Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Games for Schooling

We love to use games as part of our homeschooling. We have many commercially made games, but I’ve made a lot of them too, to reinforce what we’re studying. Games keep Emily focused (a big deal for her!) and are great both for learning new material and for reviewing. Plus playing games doesn’t feel like “school!”  I’ve published many of the games I’ve designed on Currclick. Most sell for $3.50 (or less if you buy several). They have to be printed on cardstock and question cards cut out and are then ready to go!  Most are adaptable for a range of ages and grade levels. Here are some of my science games. Maybe one or more of these will fit into your curriculum this year!


Play The Insect Game to learn all about insects or to reinforce your current study of insects. Players  answer questions to earn insect parts, attempting to be the first player to build a complete insect. This game is designed for 2nd to 6th grades.





Planets, Moon and Stars is a game for children in third grade and up. Players answer trivia questions about space while trying to be the first to collect all the planets in the solar system.






Climb the Vine: All About Plants is a question and answer board game that will reinforce your science curriculum. Players answer multiple choice questions about plant types, pollination, photosynthesis, trees, and more while racing to the finish line. Designed as a file folder game for grades 3-6.




All About Animals is an animal classification game for grades K-5. Players use picture cards or clue cards to categorize animals into the five major groups.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Grumble Hallelujah


Scripture tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances” and to “rejoice at all times.” Hundreds of passages refer to praising God. Certainly God calls us to a life of praise and thanksgiving. But anyone who has lived on this broken earth knows that this call is not always easy.

Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira’s book, Grumble Hallelujah—Learning to Love Your Life Even When It Lets you Down addresses different times and circumstances that get in the way of living a life of praise. Each chapter encourages the reader to “let go” of something that pulls our focus from God and from how praise-worthy He is—letting go of the life that was supposed to be, letting go of the tough girl act, letting go of fear and control, letting go of judgment, and so on.

I enjoyed reading this book. Some chapters were more applicable and helpful to me than others of course, but throughout each chapter, the author encourages the reader to continue to praise and honor God, even if we can only manage to “grumble a hallelujah.” The author’s openness about her own struggles was helpful as well and I could identify with some of them. I think Grumble Hallelujah has a message well worth reading.

I’m giving this book 4/5 stars.


I received a free review copy of this book from Tyndale House publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Digital Scrapbooking (Giveaway!)

I have scrapbooked for years and have really enjoyed making beautiful albums with my precious pictures. Over the last few years, though, I haven’t kept up with it very well and my photos have been stacking up—both on my computer and printed! Last year, I had about 2 years worth of photos printed into a book. Since I ordered the book on sale, it really cost me about the same amount as having just the photos printed AND helped me quickly catch up on the huge job of organizing my pictures. I like the printed book, but I used the photo printing site’s very simple standard options for designing the book. The finished effect just isn’t as nice as my usual scrapbooks.

I’ve heard of digital scrapbooking, but until now haven’t really looked into it. When I was offered the opportunity to try My Memories Suite, I realized that this could be the solution that could help me organize my photos quickly and still end up with beautiful scrapbooks.

This screenshot shows what the program looks like. The various toolbars enable the user to either take a ready-to-go template and drag pictures in or to choose individual backgrounds, text, word art, shapes, and embellishments to create a custom design for each page.


I found this program really easy and fun to use. Anyone who can use MS Word can intuitively jump right in and start creating. I actually put together a couple of pages before even reading through the manual. Then, when I read the manual, I found some additional shortcuts and features to use on subsequent pages.

album 3-001

A nice variety of backgrounds and embellishments are included with the program and many many more are available for free and for purchase on the My Memories website. With the $10 credit that came with my software, I was able to purchase 3 nice add-on packs, adding hundreds of additional embellishments and backgrounds to the software.

album 3-002

album 3-003

And here is a banner for my newest game that I created on My Memories Suite. (I had to use Paint to crop it to the right size.)

bible match game

While I have only explored the standard scrapbook page making capabilities of this program so far, it also does some other really cool things, like offer the ability to add music and video to scrapbooks.

I’m giving this product 5 stars!



Good News! My Memories Suite is offering you a coupon code toward the purchase of My Memories Suite v.2. Use the code, “STMMMS41016” for $10 off the $39.97 purchase price. Plus, the software comes with an additional $10 coupon toward add-on packs! That’s a $20 savings!


GIVEAWAY! (Ends Oct. 12)

Would you like to win a copy of My Memories Suite software? To enter, visit the site and tell me what your favorite digital scrapbooking kit add-on pack is.

For additional entries, do any or all of the following: (Leave a separate comment for each entry.)

-Follow me on Google Friend Connect

-Follow My Memories on Facebook.

