Category Archives: Other Reviews

Heirloom Audio: Dragon & Raven Unit Study Curriculum {Review}

We recently reviewed Heirloom Audio‘s newest audio drama The Dragon and The Raven and LOVED it! So when Heirloom Audio asked if anyone was interested in reviewing their BRAND NEW unit study curriculum that corresponds with this audio drama – I couldn’t say “YES!” fast enough!

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I was excited when it arrived in the mail and I could get my hands on it and see exactly what it was with my own eyes. And … as typical for Heirloom Audio … they didn’t let me down! This study guide (as I’ll call it) is 8-1/2 x 11 and 117 pages. The pages are made of something slick and durable (I have no idea about paper so I’m not exactly sure what it is). It is full-color and VERY NICE. It is spiral bound which works WONDERFULLY as you are going through the different things with your kids. (As an added bonus, they sent us a “Live the Adventure Homeschool Adventure Family Planner” which is 79 pages of space for homeschool scheduling, meal planning, lists, book lists, and more.)

As a mom of boys, this is right up our alley! (I know girls like the audio production – based off reviews – so I’m sure they would like this too. But I’ll be posting as a mom of boys, which is what I am.) It covers so much it is amazing! Basically it covers all areas of the audio production in further detail – which is all about Medieval Times. So, if you are looking for something to supplement your Medieval Times learning – this would be it! (And, honestly, it might be enough to be an entire curriculum for this time period, depending on how much of the booklet you do.)

So, it covers:

Feudalism, Vikings, Writing, Weapons, Music, Storytelling, Latin, Poetry, Court Systems, Games, Ships, Mercy, Art, Math, and more!

Whew! It is a lot, but it doesn’t FEEL like a lot (and that is a good thing, in my opinion).

Each “section” has a little bit of an intro to what it is discussing. It then has different activities you can do. Some are looking up vocabulary, some are games, some are writing, some are researching … again, all areas of learning are covered! It also has activities for older or gifted students! Each section is about four pages.

So, one of the areas we really enjoyed was learning about feudalism.

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For this one we decided to use our iPads to look up vocabulary online. It was a nice opportunity to use it for an educational purpose.

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They had a “Feudalism Candy Simulation Game” that we kind of turned in to a general learning opportunity that allowed us to touch and visualize what feudalism meant. Who does the most work? Who, in the end, gets the most money? And things like that. It was a lot of fun and a nice visual for learning. We love fun ways to learn! In this, the peasants had 10 coins and had to pass 8 of them up to the Knights. The Knights had to pass 6 up to the Nobles and the Nobles had to pass 4 up to the King. (Although a smaller representation of reality it helped to really solidify what we were discussing.)

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Some questions they wanted us to answer:

Did “Learn the Adventure” meet your expectations? I would say, “YES! but … it not only met, but EXCEEDED my expectations!”

Would “Learn the Adventure” be a helpful addition to your teaching? I would say, “YES! Oh my gosh YES! There is NO DOUBT this is a teaching help!!” If so, how? It helps guide through many different subjects within the Medieval Times. It helps focus attention on important things, events and people. It offers suggestions of additional ways to learn as well as websites and other resources for additional learning.

For future editions of “Learn the Adventure”, would you add or subtract anything? I would say, “I definitely would not subtract anything. I would like to see more specific references within the guide that pertain to the audio drama as well as a little more specific instructions with the games. But overall, 99% of it I wouldn’t change a bit!”

Now, one thing I do not know is how much this will cost … so, I cannot share anything about that.

Thank you for this wonderful addition to your already amazing audio dramas Heirloom Audio, really, THANK YOU!

