Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A TOS Review: YWAM Publishing

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

History comes alive with books about people. YWAM Publishing authors do this amazingly well. We were glad to review the book Heroes of History-Ronald Reagan from the Heroes of History series and the adjoining Study Guide.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

Ronald Reagan is unquestioningly one of the greatest presidents of the 20th century. His life story is one of overcoming challenges and rising to the top with hard work and integrity. He still is considered one of the most influential men in America.

The story begins with a look at his childhood. Ronald "Dutch" Reagan's family moved a lot, but he mostly grew up in small towns in Illinois. His father Jack was a shoe salesman who struggled with alcoholism through Ronald's entire life, causing much heartache for the entire family. His mother Nelle was a strong Christian woman who strived to put others' needs before her own, and to teach her boys to do the same. Her giving spirit made her beloved to all who knew her. Dutch also had an older brother named Neil, who he was admittedly not very close to.

As he grew, Dutch became very interested in sports - particularly football and swimming. He also loved theater. Some of his greatest childhood memories were going to see silent cowboy movies every Saturday. In college, he found a new passion: politics. All of these interests and pursuits helped him to become a great radio announcer, then actor, then public speaker, then politician. Through it all, he kept a steadfast faith in God that his mother shared with him from a very young age.

YWAM also sent us their digital study guide with comprehension questions, projects, and essay assignments. We enjoyed reading this book together as a family and discussing the questions. The older kids were very interested in all the events in history through Reagan's lifetime like the Depression, WWII, post-war Communism suspicion, and the Vietnam War, and how they affected him personally. His past as a Hollywood actor intrigued them, as well, and made them consider who we admire in Hollywood today that we would like to see make a move to politics. There were many varied answers to that question!

Some of the activities included putting together a time line of important historical events during Reagan's life. It sparked a lot of conversations and rabbit trails about different topics, including what major historical events I have seen in my lifetime and what ones have occurred in theirs. I don't think this generation even comes close to the major changes that the greatest generation overcame.

There were also some very interesting projects to do in the study guide. One suggestion was making a crystal radio, which we have not done yet. But we have looked at kits online and will probably do this soon!

Studying Ronald Reagan so quickly after the loss of First Lady Nancy Reagan made this book truly reach my kids. They wanted to know more about them both when they saw how much I mourned her passing. Two great people who had a profound effect on our nation. I am grateful for the opportunity to tell their stories to my children.

The books from YWAM Publishing are very well written. They are not just a dry biography with facts and figures. There is dialogue, personal introspection, and exciting detail that draws the reader in. I love reading aloud to the family, especially books from YWAM.

To keep up with YWAM on social media, follow these links:

To hear more about other books from YWAM, check out my fellow bloggers' reviews!

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A TOS Review: A+ Interactive Math

Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}

It's great to see your kids succeed. But there will be times in this homeschooling journey when your child will hit a wall. It may not seem like a major issue, but down the road, you may see it really become a problem. That's why I was glad to hear about and have the chance to review the new Math Mini-Courses from A+ Interactive Math.

Canon has always done well in math. He's flown through his lessons with very little help from me. But I noticed this year that he was struggling. It wasn't every section, just one: multiplication and division of decimals and fractions. He just couldn't understand why multiplying would give you a smaller number! I know from years of doing math how significant it is to understand these confusing problems. The thing with math is that each new concept builds upon the last and prepares you for the next concept. So when we had the opportunity to check out A Plus's new mini courses, I knew exactly which one I'd have Canon use.

The Math Mini Courses are not a full year curriculum, as you could guess from the name. It is an intensive lesson plan focusing on a key component that your child is needing more help in. Canon reviewed the Decimal Numbers course, and Caleb reviewed the Time course.

Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}

Canon's course contained 20 different lessons, covering the many properties and uses of decimals. The first lessons were pretty basic, information he already understood. But I had him do them anyway, explaining that he may have missed something earlier that could help him. Canon told me this:

"It was a fairly easy curriculum. If you got a question wrong in the Interactive Q & A, it would explain it to you. Then you could go back to the question and do it again. I liked the lessons, they were fun. It really helped me. I understand decimals much better now. I can now see why dividing decimals gives you a bigger number and multiplying them gives you a smaller number. The lessons really helped me see what I was doing!"

Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}

Caleb has already finished his 2nd grade math for the year. But he did not do as well as I wanted with analog clocks. He kind of had the same idea that his older brothers had - that he could just wear a digital watch! But I still want him to comprehend and be able to read an analog clock if and when he needs to! ;)

The Time course had 20 lessons to go through, as well. It started out with days of the week, calendar skills, and units of time. It broke each piece down so he could absorb it all and retain it. He hasn't finished all the lessons yet, but he has really enjoyed it. Here's what Caleb thought of the lessons:

"I really like this mini course. I didn't like to read old timey clocks before this, but now I like to look at them and figure it out. My Meemaw and Papa have a big tall clock at their house, and I can read it now without their help!"

I don't know if the boys will have struggles like these again, but I am very glad to have a program like A Plus to turn to if they do. If you know your child is not getting a math concept, I urge you to check out A+ Interactive Math Mini-Courses!

You can keep up with A+ on these social media outlets: 

To hear about more of A Plus's Math Mini-Courses, check out some of my fellow bloggers' reviews here:

Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Learning away from the classroom

Do you ever have days when you know you just won't be able to concentrate because it's just too beautiful outside? Well today was one of those days! I woke up, looked out at the gorgeous sunshine, and said NO to the schedule! I woke up the kids and said we were going to Silver Dollar City to enjoy Worldfest!

I think as homeschool moms, we often become slaves to our curriculum. We boxes to check, papers to grade, verbs to conjugate. I know I often forget the joy of learning, and how much we need creativity to thrive. The best learning does not come from books, even though I love reading and study8ng. The greatest learning comes from hands on, face to face, interactive moments with other human beings.

