Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent - Gifts

I am joining up with Trish over at A House Upon the Rock to blog regularly over Advent.

GIFTS by Elizabeth Herr

Imagine this as a possible monologue occurring in Mary’s mind after the angel Gabriel left her: 

“Mother of Jesus? Mother of the Son of God? Far out! ME?! What will Joseph say? And my mother? God, WHY did you pick me? There is so much in my life…oh, God, thank you! What an honour!...... but will they believe me? …. What do I need to get? Clothes, baby monitor…… I found favour with God…that’s what the angel said isn’t it? WOW! …. Mother of Jesus!. Me….. But what if I don’t do it right? I’m just plain me ... ” 

Mary – an ordinary girl from Galilee with an extra-ordinary call on her life. A gift from God to the world.

Mary did not instantly become a mother. It was a process and there was time for preparation. As you enter this time of preparation for Christmas think of what God has called YOU to do. Inside you is a gift…. a gift from God to the world (those around you) through you!! Take a moment and consider…. WHAT gift does God have for the world through YOU? Mary most likely felt overwhelmed (to put it mildly). Thinking of the gift inside you, you might feel overwhelmed too, but as with Mary, God will be with you. He will guide you and pour His grace into you. We serve an amazing God who fully understands human emotions because He became fully human. God has more gifts for the world – through each one of us. Not because we are great, but because He is and so that He can be glorified through us. If you think that nothing will be ‘lost’ if you don’t answer to God’s call, think again….what if Mary said “NO”??? 

Prayer: Lord, as we prepare for the celebration of Your birth we tenderly recall that You came to be God with us – Emmanual. Thank You that You understand our fears and our failings. Help us to use the many gifts you’ve given us and to say “yes” to You when you call us to step out of our comfort zone and follow You. 

The account of the angel’s visit to Mary can be found in Luke 1:26-38

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A reflection on Intercessory Prayer by John Contoveros

Chase Oaks Church hosts a free daily Bible devotional over at their site called VERTICAL which I enjoy reading and sometimes write for. 

Here is the devotional for today. 

Focus text is from: 1 Timothy 2:1-8 

Intercessory prayer is simply the act of praying for others. We have an amazing privilege to enter into God’s presence and speak with Him on behalf of Christians and non-Christians alike. Just as my children should feel free to speak with me openly and honestly, we can speak to God our Father without reservation. Just as children should feel free to ask anything of their parents, the Lord wants us to approach Him freely with all that is on our hearts, even if we don’t know what to say. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul urges Timothy to make “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for all people.” Although he refers to “all people,” it’s interesting to note he especially mentions those who are in authority. He follows by stating that God wants all people “to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” This is a good model of how we should pray for those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Of course, we can also intercede for others regarding health issues, emotional and financial needs, guidance, wisdom, etc. As we pray or intercede, it’s good to keep in mind that Christ Jesus is the mediator for us (verse 5). He stands before God the Father and presents our requests to Him. In Romans 8:26 we also read, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” We have an amazing privilege and responsibility to participate in God’s work here on earth through prayer. With the Lord as our mediator and the Spirit as our helper, we cannot fail . . . unless we don’t pray. 

About the Author : John Contoveros I became a Christian in 1972. The intercessions of many Christians have upheld me over the years. I cannot imagine what life would be like for me and my family (Debbie, Timothy, Christina and Elizabeth) without these prayers. Thank you, Lord, for the prayers and intercessions of your faithful children.


It's been officially too long since my last post. Although many things have happened (well in my mind anyway), it is a sad excuse for the absolute absence of any new words on this blog!

I've had some withdrawals due to the fact that I am taking a sabbatical from reviewing homeschool products at the moment, but it has freed me up to do some more reading.

One of the books which I have read is THINK BIG by Ben Carson M.D.

Dr. Ben Carson is the author of the highly acclaimed GIFTED HANDS.

THINK BIG is the inspiring autobiography of an amazing, God-fearing man. 

People often think that those who are successful come from successful backgrounds or money ... or both. (At least what the world considers to be successful.) It is also often thought that those from a low socio-economic class have little to no chance of becoming great and successful. Unfortunately, often people who live in these situations sadly believe this of themselves.  

This could not be further from the truth for Benjamin Carson, who in 5th grade was at the very bottom of his class. Although, at the time he might have thought that he was not going to amount to much, his mother thought differently. 

