Monday, July 6, 2015

To The Sea by Graham Blanchard ~ A Review

We were lucky enough to receive a copy of this sweet little book for review. To The Sea, by Callie Grant, is a praise book, celebrating all the soul-pleasing wonders of God, such as the sea and all the creatures that live there. The pleasure of sinking your toes in the sand, walking along the beach and finding all the little creatures that call it home. Our natural response is to praise him for all the wonders He created. 

My daughter and I love sitting and reading this little book together, over and over. It has become one of her favorites at bedtime. If you have little ones who are coming to love the Lord, check out this book!

Graham Blanchard – the only publishing house that specializes in board books to help parents teach their kids about God from infancy – is releasing To The Sea (May 1, 2015), a board book that helps little ones feel like they are having their very own ocean-side experience. As children imagine the sights, sounds, feelings, and tastes evoked in the story, they can take part in one boy’s adventurous day there, with its surprises and rewards.

In Graham Blanchard’s Learn, Absorb & Praise™ Collection, To The Sea is a Praise book, which wonders at the miracles found in everyday life and praises the God who made them.

To The Sea was authored by writer, educational content developer and company founder Callie Grant, who started Graham Blanchard after struggling to find engaging children’s books for her young daughter on who God is and how she can be in a personal relationship with him. Artist Jeremy Tugeau, who also illustrated Graham Blanchard’s popular All of Me that You Can’t See, provided the luminous oil paintings for the book. Tugeau drew from his own experiences growing up with family trips to the sea and now taking his own children there.

This is the 11th title Graham Blanchard has released, including two gift sets.  All the titles have been very well received by outlets like Publishers Weekly, Foreword Reviews, CBA Retailers and Resources and more than 100 websites and blogs written by Christian parents. Graham Blanchard books were recently picked by the national chain Family Christian, and three of their titles are in the 260 stores across the country. 

Beyond books, Graham Blanchard provides online resources for parents, like a virtual prayer wall and downloadable Parent’s Guide for Children Growing Up in God, which maps out key areas of focus for moms and dads during the early formidable years. They also have downloadable tip sheets to go along with each of their books to help parents connect the text to a child’s everyday life and start meaningful conversations. The Graham Blanchard Mom Mentors, a panel comprised of popular bloggers and authors, tackles faith and parenting issues each month with candor and inspiration. 

Graham Blanchard Inc. is based in Austin, Texas, with a growing team of writers, editors, illustrators, parents and pastors. The company is passionate about providing the highest quality books and resources to promote a love of learning about God, in addition to supporting families with prayer and the shared experiences of other parents. Their books are distributed by STL, Ingram/Spring Arbor, and Anchor Distributors. For more information please

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Rancher Takes A Bride ~ Love Inspired Series ~ A Giveaway

The Rancher Takes A Bride is part of the Love Inspired Series from Harlequin. The Love Inspired product line is a series of 6 books that are released every month & only have a shelf-life of one month. 

In The Rancher Takes A Bride, Oregon Jeffries and her daughter Lilly, return to her hometown to start over. Little does she know just how much her life, and that of her daughter, is about to change.

She runs in to Duke Martin, a past love, and her daughter gets a job working in his restaurant.

You'll have to read the book to find out what happens next. ;-)

Just in time for Mother's Day, we're pleased to host a giveaway for a set of the Harlequin Love Inspired books!

One lucky winner will receive:

The Rancher Takes A Bride
The Single Dad Finds A Wife
The Doctor's Second Chance
Winning The Teacher's Heart
Bachelor To The Rescue
A Firefighter's Promise

These books are a wonderful, light read that even the busiest Mom can have the time to read!

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.”

Blessings and Good Luck!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Back To The Country

You know how they say "Make plans and God laughs"? 

Well, I'm sure He's having a good laugh at me. And my dad and grandpa are probably involved too.

When we moved in to this house three years ago, I saw us staying here for a while. But in recent months, my husband and children have been working on me to move to the country, and I always said no.

