Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mapelle Films- A Review

The story of the Prodigal Son has always been one that intrigued me. It is a story that I have studied and visited more than once. When I heard about Trust Fund, a movie by Mapelle Films. I was excited to see this modern day version. I was even blessed with the opportunity to review the book Love Was Near that is a companion to the movie! I stalked the mailbox for the delivery. I could not wait to get started watching and reading!

Trust Fund Movie
In the movie, we are introduced to sisters, Audrey and Reese. Audrey the older of the two sisters works for their father in the family owned publishing company. She is meticulous, organized, and completely in control of life.  Reese, the younger sister, is a writer, a free spirit, completely the opposite in every way of her older sister. 

This modern day twist on the story of the Prodigal Son left me evaluating what life have been like for older sister. Being the oldest myself, I found myself frustrated at Reese and her flippant behaviors and even commented several times about how sin has consequences! I struggled with how easy it seemed to be for Reese to come back to her old life and have Daddy forgive.  

The Lord did not let me dwell on that thought long before reminding me of His never failing grace and the many times I have been saved from the consequences of my sins. Even now the verse in Micah 6:8 is ringing in my ears:
"He has shown you, O man, what is good; 
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God?"
Loving mercy isn't always easy for me, walking humbly can be even harder! This movie definitely got to my heart. I am still working through some of the 'unfair' feelings that probably plagued the older sibling in both the Bible and in the movie 'Trust Fund.'

Love Was Near Book

Along with the movie came a book written by Sandra Martin, "Love Was Near." This book is made to read after the movie and is intended for ages 12 and up. It is made to seem as if it were written by Reese as a behind the character kind of story, like a diary kept of her life. We get a few more details about her past. I gained more understanding and sympathy for this young girl and all that she had been through.  

There are self reflection questions at the end of each chapter to help you evaluate how you would feel or react to the situations that are presented by 'Reese.'  I definitely found myself having moments of self reflection with the questions. 

Also available, is a downloadable study guide intended for small groups to help dig deeper. It begins with a character outline. Each session includes a section of the Bible verses in Luke about the Prodigal son and connects it to the movie. It then has a section to "Dig In" to the situation, a "Deep Thoughts" section to get you thinking about the story from a different angle, and finally a "What Do You Think?" This asks tough questions, ones that maybe don't get answered out loud, but more a nugget to chew on and process. I think this would be a great addition to a youth group or girl's study to help teach the story of the Prodigal Son from all perspectives.  

Mapelle Films
You can connect with Mapelle Films online:
Other members of the Crew received a copy of the movie and book as well. You can read their thoughts by clicking the link below:

Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Very First Family Vacation!

A few weeks ago we went on our very first family vacation. Yep! You read that right. Our younger 3 kiddos have never even stayed in a hotel! Daddy T and I decided that it was past time for us to take off for a weekend, and so we did!

I thought that I would share some of our pictures from our fun-filled weekend! I hope that you enjoy!

This is not the very first picture, but it is one of the few with all of us in it!

We all love riding rides! Here are a few of those moments captured!

The littles enjoyed the pool as much as they did the park!

On our last day we were able to go through a cave. The kiddos loved it! It was so neat to see the beauty that was hidden 500 feet below the surface.

We enjoyed getting to spend time as a family. It was a weekend filled with memories that I hope last a lifetime. Now, I am beginning to focus on planning school for next year. I am actually excited about starting Classical Conversations next month.  I hope you are having a fun summer vacation! 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Home School in the Woods- Time Travelers American- A Review

Home School in the Woods
Several months ago we were given the opportunity to review Home School in the Woods for the very first time. We were chosen to review their HISTORY Through the Ages Projects Passport World History Study: Ancient Greece. Popper was obsessed with Ancient Greece at that time and it was a fantastic way to learn all about it with a hands-on approach! So, when Home School in the Woods came up again, it was a no-brainer! This time we were chosen to review The American Revolution in their Time Travelers American History studies! 
The Time Traveler American has seven different titles available:
New World Explorers
Colonial Life
The American Revolution
The Early 19th Century
The Civil War
Industrial Revolution
World War II
 photo TheAmericanRevolutionCover-WithCD_zpsitfiwg6n.jpg

We received a digital download of The American Revolution. This contains 25 lessons. Their website says that these lessons are best stretched across a 5-10 week period. I had originally planned to finish one lesson per week. However, some lessons took longer and that was perfect! I wanted to let the kiddos enjoy learning and get the most out of each one. Of course, as usual there is so much great stuff available from penmanship practice pages, a notebook timeline, recipes, file folder games, 3D projects and much more! We love all the hands-on activities that are included with Home School in the Woods. Look at all the great projects included in The American Revolution study:

Time Travelers American History Study: The American Revolution

 I thought this would be a great way to help introduce more early American history to the Crunchy Kiddos before we begin Classical Conversations next month. I wanted them to have some knowledge that they could add to throughout the year.

