Monday, November 16, 2015

MercyMe It's Christmas! CD - A FlyBy Promotions Review & GIVEAWAY

I love the sentiment of Christmas and the entire holiday season.  Despite growing up in a very financially poor home I have very fond memories of the Christmas season.  It's a time to more acutely focus on the things that matter most; the little things.  Maybe at least in part that is why I love the winter so very much.  Yes, I am one of those peculiar individuals that will merrily answer, "Winter!" when asked, "What is your favorite season?"


What is not to like?

There is magic in winter, a simple joy that exists in none of the other seasons, and I have been blessed to call a region home for most all of my life that has four distinct season.  Yes, it IS a blessing!  Without winter there would be no snowmen, hot cocoa, crackling fires, cute hats, snow angels, dogs flinging flakes with their noses, and Christmas just wouldn't quite feel the same.  One of the most beautiful side effects of winter and Christmas time, I believe, is seasonal music.  I have loved Christmas music ever since my mom introduced us to John Denver and The Muppets all those years ago.

My last experience with a Pizza Ranch original CD was so joyous that I couldn't resist the opportunity to review their latest CD, MercyMe, It's Christmas!  This is BY FAR my most favorite Christmas CD ever.

No joke.

I 100% absolutely LOVE this CD!!!

I would gladly share with you my favorite song if I could actually choose one.  It really is that good.  It's crankable!  (I'm a blogger.  I can make up words.) Really!  This is a full of energy, praise, joy, harmony, and power.  It evokes emotion, commands your accompaniment (you cannot help but sing along), and puts your focus on the reason for the season.  Despite this being a Christmas CD I could seriously listen to this year round.  I've got no problem playing the whole album on repeat.  It's THAT good!

In our family we have a tradition.  Christmas morning my husband and I get to go downstairs alone.  We make a pot of coffee and make sure everything is perfect and tend to any breakfast details that may be needed.  It's a quiet, peaceful time just for us.  Once we start hearing activity on the floor above, we wait just a little longer.  Suspense is a beautiful thing sometimes.  Then, when it feels right we turn on the music loud enough for the miniature humans anxiously awaiting the cue upstairs.  So begins our Christmas morning together as a family.

I bet you can guess which CD we'll be cranking to call down the children this Christmas morning.  I almost cannot wait.  Take my word for it.  This is one amazing CD!

About MercyMe It's Christmas CD and its debut with Pizza Ranch:

Mercy Me It's Christmas CD is available in Pizza Ranch locations through December 31st of this year.  It has 4 exclusive songs that can only be found on the CD version being sold by Pizza Ranch.  Each CD will be sold for $5 plus tax.  Pizza Ranch will give away the CD with a $25 gift card purchase as well as sell the full album at each of its 200 locations throughout the Midwest and Great Plains states.  "We are so excited to debu our new Christmas album, MercyMe, It's Christmas. with Pizza Ranch", said Bart Millard with MercyMe.  "Pizza Ranch is a fantastic restaurant with a great mission to glorify God.  It's the perfect gift to give this Christmas season and the perfect CD to get you in the Christmas spirit."

You know what's even better than this CD?  A FREE COPY just for you!  Just leave me a comment below and share with me your most cherished Christmas tradition, and you'll be entered in a random drawing for your very own copy shipped to your door for FREE.  It's that simple!  Trust me.  You WANT this CD.  Deadline to enter is Sunday, November 22nd.  Don't miss out on your chance!

"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.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Grapevine Studies - A Review

This year I set out to make studying the Bible a real part of our homeschool.  Since we just started our 2015-16 routine last month this resource could not have come to us at a better time.  Grapevine Studies has created and AWESOME curriculum in Stick Figure Through the Bible.  The kids and I have been joyously working through Old Testament 1:  Level 1 Creation to Jacob.  I must be getting more keen on spotting resources that span the sea of years between our oldest homeschooler and the two youngest.  Five years can be a tough gap to bridge, but I am happy to say that this Bible curriculum does it phenomenally for our family.

There is so much to love about this curriculum.  Aside from bridging the gap between my children my absolute favorite thing from a teaching standpoint is that it requires ZERO planning on my part.  Aside from printing the sheets from my downloaded student book there is nothing for me to do other than pulling up the teacher book on my laptop and grabbing a dry erase marker.  That's it!  Nothing to it.  Everything is spelled out for me, and I simply love that!  Another amazing benefit that was totally unforeseen for me is that my ten year old can teach it!  YES!  GIGANTIC BONUS!  A couple of times I have had interruptions during our studies that demanded my attention.  I handed her the marker, and she took over with ease.  How wonderful is that?

