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Vocabulary Lessons

The following is a review of Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co. with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. 

Critical Thinking books have been a welcome addition to our homeschool curriculum for many years. Our whole family has enjoyed their mind-benders and puzzle type IQ building books. This vocabulary book fit in perfectly with my son’s high school routine. 

One purpose indicated from even the title of this book is test prep. While I do not emphasize testing in our homeschool as much as mastery of lessons, it has to be done for various things including scholarship applications. I want our children to succeed and at this point, scholarships are a huge benefit for financing college. Of course, learning vocabulary enriches conversations, too. In the book’s introduction, they shared that it was created to build vocabulary necessary for comprehension in critical reading. The majority of words are from current PSAT or SAT lists. 

From the beginning our homeschool has not always been at home. Life school is a better description as lessons can and are done wherever we are. Last month when we first received the Vocabulary Virtuoso book to review, my dad had another major surgery. My son and I joined my mom in the surgery waiting room, and as we waited, this workbook was one of the things my son worked on. Because we are traveling, even when it’s just next door to my parents’ house, it is convenient when lessons can be portable. This workbook has been easy for my son to carry in his backpack. In fact when I looked for it to complete for this review that’s exactly where it was. 

homeschool in hospital lobby

Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 1 is a 208 page paperback workbook (also available as a digital download) with a suggested range of 8th to 12th grades. My ninth grade son began it in the last quarter of ninth grade and will continue using it until completion in the tenth grade. There is also a second book in this series that I am already considering for him to use after this one. 

Each of the twenty lessons follow the same format. The lessons begin with a vocabulary word list which includes pronunciation, definition, and a sample sentence for each word. A part of speech is the connecting factor in each lesson, for example lesson 1 is amazing adjectives and lesson 15 is volatile verbs. Following the list, each lesson consists of six 1-4 page activities which require the students to think through and learn the words. Every four lessons are followed by a three page review. The lessons could be completed in a week, but since we were not in a rush, we stretched out the six components of each lesson to two weeks. I required him to review the words every day and complete three of the activities each week. We did push a little faster so he could cover one of reviews before we completed our product review. The first review added a gun factor with a cross word puzzle. There were also two other review activities. 

I recommend this for any high school student who wants to improve their vocabulary. We have used so many great books from The Critical Thinking Co through the years. Click below to read other TOS reviews of this and other products.

Visit The Critical Thinking Co on FacebookTwitter,  Google+, and  Pinterest, and be sure to tell them hi from Jennifer at A Glimpse of Our Life. 

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Critical Thinking, Math, Vocabulary & Writing Skills {The Critical Thinking Co. Reviews}


American History from a Christian Perspective

The following is a review of Pathway to Liberty’s History Curriculum from Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. 

We reviewed Pathway to Liberty’s US History, Year 3 Level 4. The set includes a student guide with reading passages and assignments, teacher guide with answers, The Chain of Liberty reader and question book. 

My daughters are taking American History in college this semester. It is the only class that they were able to schedule together. When planning our homeschool year, I thought it would be great to have my son study the same history as his older sisters, similar to our earlier homeschool years when they all learned together. Although our schedule still did not work out quite like I planned, it was nice to have us all on the same page, somewhat.

Required resources include the Webster’s 1828 dictionary which we were able to reference online. There are also multiple online videos built into the course. 

This curriculum is set up to be used four days a week which just happens to fit our current homeschool plans perfectly. The author included her book Chain of Liberty and recommended parents start preparing to teach her curriculum by first reading that book. Then the book and corresponding workbook are read and completed by the student, as well as the US history book. We chose to complete the questions verbally. I enjoyed the discussions with my son after reading the assignments. The pilgrims’ pastor John Robinson’s words are equally important today “He encouraged them to watch how they live and be vigilant of the condition of their heart before the Lord, to have peace with God and their consciences and live in peace with each other.” (Direct quote from teacher guide page 49.  

Reading Jayme Maccullough’s book The Chain of Liberty reminded me of my own Christian heritage  and lessons learned long ago in a Christian school. She presents truths about our nation’s Christian heritage in a way that is easy to read and understand. The principles that she defines are then referred to throughout the lessons.

The tool that best clarified this program for me is one page, printed double sided, titled the Principle Reasoning Chart. It was tucked inside my teacher guide. I referred to it so often that I probably should laminate it. This page identifies and defines the seven Biblical Principles which are the backbone of these lessons as well as the scriptural foundation and leading questions for each principle. 

