Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crossbow Education

Crossbow Education offers some wonderful tools that can be quite helpful for anyone that has Dyslexia or any type of Visual Stress.  We were offered a colorful array of Eye Level Reading Rulers and the kids and I set out to find out which color would work best for each of us. 

The Eye Level Reading Ruler is a colored overlay text highlighter about the size of a six-inch ruler. Discreet and portable, the reading ruler is made of a combination of opaque and transparent plastic that both underlines the text and highlights it in a coloured tint. Simply read the text through either of the tinted plastic strips of your selected color, and track down the page: broad strip for paragraphs; narrow strip for single lines.  The 10 pack is $16.95 and can be purchased by clicking here.

 What we did was pick an interesting book and set one of the 10 colors over it and started reading, after a page or so we would switch colors. 
Pack of 10 Colors – Pink, Celery,
Sky, Magenta, Grass, Yellow, Aqua, Purple, Orange; and Jade

 Makenzie found that she likes yellow and orange the best, Kylan liked most of the blueish greens but Sky turned out to be his favorite and I liked Magenta the best.  I've noticed the ruler has not affected Makenzie or I at all (at least that we can tell).  It has tremendously helped Kylan, he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, Tourette's and Dyslexia several years ago and has always had problems reading due to his poor tracking ability.  He immediately said he could feel a difference "in his eyes and brain" while reading with the blue or green colored rulers.  He finished the chapter with no complaints that day and over the next couple of days actually finished his book with no problems. I can tell he enjoys reading with the blue ruler because he's been keeping it in his book as a bookmark.  Just a couple of days ago a family friend asked Kylan what his favorite subject was and he said, "READING".  I was so happy and excited for him, it just seemed to finally click for him and I think it's all due to the Eye Level Reading Rulers!

We found the rulers to be thick and durable, no cracking or chipping happened since we've started using the rulers.  Crossbow recommends placeing the rulers in a plastic bag so they don't get scratched up but my kiddos liked to use them as bookmarkers and didn't want to take them in and out of baggies everytime they wanted to read. After several weeks of reading with the rulers we only found 1 tiny scratch on Kylan's reading ruler but he is a boy and is usually much rougher on toys, clothes, furniture, books, etc. You get the point he's a boy and likes to play rough!  I'd say they are holding up very well will all of the use they are getting.


Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Queen of the Waves

About the book:

When pampered Jacqueline Abington secretly elopes with the family gardener, she asks another woman to take her place on the much anticipated maiden voyage of the Titanic. Tessa Bowen hails from a poor corner of London but has been granted the opportunity of a lifetime—a ticket to sail to America aboard a famed vessel. But there’s a catch: she must assume Jacqueline’s identity. For the first time in her life, Tessa stays in luxurious quarters, dresses in elegant gowns, and dines with prestigious people. Then a wealthy American man takes an interest in her, and Tessa struggles to keep up the ruse as she begins falling for him. When tragedy strikes, the game is up, and two women’s lives are forever changed.

About the Author:

Award-winning author Janice Thompson, who also writes under the name Janice Hanna, has published nearly eighty books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children's books and more. She formerly served as vice president of the Christian Authors Network and was named the 2008 Mentor of the Year by the American Christian Fiction Writers. Thompson lives in Spring, Texas, near her four grown daughters and young grandchildren. She leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends and two mischievous dachshunds. Readers can keep up with Janice Thompson by visiting, becoming a fan on Facebook or following her Twitter.

My thoughts:
I was thrilled to receive another book in the American Tapestries series, this has been such a thought provoking series and I find the historic side to be fascinating.  Queen of the Waves didn't disappoint me.  I've always been interested in the Titanic after watching the movie The Unsinkable Molly Brown and of course the famous Titanic with Leonardo DiCaprio.  This book left me wanting more of the American Tapestries series, I want them all!  What can I say, I'm a book hog.
Tessa was my favorite character in Queen of the Waves due to her modesty and humility, both are characteristics that I value.  5 stars for Thompson and the beautiful portrayal of what it might be like to finally have the life you thought you always wanted. Her words wove a beautiful but tragic story of the opulence aboard the Titanic and all the heartache, loss and sorrow that also happened on that horrific night.