Here’s praying you enjoy the journey of learning!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this in exchange for my honest review. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

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Review & Giveaway ~ “A Plan in Place” Planner {High School}

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Organization is something we are working diligently on this year as it has been something lacking in previous years. I am feeling SO MUCH BETTER about this coming school year! It will be the first year I WILL NOT BE WORKING AT ALL!!! (Can you tell I am excited!?!?!) With this new motivation to be organized and focused on our year, I thought I would see if I could find a High School Planner for J as he seems to like to write down his assignments each day / week. Enter A Plan in Place‘s High School CUSTOMIZABLE Planner!

I would like to quickly open with the fact that A Plan in Place is owned by two homeschooling moms who started this business as a way to help others with their scheduling and planning needs. Isn’t that awesome!?!?!?!

So…for this review we received a CUSTOMIZABLE High School Planner as well as the “Small Activity Pack” as shown below.

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I have ordered several planners over our homeschooling years. Mostly for myself but I have ordered one for J in previous years. This planner is one of THE BEST I’ve ever seen! The planner itself starts at $19.99 – a competitive price.

When you place your order you have the choice of eight different color, laminated covers. J chose “Idea” as he felt it looked “schooly”. *grin* This is what you see when you open the cover. Notice the tabs on the right…LOVE!

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The “Goals & Planning” section contains: My Autobiography, Goals, Chores/Responsibilities, Time Schedule, Saving/Spending Plan, Graduation Pathway, Four Year Credit Plan, Long Range Planning, Course Detail and Curriculum/Supplies List.

At the time you place your order you can decide if you want a 12-month calendar section added for $0.99. We chose to have it added. This adds one page with all of the current years (one on each side front & back) as well as one-page per month of the year (you get to pick what month to start).

After that you get to choose your weekly schedule set up. THIS IS THE FUN PART! You can choose the “stock” schedule…or you can CUSTOMIZE for ONLY $4.99! (GO FOR CUSTOMIZED – SERIOUSLY!) When you choose to customize you first pick if you want a one-page or a two-page layout. Good thing I asked J what he wanted as he chose two-page (whereas I was going to choose one-page). So…NOW we get down to business…what subjects do you want listed on the left? What headings do you want across the top? Do you want weekends, or not? What is the students name? You get 40-weeks included in the planner.

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You can also put whatever Scripture or other verbiage would you like across the bottom. We chose this verse:

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What items do you want listed in the “Daily Checklist” and what “misc note” box headings do you want?

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Did I mention CUSTOMIZED!?!?!?! LOVE!!!

The “Notes & Record Keeping” section contains: Attendance Record, Activity Tracker, Field Trip Records, Book Journal, Grading Sheets, Progress Reports, Transcript Builder, several lined pages for notes and finally a year end review.

Finally you can decide if you want any pockets to hold things in the back. If you do you can add one or two for $0.99 each. (We chose to have two added.) We did not get to pick the color (which didn’t matter to us) and we received a blue one and a white one.

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Then the final decision you need to make is if you want an accessory pack. We chose to have the small accessory pack added which was a self-adhesive pen loop (so your pencil or pen can be easily kept with your planner! which was VERY EASY to put on!), a PaperMate pencil and two placement paperclips. LOVE these too! [You could definitely do without this pack but it is a fun addition.]

Would I recommend this to others? ABSOLUTELY! As a matter of fact I am tossing around the idea of buying the “Early Learning Edition” Planner for P! They also have a Student Planner, Teacher Planner and Summer Planner! Head over and check them out! You can find everything you need to know about how it works under their “Helpful Information” page.

I am SO EXCITED we found this planner and that we got to share this review with you! Now…you know the best thing? I GET TO OFFER ONE OF MY READERS A $25 GIFT CERTIFICATE for “A Plan in Place” so someone can order one of these amazing planners for themselves!! Enter below…

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Company “Shout Out” ~ Building Brilliant Minds Online, LLC

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I would like to take a moment to share about a company we have discovered that offers online lessons for Elementary, Middle School and High SchoolBuilding Brilliant Minds Online, LLC. Elementary / Middle is recommended for ages 5 – 12 and High School is for 13 and up.