From a kid standpoint all I can say is that they all absolutely love this course of study.  The ten year old practically begs to do it each morning, and I get no flack from the younger two.  The fact that they can use the traceable version makes all the difference in the world in regard to their desire to fully participate in the lesson.  It's perfect for their four and five year old skill levels and encourages them in their fine motor skills, letter recognition, imagination, biblical understanding, and creativity.  They actively participate in the lesson, and I have to say that it just warms my heart.

I do have to admit that I am a book in hand kind of gal.  We were blessed with the downloadable, e-book version of this curriculum.  However, given a choice I would have preferred the printed book version.  It's taken a little getting used to having to have my laptop in front of me when I teach the lesson.  I even think I would love each kid to have their own workbook.  However, we are making it work with ease, and this old school mama is moving a little further into the 21st Century, albeit a tad unwillingly.  I am old enough to have listened to eight track tapes with headphones the size of softballs, so I'm sure you understand.  However, if you don't know what eight track tapes are then you probably have no way of relating to my struggle.

Our family enjoys our Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning studies with Grapevine.  I know this resource will stand the test of time.  I am sure we'll continue on with it and move to the next level next year.  There are so many topics to cover.  There are four different levels that carry you through middle school age as well as topical studies to explore.  This is a great resource for home, church, and school.  The lessons are flexible allowing you to keep it simple or expand on the topic and dig deeper.  We're so happy to have made Grapevines Studies a part of our homeschool.

Grapevine Studies Review

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Basics of Critical Thinking - A Review

We've been privileged with the task to review a few quality products from The Critical Thinking Co. over the couple of years we've been doing reviews for The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, and The Basics of Critical Thinking is no exception.  I volunteered for this product because critical thinking skills are something that really need sharpening for the resident 10 year old.  To be honest, working side by side with her through this engaging workbook I've learned that my skills aren't exactly as sharp as I thought they were either.  

Despite the target age group of fourth through ninth grade I think this is a great resource for young adults and adults as well.  The exercises are short allowing time for discussion and contemplation without a great deal of direct teaching required.  I like that you don't have to work through the book from beginning to end.  As you well know by now, I just love resources that are modifiable and easily adapted to our unique makeup here at The Zoo Crew.  

With the stage of growth that we're at The Basics of Critical Thinking is a perfect tool to aid in the stretching of our thinking processes.  The exercises and processes presented in this book provide a foundation that can only help to serve the reader for the rest of their life.  Topics like evaluating evidence, facts and probability, advertising, and fallacies, just to name a few, are covered creatively and effectively.  All answers to the exercises are thoroughly explained in the back of the book allowing for review and discussion of any areas that pose a particular challenge.

Working with products from The Critical Thinking Co. makes it very clear why they have won so many national awards for their books and software.  I may be just a little partial since the author, Michael Baker, is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a major in philosophy.  The products that he produces are nothing short of excellent.  In The Basics of Critical Thinking his experience and dedication to the sharpening of young minds shines brightly.

This timeless workbook is flexible enough to be a perfect fit with any educational style.  It is an easy accompaniment to about any subject and can be used as a stand alone resource or to build upon a different lesson within a separate course of study.  The possibilities for application are only limited by your creativity and inspiration.  In this mad world of deception we can all benefit from a little discernment.  The Basics of Critical Thinking provides just the road map we need to guide our young people through the trains of thought that protect us and help us to make quality decisions throughout life.  

I am happy to have such a valuable resource at my fingertips.  We will surely be implementing the exercises within our homeschool throughout the year as well as applying the principles throughout life.  If you'd like to learn more you can get social with The Critical Thinking Co. on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest.  There's nothing to lose and everything to gain!

The Critical Thinking Company Review
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, November 09, 2015

Things I'd Rather Be Doing than Folding the Laundry

So, I've been thinking about what I like to do.  It's simple to figure out what I don't like to do.  At the top of my list is housework, and at the very top of that list is folding the laundry.  Currently, there are about five loads of laundry waiting for me to fold them and another load going in both the washer and dryer with about another two loads still waiting to enter the mix.  Yeah, I let it go a little bit.  Your point is?

