per chapter aligned with common core and next generation standards. As your students explore amazing animals such as dolphins, sea lions, cephalopods, and whale sharks, they will learn literacy, science, math, geography and more. There are more than 150 extension ideas to keep your imagination flowing!

The price for the printed educator guides is fairly expensive ($299 for both grade levels), I believe, because they were written with classrooms in mind - but for a limited time when you order a DVD you can receive the guide free if you mention in the comments section that you’re a homeschool parent.


  • when purchasing any of the DVDs if you'll mention in the comments that you homeschool and would like to have the PDF version of the Educator Guide and which level you’d like, she will send it to you for free.  This offer is valid at the time of this post, but order quickly - I don’t know how long this offer will be honored.
  • Annie is also offering free shipping on the DVDs during the months of May and June, 2012.


Great footage, great narration.  Easy to watch, and easy to listen to. 

One of our favorites parts was the alphabet song – naming sea creatures that start with each letter of the alphabet.  The girls have taken upon themselves to find a sea creature whose name starts with a V (this is a teaser – watch the movie and find out why!).

The “Helping your kids love the water” section under Special Features has great tips & tricks to help parents do just that – help their kids love the water.

My personal favorite part of the DVD was the section about my favorite sea creatures, cephalopods.  Those cuttlefish are amazing!


I wish I’d had those tips/tricks for helping kids love the water when my girls were really young!


Be prepared – if your kids love the ocean and ocean creatures as much as mine do, you’ll watch this movie over and over. But that’s okay because it’s a great DVD!

After seeing this video (or, I suspect, any of the series), your kids might just want to be like Ocean Annie when they grow up!  (And I don’t blame them – what she does looks really fun!)

The narration tends toward lower elementary ages, but my older girls still enjoyed it.


Learn about the history of Dive Into Your Imagination.

Get more info on this DVD HERE.

Explore the rest of the products offered HERE.

Check out Annie’s BLOG.

Check out the EXPLORE and KID’S CORNER sections.


Skype:  Annie Crawley
Phone: 805-453-1947

Annie Crawley or

Twitter: AnnieCrawley
Facebook:  Annie Crawley


I really believe that the target audience of these DVDs is that for which the educational guides were written – PreK – K and Grades 1-3.  However, my girls really enjoyed them anyway, and learned quite a bit from them.  I plan to purchase  more.


To see other reviews of this product, click HERE and look for the linky tools list at the bottom of the post. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:


**Disclaimer: As part of the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product referenced in this review (DVD and educator guides) at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Heritage History – Ancient Rome collection (TOS Review)


My bookshelves are overflowing with books – I am a self-proclaimed bookaholic, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.   When I find quality books, I want to buy them.  I love it when I can find quality books in electronic form, and Heritage History provides just that.   The mission of Heritage History is to make old-fashioned history books, written for the enjoyment of young people, easily available.  Mission accomplished.



Heritage History currently offers five Libraries configured as complete curriculums:

Young Readers
Ancient Greece
Ancient Rome
British Middle Ages
British Empire

Each Curriculum CD includes biographies, legends, hero stories, and historical literature as well as comprehensive histories. In addition to books, study aids, including timelines, historical maps, and era summaries are provided in printable format.   Each CD is $24.99, or you can purchase all five for $99.

Heritage History also offers three (soon to be four) Classical Libraries:

Early America
Spanish Empire
Christian Europe
Modern Europe (available Fall 2012)

Each contains dozens of books at reading levels from fourth grade to college prep, as well as specific recommendations for beginning, intermediate, and advanced readers.

We received the Ancient Rome CD for review. 

The Ancient Rome CD includes the complete illustrated text of 45 books, over 60 maps, timelines, battle dictionaries, reading recommendations, geography terms, short biographies, historical era summaries, and a ready-to-print Study Guide for one low price.