  • The Principle of Individuality 
  • The Principle of Self-Government
  • The Principle of Christian Character 
  • The Seed Principle 
  • The Principle of Power and Form
  • The Principle of Property 
  • The Principle of Union 

The Study Guide has students answer important questions about the reading assignments such as “What is the importance of the constitution?” There are questions requiring specific answers as well as open-ended questions. “What do you believe liberty is worth?” Primary source documents are referenced and included in the text. The teacher guide provides questions and answers parallel to the student guide. I am enjoying this American history from a Christian perspective. 

If you are looking for a history curriculum with a Biblical world view, Pathway to Liberty may be what you are looking for. Visit the Crew blog to read more reviews (click the image below.) 

Universal History,  The Middle Ages,  US History & World History Curriculum {Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum Reviews} 
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Giveaway for Moms on Instagram

Every promotion for Ellie Claire gifts has included such lovely books, and you have a chance to win their newest ones by following the directions here: @mommiejennm on Instagram


April twenty fifth

Do you remember in the movie Miss Congeniality that April 25th is the perfect date?  Today has been nearly perfect. My daughters have the week off for spring break, and today was my only day home from work this week. We spent a lot of time cooking. 

Quiet time with my girl followed by her pretty music 

We had tea and wonderful scones. Emily made four batches Tuesday and froze them for us on special days...like today! 

So I have to show you the cookies Heather made to share with friends yesterday. Picture perfect and delicious! 


We also started experimenting with Sun Baskets my mom ordered. Interesting. 


CrossWired Science Review

The following is a review of Sound, and Fluid Dynamics from  CrossWired Science with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. 

We received one year access to CrossWired Science for this review. It is a brand new program and has been continuing to change and improve throughout our usage. The first two topics to be completed and used were Sound Dynamics and Fluid Dynamics. Each of those contain twenty-nine lessons!  This is an incredibly flexible resource as it can be used by very young children as well as high school students, depending on which features you choose. Each project lasts about two months (but access lasts for a year) and currently costs $22.95, but don’t miss the discount offer shared below. Four projects completed cover a year of science lessons. 
We started this review before it was actually released for 
sale, and this review process has been more like a beta test than a typical review. We have received repeated emails as they have perfected their science product. I am looking forward to seeing the flow of the completed curriculum as well. One thing I especially like is how it shows God revealed in even minute details. This was shared recently: 
“Through dozens of videos and activities, hundreds of links, nearly 100 experiments and many incredible pictorial journeys, you'll be led on a fabulous adventure of seeing God's power, love, intelligence and beauty. We are certain you'll be in awe of God and what He has done! The whole family can begin at the same time!”

As a complement to the videos and lessons presented online, there are additional resources recommended to increase students’ learning. Some of these resources are available online for free. I was thrilled that we already owned quite a few of the recommended books, so we were 
able to utilize what we had on hand in a completely different way.

I used CrossWired School with my son who is currently in the ninth grade. He was able to access the program through his laptop as well as watch some of the videos with me as we streamed them through our tv. His initial impression was doubtful as the first videos we watched were compilations of cartoon animations. Some of the narration is done in a child’s voice, so there is appeal for a large age range. As I read through the changes through emails from the company, we tried out different parts of the program. Since we knew that this is a "work in progress", I was able to try out different parts of the program to get a better feel for what is coming.

CrossWired Science is set up to be completed in units, but within those you can choose to approach it in different ways. For younger students, the video lessons introduce concepts. For older students, they have what are called Gold Digs. Students can read those worksheets first so they know what information to be prepared for. Then as they 
watch the videos and work through it, they will be able to 
answer the questions. These are not designed to be completed quickly, rather over time each concept is attacked repeatedly to lock in their knowledge. The additional supplemental work meets high school science requirements. They even suggest that there is plenty of content for an AP student! 

If you use my affiliate code/the coupon code glimpse_life when you place your order, it will give you a $5.00 discount. I primarily recommend this resource for elementary students. 

Sound, and Fluid Dynamics {CrossWired Science Reviews}

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Stopmotion Explosion Review

The following is a review of the Stop Motion Animation Kit product from Stopmotion Explosion with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. 

This homeschool year has been full of changes for our family. Most of the time, homeschool now just means me and my son. We are very different, and it’s been fun learning more about him as we spend more time together. Music, food, and interests are all different. Teaching him is vastly different from his older sisters. We’ve been trying a lot of new things. He likes hands on tasks, and it’s been fun tailoring his lessons just for him. When offered the opportunity to review Stopmotion Explosion, we both knew it would be a good fit for him. 