So today we took learning outside of our classroom and interacted with people from all over the world...and they also got to ride some rides!

Cas waving to the big kids on Outlaw Run

Stories and dances of the Pacific Islands

Two performers from Fiji


Cirque Zuma Zuma - African circus performers from 13 different countries

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Back To The Cross - LCA Elementary Musical

I love watching my kids perform, it's one of the greatest joys I have. I loved directing my kids for years, too. But watching simply as a spectator, having no part in the program myself, definitely has its own enjoyments. Tonight, I saw Canon and Caleb just light up on stage, as they usually do. I also saw growth, humor, and the ability to handle difficult situations with grace. There were some stumbles and missteps, but they both still did wonderful.

Caleb's dance partner missed her cue and didn't come out on stage with him, but he still went out and did the best he could to cover till she joined him. One of Canon's friends did something on stage that Canon was supposed to do, but Canon didn't miss a beat. After, the friend apologized for messing him up, and Canon quickly forgave and moved on.

I am always proud of my kids and their accomplishments, but tonight reminds me to appreciate and praise them more. I love that they are talented, but I love even more when they are gracious and kind. I saw that in both of them tonight. And I am thankful.

Caleb in the choir

Canon as CW

Caleb's dance routine

CW telling of Christ's love

Caleb's group song

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A TOS Review: The Trigger Memory Co.

The Trigger Memory Co REVIEW

Caleb has had a very successful 2nd grade year. He finished his math back in February, and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for him next. Do I start his 3rd grade work? Do some review? Work on something new? That's when this review showed up, just at the perfect time. We reviewed Times Tales by The Trigger Memory Co. I was sent the digital download version of all the products.

The Trigger Memory Co REVIEW

Times Tales is a program that uses an innovative approach to teaching young children their upper times tables. It is a memory based program, one that I think is very unique and exciting. Each multiplication problem was presented to the child as a story. Every number became a character or object in the story, and the answers created word pictures that the child made a cognitive trigger for. It was very exciting to watch Caleb learn something in such a short time that the older kids took weeks or months to learn!

Basically, the program is broken into two 30-minute video lessons. It is highly encouraged to watch the first video multiple times to make sure the triggers have been made before moving on to the second video. The child will be memorizing a lot of problems at once, and you want to be sure they really get it.

The videos are segmented into lessons. The first one was the introduction of all the number characters or objects. For example, number four (4) is a chair, and number seven (7) is Mrs. Week. After the introduction, the video introduces the stories. The story incorporates the characters and objects as well as the answer to the multiplication problem into a short one or two sentence story. For example, the story for:
7 x 4 = 28


"Mrs. Week sat on a chair and fished. She caught 2 boots and 8 trout."

I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. I wasn't sure if Caleb would make the connection. The videos kind of move slowly, but I guess that is part of the science - it's giving the child the time to look at the pictures and really make the trigger stick.

After the introduction of the stories comes the Story Quiz called Beat the Clock. The video sets up a game show screen and shows the question while the narrator asks it. There will be questions about what happened to the character, or what object did something in the story - just another time to solidify those triggers! 

In Step 4, the child is asked to retell the story. In this section they are reminded that it is VERY important to say the story in the EXACT order. Otherwise, the trigger will get confused. Using the above example, it is very important to say that Mrs. Week caught two boots first. Otherwise, when the math problem is introduced, they could say that the answer is 82 instead of 28. So memorizing the story in order is essential to success.

Step 5 is Practice Flashcards. This is when it gets fun and the child realizes that they have learned math! The narrator explains that there is a multiplication problem hidden in every story. So the first time he sees the math problem, it is with the characters or objects instead of the numbers.

Then they show the child the actual multiplication problem. The connection is complete! It was actually very fun to watch Caleb see it all come together and know what it all meant.

After they understand what has been going on, they are quizzed with real flash cards. They have another game show setting on the video where they are given 3 to 5 seconds to answer the problem. I was surprised how quickly Caleb was able to do it! After the first time watching the video, he got almost question right! 

The next section introduces division. Using the same idea and all the components they just learned for multiplication, they have to learn how to fill in the missing blank. In other words, they have to know who or what is missing from the story. Caleb is not as quick at this yet, but he is already improving!

Once you have gone through the entire video, you are encouraged to use the flash cards with your child to get them even more familiar with the stories. There are two sets - one with the characters and one typical set of multiplication problems. Then there are practice tests and final tests to use. 

I did have one complaint. I wish Times Tales covered ALL the times tables! It's very odd to me that I would have Caleb learn the higher number multiplication before the easier ones. Zeros, ones, twos and fives are completely skipped, and I would have loved to see characters for these as well.

All in all, I am very happy with Times Tales. I know this will help Caleb next year, and he will remember these tales for a very long time. 

To keep up with The Trigger Memory Co. on social media, follow the following link:

To see what some of my fellow reviewers thought of this product, check their blogs out here:

Times Tales by the The Trigger Memory Co REVIEW

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fool's is but once a year...

...thank goodness!

It's a very good thing our Fridays are so crammed packed with activities, because my kids created enough havoc in the 3 hours before theater to last me the entire year! Shaving cream on the toilet, books propped over doors, Kool Aid in the faucet, upside-down water glasses on the counter...enough is enough already!

I am glad the kids love to play practical jokes on each other. And for the most part, they are all taken with good natured hilarity. But would it kill them to clean up after the jokes? When I'm the one who doesn't really partake or especially even care for them, why am I left with cleanup duty? Such is the life of a mom with creative, partially sadistic children, I suppose. And I'm sure I'll survive it...let's just hope they all do!!!