#Free Beauty Bag from Target

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Target is once again offering a Free Beauty Bag! I've received these in the past and they were full of great samples and even a coupon book. Hurry and get yours before they run out!

Amazing Science Review

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Amazing Science Volume 1 by ScienceandMath.com is definitely a must have for your home library. This is an amazing DVD set and I am thrilled to own it! 

My daughter loves everything and anything that has to do with science and she was in 7th heaven with these experiments. The 2 DVD set includes the following easy (and very cool) experiments:

Chapter Index

Disk 1Disk 2
1) Color Changing Milk13) Floating Eggs
2) Egg in a Bottle14) Keep Paper Dry Underwater               
3) Exploring Air Pressure15) Dry Ice Bubbles
4) Build a Lemon Battery16) Balloon in a Candle Flame
5) Inverted Cup of Water17) Ocean in a Bottle
6) Candle Suction Power18) Build a Motor with Lights
7) Amazing Magnetic Force19) Simple Lava Lamp
8) Lift an Ice Cube with String20) Invisible Ink
9) Unburnable Money21) Density Tower
10) Matchstick Speedboat22) Soda Can Fizz
11) Reversing an Image with Water               23) Build a Motor #2


The first experiment we tried out was the Color Changing Milk. I was looking forward to posting our pictures, but they seem to have disappeared from my computer. I will definitely update my post when/if I find them! All of the experiments use items most people normally have around the house. Color Changing Milk required a plate deep enough to hold milk, a q-tip, some dish soap (Dawn was recommended), and food coloring. My daughter started off by pouring the milk into the plate and then adding several drops of different colors of food coloring. Next, she dipped the q-tip into the dish soap and touched the milk with the q-tip. She was very excited by what happened next and kept telling me how "cool" it was. 

This DVD set has one of the best presentations I have ever seen. Each experiment shows multiple camera views, lists every material needed to perform the experiment, gives step-by-step instructions, and explains why and how the experiment worked. The presenter is great and could be talking to a 4th grader or a college student. I really hope there will be a Volume 2 sooner rather than later!

Watch the short video below to see other awesome experiments in action!

This DVD set can be purchased for $19.95 + shipping or you can purchase and download all experiments (available for immediate download) for $$17.99.

You can follow @ScienceJason on Twitter, find them on Facebook as Math Tutor DVD, and watch other amazing videos on YouTube.

Read what other TOS Crew members thought of Amazing Science here.


God's Great Covenant Review

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One of the reasons that I chose to homeschool my children was so that I could focus more on the Christian view of subjects, rather than the secular view presented in our public schools. I have to admit that while I have emphasized this view in subjects such as science and history, I have been sorely lacking in consistently teaching the Bible as a subject. I find myself a bit embarrassed by this fact, as I have said on more than one occasion that it is my job as a christian parent to give my children the firm foundation that they need to grow in the word, in life, and in their own walk with God. One of my "reasons" is because I have yet to find a Bible curriculum that we all like. They were mostly either too dry, boring, and complicated or too babyish for the older kids. 

God's Great Covenant New Testament 1 by Classical Academic Press provides the perfect solution to this problem as it is comprehensive and light-hearted at the same time. 

This might seem rather strange, but one of the first things that I noticed was the text font throughout the student workbook. The introductions, Memory Page, Story Time, and Worksheet pages are all written in a fun and enjoyable font to read. This is an important factor for us. View a sample lesson and see for yourself!

I like having chapter and lesson information along the bottom of each page so we know at a glance where we are and what lesson we are on. 

From the website:
"God’s Great Covenant, New Testament 1 teaches the Gospels to students in fourth grade and up, using stories, worksheets, memory verses, devotional guides, quizzes, and a little boy named Simon. In the introductions to the text, students will also learn about the historical, cultural, and geographical setting of the New Testament. This book is a most comprehensive and heartfelt study of the Gospels, and many parents and teachers will find themselves learning along with their students."

I found the last part of that statement to be very true as I was one of those parents/teachers who found myself caught up in the lesson and learning new things myself. God's Great Covenant New Testament 1 (The Gospels) combines the perfect mixture of Bible, history, and geography for almost any age. I found that even though it is intended for students in grades 4 and up, I was able to use some of it with my younger son.

I have said this before, and I am saying it again- we are strictly a KJV 1611 family. Having said that, the one and only thing that I wasn't crazy about is that the Bible verses in this curriculum were taken from the NIV or the NKJV (unless otherwise stated). Due to that fact, the worksheets frequently had to be used differently to reflect the King James Version and the memory verses had to be taken directly from our KJV Bible rather than just memorizing straight from the lesson. It is becoming increasingly more difficult as time goes on, in my own experience, to find anything that is strictly KJV. I know that this isn't a big deal to some families, and even in this case, I loved the presentation and content so much that I would most likely consider buying it anyway. The consumable Student Edition can be purchased for $26.95 and contains 36 weekly chapters divided into 4 themed units.

