Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grapevine Studies Bible Study Review

My latest review opportunity was given to me by Dianna Wiebe of Grapevine Studies. Now, I was a little bit nervous at the start of this review, because I have only done a few Bible studies myself, and never with my children. We read lots of bible stories, and have read children's devotional books, but I honestly have never even seen a children's Bible study. When Grapevine Studies came my way, I thought this would be a great beginning for our family.

I chose to review the New Testament Overview, Level 1 for Butterbean. He is seven years old, and learns right now at a third grade level. He is not a huge fan of art projects, and really he doesn't even like to draw, so I knew this "Stick Figuring through the Bible" study would be a challenge. The Bible study uses stick figure drawings and timelines to teach characters and events of the Bible chronologically. Since we do a bit of Classical Education, and our History lessons are chronological, I thought this would mesh well.

Now, a few of the things on the Grapevine supply list we do not own; a dry erase board, concordance and Bible dictionary. But we easily substituted paper for the board, and thankfully, the library had the concordance and dictionary! We just used our New International verson Bible.

I really like how the book is laid out. The Grapevine Method is detailed, explaining how the overall study should be conducted. "Grapevine Studies teaches the Bible as if it were a puzzle, doing the frame first. Once the framework is in place (the timeline) then individual pieces (Bible passages, characters and events) are much easier to place and understand in the context of the "whole puzzle" (the whole counsel of the Word of God)." Ms. Wiebe also gives extensive details on how to conduct the lessons. It took me a while to get into the swing of it. In fact, I had to read the how to teach Grapevine Lessons section several times! I finally decided to just take it slowly, and complete each lesson the way it works for us. Although my book is written for Levels 1-2 (we are Level 1), I found it a bit confusing which instructions pertained to us.

There are eight sections in my Level 1-2 teacher edition (I received the student ebook and the teacher edition book). Each section begins with Goals and Key Points, explaining the characters and events that those particular lessons will cover. This section was imperative for me, as I said, I'm new to children's Bible studies!

Monday through Thursday, we drew stick figures representing a portion of scripture that we read and discussed. Then on Fridays, I had Butterbean write out his memory verse from the week. Each day took us about 15 minutes; which for us, is plenty of time! After the first day, Butterbean said "Mommy, can we keep doing this after you're done with the review?" Now, that's an A from my 7 year old if I ever heard one! For the first few days, Butterbean copied my drawings almost exactly. Now, 7 lessons later, he has given each of them his own touch.
Overall, we really are enjoying the Grapevine Studies. The New Testament Overview (listed for ages 6-8, first and second grade) was a bit challenging for a novice Bible studier. I highly recommend this study, but I do suggest you check out the levels thoroughly, especially if you don't have much Bible study experience, like me!

Normally the New Testament Overview sells for $25.95 . However, readers of my blog get a 30% discount for the next thirty days. Just enter the code crew9 when you order!

Also, click here if you'd like to read more reviews about Grapevine Studies.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hero Hubby

Last night Babyman came to me in an obvious distraught state, pointing to the front door saying "Mommy, moke, moke, hot, hot!" I hadn't heard Daddy go out the door a few minutes earlier, so I worried when I couldn't find him anywhere. When I followed Babyman to the door, we could see billows of black smoke coming from behind the house across the street. Within five minutes, 8 firetrucks had arrived on our street. When they headed behind the house, Hero hubby was coming out. He had seen the fire, run out, retrieved our hose and began dousing the flames of the neighbors' garage, who weren't home. He extinguished the fence and the outside of the garage, before the firefighters arrived to finish the inside of the garage. Even though not a uniformed firefighter (not yet, anyway!), my hubby reminded me last night what a true hero he really is!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Maverick Books

Well I was ecstatic when I checked the mailbox yesterday! I received a package from Maverick Books (Hank the Cowdog). I thought, "What in the world? We already completed our review!" The boys were absolutely thrilled to open the package and find 4 WHITE DROVERS!! If you read my original Hank the Cowdog review, you'll remember that Butterbean was sure that Drover was supposed to be white. I wasn't as concerned, and we have loads of fun playing the game anyway. But how exciting that Maverick was kind enough to send us new Drovers, in the correct color. Thanks, Maverick!Oh, and yes, it was necessary to take a photo with all of us holding a Drover! (sorry, Daddy, not you! I don't think he'll be sad about it!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Official School Day

Well, today began our official school year. We homeschooled a little bit during the summer. But today we really got back to business. I'm doing some research on how others schedule their days, so if you have your schedule posted on your blog, leave me a comment! I'm sure there's a blogger who has already linked to all of your schedules, so if I missed the boat, let me know! I have wanted to stick to a rigorous Classical schedule, as suggested in The Well Trained Mind. But having the 3 boys that I have, and the childcare, I'm not sure this is going to be possible every day of the week! I'd love to "Charlotte Mason strew" as well. Anyone have success with this method? I've heard that I'm not the only one who changes their style many times throughout the year, so I'm glad I'm not alone.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Quarter Mile Math Review

The Quarter Mile Math, developed and published by Barnum Software, has been a huge hit in my house! Not only for Butterbean, my "official" school-ager, but for Babyman and Middleman too! Even Mama got in on the action. You see, when I was in school, many moons ago, math was not my strongest subject. Okay, who am I fooling here, I could not stand math. I didn't like going to math class, didn't like doing math homework, would nearly cry if I was called upon to answer a question or (gasp!) answer a problem at the board; and I still remember my math teachers from highschool with great disdain. But I tell you what, if Quarter Mile Math had been around back then, I might have a different opinion.