The 45 e-books included are (each one is linked, so you can read a little bit about it):

Roman Life in the Days of Cicero
Pictures from Roman Life and Story
Aeneid for Boys and Girls
Last Days of Jerusalem: From Josephus
Stories From Livy
Burning of Rome
To the Lions
Lords of the World
Lucius: Adventures of a Roman Boy
Crown of Pine
Our Little Roman Cousin of Long Ago
Our Little Carthaginian Cousin of Long Ago
Famous Men of Rome
Story of the Romans
Augustus: His Life and Work
Julius Caesar
Historical Tales: 11—Roman
History of the Church: Christian Antiquity
City of the Seven Hills
Herman and Thusnelda
Story of Rome
Julius Caesar
Peeps at Ancient Rome
Stories from Roman History
Story of the Goths
Story of Carthage
Story of Rome
Jews under Roman Rule
Byzantine Empire
On the Shores of the Great Sea
Old World Hero Stories
Helmet and Spear
Stories from Ancient Rome
Roses of Martyrdom
Gods and Heroes or The Kingdom of Jupiter
Children's Plutarch: Tales of the Romans
Early Church: from Ignatius to Augustine
Our Young Folks' Plutarch
Stories in Stone from the Roman Forum
Story of the Roman People
Plutarch's Lives

The CD includes three versions of each book, which makes it easy to choose your preferred format.


The study guide is included on the CD, but you can also purchase it separately (pre-printed and ready for insertion into a 3-ring binder for $24.99, or downloadable version for $12.99).  The study guide includes tips on using the curriculum/books, scheduling and hints on figuring out reading level.



Love the quality of the books.

Love that this can be used for kids of all ages (the study guide offers tips/suggestions for various ages).

LOVE the value!  $24.99 is a bargain for everything that’s included on the CD.

Love the Battle Dictionary – what a great resource!

I was impressed by the ease of use and the ease of loading these books on my iPad and Kindle.

The girls loved the maps, and after our trip last year to Italy they were especially interested  in looking at the places we’d visited.



Read the FAQ.

Read the Heritage History classical curriculum user guide.

Find helpful information on e-readers HERE, including how to load the Heritage History books on your device.

See copyright info HERE.

See tips on combining Heritage History with other curricula.

View Heritage History’s recommendations.

As of the date of this post, Heritage History’s  Spring Curriculum Sale is still being offered - purchase two  CDs and get a third free!

Enter the drawing to win a Kindle Fire with your choice of any Heritage Classical Curriculum CD.


Mailing address:
Heritage History
P.O. Box 901
Newman Lake, WA 99025

  • For permission to use any of our resources for commercial or public purposes, contact
  • If you have a question about our products, contact
  • If you have a question about the contents of the libraries, specific books or images, or curriculum recommendations, contact
  • If you are willing to provide a testimonial regarding any of our products, please contact
  • For any other questions please contact us at


    I love this curriculum so much that I have already purchased additional CDs, and plan to purchase the rest. 


    To see other reviews of this product, click HERE and look for the linky tools list at the bottom of the post. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:


    **Disclaimer: As part of the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product referenced in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.

  • Sunday, April 29, 2012

    Two Cups


    Each spring our local homeschool support group hosts a Moms’ Tea.  Attendance is kept small and intimate – around 25 moms attend.  A theme is chosen to minister to the moms’ hearts - this year’s theme was “"What Cup Have You Been Given? (Seeking the Lord through Trials)”. 

    I’ll admit when the e-mail announcing the tea arrived, I paid little attention.  That sounds like something a mom does for herself, and I don’t have time for those things these days.

    Then a second, separate e-mail arrived – one asking me to be one of the three speakers for the tea.


    My first instinct was to respond “No!”.  God has a sense of humor, though.  He reminded me that each week in co-op my girls are required to give a class presentation.  When they get nervous about it, I remind them that “it’s no big deal.”  Those words came back to haunt me. 

    It did feel like a big deal to me, but I realized if I declined simply on the basis of fear of public speaking, my credibility with the girls would be damaged.

    After much prayer, I accepted the invitation to speak, at least in my head – I didn’t officially notify the group until later.  And I began praying about what He would have me share.  I have many struggles, but one particular thing kept popping into my head.

    No, Lord, I can’t talk about that without crying.  I don’t want to get up in front of a bunch of moms that I don’t really know and try to talk while crying.  Besides, who truly cares about how we’ve dealt with Sarah’s eczema?

    Do it.  It will minister to more than you know.

    So I began writing.  I sent a “prototype” of the first few paragraphs to the organizer of the event, who reaffirmed I was on the right track.  Secretly I think I was hoping she’d respond “that’s not at all what we wanted!”, but I took her approval as confirmation that my topic was what God wanted me to speak on.