The following is an excerpt from the Johns Hopkins website that describes Benjamin Carson's current situation:

"Dr. Benjamin Carson is the Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.  Dr. Carson focuses on traumatic brain injuries, brain and spinal cord tumors, achondroplasia, neurological and congenital disorders, craniosynostosis, epilepsy and trigeminal neuralgia. He is also interested in maximizing the intellectual potential of every child. An internationally renowned physician, Dr. Carson has authored over 100 neurosurgical publications, along with three best-selling books, and has been awarded 38 honorary doctorate degrees and dozens of national merit citations."

So how did he go from 'class dummy' in 5th grade to neurosurgeon? 

It all started with reading two books a week and a single, hardworking, God-fearing  mother who never gave up on her boys. 

If you feel discouraged or lost motivation or feel that life's dealt you a bad hand, then rush to the bookshop or library and get  your hands on a copy of this! NOW! READ it, then come back here and tell me what you thought of it.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Prayer Request

Dear friends,
How quickly things change. I was just saying on Monday night that we are enjoying an incident free time with no immigration issues, so.....
We just got a letter from immigration via the lawyer stating that their medical advisor wants mum to have further, specialised investigations done. This is frustrating in one sense as it will potentially cost a lot of money and depending on their opinion can negatively affect mum's residence application. I am still trusting God (holding on for dear life) for a positive outcome because my God is bigger than all this. Mum is taking this hard as it is yet another issue in a long series of ongoing hold-ups. 
Please pray for 1) faith and peace as we walk this land between, 2) wisdom that mum will see the right people, 3) it will be free if at all possible, 4) and that the outcome of any and all tests will be favourable for mum's residence application.

On a positive note; this does indicate to us that immigration is in fact processing mum's application while we still wait for the birth certificate to arrive.

Thanks heaps!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

TOS Review - WRITE SHOP Junior Book D - with a discount!


DISCLAIMER: The following is a review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free, downloadable copy of the WriteShop Junior Book D program, to use with my kids in exchange for my personal opinion of this product. I did not receive any other compensation.

As with any review, my opinion is one of many. Please visit the Crew's Blog to read more reviews of this and other products of WriteShop.

I was very excited to be able to review this Incremental Writing Program and it did not disappoint.

As part of the Crew, I received the WriteShop Junior Book D for my children. I received the downloadable product, which I received in a ZIP file. It was easy to download, without any technical difficulties.

Amanda Pelser’s wrote a tutorial on using WriteShop e-books on an iPad. 

This product is aimed at Grades 3-5 and even reluctant 6 Graders. Other Crew Members reviewed WriteShop Primary Books A, B and C, aimed at Grades K-3.

The aim of WriteShop is: 
'WriteShop Junior is designed for parents to work closely with their grade 3-6 children, guiding them toward writing independence. Through activities and exercises, you teach the creative process of writing so your child has the skills and confidence to successfully complete each writing assignment. WriteShop Junior equips children with specific tools they need to develop the ability to write effectively. Whether you have a more advanced child or one who is a slower learner, this program is flexible so students can work at their own level.'

When I looked at the Teacher's Guide (42 page .pdf), I was impressed. It provides you as parent / teacher with several different Lesson Plan options to fit your specific situation. Detailed descriptions of all the materials you'll need for each lesson are clearly set out. It gives ideas for a writing centre, and explains all the different activity sets for each lesson in detail. 

In addition to the Teacher’s Guide, I received:

Book D Teacher's Manual - This manual contains .pdf files for each lesson (10 all up) as well as extra resources.
Book D Activity pack (144 page .pdf), which includes the Fold-N-Go Grammar Pack and Student Worksheet Pack. 
Time-Saver Pack (24 page .pdf)

Here is a list of what is being taught in WriteShop Junior.

The Manual

The manual included .pdf files for each lesson. Each lesson is laid out in detail so that you as parent don't have to reinvent the wheel. Just follow the ideas and prompts in the lesson plan and teaching writing would not only be easier, but fun for you and the kids.

The Lessons

Each lesson takes 2 - 3 weeks to complete, depending on the plan you follow. The lessons are divided into 8 sections. The lessons also have a sample script you can follow in explaining and guiding your child through each lesson.

As I was given the eBook version of this product, I printed the lessons, activity sheets needed and the relevant pages from the Time-Saver Pack before we started. 

