Bible Letter of the Week Review

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Clarissa really enjoys Bible stories. She also gets really excited when we do crafts or activities about these stories. I was debating what I wanted to do with her as far as a  Bible curriculum for first grade. I was excited to see Bible Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook on the list of choices from Crafty Classroom.

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Bible Letter of the Week Curriculum Notebook is marketed as a preschool curriculum. There are 26 weeks of lessons, one for each letter of the alphabet. Each week has four days of lessons with several activities to complete each day. There is a Bible story theme for each week as well as a Bible verse to memorize, practice writing each letter, activities to practice each letter sound, as well as some math activities for each week.

Clarissa has really enjoyed reading and discussing the Bible stories, the coloring pages and crafts, games, and math pages. She is also practicing her handwriting. I started off by supplementing this to our reading program and using this twice per week so that she would not be overwhelmed by the amount of work that was expected of her. Halfway through the letter A, she told me that she wanted to do this program every day instead of twice per week so we changed what we were doing.

Clarissa was most excited about the Alphabet Quilt. Each week, there is a square that shows the letter of the week, a picture of the Bible story, and even the Bible verse. She is excited to build this quilt as the year progresses. I like this aspect of the program because it will be a good review of what Bible stories and verses we have studied throughout the year. At one point she said to me, “Can we keep this quilt forever?”

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I like that the activities are similar each week so that Clarissa knows what is expected of her. She builds confidence with the repetition and also feels like she can do it herself without as much prompting from me. I like that the numbers get bigger for the math as the year progresses. So it makes sense to complete the weeks in order so that your math builds. I also was able to plot out the school year so that “J for Jesus” will fall in December for Christmas and “R for Resurrection” can be in April for Easter so it would make sense to do this curriculum over the course of an entire school year.

I think this would be a great curriculum for families with multiple children because you can pick and choose which activities to do with each child. You can do the main things the same with the Bible stories, crafts, and letters. But you can pick and choose the other activities (there are about 20 activities for each week to choose from). So the older kids can be included in the weekly Bible stories and memory verses. Your younger elementary kids won’t be completely bored with the math or the handwriting and letter activities. Your preschoolers and kindergartners would probably love the whole thing but you can pick and choose based on their developmental level.

The Crafty Classroom offers several different curriculum including reading, math, and even US geography. This may have been Clarissa’s favorite program that we reviewed all year so I am interested to see what other families thought of the various curriculum that they reviewed. I think we will be using Crafty Classroom in the future.

Hands-on, Low-prep and Ready to Go Learning - Tots to 3rd Grade {Crafty Classroom Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Learning Dynamics Review

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Clarissa and I did kindergarten together at home this year. She loves math and wants me to read to her all day long. But when it comes to learning how to read she gets excited about a new program for about a week and then gets frustrated that it is too hard and wants to stop.  We have tried a few different programs without success. So I was excited to try the Learning Dynamics Reading Program produced by Learning Dynamics.

The program recommends 15 minutes per day, at least 3 days per week. It starts pretty slow by learning one letter sound each in the first five lessons before you review them together in lesson 6. Even though Clarissa already knows most of her letters and sounds, I chose to start at lesson 1. I thought this would build her confidence, and I was correct. She actually really enjoyed the first few lessons and would ask to do more than one per day.

Each lesson had a few different components. There were three different flash cards for each letter. She enjoyed looking at those and collecting the small cards. Though eventually she invented her own games with them. There is an alphabet song that is supposed to be played at every lesson. Clarissa isn’t very big into kid songs, so halfway through, she had her hands over her ears. The same thing happened with each individual letter song so after the first couple of lessons, I didn’t bother with the songs. She was really excited about the letter hunts at the end of each lesson.

M was the first letter. At the end of that lesson, we were to walk around the house and find things that start with the “mmm” sound. She received an M&M for each word she found. The same thing happened with p for popcorn. She also enjoyed coloring the words that started with the correct letter. I think she also appreciated that it was only one page of written work each day. She had to write one row of lower case letters and color a few pictures so it was quick and easy.

By the end of the review period she was getting frustrated with the coloring page. She wanted to color in all of the pictures. So I made her tell me which words started with the correct letter before she started coloring. Then she would tell me which sound the other pictures started with.

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The program comes with four sets of books: blue, red, yellow, and green. She was excited to read those books before we got to them. So we definitely previewed each set of books before she was supposed to read them herself.

I am excited to report that we finally found a reading program that Clarissa enjoys! She said to me at one point, “I like reading now!” and she is getting to be a better reader everyday. After lesson 6, there is practice with blending words each day. She is pretty good at blending the three letter words now. She will read the simple books too. The first couple of books were single words on a page. It took a few books before she was supposed to read sentences, which was great, because by then she was ready.

I appreciated that each book had a list of words at the beginning of the book. In this way, we were able to practice the words before we actually tried to read the book. Clarissa already was familiar with most of the words before she saw them in the book so she didn’t have to spend as much time sounding out each word in the book. She enjoyed reading more that way. There are also comprehension questions to ask at the end of each book to make sure that your reader understood what they read and didn’t just sound out the words.

