God’s Mail Volume 3: Review

Over the past two weeks, The Review Crew has been reading daily inspiration from God’s Mail Volume 3 by Ron Hardin from God’s Mail. Illustrations are by Richard Young.

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I received a physical softcover copy of this book. It’s a pretty good sized book, about the size of a sheet of printer paper. I like the size of the book as it is easy to hold and read. The book is 221 pages of scripture and poems. On any given page, there is scripture on the left page and a poem on the right. The poems are meant to speak to believers and well as non believers.

In the picture above, you can see the layout of the book as well as the beautiful illustrations. The book is set up and meant to be used so that you can read the scripture and the poem and meditate on the message.

About the Author:

Ron Hardin has written 3 volumes of God’s Mail as well as over 500 poems. Ron was saved as a young boy but later in his teenage years and early twenties, found himself in involved in gang activity and well as drugs. Then on Christmas Eve of 1983 he returned home and to church. This turned his life around and says God has been telling him to write hundreds of poems telling about the stories of his life. Ron and his wife are now ministers in Florida.

I think this is a great book for some scriptural motivation. To read what other crew members thought, click the link below.

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A Review: Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books

 

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We live on a farm with about 30 animals total, 20 being horses! We love horses around here so we were super excited to receive the 4 books in the Mattie Richardson’s Horses in History Series from Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books.

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Mattie Richardson is a young author, writing and publishing her first book at the age of 13! Her Horses in History Series is aimed towards the middle grades age group but would be a great read aloud for even younger grades. These books tell the story straight from the horses perspective which is really cool to read. They each follow along in a certain time of history. You can tell that Mattie has spent an extensive amount of time researching her history facts as the books are highly accurate. I love that you can use these books to learn about history while also reading an awesome story from the perspective of the horse. My 8th grader and I both read these books. We received the 4 books that are part of the series and I will explain them in a little more detail below:

Golden Sunrise:

This book is about a palomino mare that was raised in the early 1800’s. The horse and her owner, Jared, are helping Texas fight for their independence. They even meet James Bowie and the Famous Davy Crockett along the way. My 8th grader is learning about Davy Crockett so this was a perfect way to tie in literature and history at the same time.

Day and Night:

This book is from the perspective of two young horses during the Civil War. This is the longest book of the series but it is full of accurate historical information! You can also order an enrichment guide to go along with this book to help your student learn even more about the time period this book was written about.

Appaloosy:

This book was the first one Mattie Richardson wrote, at just age 13. This truly blows my mind because it is so well written. This girl is very talented! This story is about a stallion named Storm who belonged to the Nez Perce tribe. Storm just wants to be free and has many obstacles to face with his dream of freedom.

Dusty’s Trail:

This book is about Dusty and his owner Levi. Levi leaves his quiet farm life to work for the Pony Express. Dusty isn’t too sure about this life since it’s full of fear and even the threat of death!

 

What We Thought:

We love these books by Mattie Richardson. They are very well written and so impressive for a teenager! The books are well made and have beautifully illustrated covers. Anyone who has a love for horses and history would thoroughly enjoy these books.

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To read what other crew members think, click the link below:

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A Review: CrossTimber-Name Meaning Gifts

 

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Learning about the meaning behind your name is so fun and exciting. We loved being able to review Your Amazing Name – Personalized Adventures for EVERY name by CrossTimber-Name Meaning Gifts.

CrossTimber creates beautiful products for your children to let them know how special their name is. One of the products they create are personalized animated videos. These are brand new so we were super excited to be one of the first people to see them. I started the process by sending them my child’s name (I chose to use Carter since he is the youngest), as well as a piece of artwork your child has created. You also submit a letter from yourself to your child. Everything you send them is then used for the video to make it super special and personalized just for them.

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Each video is around 30 minutes long. Here you can see the opening scene titled, “Carter’s Amazing Name Story.”

 

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The story starts in “Carter’s Room,” where you can see a few things in the room are personalized with his name. There is a talking pencil in this room that will be the one telling the story throughout the movie.

 

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In the picture above, you can see a rocket. This rocket is made out of Carter’s artwork that I submitted. My only regret is that I would have had him create something new. What I could find was an old drawing he did that was very basic. I didn’t realize the artwork would be so heavily used in the story. I love that it is so I wish I would have had him create something new and colorful.

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The story follows the pencil while he tries to find someone who knows what your child’s name means. He finally comes to a wise owl, who after many jokes, finally reveals the origin and history of the name. The few minutes spent on puns by the owl had me laughing out loud.

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Towards the end of the movie, the owl delivers a letter to your child that is personalized with their very own address if you want! Carter thought this was really cool.

