Tuesday, September 29, 2015

USAopoly: Tapple & Wonky Game Review - TOS Crew

 USAopoly Review
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What is it that we all look for in a game? What makes a game successful in your homeschool classroom? We all have some sort of criteria that we attach to our game search to help us decide if it is worth our time and money. Well, USAopoly has hit the ball out of the park!! My family and I had the privilege to review Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone and Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and as soon as we opened the boxes we were hooked! Well, if I am going to be completely honest, I was hooked from the moment I read the names! ha ha! I love unique and fun games, and I knew I would love these games from their unique and fun names!

Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone
 USAopoly Review
Let me just say.....if you are a fan of a fast-paced, energetic, creative game this one is for you! You are racing against the timer in this categorical game. The cards are the categories and after one is picked you have to think of something that fits in the category that starts with one of the letters and then depress the letter as you say the word. Your kids will find themselves learning when they aren't even meaning to! Learning through play is my favorite way to learn!
Let me add a small disclaimer about age. There is a suggested age of 8+, which I only mention because I tried to play this game with a  2 year old, and let's just say.....there is more to this game than pushing the buttons! ha ha!  She had a blast, but it definitely helps if your children know their letters!
This game is great and has brought my daughters and I hours of fun!
USAopoly Review
Wonky is a simple game that is not so simple. Try it once and you will understand that statement completely. The simplicity of the game is it's charm. You have cards that tell you what to do. You follow the card and stack the blocks without knocking it over......simple enough right?! Wrong!!! Not only are the blocks a little wonky [yes....pun intended!] but you add the strategy of which card to play in order to cause someone other than yourself to knock over the stack, and you've got a game that is anything but "simple!" Be the person to get rid of all your cards without knocking over the tower of blocks and you become the winner!
This happens to be my youngest daughters favorite game. This picture was a final game before bed!
Even though it is her favorite game we all loved it! Even the little 2 year old that tried out Tapple gave this one a whirl. As intelligent as she is, it helps if they can read before attempting the game. She did have a blast stacking the "wonky" blocks but that was about it. If you stick to the age recommendations you should be prepared for a lot of fun!
How We Used Them:
These games are made to play, and that we did! My girls wanted to play one of the games every night before bed. It was nice to have time with them, all while huddled around these fantastic games.
My Bottom Line:
What is not to love?! These games are fabulous by design and fun to play. My girls and I have spent many hours playing these games, and we found them to be .......well........ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!!!! 
I have no doubt that these would be a welcome addition to your game closet. With it being September already [ugh! Which is so hard to believe], you could start thinking about purchasing them for Christmas presents. These games are easy to play and easy to love!
Click here to see all the games that USAopoly has to offer!
Don't forget......Have fun!
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 USAopoly Review

The Transforming Power of Jesus

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Recently in my Christian Education class several of my friends shared their testimony of how they came to know Jesus, and what it has meant in their life. As they shared about the power of God in their life, they spoke of the transforming power that revolutionized them, and how they are no longer the way they were. I love hearing stories like that! Don't you?
2 Corinthians 5:17 says - "Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether): the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold the fresh and new has come." Amplified Version
As I listened to testimonies of how people used to be angry, sad, depressed, lonely, overcome by fear, involved in things they shouldn't etc. until Jesus Christ came into their heart, I found myself in awe all over again of the greatness of God. I am so thankful that the God who created the universe has made a way for us to spend eternity with Him! And as we give our hearts to Him, He creates something new inside us that is completely fresh and new! 
One friend in particular shared how she did not like to be touched...well, actually hugged. When she came to church the first time and saw people hugging she was thinking, "Nobody had better come up and try hugging me!" What I find interesting is seeing the transformation that only a good and loving God can do. She used to never smile and tried to not get hugged, but now she is a hugger, full of joy and laughter. Only God can do that!
I was a young girl when I gave my heart to the Lord and then grew up in church, but I still have experienced the same transforming power of God! I have seen Him at work in my heart and life from the beginning, and I know that He is continually crafting and molding me into who I need to be for Him. I am not the same person I was, and I am so thankful for that.
Everyday we have the opportunity to follow Christ wherever He leads us. We have the opportunity to allow the continual crafting process in our hearts, if we say yes to whatever He has for us. As we are obedient to His Word, He continues His transformation in our hearts and minds.
So let me encourage you to not just read God's Word, but make sure that you are obeying His Word. He has a wonderful plan for our lives if we just say YES!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

YWAM Publishing: Heroes of History (Orville Wright) Review - TOS Crew

YWAM Publishing Review
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YWAM Publishing Review

 My daughter and I had the wonderful opportunity to review the book Orville Wright in the Heroes of History series by YWAM Publishing. There is also a Unit Study Curriculum Guide that we were able to work our way through as we studied the book.