To order your copy of Queen of the Waves click here!

Thanks for reading,

Where the Trail Ends

About the Book:

A young woman traveling the Oregon Trail in 1842 must rely on a stranger to bring her to safety. But whom can she trust with her heart?

For two thousand miles along the trail to Oregon Country, Samantha Waldron and her family must overcome tremendous challenges to reach the Willamette Valley before winter. Together they weather autumn storms, hunger and thirst, and the dangers of a wild and unfamiliar country. But when their canoe capsizes on the Columbia River, they must rely on handsome British exporter Alexander Clarke to rescue them from the icy water.

Alex escorts Samantha and her young brother, Micah, to Fort Vancouver. There Samantha is overwhelmed with men vying for her affections, but the only one who intrigues her-Alex-is the one she cannot have. When his betrothed arrives unexpectedly from England to escort him home, Samantha becomes determined to create a home for herself and Micah in the fertile valley far away from the fort. But how will an unmarried woman support herself and her brother in the wilderness alone? Then Micah disappears into the wilderness one rainy night, and Samantha must rely on the man she loves-the man she’s trying desperately to forget-to rescue her brother before it’s too late.

About the Author:

Melanie Dobson has written ten contemporary and historical novels including five releases in Summerside's Love Finds You series. In 2011, two of her releases won Carol Awards: Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa (for historical romance) and The Silent Order (for romantic suspense). Prior to her writing career, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and a publicist for The Family Channel. She later launched her own public relations company and worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for more than fifteen years. Melanie and her family enjoy their home in the Pacific Northwest. The entire Dobson family loves to travel and hike in both the mountains and along the cliffs above the Pacific. When Melanie isn't writing or playing with her family, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.

 My thoughts:

This book was my idea of the perfect book.  It had some history, struggles, faith, and of course love.  I homeschool my kiddos and this year we are studying US History and of course part of that is the Oregon Trail.  Guess what?  This book takes on the struggles of traveling the Oregon Trail, obstacles they come across and even death. 
As I was reading Where the Trail Ends I wondered what my family had struggled with in the Pioneer days, had they killed a bear or lost a family member while they were traveling?  I remembered my great-grandmother telling us about being lowered down some really steep areas by ropes and I cringed when Melanie described a wagon breaking as it was lowered over a cliff.  I LOVED this book and passed it on to my 12 year old daughter and told her that she needs to read it and we'll discuss it when she's finished.  I can't wait to hear what she thinks, she was of course born in the digital computer age and never knew any of these types of struggles (I thank God she hasn't had to struggle like Samantha, the young lady in this book.)
I've never read the American Tapstries series but I was intrigued by this book and can't wait to read more!
I give Where the Trail Ends 4.5 stars for all of the tenacity that Samantha shows, her struggles for a new life for her and her brother and for the fantastic historic fiction, it was intense!

To order your own copy of Where the Trail Ends click here.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dayspring Christian Academy-The Pilgrim Story

Dayspring Christian Academy is located in Mountville, PA and they use something called The Principle Approach.  The following was taken directly from their website and explains a little bit more about the Principle Approach.

 America’s historic, classical Christian method of education to prepare young people to be servants, scholars, and statesmen in our constitutional federal republic.  This requires developing a biblical worldview as well as excellence in character, skills, and talents. The Principle Approach is very intentional in its purpose: equipping young men and women to help restore America to her gospel purpose, thereby helping to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission.

I've never heard it called the Principle Approach before but it makes a lot of sense to me and has really worked for our family.  I know that we really want to instill a sense of purpose in our children and we want them equipped to share the gospel as well as have a biblical worldview, character, skills and talents so this seemed like a perfect fit for our family.

tThe program that they offered members of the Crew was The Pilgrim Story. This is an online audio program that also has a visual slideshow presentation. Along with the these lessons, you will also find crafts, notebooking pages, printables, mapping, fun activities, and quizzes. The course finishes with virtual field trip to Plymouth, MA.  The author of this course is Mary Stauffer, a teacher at Dayspring Christian Academy. 
Access to The Pilgrim Story is $99 and continues for 6 months after registration and is for 3-6th grades.  This class is self-paced, doesn't meet at any certain time and is available with 24 hour access for your convenience.