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My favorite part was the personalized letter from whoever submitted the product request. This was a chance for me to write Carter a short letter explaining how I picked his name and why. When they read the letter in the movie, I teared up. It was a sweet moment and really cool to see be part of his own story.

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The finale presents them with a plaque with their name and the meaning of it. You are able to personalize this as well from many options. I chose to use a soccer ball as that is Carter’s favorite thing to do. I love that the whole movie talks about God’s love for you and how your name is special and picked just for you. It talks about how God has a purpose and plan for your life.

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At the very end, they show your child’s name written in the stars and it also has a place for you to send a picture of your child.

Above, you can see Carter’s reaction to the movie. We both really enjoyed it! Carter is 9 and thought parts of it were a little childish but still enjoyed watching it. I would agree that is probably best suited for younger children but I will still treasure this movie forever. The video quality is really amazing and the animation is fantastic. The storyline is easy and fun to follow. CrossTimber has many other products you can order from their site too. So if you have older children and want to gift them something about the meaning of their name, you should check it out!

 

 

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In the email with our digital file, we received an attachment with some fun worksheets pertaining to Carter’s name. I love the writing practice ones as that is something he still needs help with. There are mazes, coloring pages and more!

To read what other crew members thought of their name videos, click the banner below:

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Creating a Masterpiece Review

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Do you have a budding artist in your household? My teenager is a pretty good artist but his brother and I draw like a 4 year old. Stick people all the way! This has recently changed for me though thanks to our recent review of a wonderful Drawing Program by Creating a Masterpiece.

We received a one year subscription to Creating a Masterpiece. This program was designed by Sharon Hofer. Sharon is a master artist and teacher who creating a really great program that teaches children and adults of all ages to be an artist. She truly believes that anyone can be an artist, that it isn’t just a gift some people are given. The program is designed for your whole family to use. It’s hard to find a program that both of my children can do side by side and this is one of them!

When you subscribe to the program, you can start with the beginner lessons which allows to create simple but beautiful pieces of art. As you progress, the techniques get more advanced. I really like that there is a variation of mediums used as well. She has lessons on charcoal, pencil, watercolors, colored pencils, markers and more! We created quite a few pictures but I will take you through the breakdown of one of the drawings I created called Simplicity.

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In the picture above, you can see the lessons that are available for beginning artists. This is where I started. I thought a lesson in pencil would be easy enough and since it’s fall, I decided to draw the picture of the trees.

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When you click on the lesson, a project description will be displayed as well as the materials needed. There is also a place on the website where you can purchase the supplies.

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Once you have your supplies, you’re ready to begin! When you click on the lesson, a group of videos will pop up. You simply just go through each video at your own pace, pausing when you need to. The videos are very easy to follow and the point of view is perfect. You’re able to see exactly what she is doing and she is really great at explaining each and every step. She has a nice calm voice and is super encouraging in the videos we have watched.

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I followed her steps exactly and my finished product is below. I have to say, I am pretty proud of myself!

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My oldest son completed some projects as well. We really had a lot of fun with this program and will continue to use it to improve our artistic abilities.

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You can read what other members of the Review Crew have to say about Creating a Masterpiece by clicking the banner below:

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Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math Workbooks Review

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Channie’s Visual Handwriting Workbooks has been really helping my two boys with their math each day by using One Page A Day 2 Digit Multiplication Practice.

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Channie’s was established in 2015 by a mom who realized her sons handwriting was really poor. She noticed that traditional handwriting worksheets were not helping him so she created something that was more visual. Now, the products are available to homeschoolers, wholesale and even in your major stores. There are over 67 products designed to help children with their handwriting and in our case, completing multiplication problems.

We reviewed the One Page A Day 2 Digit Multiplication Practice. This workbook is geared towards students in 3rd through 5th grade. IT is designed so that you complete just one page each day. This is the perfect amount of practice! The layout of the workbook was created so that you can see the numbers and where they should be lined up. Everything is perfectly spaced in boxes so there’s no room for error when it comes to the placement of your numbers. You can see what I am talking about in the picture below:

I like how the first page starts off with two-digit numbers being multiplied by 1 and 0. I like this approach because it doesn’t seem too daunting. Everyone knows their 0 and 1 multiplication facts so your student is able to focus on where the numbers are placed and where their answers go. The next page has the 2’s facts and so on. I also like how this is done because they are able to practice their fact families while working on 2-digit multiplication. After the facts through 9 are done, they start mixing up all of the facts. This is really great practice as my boys still struggle with memorization. Once they have mastered 14 pages of 2-digit by 1-digit, they move on to 2 digits by 2 digits. Every place value they will need here is in its own box, including color coding. You can see an example below:

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Once they have mastered this, by completing a page each day for a while, the workbook takes out the color coding and lets them practice this way. I also like that their is an answer key in the back of the workbook so they are able to check their work.