Our experience with this company was their Homeschool Architecture class, which you can read about HERE. But since we started that class, she has expanded to what is now Building Brilliant Minds Online, LLC which offers several more classes than just the Architecture class we took (which was all that was offered at that time).

She is now offering the following classes:

  • Architecture
  • Biblical Fine Arts
  • Photography
  • Dance

She said all the classes have the same basic premise as the class we took…assignments are given, pictures are taken and submitted to her for review and then the next assignment is given. Personally, I *LOVED* the way she ran her class and based off our one experience I would definitely recommend her program to others. 

I am excited to see this company growing and I believe these classes will be a huge benefit to the homeschooling community! OH! And…they can be used by others who are NOT homeschooling as well…as “home / online” classes!

The classes range in price from $75 to $175 depending on Elementary or High School as well as which class type. All classes consist of nine lessons. Please understand that these lessons are COMPREHENSIVE…these classes are EXTREMELY thorough.

She is also generously offering a 25% discount for ANY class you register for by Friday, July 18, 2014…simply put “GUIDINGLIGHT” in the subject line when you contact her.

As an additional note, students that excel in her classes are offered the opportunity to join their National Art Honor Society groups.

I am very excited to have the opportunity to share this company with you and pray that your family will find a blessing from this information!

Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Diana Waring “Miracle Story” {History Through Music}

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As a member of the “Diana Waring Launch Team” I am VERY EXCITED to share this story with you. It is a story that she shared with us. My heart just BURST as I read her words. Due to that, I would like to share them with you…here is what she shared about the soon to be released “Experience History Through Music” book / cd sets:

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Sometime in the mid 1990s, the partnership that had produced “America,” “Westward Ho!” and “Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder,” decided that it was time to let a “real” publisher take over. So, we signed contracts with a company that was quite large in the homeschooling movement at the time. We were excited to have others taking over the day-to-day details, as I had moved from the Portland area to South Dakota, and this was going to make things so much easier for us all.

However, when this business went bankrupt in the late 1990s, something happened that was past my comprehension. I still don’t know why, but when they declared bankruptcy they simply threw everything in the dumpster—including our masters. When I heard this, it utterly devastated me. These wonderful projects were gone, and to reproduce this again seemed too hard without the audio masters. Between having to start over from scratch with all of the images and graphic design and having no audio masters, I thought the entire project was gone forever.

People would ask us about them from time to time, as they had read about them, or heard of them, or had owned the original cassette tapes, but we always told them sadly, “I don’t think they will ever come back into print.”

Then, several years ago, Gena Suarez of The Old Schoolhouse contacted me to see if we might have any remaining stock of this product. She had heard of a family who had gone through a fire and lost everything, and her company was trying to help them rebuild their lives. I guess that the mom specifically talked about these American folk music in history books/audios, and this prompted Gena’s call to me.

I contacted the former partner who owned the recording studio to see if he, perchance, had somehow saved the audio files to digital. At the time, “T” was quite busy with other things, but he told me that he thought he might have saved a FEW songs. Since it didn’t sound promising, I thought it was probably a dead end. And I was sad all over again. It seemed like such a waste of a really fun product, that families had thoroughly enjoyed for years! And, of course, these were the first books I had ever written. . .

Why I tried again two years ago is a mystery to me. I just took the notion to contact T once more and ask if he had discovered whether or not he had saved any of the songs. This time, as we talked, T realized that there were possibly some ways he could “pull out” the recordings from the antiquated DAT machines. However, he was in the midst of some medical issues, and was not sure how much time he would have to devote to the project.

It took two years. And then, suddenly, I had an email in my inbox. The songs had ALL been digitally restored, remastered for CD, and were ready to go!! I could hardly believe my eyes. After fifteen years, these products were going to have a new life.