This video is book 7 of the blue book series. She has only completed lesson 18 of 41 in Lesson Manual one.

The lesson manual spells out which books you are supposed to read with each lesson. Books 1-13 are for lessons 9-33. Lessons 34-42 are two vowel lessons, where you will finish reading the blue set of books (books 14-23). Then there is a second part of the lesson manual that goes more in depth with advanced sounds and the other three set of books. I think it will take us several months to finish this program.

I am excited that most of the pieces of this program are reusable. The only part I will need to replace is the student workbook when I need to teach my second daughter to read in a few years. You can read about what other families thought of the program here.

Learning Dynamics Reading Program  {Learning Dynamics Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

His Mercy Endureth Forever Book Review

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I am always looking for ways to point Clarissa to Jesus and teach her about the Bible. Last year, I reviewed T is for Tree as part of the Homeschool Review Crew. The publisher reached out to me in the fall asking if I would be interested in reviewing another book and I accepted.

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I really enjoyed His Mercy Endureth Forever: Psalm 136. The book is as it seems. A reading of Psalm 136 in its entirety, written in the King James Version. I appreciated that it used the entirety of the scripture, word for word. The pictures were wonderful. They really made the words come to life.

This is a great way to introduce kids to God’s word. Kids like to read the same books over and over again and I think that this can easily become a favorite with the repetition of the words and the vibrant pictures. Children can easily memorize this passage as they read through the book. There is even a glossary at the end of the book to explain vocabulary that might not be as familiar to children.

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I think His Mercy Endureth Forever: Psalm 136 would be a great addition to a family or Elementary Sunday School bookshelf. I look forward to reading it with my girls in the years to come.

Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner Review

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For most of life in South Korea, I was more of a use the calendar on my phone kind of girl. But once I started homeschooling Clarissa, I decided that I needed something more  for my planning. I tried a couple of different things both on the computer and on paper that I wasn’t thrilled with so I was really excited to review the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for the 2019/20 year written by Gena Suarez that is produced by The Old Schoolhouse®.

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There were several things I liked about this planner. First of all, it is spiral bound which makes it easy to write in and flip pages. I also liked that there are devotions written throughout the planner to encourage me all year long.

The beginning of the planner gives you big block calendars for each month of the year, starting July 2019 and ending June 2020. Each month has a devotion on a different topic as well as a full page for notes. I like this section because it allows me to think of big picture ideas for each month. The calendar blocks are also big enough that you really don’t need a separate family calendar. You can plan dinners, dentist appointments, field trips, whatever you need, all in one spot.

The next section breaks it down further. There is another devotion and then four weeks of more in depth planning. You can plan a week of schoolwork for up to five children on one page. Since I am only schooling Clarissa right now, I chose to break it down over 5 days instead. Every four weeks, there is a new devotion to read which I think would be both encouraging and motivating to moms.

I think I am really going to enjoy using this planner for this year. With a new baby, I will need to have a better plan for Clarissa’s schooling than just playing and winging it like we did for kindergarten. This method of planning will allow me to be less stressed about what Clarissa is learning because I can write it down and plan it out better. I also like that I can write it with a pen instead of making my own documents on the computer. It doesn’t have to “look professional” since I don’t have to turn my lesson plans in to a school. I think I will also like being able to look through this at the end of the year so that I can see, in one place, all the things that we worked on. The notes for each month and the devotionals should also help me to keep my focus each month.

I look forward to seeing how other families used this planner with multiple children to give me ideas for the future. As of the writing of this review, they are 98% sold out of this planner. So if this is something you are interested in, I would definitely look into buying it early next year.

Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year {The Old Schoolhouse® Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Big Bible Science Review

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Clarissa loves science, especially if it has to do with animals or experiments. Big Bible Science by Christian Focus lets us learn about both. I really appreciate any science curriculum that Clarissa can get excited about that also teaches from a Christian perspective.

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There are several ways that a family could use Big Bible Science. It could be used as a supplement for an elementary science curriculum or as a curriculum itself. There are 21 different experiments on several topics including: gravity, friction, chemistry, plants, animals, water cycle, space, and the human body.

Each experiment has it’s own short chapter in the book and includes scriptures or Bible stories, some background on the science topic covered in the experiment, materials needed, and several activity choices for each topic. I could see using this book as a stand alone science curriculum and moving through it at the pace of one chapter every 1-2 weeks. You could spend time focusing on the scripture and background and do a different activity each day for several days. Or you could use this book as a supplement to any science curriculum, pulling the experiments as they fit in with your current curriculum. I also think that this book would be a good fit for families with multiple children. You can assist younger children and let the older children do more on their own. There is even a list of which experiments children would be able to complete without adult assistance.

In kindergarten, I don’t have a formal science curriculum for Clarissa. Several experiments in this book were appropriate for her to work through. For the purpose of this review, I simply listed them for her and let her pick her favorites. Of course, her favorite was the experiment 13 on animal classification.