-Spread the word about this giveaway on your blog or facebook and leave me the link. (2 entries)

Disclosure: I received a free copy of My Memories Suite to write this review. I am an affiliate for My Memories and may benefit if you make a purchase using the coupon.  All opinions in this review are my own.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Changes for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

YOU are invited to the The Old Schoolhouse®Magazine’s Schoolhouse Birthday Bash – as they celebrate their tenth birthday and announce exciting developments coming in 2012!

These include big changes in the format of the magazine and really great freebies with new subscriptions. Click on the banner for all the details!

Thursday, September 22nd – 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m (EST): Join us for our Schoolhouse Birthday Bash Facebook Party!

Just stop by the TOS Facebook page during the event for meaningful fellowship with featured columnists, TOS staff, and homeschooling friends. We will have lively chat, homeschooling tips, freebies, and of course some fabulous giveaways!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

My New Book!!! Want to review it?

I just published my first children’s novel! It’s available in e-book form at Amazon (Kindle) and Smashwords (e-pub and other formats) for $0.99.


Twelve-year-old April Matthews has just moved into her great-aunt's creepy southern mansion. Within days, she uncovers a century-old family mystery, rumors of ghosts, and the long-lost diary of her great-great grandmother. Are the mysterious dreams she is having related to the secret? Will she be able to solve the mystery before time runs out? This mystery is a fun read for 8 to 12 year olds.

If anyone would like a free copy in exchange for a blog review or short review on Amazon or Smashwords, please email me or leave a comment on this post!

Measurement and Geometry (TOS Review)

imageEmily and I have been trying out a unique way to learn geometry. Area Formulas for Parallelograms, Triangles, and Trapezoids, published by AIMS Education Foundation provides a hands-on way to learn about area. This book is part of AIMS’ Essential Math line and is appropriate for students in Grades 6-8.
Each unit has several components for the students:
  1. Hands-on investigation, which includes measuring, cutting and re-forming shapes, and experimentation
  2. Animations and videos (available on the included cd-rom)
  3. Problem solving pages
  4. Comics that reinforce the concepts
Teaching helps include:
  1. A video (viewable from the included cd-rom) that explains the lesson and what the students will be doing and learning
  2. Student reproducibles that can be printed from the cd-rom
  3. Slide shows and animations to visually illustrate the concepts
I like this book a lot! Emily has been engaged and excited about using it (which is often not the case for math!) Many of the lessons involve cutting up and re-forming the shapes in order to measure area on a grid or forming a shape for which the student already knows the formula in order to master and understand a new formula.  The hands-on approach helps her (and me) see why the formulas work. I think that in the future, if she forgets the formula for a parallelogram or triangle, she will be able to logically and quickly figure it out. The animations and comic strips do a good job of reinforcing what she learns.
Area Formulas for Parallelograms, Triangles, and Trapezoids and other books in this series are available from AIMS Educational Foundation for $9.95. You may read more reviews of this book and other AIMs books at the TOS Blog.
As a TOS Crew member, I received a free copy of this book and cd-rom set from AIMs Education Foundation. All opinions are my own.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Deeper Roots Bible Study (TOS Review)

Emily and I have been reviewing Discovering Our Amazing God, published by Deeper Roots Publications. This particular study is designed for 7th-9th grade students. Several other volumes are also available for 8th grade and up.
The lessons in this Bible curriculum were designed to move students beyond mere fact-learning to the application of Bible to life. The student book includes:
  • comprehension and application questions
  • journaling
  • writing assignments
  • Bible memory
  • mapping
  • video suggestions
  • mapping
  • reviews and tests
  • drama
The teacher’s guide includes the full student text plus lesson plans for each day in the margins. It also contains tests and answer keys. As you can see from the list, the curriculum crosses over into other subject areas.
We have been using Discovering Our Amazing God for several weeks and I really like it! Emily and I spend 5 to 15 minutes discussing the day’s lesson and reading the scripture, then she has a “On Your Own” assignment to do, which may include answering questions, journaling, writing a fictional story to illustrate a proverb, or designing a drama. I like the varied activities. They keep the lessons interesting and help Emily to apply what she is learning. It works well for us to do lessons three times a week.
In Lesson 1, we have had some good discussions about Esther and the wisdom of God. I think this curriculum will be very useful in developing Emily’s knowledge of the Bible and of God’s character. Although the curriculum is designed for 7th grade and up, Emily is doing fine with it as a 6th grader.
Discovering Our Amazing God sells for $19.95 (perfect bound student book) and $28.95 (spiral bound teacher book) and covers a full school year of study. Visit the TOS Blog to read more reviews of Deeper Roots Bible Study.
As a TOS Crew member,  I received Discovering Our Amazing God from Deeper Roots publication free in exchange for my honest review.