Daddy T and Popper started by making the three-dimensional replica of Jamestown while I prepped the timeline. Popper enjoyed getting the extra time learning with Daddy (who is usually at work while we are doing our history). He was very concerned when we talked about slavery and informed me that he would have been a nice slave owner who allowed them their freedom. 

One of our favorite activities was the Mayflower Compact. This was something we had learned about a few weeks ago as we were reading. So when it was reintroduced here, the kiddos already knew what it was. That made this project even more enjoyable for all of us.  The instructions said to print it on ivory or parchment paper. Since I didn't have either, we decided to make it look old. We printed it on regular white paper, used tea bags and a lighter to age the paper. Popper was as pleased with the outcome as I was!

I decided to have Popper work on the handwriting pages. He has been learning cursive for this past year. I really liked that these pages were quotes from William Bradford, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and several other famous people from this time period. I thought this was a great way to introduce him to fantastic quotes and allow him to practice more extensive cursive work. 

All of us in the Crunchy Household are all visual learners, so, timelines are a hit with us. We are especially fond of the ones from Home School in the Woods. They always include great images for each date to help us remember what was happening.  It is a very nice visual aid that we will continue to add to as we progress through the study! 

We are loving The American Revolution study so much. The kiddos and I are learning so much about our history. Popper informed me today that he was so thankful that he was born in a time and country that allows him to worship God freely! I love that, even at 8, he is learning to appreciate his freedoms!  

I have a great announcement to share with you! Home School in the Woods has just announced their new A-La-Carte! There are over 50 projects available with more being added! These are activities such as historical games, timelines and art activities that can be added to a history unit to make it more hands-on! I love this! I already have 2 file folder games in my cart to use this next school year! An added bonus, if you use use the code alacarte at the check out you can get the Erie canal project for free to help celebrate 200 years since the beginning of the canal!

You can connect with Home School in the Woods on social media:

Home School in the Woods had several products available to help make learning history hands-on and fun! Members of the Crew had the opportunity to review a few of these you can find several of the following product reviews:

Lap-Paks including their new Make-A-State! Also included are:
U.S Elections
20th Century in America
Wonders of the World
Benjamin Franklin
Activity Paks which include: 
Old Testament 
New Testament
Timeline Trio (Which I want for our classroom!) 

More of the Time Travelers American including:
New World Explorers 
Colonial Life
More reviews of The American Revolution
The Early 19th Century 
The Civil War 
Industrial Revolution through Great Depression
World War II

You can read all about these great products and how different members used them in their homeschool by clicking the link below:

Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Hewitt Homeschooling: My First Report- A Review

 My First Reports
Set of Fourteen
Popper's group at Classical Conversations give presentations each week. I wanted a way to help make these educational. I knew that I wanted him to be allowed to choose his topic, but I wanted it to be topics that he had to learn about, not just stuff he already knew. I was very excited when I found out about My First Report by Hewitt Homeschooling

My First Report is a a set of 14 unit study topics that you can choose from, each of these have a variety subtopics. I knew this could be a bit overwhelming for Popper so, I allowed him to choose 4 main topics. His choices were Music, The Solar System and Space, Famous People, and Marine Life.  

When I received our 4 choices in the mail, I was in shock! These are so much more than I had originally thought. There are 10-12 sub-topics in each packet. Here is a list of the 4 we chose with their sub-topics:

Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Francis Scott Key, Violins, Trumpets, Pianos, Drums, Music Notation, Rhythm, Songs, and Groups

Famous People:Christopher Columbus, Martin Luther, Rembrant, Isaac Newton, Susanna Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Clara Barton, Booker T Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Alva Edison, and Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Solar System and Space: Earth's Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Earth's Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Asteroids Comets and Meteors

Marine Life: Sponges, Jellyfish and Coral, Sea Animals with Shells, Octopuses and Squids, Crustaceans, Sea Stars, Fishes, Sea Animals, Sharks and Rays, Dolphins, Sport Fishes, Aquarium Fishes, and Sea Horses

These can be studied individually or the packets include all the resources that you would need to teach as a complete unit study. These unit studies cover Bible, History/Geography/Social Studies, Reading, Language, Math, Science/Health, Physical Education, Music, Art, Field Trips, and Extra Resources. You could easily use one sub-topic per week and make one packet last a full quarter! 