 My kids were so excited to get the password and link and get started but we couldn't get it to work the first day (it says access begins within 48 hours of purchase). BUMMER! We checked back after 48 hours and  I still couldn't get it to work. Our curiosity about the program was piqued and my children couldn't wait to get started so I started looking into the program deeper and I realized that I had my pop-up blocker on.  Silly me!  I turned the pop-up blocker off with this program only and we were ready to begin. 
I've been watching the slideshows and listening to the class along with my children and I've been learning something things that I never knew.  We all enjoying the slideshow and my 5th grader enjoys watching for the answers to the notebooking pages that I print out for them and playing the interactive online games.  My 7th grader isn't in the recommended age group but she's still enjoying the class. This class is very flexible for different ages so I'm able to offer her harder work after we are finished with a lesson.  I have her research the topic that we just studied and learn a little bit more, one week she wrote an essay that contrasted and compared the King James Bible and the Geneva Bible and another week she did some research about King Henry VIII.


 ~ There are 17 lessons broken down into 5 units
~ After each unit there's a test
~ My kids LOVED this style of learning
~Dayspring did a fantastic job
~ We all want to head to MA for a family vacation
~Dayspring needs more classes similar to this
~We didn't know as much about the Pilgrims as we thought we did
~If you are having issuses with the class loading turn your pop-up blocker off :)
and last but not least
~Learn more about The Pilgrim Story because you know how time flies and in 8 years will be the 400th anniversary of Plymouth Colony! It'll be here before we know it.

Thanks for reading,

The One Year Be-Tween You & God- book review

The One Year Be-Tween You & God devotional can be purchased on Amazon by clicking on this link, the Kindle version is only $9.39

Book Synopsis:
This One Year book is a diary-style devotional for tween girls (9 to 14) that emphasizes their growing, special relationship with God. Each devotion begins with a statement, thought, or question to God. Every girl is likely to make these statements and ask such questions . . . many of which they may not want to share with other people.

The book emphasizes that tween girls can have a relationship with God and that they can share their intimate thoughts, fears, insecurities, joys, etc. It lets girls know: it's between you and God. Questions/topics include the following: “I know I'm supposed to be close to you (God), but I don't really feel like it now. How can I change that?” “Everyone talks about how I'm supposed to have faith, which is fine, except I don't really understand what faith actually is.” Each devotion gives biblical based insight into the subject.

Author: Sandra Byrd
Image of Sandra Byrd

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013.
Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens.
A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra has published many nonfiction articles and books. She is passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year.
Please visit to learn more, or to invite Sandra to your bookclub via Skype.

My Opinion:
I give this book 5 stars and just wanted to say this has been my daughter's all time favorite devotional.  She's tried many others and enjoyed them but this one really spoke to her on her 12 year old level and pertained to problems or struggles that she has encountered on a daily basis.  We were pleasantly surprised with just how beautiful this devotional is, the bright colors really pop and appealed to my daughter's sense of style.  I think you safely give this up to a 14 year old but after that age they might thing it was a little young for them.  Great book for tweens!

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


ZooWhiz is an online website that makes learning fun! Maths, Reading, Word Skills, Punctuation, and Grammar are the skills that are practiced in the form of fun, engaging games. The target age is 5-15 years old and while the children play the games they are able to "collect" animals for their zoo with the points and coins that they earn.  There is a free zoo keeper account and you can also upgrade to the Premium account which currently costs $14.95 per year.  ZooWhiz is still being developed and new content is being added all the time.

Choosing a "zoololgist" makes it easy for each child to individualize the game specifically for them. ZooWhiz also has the option for American or British spelling, units of measure, age, grade level and currency so you can truly customize each game to fit your childs needs.

Another great feature is the FREE Parental Management Account.  Parents can access progress reports that give detailed info about how their child is progressing in each area.