When he opened the package, I heard “This book is big.” He is used to modern online programs without written instructions, so comparatively, this guide is incredibly comprehensive. There are actually two books: Stopmotion Explosion: Animate Anything and Make Movies and the Stopmotion Explosion Quick Start GuideHe read all of both of them and he started taking even more pictures.  

The Stop Motion Animation Kit includes those two books, the program on a computer CD, and a webcam. It also shares access to the Stopmotion Explosion app. The Quick Start Guide has 12 pages with large pictures and how-to explanations. The Stopmotion Explosion book is a 294 page paperback directing students through the entire animation movie process. They also offer video tutorials on their website. 
The kit is a comprehensive introduction to stop motion animation, and touches on many subjects relevant to the field of filmmaking, including sound, scriptwriting, music, camera composition and more! Stop motion is a creative hands-on medium that an complement to many subjects. You can make a movie to showcase a scientific phenomenon or recreate a historical event.”
the iPhone app

My son first used the 1080p HD camera included with the kit. As he worked with it he found it difficult to move his hand from the area being captured in the pictures as he made changes. He changed to using their app on my iPhone and found that process easier. I have not yet mastered sharing videos online, but once I do (if I do!) I’ll share that here. Moving the video from the video to my phone, he increased the frames per second to make it faster so it became short enough to save. Click here to view it. 

One of the things that he enjoys is LEGOs. It was no surprise to me to see LEGO blocks used in one of his Stopmotion Explosion videos. The Stopmotion videos are actually a compilation of multiple pictures put together in rapid succession.

This resource has been a good fit for my son, and I think it would be enjoyed by other students, especially those with an interest in photography. 

You can also find Stopmotion Explosion online. Visit them on Facebook, Twitter, and You-tube. You can see other reviews (and watch their videos!) by clicking below.

Stop Motion Animation Kit {Stopmotion Explosion Reviews}

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Ronald Reagan Destiny at His Side

The following is a review of the book Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side and corresponding study guide from YWAM Publishing with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew.  

In addition to the book about Ronald Reagan, we received a download of the corresponding comprehensive study guide. A Homeschool Guide includes extensive suggestions for incorporating the Heroes of History books in history lessons, social events, language arts, writing skills, as read-alouds, a timeline of the biographies, and parent-directed as well as student directed study guides. The unit study includes quotes and related questions as well as outside links. Six chapter questions for each chapter include some for older and younger students. You can view all of their Unit Studies/Downloadable Curriculum Guides here

We love these books! I recently found a receipt that included the story of Gladys Aylward purchased in 2006, near the beginning of our homeschool years. Since then we have added almost one each year to our homeschool library. Each of these books can be read alone, by adults or children, or combined with their downloadable guides for a more in depth unit study. The character studies are one of the most beneficial parts, in my opinion. Long after reading the Alan Shepherd book, my son shared with me, after we turned into a Circle K, about Alan’s investments including Circle K. 

Ronald Reagan was our nation’s president when I was my son’s age. This book and study guide have allowed me to discuss Ronald Reagan with my son while remembering major events from my own high school years. Our family toured an exhibit several years ago with part of the remnants from the Berlin Wall. More recently we discussed with a friend from Germany her own views about it. This book ends with the later years of Reagan’s life, but more details are shared with the end of his presidency and his famous words as he stood before the wall and said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”  

I especially enjoyed reading about Ronald Reagan’s childhood. Known as Dutch, he started working very young and helped himself and his brother earn money for college. It was interesting reading about him training and working as a lifeguard, especially now that my oldest daughter has plans for lifeguard training this summer. We learned so much about him from childhood, college, then his radio show. Movie roles and then his presidency, the stories that make up his life story are rich. 

Janet and Geoff Benge have written the entire Heroes of History series which also included a story about Alan Shepard which my son especially enjoyed reading. They also wrote the Christian Heroes Then and Now series including one about Daniel Boone. We received a paperback book and a download link for the corresponding unit study for this review. 

You can connect with YWAM Publishing on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and find them on Instagram as @ywampublishing. Click the image below to read more Homeschool Crew reviews of other books from YWAM publishing. 

Study Guides - Christian Heroes Then & Now & Heroes of History {YWAM Publishing Reviews}


Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Blu-ray Giveaway!

**“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”**
Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase is heading home on Digital March 26, 2019 and on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack & DVD on April 2, 2019
Try out the Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Escape Room & Mystery Match Blog App to solve the mystery and help Nancy out of a jam!

