Jarm Del Boccio, Author: A Review

I absolutely love to read, always have. I love self-help books, fiction, non-fiction, really anything. I get really excited when we are given a book to read for The Review Crew. The past month, we have been reading The Heart Changer from Jarm Del Boccio, Author.  I was sent a copy of the book that I was able to read in iBooks on my iPhone. The book opened up easily and has a beautiful cover. The book also has a clickable Table of Contents which is super helpful.

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The Heart Changer is a historical fiction book and is also Jarm’s (pronouneced Yarm) first book. The book is aimed towards middle grades and is 112 pages of a great and easy to follow story. I started reading the story first and was at Chapter 6 before I even realized it. The story is so well written, it really draws you in. I told London, my 12 year old, that he just had to read the first chapter to start and he read 5 because he wanted to continue to find out what happened.

The story gives you a more in-depth look into the life of the servant girl mentioned in 2 Kings 5:2-“In one of their raids against Israel, the Syrians had carried off a little Israelite girl, who became a servant of Naaman’s wife.” The Bible doesn’t give her a name but Jarm calls her Miriam. The story follows Miriam from being taken from her family to being taken to the King of the Syrian Army’s, Naaman and his wife, to be her servant. Miriam, rightfully so, is very bitter towards God for this fate. Little does she know, God is using her for something bigger than she can understand. In this story, you can see and feel her heart changing which is a must in order to fulfil her purpose.

I also had access to the Teacher’s Guide which was really helpful. It starts off with some information about Jarm so you can get to know the author of the story. She also includes a Q&A about Miriam which I thought was really cool! The teachers guide also gives you some questions to ponder about Miriam’s life, some ways to research the setting, activities to go along with the story as well as some Syrian recipes.

We really loved this story. You become easily attached and invested in Miriam, constantly rooting for her. It’s inspiring to see her change her heart and love her enemy, as we are called to do. This is a great story and I highly recommend it, not just to middle school students but adults as well!

 

 

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Dyslexia Gold Review

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My youngest son, Carter, has always been a struggling reader. Well… I guess I shouldn’t say struggling but definitely a late reader. One amazing thing about homeschool is that, that’s ok. They are able to take their time and work at their pace to achieve the goals you set for them. He reads above grade level now! I am so thankful when The Review Crew is able to provide a program for us to review that will help Carter with his reading. For the past few months, he has been working with Dyslexia Gold, as they so graciously provided us with a family license and lifetime subscription to Dyslexia Gold Full Bundle.

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Dyslexia Gold is a supplementary reading program designed to help your dyslexic child, as well as struggling readers. It is designed to improve your child’s reading by using the program for 10 minutes a day. We were given a lifetime subscription to this online program. Dyslexia Gold has 4 parts to it: :Engaging Eyes, Fluency Builder, Spelling Tutor and Times Table Tutor.

Engaging Eyes. They will send you a pair of 3D glasses that your child will use to help their eyes track the targets with Target Practice. There are 3 other games in this category including, Speed Fix, Eye Tracking and Whack an Alien. These will help your child improve their vision and tracking while reading which will help them better their reading score. Carter did get a headache when he wore the 3D glasses so we did not spend as much time on this category.

 

Fluency Builder: In this part, your child will work on building their reading fluency, speed and comprehension. Here, you can see the screen where you are able to choose easy, medium or hard for their reading level. You can see example of words and the reading passage. You are also able to change the accent here. We started off with the English accent because that is the default since this is program is based in the UK. Carter did have some trouble with understanding some of the words with the accent but I was easily able to change it to American.

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Below, you can see a few screenshots from the Reading Fluency portion. Each lesson has a set of words and the program goes through different prompts and activities with the same words. I really love this because it has a lot of repetition as far as the words but the activities are different and keep it interesting for your child.

 

Spelling Tutor: The 3rd part of the program is designed to help your child improve their spelling skills. This is really great for a child who is already able to spell some. Carter REALLY struggles with spelling so we did not spend as much time here but I plan to in the future when his reading skills improve. There are different activities with this part too. Below you can see where they say a word and your child will type the word. The other activity pictured has your child write down a sentence the computer says and they self-correct their work by clicking the green or red circle. They include punctuation too which I LOVE!