My First Report is geared towards grades first through fourth, but I believe that they can easily be adapted to younger or older students with a few tweaks. There are reproducible masters to write the reports, each one has varying sized lines to accommodate all different ages and writers.  

We chose to use these as a way to teach Popper to research and write simple presentation style reports. Popper decided to start with The Solar System and Space. His sub-topic was 'Asteroids, Comets and Meteors.'  He collected several book from our home library to begin his research. 

I had Popper search for answers to the listed questions. This began a lesson in using indexes and glossaries to aid in searching larger books. We were also able to practice his dictionary skills as he came across words that he didn't know.  There were a few of the questions that our books couldn't answer. We worked together on searching online for the answers. This opened up topic of internet safety. I was amazed at all the learning that was taking place! Popper was loving every minute of it!

Popper still struggles with writing in large amounts. I was concerned about him getting discouraged about completing an entire report based on his findings. I decided instead to use the information collected and work on writing complete sentences. This worked out really well for him and he was still able to give a presentation to Daddy T. 

Popper's next choice was from Music. He wanted to learn more about Beethoven. Once again he gathered his materials and collected books from our home library. This time he didn't need my help as much as last time! I was able to watch and enjoy the learning that was happening.

These are a great way to spark interest on particular topics and get your child started learning. Popper has decided that he wants to learn more about Marine Life this week. We are heading to the library to check out books on octopuses later today. I think I may follow the unit study on this topic and pull the younger two in as well. There are some great Bible verses to learn and a trip to our local aquarium to tie in! 

Hewitt Homeschooling
You can connect with Hewitt Homeschooling online:


Other members of the Crew reviewed products from Hewitt Homeschooling as well. These products included Elementary, Junior High, and High School Literature Sets. You can read all about these great sets as well as how the Crew used them by clicking the link below:

Hewitt Homeschooling {Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Real Life Lessons

I know that I have been absent for a few weeks now, but I have learned a whole new meaning of the word busy with the addition of 2 beautiful children to our home. Sweet Pea is a 4-year-old little girl and her little brother Roo who is 8-weeks-old have joined our clan and have reminded this momma the true meaning of busy! 😊 There obviously isn't much I can share with you regarding these sweet babies that we are privileged to get the opportunity to love on. However, I have learned a thing or two this past month that I would like to share with you.

1. That first week was tough. I knew it would be, but I severely underestimated it! As I was whining to God about how hard this was one morning, I was reminded that this was a mission field and that it wasn't meant to be easy.  I thought about all the support that lived within a 5 mile radius of us. I then thought about all the foreign missionaries that live thousands of miles from anyone they know, in a country that is very different from their home. My prayers for missions changed that day. I gained a new respect for people who leave everything familiar behind to share the gospel!

2. I don't like grace, unless it is for me! I love to quote that I am saved by grace. When I fail, I love to remind myself and others of the grace found in Christ. However, when a bio parent fails again and again, I get impatient with a 'lax system.' I call it broken and begin to pass all sorts of judgement that is simply not mine to pass. God once again reminded me of that He sent Jesus to die for them too, and that He sent me to share that with these parents and children. PS there is no way that I can share Him if I am judging them! 
Now, I pray for them, that they could come to know that grace that is so sweet and amazing!

3. My babies were a cake walk! To all you mommas out there who have battled colic, I apologize! From the bottom of my heart, you sweet ladies, with the patience of Job, deserve a reward! I know there has to be a special crown in Heaven for you! Colic is AWFUL!!! Daddy T decided last night that a baby crying on an endless repeat is how we should interrogate criminal. He swears they would fess up every single time! (I think he's probably right!) 

4. People are RUDE! I now have 7 beautiful children that God has given me to raise and teach about Him and I love it! However people think that it is their business of how many children I have and if I know what causes them! I am appalled by the rude remarks that have been directed at us over the last 2 weeks. When did we as a nation forget that children are a precious gift from above? 

5. That I covet prayers more now than I ever have. I need His strength every single second of every day. I need to lean on Him in the wee hours of the morning when I am running on no sleep and holding this sweet baby boy. I need to remember why I am doing this when there is milk spilled, a baby crying, the phone ringing and 4 hungry children waiting on me. 