I really enjoy using this product to supplement our math program. Both of my boys have really bad handwriting so I am interesting in trying some of the products she has for that too!

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Smartick Review

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If you are looking for an awesome math enrichment program, look no further. We have been using Smartick for the last couple of months and I am IN LOVE! (I am not being paid to say that!)  My children have been supplementing their online math curriculum by using Smartick. Smartick is the only online math program that combines: Math + Reading Comprehension + Logic and Reasoning.

It uses artificial intelligence to figure out exactly where your child is at in their learning and where they need to go. Your child only has to use Smartick 15 minutes a day to help them improve their math skills. It is geared toward ages 4-14 but the program goes beyond your child’s age and/or grade level and helps them right where they are at. Even if your child is gifted in math, it will realize this and work to your child’s level.

Below, I will take you through some of the site and what it has to offer.

The first picture is what your child will see when they log in. When you create your account, your child is able to customize their avatar. I love the user interface on this website. It’s really bright and easy to use. It’s set up more like a game which most children love!  The second picture shows their “world.” Here they can do all sorts of things!

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One place they can go is their classroom which has a lot of different places they can visit. One of my favorite places is the chalkboard which has tutorials for all of the concepts as you can see an example of below:

 

There is also a place where they can play games and can even add other Smartick users to play against. They have their own house they can personalize as well as the “gym” where they can train with their math facts.

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They can train in competitions and here is where they can play with real people who also have a Smartick account. All of this added stuff is not necessary but just enriches the program and makes it more fun! My 9 year old LOVES this part of the program.

Now, on to the actual lesson part of the program, which is MY favorite part.

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Here you can see some sample pages from a lesson Carter completed. In the upper left hand corner you can see his avatar and the green circle around it, this is the timer for the lesson. As you move through each page, the green fills in and gives your child a visual for how much is left. Beside that, you can see the “ticks.” Students earn ticks by getting problems correct. They can then use those ticks to buys things for their house and pets. Your child can go back and correct problems they missed the first time to earn extra ticks.

The pictures above, show the parents setting which is really helpful. It shows their progress and sessions they have completed, with detailed information from each session. There is a place where you can add motivational rewards and mesasges. I love this option because it allows you personalize your childs experience. You can also access tutorials from the parents page as well. There’s a section called Smartick Brain which takes you to some games to help strenghten your brain power! (Picture below)

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This has been my favorite math program we have ever used. I’m excited about continung to use it to supplement our math curriculum.

Are you interested in trying Smartick? You can get a free 15 day trial on their website. If you wasnt to subscribe, you can use this link and receive 25% off your first subscription!

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Progeny Press Review

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Reading good literature is important to me in our homeschool life. Having a great study guide to go along with a great book makes it a lot more fun! Recently, we have been using The Little House on the Prairie Study Guide from Progeny Press. We also were sent the study guide for The Shadow Spinner have been using that one as well!

The Mission of Progeny Press
“To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!”

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I was really excited to get The Little House on the Prairie because just a few weeks earlier, I found a cute copy at a thrift store. I couldn’t wait to get started with the study guide for it. This study guide is best for grades 4-6.  Progeny Press does such a great job with their study guides. They are easy to follow and there are so many great resources in it. Each one starts off with giving you information about the study guide author as well as a background of the author of the book. They give you some pre-reading activities before you actually read the story which is fun to introduce the literature. Progeny Press recommends you having the student read the complete book before starting the activities in the study guide. Then they can work through the study guide using the book as a reference. Having a dictionary, thesaurus and Bible are also recommended to have close by while working. The study guide is broken into chapters of the book. There are also ideas for essay writing as well as additional resources you can use for the book study. I like that they include a separate answer key for checking your answers.

 

 

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I had never heard of the Shadow Spinner but was excited to read it and complete the study guide. We didn’t get as much done on this study guide because I like to focus on one book at a time but I am looking forward to finishing it with my boys. This study guide is recommended for Grades 5-8. I got the audio book from our local library and we listen to the story in the car.

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Here’s an example of a page from the study guide for Shadow Spinner.

 

 

One thing I really like about these study guides is grades 4 and up are able to use fillable online pages which makes it more interactive. This is great for students who would rather work on the computer than have printable pages. My oldest son likes to do his work on the computer and my younger son likes to have worksheets. The study guide allows them to do both!

Progeny Press is great and we love using their study guides. Last year, we did the study guide for The Josefina Story Quilt. It was a lot of fun! You can read the blog post about that here.

 

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