Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Cat of Bubastes (Review Crew)

Today I'm sharing our review of  The Cat of Bubastes by Heirloom Audio Productions.   Let me just say this is by far our favorite vendor to review for!   We love these audio dramas!   This audio drama differs just a bit from the other Heirloom Audio Productions, only in the sense that due to the topic and time frame, there aren't as many griping battle scenes to leave you breathless.   That does not mean this is a dull story, quite the opposite!  You'll find yourself cheering for Amuba, Chebron and Jethro as they form friendships that tie them together for life.
The Cat of Bubastes takes place during the captivity of Israel in ancient Egypt.   The listener is given insight into the varying religious beliefs of the time, within the context of the story.   For example, when a young girl is attacked by a crocodile, and rescued by the main characters (Amuba, Chebron and Jethro) you learn of the religious beliefs concerning the crocodile.   As Chebron's father walks out his Egyptian priesthood, you start to get glimpses that he isn't in complete agreement with the Egyptian religious beliefs of the day.   Interesting tidbits concerning daily life, rituals and embalming practices help give a deeper understanding to the time period.   You'll also get a brief glimpse at Moses as a young man, still living as an Egyptian.

The accompanying (digital) study guide is a wonderful way to delve deeper into the history, character and vocabulary that are part of this production.   There are three components to the study guide.   The "Listening Well" portion asks questions to see how well the listener has paid attention, and retained information.  Answers to the questions can easily be found by listening to the audio drama again.   The "Thinking Further" questions require more thought, critical thinking, a little theorizing and some research to answer.   Lastly the "Defining Words" section gives listeners an opportunity to increase their vocabulary.    At the beginning of the study guide you'll find biographies of author G.A. Henty, and Moses.  There are also a few extras like recipes, maps and games sprinkled throughout the study.
One thing that I find especially handy is that the study guide is broken up by disc, track and time.   This allows you to quickly go to the section of the CD that is being studied.  If students are having a hard time remembering information, you can quickly look at the study guide and then use your CD player to pop over to the correct spot.   This alleviates the dreaded play, fast forward, rewind loop that can be ever so maddening when searching for something on CD. 

At the end of the study guide is a reading list for those who want to continue in their study of ancient Egypt.   There are also three short Bible studies that the student and/or the family can work through to enhance the message behind the storyline.

In addition to the study guide download, you also receive access to these online extras when you purchase the audio drama:  MP3 Soundtrack, MP3 Story Set, E-book download, printable cast poster, behind the scenes video, inspirational verse poster and a subscription to the "Live the Adventure" newsletter.

To read other Review Crew member reviews of this product, click here.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up - Vo-Tech Week

While it's often hard to tell what someone may "be when they grow up", sometimes it's very obvious to see.    Olivia, as I've said before, loves all things animals and history, so I've been looking at ways to focus on those areas in her academics.   While I do plan to continue homeschooling, I'm not above looking into vo-tech to add to what we're already doing.   This week, Olivia attended our local vo-tech for a two day evaluation and skills assessment.

Not surprisingly, veterinarian technician was here #1 pick, and she scored a 99 on that battery of tests.  Her number 2 pick was policeman and she scored 92 in that grouping.   The policeman pick really surprised me, until she pointed out "I could be in the K-9 unit".   The counselor was very helpful and I should have the reports back by the end of the week.   The issues is we live in the city, not the county.   Apparently the county doesn't have a problem with homeschooled students attending the vo-tech, but city schools do.   Once I get the reports, I have to call the school here and see what their deal is.

The weather here in Virginia has begun to mellow out.   The days aren't nearly as hot and humid, and the nights are downright chilly.   The leaves are beginning to change color, but due to the dry conditions, I don't know that they will be as vibrant in color this year.  None the less, I'm looking forward to getting outdoors more.
If you are looking for a fun new game to add to your families collection, check out my review of Tenzi. We've had SO much fun playing this game, and there are so many ways to play that it can be different every time you play, and truthfully, who wouldn't want to see these expressions on your families faces every now and then?

Give away deadline fast approaching!

Today (September 23 by midnight) is the deadline to enter to win a copy of the 6-week Bible study entitled I Am Found.  The deadline to register for  a 10 week study on the book of Acts entitled An Unexplainable Life is Saturday, September 24.   Entries are low, so you have a great chance of winning if you enter!  

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tenzi & 77 Ways to Play Tenzi (Review)

The folks at Timberdoodle sent us a fun new product to review.   Behold, the Tenzi game ($13.95) and the 77 Ways to Play Tenzi Card Deck ($9.95).  The abbreviated review would be, LOVE IT!   However, I'm thinking I should probably expound a bit.

The basic premise is that you have a tube of 4 different colors of dice, 10 dice per color.  Players (up to 4 at a time) race to roll all the same dice before yelling "TENZI!"   This is fun for younger kids as they learn to recognize numbers and work with hand eye coordination.   You can also do math challenges, such as all 10 dice must add up to the number 37; or each pair of dice must equal 9. 