After you play the Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Escape Room & Mystery MatchBlog App, enter the giveaway and comment below sharing how long it took to crack the code and escape the room!

Uncover the Mystery: Nancy Drew And The Hidden  Staircase. 

Arrives from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on 
Digital March 26, 2019 and on 
Blu-ray™ Combo Pack & DVD on April 2, 2019 

Based on the Bestselling Book! 

The iconic mystery solving teenager from the classic Nancy Drew books is back with an all-new feature length film that will keep you guessing until the very end! Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase on Digital starting March 26, 2019 and Blu-ray™ Combo Pack & DVD on April 2, 2019. Executive Produced by Ellen DeGeneres, the film stars Sophia Lillis (IT and “Sharp Objects”), Sam Trammell (“True Blood” and “This is Us”), and Linda Lavin (“The Good Wife” and“Alice”) and follows Nancy Drew in her new town, making new friends and on a mission to solve the case! The film carries a suggested retail price of  $19.99 for the Digital, $19.98 for the DVD and $28.98 for the Blu-ray Combo Pack. 

After the death of his wife, Carson Drew decides to leave Chicago behind and make a fresh start with his daughter in River Heights. But for 16-year-old Nancy Drew, life in a small town is mighty dull. She longs for excitement, adventure, and the chance to make a difference. Nancy gets that opportunity when she is asked to help solve the ghostly activity at the Twin Elms mansion. Can she help explain the creaking footsteps, exploding lightbulbs and the ominous creature? Is it the handiwork of high-school bully Derek Barnes? Or is it possible that the ghost of original owner Malcolm Colfax is back for revenge? Recruiting her best friends George and Bess, along with local “mean girl” Helen, Nancy Drew is on the case!  
Enter the giveaway below:


Spring Around the Farm

We changed plans Monday, and I joined my mom shopping for a bit of color to add to our yards. My son and I helped her that afternoon and started on ours the next morning including planting tomato and flower seeds. 

My daughter’s piano student said the three newborn kittens looked like jellybeans, so when her big sis decided to keep one, jellybean is it’s name.


Continuing to Drive Thru History

The following is a review of Acts To Revelation from Drive Thru History® with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. 

Drive Thru History® -"Acts to Revelation" continues where "The Gospels" ended to take the viewer on a tour of places from the New Testament.The World of the First Christians is a DVD set with eighteen thirty-minute episodes and a bonus study guide. Dave Stotts adds a cool red convertible to his borrowed Jeep for these new excursions, and even takes a boat on the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean. He ended the series taking us along with him in a sixty year old Mini Moke upon the Isle of Patmos. These DVDs show evidences of the truths shared in Scripture. 

I love seeing the locations that I have read about in the Bible. Of course places have changed over time. Some are now ruins, other landmarks are completely gone. But seeing the existing places that are still there, even ruins, is second best to actually visiting the sites. Some animation and special effects allow us to see how things might have been two thousand years ago. For instance, as Dave Stotts shared with us about Rome burning, flames engulfed the buildings we had previously “toured.”

We heard about Nero earlier this year. In the last CD of this set, we saw where that evil man ruled.  

These DVDs are a history lesson, but they are so much more than that. All of the components that make lessons complete are included: maps, historical figures, artifacts, and references are all shared in beautiful detail with extra  benefits of music and narration. There aren't photographs  of Jesus and his disciples of course. Instead, drawings, stained glass, and famous works of art are shared depicting each person discussed. Paul is the primary subject of this series, as he was the author of most of the books of the New Testament. 

Some of the unfamiliar words are added as captions on the screen as they are used. Insulae, for example, was a type of housing Paul stayed in during a time he was under house arrest. Suggested readings from the Bible are also included. 

Our entire family has been enjoying watching this DVD series together, even Grandmommie who enjoyed it so much she took our other Drive Thru History CDs to her own house. We also read and discussed the included study guide. The  format is easy to follow. Each episode has a corresponding  six page lesson including the episode title, a related quote, a concise summary, five discussion questions, Scripture references to read, "side road" related facts, and stunning pictures. Answers are now provided to the discussion questions in the back of the study guide for each family to  interpret and discuss.   

You can also find them online on Facebook, YouTube, and see the amazing pictures on Instagram. Read other crew reviews by clicking the link below, and you can also click to read my review of Drive Thru History® - "The Gospels" which he also refers to in this series. 

Drive Thru History®

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