Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil (Giveaway)

Virgin Coconut Oil, Gold Label - 1 quart
CLOSED-- Congratulations to Jen! (entry #3 chosen by

I discovered Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil a few years ago and love it! The flavor is wonderful in baked goods. It also makes delicious pan-fried fish or sauted vegetables. If you don’t care for the coconut flavor, Tropical Traditions’ expeller-pressed varieties are tasteless. One of my kids doesn’t like the flavor of the Gold Label coconut oil, but the rest of us love it. I think it adds that “something special” to our regular recipes.
We made these cookies with 1/2 butter and 1/2 coconut oil and they were delicious—rich and chewy. I also recommend this combination in shortbread and peanut butter cookies.
Check out this page to see more ways to use coconut oil. Just looking will make your mouth water!
Tropical Traditions has frequent sales and if you keep up with them, you can often find products buy one, get one free. If you happen to make a first-time purchase through one of the links in this post, you will also receive a FREE gift, the book "Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people's lives and how it can change yours!" This book is packed with testimonies and solid research describing the benefits of coconut oil, and also includes over 85 recipes showing how people can incorporate coconut into their diet.

Giveaway! (Ends May 7)
Would you like to win a free quart of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil?
To enter you must sign up for the Tropical Traditions email sales newsletter. (This will alert you to sales, such as buy-one-get-one-free sales.)  Leave a comment below telling me that you have done so.
For additional entries:
  • Follow me on Google Friend Connect. Tell me what you would use your Gold Label Virgin Coconut oil for.
  • “Like” Tropical Traditions on Facebook.
  • Follow Tropical Traditions on Twitter.
  • Follow Tropical Traditions on Pinterest.
Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. I have an affiliate relationship with this company.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I is for i-Pod


Emily has been saving for months to earn enough money to buy herself an i-Pod Touch. I’m proud of how hard she has worked doing yard work for relatives and neighbors to earn the money.

I’m hoping that this will serve as an educational tool as well as a toy and mp3 player. The first game she downloaded was “Draw Something.” Emily has watched Allison play it on her phone and wanted to join in the fun. She also (on her own) found some math apps. that she likes and we found a free bird guide and a parakeet app.  I’d love some suggestions for great (inexpensive) educational apps! What are your favorites?

I’m really hoping to get an iPad for myself one of these days. I keep thinking how great it would be for reading all the pdf’s I get to review through the TOS Crew.

I am linking to Blogging Through the Alphabet at Ben and Me.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Balance Math Teaches Algebra


Algebra can be difficult for students to grasp because it is abstract. Balance Math Teaches Algebra, published by Critical Thinking Co, attempts to teach algebraic concepts by using the balance scale concept. We’ve used some other Balance Math books in the past, so Emily was familiar with the concept and found the beginning exercises fairly easy.

The second page is pictured below. The student can clearly see by the balanced scale that x=50, then uses that knowledge to make deductions about the next equation.


The equations become progressively more complex. Within a few days, Emily was easily solving puzzles like this one:



x+x= ?

Because the problems are  “puzzles,” they are fun to do and less intimidating than a standard math book might be. I think this is a great introduction to algebra that will give my daughter a good head start for when she starts studying “real” algebra in her math curriculum.

Critical Thinking Co. also sent me Balance Math and More, which includes Balance puzzles and other types of fun math puzzles featuring multiplication, division, and fractions.

Balance Math Teaches Algebra (for grades 4-12) is $14.99 from Critical Thinking Co.

To read more reviews of  Balance Math Teaches Algebra and several other Critical Thinking Co. books, please visit the TOS Crew Blog.

5/5 stars


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free book from Critical Thinking Co. in order to write this review. All opinions are my own.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

H is for Hershey’s Kiss


We recently received a free science kit from Physics Quest. It came with a comic book/ instruction manual and 4 experiments. The first activity, “Meltdown,” answers the question, “How do different metals conduct heat?”  Emily inserted copper, aluminum, and steel wires into Hershey’s Kisses, taped the wires onto the sides of a glass, and filled the glass with hot wire. Then she observed which of the metals conducted heat well enough to melt the chocolate.

This was a fun and easy experiment. Try it yourself to find out which metal is the best conductor!