Body of Evidence Video Series (Review)

The Body of Evidence curriculum includes 8 DVDs that teach about the human body. Each video is hosted by David Menton, PhD, a former biomedical research technician at Mayo Clinic and associate professor of anatomy at Washington University School of Medicine. This DVD series is aimed for children ages 12 and up,  primarily for those taking a high school anatomy course. I received DVD #7, The Urinary System, to review.


I thought this video was very well done. The format is basically an informal lecture given to 2 students. The material is very complete—I would think more in line with a college level course than a high school course. However, I though it was very well explained and easy to understand. The instructor speaks slowly and uses both colorful diagrams and models to illustrate concepts. I think a student would learn much more from this format than he or she would from the same material in a textbook.P1010128P1010127

The video was much too advanced for Emily in 6th grade, though. She really didn’t understand much of the material. We’ll come back to it in a few years.

This series from Timberdoodle Co. may be just what you are looking for to supplement your teaching science with any homeschool curriculum.

I received a free copy of the Body of Evidence Urinary System DVD as a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team in order to write this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cell phone options

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of TracFone for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

A number of years ago, my husband had a cell phone provided by his job. When I decided that I needed a cell phone too, I looked for the cheapest option. What I found was a TracFone. I used it for several years and it met my needs inexpensively and well. I mainly needed it to keep in touch with my kids when they were home alone or away at their various activities.

Our current cell phone plan has gotten so expensive that its' probably time to start looking at other options. TracFone is still around and is the least expensive way to own a phone in the US. Although my first phone was very simple, now TracFones come with So many features. Simple phones for calling and texting are available for under $10. Phones packed with features like cameras, keyboards, and web access are only $29.99! Tracfone provides great nationwide coverage and excellent reception. And international calling to 60 countries is included at no extra charge! With a husband who lives in Korea, I know how valuable that feature is.  Real TracFone customers can choose  "pay as you go" online plans, prepaid cards, or one-year service cards that include double minutes.



Visit Sponsor's Site

Friday, September 9, 2011

As Silver Refined (Review)


 As Silver Refined, Learning to Embrace Life’s Disappointments, by Kay Arthur, is a look at the refining work on God in our lives. The author opens the book with a description of the lengthy refining process of silver. This includes repeatedly heating the silver to higher and higher temperatures. Each time, the process is carefully monitored by the silversmith, who gently scoops off the impurities that rise to the top. Eventually, when the craftsman is able to see his reflection in the silver, the process is complete. Likewise, God uses our trials and difficulties to refine us, enabling us to eventually reflect His glory. Because He loves us so much, He allows these refining trials to enter our lives in order that we may grow, mature, and give glory to Him.

Great analogy, isn’t it? And that is just the preface to the book!

This book is one of the best I’ve read about dealing with life’s disappointments. Kay Arthur encourages us to develop meekness, saying, “The meek focus on the Lord, not on self. Their happiness is in Him, not in their circumstances…Meekness is willing to wait patiently in the Lord.”  Even more than that, Romans 5 tells us to exult in our tribulations. We “don’t give up or walk away, because that very tribulation and your endurance under it will  make you more like Jesus Christ.”

This message in this book is very similar that of a favorite song of mine, “Blessings” by Laura Story.

But what if your blessings come through raindrops?

What if your healing comes through tears?

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?

What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?

I am learning to change the way I view the trials in life. I am learning to welcome them as God’s will for my growth in Him. This is a great book that I highly recommend for anyone who wants to grow in faith!

You can read Chapter One of As Silver Refined here.

I received a free review copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Civilize This (Griddly Games) TOS Review


We love games at our house, so we were excited to try out Wise Alec Civilize This from Griddly Games.  This game can be used  either as a travel game or as an expansion set for the award winning Wise Alec trivia game.

The Wise Alec Civilize This game assesses players’ knowledge of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern cultures. Each card includes questions of two different difficulty levels, making it ideal for family play. Wise Alec cards add a fun twist by having players do exercises, tongue twisters, or brain teasers.


The first thing I like about Civilize This is the small box. It is just the right size to hold the cards and die. We have a lot of games and so many of them come in unnecessarily large boxes. This box is sturdy and has a nice magnetic closure. A great travel game!

The game is fairly simple to play. Play goes back and forth as players answer questions and earn points. The Wise Alec cards add a fun twist, requiring players to do something silly, or awarding extra guesses for subsequent questions. Players win by reaching a point goal, which can differ from player to player, so it is easy to equalize play between older and younger players.

At this point, many of the questions are too hard for Emily (11). But we will be studying world history this year and next, so this will be a wonderful reinforcement of her studies! It is definitely a “learning game,” but Emily still begs to play it. That’s what I like to see!

Griddly Games also produces other fun family games.

 Civilize This is for 2-4 players ages 8 and up and includes four decks of cards and one multi-colored die. It sells for $14.99 at and other retailers.

As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this game free in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.