Each lessons starts with a 'Fold-N-Go' Grammar activity. This is a fantastic tool that is made for each child during each lesson (or that they make themselves). At the end, your kids will sit with 10 folders which will serve as grammar tools to aid in their writing, helping with punctuation, self-editing, rules for writing Titles, and more. The Fold-N-Go activity for Lesson 2 has some interesting tips in how to make editing fun, like wearing a special hat. The kids had a fun time with that. When editing, they would wear their 'editors hat' and read their work in a funny voice. 


One of the pre-writing activities in Lesson 1 was to play a game where 3 very different invitations are cut up into different sections (date, salutations, body, closing and signature). Each person chose a 'body' and the rest of the sections were turned upside down and all mixed up. Everyone then took turns in picking up one section to complete the invitation. The kids enjoyed this activity very much, and we've played it more than once, twice, three .... well, a lot.

Each lesson has a writing project to complete, edit and publish. The project for lesson 1 was writing an 'invitation' and lesson 2 was writing 'fiction with humor'. For lesson 2, the kids came up with a funny story about my mum and cleaning. We typed it up, made props and then performed it for her. Lots of laughs in-between reading the script made it all the more funny. Mum thoroughly enjoyed it!

It was easy to follow the two-week lesson plan to get through the lessons we've done so far. 

The Time-Saver Pack 

I found this a great extra resource as it is filled with pre-made printouts of what you need for the different activities. If you like to make your own resources, you have the option of doing so, otherwise, just click and print! 

We are enjoying this program immensely. The team at WriteShop (read more about them HERE), did an outstanding job of putting together all the resources needed to teach this program, which is fun and of high quality. I can recommend this to anyone who is looking for a writing program that you will enjoy teaching and the children will enjoy learning. Thumbs up all around!

If you are keen to have a further look at the lessons, please visit this lesson page for a free download and an option to receive a monthly e-newsletter

The 'bottom line'

WriteShop has various excellent writing programs available for kids Grades K through to High School. 

WriteShop Junior Book D would cost you:

Teacher's Guide 
  • eBook - US$34.95
  • Print Edition - US$39.95

Activity Pack
  • eBook - US$29.95
  • Print - US$39.95

Time-Saver Pack
  • eBook - US$13.95
  • Print - US$13.95

Visit their product page to see prices for all their products. 

On top of the amazing product, the fabulous team at WriteShop is offering readers of my blog a special discount:

15% off any WriteShop Primary and Junior products in the WriteShop store (including e-books) 

Just use coupon code CREW15 at checkout. 

Offer valid through June 15, 2012.

Do yourself and your kids a favor, and have a look at this fantastic product!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cake Pops

Thought I'd share what I've been up to tonight :)
Was very fun to make it.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TOS Review - Judah Bible Curriculum


DISCLAIMER: As part of the TOS Review Crew, I received the full downloadable copy of the Judah Bible  Curriculum for free in exchange for my honest review.

As with any review, the following is my own opinion and one of many. Please visit the Crew Blog to see what other reviewers thought of this product.


The Judah Bible Curriculum is available in hard copy as well as a downloadable product.

Judah Bible Curriculum Pack hard copy:

    $69.00, plus 5.00 p&h,
    Total $74.00.
    Allow 7 days for delivery.
    You get:
    1) Judah Bible Curriculum K-12 Manual;
    2) Elementary Notebook Ideas booklet;
    3) Eight-lecture Teacher Training Seminars on CDs.

Purchase Judah Bible Curriculum delivered online:

    Total $44.00.
    Download the e-book and begin today!
    You get:
    1) Judah Bible Curriculum K-12 Manual, e-book format to download; (100 pages)
    2) Elementary Notebook Ideas booklet to view online or download; (60 pages)
    3) Eight-lecture Teacher Training Seminars. listen online or download. (approx. 8 hours!)

WHAT is the Judah Bible Curriculum (JBC)?

Judah Bible Curriculum is a Principle Approach curriculum for Bible class for all ages, with the BIBLE as the textbook. Throughout the studies, the children and parent / teacher will also develop a Notebook which will serve as a place to put writing assignments, key sheets, maps, illustrations etc. which will be completed for each theme.

Now, you might ask what is the 'Principle Approach' (PA)... I too had to find out what it is. 