I can hardly describe what this means to me, personally. But, maybe I can share with you what happened a few months ago to illustrate. Our business phone rang one day, and a woman began excitedly talking to my husband. As he heard what she was saying, he suggested that I would like to hear her story directly. When I took the phone, this is what she said:

“Diana, I met you fourteen years ago at a convention. When I told you that our family absolutely LOVED ‘Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder,’ you told me what had happened when the publisher threw your masters away. You asked me to pray that somehow it would all be restored. . . And, I have been praying!! Each time I walked by the cassette tape, I was reminded to pray. . . for FOURTEEN years!!”

She went on to say that she had just read on social media that the products were coming back into print, and she was so excited to see that her prayers were finally being answered. Together, we shared a few tears and a few amazed words of joy at what was taking place before our very eyes.

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I absolutely LOVE this story…and it feels so wonderful to be able to share it with you!

If you are interested in learning more about these soon to be released book/cd sets…there will be a Facebook Launch on Tuesday, July 1st. Join us! [And be watching for my soon to be coming review!]

Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Review ~ eMeals

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I had the pleasure to review eMeals which is an automated online meal planning program. If you have the desire to have a plan for what your family will eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts (or one, two, three or all four of these!) then this is the program for you! I was provided a one year subscription to the dinner meal plan to review so that is the only part I will be covering.

I have to admit this thing is pretty amazing! First you get to pick your meal plan. They offer THIRTEEN DIFFERENT eating plans…at least one of these will fit just about every family eating style:

  1. Classic
  2. Clean
  3. Gluten Free
  4. Low Calorie
  5. Low Carb
  6. Low Fat
  7. Mediterranian
  8. Paleo
  9. Portion Control
  10. Simple Gourmet
  11. Slow Cooker Classic
  12. Slow Cooker Clean
  13. Vegetarian

Once you pick your eating plan you can often pick your grocery store! They offer: Aldi, Costco, Kroger, Publix, Ralphs, Safeway, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods and “any other”. This is such an amazing help and a very neat addition to this program. They really seem to want to help provide you with EVERYTHING you will need.

Not only do you get a meal plan – main dish AND sides… (and cooking instructions and meal preparation times!)…

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…but you also get a grocery list!

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And changing from one plan to another is SUPER EASY! I was REALLY excited about this part. I thought (1) it may not even be possible and (2) that if it was it would be difficult. To my surprise and happiness – it was VERY EASY! And with immediate results!

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Another wonderful benefit…you can click the check box that says to send it to you in an email! Everything right at your finger tips without any extra work. Seriously. Amazing and impressive!

Now…for cost. Here is the breakdown:

  • Dinner (provides seven meals per week): $58/year
  • Lunches (provides five per week): $4/month
  • Breakfast (provides five per week): $3/month
  • Desserts (provides three per week): $3/month

And one last thing to mention…cooking their meals their way does tend to cost more than what I would normally use or spend but I also am not very “exciting” when it comes to our meals.

Have a wonderfully blessed day!

 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this in exchange for my honest review. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

Review & Giveaway ~ Glint {Soy} Candles

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Do you have a love for scented candles, like I do? I was super excited to be asked to do a review and giveaway for Glint Candles and I was even more excited when it showed up! In my opinion, presentation matters. It makes a difference to me if something “looks nice” and if it doesn’t. Glint Candles have a WONDERFUL presentation! My candle arrived in a Glint Candles box with a Glint Candles stamped lid. The seal is very well made and the candle smells AMAZING! Glint Candles gets 100% for presentation!

For me, I love “heavy scent” candles…candles I can smell when they are burning. I know different people have different opinions about that and I cannot say how all the different “flavors” from Glint are but I can share that I LOVE the fact that I can smell my wonderful candle burning. It is a light scent, not overpowering, perfect. I chose their “Valentine Special” which is a…

“lovely cherry blossom paired with sweet apple, delicate hydrangea and just a splash of peach. Making this the perfect combination, reminiscent of young summer romance.” (as per their site)

This is how Glint Candles got started (taken directly from their site):

“Years later, this chica dropped out of nursing school to launch a new eco-friendly concept store and decided to introduce her candles to the world at her little shop. They were stylishly presented, smelled like heaven, and best of all, were refillable once burned since the candles were made in-house {eco-friendly shop = planet friendly candles}.”

