Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Schoolhouse Review: Beric theBriton #hsreviews #HeirloomAudio #BericTheBriton #LiveTheAdventure #BringingHentyBack #AudioAdventures

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

We were headed out on our big family vacation and I made sure to pack Beric the Briton -- the newest audio adventure by Heirloom Audio Productions.  If you've followed this blog for very long at all, then you know how much we enjoy listening to all things put out by Heirloom Audio Productions.  We've listened and learned and LOVED each of the audio dramas that we've been able to review (Under Drake's FlagIn Freedom's Cause, With Lee in Virginia and The Dragon and the Raven) and each one just gets better and better.

Beric the Briton offers Christian heroes for children and adults of all ages as it invites listeners to step back into history at the height of the Roman Invasion.  Beric and his friend are kidnapped, brainwashed as gladiators in the Roman regime,  and expected to perform their duties without question.  They see death and experience the LIGHT of JESUS and their world simply turns upside down.

This audio drama is EXCELLENT but I would be remiss if I did not mention that it is very battle intensive.  My kids are high schoolers so it was no big deal for us, but if you are planning to listen with younger children, you might want to listen alone first in order to either forewarn them of battles to come or edit as you listen.  There is a fight scene in the beginning of the production between Beric and attacking wolves and the sounds of wailing, whimpering dogs is eerily  intense.  Another thing to note, Beric prepares his men for battle by teaching them exactly how to fight to win.  It is well done and realistic as they prepare for war.  

The story line is full of action, adventure, and forgiveness, love, loyalty, and mercy.  The voices are familiar, people you'll recognize from other places -- but for us, it's not about the actors.   It's more about the way in which they take us to far away places and share the love of GOD as they bring history to life.  (Although my kids always think it's pretty cool to hear actor's voices from some of their favorite movies and programs -- shows like Star Wars, Dr. Who, Braveheart,  Downton Abbey, and The Lord of the Rings to name a few -- so I'm sure your kids will enjoy finding family favorites as they listen along, too.  You'll definitely want to get your own copy of the audio drama the to find out all of the rest.)

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

For purposes of review, we were also given access to the Live the Adventure e-Newsletter that encourages us to see the history of the world through the hand of GOD.  It is well worth reviewing and reading.  We have also enjoyed listening to the beautiful soundtrack by composer John Campbell (33 mp3 tracks) and were thrilled to receive an eBook copy of Beric the Briton:  A Story of the Roman Invasion by G.A. Henty (389-pages).  We are already planning to begin reading it in August and we'll be comparing it to the audio drama version in our literature studies.  These and other resources are available to you as well when you purchase your own Beric the Briton Christian radio theatre production.

We enjoyed listening to the audio drama uninterrupted as we traveled and my children think the Study Guide (50-pages) is pretty cool, too.  The Study Guide has three sections of study for each track on the CD.  The Listening Well questions cover listening comprehension as they test what students remember, The Thinking Further questions direct students to research topics discussed, and Defining Words strengthens vocabulary skills.  Illustrations and historical references throughout serve to deepen the understanding and comprehension so that students truly grasp the history behind the story being told.  There are real-life pictures of famous monuments and places, recipes to make at home, links for virtual tours, and other activities to engage your students in adventure and guide them to make memories that will help keep history alive.  The Scripture references throughout the Study Guide are spot-on and the Bible studies at the end (The Importance of Studying History, Thou Shalt Not Kill, and One Way) are phenomenal.  I really like seeing the lightbulbs come on as my children make the ah-ha connections between things they've learned in Sunday School and church and things they've learned in history.  It is especially amazing when they realize how it all fits together.   Catacombs, Nero, Paul, lion's dens, and the burning of Rome -- this is good stuff.

You can find out more about Beric the Briton and Heirloom Audio Productions by visiting the following Social Media Sites:


Beric the Briton Facebook
Heirloom Audio Productions Facebook
The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty Facebook


What a great way to finish out the summer and begin the new school year -- listening together for educational entertainment while introducing history through a Christian approach.   We love Heirloom Audio Productions and are so glad that we've been introduced to these exciting audio adventure dramas.  Why don't you join us in the invasion of Rome?  Order your copy today so you can LIVE THE ADVENTURE! with us.  



Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Beric the Briton as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review


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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Schoolhouse Review: The Power in Your Hands #hsreviews #highschoolwriting #writingcurriculum

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

We were introduced to Writing with Sharon Watson a few years ago and it has become an important part of what we do.  I was elated to receive a copy of The Power in Your Hands:  Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition for my Eagle Scout this year and couldn't wait for him to begin.  Writing isn't his favorite thing to do (is it the favorite of many 17-year-old boys?) and I was looking for an easier way to help him prepare for college-required writing than what we were currently attempting.  The frustration was real.  And assignments were no fun.

Enter Sharon Watson's The Power in Your Hands which attempted to make writing (even nonfiction writing) more fun.  Now, you already know that Sharon's Writing Fiction [in High School] was a game-changer for our family and that her Illuminating Literature fed my kids desire to learn more and read more, so is it really any surprise at all that The Power in Your Hands is a winner, too?  Seriously, I cannot truly begin to explain how very much I appreciate what Sharon brings to the table at Long Leaf Academy.

So, what exactly is it and how is it making a difference at my house?

The Power in Your Hands is a thorough (oh, boy is it thorough!) writing curriculum that walks students through the entire writing process from beginning to end.  From "thinking & planning" to penning a "personal narrative,"  students are encouraged to tell their story.  They learn how to introduce the setting (time and place), create the proper mood with word imagery, add smooth transitions, and share in such a way that their story makes sense to the reader.  Written directly to the student, this Second Edition textbook motivates learners to share who they are and develop their writing in such a way that readers will see significance in what they read and be able to learn something as well.  Practice lessons are built right into the pages of the text with directions to write, write, write -- in the margins, on blank spaces, in notebooks and journals.  Writing prompts and checklists throughout the text keep my guy interested in what he's asked to do.   He likes answering "do you agree" questions and finds the writing ideas presented interesting, funny, inspiring, sad, motivating.  All of the above.

Writing with Sharon Watson Review
Writing with Sharon Watson Review

The topics are relevant and bring a smile as he works.  When writing to persuade, my son enjoyed the reminders to avoid common mistakes.  Sharon presents a list of seven "don't"s (Don't insult a person or entire group of people, Don't wander off your subject, Don't go on and on, Don't contradict yourself, Don't rant and rave, Don't write without evidence; don't exclude facts, Don't threaten your audience.) and has students read letters written to the editor that portray each don't.  This is funny stuff.  And the perfect way to get a stubborn teenage boy's attention.

Divided into seven Parts, the 23 Chapters plus writer's toolbox of resources teach not only the basics of writing, but also how to self edit and proofread (marks and all).  Scripture references are woven throughout the curriculum and they serve as excellent spiritual reference and direct my son to research GOD's Word more thoroughly.  This momma likes that.

The Student Book contains 417-pages of solid teaching.  The lessons are student-directed which means prep time for me is minimal.  The conversational tone helps make complex material easier.  The curriculum is appropriate for beginning writers, intermediate writers, and accomplished writers alike.  The 223-page Teacher's Guide contains copies of all student assignments and checklists and this new edition even has grading rubrics for each of the essay assignments.  The Grading Toolbox explains how students can earn an A, B, C, D, or F on assignments and shares examples for each grade of work.  Sharon makes this all oh, so easy.  She shares tips for the teacher and explains exactly what your students have been instructed to do.  You CAN read the Student Book for yourself or you can rely solely on what she tells you in the Teacher's Guide.  Easy peasy.

One of my favorite parts of this curriculum is found in the lists of writing prompts for students.  The 14-Minute Power Surges Program offers daily ideas to encourage your student to write, write, write.  Students simply write on the given topic for 14 minutes.  Topics include all types of writing (poetry is even assigned at times) so there is certainly something here for everyone.  We use these Power Surges prompts in conjunction with The Power in Your Hands as a way to easily get the creative juices flowing.  They seem to break the ice for my son.

Now, writing has not become the all-time favorite at my house (yet!), but it is definitely not the drudgery that it once was.  The Eagle Scout will be continuing with this curriculum as we step into his Senior year and the Princess will be joining him for her Sophomore year.  The text is a one-user book, so I'll be ordering her one of her own next month.  I'm excited to have them both advancing their writing skills in a way that doesn't involve the gnashing of teeth and wailing of boredom that we've dealt with in the past.  I appreciate Sharon's style and the way she inspires my kids to be and do their very best.