    I avoided preparing the rest of that speech for as long as I could.  I came up with every valid excuse I could find to postpone.  I found myself finishing the night before the speech.

    Somehow, I found the writing process cathartic.  I had never fully communicated to anyone what the struggle was like.  People think, “oh, it’s just eczema”.  That can be said for kids who just have a little itchy patch behind their knee or in the bend of their elbow – but the degree to which Sarah suffered with eczema was extreme.

    I intended to post a picture, but they hold such traumatic memories that I decided against it.  I don’t want a history of Sarah’s struggles out there in cyberspace.with

    I volunteered to go first on the day of the tea. I knew if I sat and listened to the others, I’d compare my speech to theirs.  As I suspected, I couldn’t get through even the first few minutes of the speech without tears.  But as I looked out over those other moms, somehow I felt kindred spirits, and even saw a few others crying along with me.

    And it turned out giving the speech wasn’t as bad as I feared.  Since that day, I’ve received several e-mails from moms in attendance indicating that the speech ministered to them. 

    I’ve also received several requests to read the speech, so I’ve decided to post it here.   I pray it ministers to one of my readers.


    We were asked to speak on our “cup” and how God has walked with us through our trial, and how we have sought God during it. My testimony is not only that I sought God during my trial, but also that God patiently sought me.  And just a fair warning – I may need to simply read part of it. Evidently I wrote too much from the heart, because I can’t seem to get through it without crying – so I ask for your forgiveness in advance.

    We’re heard the verse a million times:

    Psalm 23:5 : Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

    We’re heard this one too:

    Luke 22:42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

    Two different scenes. Two different cups. One peaceful, the other filled with strife. One filled to overflowing with blessings; the other holding suffering and sacrifice.

    I’ve had both cups.

    For the most part, my cup has seemed (at least to me) to be the one filled with suffering and sacrifice. Not on my part, but on the part of my sweet, innocent child. I have a daughter with a chronic illness. Not a life-threatening illness, but one that affects the whole family nonetheless.

    My cup runneth over.

    My 11-yo daughter has suffered from severe eczema since birth. Eczema which covered her head-to-toe, to the point where even her eyelids would crack and bleed.

    My cup runneth over.

    I have watched my child being ostracized and avoided – by both children and adults. I have held her as she sobbed – gut-wrenching, body-wracking, heart-breaking sobs – because her soccer teammates called her “germy” girl and “eczema girl”, and laughed and pointed. A 7-year-old child should not feel such heartbreak.

    My cup runneth over.

    I have watched her in the shopping cart at the grocery store, head down, blonde hair hiding her face. I pushed her in the cart because the backs of her legs were flared so badly she couldn’t walk. She never peeked up and looked around. When I noticed and asked why, she cried and said she didn’t want to see everyone staring at her.

    My cup runneth over.

    I didn’t want the bad cup anymore. I wanted the good cup – the one with the sweet, refreshing, spring water. Not the one where my child had to suffer and pay the price.

    I would guess that I poured that cup out and filled it a million times with my tears. My heart cried out to God, begging him to heal my baby.

    The answer? “Not yet, my child.”

    Years pass. My plea remains the same. “Father, I’ll take her suffering. Please give the eczema to me so she doesn’t suffer anymore. She’s suffered enough. Heal her, Father.”

    “Not yet, my child.”

    I continue to knock on God’s door, pleading for Him to intervene. How much longer would He wait? How much more could my baby endure? WHY was he allowing this?

    “Not yet, my child.”

    I’ll admit at some point I simply stopped asking. I wish I could say I accepted God’s answer, but I stopped asking because I was angry. Angry that God would let a little one suffer like Sarah had suffered. Angry that he’d let her suffer so long. Angry because I felt He ignored my pleas for her healing. I’m not proud of being so angry with God, but at the time it was my coping mechanism.

    Over time, with much prayer, my anger slowly turned to acceptance. Acceptance that I was stuck with this cup – and that there wouldn’t be a miraculous healing of my child.

    That acceptance also eventually resulted in me not trying to “fix” it anymore – not trying every single new lotion and cream that came out; not taking her to this doctor and that doctor; not spending every possible moment reading about eczema and every little thing that might help; not constantly having my radar up in case I happened to overhear something that might help. I learned to treat it as a chronic disease – something that must be managed, not cured.