I was lucky enough to receive the Teachers Edition to review as well. This contains the entire student text, answer keys, additional factual information, and a notes section. The Teachers Edition can be purchased for $29.95.

Classical Academic Press specializes in Latin and logic, and has many great products to offer. View the complete 2011-2012 pdf catalog here. Visit their free resources page for audio downloads, coloring pages, bonus worksheets, and more.

Read what other TOS Crew members thought of this
product here.


Bright Ideas Press - Christian Kids Explore Chemistry

AIMS Looking at Lines Review

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If you are looking for something different in a math or science program, consider using one of the many resources from the AIMS Education Foundation.  

AIMS is a non-profit foundation with plenty of hands-on fun & motivating educational experiences to offer. 

I have to admit, math and science have never been my favorite subjects. More often than not, I find it a bit challenging to teach it to my children, especially in a way that they understand. What might make perfect sense to me, just isn't getting through to them and then we all end up frustrated and ready to call it quits for the day week (who am I kidding?) YEAR.

We have been reviewing Looking at Lines for grades 6-9, which contains 16 activities in a 232 page soft cover book. This is also available in a pdf download. 

(From the website):
Introduce algebraic concepts in their natural setting with activities drawn from real-world phenomena. Covers three sub-groups of linear functions: proportional relationships, non-proportional relationships with positive slopes, and non-proportional relationships with negative slopes. Includes CD with printable student pages.

This is the perfect blend of math and science for my daughter who loves both subjects and whom can never seem to get enough of the experiments and activities. We have quite a home library of materials and I was surprised to find that most of the activities included in Looking at Lines are not in any of them! On the other hand, it is also the perfect series for my two other children who pretty much hate math and science (in no particular order) because the lessons are F-U-N and interesting. More importantly for ME is that they are easy to teach in a way that my children will understand and rather than leaving them frustrated, it leaves them wanting to know more.

One of the things that makes AIMS stand out from the rest, is their extensive use of real-life situations presented as the building blocks of teaching linear function concepts. The main reason that I "unschool" 2 of my older children and my preschooler, is because they learn best being taught by "real life" situations and knowing how they can be applied to their daily life. I think AIMS has hit the nail on the head with this one! The fact that they encourage children to "learn by doing" makes this the perfect company for us. Rather than dreading future lessons, I am looking forward to working our way through the rest of the book. Perhaps I can come to love like math after all?

Explore the AIMS approach for yourself by downloading a free sample lesson or visit their online store to see all that they have to offer.

Check out other TOS Crew reviews to see what they had to say about AIMS Education Foundation.


The Forgiven Duke by Jamie Carie Review & Giveaway 4/28

Last month I read and reviewed The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie and I could not wait for the sequel. Luckily, I didn't have to wait for long! I just had the pleasure of reading The Forgiven Duke, and I couldn't put it down. After the kids went to bed, I started reading and didn't stop until I was finished. I enjoyed reading the first book in the Forgotten Castle series, but I really loved this book. Parts of it had me on pins and needles and the unexpected twists and turns kept me off my seat. 

About the book:

"Tethered by her impulsive promise to marry Lord John Lemon - the path of least resistance - Alexandria Featherstone sets off toward Iceland in search of her parents with a leaden heart. A glimpse of her guardian, the Duke of St. Easton - the path less traveled by - on Dublin’s shore still haunts her.
Will he come after her? Will he drag her back to London, quelling her mission to rescue her treasure-seeking parents, or might he decide to throw caution to the wind and choose Foy Pour Devoir: “Faith for Duty,” the St. Easton motto. The Featherstone motto Valens et Volens: “Willing and Able,” beats in her heart and thrums through her veins. She will find her parents and find their love, no matter the cost.
The powerful yet wing-clipped Duke of St. Easton has never known the challenge that has become his life since hearing his ward’s name. Alexandria Featherstone will be the life or the death of him. Only time and God’s plan will reveal just how much this man can endure for the prize of love."

If you love to read historical Christian fiction, I highly recommend this series. Jamie Carie writes in such a way that you almost feel like you are there experiencing each trial and tribulation yourself as well as the triumphs. I am impatiently awaiting the third and final book in the series. What can I say? Patience has never been one of my virtues. ;)

The Forgiven Duke is set for release July 2012 but can be pre-ordered on Amazon. The final Forgotten Castle novel, A Duke's Promise is set for release in September 2012. 