I have found a lot of unique and interesting challenges along the way as I walked out my decision to homeschool. Probably the most chronic challenge was (is) time management. But I would have to say that the one that has kept me up at night, is curriculum choice.  You see we all want to make the best decisions for our kids and help them as much as we can, but the bottom line is this: You don't know what you don't know. Before finding this wonderful book and having the opportunity to walk through it systematically; Orville Wright was a couple of paragraphs in a Social Studies or History Book. That doesn't give our kids the full grasp of the story at all. So finding, and having the opportunity to review this wonderful product has been a true blessing to our homeschool.

YWAM Publishing did a magnificent job of bringing history to life. These books are an opportunity to really take some time and dig into the background of some of most famous and talked about people from history, and begin to understand fully their contribution to our country and our world! Isn't that really what we all want for our kiddos? You see, my choice to homeschool was because I believed my kids could receive a better, well-rounded, more comprehensive education if I schooled them at home, and homeschool curriculum choice is one of the biggest factors. Especially when you are faced with differences in learning methods. .......listen.....I wasn't kidding when I said that sometimes it kept me up at night.....and I believe that is the same for some of you reading this blog. So finding a gem like Heroes of History from YWAM Publishing is an answer to prayer.

My daughter is not a huge reader, but definitely becoming more interested. So I am so glad for the Unit Study Curriculum Guide that we were able to stop and work through. This guide is able to measure your comprehension and it was just the break she needed before diving back into the material.

How We Used It:

This year I took our schedule and changed it up a little bit. With me going back to work this year, I wanted to make their schedule work for us as a family. So, I scheduled accordingly. I made sure that their class load was easiest when I would be home so we could go over more difficult things, or things that might need more assistance from me. That is when I scheduled my daughter to work on her Heroes of History - Orville Wright material. I love the light in her eyes when she is loving to learn. School has not always been that way for her, so when it is......I rejoice!!! When I asked my daughter what she thought of the book she said, "I love the fact that they know so much about his childhood. I mean, I get excited to open up my book and learn more about him!" That says it all right there. That is how we all want our kids to feel about learning!

My Bottom Line:

To be honest, we enjoyed this curriculum very much! We did not use this to replace our usual Social Studies/History material, but instead added it in as an extra and we are so glad we did! Heroes of History - Orville Wright is a wonderful compliment curriculum and made me realize that we need all of them. The YWAM Publishing website has so much to offer and with how much we enjoyed Orville Wright, I can't wait to get my hands on some of their other resources! Many thanks go out to YWAM Publishing for producing fantastic, top notch material that my child enjoys learning from. That is HUGE when it comes to homeschooling!
Check out all your options here.

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  YWAM Publishing Review

Monday, September 21, 2015

We are the Light

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As I was reading my Bible today these verses kind of jumped off the page at me. I think the part that seemed to jump out the most was the verse that says, (Live as children of the light and find out what pleases the Lord.) We are told to live as children of the light and to find out what pleases the Lord.......
Recently, I have been increasingly consumed with what would be pleasing to the Lord. In my own time with God, I have found myself being challenged more and more. I have been digging into the Word of God more, and have been challenged in my prayer time as well. I can tell that He desires a closer relationship. He desires to be a part of every part of my life. He desires ME........EVERY part of me.  He desires that I live a life that reveals His true nature to those around me. You see.....He loves the lost. He wants us to love on those around us, so we can tell them about Him!  It is our mission to reach the lost.....tell them about our great and mighty God.....be filled with the fruit of the spirit and let it overflow into every part of our lives!
How exciting is that? He has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light, and then asks us to help others do the same. We live in a world that is lost in the darkness and they can't find the way out. They are bumbling around searching for something that will bring clarity........We have it! We are the light of God to the world around us. So, don't be afraid to speak up. Don't hold back. Don't keep your light to yourself!!
He also tells us to find out what pleases Him.....how can we do that?
Don't miss your time with God. Seek Him......
Deuteronomy 4:29 says, "But, if from there you seek the lord you God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul."
There is no time for us to be complacent, there are souls that are hanging in the balance.....and the best part is THIS...we have the light they need!!!

