Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review-Snake Oil!

Out of the Box Games Review

Wahoo! Out of the Box Games has outdone themselves with the clever, family friendly game, Snake Oil. When I read that this was up for review, I had to giggle as we joke about our "snake oils" that we use everyday (essential oils). I was excited to be chosen for this review and thrilled that Big Daddy was home so we could all play together. The game needs 3 or more players and includes directions for a tournament play that can have up to 24 players! We played with all 5 of us and had so much fun!

Out of the Box Games Review
Set up and directions are simple. We didn't even take all the cards out of the holder in the box, but just set the holder on the table and got started - lol! The game is intended for ages 10 and up. Princess P is 9 but didn't have any trouble catching on and keeping up so I think you could go a little younger if wanted. We started by reading the kids about what snake oil really is. None of them had heard of it so I'm glad it was included on the instruction sheet.

What supermodel doesn't need bra glue?
Such funny combos!!

To play the game, each player gets 6 word cards. There are word cards and then a smaller deck of "Customer Cards." The customer tells who they are...such as pirate, pregnant lady, sports fan, couch potato, or cowboy. All the "non customers" choose two of their word cards and "invent" something that the customer can't live without. You have up to 30 seconds to give your spiel before it moves to the next person. After everyone goes, the customer chooses one person's product as the one they must have and that person wins that round.   

This was hilarious!! The combinations were so funny and random and we all laughed and laughed. The site says the game takes 20-30 minutes to play. We played WAY longer that our first time because no one wanted to stop! I loved how creative the kids were and how they had to think on their feet. They came up with such great spiels and were so convincing that it was hard to decide sometimes.  I really wish I had videoed some of them. They were SO convincing about why we needed their product. So funny. 

This was a great game to bring us all together. It's hard to find things sometimes that both P (at 9) and C (at almost 15) enjoy, let alone Big Daddy and I enjoy too.And finding something that isn't electronic is a huge plus for us. We are going on vacation later this month and Big Daddy said to make sure we bring this!!

At only $19.99, this is cheaper than going out to eat and has brought so much fun to our evenings. It would be fun to play with friends and family. I'd even like to try the tournament! As I said, it's hard to find something that our whole family can enjoy so this is definitely worth the price to me. These moments of hanging around together in the evening are fleeting...gotta take advantage of them while we can.
This is sadly my final review for TOS for the year and we are taking a break from reviewing next year. Talking about going out in style though!! This one was a blast! Thanks for reading and commenting on my reviews. Please keep following the Schoolhouse Review Crew as they have big things in store for next year. I'll miss it, but look forward to slowing down a bit with our homeschooling.

Check out more reviews of Snake Oil and other games by clicking on the banner below and find out more info from the vendor here:

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall....for today!

Our tree out front is gorgeous, but it usually only lasts like this for a few days. So, I drug the kids out yesterday and had them stand in front of it for a picture. This really isn't even about the kids (hence the not bothering to brush hair or change clothes!)'s all about that tree!

OK - the kids are pretty cute too. ;)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Review: Christmas Book

Christmas Book Review

     I'm always looking for new ways to teach the kids the true meaning of Christmas. It's so hard in this world that is bombarding us with materialistic reasons to celebrate this day so I was excited to get to review If He Had Not Come, by David Nicholson.  The book is recommended for ages 6 and up and is $18.95 for a  hardbound book like we got to review, or just $3.99 for an ebook.

     Before we started reading the book, I asked the kids what they thought it would be like if Jesus had never come. They had some answers, like "sad" or "boring." I was just curious of their thoughts before beginning. Princess P and I had read through the book during soccer practice a few weeks before so she and I knew what the story line was.

     Terrific T read the book aloud to us. It's only 40 pages so didn't take too long to read. Every other page is a full bleed page picture that is really beautiful. Charles Jaskiewicz illustrated this and deserves big props for capturing the feeling and story so well in pictures.
     If He Had Not Come is the story of a young boy who goes to sleep on Christmas Eve with John 15:22 on his mind. The verse says, "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin," The rest of the book follows this boy as he discovers what would be different if Jesus had not come in the flesh to the world.