Until recently. My husband has been working with a friend of his from high school and they got to talking about living in the country. The friend mentioned that he has a house available. It's a homestead house, his great grandpa got the land in the Oklahoma Land Run. Hubs mentioned it to me one evening and immediately the kids were chanting "move to the country, move to the country". I was still saying no.

Then I started thinking about it.

Then we went and saw the house. And the decision was made. The house sits on 180 acres, with wide open land, and trees around, cows and horses nearby. A peach tree, apple tree and various grapevines. There's a storm cellar. And 30-40 deer come up in the front "yard" every morning. We can have a garden, and chickens..and who knows what else.

And while they're finishing up the remodeling, I'll be getting us packed up. It will be an adjustment for us, as we've been in the city for so long and close to all those conveniences of running to the grocery store for a forgotten item, being close to family and friends. But I also think it's going to be a good thing. The kids will be able to play outside without having to worry about cars hitting them as they ride their bikes, or someone snatching them up and taking off.

While it's out in the country, we're still about 12 miles from the closest big town. 

Country life, here we come...

Monday, April 13, 2015

First Start Reading ~ Memoria Press {TOS Review Crew}

Memoria Press Review
Memoria Press Review
Our latest review comes to us from Memoria Press and is their First Start Reading program. Created for the Kindergarten level, I've been using it with my daughter, who would technically be in 2nd grade if she was in public school.

We received the Teacher's Manual and 4 Student Books. You can purchase the entire set for $42.95, just the Student Set for $28.00 or individual items at $14.95 for the Teacher's Manual and each book for $7.00. They also have Kindergarten Lesson Phonics Lesson Plans for $8.00. We did not receive the Lesson Plans.

First Start Reading is a complete phonics course that focuses on three important skills your students need to learn.

1. Pencil grip and correct letter formation.
2. Mastering one sound for each consonant and vowel first.
3. Mastering short and long vowel sounds, 3 letter words and 45 common words.

It teaches vowel-consonant blending and word families, eliminating the need for most phonics rules. 

Book A has a total of 25 lessons. It begins with M, and progresses to I am, sentences with capital, sounds of /s/ and /i/, exclamation point, plural sounds, and ends with 3 stories. At the back there is a review and assessments of what they've learned in the book.

Book B has 26 lessons and starts with /l/, goes through short /i/ sounds such as it, fit, pin, rim and Tim. Then on to G, L, O, common CVC words with O, B, and D. There are short stories such as Mag's Pig, The Hot Pot and Dad's Bad Dog also. Ending with a review and assessment pages.

Book C has 33 lessons and goes through E, X, K, J, U, V, W. Y Z and Q. Works on words such as met, net, set, ox, sox, fox, keg, Kit, Kim, van, vet, wag, wax, yet, yes, zap, zig and queen. They also learn about see, for, some and them. There are 7 short stories in this book and it all rounds out with the review and assessment.

And finally, we come to Book D. It's the shortest of the books as it only has 12 lessons in it. It teaches long a, long i, long o and long u. Then Digraphs sh, th, ch and wh. (I don't remember teachers calling those digraphs in school, do you?) Final consonant blends, s-blends, r-blends and l blends. There are 6 stories in this book, and each lesson has its own assessment.

The Teacher Guide is full of helpful things, along with the lessons. It starts with an index of the lessons included in each student book, along with the page that lesson is on in the student book. There's also a Phonics Overview, Phonics Approach, tips for getting started and general teaching guidelines. They recommend that you do each lesson on the board, for homeschool you can use a smaller white board if you're just working with one student. That's what I do when working with my daughter.

It tells you what the workbooks teach, talks about correct pencil grip and checking it. You then get in to the Lesson Pages. It shows you what each page looks like and gives you a complete guide on what to say. So for those days when your brain might be a bit weary, you don't have to come up with the words on your own.

In the very back is the Appendix. It includes some small posters for you to use to help teach Left and Right and the difference in B and D. There are also posters for correct pencil grip in both left handed and right handed. And Vowel posters to put up on the wall.

While it may seem to you that this program might be a bit "young" for my daughter, she's actually enjoying it, and learning. While the program doesn't give you guidelines on how many lessons to do each day, we've been doing at least 2 per day, sometimes 3 depending on her mood.