 

Times Table Tutor: The 4th part of the program is not reading based but is designed to help your child practice their times tables. It uses Singapore Math technique and I really like it. Carter will be spending time here over the summer to practice his multiplication tables. Below, you can see some of examples of how it is done.

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Although this program isn’t designed for only dyslexic children, it did help me realize that maybe Carter has dyslexia. I had him tested by a psychologist and he is in fact, dyslexic. It wasn’t the best news to get but I know he will be able to overcome the challenges he will face because of it. I really enjoy this program and think it has a lot of good things about it. There are however, a couple of things that I wanted to mention that I was not ok with. It may be a culture thing because this program was developed in the UK, but I was not happy with some of the words they chose to use. One example is the word “stupid.” That is one of the words used in repetition in the lesson. I do not like for my children to say this word. Of course, there are times they do say it but I strongly encourage them not to. So to have my 8 year old say it over and over in a reading program made me uncomfortable. There are a lot of words that children need to learn to read and I just think the program could use a different word here. There were also pictures and words of wine and champagne. I am not a prude by any means and definitely enjoy a glass of wine now and then but these are adult things and in my opinion should be left out of a children’s reading program. I really do love so many things about this program but I did notice myself not wanting to use it as much because of some of the word choices.

If you are curious about what others think of this program, click the banner below:

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Matific Galaxy Review

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I am thankful that both of my boys enjoy math and are pretty successful with new concepts but there is always room for more practice! Worksheets can get really boring though so I try to make sure we mix it up with the approach I am using. Games are always a hit and thankfully for the past couple of months, Carter has been able to practice his math skills with Matific Galaxy.

Matific Galaxy is an award winning, online learning program. It takes your child through a fun mathematical galaxy that helps them learn age appropriate concepts. It is targeted for children K-6th grade and can be accessed on any smart phone or tablet as well as a PC or laptop.

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With Matific Galaxy you are able to choose the grade level for your child. Once they start the game, they start at Level One. Each level is its own world of sorts that has a character assigned to it. Your child will work through the level and will slowly rebuild their character as they get the answers correct. They are also able to achieve trophies and medals as they go along as well. Each grade level has 10 different worlds/characters they are able to take over by getting the problems correct. The problems in the game are super interactive and very engaging.

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When your child logs in, they will see their “galaxy.” The goal is to play the games in each galaxy to win back the character assigned to that world. The characters are pixelated and with each correct answer, you win pixels and are able to rebuild your character to bring it back to life. Here, you see that Carter is on the 4th level/world, Blaze. You can’t go on to the next level until the previous one is complete. What I really like about it though, is that you are able to go back to previous worlds and complete more practice problems to win other achievements. This gives your child an opportunity for more practice and they actually want to do it because they can win so many cool prizes.

 

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Here is an example from Level 2. There are 4 activities here and the little arrow on them shows that your child has completed that activity and can revisit it for more achievements. The stars at the top show you how well they did on that activity. The bottom icons allow you to clean your character off, blow bubbles with them and feed them. This part isn’t math related but they are able to have a little fun taking care of the character and they can earn coins for doing so!

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Here is an example of some of the problems that your child might see on the app. The problems are very interactive and a lot of fun. The grey bars at the bottom show you how many problems are in that activity. I really like how they don’t have too many problems for each lesson. It’s enough to gauge your student’s knowledge without being overwhelming.

 

There is also a parents zone which is super helpful! In the parents zone, you can see your child’s overall progress, what skills they are strong in and which ones need more practice and well as a list of all the skills they will be learning for that grade level. Here, you can also find FAQ and support if you may need it.

 

I absolutely love this program! I think it’s awesome that you can play online, or on the app. It seems like kids these days will love anything that is an app they can access. Matific Galaxy really does make learning math fun! Carter will play the game until I tell him he has to stop. There are so many layers and achievements that make it fun for them. We are going to continue to use this to add to our math curriculum and ensure that he is always working on his math skills in an engaging way.