We started by learning about the five different classes of animals. Then we read the creation story and focused on Genesis 1:20-25. We were instructed to describe the five classes of animals in the creation story. The second activity was to write the class of animals on the top of an index card and describe their characteristics. For kindergarten, she drew them instead. Clarissa then cut and glued animal pictures to the correct card. The last activity was to create a venn diagram comparing two different classes of animals. She chose animals and reptiles. I simply recorded her responses as we compared the two different classes. I had planned to do this in several days but Clarissa really enjoyed it and so we completed all of the activities in one afternoon!

We will go back to this book later. We usually end up doing unit studies and I think that the experiments in this book are going to be great activities to add to our unit studies for first and second grade. I appreciate that most of the materials needed for the experiments are either things that I already have in my house or are really easy to access. It makes science so much easier to plan and execute.

There were four titles to choose from for this review. To read about other books from a Christian perspective check out the other reviews here.

Big Bible Science, Elizabeth Prentiss, God is Better than Princesses,  God is Better than Trucks. {Christian Focus Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Nothing Book Review

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Clarissa and I are always looking for good books to read. I get especially excited if the book points Clarissa to Jesus. This is one reason we were very excited to review Nothing by Natalee Creech published by Worthy Kids, an imprint of Hatchette Book Group.

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Nothing: Nothing Can Separate You from God’s Love! is a wonderful book based on the scripture Romans 8:38-39, “Nothing can separate us from God’s Love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.” The publisher recommends it for ages 4-7, but I think the age range could go wider than that. It’s a great book with a lovely message.

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I love that the simple words in this book remind my daughter that there is nothing that she can do or anything that can happen to her that will make God stop loving her. The pictures are fabulous. There are pictures of space ships and the deep seas, crazy weather, and normal kids.

At the end of the book, I was ready to talk to Clarissa about the message. That it doesn’t matter what she does wrong or what kinds of crazy things happened in her life, God would always love her. And she got this silly look on her face and she said, “Mom! I know that God will always love me!” We didn’t need a long discussion to convince her and that was good for this mama’s heart. If that’s the only thing she learns before she leaves my house, I’ve done my job. I look forward to sharing this book with friends and her Sunday School class at church.

Nothing (Nothing Can Separate You From God's Love) by Natalee Creech {WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group Reviews}

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Pathway to Liberty Review

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As we are getting ready to move back to the United States after being in South Korea for the past four years, I have been thinking about what Social Studies I wanted to work on with Clarissa. I thought that something with US History and Geography would be a good fit so she could learn about her home country while we are actually living there. This is one reason I was so excited to review Pathway to Liberty’s History Curriculum by Pathway to Liberty.

Pathway to Liberty has four different history curricula to choose from: Universal History, The Middle Ages, US History, and World History. We chose US History Level 1.  There are multiple levels of each curriculum so that families with multiple students can use the same curriculum with independent work at each student’s level: Kindergarten to third grade, fourth through sixth grade, seventh through ninth grade, or tenth through twelfth grade. If I had multiple students, that would be something that would definitely draw me to this curriculum since it would be less preparation for me and my children would have common lessons to talk about together.

I did like that there was a Teacher Guide and a Student Guide. The Teacher Guide was helpful because it showed a lesson plan that you could use for all four levels of curriculum. Since we have level one, I had the answer key for level one work only. So if I were going to use this for multiple ages, I would probably go ahead and buy the Teacher Guide for each level that I was using. But it was helpful for me to see how it would work to use the same curriculum for multiple ages of children. The Student Guide was laid out almost identical to the Teacher Guide except that there were places for the student to fill in the blank. The text was also larger for younger eyes and bigger handwriting. I also liked that both guides were spiral bound which makes it easier to flip the pages and keep the material together. 

The first two weeks are a foundation of history and it seems like they would be the same in each of the four curricula. You learn about what history is, creation, Moses and the Ten Commandments, as well as Martin Luther and the Reformation. There is vocabulary to learn for each lesson depending on grade level.

The actual US History itself started with Jamestown and Plymouth Rock. Then it went on to the Great Awakening before the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the events leading up to the Civil War. So US History would end after the Civil War with this curriculum. But I like that it shows history from a faith perspective instead of what I learned of US History in public school.

I will say that although they advertise level one as kindergarten through third grade, we were nowhere near ready for this curriculum. The content was great and meaty. But it was pretty writing intensive and my kindergartner did not understand much of the content. We did the basic foundations lessons and I think we will go back to this content when she is in second grade to really study the history. There are plenty of maps and pictures in both the Teacher Guides and Student Guides. There are also youtube videos that go with several of the lessons.

To learn about using multiple levels of the curriculum together, or one of the other history curriculum, you can read other reviews here. Their website says that they offer a 20% discount to active duty military families.

Universal History,  The Middle Ages,  US History & World History Curriculum {Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum Reviews}

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