Anyway, on to the fun stuff.  Maybe this list will help you think about things you like to do that feed your soul, nurture you, and bring you joy.  Here is what I've come up with so far:

Instead of folding the laundry, I would rather... a good book.

...edit pictures.

...learn to use text fonts more creatively.

...write a story.

...draw a picture.

...color color a picture.

...take pictures in nature.

...walk by the river.

...visit a farm stand.

...bake a cake.

...make cookies.

...can pickles.

...observe my chickens.

...commune with the sheep.

...write a letter.

...drink coffee and read all of my emails.

...create busy bags for the kids.

...learn to crochet toys. the piano. the clarinet.

...rearrange a room in my house.

...refinish my bedroom furniture.

...catalog my library.

...start an online bookstore.

...list items for sale online.

...organize a closet.

...locate the rest of my digital pictures.

...create a yearbook for our homeschool.

...write in the empty school days albums for my kids.

...plan fun unit studies.

...listen to music and dance. my children play.

...sit in a quiet corner and read.

...attend a theatrical production.

...listen to music really loud.

...plan my spring garden.

...go for a long country drive taking time to stop and explore.

...walk the Wadhams to Avoca Trail.

...take pictures of my children.

...promote my business.

...spend time with a friend.

...visit my grandparents.

...walk by the water. a book in my car by the water.

For those of you that have told me I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I had the time.  You are wrong!  I even surprised myself.  I could go on, but this list was just growing and growing.  Besides, I'd love to hear what it is YOU would rather be doing than folding laundry.  Reality is that I'll be spending the better portion of tomorrow managing our clothing.  Reading your comments will make the mundane much more enjoyable.  Do share!

Ann McCallum Books - A Review

Homework has never tasted SO GOOD!

I have a confession to make.  We haven't been using a set math curriculum.  *GASP*  I know!  I have to admit that with all of my planning for this school year I just couldn't settle on a plan for math in our homeschool.  Curriculum?  No curriculum?  Online?  Real life?  How on earth will these children learn their fractions and how to make change?  It will come.  This I do know.  In the meantime we are enjoying our extremely eclectic approach to math this year.  So, what better resource than Eat Your Math Homework by Ann McCallum Books?  We're really getting into this whole literature based approach to learning, and it's just the perfect resource for us right now.  What better way to learn math than to eat it?

Eat Your Math Homework takes learning math in the kitchen to a whole new level.  We're not just baking cookies and casually learning fractions and adding.  Not that there is a lick wrong with that.  We still do it.  We always will.  However, within the pages of this fun book with its cute illustrations you will find complete lessons.  How far you take them is fully up to you, but the foundation is well laid, and with the downloadable Teacher's Guide you can really pull off an awesome lesson that the kids will be talking about long after their delicious snack has disappeared.
One fun lesson that we really enjoyed was Fibonnaci Snack Sticks: Research.  The longer I homeschool along with my children the more I love history.  It is still sad for me to think about how much I missed out on over the years due to the fact that  I hated history so much in high school.  It's fascinating!  That may be at least part of the reason I liked this lesson so much.  There was history involved.   I think it's important for children to make the connection between subjects, and this lesson is a wonderful blend of history, math, and art.  We got to explore, aka research, and learn just who this Fibonnaci guy was anyway.  We enjoyed learning about his discovery and exploring the pattern ourselves.  We continue to look for Fibonnaci patterns in nature as well as exploring online resources to build on the lesson.

Annabella skewering bananas to form her pattern.

I think Avery is a tad pleased with his pattern.

Included in the book are lessons solving sequences, looking at nature, vocabulary, and more.  Each lesson provides you with a list of needed supplies so you can easily plan ahead.  We have found that for the most part we already have everything we need on hand.  The activities are simple and very easy for the kids to be hands-on.  I have to say using this book has been one of the easiest things we've done this year.  What I love about it is that there is such a huge payout for my little effort.  What homeschooling mom wouldn't love that?  We love Eat Your Math Homework so much that we also plan to eat our science homework and our U.S. history homework thanks to the other two publications by Ann McCullum Books in this series.  

We may not have a solid plan in place for math this year, but we certainly are having a lot of fun with the subject thanks in great part to this fabulously fun and imaginative book!

Ann McCallum Books Review
Crew Disclaimer


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...