They offer four types of natural soy wax candles: quarter pound, half pound, one pound and custom.

  1. The first is the quarter pound which is a 5.5 oz tumbler that can come in 13 different scents. These run $11.99.
  2. Then the half pound which is currently available in 14 different scents with particular seals shown. Approx 70 burn hours. These cost $17.99.
  3. The ONE POUND which is also available in in the 14 scents with seals. Approx 120 burn hours. These run $27.99.
  4. And finally ~ CUSTOM ~ which are only available for the half pound and the one pound. You get to choose your scent and your seal! There are 13 different seals (or stamps) you can choose from which consist of things like animals, bikes and other misc. items.

I really respect a company that gives you “tips” – which Glint Candles does! They tell you about trimming the wick, creating a wax pool, and more…to me this shows they care about their customers and their product! I love the fact that each of the glass containers can then be reused!

And now I am SUPER EXCITED to share that I get to offer one custom one pound candle to one of my readers…WOOT!

Please enter below for your chance to win a ONE POUND CUSTOM (seal and scent) candle!

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Review ~ Youth Digital, Mod Design 1

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We had the AMAZING opportunity to review Youth Digital‘s Mod Design 1 class. This is an ONLINE class geared toward students between 8 and 14 (Grades 3 – 8) which offers learning code (Java) to do mod designing in Minecraft. Your first question might be “What is a mod?” A mod is a modification is adding what you want to Minecraft.

With that, this program offers twelve modules covering the following…

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…as you can see it covers A LOT!

The first thing you need to do for the class is download and connect all the separate pieces…which is actually VERY easy to do. Then, the student logs in and works away! The guy in the videos (Justin) does a GREAT job of keeping the kids attention…he moves around a lot and talks fast and is really funny!

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As the student works through each module they are told to pause, go work on their assignment and then come back. Everything about this program is VERY WELL thought out and put together!

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There is testing at the end of each module so as to confirm your child is actually learning (and not just having fun!).

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After each module they have a review. You get points for each question you answer which goes to a “points store” that goes toward a code that can be added to the mod. For instance, the first one you get is a lightening sword so once you put it in and you go in to Minecraft and hit a mob, a lighting strike comes down. (FUN STUFF!!!)

Here is a screen print of my son and his sword in the “programming stage”:

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And then here is is sword in Minecraft:

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Although my son is above the “suggested age range” this class has been WONDERFUL for him to see how computer programs are put together and how you can change things. And he LOVED it!

The portal is easy to get around and find what you need. There are screens that open that tell the students where they are in their learning as well as places to see what scores they got.

I asked my son his thoughts and this is what he shared:

  • They are easy step by step instructions.
  • Because they are videos you can go back and watch it again, if needed.
  • Justin makes it more enjoyable by adding jokes.

The customer service within the class is amazing! You simply shoot them an email and they respond quickly back (normally within a couple hours).

From Youth Digital:

In the process of creating their own Mod, students learn the most important concepts of object-oriented programming. They learn how to instantiate new objects, call methods, define parameters, and run loops all in the service of adding new features and functionality to their final project.

Would we recommend this class to others? YES! As a matter of fact we already have! I have shared about this program all over different forums I am in as well as all over Facebook. Now…the one downfall (in my opinion) is the price…it is a bit on the pricey side. HOWEVER…at the time of this posting you can get it through Homeschool Buyers Co-Op (which is FREE to be a member) for 40% off (through 2/17)! I HIGHLY SUGGEST you check it out!

Have a wonderfully blessed day!

 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this in exchange for my honest review. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own.