And here is a good explanation of what it is:

The Principle Approach is a way of teaching and learning that puts the Word of God at the heart of every subject and teaches the student how to think and learn. The philosophy and method include these three distinct characteristics:

Teaching students to reason Biblically for themselves, producing excellent Christian scholarship

Nurturing individual self-governance in each student, causing them to take responsibility for their own education and growth

Setting all learning in the context of God’s hand moving in providential history—His Story

This is not a curriculum where you open a book and follow the instructions with lessons all planned out for you. It is, as explained above, an in-depth way of studying and teaching the Bible to produce Godly character. With this approach, the teacher / parent will need to learn this approach first, before being able to teach it to the student. 

The JBC is an in-depth curriculum that builds on itself over time. This can be used with kids of all ages. With the JBC you go through the Bible each year. The aim is not to read each chapter every year, but to study specific high points from Genesis to Revelations. 

The Bible is divided into 5 Themes which are studied each year. These themes depict what is happening governmentally throughout the Bible and are:

Theme 1 - Creation
Theme 2 - The Plan of Redemption Begins
Theme 3 - Kingdom of Israel
Theme 4 - Kingdom of God
Theme 5 - The Early Church

The Old Testament is studied in one semester and the New Testament is studied in the next semester. As you work through these themes you will study different keys, including key individuals, key events, key institutions and key documents. This is done using the key sheets that come with the manual, which will be placed in the notebooks. 

Each Theme takes approximately 5 weeks to complete.

Visit the SCOPE AND SEQUENCE page to get an overview of how this is taught. 

As mentioned this is not a set out curriculum, but rather a way to study the Bible in depth. The manual doesn't give you complete lesson plans or an exhaustive list of ideas for each week of study, but it does provide a starting point. 

The notebook could be a 3-ring binder which will hold things like writing assignments, maps, art for younger kids, illustrations, key sheets, etc. To learn more about the Notebook Approach click on the link.

HOW we used it:

As I have mentioned earlier, as a parent / teacher you will need to do some learning first before you can implement any of this. There are 8 lectures for the parent / teacher  in mp3 format to listen to. Each of these lectures is approximately an hour in length. They include:


I only listened to some of this to get my head around it. Lecture 6 was useful and then I listened to Lecture 3 - Creation to Flood as we used this for the duration of the review. The audios can be difficult to listen to as they are presented to an audience where visuals are referred to and we didn't have access to those. The audience members also asked questions which were unclear on the audio clip. 

It is a lot to take in and with other curve balls being thrown my way, I'm sure I could have done a more in-depth job if I had more time to really get to grips with this curriculum before implementing it.

In saying that, the kids did enjoy the things we did. We alway do Bible study as part of our daily routine, so taking a deeper look at God's word wasn't new for the kids. Completing the key sheets, was a new concept which they found challenging, but they enjoyed it. 

The manual presents you with a suggested weekly theme guide that you can follow.

Week 1 was Creation, Genesis 1:1-25. The key verse was Gen. 1:1 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth'.

Day 1 - I talked about the philosophy behind the curriculum and the kids learned what self-governance means. We read Genesis 1 and discussed it. Gen. 1:1 was our memory verse.
Day 2 - We read Genesis 1 again and made 'Creation booklets'. The children had one page for each day of creation and drew a picture of what God created on that day. They wrote the scripture down for each day too. 
Day 3 - We looked at the key sheets and talked about key individuals and key events and completed some of the sheet.
Day 4 - We talked about 'what ifs' - (What if God did not create the earth) and about what this chapter tells us about the character of God. 
Day 5 - I believe it is important that the kids understand that not everyone believes in a literal 6-day creation, so we talked about other theories and beliefs about creation. 

There are many other things you could do, but this is how we started. 

The difficulties:

My first reaction to this curriculum was a sense of being overwhelmed and thinking 'I have to go back to school to learn this, will I ever get my head around this and where will I find the time to listen to 8 hours worth of training videos?' 

It takes time to digest, as there is a lot of information to take in. 

If you do have the time / or better still, make the time to go through this and then implement it, I believe it can be a worthwhile curriculum to have. 

For us who like to come up with our own ideas or search the internet for some ideas, it might make the curriculum somewhat easier, but for those who find generating fresh ideas more difficult, it would be a challenge to come up with activities for the kids to do and add to their notebooks. You will get a 'notebook ideas' file, and although it might not always be appropriate for your child's age, it does help to spark some ideas of what you can do. Perhaps the kids can even come up with their own ideas. 