I’m linking to Blogging Through the Alphabet at “Ben and Me.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

God’s Great Covenant (TOS Review)

God’s Great Covenant is a Bible curriculum published by Classical Academic Press for kids in 4th grade and up. We have been using the NT1 course for the past month.  This course teaches the four gospels through stories, worksheets, memory verses, devotional guides, and quizzes.
Prior to the actual lessons is a quite lengthy introductory section that teaches the background to the New Testament with historical, political, and geographical information. It also gives a chronology of Jesus’ life and teaches about the Jewish religious practices of the day. I was impatient to get to the “real” course, since the introduction took us about a week to read through, but it included excellent information that even fit in with some of what we have recently covered while studying ancient history.
The teacher’s book includes the entire student text with answer keys as well as a plethora of explanatory notes that flesh out the topics further. Actually, there were more notes than student text. Frankly it seemed like too much information, reminding me of the notes in a study Bible. They might be useful for a parent who wanted to dig much deeper into the topic, but seemed overwhelming to me.  I was surprised to find no teaching instructions or scheduling suggestions in the teacher’s book.
The audio recordings are helpful if you want to hear the stories read aloud instead of reading them to your children.
This is a very comprehensive course. The first chapter includes a detailed comparison of the four Gospels. It also discusses the genealogy of Jesus, Jesus as a fulfillment of prophecy and Jesus as both man and God—all in 4 pages! The second chapter eases up a bit, covering the angelic messages to Mary, Joseph, and Zechariah, and some of the names of Jesus.  The large print makes it appear child-friendly, but we found the amount of information and the pace much too fast for my sixth-grader. She listened to the recording and read the chapter several times before she could answer the review questions. Attempts to discuss the material and answer the questions together resulted in tears. I didn’t begin to draw from the extra information in the teacher’s guide because the student book itself was too much.
If your student is looking for a comprehensive Bible course that pulls together Old and New Testaments and fosters a deep understanding of the scriptures, the time, place, and culture in which the events occurred, God’s Great Covenant might appeal to you. We found that it was just too much for us at this point. I would suggest that it is a better fit for 7th grade and up with children who already have a good working knowledge of the Gospels than for the suggested age of 4th grade.

( 5-2-12) As we have continued to use God's Great Covenant, we are enjoying it more and more. From the second lesson forward, the lessons are not quite as intensive and my daughter is now thoroughly enjoying the lessons and learning a lot!
To read more reviews of God’s Great Covenant, please visit the TOS Crew Blog.
4/5 stars
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a book set and audio download from Classical Academic Press in order to write this review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry (TOS Review)


Two years ago, I reviewed Christian Kids Explore Biology from Bright Ideas Press. I really enjoyed this course and was thrilled to have the opportunity this year to review Christian Kids Explore Chemistry. Although I received this as a PDF file, it is normally sold as a print book with an accompanying  resource CD that includes all the Daily Lesson Plans, Materials Lists, Bonus Literature Study Guide, and All Reproducibles, such as:

  • Coloring Pages
  • Unit Reviews
  • Follow-Up Questions for each lesson
  • Activity Charts

Emily was sooo excited to study Chemistry. She begged to begin as soon as we received the product. Now I know that she was anticipating mixing up strange substances and blowing things up, which isn’t the focus of this course! However, she hasn’t been disappointed yet.

Each lesson includes a short 2-3 page “teaching time,” followed by a review quiz and hands-on activity. Vocabulary words and definitions are printed in the margins. Each lesson is designed to be completed in one week. Through the early lessons, however, we’ve maintained a pace of one lesson a day for text, questions, and experiment, spending about an hour. I also had her briefly review the vocabulary words from previous chapters each day.


P1010765Emily building a model of a lithium atom from Styrofoam balls.P1010767

I LOVE this program. It may be my favorite science program ever.  It’s meaty, it’s fun, and it’s presented in nice “bite-sized” chunks. The hands-on activities are relevant and easy to do. Emily continues to be enthusiastic about it and is retaining what we cover.

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry is designed for grades 4-8 and sells for $39.95.

To read more reviews of Christian Kids Explore science titles, please visit the TOS Crew Blog.

5/5 stars


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free pdf file of Christian Kids Explore Chemistry from Bright Ideas Press in order to write this review. All opinions are my own.


Monday, April 9, 2012

AIMS—Looking at Lines (TOS Review)


Looking At Lines, published by  AIMS Educational Foundation, is a hands-on math book designed to “introduce algebraic concepts  in their natural setting with activities drawn from real-world phenomena.”  The 232-page book, written for grades 6-9, includes 32 activities that teach about linear functions. One activity included building a balance scale in which each arm represents the x or y axis, using paper clips as weights, then taking measurements and graphing the results. Another activity required dropping a ball, measuring the bounce height, and graphing the results.