     It was a very sad and different world than we know today and eye opening to the kids to think about the world like this. It was also eye opening to see that everything in our lives that is good is due to Jesus coming as a baby and then dying for our sins. Think about it!

    There are questions and activities in the back to aid in our discussion with the kids about the book. We chose to do the one that asked the kids to make a list of things that would be different in your life if He had not come. They came up with this:

     We likely wouldn't foster (why do for others? why care for the least of these?), wouldn't go to church, would have different friends. Then it hit them that Big Daddy and I MET at church...if there wasn't a church we likely wouldn't have met and they wouldn't be here!! T added that the world would be full of sin and evil and would be...bad to the bone (and not in a good way!).

     This book was a gentle reminder of the true meaning of Christmas and I liked that they included the ways to discuss and apply what we learned. The book ends with a list of ways to help you celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. I'm looking forward to revisiting this book in the next few weeks as we set up our tree and start looking more towards the big day.

If He had not sad would we all be. :(
Check out more info about this book and author by checking out his facebook page or clicking the link to see what other crewmates had to say about it.


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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Let's talk oils...again.

Some friends and I went to a Healing Oils of the Bible class last month. It was fascinating!! God truly gave us all we needed in the Garden of Eden. He provided food and oils for staying healthy, then when sin entered the world, we had the oils already there for diseases and illnesses. It was all there for our use and still is. Thank you, Jesus! I loved smelling and applying the oils that were the same smells that Jesus and his friends used when he walked the earth. I was really drawn to one in particular...Hyssop. The smell stayed with me for days and it's on my order for this month. Hyssop was used to put the blood on the doorposts for passover, and was used to hand Jesus the sour wine when he was on the cross. Coincidence? Not a chance. I can't wait to get it!

October 4th marked the one year anniversary of us using Young Living Essential Oils in our home and I'm still learning new ways every day to help support our family's health with the oils and supplements they offer.  And I love it! It's actually a lot of fun to learn about what can make us feel better and stay well instead of just blindly popping pills or ignoring symptoms. We feel better than ever now that we are doing our Ningxia Red "shots" everyday. It's fun to keep my family healthy. I am also loving sharing these healing oils with others and trying to teach them to take control of their health. It's fun to scan people and have them shocked that the Zyto scanner is right on. Just another tool to help us with better health.

Last November, I started using Essential Rewards (ER). At first, I was confused and it seemed like a scam or something to commit to buying every month. I sent my friend a thousand questions and then decided to bite the bullet...and I'm so glad I did. See, ER isn't that scary. It's actually pretty awesome! You do commit to buying every month, but you can change up what you order each time and get only the things you want or need. The best part is you get a % back in free product credit for each oil you buy. The first 6 months, you get 10% credit. The next 6 you get 15%. And starting at month 13, you get 20% credit every month. YL is so awesome that some months, they offer an additional 10% credit if you spend 300 pv (normally that is $300).  They did this last month and are doing it again this month for a 250 PV order. So last month, I spent $300 and got $75 product credit to spend in the next 12 months. In the past year, I've received over $500 in free products from cashing in ER points. On top of that, they give away products for free for reaching certain order amounts (190/250/300) so I've really got way more than the $500 free! It's a great way to stock up your cabinet to be ready for anything.

If you haven't ventured in to the oily world, what's stopping you? Ask me anything and I'm happy to point you in the right direction. I haven't had anyone start using them and not like them!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Goodbye, October!

It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year, and now, we are just around the corner from Thanksgiving. Already?

I love the fall. The cooler weather makes me want to hunker down and stay home until spring...and I like being home. Football wraps up next week for C, which will certainly slow us down although secretly, I'm going to really miss watching him play and I know he is going to REALLY miss playing. We opted out of acting in the play this year with our CC friends. That was a hard decision.We have loved the last two plays and the kids do so well in them. Possibly if auditions weren't while we were still in the thick of football, I would have been more inclined to jump in....but as I said, I like being home!