Sharon makes it super easy for you to determine just how beneficial her writing course will be for your high schoolers by offering you free samples.  Oh, and one more thing:  I personally love a physical copy of curriculum at my house, but if you prefer an eBook Version at your house, there is one available.  Please check these out -- it will make a huge difference in the preparedness of your high schoolers for college.  I'm seeing a world of difference in my son's writing.

For even more information about Sharon Watson's WONDERFUL writing and literary options, please visit the following Social Media pages:




Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review The Power in Your Hands:  Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition by Writing with Sharon Watson as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of it as well (or just click on the banner below) and you'll see how it worked for families with children of all different ages and artistic skills.  

Writing with Sharon Watson Review
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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Schoolhouse Review:ArtAchieve #hsreviews #drawinglessonsforkids #ArtAchieve

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
Camp ShadyRest is just two weeks away and I'm drawing inspiration (no pun intended) from ArtAchieve's Entire Level 1.  My Princess really planned to use this on her own and I planned to watch over her shoulder, but we both decided that this was just too good not to share with the kids at our summer art camp.  How cool is it that she can utilize the knowledge she's gaining as she works through the art bundle herself to teach all of the children that attend camp and begin to foster a love of all things artistic within them?  She is excited about this -- and also plans to share the techniques she's learned with her "little girls" Girl Scout troop when they start meeting again in September.  I just love it when "learning" becomes fun and lessons make a difference.  Don't you?

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

ArtAchieve is an online homeschool art curriculum that offers bundled or single art lessons in five different levels of study.  For purposes of review, my 15-year-old daughter chose to begin with Level 1 because she likes to "see where it all starts."   And it all begins with lines.  Suitable for students of all ages, the first lesson in Level 1 teaches students about simple lines and explains that if you can draw a simple stick figure then you can easily draw really complicated things.  Isn't that encouraging?  Through a slideshow presentation, students learn about straight lines, ovals, curves, dots, angles, and wavy lines and how to utilize them to create masterpieces.

Warming up by copying simple lines

This lesson serves as the building block for all of the other lessons in Level 1 (10 total lessons) and sets the stage for what is to come.  What my daughter enjoyed most about Lesson 1 was being encouraged to choose relaxing music to get her into drawing mode and what I liked most was the way Art History and Appreciation were gently integrated into the lesson.  The gentle persuasion to get up, move around, and actively LOOK for art was impressive.

Lessons 2 - 10 introduce students to different artistic expression from around the world using varied mediums and techniques.  Step-by-step instructions guide students in the art of creating a whimsical Czech cat, a fun Hungarian Insect, a quaint Haitian Gecko, a playful Dragonfly from Ecuador, a friendly Chinese Dragon, a curious Owl from Bali, a beautiful batik print of the Kitenge Tree from Tanzania, a fabulous re-creation of a plate from Nepal, and a quirky drawing of the Sun with Four Faces often seen in both Haitian and Mexican decor.  Mediums used throughout these lessons are markers, acrylic paint pens, water colors, oil pastels, charcoal pencils, crayons and crushed paper, and drawing pencils.  Each lesson begins with a warm-up exercise and has a PowerPoint slideshow (30 - 60 slides) that students can follow as they work or a video they can watch (around 20 minutes each) for guidelines as they draw.  The video lesson is similar to the slideshow presentation and covers the same material and shares the same illustrations as the PowerPoint.  We've used both video and PowerPoint versions of the lessons at home.  My daughter prefers reading through the PowerPoint lessons, but says she'll utilize the video lessons when teaching at art camp.  There are also printouts available for most lessons that students can use as templates if they need a place to begin.

Czech Cat

Each lesson provides a short geographical study on the area of the world from which the art comes and some even share a short scientific study on the animals or insects used as models.  Famous artists are introduced throughout the lessons and famous works of art are shown that correlate to the artist and artwork methods being taught.  This is a great way to help your child begin to see art all around them and deepen their appreciation for creative endeavor.