All this being said, this is my last review for the TOS Review Crew. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be a part of this great group of homeschoolers/bloggers but God is leading me in another direction this year, and while I'll still be homeschooling, I did not want to get myself in a position of not being able to keep up with the reviews. Maybe someday in the future I will be able to return, but we shall see!

Make sure and check out the reviews of my fellow crew mates. They have reviewed First Start Reading and also New American Cursive.


Memoria Press Review
Crew Disclaimer


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lord Heritage - HomeSchool Office {TOS Review Crew}

HomeSchool Office Review
This review comes from Lord Heritage, it is their HomeSchool Office, an online lesson planning program. The cost is $79 per year, and they have a 30 day Trial you can try out to see if it works for you and your family.

When I worked outside the home, before children, I was always organized and able to multi-task. In the last almost 10 years, my brain has disappeared and the ability to do that has left me. The most challenging thing about homeschooling for me is the lesson planning, well, that and motivating my kids to actually do the lessons without fighting me every step of the way. But, I digress.

HomeSchool Office is based on 5 major points. Those points spell out POWER.


I'm going to go over the key points of each section with you, and will tell you how it worked for me.

PLAN  - In this section, you will plan out your subject goals and objectives. Then build your Master Schedule, set up lessons, projects and your budget.

ORDER - Here is where you schedule lessons, add in those home and school activities, set up reminders (don't we ALL need those?), and can add customized lists, such as for housekeeping, or maybe you work at home also.

WORK - There's that 4 letter word. In this section, you can allow your students access, so they can check off their completed lessons. You can also print schedules for your students, manage to do lists.

EVALUATE  - In Evaluate, you can manage your requirements for your state, if you have them, check to make sure your students are doing this lessons, keep track of hours and handling grading.

REPORT  - In Report, you can print the reports you have to send in to your state, and even generate transcripts for your older students who are applying for college.

Now, for the how it worked for me part.

While the Help section did help in some aspects, I still found it hard to get the program to work the way I wanted it to. That being said, it's not a bad program, I think I'm just better off at using paper and pen. The ability to print reports, transcripts is great, and if my children were to that stage, or if we had a state where we had to send in reports, that would be great to have. The process of inputting lessons, not being able to copy and paste, and having to have the particular information for each lesson was a bit daunting to me. Our days are often in a turmoil, and sometimes it's late in the day when we do lessons, other times it's in the mornings. Having to work at a set time just isn't working for us right now.

If you are better at planning, and especially online planning, this program would be a good fit for you. With the 30 day trial, you can check it out for yourself.

Make sure you check out the reviews by my fellow crew mates.

HomeSchool Office Review
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, March 19, 2015

GPALOVEMATH ~ Online Math Program - GPALEARN Review {TOS Review}

Critical Thinking Company Review
We recently had the opportunity to review GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN, an online math program for grades K through 5th. We received a one year subscription to 5 levels of the program.

Math was not my favorite subject in math, in fact, I was considered learning disabled because of my complete inability to do it. How I wish there had been something like GPALOVEMATH!

Each grade level of GPALOVEMATH has an animated character that helps your child through the lessons. Each lesson is broken in to three phases, Instruction, Practice and Quiz.

There are over 250 problems and 10,000 questions. If your child works on it 4-5 days a week, they could essentially complete a grade level in 10 months. If your child is at a level where they aren't quite reading on their own, they can click on the words of the problem, and the character will read it to them.

My daughter instantly fell in love. I had started her in the 2nd grade level, but decided to give the 1st grade level a try first. I knew she loved it when she was going to the computer, on her own, even when we weren't doing lessons, in order to do her math.

When you set up your child's account, you choose rewards for them to work towards. Things like stay up 30 minutes later, 5 minute tickle session, make cookies with Mom, etc. There are also rewards from companies like Toys R Us they can work towards, a $10.00 gift card they can use online or in a store. For those rewards, Mom or Dad has to approve it before the award is sent through the email. Depending on the amount of rewards you choose, your child would have to work a number of lessons before they receive it, such as 12 lessons to receive a reward for they choose dinner. The rewards from companies, are based on points they earn.