 

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Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Review

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I am obsessed with all things relating to the sky: the moon, sunrises and sunsets, clouds, airplanes and of course outer space. I have enjoyed being able to share that love with my two boys. The past couple of months, I have been teaching Carter all about the solar system using My First Report: Solar System by Hewitt Homeschooling Resources.

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This resource is a 58 page unit study designed to help your child learn all about the solar system while writing reports. There is so much information in this unit study. It really is packed full of information. We had not talked in depth about the solar system yet so this was a great place to start. The resource came printed on high quality paper and I punched holes in it to add it to a notebook. I was also sent two other resources: My First Report: Bugs and Worms and My First Report: Famous People. We haven’t started on these yet but I will definitely be using them for the next school year. I now have a notebook with 3 awesome unit study’s from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources. YAY!

 

This study about the solar system includes ideas and resources in the following areas: art, music, language, reading, math, social studies/history, science/health, P.E., Bible, and even field trips you can go on to learn more. Every subject is covered and there are many chances for your child to practice their writing. That is the first part of this study we completed. Carter used one of the bible verses and did some copywork!

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I tried to do at least one activity from each category so that we were able to get a good picture of this resource. Carter enjoyed learning some of the new vocabulary words which is easily found on the full sheet of words and their definitions. We also enjoyed listening to some of the songs that listed as ways to enhance your learning.

 

I think his favorite thing was filling out the chart all about the planets, sun and moon! As you can see below, the chart has all the planets listed and you’re supposed to research to find the answers to fill in the chart. The categories include: Color, Surface Gravity, Miles from Sun, Diameter, Rotation in Earth Days, Orbit Around the Sun, Moons and Tilt of Axis. Carter really enjoyed learning about the orbits around the moon for each planet and I thought it was cool to learn about the number of moons each planet has. Did you know Jupiter has 79 moons?? This week, there were times where some of Jupiters moons were visible using binoculars. This event tied in perfectly with our report of the solar system!

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This unit study is such a great resource to add to your school days. We barely scratched the surface of all the activities we can do to expand his knowledge about the solar system. I’m really excited to get into the two gifted unit study’s in the fall!

 

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A Review: The Old Schoolhouse® Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year

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I haven’t always been a “planner” but once I started homeschooling, I realized real quick how important planning is. Before now, I have just used a basic yearly planner that you can get at any store but I’ve noticed how it’s not the biggest or best laid out planner when trying to plan for all that homeschool entails. For the past month, I’ve been able to start planning for the next school year using The Old Schoolhouse®, Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year. This planner was created by one of our own, Gena Suarez. 

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We technically haven’t even ended our school year for the 2018-2019 year but it is always so exciting to receive a new planner and to be able to start getting ready for the next year. I will have a 4th grader and an 8th grader this coming school year. (Insert all the tears here.) I love that with this planner, I am able to plan for the whole school year for an elementary age student as well as a middle school aged student. I really prefer a paper and pencil option as well and that’s exactly what this planner is. It’s the perfect size and allows me to pencil in and erase as needed. If you’re a homeschool mom, you know that this is very important.

 

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One thing that I love about this planner is that there are devotionals woven throughout it. Gena has written some inspiring information in this planner for us homeschooling mama’s. We can all use a little pick-me-up from time to time and these devotionals are perfect for that. There is a page beside the devotional to take your own notes as you read and study it.

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The planner is set up so that you can plan the week, including whatever subjects you’re focusing on, for up to 5 children. It has enough pages to cover the whole year of teaching. I haven’t planned in this fashion before but I am going to utilize it when I start planning for next school year.

After the weekly planning pages, there is a section for each child that includes: a notes page, curriculum planning, attendance, books read this year, as well as yearly and semester goals. I love how this is broken up for each child so your planning can focus on them individually. I can’t wait to use the “Books I Read” pages so we can see how many books they have read at the end of the year. I also like that the goals pages are broken into categories. This allows us to focus on specific goals for the year and also semester.

 

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This planner is not only beautiful and well laid out, it is going to be such a valuable resource for next year.

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Stopmotion Explosion Review

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My 12 year old, London, really enjoys art and more specifically the animation side of art.  He has recently mentioned wanting to go to college for it! I love being able to fuel any passion they show interest in so we were so excited to receive the Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion.