Sun with Four Faces

The lessons are uplifting as students are inspired throughout to give it their very best.  Students are reminded to keep silent as they draw so that they can concentrate and are told that it's okay not to like everything they draw.  They are encouraged to work until completion before deciding if they like the finished product and reminded that art will be different for each person.  I needed the encouragement that there are no mistakes in drawing. I have never felt like I had much of an artistic side, so it was good to be told to just keep drawing.  On a personal level, I'm getting more confident as I do, so something must be working.

For even more information about ArtAchieve art lessons, please visit the following Social Media sites:

Twitter @artachieve

It's a great day to "draw the world!"  Don't you want to get started?



Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review ArtAchieve's Entire Level 1 as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of it as well (or just click on the banner below) and you'll see how it worked for families with children of all different ages and artistic skills.  

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Camp Sunshine 2016 {Scripture & a Snapshot}






I'm joining with my friend Jennifer over at a glimpse of our life as we give glory to GOD through our photos.


Scripture and Snapshot
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Friday, July 8, 2016

Schoolhouse Review: Patriotic Penmanship #hsreviews #penmanship

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

My almost-grown son decided this year that he wanted to improve his handwriting skills and requested my help in making this happen.  How fortunate for us that Laurelwood Books offers a series of Patriotic Penmanship books that are designed to do just that using quotes, poems, and hymns from great men and women in history as well as including Bible verses to copy, practice and study.  The series of books ranges in grade level from Kindergarten - 12th Grade and even contains a Transition book that helps students bridge from reading and writing manuscript to reading and writing in cursive.

This book was perfect for my boy as he began his quest for better penmanship.  He has long been fascinated by all things history so the patriotic bent of the 20 lessons appealed to him from the start (and fueled his desire to learn more about what  he was reading as he practiced writing -- what a bonus!).  As you can imagine, I was quite happy when he realized a need to improve his penmanship and I was thrilled to find a product that would resonate with him on his self-improvement quest.

The Transition book helps students bridge the gap from print to cursive by offering practice in both.  It is designed to help students achieve proficiency with their manuscript letters while beginning to learn (if need be) and improve their cursive (as in the case of my son).  Ample opportunities for practice are provided in the 48-page workbook.

 Patriotic Penmanship Transition begins with practice of both the manuscript and cursive alphabet.  These are simple pages that give lines for the multiple writing of letters where students practice by first tracing the dashed lines that show how to correctly form each letter and repeat that until the end of the page.  After completing this practice, students are ready to begin their lessons.


Each two-page lesson is designed to be one week's worth of work.  20 lessons = 20 weeks of handwriting practice.  The lessons all look the same and follow the same format as pictured above.  There is a patriotic quote (or Bible verse or hymn portion) to be read in full which is then broken down into "bite-sized" phrases for students to trace and practice writing on their own.  Each phrase is presented in both traceable manuscript and cursive and there is a blank line for students to re-write the phrase themselves without the dashed-line helps.



Included in the text are quotes from Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Benjamin Franklin, Nathan Hale, William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Mark Twain, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Robert J. McCracken.  I love that Scripture and portions of some favorite hymns are also included.  In my opinion, you just can't go wrong with either.

Since my son decided to take this upon himself this year, I did not have to make daily assignments.  He worked through the pages of the book at his own speed.  I am happy with his penmanship progress so far and look forward to seeing continued improvement as he moves into the next book in the Patriotic Penmanship series.  These books offer to meet any student right where they are and help move them to the next level of competency.  That's exactly what we needed at our house.  How about you?

After years of struggle with simple things like turning a doorknob, buttoning a shirt, and correctly gripping a pencil following a stroke at 18 months, "pretty" handwriting was not something that I required of my Eagle Scout, but I sure am glad that he made a decision to require it of himself.   You can find out more about this and other products from Laurelwood Books by visiting the following Social Media site:




Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Patriotic Penmanship from Laurelwood Books as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of it as well (or just click on the banner below) and you'll see how it worked for families with children of all different ages, interests, grade levels, and writing skills.


Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Would a Worm Go on a Walk? {Book Review & Giveaway} #WormOnAWalk #FlyBy


My friend Braxton and I had the most fun reading Would a Worm Go on a Walk? together last week and I can't wait to share it with the rest of the children at church this Sunday.  A great reminder that GOD designed each of us to fulfill a very special plan, Would a Worm Go on a Walk? became an interactive reader for us as he was eager to shout "NO" to all of the crazy scenarios found inside.                          

WOULD a worm go on a walk or a piglet play the piano?  WOULD a lion be a lifeguard or a turtle drive a truck?  Absolutely NOT because that's not how GOD made them, but isn't it great to know that each animal does just what it should do because it was formed on purpose by a wise Creator?

Children are reminded as they read that GOD made their each and every detail and HE loves them just as they are.  HE says in HIS Word that they are HIS Masterpiece.  Isn't that exactly the lesson we want our kids to learn?

I am always excited to share books that illustrate just how very much GOD loves us and this bright and colorful book does just that.  It's a fun one to read and re-read together with your favorite little ones and will quickly become a family favorite.

About the book:

“Would a worm go on a walk, if you could lead him down the street? / Would he wear his tiny tennies, if he had two worm-sized feet?”

So begins this humorous and imaginative picture book that introduces children to the idea that animals are uniquely created by a loving and wise GOD.   Would a Worm Go on a Walk?, with its colorful, comical illustrations, is a fresh, fun way to teach young children that GOD created all things very good.  HE gave all the animals, and children, too, wonderful qualities and unique strengths. Children will giggle over the ridiculous scenarios presented, and they will come away with the knowledge that we all are loved and special.

Format: Jacketed hardcover
Page count: 32
Reading age: 4-7 (but older kids & adults will enjoy it as well)

About the author:  Hannah C. Hall is the author of best-selling children’s books, including God Bless You and Good Night and God Bless Our Christmas, as well as an award-winning blog, HannahCHall.com. Hannah lives in Prairie Grove, AK with her husband, Josh, a worship pastor, and their four children.


You can pick up your very own copy of the book or enter to win a copy below.



"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.


Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”




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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Life We Never Expected {Book Review & Giveaway} #lifeweneverexpected #FlyBy




For most of the past 30 years, I've spent a week each summer surrounded by my very favorite friends at a camp for special needs children and adults.  Camp Sunshine is my happy place because it is filled with abounding JOY.  There's nothing like a sweet hug or a spirited high-five to grab a hold of your heart and not let go.  The smiles of these friends are contagious and happiness exudes from their faces.  And life is good.

But Camp Sunshine is only for a week.  We offer families and caregivers of our special friends a week of respite as we love on their campers before we send them home again on their own until next year.  The walk they walk is not always easy.  It is a life they didn't expect.  There are challenges I can't imagine.  My brother and sister-in-love walk the same walk.  It is often tiring and trying and hard and lovely and beautiful and scary -- all at the same time.

Andrew and Rachel Wilson are also walking the walk.  They candidly share their story through the pages of their book, The Life We Never Expected:  Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children with Special Needs and it is simply a must-read for us all.  The honesty as they take turns walking us through their REAL life -- the day-to-day praising GOD through the difficulties -- is breathtakingly beautiful.  The invitation to Weep, Worship, Wait, Witness, and Breathe alongside them will touch your life in a way you never imagined possible.  


Andrew and Rachel remind us how to find our happy place in whatever circumstances life finds us.  They show us first-hand the importance of survival and prayer and praise.  Especially when life throws you a curveball.

Could you use a little encouragement in your life?  If so, you want to read this book.

ABOUT THE BOOK:  Softcover, 152-pages with Questions and Answers, Epilogue, Notes, and Scripture Index
What do you do when hard or painful circumstances turn your world upside down, resulting in a life you never expected?  Andrew and Rachel Wilson grappled with this question after both of their children were diagnosed with regressive autism.  Refreshingly honest, this book explores the highs and lows of raising children with specials needs, reflecting on the broader question of how to cope with suffering of all kinds.  Sharing personal stories from their lives and encouragement rooted in the truth of GOD’s Word, Andrew and Rachel highlight lessons they’ve learned related to fighting for joy and thriving in the midst of trials—ultimately pointing readers to CHRIST, the ONE who promises to make all things new.


You can pick up your very own copy of the book or enter to win a copy below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.


Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”




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