Will I continue now that my review is done?

I do think it is a valuable curriculum, and although I think it will take some time for most teachers / parents to really get to grips with this, I firmly believe that it is worthwhile investing the time to prepare well before implementing it. I certainly will be doing so. 

Don't forget to visit the Crew Blog to read some more reviews.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TOS Review - Bright Ideas Press - Chemistry

My Chemistry teacher at school was Super Smart (most likely still is). This was good.
He was head-hunted by one of the largest institutions to do research for them and I'm certain he did a FANTASTIC job. This was good for him.
He was less good at teaching his subject... to me anyway. This was NOT good for me.

Teaching Chemistry to my kids up to now can be compared to how an indicator works... off and on; you get the picture! The funny thing is that both my kids LOVE chemistry! I don't hate it, but am less confident with teaching it.... until now (drum roll please....)
Let me introduce you to Christian Kids Explore (CKE) Science from Bright Ideas Press (Very apt name and also publisher of Mystery of History books).


I was very excited when I was given the opportunity to review the  Christian Kids Explore (CKE) CHEMISTRY (2nd edition) as part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. Bright Ideas Press very kindly sent me the full downloadable Chemistry Curriculum aimed at Grades 4-8. In return for this generosity (and the ability to teach Chemistry more confidently) I provide the following review. I did not receive any other compensation.


So WHAT is CKE Chemistry?

Christian Kids Explore (CKE) CHEMISTRY is a one year Chemistry Curriculum from a Biblical worldview which enables Mums like me to teach their enthusiastic budding scientist actual Chemistry (and learn all the stuff I missed at school)! This is aimed at Grades 4 - 8 (and their mothers). 

What did I get with this curriculum?

385 page CKE Chemistry Manual 
201 page Student Activity Book
37 page Lesson Plan Booklet
Supply list for each lesson

The curriculum is divided into 30 lessons which is grouped into 5 units which include:

Unit 1: The Basics of Chemistry
Unit 2: Atoms and Molecules
Unit 3: The Nature of Chemistry
Unit 4: States of Matter
Unit 5: Organic Chemistry

The lesson plans:

Each lesson is split up into two teaching days of 60-90 minutes each. The lessons include teaching time, memory work, colouring (if the kids are keen), discussion, vocabulary, review questions, research and hands-on activities. Each lesson is laid out step-by-step so all the hard work is done for you. It is a good idea to prep before the time so you are familiar with the terms and make sure you have all the supplies needed for the activities. 

The lessons end with a "Unit Wrap-Up: Show What You Know!" section. This is a multiple questions section, but it is easy enough to adapt it to asking the student questions and writing in their answers if you don't like multiple questions.


How we used it and what we thought about it:

I'm good at reinventing the wheel even though I know it takes so much more time, HOWEVER, this time I did not do it! I simply printed the lesson plans and followed the lessons (applause will be great!). First we looked at which of the vocabulary words the kids new and then they looked up the words which they did not know. My aim was to make flashcards, but as the kids already had science notebooks I got them to write the vocab words in there. 

We all took turns to read the passage for the day during which the kids also coloured in the picture for the specific lesson we were doing. Even though we did do some Chemistry before I decided to start with lesson 1. I thought that the text is well written with a clear knowledge of the subject. The text speak TO the reader and does not 'talk down' to them. Scripture and the Biblical worldview are woven into the text in a natural way without 'Bible bashing' anyone. 

With the review questions I simply asked the questions and they took turns to answer it. If there were questions that they struggled with, we simply went back to the appropriate section and read it again.

Needless to say that the kids' favourite part was the hands-on activities. I am so grateful for this as it was so good to hear a resounding "COOL!" when I said it's time for Chemistry ... and even better when they asked: "Mum when can we do our science?" Every mother's dream! 

I enjoyed reviewing this product and am very impressed with it. I will definitely be returning to this after our break and will look into the other Science products when we are finished with Chemistry.

Other products in the Christian Kids Explore series, include:




Price for Christian Kids Explore products:

Chemistry - US$39.95
Earth and Space - US$34.95
Biology - US$34.95
Physics - US$39.95

Taking into consideration that this is a full year curriculum and of high quality, the price tag for this is very reasonable.

Bright Ideas Press also have many other products which can be found in their STORE including Geography, History (Mystery of History), Literature and Maps amongst others.