I thought that the hands-on activities were very good for helping students understand how graph can show a relationship between numbers. A typical math book has kids graphing coordinates, but may not help them understand that the resulting line shows a defined relationship between the numbers. Every activity that we’ve done so far requires hands-on measurement, graphing the results, then coming up with an equation that explains the data. Follow-up discussion questions are asked that require the student to understand the task and to predict results when the variables are changed. We did run into a problem in one of the early lessons, when the questions expected knowledge of terms such as domain, range, and dependent variable that hadn’t been taught yet. We had to look at the teacher’s guide to find out the correct answers.

Although this is designed for classroom use, I found it easy to adapt for one student. Most of the activities were simple to implement, but a few, such as building a balance scale from a straw and cardboard were a bit more time-intensive. The guide provides background teacher’s material, which is helpful, but I did have to spend a bit of time each day preparing for the lesson. I would have preferred that it be more student-directed.

I found the book to be a nice supplement to our math program.

Looking at Lines comes with a CD with printable student pages and sells for $24.95.

To read more reviews of Looking at Lines and other AIMS products, please visit the TOS Crew Blog.

4/5 stars


As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free book from AIMS in order to write this review. All opinions are my own.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Write With World (TOS Review)


We have subscribed to World Magazine and God’s World News in the past and have really liked the publications. I appreciated being able to read news written with a Christian worldview.

Now, the publishers of these magazines have published a new two-year middle-school writing curriculum with the goals of training students to become proficient communicators through their writing. This methodical curriculum covers 16 key lessons, including:

  • Reading images and advertisements
  • Comparative and critical reading of sentences, paragraphs, and essays
  • paragraphs
  • composing and linking sentences
  • creating focus and arranging ideas
  • linking paragraphs: transitions and logic
  • reporting facts
  • creating character
  • writing autobiography
  • writing fictional narrative
  • and much more

The student book includes short chapters written directly to the student in a conversational style that explain a concept with numerous examples. Each lesson concludes with a writing assignment. This might be to write a paragraph, to critique a paragraph or to write a sentence or list.

The program differs from others that I’ve seen in that it focuses heavily on analyzing short passages before the student is asked to do much writing. The student is asked to evaluate passages that are well written and others that are not very well written and to describe the reasons one is better than the other. The emphasis seems to be teaching students to understand what good writing looks like before they are expected to produce lengthy writing assignments themselves. Weekly assignments with a thesaurus are included, as are occasional grammar lessons. The assignments are short, but this keeps them from being overwhelming to a reluctant writer.

Emily seems to be enjoying Write With World and, while she hasn’t yet done a lot of actual writing yet with the program, I am hopeful that the curriculum will improve her writing skills.

Emily says:

I like this writing program because I learn a lot. I am learning how to use more descriptive words and phrases. I like it because it helps me write with great detail and use capitals and nouns and even pronouns. Write With World also teaches me to write so I  can create images in whoever reads my stories’ minds, make it descriptive so that people can picture the scene and what it looks like. I really love Write With World and hope that I will get to be a great writer someday.

The teacher’s book contains the entire student book as well as  notes in the margins that help the teacher in further explaining concepts and evaluating the assignments.

In September, a website will be added to the program. This site will provide an online publishing opportunity for students as well as additional writing assignments to supplement those provided in the book.

 Write With World will sell for $95 for year one. This includes the student and teacher books and annual website access. The complete two-year curriculum with two years of website access is $165.

To read more reviews of Writing With World, please visit the TOS Crew Blog.

5/5 stars


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received  free student and teacher’s books from God’s World Publications, Inc. in order to write this review. All opinions are my own.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

G is for Games


Our family has always loved board games. Over the years, we have accumulated a LOT of them. Many typical family/ party games have educational value…Scrabble and other word games, games that involve counting money (or even just counting spaces for little ones), or anything that uses the mind, like Scattergories, Pictionary, or Trivial Pursuit.

We’ve also purchased quite a few specifically educational games to supplement our home school. Here are just a few of them…


Elemento (Chemistry)

True Science (Trivia Game)

SomeBody (Human body)



Global Pursuit

10 Days in Africa, Asia, Europe games



Art Deck (Famous Artists rummy)

Rummy Roots (Greek and Latin roots)

The Play’s the Thing (Shakespeare)


Knights and Castles (Medieval History)

Hail to the Chief (Presidential Elections, US geography)


Additionally, I’ve made my own games to reinforce what we’re studying. This takes a bit of time, but it’s the perfect way to review exactly what we’ve learned. Games are always a welcome alternative to a test! I’ve published many of these at Currclick to share with others….


What are your favorite games?

I’m linking to Blogging Through the Alphabet at Ben and Me.