This is not an easy path, but I knew that it wouldn't be. I am not sharing all this for sympathy, but for perspective. Sometimes this road can seem lonely, like I am the only one walking here. I know that there are more of us out there, more called to loving someone else's child for today (because tomorrow is not promised). I want you to know, if that is you, that you are not alone. I cherish you my fellow foster parents! I pray for you too. That the Lord would help you to rely on His strength that is so perfect in your weakness! This verse is for you:

Galatians 6:9 (NIV) 
"And let us not become weary in doing good,
 for at the proper time we will reap a harvest 
if you do not give up."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Adventures of Rush Revere- A Review

I must have been living under a rock, but I have just recently learned about a series of books that teach about American history: Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh. After learning about this series, I was so excited to find our that we had been chosen to review all 5 books in the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series

On box day I was impressed with how beautiful these books are! The came just like you see above, wrapped together and tied with a blue satin ribbon! The beauty didn't stop there: the pages of these book are full color! Seriously! The pictures are both fun and historical. I knew that these would be a winner in the Crunchy Household! 

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and his wife Kathryn Adams Limbaugh wrote this fantastic series of books about a substitute history teacher named Rush Revere and his talking horse, Liberty. Together they use time-travel to teach the classroom full of students about American History.  There are 5 books in all that each cover a different part of history.

Book 1: "Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrim" Here we join Rush, Liberty and their student, Tommy as they travel back in history to learn more about the pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. I was impressed to see an actual copy of the Mayflower Compact in the book! As we were reading this fun fictional book we were actually learning about key parts of American History. 

Book 2: "Rush Revere and the First Patriots"  Rush and Liberty take more students along as they rush, rush into history and learn about key people like Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere (Rush's favorite) and Samuel Adams. We see the beginnings of the revolt against England as the colonists get tired of all the unfair taxing by King George. Posters from The Sons of Liberty and newspapers of the day are used to bring history to life. 

Book 3: "Rush Revere and the American Revolution" The rebellion is getting intense as Rush and Liberty along with students, Tommy, Freedom, and Cam visit soldiers during the American Revolution. 
There is a special moment with Cam's dad in present day. He is a American soldier fighting in Afghanistan. I thought this was a great way to tie history to present for the kiddos!

Book 4: "Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner" 1787-1814 are years filled with key people in our history. In this great book we learn about the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the people who helped form the basis of our democracy. 

Book 5: "Rush Revere and the Presidency"  One of the students decides to run for student president. What better way to learn about presidents than time-traveling to meet the first 3 presidents of the newly free America?! In this great adventure we learn how hard those first few years as a new nation were. 

Each night before bed Daddy T read a chapter to the kiddos. It became a highlight of our day. The kiddos loved hearing all the crazy situations that the time-traveling crew got into. Their favorite was Liberty and his constant eating! With us starting cycle 3 of Classical Conversations this fall, this was a perfect read aloud to help us prepare to learn more about early American history!

I also discovered that there is a Homeschool Depot on their website compete with study guides and fun activities to go along with each book. 

These books are a great resource for any family to introduce American History to their kids in a laid back, fun way!

Adventures of Rush Revere

Adventures of Rush Revere
You can connect with Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh online on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew received copies of the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series too. You can read their thoughts by clicking the link below:
Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Whistlefritz- A Review

The Crunchy Kiddos have always loved learning Spanish. Most of the programs that I have found tend to be for upper elementary kids and leave my younger two out. You can imagine their excitement when I found out we were chosen to review Whistlefritz's Educator's Spanish Collection. This program is geared specifically towards children 1-7 years old!
Whistlefritz Spanish

We received the Educator's Spanish Collection which includes 5 DVDs, 3 music CDs, Spanish Matching Cards, and Spanish Lesson Plans For Kids book. The lesson plans are broken into 40 lessons that include activities and conversation dialogue for practicing. The lesson book tells you when to incorporate the DVDs, CDs, and cards to help reinforce learning. 

The kiddos were excited when we got our box in the mail. They didn't want to wait to watch the videos. So of course, I allowed them to watch one right away. Brother Bear was mesmerized. He sat staring and trying to repeat the words he was hearing. Sister was not a fan. She didn't understand and therefore was not interested in watching anymore. 

I set out to plan our week using the lesson plan book provided. 

First off, I want to say I took 2 years of Spanish in high school and also went on a mission trip to Mexico where we ran a Vacation Bible School for the local children. So, I have some basic conversational Spanish knowledge. That being said, I was completely lost when I started reading the Teacher Input on Lesson 1. It sounded and looked so different than anything I had ever seen or heard. As I researched I found out that it is a very formal version of Spanish. I adjusted some parts to make it more conversational and less formal when teaching my kiddos because I want them to be able to communicate naturally.