Here is how to contact Bright Ideas Press:

As with each review, mine is one opinion of many. Please visit the Crew Blog to see what other reviews thought about his product.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

TOS Review - Action Alert


Product information:
Action Alert is an Internet Safety Software Program downloadable from their website. It offers web site blocking and filtering, time control options and alerts the parent via e-mail or cell phone when certain key words are typed into a search string. When you receive an alert you have an option of shutting down the computer remotely from your phone or computer. Action Alert can recored up to 60 hours of activity.

Action Alert is available in two versions:

The Free version offers basic protection for one computer.

The Maximum Protection version, which includes Multiple User Protection, Full Social Network Monitoring and is Fully Customizable, retails for US$29.99

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Review Crew I received a free download of the Maximum Protection version of this Internet Protection Software.

Action Alert offers the following:

Action Alert was voted Winner of Disney's iParenting Award and is endorsed by the Child Safety Network.

Here is a list of FAQs about Action Alert.

How it worked for us:

We installed this software on our home computer on which we do most of our school work, play games and watch movies. This computer runs on Windows 7. I liked the fact that it alerted me via e-mail when certain key words or phrases were entered into a search string, which I did on purpose to see how that feature works. Unfortunately for us, Action Alert seemed to have caused some problems in that since installing the software, the computer has been slow in responding and at times just hanging in the middle of running some programs. At times I've had to try open some programs several times before it would actually run on the computer. I contacted support and they responded within 48 hours. Our problems however continued and as my husband is in IT we've decided to uninstall the program. Uninstalling the program was easy. Since doing so, we've had no more problems on the computer. 

Our problems do not discount that Action Alert could be a very suitable program for you. It might work very well on your home computer. Please visit the Crew Blog to read more reviews on this product and get a broader idea of how this product works. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

TOS Review - Progeny Press (The Cay)


The Mission of Progeny Press
"To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!"

If you are in search of a good Literature Study Guide, then Progeny Press might be the product you've been after.

Progeny Press is a family-run business providing study guides for excellent literature from a Christian Perspective. It is not to say that the literature they offer these study guides for are only 'Christian' literature, but the guides are written in such a way that the books are viewed from a Christian viewpoint. The guides help to question how the viewpoint in the book relates or compares to a Biblical point of view.  It is evident in the ABOUT US section that Michael and Rebecca are passionate about God, good literature and teaching children to appreciate good literature.

At the time of this writing, Progeny Press offers a selections of 107 study guides to literature for ages K-12. The genres include: American Literature, British Literature, Christian Literature, Historical Literature, Poetry, Shakespeare and World Literature. Choosing a guide is easy as it is broken down in genres as well as grade levels (Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School & High School). 

The Study Guides are available in the following formats:

  1. Printed and bound booklet
  2. CD in .pdf format
  3. Downloadable .pdf as an e-mail attachment 
For this review I received the Study Guide for the book 'The Cay' by Theodore Taylor as a .pdf e-mail attachment.

Each .pdf Study Guide package includes:

  1. A read-me file with instructions on how to use the interactive study guide
  2. A Study Guide 
  3. Answer Key

The study guide can be printed, or if the student prefers, the answer can be typed directly into the document.

The Study Guide itself includes:

  • Synopsis of the book
  • Bio on the author
  • Background information on the setting for the story
  • Pre-reading activities
  • An in-depth study of the chapters, which are broken down into various sections including:

Vocabulary - what I liked about this section is that it provides space for what you think a word means based on the context of the sentence and only then does the student look it up in the dictionary. This made for good discussion about how we use words and how language has changed over time.

Questions - the questions are open ended and thought provoking. Questions are written in such a way that the student don't just answer from the text, but are encouraged to think outside the pages of the book and find answers from their own beliefs about the world around them.

Digging Deeper - here the student is directed to the Bible as well as being asked to think a bit deeper about certain issues such as fear or discrimination.

Optional Activities - These include research, writing assignments, map work and many more to keep the student very well engaged with the text and assist in further challenging what they think and how it can relate to the world they live in.

At the end of the guide there is a 10 question overview of the book as well as further essay and project suggestions with additional resources. 

These study guides are truly well thought out, in-depth studies and deliver on what the owners of Progeny Press hope to deliver, which is a Literature Study Guide:

Concentrating on:
  • Critical thinking
  • Comprehension
  • Literary analysis
  • Christian application.

Our goal is to teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on scripture for truth and valuesand enjoy themselves while they do it!
(Quoted from the website)

If you are interested to look at some SAMPLES of different Study Guides click HERE.

The How To Use Progeny Press Study Guide page provides a good understanding in how to best implement this product. It is suggested that the student completely reads the literature during the first week and then start the study guide in week two, doing one page per day. This will work out to about 8-10 weeks to complete. 

We requested 'The Cay' from the library after receiving the study guide and the kids and I thoroughly enjoyed doing the study as far as we could. We read a portion of the book and then did the portion of the study guide that corresponded with the chapters we read. This worked well for us as I used this as another read-aloud with my 8 and 11 year olds. The kids wanted to work on some questions individually and some together, so I chose to print off a copy of the required section for each child, although the answers can be typed directly into the document. The children were very disappointed when I wanted to renew the book and it was on hold! I did request it again, so we are all eager to get back into it. 

I've had a look at the other guides available and there are a few I am very interested in purchasing.

The electronic study guides retail for between US$10.99 (Lower Elementary) and US$18.99 (High School).

Visit the Products page to see the amazing selection Progeny Press offers. When you click on an item it gives you a description of the book, which age level it is for, how many pages and section the study guide has and the format in which the guide is available.

Here you will also find the stores available around the world, which include:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • England
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Taiwan

For more information on the owners or the product, please visit Progeny Press today.

You can also visit Rebecca (co-owner of Progeny Press) at her Blog: Ask Rebecca

As part of the TOS Review Crew I was given a free downloadable copy of 'The Cay Study Guide'. In exchange for this product, I offer my honest and personal opinion about this product in this review. I did not receive any other compensation. 

As with any review, this is one opinion only. Please visit the Crew's Blog to read other reviews on this product.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My motto is...
My children have both come up with the mottos they want to apply in their lives:

Princess Lulu:
'Be the example people should follow.'

Buddy Boy:
'Treat others the way you want them to treat you.'

I am blessed to be their mummy!

TOS Blog Post - Creek Edge Press

I like tick boxes. There, I said it!

I was very excited to be chosen to review a set of Ancient World History Task Cards from Creek Edge Press as part of the TOS Review Crew. I received a set of Task Cards and the Instruction Manual for free in exchange for my personal opinion about the product.

Creek Edge Press is a company that provides a simple tool for homeschoolers to facilitate more 'Discovery based, Research Oriented and Independent' learning. The tool is s a set of Task Cards with tick boxes (as you may have gathered by now)! with various tasks for the students to complete using Encyclopedias, other Reference Books, Dictionaries, Maps, various Activities and Field Trips. 

Amy Kate Hilsman is the author of the Task Cards. These Card Sets, which are now available to us all, started as hand written sets for her own children whom she has homeschooled. You can read Amy's story to find out the history behind these Task Cards. 

The Task Cards have been created to support Classical, Charlotte Mason and Montessori educational styles. It is geared at students between grades K- 8. Each Task Card have several tasks to complete. These tasks are written so that students from different age groups can use them. The aim is to set up an environment for the student (even with their help) with the resources needed to complete the tasks before they start. Younger students can get help from the parent, while older student can work more independently.

Task Card #2 for Geography and Culture

Each Set of Task Cards include the Task Cards and a booklet which introduces the course to the parent / teacher and a guide which will help you get the most out of the set of Task Cards. (The individual sets vary from US$18 - US$20.)

Introduction Booklet and Task Cards for Ancient World History

How we used it:

I first read the Manual. It describes in great detail the best ways in which to use these cards. The manual not only addresses the parent / teacher, but also the student. It also describes a way to best prepare an environment for learning and using these Task Cards. This is not essential, but encouraged. 

As we already use a History Curriculum I decided to use the Task Cards that corresponded with the lessons we were doing. It worked beautifully and added great depth to our learning. The Tasks on the Cards encourages in depth learning and I am excited to see the progress in the kids as we work through the Cards. I am now altering how we are doing our history by adding the Task Cards into our current curriculum. The Tasks are well thought out and I have found that as we read and go through it, it leads to even more ideas. 

Tasks range from Researching, Map work to making Posters and visiting the Museum. 

Some of the tasks (Reading / research) we did together as a family and some of the activities the kids did on their own or worked on together without my assistance. 

What we thought of this product:

We LOVED IT! and will continue to love it for some time yet.

The different subjets covered include: 
  • Science
  • History, Geography & Culture
  • Art (Sold as full set only)
  • Music (Sold as full set only)
  • Grammar Reinforcement
The Product Page here provide basic information about the product as well as the price for the individual sets of Task Cards and full sets. 

If you want to have a look at some of the task cards from the different subjects, you can visit the Gallery Page and find several examples including samples of 

Here is a page of FAQ's that will give you a very good overview of how you can incorporate these cards into your homeschooling.

Here is a great link to book lists and online links to resources for each card set.

Creek Edge Press also boasts a BLOG where you can read about product updates and other news.

As with any product review, my opinion is one of many. So please follow the link HERE to see what the rest of the Crew thought about this product.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

TOS Review - Reading Eggs / Reading Eggspress



As part of the TOS Review Crew I recently received a free 2-month subscription to the Reading Eggs Website / online reading programme in exchange for my honest opinion about this product. There was no other compensation.

The views express in this writing is my own except where otherwise stated. As this is one opinion of this product, I encourage you to visit the Crew Blog where you can read more reviews from other crew members to get their view on this product.


Reading Eggs is an online world created to assist children on their reading journey. This world which started out as a programme for children aged 4 - 7, grew in popularity and now features Reading Eggspress for 7-13 year olds. 

Reading Eggs was created by educational experts with the aim of encouraging children who are learning to read to gain confidence, have fun and increase their reading skills. The program makes use of online games, reading activities, online books, assessments and other tools to make learning to read fun and exciting. Reading Eggs now has 120 lessons for the young readers.

Reading Eggs / Reading Eggspress retails for:

6 months subscription - AUD$59.95 ($9.99/month)
12 months subscription - AUD$79.95 ($6.67/month)
24 months subscription - AUD$99.00 ($4.12/month)

From the website: * Your second child receives a 50% discount when purchasing the same subscription in the same transaction.

How does it work?

Your first port of call for Reading Eggs (4 - 7 y.o.) is the 'Reading Eggs Placement Test'. This is to assess your child's current reading level; it is audiovisual and has 40 questions. You can choose to do the test if the student has some reading experience or start from scratch at level 1.

Reading Assessment Question 8
As the kids complete lessons and activities they gain eggs as rewards and progress on their journey. They can track their progress on the map (see below). There are worksheets that can be printed off to reinforce the lessons.

Reading Eggs also has other physical products available to complement the lessons, including flash cards and books.

Reading Eggs Progress Map
As my children are nearly 9 and 11 they did Reading Eggspress.

I can start here by saying they loved it!

Reading Eggspress has over 200 comprehension lessons available to the student and over 600 e-books available to read in the library. These books are at different reading levels for 7-13 year olds and include topics on sci-fi, plants, animals, ocean, science, earth science, space, fantasy, myth, comedy and art.

When you first log into Reading Eggspress you are greeted by the 'Floating Island'. From here you can choose to visit the library, the comprehension gym, the stadium or your apartment or the mall. The Apartment is where you can create your avatar, admire your trophies and go on a quest, The Mall is where you can spend the golden eggs you earn by completing lessons and activities.

The Floating Island

The Library

At the library you have a choice of hundreds of books to read. If you cannot complete a book in one sitting then simply bookmark it and continue when you next login. Books can also be rated and 'liked'. Once you've read a book you get quizzed on the book.

The Comprehension Gym

Here you do a 'cycling class' where the student uses assessment, interpretation, reading and comprehension skills to answer the questions.

The student picks a book, then answers questions about the cover, based on what is seen. This is followed by an activity using the dictionary, next they make inferences based on part of the text. A few activities later and the student reads the entire book and answers a quizz based on what they read.

Your progress is saved and the student can see which lesson was completed or which lesson they are still to complete.

The Stadium

Here you get to compete agains another user or the computer. The student is tested on spelling, grammar or  vocabulary. It is a timed activity. The student can see their progress as they 'race' against their opponent as below: Based on their performance the student can go up to the next level.

The students also have TARGETS which earn them rewards if they are completed. This keeps them interested and challenge them to continue. 

The kids absolutely loved Reading Eggspress and would often asked to do another activity even when our 'schoolday' ended.

Parent can view the students' overall progress from the Dashboard.

If you are interested in looking at Reading Eggs / Reading Eggspress you can get a FREE 14-day trial by visiting this page HERE.