Fascinating Education: Fascinating Physics Review - TOS Crew

Fascinating Education Review

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I don't know about you, but I find it extremely difficult to find curriculum for my kids. Now don't get me wrong, there is an over abundance of good curriculum readily available for homeschoolers. The problem for me is this, I find it difficult to find the curriculum that will be challenging, but not too challenging.....all while keeping it both educational and fun!
That is where Fascinating Education comes into play. I had the opportunity to review Fascinating Physics over the past several weeks, and it has been awesome!
Well, let me correct that last statement.....My daughter has been actively reviewing the product....while I have been observing. Yes, that is more precisely what has been happening!  Ha ha ha!
About The Product:
Fascinating Physics takes science and makes it relevant to your student by showing them how it impacts the world around them. I love how they blend audio and visual together in an award winning team to teach your student step-by-step each concept. Our brains are created in a manner that processes images more quickly than words, and they have optimized in a creative and very effective way.
Lessons are laid out like you see below with buttons to click below each picture that gives you access to the lessons, scripts, and tests that go coincide with each lesson. Below, you will find a picture of what it looks like when you log in, and you're getting ready to pick a lesson.

Fascinating Education Review
Each lesson has a corresponding text script, along with an online quiz for your student to take. There are also pdf versions of the quizzes and answer keys (accessed by a secondary password) so that you can proctor the test if you would prefer.
If you think that this sounds wonderful, but your student isn't ready for Physics yet, don't worry. There is also Fascinating Chemistry and Fascinating Biology. Dr. Margulies, the creator of the curriculum, did a wonderful job in putting it together in a manner that facilitates learning at the highest levels. With his background in neurology, he understands how the brain works and he has used that understanding in the formulation of this curriculum.
Fascinating Education Review
How We Used It
I decided to plug it right into her schedule for school and let her use it daily. What a wonderful decision that was. First, let me start off by saying, she loved science to start with. However, if she didn't....she would now. Fascinating Physics uses technology to leverage optimum educational potential! Basically.....SHE LOVED IT!  She found it easy to understand, easy to use, and fun as well. That is always a good find on the homeschool science curriculum hunt!!!  Right??!!
 When I asked her what she thought of it, she said, "I love it. It sure makes learning easy!  It is the best form of online curriculum that we have had. I love how there is a script that goes with everything. I am not a big fan of online curriculum.....but I love it!" That my friends is what I love to hear!
My Bottom Line
Well, if you haven't guessed already, WE LOVE IT! We are so thankful for the opportunity to review this excellent product. I don't hesitate recommending it to you. I know that your student will enjoy Physics class....or any of the other classes offered by Fascinating Education because this curriculum is top notch!
I would love to hear back from you if you give it a try! Also, there is a sample lesson available if you click here. Check it out!
Happy Learning!
Fascinating Education Review

