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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Mack Brock “Covered” Cd

Mack Brock “Covered” Cd Promotional

With the pre-order for the EP, you get the single “I Am Loved”.

There will be a lyric video live day-of release (3/8), at this link: https://mackbrock.lnk.to/IAmLovedVid

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing the product/product information. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did/will receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. 


A New Nancy Drew Movie!

**“Warner Bros. provided me with a swag pack to facilitate this post. The opinions I share are my own.”**

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase! 

Swag Pack Giveaway!

 In Theaters March 15

Who doesn’t love an epic mystery? 
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase is an all-new film coming to theaters on March 15 from Warner Bros., Ellen DeGeneres’ A Very Good Production and Red 56.
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!     

About Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Theatrical

After the death of his wife, Carson Drew decides to leave Chicago behind and make a fresh start with his daughter 16-year-old daughter Nancy in River Heights. Nancy is asked by Flora to help solve the   ghostly activity at her home, 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!
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase stars: 
Sophia Lillis (IT and “Sharp Objects”) as Nancy Drew
Sam Trammell (“True Blood” and “This is Us”) as Carson Drew (Nancy’s father)
Linda Lavin (“The Good Wife” and Alice) as Flora
Andrea Anders (“Joey” and “Better Off Ted”) as Hannah (Nancy’s Aunt)
Laura Slade Wiggins (“Shameless”) as Helen
Zoe Renee (“The Quad”) as George
Mackenzie Graham (The Purge) as Bess

In Theaters March 15

Blog App

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Escape Room & Mystery Match Blog App:
• Welcome to the Interactive Nancy Drew Escape Room - to escape, you must solve riddles
and find items to uncover the three numbers needed to open to door. Good Luck! 
• In the Mystery Match Video Puzzle, use your mouse to click + drag puzzle pieces to unlock clips from the film.

Enter the giveaway here:



Look on education as something between the child's soul and God. Modern Education tends to look on it as something between the child's brain and the standardized test.
-Charlotte Mason


IXL Learning Review


For this review, we received a full annual subscription to IXL Learning which includes both a student subscription for my son and also a parent subscription.  IXL Learning is an online program to enhance a student’s performance in multiple subjects. They offer math and language arts from pre-K through 12th grade, science and social studies from 2nd through 8th grades, and Spanish for all ages. They also offer a Spanish version of their program. There is an iPhone app which allows practice in the math and language arts sections for any grade on a mobile device. My son preferred using his computer to access the program compared to the comparatively small iPhone screen. It offered larger pictures which was helpful with the math graphics and offered complete access to all sections of IXL Learning. For the math section, he also needed a pencil and paper to work out many of the problems. 

There is no way to capture all 309 Algebra I skills that IXL covers in one or even two screenshots.  The program gives a comprehensive review of skills that my son needs to learn this year. Algebra with my son has been a challenge for me as his teacher, and I like the way this program both rewards his successes and explains how to do the problems that he misses. He can then practice those problems until he attains mastery of those skills. He spent about four to five hours a week for the past six weeks, spread over three to four days each week. 

One special area in the IXL program is their diagnostics arena. My gamer son did joke that it was disappointing he couldn’t play in the arena, but instead he completed questions they offered which helped the program pinpoint areas in which he needed more practice. The website called it “practice that feels like play.” My son has enjoyed this more than his book and worksheet lessons lately. Before we went to observe our local circuit judge and participate in a mock trial, I had him refresh his knowledge about the judicial system in the social studies section. 

While accessing the parent section is helpful including the diagnostics, it must be viewed on my computer and not my phone. I especially appreciate the frequent email updates. As he reaches new milestones or completes skill sections, unless I was sitting with him, their emails are my first notification of his progress. 

Students can work at their own pace, even different grade levels for different subjects! My son (9th grade) let me know that the diagnostics placed him in a higher level for language arts, then I received the following in an email: 

We previously used IXL when my son was in the 5th grade; you can read that review here. We have found the IXL Learning program to be beneficial and will be continuing to use this subscription. I recommend it to homeschool families who need extra practice in specific areas or need help pinpointing specific areas to address. They also offer classroom options.

Others on the TOS Homeschool Review Crew tried out different sections of IXL Learning. Click below to read more reviews. 

Immersive, Adaptive Learning Online {IXL Learning Reviews} 

Crew Disclaimer


In the Morning

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3 


For The Temple Review

For The Temple is the newest audio dramatization from Heirloom Audio based on the book by G.A. Henty with the same title. For this review of For The Temple, we received the set of two CDs as well as a download link to the fifty-one page corresponding study guide. 

This story is unlike many of Henty’s stories that tell of wars in more recent years. Instead it is set just a few decades after the time when Jesus walked the earth. Many of the characters are familiar names and correlating experiences from the pages of the New Testament. The study guide repeatedly connects scripture to the tale told in the audio dramatization. Beginning in the year AD 67, the story tells of battles during New Testament times through AD 70.

What are your favorite history books? The Bible is our ultimate book of truth, and I loved hearing this story bringing that time period to life as we listened. This story tied in perfectly with our current Sunday morning Bible study at church which also mentioned the historian Josephus. 

Elieazor, Simeon, Titus... even Jesus is mentioned. And not from the Bible, but from the history book covering the same period, Josephus plays a big role in this story. 

One of my most memorable teachers was in fifth grade at a small Christian school. Actually it was a combination of fourth and fifth grades for me, but that’s a story for another time. That teacher taught us the Bible and taught Bible based history in a way that made me love learning. I strive to be a teacher like her. I remember first hearing from her of the evil Nero and his atrocities against God’s people. 

Henty’s story, retold in this dramatization, tells of that same time period, even including the evil Nero, but shared through the viewpoint of a young Jewish boy determined to fight to defend the temple. He ultimately learns how the role of the temple changed with Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. 

The study guide provided so many extra ways to incorporate lessons from this story into our homeschool. I recently realized that I needed to resume my focus on spelling with my son. He used a dictionary as recommended for the Defining Words sections. Words such as stalwart, diplomacy, fortitude, and proficient were a few of the positive ones. Listening Well gives questions that can be read before listening to each chapter. Thinking Further offers, logic, mapping, Bible study, discussion topics, and much more. Some maps and pictures are included, too. 

My son said it had a good plot— protecting the temple then making friends with the enemy, and learning about the other temple. He also thought all of the voices sounded even more realistic than before. 

My daughter appreciated that there were fewer fighting scenes than some of the other Heirloom Audio dramatizations that we have listened to as a family. 

I discovered that while I have enjoyed listening to these stories on road trips in the past, I was able to more fully attend to the details while sitting in our living room and listening. 

“There are always more adventures to be had.” We are looking forward to many more.

Find Heirloom Audio online on Facebook, Twitter, and as @HeirloomAudioOfficial on Instagram. 

Read more For The Temple reviews from others on the TOS Homeschool Review Crew here: 
For The Temple {Heirloom Audio Reviews}
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