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What we received was:

  • Includes 1080p HD video camera with internal microphone, manual focus, and clip, the 290+ page Stopmotion Explosion book, and animation software.
  • No CD-ROM drive required, install via CD or download from our site.
  • Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 & OS X 7.5+ compatible.
  • Learn how to animate gigantic explosions, gunfire, laser blasters, lightsabers and rocket-launch effects.
  • Animate battle sequences with detailed breakdowns of roundhouse kicks, uppercuts, and punches.

Basically, you receive everything you need to make amazing StopMotion videos. You are sent a very thorough book explaining everything you need to make your movies. You can also go online and watch their video tutorials which are super helpful. It comes with a CD for your computer but if you do not have a disk drive (or in my case, it’s broken), you can download the software from their website.

This animation kit is fool proof. It was so easy to unbox the camera and instructions and get right to it, which is exactly what we did. London was super excited to make his first movie writing the word “Stopmotion.” After that, he created other movies including using magnetic tiles to create a structure. The last video in the sequence you can see below is of a horse race. Although it’s not perfect, it is my favorite. It was really fun to watch him and sometimes with brother’s help, make a stop motion animation.

Click on the picture below to watch his video on YouTube:

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As you can see in the clips, he is still working on perfecting the craft of making these movies. This will not be hard to do with all of the information given to him in the book. StopMotion also has an awesome app that you can download and make movies with straight from your phone! I can’t wait to see where he takes his animations.

I love how you can use this product in a number of ways. It is something that needs parental help for younger kids but an older teen should be able to do everything all by themselves. The kit is advertised for ages 13 and up but my 12 year old and his 8 year old brother were able to use the technology just fine. I can see where you would need to be older to read the manual and utilize what is in it.  You can let your kiddo free play with this animation kit as the possibilities are endless. You can also use it recreate historic events that you are learning about in your curriculum or to film cool science projects. There really is so much you can do to incorporate this technology into your homeschool. We love it and I am not being paid to say that. 🙂

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YWAM Publishing Review

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The past month and a half or so, my son, London has been reading all about Ronald Reagan. We were able to review the biography about him from YWAM Publishing titled Heroes of History Ronald Regan: Destiny at His Side as well as the accompanying study guide.

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We were offered quite a few titles to review so I read the options off to London and he chose Ronald Reagan. I was surprised he chose that book but was even more surprised at how much he loved it. I think he was a little surprised at that fact as well.

We also received an amazing study guide to go along with the book. This is my favorite part of this review for sure. As your child reads the book, they are able to dive deeper with all the study guide has to offer.

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As you can see above, the Unit Study offers comprehensive guides for small groups, classrooms and homeschool kiddos. I obviously used the guide for homeschool. It is a 24 page document outlining an overview of the unit study. The small group and classroom options are full of information as well.

The Unit Study is broken into two parts. Part One is an 82 page document that is flowing with information. It has Key Quotes, Chapter Questions, Community Links, Related Topics to Explore as well as Appendixes. Part Two has a fact sheet about Ronald Reagan, a map of areas pertaining to his life as well as a timeline you can print and fill out.

As I mentioned before, my son really enjoyed reading this book. There was no hesitation to pick up the book each day and read. He loved having the time with me afterward to go over the discussion questions. Each chapter has its own set of questions that check comprehension. What I really love about the questions though is there are 2-3 questions for each chapter that ask personal feelings to be discussed. For example, Chapter 9 asks: “Why did the movie studio want to change Ron’s hairstyle, face, and name? Do you think you would take it personally if you were in Ron’s position? Why or why not?” —These types of questions allow the reader to relate to the story and put themselves in the heroes shoes. I REALLY love this part of the study guide. It allowed me to learn about Ronald Reagan as well as hear some interesting answers from London.

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London’s Thoughts:

“I really loved reading this book. I thought it was cool to learn about Ronald Reagan being an actor in Hollywood.”

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YWAM Publishing has so many books and study guides about AMAZING people!! Last year, we reviewed Davy Crockett: Ever Westward. You can read that review here.

 

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Other crew members reviewed different titles. To check them out, click the link below:

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