Monday, September 14, 2015

Stinky Kid Math Review - TOS Crew

Stinky Kid Math Review
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I had the opportunity to review Stinky Kid Math. This website is a great resource when it comes to all things Algebra and Geometry. The goal of Stinky Kid Math is to take people who might struggle some in math, and give them the confidence and excitement that comes from consistent comprehension.  
What is Stinky Kid Math?
Stinky Kid Math is a website full of math resources that can take you chronologically through Foundational Math through Algebra and Geometry. As a Stinky Kid Math Member, you will have unlimited access to video lessons, math games, book and worksheet practice in addition to all other site resources. You are able to watch streamed online videos at your convenience. You may have a student like mine that benefits from hard copies of books or worksheets. That is fine too. There are printable worksheets available that will allow your student to practice the concepts from the lesson.
One of my favorite parts is the online games. Now, I am not just saying that because of my secret love of Tetris......games are awesome because online games strengthen skills when they are busy having fun!  I LOVE THAT!!  You know as well as I do that kids can get caught up in a game for hours. Usually that is not good, but get them started into one of the online games from Stinky Kid Math, and the hour they spend learning math skills serve an amazing purpose! What could be better?
How We Used It 
My eighth grader is currently working through Pre-Algebra. We found the lessons/videos very helpful. We utilized this resource as an online math tutor of sorts. When she found herself struggling, we were able to pull up the corresponding lessons so we could work through some extra practice to bring some clarity to the concept.
Isn't that the best part of homeschooling? When you can utilize multiple different resources to help your child understand a concept they may be struggling with, or may not completely understand. I find that to be one of the wonderful blessings my children are able to experience as homeschooled students.
My Bottom Line
I found this website to be very beneficial to my daughter in her quest to understand Pre-Algebra. If your student needs math help in the form of Algebra or Geometry tutoring, this site can be very helpful to your student and your homeschool. The video lessons on the site grab your attention from the start and work through math concepts in a logical way, thus helping your child grasp whatever concept they may be working on. It doesn't matter if your child is struggling with something as simple as fractions, decimals or percent; or if they are working on something as advanced as quadratics, polynomials, roots or parabolas.....this website can help your student master it!! 
That makes this website a winner in my book!
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Stinky Kid Math Review

Wednesday, September 9, 2015



Have you ever been "stuck"? You know that you need to make a decision about something, but you just don't know what to do?

I am so thankful for a God who cares about every decision we make. As we study His Word we are filled with wisdom beyond our own understanding! Wooohooo! That is something to shout about!

We are not in this alone. We don't have to figure out life's twists and turns on our own. We have instructions and help from the God who made the world and all we see. He is our help and strength. He is the One to turn to when we don't know what else to do! He is the One who fills us with wisdom, and speaks direction and guidance to our hearts.

So, rest in this my friends.....God is your HELP in time of need!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Experiencing His Presence

Life can become so busy and filled with distractions that we opt out of the things that would bring us true happiness and peace.  My family and I are no different than you. We too become busy, and stressed which only causes us to be scattered and uneasy. The picture above is us on a bike ride. I hate to admit that our times having fun all together are too few and far between. It can be so easy to get weighed down by cares, errands, worries and....can I say.....email or social media?   I believe I just did!!!  Whatever it is, we lose sight of the things that should matter the most in our lives.
I was reading my devotions this morning and there is an interesting story at the end of Luke chapter 2 about when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem for the Passover when He was twelve years old. After the festival was over, they left to go home, and without checking, they just figured that Jesus was with them. My devotional posed this question to me, and I will pose it to you.....I wonder how many times we suppose God's with us when we've wandered off to do our own thing?
How many times do we head off just figuring that God is with us. We didn't spend any time praying about our direction, we just head off hoping upon hope that God will bless what we are doing. This I know.....that is not the way God intended our relationship with Him to be.
My devotional went on to say, "Now here's the interesting part. Mary and Joseph had traveled a day's journey before they realized Jesus wasn't with them and then it took three days to find Him. Three days! The message here is that it's easier to lose that special presence of God than it is to get it back once we've lost it. We need to be careful to remain in the presence of God. When we do, we make God feel at home in our hearts."
Spending time with God is so important. God desires to walk and talk with us. He desires to be a part of what we are doing. He desires to help us make decisions, and guide us through difficult times. He desires us!!  He has also made us with a free will. So when we don't desire after Him, He doesn't force us to. He allows us a free choice. Oh how it must break His heart when we simply walk away and do our own thing. I know that there have been times that I have broken the heart of God, which in turn should lead us to repentance. As we commit to turn from behavior that offends God, spiritual maturity is taking place in our lives!!
I am so thankful that I serve a God that shows me the way of life. My God is alive and relevant to the world around me. My God fills me with joy and peace that cannot be contained!!
Psalm 16:11 says: "You will sow me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever." Praise God!!
If you haven't already, spend some time with God today....you will be so glad you did!!