Want to win your own copy? Simply leave a blog post comment with your name and email address so I can contact you if you are the winner. Winner will be chosen via Random.org and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be chosen. U.S. residents only, 18 and older. Giveaway ends 4/28 midnight EST. Prize will be shipped by the sponsor.


Bees, Bees, Bees

For those of you who don't know, my husband is a beekeeper. About 4 years after receiving our initial hive, my husband is slowly drawing my son and I into the whole business. As daunting as it is being around tens of thousand of bees at one time, I must say it is exciting. 

Upon recent inspection of our two hives, swarm cells were discovered so my husband decided to split the hives. This involved finding the queen to make sure she wasn't moved in the split. Standing several feet away from the hive, dh (who was suited up) smoked the bees and removed frame after frame from the hive while I (who was NOT suited up) helped him look for the queen bee. I was a little freaked out when a bee landed on my head and started to crawl under my hair but we got it out without incident! Whew! Shortly after, we spotted the queen and knew which frame to leave in the original hive and transferred 5 frames to a new hive. 

When we inspected the second hive, we could not find the queen nor could we find any eggs so this led us to believe that there was no queen. That created a problem with the hive split dh was going to do. We needed a queen. Actually, we needed two queens. One for the split hive, and one for the queenless hive. So, we ordered two Italian Queen Bees from Walter T. Kelley  and anxiously awaited their arrival. They arrived less than a week later with a knock on our door from the mail lady. I can't help but wonder if she was freaking out a bit handling the envelope they were shipped in.

You could hear them buzzing in the envelope.

Each cage contains 1 Queen Bee and several Worker Bees.

The weather hasn't been cooperating, and has been a little too cold the past two days to introduce the new queens to their hives so they had to be kept in a cool, dry, dark place and watered a couple of times a day until the temperatures rose a little.

We aren't quite sure what happened, because dh thought that without a queen, the bees wouldn't swarm. But, when the twins went outside to take the garbage out my daughter came back in and said she thought the bees were getting ready to swarm. Sure enough, this is what we saw:

If you enlarge the picture, you can see the swarm. It was a really cool thing to watch and the noise was unreal.
We were keeping our fingers crossed that the bees would stay close so that my husband could retrieve them when he got home from work. Luckily, they went into a tree in the empty lot next to our driveway.

The swarm, hanging off of a branch in a tree.

Close-up picture of swarm right before my husband cut the branch they were hanging on.

He got most of them, but there were still a lot flying around the tree. We are hoping they will find their way to the new hive.

The bees lining up to go into their new hive.
We are keeping our fingers crossed that all will go well, and that this swarm will accept their new queen. We can only watch and wait and check for  eggs and new brood. 

It was also a surprise to find out that the first hive we split made their own queen so now we have to figure out what to do with one of the two that we ordered. Right now, my husband doesn't have enough boxes made to try to start a new hive. Besides taking my daughter to soft ball practice and church, I guess I know what he will be doing all weekend!

As of right now, the frames are heavy with honey and I can't wait until harvesting time. I actually used to dislike the taste of honey until I tasted the honey from our bees. If you've never tasted raw honey like that, you don't know what you're missing! Store bought honey doesn't even compare. Mmmm....

Hope you have a sweet weekend!

Write with World Review


PhotobucketFor the past several weeks, we have been reviewing year 1 of the 2 year Write with World writing curriculum.  We are far from finished with the book, but I have yet to find anything about it that I don't like and as of right now, it is my favorite middle school writing curriculum thus far.

What it is:

A 2-year middle school writing curriculum from the publishers of God's World News and WORLD Magazine, developed by education and media professionals. 

What it consists of:

Separate teacher/student books (soft-cover) and online content for first and second years.
Web site for updated examples, writing prompts, published student work, and teacher forum.

What it covers:
  • Concepts of comparative and critical reading
  • Writing fundamentals
  • Narratives
  • Reporting
  • Reviewing
  • Critique and opinion
The only additional materials needed were a highlighter,  dictionary (a collegiate style dictionary is suggested),  thesaurus, and a writing journal/notebook. Being homeschoolers, we already had all of these on-hand so we were able to jump right in to the lessons. 

The first lesson, Capsule 1, was a lesson about "The Story Behind the Image". In this lesson, the student looks at a picture and is instructed to "read" the image and to ask themselves questions such as how, why, and what. My daughter loves to write stories on her own and I was surprised to learn that this is how she comes up with her story ideas. As she was working on the lessons, I couldn't help but notice that she actually seemed to be enjoying it. Just as it is stated in the General Introduction, my daughter had been taught to dislike writing lessons. I remember the rules-based, dry, boring assignments from my own school days so I can't say I blame her. 