    In other words, I took my eyes off the bad cup.

    When I did that, little things started pointing to a second cup – one I either hadn’t noticed, or one that I had been purposefully ignoring. I noticed something glinting in the background behind the cup of suffering. What was that shiny thing back there, behind the bad cup? It was a different cup - one beginning to show signs of holding blessings.

    And I started to notice those blessings.

    I noticed that Sarah is a kid magnet. Little kids gravitate to her, and she to them. Little kids are safe – they don’t judge, they just take you as you are. I believe if there were little ones in our neighborhood, she could earn her college tuition through babysitting.

    I noticed that she loves the elderly - another group that are slow to judge. One of her favorite service projects in Awana has always been taking trips to Garnet Hill Rehab Center in Wylie. She ministers to the residents, but at the same time they minister to her. Acceptance is good for the soul.

    Sarah has a hearty respect for life for all creatures. She doesn’t even want me to kill bugs! You’ve heard of catch and release fishing? Our house is a “catch and release” zone for all living things. (Well, there may have been one or two bugs that I’ve flushed down the toilet without her knowing…)

    She has a talent for ballet. We’ve been blessed by her ballet studio – it’s another place where she’s been completely accepted, no matter how much her skin was flared. Her ballet teacher doesn’t tolerate anyone saying anything to her. She is encouraged there to be her best – and she is flourishing - flourishing so much that she is going to NYC this summer to train for three weeks in a classical ballet studio on Broadway with a famous ballerina.

    One of the biggest blessings of all is that her eczema and allergies are what led us to homeschooling – and now I can’t imagine our life without it.

    Those are just some of the blessings I noticed at first.

    More and more as I took my eyes off that bad cup, the blessings cup began to shine and sparkle – and start to overflow.

    The Lord provides ample water, even in the desert. I had been in a desert. What I didn’t realize was that I didn’t have just one cup – I had two. I had the one filled with suffering and sacrifice, but sitting just behind it was the cup of cool, refreshing water, overflowing with blessings. While my focus had been on the one cup, it obscured my view of the second.

    John 7:37-38 says: “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”

    Let Him be your cup. You may feel like you are in a dry place, but the Lord can still quench your thirst.

    The Lord can give you water even in the midst of a spiritual desert.

    Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    I don’t know what God’s plan is for Sarah, but God knows.

    But what I do know is that He will use her suffering and sacrifice to His good. And the blessings will overflow her cup.

    I’ll close with recommending that when you are focusing on the horrible thing happening in your life – your trial – take your eyes off that cup and look around, and you might be surprised what blessings surround you.

    Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

    Thank you for allowing me to share.

    Friday, April 27, 2012

    5 Days of Blogging with the TOS Review Crew!


    Join the TOS Review Crew in May for 5 Days of Blogging!

    With our family’s busy schedule with outside activities, it’s appropriate that I’ll be blogging about extracurricular activities.


    Over forty crew members will be blogging on topics such as: 

    • Character Training
    • Home Organization
    • Motivational Tools
    • Tutorials and How-To's
    • Hands-on Science
    • Favorite Freebies
    • Adoption
    • Fine Motor Fun
    • Gardening
    • Living History
    • Kids in the Kitchen
    • Raising Teens
    • Curriculum Evaluation
    • Farm Babies
    • Music Making
    • Living from my Pantry
    • Classic Books for Girls
    • Homeschool Technology
    • Creative Notebooking

    and many, many more!  There’s something for everyone.  Join the TOS crew during the week of May 14 for our 5 Days of Blogging event!

    Thursday, April 26, 2012

    Mathematical Reasoning Level F by Critical Thinking Co. (TOS Review)


    Teaching critical thinking sounds kind of intimidating, doesn’t it?  Take heart – The Critical Thinking Co. makes it  fun and easy!  So far we have loved everything we’ve ever purchased from this company (admittedly we haven’t done enough of this, but it’s on my list this year to remedy that), so I was elated to learn we’d be reviewing their new Mathematical Reasoning Level F!  I intended to use it with my 6th grader who is a little behind on math, but when I told her, her response was “but I like doing math with ___________” (insert our current curriculum in the blank).  Far be it from me to take her away from her enjoyment of a math program, so I decided to let my 4th grader give it a try (and she was thrilled!).