Big Daddy has been home for the past 3 months and it has been awesome. We are getting super spoiled and loving it! We just started the final stretch of CC for the semester too - wahoo.

I have not even begun to think about Christmas gifts - there's still time, right?

We have a cruise booked for November that we can't wait to get to...but I know once it hits, it's a mad rush to Christmas. I want to plan NOW for December. I want to have a good plan laid out for how we will point our eyes on Christ during this stupidly busy time of year and not lose focus on what is the most important. We have done the Jesse Tree before, and might do that again. But I'm looking for ideas that go a little deeper since the kids are getting older. Any ideas? away!

And lastly, as we close out October, I have to give all glory to God that my Grandma is doing better. We truly thought it was the end less than two weeks ago. Her body was done and mentally, she was done too. She has made HUGE strides in her recovery and is blowing me away with how well she is doing. Not quite back to where she was a month ago, but definitely heading in the right direction. I have been taking one kiddo each time I go to visit her (first in the hospital and now in the rehab facility she is in). Today, T and P dressed up for the visit and Gram joked with them a little. It was awesome!! I love her so much and am thankful for this time together!

Now to finish up a few things and get ready for our old foster son to come over. We are so excited to have him come trick-or-treat with the kids tonight. It's cold and they are young so I'm sure we won't last very long. But looking forward to visiting for a while.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: Aprendamos Espanol

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

My family and I used to live in Middlebury, VT, so seeing Middlebury Interactive Languages come up for review really caught my eye! Princess P has been wanting to learn Spanish for a while now, so we chose their Elementary Spanish I course for this review period.  It is recommended for grades 3-5 and P is in 4th so we were right in the recommended range. There are no prerequisites for taking this class, so we got her set up with an account and logged in to begin.

I was a little nervous to begin because despite two years of Spanish in high school and in college, I pretty much know nothing in Spanish. Nada. (heehee...I said pretty much) But this was totally fun and easy! There are 7 units and a review in this set. For P's grade, Middlebury recommends doing 2-3 days a week. Doing that, you could easily get through this in the semester. There is a calendar on the site with lessons listed for each day. We ignored that and just went through the Table of Contents and selected the next lesson on Tues and Thurs when we did Spanish.  I like that it checks off the ones you have done so you know where you left off.  I also liked that the topics were practical things to learn and the pictures are fun and bright. There are all cartoon drawings and the speech is clear on the sound parts.

Unit 1 starts by giving you the intro and objectives and then jumps right into reading you a story in Spanish. P was a little put off by this because she "didn't understand a word they just said." After two roughly a week and a half, they told the same story again and this time she could understand enough to make sense of it! This was super cool and encouraging to her.

The lessons are simple and required nothing from me. Once we figured out the system (ie click the check mark in the top right corner when finished so it scores it for you!), she was off and running. She would normally do an entire lesson in one sitting. There is enough repetition that she was able to do it all on her own. She would sometimes ask me "do girls end in a or o?" when she started a lesson because that kept confusing her, but if she knew it, she could do them all. There are some lessons that ask you to restate the words into a mic. When our computer died, the mic went with I just sat with her on those and listened instead of recording and playing back. Since we didn't have the teacher grading us, it was no biggie to do it like this. Once we get a new computer, we can start recording again.

They mix up the teaching methods throughout the lessons so it isn't boring to the kids. They speak, quiz, practice, explore, color, sing, etc. They keep the kids moving. We spent about 30 minutes at a time on this. Most of the time, that completed an entire lesson. Sometimes, we would stop and then pick up the next day and call it review before starting the next lesson. P enjoyed it so much she would want to do several lessons at a time, but after letting her do that a few times, I realized she wasn't retaining as well when she rushed through several so started limiting it to 30 minutes. It's a tough problem to have to limit their school, right? ;o)

Like my last review, this one is online, which is awesome since our computer crashed on us! We were able to pick up the next lesson on the laptop and not miss a beat.  This site also has a gradebook for teachers to check. The only issue here is some things it gave P 100% on when I watched her miss a few. It instantly corrects, or doesn't accept incorrect answers, so the 100% is might have taken 5 tries to get the 100%, which it doesn't show. Since she's in 4th grade, I'm not keep track of her grades anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there.