The following excerpts were taken from the General Introduction:
"Write with World aims to produce young writers who love writing, can write effectively, and intelligently share ideas, beliefs, and their worldview. We hope to support a generation of young believers who aspire to use their writing skills in the service of God's Kingdom and explain effectively the reasons for their beliefs."

"Write with World teaches the skills necessary for becoming an effective writer while encouraging students to step outside the vacuum. Young writers need to see models of excellent writing on a regular basis. They need to read materials produced by published authors, and they need to engage in conversations with writers. They need opportunities to practice using language with a purpose and without the stress of being graded. They need writing assignments that are timely and thought-provoking. They need readers. They need thoughtful response to their efforts."

When I read that, I KNEW that this was going to be the curriculum for us and that I had been blessed beyond measure with this review opportunity.

See for yourself what Write with World is all about by viewing a sample lesson. The year one student text book consists of 16 lessons which are divided into 4 units. The teacher handbook includes the student book as well as teaching helps and tips to guide you along this fun learning journey.

Prices range from $95 (for years one and two purchased separately) to $165 (for years one and two together) plus shipping and handling. Please visit their website for more information. 

Read what other TOS Crew members thought of this product.


Truth Quest History Guides

If I had to pinpoint our homeschooling style, I would have to describe it as eclectic unschooling. Except for my daughter in K12 who thrives on the structure that comes with using text books, the rest of my children blossom when we steer clear of them and explore other learning opportunities. One of these recent opportunities was American History for Young Students I from TruthQuest History. If you are like me and have never heard of TruthQuest History, read on! 

From the website:

What is TruthQuest History? TruthQuest History is a deep and rich literature-based history study…but with a difference. You will not learn the story of mankind; you will learn the lovestory of mankind. You will not focus on the rise and fall of human civilizations; you will focus on the arrow-straight line of God's unchanging existence, power, love, truth, and plan for civilization. You will not simply 'meet the culture' or 'get the facts;' you will probe the truths of history so deeply that your students will be equipped to change their world!

Why? Because mankind is not the prime force in the universe ...God is. He initiates; we respond. History, therefore, is not first about what people do. It is first about what God does and says, and secondly about what people believe and do in response.

The exploration of history, then, should reveal God and His truth, not glorify the achievements of mankind. Indeed, the kings, artists, philosophers, writers, and scientists cannot even be understood until seen for who they are – people motivated by basic beliefs about God, whether true or untrue. The consequences of their Big 2 Beliefs (Who is God, and who, then, is mankind?) are displayed in history...and teach us all. Let us, then, not be found teaching humanistic history. Let us learn of civilization and its beliefs in a way that reveals and glorifies the God whose name is Truth. Your children will realize the only source of freedom is God's laws, and the only source of human worth is God's love for us. Once common knowledge, our society now thinks the opposite...and suffers for it.

These award winning guides can be used for grades 1-12, although I have to admit that I used this with my little boy who is in pre-k and he loves it. My older children have a firm grasp on early American history already which is why I decided to review it with my 4 1/2 year old. The guide reminds me a lot of a lapbook, except a binder is used. I love this idea! I was also pleasantly surprised to find that I already had quite a few of the suggested reading books in my home library.

Mr. B. working on his first lesson.

Learning about Christoper Columbus.

The American History for Young Students guides were designed for grades 1-5 and include 3 volumes. The commentary is gentler, the issues lighter, and the lessons more positive which I think is important especially when teaching younger children. It has been my experience, the more fun it is, the more they learn and retain.

My son has enjoyed learning about Christopher Columbus, kings & queens, pirates, sailing, and more. Learning with living books rather than text books really makes the stories come alive. As a teacher, it is exciting when you see your student excited about learning and even more so when they ASK you to teach them more! TruthQuest History provided the perfect meand and opportunity to do this.  Since my son is so young, I must help him with the  ThinkWrite sections, but it is also great writing practice for him. Once a lesson is completed, it goes in the binder where he can go back and forth to his heart's content and enjoy what he has learned whenever he wants to. I look forward to continuing our TruthQuest History lessons! 

Guides can be purchased in both print (24.95) and immediate PDF download (19.95). The companion resources are only available in PDF download and include: Binder Builders (18.00), Notebooking pages (13.00), and Timelines (13.00).

Have questions? Email them at info@TruthQuestHistory.com. They are also on FACEBOOK!