She's received the reward from Toys R Us, and within a day of approving it, it was in my email.

The three levels of passing ranks are Rockstar, Excellent and Good Job. I've been amazed and relieved at the level of Rockstar levels she has received. Not because I'm saying she's a genius, but because it's showing me that she's "getting it", and the program is helping her to learn math in a way I never did.

After every lesson she completes, I receive an email that she's completed another one. You, as the parent, can also navigate the lesson they worked on, giving you the ability to see what they did, and talk with them over what they learned, or had problems with if that's the case. You'll also receive an email at the end of the week with a summary of the lessons they completed.

If you're looking for a great math program, that's online, affordable and incredibly easy to use for both the parent and the child, I would HIGHLY recommend GPALOVEMATH. It's affordably priced at $149 a year, or $12.99 per month, per child.

GPALOVEMATH is compatible with PC, MAC, iPad and Galazxy Tab on a variety of browsers. We have a laptop and desktop PC's and have used it with Google Chrome without any issues.
Make sure you check out the reviews from my fellow Crew Mates, they've used a variety of grade levels.

GPA Learn Review

Crew Disclaimer



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Digital Science Online {Visual Learning Systems} ~ TOS Review Crew

Visual Learning Systems Review

Our latest review comes from Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12) from Visual Learning Systems. We received one year's access for our family.

Part of being a homeschool mom means I can teach my children how they learn. Whether they learn visually, auditory or kinesthetically, this program works for them. When the opportunity to review this came around, I knew my son would love it. Science is one of his favorite subjects and I knew we wouldn't have any problem finding an area he would enjoy.

Visual Learning Systems Review

The program includes numerous videos, graphics, animations and teacher resources that if I listed them all here, you'd need another cup of coffee. There are worksheets and learning objectives for each lesson, along with lesson related tasks and questions for your students to complete before they watch the videos.

On of the things I really loved was that the videos aren't lengthy, so I knew with his short attention span, he'd be able to get through them and I wouldn't have to hear "Mom, is it over yet?"  Ranging in length from 15-20 minutes, then including any work I did with him, I could easily get in about 45 minutes of lesson time with him working on Science. With subjects covering physical, earth, there was plenty for him to choose from. Between all the grade levels, there are over 250 lessons. You and your students have plenty to choose from, no matter their grade level.

With the videos being all online and accessible through any computer or tablet, the only downloads are the worksheets.

Each lesson starts with an intro video, and then there are several short videos relating to that lesson. No robotic voice for these videos, and they are close captioned if you need that option.

The worksheets are very in-depth; pre and post assessment, video reviews, quizzes, vocabulary and some general work. If your students are old enough, they can print the worksheets by themselves, freeing you up for other things.

If your student wants to get a little more in-depth, there are also short animations related to the lesson that they can watch.

The teacher resources are great too. You can download the entire guide for each subject in full, or just the parts you want your students to work on. Which is the option, I chose. It was easier than wading through the entire guide.

My son has reached the age where he's starting to want to do things on his own, so I decided to go that route for this review. It allowed him to choose the topic(s) he wanted to learn about, which seemed to change on a daily basis. If he wanted to learn more about space, he did. Or water, or plants, etc. He had no limit on to what he could learn.

Visual Learning Systems Review

Worksheets have never been a favorite of his, so we haven't used them much as far as him doing any work with them, but I would use them to ask him questions about what he had learned from the videos he watched. I do plan on implementing them in the future though.

There are enough worksheets to make a week's worth of work whether you do Science every day of the week, or just a few days. We do Science 3 days a week, and with this program, he didn't fight me when it was time to sit down and watch the videos. Although keeping up with his changing interests gave me a run for my money. Luckily, if he switched gears, it wasn't hard for me to find the worksheets or other materials I needed to download for us to use with the video.

If you're looking for a science curriculum for your family and videos are a plus, check out Visual Learning Systems Digital Science Online.

Don't forget to check out the reviews of my fellow Crew mates.

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Visual Learning Systems Review

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