Middlebury Interactive Languages has several languages to choose from, and they have classes for K-12! I'm excited to have found this site and glad P is enjoying broadening her language horizon.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

The pricing is $119/semester (+ an additional $175/semester with a teacher, so $294 total - we didn't have the teacher).

Find out more info at these links or by clicking on the banner below.

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Review: Standard Deviants Accelerate - Nutrition

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
Standard Deviants Accelerate is fun, video based online learning resource for middle schoolers and high schoolers. We chose to review their Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses Nutrition curriculum for Terrific T, who is in 6th grade. It is recommended for grades 6+.
We have never done a specific nutrition class, so I was excited to have this opportunity for him (us) to learn more. I set up his account and he started the same day. There is really no prep work (score!) for this program. Since it's an online program, we were able to use it on our laptop when our computer decided to kick the bucket last month. We didn't lose anything! We just logged in from the different computer and were ready to start again. 
There are 8 chapters in the Nutrition curriculum. Each lesson contains a short (7-10 minute) video. There is a full transcript of the video posted too that you can print off or follow along with. I chose to not print these. T liked the videos (although he said they were "a little cheesy" LOL!) and I think trying to follow along would have been too distracting for him. I used them to skim what he was learning when I didn't watch with him. There is a place to take notes right on the screen and save them to your "locker." He didn't take notes as we went because typing is a little slow for him still, but I had him write a few sentences about what he learned before moving on to the next step. 
After watching the video, he moved on to the vocab section. Here they have important words and definitions from the lesson listed and a link to hear them spoken along with it. I just had him go over them several times and tell me about them. Then there is a diagram section also with drag/drop activities to use the new terms learned. 
Finally, there is a multiple choice quiz. T would select his answers and submit them (it says, "Throw it against the wall and see if it sticks!" lol!!). If you are wrong on any of them, it brings up a short (like 20 seconds!) video with the correct answer right then. I liked the immediate feedback on it and the diagram both. T learned quite a bit in these lessons. It was fun to see familiar words that he has learned about in CC (we are doing the body this year) and be able to enhance that information with more details. I think this was a perfect nutrition curriculum for him. 
Standard Deviants Accelerate ReviewAt the end of each chapter, there is a review section. This has activities that use all the learning styles. Some are better suited for larger groups of students but some we could adjust to do individually. Then there is a post test and some critical thinking questions that we did together.
This was an easy program to use with really nothing for the teacher to do once you get it started. Princess P is reviewing another online program so I had Terrific T do this alone, but I think even P (4th grade) would have enjoyed this and learned good info from it.  There is a dashboard where I can get on and see how he is doing. He didn't always submit his work as we did a lot of orally so I kept track of his progress on my own, but if you had more than one student, or a good typist, you could use their grading program also. It was simple but good to have.
The lessons took him about 20 minutes a day and we did it three days a week. It was a quick way to supplement our current science curriculum and get a comprehensive nutrition education with little effort. If you are like me, you don't have time to research and plan one.more.thing. SDA takes the planning and researching out and hands it to you with "cheesy' videos that the kids enjoyed!! That's a win in my book!
SDA offers the following online courses:
Arithmetic - Grades 3+
Fundamental Math - Grades 4+
Earth Science - Grades 6+
Nutrition - Grades 6+
Algebra - Grades 7+
Biology - Grades 7+
Chemistry - Grades 9+
English Comp. - Grades 9+
U.S. History - Grades 9+
AP Biolody - Grades 11+
AP Chemistry - Grades 11+
AP U.S. Government & Politics - Grades 11+
AP U.S. History - Grades 11+
AP Eng. Composition - Grades 11+
The price of the annual subscription for one student and one subject is is $24.95/month or $99/year. I'm sure we can finish the Nutrition one in two months.

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