That general description sounds a bit bland.  But then when you start adding your own variations, or the crazy combinations offered in the 77 Ways to Play Tenzi pack, then things can quickly get hysterical.   For example, one of the cards require you to do things like clap your hands after every roll, or make a funny noise after every roll.   For the pirate lovers among us, close one eye and say "argh" after each roll.  There are also cards that have specific number patterns you have to build, which are a lot harder than it sounds.

While it may sound simple, you can tell by the photo below it does challenge your brain.   I believe this was the "Call out a cartoon character between every roll" card.  Apparently cartoons are harder than one might think.

What we did was shuffle the deck of cards, and then played through the entire deck.   Most of the cards list fast games, but every now and then you get one that takes a little longer.   Even working through the entire deck it only took us about 45 minutes.  That 45 minutes was full of fun and laughter.  This is DEFINITELY one we're adding to the top 5 list for family game night.

Both Tenzi and 77 Ways to Play are part of the complete 2nd Grade Curriculum Kit from Timberdoodle, or you can purchase both items separately,but I highly recommend buying both the game and the cards together.   You can thank me later!

I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  I did not receive any other compensation, nor was I required to write a positive review.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Pray-ers (Homeschool Review Crew)

Today I'm sharing our experience with The Pray-ers /Book 1 Troubles by Mark S. Mirza and published by CTM Publishing Atlanta.
There is a four page preface at the beginning of this book where the author gives you some valuable information about the book.   Here, Mirza points outs that he's taken great liberty in writing about demons, their appearance and daily interactions.   The author also strongly urges the reader that the focus of the book is on the victory we already have in Christ, not in sensationalizing demons and their abilities.     Mirza takes it a step farther by also refusing to capitalize the fictitious names he's given those characters.  Throughout the book, you'll also find footnotes corresponding with prayers and scripture references.

Originally I'd planned for this book to be added to my teenager's reading list.  However, prior to doing so, I wanted to read it myself and determine if I felt it matches our families doctrinal beliefs before handing it over to an impressionable teen.   After reading it myself, I didn't feel that it would benefit her, and may actually prove confusing, so my review is shared based on my reading of the book.

The two most pronounced doctrinal differences is in the author's stance (through his characters) that 1) God makes bad things happen to you to get you to your correct place, and 2) that God doesn't mean physical healing when healing is mentioned in the scriptures.   There are times in other area's where I couldn't tell if the character's were being sarcastic in some of their statements, or if they were saying yes they did in fact believe some things.

The storyline is told predominantly in three parts (First Century, Nineteen Century and Current Era).    Early on in the book,  era changes are marked with new chapters; later chapters combine the three story lines.   I found this hard to follow at first, and I really wasn't sure how the the author was going to tie the three era's together, but by midway I finally started to get a better handle on it.    I did find that in the back of the book there's a time frame that shows how long each era took.  The author references the Wesley Family Prayer Book throughout the story and it is used especially to tie together the Nineteenth Century and Current Era.

The writer does a fine job of painting vivid mental images for the reader; vivid, but not gruesome or  evil.   The characters grow and develop with the story as they rely on their prayer life to change their environment and the people around them.   While this book is far better than a lot of the modern day gore that is written for teens, I really didn't care for it at a parent or a reader.

The ending really leaves you hanging, but is great as bait for Novel 2 that will be released around Christmas of 2016.

To read other Homeschool Review Crew members reviews of this book, click here.


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Friday, September 16, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up - The One With Give Aways!

This has been an incredibly hectic week here in our house.   We've had somewhere to be every single day, some days with more than one place to be.    In addition to our already overly full normal life, the girls also took on the responsibility of dog sitting three dogs.  This meant three times a day we had to load up and drive across town to walk, water, feed and clean up after the dogs.  The girls now see why we don't have inside pets.

Our once a month, small co-op had it's first meeting this week.   I teach 2 of the 3 classes.  We learned about Japan (geography and culture study) in my 1st class.  Then in the art class, I taught the kids how to draw and paint a Japanese goldfish.   The class has an age range from 1st grade through 9th, so I had to get a feel for where everyone's ability level was.   I'd worried that I didn't have enough material for the cultures class, but come to find out I ran out of time...but not before I broke out the sushi.  I wish I'd taken the camera with me!  Our third class is ASL, but due to a scheduling conflict that got bumped off the class list this week.

The girls also started back to their weekly IEW writing group this week.   In addition to regular writing, the class will be adding poetry time this year.   Olivia is really looking forward to the poetry.  Lindsey not so much.

Oh, and the girls had their first volleyball games this past weekend.   Olivia's team was victorious in all three of their games (and she had some amazing serves).  Lindsey's team (the one I coach) won only one of three.   They had a great time, and are really enjoying the sport and their new sports program.  

I have to admit, even though it was a successful week, I'm glad it's over.   I'm hoping to get a better grip on our schedule...soon...I hope, ahem.

I have two give aways going on this week.   The first is a copy of the 6-week Bible study entitled I Am Found.  The second book is at 10 week study on the book of Acts entitled An Unexplainable Life.   Be sure to hop over (using the links provided in this paragraph) and sign up for a chance to win.

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up.
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