In the Learn and Earn area your child plays learning games and then earns coins.  The coins can be used to purchase animals for their zoo and then they get to learn more about the animals that they have purchased.  Like info about their habitat, what they eat, they can learn if the animals is endangered or maybe even extinct and some are mythical creatures.  Kylan was excited to learn more about the rare animals like the dinosaurs and even "purchased" a Korean Dragon for his zoo!

Makenzie is my 12 year old and she seemed to think this was a little young for her but she did like the zoo aspect of the game and said that she would have really liked the colors and games when she was a little bit younger. 
Kylan my 10 year old thought it was AWESOME mom!  He has wanted to be a zoo keeper for quite a while so this really sparked his interest and I noticed that he was even playing when it wasn't computer time for our homeschool day.  I recommend this product for anyone wanting a fun, innovative way to add some more reading, math and language arts skills into their classroom or homeschool.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, October 05, 2012

Box of I.D.E.A.S.-Pearl Harbor

Box of I.D.E.A.S. (Ideally Dynamic Enrichment Activities) is a unit study type of system that allows you to teach multi aged students from ages 9-16 yrs. old and is designed to keep kids off the computer and around the table (except our family because we were moving so it was flexible enough for us to use).  What I really liked about it was that we were able to download the PDF onto our iPad and take it to the park, the orthodontist and even Grandma's house.  I liked the flexability of being able to grab the iPad and just take it on the road, we've been in the middle of moving, boxing things up and traveling so it really simplified my life and the kids loved using it while we were traveling down the road.  Sometimes they would work on a module together and other times they would work independently but I was pleased that they were always excited and happy to work when I said it was time for Box of I.D.E.A.S. 

Each Box of IDEAS...

•is easily portable to provide excellent waiting room and traveling activities to create learning opportunities on the go.

•is filled with interesting topic-focused activity based learning.

•contains 10 (and sometimes more) modules with exercises designed around a captivating aspect of the Box topic

•provides 10 (or more) engaging and thought provoking portfolio pieces to record the student's journey through the box.

•is packed with many additional ideas and suggestions for delving deeper into an area of interest.

•has a variety of thoroughly researched web links to encourage further exploration of the topics.

•A timed SAT style summary test is included in each box

You can actually receive a physical box like in the picture above, with printed pages for $79.00 or you can choose the PDF download for $49.00.  If you have extra students they also offer extra student modules for only $4.00 more.  We received the PDF download and it was perfect for our needs, which ever one you decide on I know you will be pleased with the content.  Box of I.D.E.A.S. offers several different subjects to choose from like Pigs, Salt, Quilting, Laundry, Eleven and we were chosen to review
WW II Pearl Harbor.  FYI: they are working on several more boxes that will be coming out soon including  

Mystery, WWII Kitchen, WWII Innovations, Olives, Pine and Cemeteries.

 Pearl Harbor was fascinating and I (the teacher/mom) learned so much, I wish we would have had something like this when I was in school!  This box deals with the before, during and after the attack at Pearl Harbor and explores many different aspects of this historic event to give you a greater understand of why and how it all happened. My kids loved the portfolio that they put together so they had something to remember and they are very proud to show it off to family members and friends.

WWII Pearl Harbor modules that were included-

Before Becoming A Base

Beginning of a Naval Presence

A Week Before the Attack

Day of Infamy

Day After the Attack

Weeks After the Attack

Six Months After the Attack

A Year After The Attack

Victory Over Japan

Decades After the Attack

While studying about Pearl Harbor we covered a lot of different subjects including geography, reading, logic skills, played games, practiced code breaking, organization, writing skills, memorization, military facts, reading and a lot of things were discussed over the dinner table and we all got our chance to reason things out.  This was such a fun and informative box and a great addition to our US History study for this year.  I'm looking forward to the 2 new WWII boxes that will be coming out in the near future.

Thanks for reading,

The Flirtation Experiment-book review and giveaway

About the authors:  Lisa Jacobson  is an author, a podcaster, and the founder of, an online community of Christian women aut...