We started Lesson 1 making puppets to use in our Independent Practice. The kiddos loved this part! Anything crafty makes them happy, but getting to use the craft as part of school is a definite win!

I found out that there are free printable homeschool lesson plans on their website that are not as complete as the book, but differ slightly. I printed those off to try as well. I have to say, the book is a more complete educational experience, but the free printable ones were more the style of learning that I was expecting. 

I felt that the printable plans used the DVDs and CDs in a more user friendly way. We were able to follow along better with how things were supposed to work. They also required less prep time for me. 

The overall idea of this program is perfect. I think there are a few things that could make it more user friendly. I wish the DVDs were able to skip to scenes or chapters to find the corresponding scenes for each lesson. The way that the lesson plan book uses the DVDs, it made it difficult to find what we were supposed to watch at times. I also wish the book was more like the printable plans. They were much easier to follow, in my opinion. 

Whistlefritz Spanish

The kiddos enjoyed the fun music and colorful videos. It helped keep them engaged more as they began to learn vocabulary. Even Sister began to enjoy the videos once she understood what was being talked about. 

Whistlefritz Spanish

This would be a perfect fit for a family of younger learners who would like to have a bilingual approach to teaching. The Lesson Plan book is a cross-curricular style lessons and therefore tended to be almost too much for our family. However, if you were looking for more of an all inclusive style Spanish curriculum, this would be a great fit for you. 


You can connect with Whistlefritz online:

Other members of the Crew were given the chance to review both the Spanish and French Collections. You can read about their experiences by clicking on the link below:

Spanish and French {Whistlefritz Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Memoria Press: Prima Latina- A Review

Memoria Press
Recently we were chosen to review Prima Latina Complete Set by Memoria Press. I thought this would be a great way to help Popper get a head start on Latin before he began Classical Conversations in the fall. He was excited to learn it too.

Prima Latina Complete Set

We received the Complete Set of Prima Latina which includes a DVD with instructions for each lesson by a Latin teacher, a CD which includes a pronunciation guide, songs, and prayers used in the lessons, flashcards, a Teacher's Manual and a Student's book. Prima Latina is the first level in the Latin studies by Memoria Press and is for first through third graders.  Even though Popper will be in fourth grade in August, I decided to start with Prima Latina as his foundation. Their Latin programs all build on one another so he will be able to move to Latina Christiana with confidence when he is finished.

There are 26 lessons included in Prima Latina. We worked one lesson per week. On Mondays Popper watched the instruction video on the laptop. This was so valuable to me. I have never learned Latin and therefore did not have the first clue as to how to teach him. No problem! The DVD has all the lessons taught by a teacher, Leigh Lowe. In the student workbook there is a page that correlates with each lesson so that Popper could have a visual of what was being taught.  Each week covers 5 areas: Practical Latin, the actual lesson (this is where the grammar to taught), Vocabulary, Latin Prayers, and Derivatives. 

On Wednesday Popper worked on half his workbook pages that went with that weeks lessons. Each week has review questions about the previous weeks to help with mastery, questions about the current lesson, a section to translate the week's vocabulary words, Speaking Latin (which is where the pronunciation CD comes in), Write and Learn, and fun practice.  Though it looks like a lot, it wasn't overwhelming. Popper actually enjoyed his workbook time. There were a few times when he couldn't remember the answer to a specific question. It was so nice that he was able to go back and watched the video to remind him. 

Fridays were spent completing the Speaking Latin portion of the workbook while listening to the pronunciation CD and working with flashcards. We used this day to make sure that we both knew the vocabulary words and how they were pronounced before we moved on the the next lesson the following Monday. 

I was so shocked to see how much Latin really did help with English grammar. I am learning just as much as Popper as we work through the lessons. I appreciate that this is a gentler approach to learning Latin. I think it is a great way to ease into the language. Memoria Press' website said that this is perfect for children who are reading comfortably. Popper is 8 and reading on a third grade level, but I think this was a perfect fit for him. 

You can connect with Memoria Press online:

Other members of the Crew reviewed this and other great products from Memoria Press both Latin and Science. You can learn more about these by clicking the links below:

Latina Christiana Complete Set
First Form Latin Complete Set
Second Form Latin Complete Set
Third Form Latin Complete Set
Fourth Form Latin Complete Set

The Book of Trees
Nature's Beautiful Order

 Also you can read about the Crew's experiences using each one of these products by clicking the link below:

Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer