Friday, August 19, 2016

A TOS Review: Enlivenze LLC

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

Have you ever heard the saying, "Busy hands make happy hands!"? Well, for my busy boys, it is very true. And in the summer months, there are times when I just need them to keep busy - to preserve my sanity! We love giving them time to explore, be outside, play video games, and just be kids. But finding things that keep them busy for even 10 minutes can be a challenge some days. That's why I was excited to see what Enlivenze LLC had in store for us. We received a FlipStir puzzle of the Statue of Liberty in the mail, and the boys' competitive natures took off!

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

FlipStir puzzles is what they call "Puzzle fun all in one" - meaning, it is a puzzle, contained. Ever get nearly finished with a puzzle only to find there are missing pieces? Well, that won't be happening with FlipStir! The puzzles are contained inside a clear plastic casing, and you use a handy stir stick to put the pieces in the correct order. All you do is shake the pieces up, or use the stick to stir the pieces around, then start reassembling. Easy? Not really!

I admit when I saw it, I figured it would be really simple. Well...I DID finish it, but it wasn't nearly as quickly as I thought I'd be able to do it! The boys started timing each other to see who could do it fastest. There were some pretty fierce races a few times! We all were able to do it in about 5 minutes or less after several tries.

While we loved the puzzle, I did have one concern. After several times playing with it, the claw at the bottom of the stir stick popped off. Luckily, it wasn't broken - it had just slipped off of the metal handle. We had to dig around a bit, but were thankfully able to push it back into place. I think it may have happened more than once, but was able to be put back together each time.

Overall, I think the FlipStir puzzles are great fun. I hope to pick up a few more in the coming months. To have a new one on hand and just say to one of the kids, "Here ya go! Busy hands are happy hands!"

To see what other great puzzles Enlivenze LLC has, follow them on social media at these links:


To see what other Reviewers thought of the products, go to their blogs here:


FlipStir Puzzles Reviews




Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A TOS Review: Heirloom Audio Productions

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

We love adventure novels! We love audio books! And when you can combine the two, it is a real treat. GA Henty is considered even today one of the greatest English novelists of all time, and his stories can take you to a time and place that is no longer and make you feel as if you were there. Heirloom Audio Productions has once again outdone themselves with the newest product, Beric the Briton.

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

This is our 3rd review for Heirloom Audio, having enjoyed In Freedom's Cause and With Lee in Virginia in years' past. Beric the Briton lived up to, if not exceeded, the expectations the kids and I have for this vendor.

Set around the 1st century AD at the height of the Roman Invasion and the beginning of Nero's rule of Rome, the story focuses around a young man named Beric. Beric is a chieftain of a tribe in Brittania, just at the time the Romans came to conquer and claim the land for their own. Raised to rule his people, Beric's mother, the chieftainess, encouraged him to pursue a Roman education. Because of this opportunity, he is put into a position torn between loyalty to his people and the admiration of the Romans and the lives they live. But that will not be enough to save him from the inevitable. When the time comes, he will fight with all he has. Beric and his best friend are captured and forced to become gladiators in the capitol of Rome. Here, in the least likely of places, they learn about true freedom - the freedom that comes through faith in the savior, Christus.

For the purpose of review, I received the two-cd set of the audio production, two and a half hours of non stop action. I also received several online resources as well:

  • an MP3 download of Beric the Briton
  • Beric the Briton EBook by GA Henty (389 pages)
  • the complete soundtrack on MP3 download
  • downloadable poster you can print off
  • Live the Adventure newsletter
  • inspirational verse poster
  • behind the scene videos
  • Study Guide (50 pages)
While we haven't used the study guide yet (we are still on summer break), I looked through it and was very impressed. I will enjoy using this with the kids this fall when we start back to school. The study guide is basically broken down into three parts: Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. There are also many resources and activities such as recipes, pictures of famous landmarks, interesting historical tidbits, and so much more. I am excited to see the kids make even more connections between this time in history and Paul's biblical accounts of the time of Nero and the Roman Invasion.

This story is completely engrossing - two and a half hours of edge of your seat action and suspense. You will be drawn into the drama of faith and loyalty, war and love, peace and truth.The voices will, not surprisingly, seem familiar to some - actors famous from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Dr Who and many more. The production is so very well done, I just can't say enough about it. We are true fans of Heirloom Audio, and we would recommend this story to anyone who loves adventure!


Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review


To follow Heirloom Audio on social media, go to any of these links:
To see what other reviewers thought of the story, go read their reviews here:


Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review


Crew Disclaimer

Friday, July 8, 2016

A TOS Review: Laurelwood Books

Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}

Handwriting can be that subject that is the fight of the school day. I've heard many excuses and complaints, such as: "I write in every subject - why do I have to practice it again???" Or, "Nobody uses cursive anymore, why do I have to learn it???" And, my favorite: "I can use a computer keyboard for all my subjects. It's not important what my handwriting looks like." I'm sure you've heard these or others from your children, as well. That's why I was hoping to see something that may interest my 8 year old in practicing his penmanship this summer. We were chosen to review a Laurelwood Books product called Patriotic Penmanship, Grade 3.


Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}


Laurelwood Books has been around helping the homescool community for 25 years. For many, they have become a one stop shop for all their curriculum needs. I had never used them before so I was interested in seeing the great variety of products that they offer.

Patriotic Penmanship is a consumable workbook/handwriting program that stretches from kindergarten through 12th grade, including transition and review books. It is so much more than a penmanship practice time, though. With Patriotic Penmanship, you get the opportunity to expose your child to pieces of important works of literature, historical quotes and speeches, or scripture referencing the freedoms we value as Americans today. There can be many rabbit trails to chase with this program, I can assure you! This could truly become a unit study on American History, giving you the chance to research some lesser known patriots that helped form and shape the ideals of our great nation.

Caleb has had a little practice with cursive, but very little. He is already beginning to improve after only a few lessons, but I realized on the third or fourth day of him doing these assignments that he really was guessing at what he was writing. Learning to write each individual letter was no problem for him...connecting them to make words was another thing entirely. I noticed how quickly he was doing the assignments, so I sat down with him and asked him about the excerpt he was copying from. He looked at me blankly. I asked him if he had read the excerpt before beginning the assignment, and he turned a little red when he told me that he couldn't understand it. What he really meant was that he couldn't decipher the words written in cursive. So back to the beginning we went. Learning to write and learning to draw can definitely be linked and be a great starting point, but when a child is still drawing and not making connections to what he is actually writing, cursive can be difficult. So we began to break down each word as we went. It took a little more time and effort, but I think it's going to make a big difference. He still isn't crazy about cursive and would rather print, but I am glad to be spending this year working on the skill so that he has the option of which he prefers to use later in life.

The readings we have been copying have been very interesting, too. We have had passages from Psalms, quotes from Michelangelo, Ronald Reagan, and Napolean Bonaparte, and a portion of a writing from John Milton, just to name a few. Here is one of our favorites so far:



The lessons give the child a chance to trace the words, then space to write the words for themselves underneath:


As you can see in one of the above photos, the entire alphabet is printed at the bottom of each page. It gives the child a reference whenever they may need it. There are 30 lessons in the workbook, so you could easily finish this book in a short time. The book actually states that one lesson equals one week's worth of work, but Caleb usually took one or two days to do the work. However, as I stated earlier, I will probably use it as an opportunity to do some further research and have him practice each passage throughout the week. 

Patriotic Penmanship is a good program that will give ample time to practice this still important skill. I know many public schools have chosen to eliminate it from their school day, but I believe it is an art that should not be lost. None of my boys may choose to use cursive all the time, but I'm glad that they will have the ability to do so if they choose.



Be sure to follow Laurelwood Books on social media:


To see other amazing products Laurelwood Books has to offer, check out these other TOS Reviews here:


Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}


Crew Disclaimer