    One of The Critical Thinking Company’s core curriculum products for math, this huge, gorgeous book includes student content and answer guide and provides a complete year’s math curriculum (but can also be used simply as a supplement).  The book, written by Carolyn Anderson, is targeted to 5th graders, but can also be used with younger or older students, depending on their math proficiency.  

    Normally priced at $42.99, as of the date of this post it’s on sale for $37.99!

    This is a gorgeous book, inside and out – visually appealing and colorful,  it makes getting kids interested in the book simple.  May I repeat – simple

    orderofoperation average riddle

    This book is written to the following standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:

    • Number and Operations
    • Algebra
    • Geometry
    • Measurement
    • Data Analysis and Probability

    It covers a wide variety of topics – again, a full year’s curriculum:

    • Analyze
    • Angle
    • Area
    • Calendar
    • Capacity - customary, metric
    • Concept - addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
    • Congruence
    • Coordinate System
    • Count
    • Critical Thinking
    • Data Analysis - bar graph, line graph, survey, table, picture
    • Data Collection
    • Decimals - concept, add, subtract, multiple, divide
    • Draw - parallel, perpendicular, by definition
    • Equations Expression, Vocabulary
    • Equivalence
    • Estimation - addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
    • Exponents
    • Factors
    • Fractions - form/vocabulary, add, subtract, multiply, divide
    • Graph, Table, Chart, Figure - analyze, represent
    • Inequalities
    • Length - customary, metric
    • Likelihood, Probability
    • Mean, Median, Mode
    • Money - add, subtract, multiply, divide
    • Multiple
    • Negative Numbers
    • Order
    • Order of Operations
    • Patterns - geometric, numeric
    • Percent
    • Perimeter
    • Place Value - expanded notation, number form, word form
    • Polygon
    • Prime/Composite
    • Properties
    • Reflection, Translation, Rotation
    • Rounding
    • Shapes - 2D, 3D
    • Signed Numbers
    • Symmetry
    • Temperature - customary, metric
    • Time
    • Variable as Unknown - in addition, in subtraction, in multiplication, in division
    • Volume
    • Weight - customary, metric
    • Whole Numbers - addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
    • Word Problems

    Wow – what a list!  Since Hannah is only 4th grade, she needed extra help with some of the topics, but overall I thought she did great.

    Using the spiral method, it is, of course, meant to be done in page order – no skipping around!


    It’s a workbook, but it’s such high quality that it doesn’t seem like a workbook.

    The books are reproducible for use within your family, so you could use this with each of your children.  My girls, however, want their own books like this, and I’ll admit that a copy of this wouldn’t seem nearly as neat as an original (at least not to my girls).  To get them to willingly do this program, it’s worth having to buy two copies!  Read the Use of Copyrighted Materials Policy.

    No lesson prep for me!  Literally, you just pick it up and begin.

    The company claims that using these books will increase standardized test scores – and I believe it!

    My 4th grader loves puzzles and riddles – so she enjoyed those pages (after she encountered the first, it was hard to keep her from going through and finding the rest) – but it was motivation to work through the other pages to get to the next puzzle!


    It truly is a spiral approach – meaning, if you’re used to a master approach, the jumping around with topics might seem odd at first. 

    Depending on the student’s math proficiency, you may want to sit with him/her as he’s doing the work.


    If you’re not familiar with The Critical Thinking Co., you must (must!) go check them out.  They offer products (both core and supplementary) for reasoning/problem solving, math, science, and language arts.  And if you’re interested in this particular product, the levels start at Mathematical Reasoning Level 1 & 2 (for preschool) and go through this level, with more (I believe) to come!

    Request a catalog HERE.

    Read about the company’s 50-year history HERE.


    By phone:

    By Fax:

    By Email:

    By Mail:
    P.O. Box 1610
    Seaside, CA 93955-1610

    Or submit questions/comments online HERE.


    Hannah really liked this but, despite how thorough it is, I’m undecided whether I’d be comfortable having it as my only math curriculum.  I will probably use it as a supplement, though, as any extra math practice is great, especially when there’s not a war involved to get the girls to do it!


    To see other reviews of this product, click HERE and look for the linky tools list at the bottom of the post. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:


    **Disclaimer: As part of the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product referenced in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.