I received the Deluxe edition in the mail to review. It covers levels 1,2 and 3 starting at Kindergarten level and ending at 9th grade. Given oodles of Subjects (like Fractions, Percents and Equations) and Topics (for example, Regrouping, Multiplication, Base 10) to choose from, a student races against his own best time. He is given a math problem and the quicker he answers it correctly, the faster his horse runs, or his race car drives! The deluxe version covers 323 topics and over 70,000 math problems! You can see them here.

Now, even though I'm originally from Indiana, I think it's pretty cool that I live in the horse capital of the world, my father-in-law used to be a jockey, and I get to practice my math skills using horse racing!

Oh, I almost forgot the children! I suppose it was created for them, after all! Butterbean (7) really enjoys this math software, which is popularly used in Sylvan Learning Centers. The game is very encouraging to him, whether he gets the answer correct or incorrect. I love that, because I don't want him to despise math like I did! He thinks it's cool that he can choose his own topics, and he feels successful when that horse (his favorite) beats all the others! It has been awesome for practicing his mental addition, and multiplication!

Of course, this wouldn't be a proper review without Middleman (4), who is my official review assistant! He likes the game too, switching back and forth from cars to riderless horses every single race! He loves the sound effects! (Who wouldn't love the thundering of horses' hooves and the revving of race car engines!) Although he hasn't formally begun a math program yet (other than using manipulatives with Mommy, and math questions, incognito), this game is a fun introduction to math. Even Babyman (20 months) got into the racing. He stands on his little wooden stool next to whomever is playing the game. When the race is over he signs and says "More, more!" He is mesmerized by the excitement he watches on the computer screen!
The motivation a child (or parent/teacher!) receives is terrific. As a homeschooler, this has been an outstanding way for our whole family to practice our math skills. As a mommy, I love playing the game; relearning things I have long ago forgotten! It really is great for my guys to see Mommy enjoying math! We hope you'll like this program if you choose to purchase it. We enjoy it so much, we plan to use it as a regular part of our daily math time this year!
If you're interested in purchasing The Quarter Mile Math, check out the website here. You can see a demo of the game, and the different ordering options. If you want to read more reviews, check them out here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Postcard Exchange

I am so excited that I have heard from so many people on The Great Postcard Exchange I started! I know, I'm a nut trying to think I can do that, plus school, and daycare and New Life Voices and TOS Reviews (and I'm sure there's more I've forgotten!). My husband tells me so all the time! If you are a homeschooling family, and you'd like to join in the fun, leave me a comment or send me an email! We'd love to have all of you join the exchange!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blog Button

For the last hour I have tried to create a button for my blogs while B, M and B have been playing transformers. Unsuccessful! Off to do more research!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Random Photos From My Camera

Middleman using his new skill with Babyman
Babyman loves to bake. Especially when he gets to use "Coco"

Who are those masked men?

Daddy and Babyman raking the garden.

Auntie's babygirl napping in the exersaucer.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Web Design for Kids Review

Can you guess what I got in the mail a couple of weeks ago? Web Design For Kids (...and curious grown-ups!) DVD. I have really gotten into this whole blogging thing, and trying to create websites, but it gets a little tricky since I don't know html (hyper text markup language) code! Brian Richardson, the founder of Click Drag Solutions, and a middle school computer literacy teacher, was the instructor for my first html lesson. It's great to know that anyone with a Windows operating system (automatically containing Notepad and Paint), can create a simple web page in virtually no time at all.

I'll have to show my age a bit here, and say that my hubby and I actually found the children actors to be a bit on the cheesy side. But since it held my 4 year old's and 20 month old's attention, I didn't worry so much about the quality of acting. My 7 year old, who is very into computers, was not at all interested, and didn't even want to try the instructions given! I think it might have been fun for the recording to have been of an actual class of Mr. Richardson's! I found myself wishing that I owned a laptop, so that I could try out the code while watching the demonstration. My television and DVD player are located in the living room. My computer is in my kitchen, and it doesn't play DVDs! So instead, I took a lot of notes, and referred back to them when trying out the Ten Basic Lines of Code, Sandwiches and Colors, making subjects stand out, Stand Alone Tags, Designing Backgrounds, Fonts and Paragraphs and Pictures (also there's a bonus section at the end entitled File Cabinet Management).

Mr. Richardson gave great clear directions that were organized very well. He leads you through a sample web page step by step. He gives lots of reminders and reviews things you've learned thus far. I learned a lot. I'm not sure that my children were in the proper age category to get a real benefit from it, though. I wish the DVD came with a little booklet, giving written details. It would also be nice to include a listing of other commonly used tags.

I enjoyed visiting the website. Check it out here. If you're interested in learning the beginning basics of html code, or you have children who would like to learn, you can purchase the DVD Web Design for Kids (...and curious grown-ups!) for just $19.99 right now. Normally it sells for $40. Part of that money goes to several charities, which I thought was neat.