God’s World News {magazine review}

I was THRILLED to review the magazine called God’s World News with my children recently!! I was familiar with this magazine a little bit, but I definitely learned a lot more about the many things this company offers as a result of this review. We received the News Current edition which is for 5th and 6th grade students.

God's World News (magazine review)

 

I will be the first to tell you that news is a hard subject for me. I want to be aware of what is happening in the world around me. I want my children to be knowledgeable. But, {I know you sensed that was coming!!} I have a VERY hard time finding reliable news information. I struggle to know what I can believe and what I shouldn’t. I wonder if there are any others out there in the world sharing news stories that share my beliefs. Enter the God’s World News magazines.

I love the tagline on the God’s World News website…

“Critical thinking delivered.”

As a parent that is both a believer AND interested in my children learning to be critical thinkers, this appeals to me in a lot of ways. In fact, I will go a step further and say that I believe to be a Christian ~ and truly live like Christ ~ in this culture, we HAVE to learn to be critical thinkers. And, as a mom who isn’t always the best at doing that, I’m very thankful for resources, such as this magazine, that help me to do that with my kids.

One thing that I did not know or remember about this magazine publication is that they offer magazines for all aged children!! If you take a look at this page, you will see that they offer versions of their magazine for ages pre-k all the way up through high school! And it’s not even really a variation on the same story all the time, they offer AGE APPROPRIATE stories for each level. So, if a story is appropriate for middle schoolers and up but NOT for the younger kids, you won’t see it in the younger magazines. They also have a magazine, called World Magazine, that my husband and I have been enjoying.

The offer to do this review came at a perfect time for our family. As you  may know, we started a new co-op this year and my oldest daughter is in a geography class where she has been assigned to turn in current event write-ups. I didn’t really want to turn her loose on the internet, so when we received this magazine in the mail, I knew we had found our answer for finding a current event for her to write on! I ordered the 5th-6th grade edition of God’s World News which is called News Current, which you can see more about here. It has been the perfect level for my girls.

As soon as we got the first magazine in the mail, I flipped through it and found a few things that I could point out to Hannah. At the point of receiving it, she didn’t have time to read EVERY article before her geography class, so I gave her a few options I thought she might enjoy, she chose one of the stories, read it and then wrote a summary about it for her class. I love that I could trust the story to be age appropriate, not contain anything vulgar AND that it would also be written for her age level academically speaking.

When we opened the envelope with our magazine in it, we also found a wonderful map! In fact, it is so great I thought I might laminate it and use it instead of the other one we have hanging in our school room. What I love about this map is how they created it to go with the magazine! In the stories in the magazine, when a location is mentioned, they give you coordinates that match THEIR MAP so that children can find where the stories take place fairly easily!! How genius is that?!? 🙂

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There are also several other resources available to you when you subscribe to this magazine. I was unaware of most of these, so I wanted to give you the links for them here!

Extra Resources

As you can see from reading this review, we were very thrilled with this magazine subscription. A subscription to one of the God’s World News magazines is listed as $32 per year, but $28 from the God’s World News website. The magazine is delivered every month of the year except May and December, so you will receive 10 issues. If you order 2 copies, you save a few dollars, and the more copies you order, the more you save.

As my children are getting older, I am finding that I need more help with this very thing that God’s World News offers. I’m very excited to have this resource available.

If you’d like to read what other families are saying about God’s World News magazine, please check out the TOS Crew blog!

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The Homeschool Mom Bible {review}

I was really excited about this next review that I was blessed to be a part of!! The NIV Homeschool Mom’s Bible from Zondervan!! Woo-hoo! My husband kind of chuckled when I opened the package and said, “there’s a Bible for everyone!” And ya know what? That is TRUTH. God’s Word IS for everyone! And if putting the word ‘homeschool’ on the front will enable more people to purchase and READ and SAVOR the Word of God, I say go for it!! I also LOVE the fact that there are enough of us homeschooling in 2013 that they would even consider making a Bible just for us! 🙂

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I love a lot of things about this Bible. I love the cute cover. I love that you can purchase NIV or KJV. NIV has been my favorite for years…I try to switch and always come back to it. I think it’s because I have so many passages memorized in the NIV that it just feels like “home” to me. I also love that there are 365 devotions in this Bible! You can sit down on ANY day and have one ready to go.

The devotions in the Homeschool Mom’s Bible are written by a homeschool veteran, Janet Tatman, who has 25 years of homeschooling experience! The devotions that I read during this review period were very applicable and spoke directly to me as a homeschooling mom.  So often, regular “mom” devotions don’t speak to my situation very much, but these devotions are sure to meet the heart of most homeschool moms I know.

I think my favorite part of the Bible and the devotions are the short prayers at the end of each devotion. There were a few times that I felt like the Lord was speaking directly to me through those prayers…again, because the author is a homeschool mom herself, she wrote prayers that so many of us can relate to in such a personal way.

Homeschool Mom Bible review

This particular Bible that I received is hard back and sells for $34.99 on the Zondervan website.  You can also purchase with a leather cover, which is what I would love to get next time!! They have a pink and a turquoise colored leather covers available.

If you’d like to read what other homeschool moms are saying about this Bible, please check out the TOS Crew blog!

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Flip Flop Learning {Spanish Curriculum Review}

We have tried several Spanish programs over the years. I have looked at most of them available, I think. I’m not sure why, but foreign language seems to be a very hard product for me to find and LOVE. So, I was excited to try See It and Say It from Flip Flop Learning.

Flip Flop Spanish review mercyisnew.com

See It and Say It Spanish is a 2-year program that includes lots of fun, hands-on things with the curriculum! With the See It & Say It program you will receive 3 sets of flashcards, 1 paddle & dry erase marker for games, a teacher’s guide and 4 audio cds. The website claims that you can use this program with anyone ages 3-93 years old! My kids are 11, 10 and 8 years and we all did really well with this program – including my 36 year old self. 🙂

The very first thing I noticed about this product was the package as I opened it up…it is SUPER user-friendly! That is always a HUGE bonus for me as a mom. I tend to shy away from programs where I have to do hours of reading and planning before starting it. Honestly, those programs get shelved at my house. I just don’t have enough time in my days to spend hours preparing for something and then hours implementing it. As you open the box from Flip Flop Learning, there are directions right there – inside the open box from the company – telling you what to do first!! Love it!

Take a peek for yourself…

Flip Flop Spanish review mercyisnew.com

After opening your package and reading the directions for how to use your materials, the “user-friendly” manner continues! The teacher manual is very simple and easy to read – another must-have for me in my homeschool!

The only amount of “planning” (if you will call it that) that you do with this program is to set up your flashcards in a certain order for each lesson. I found myself flipping through lots of cards to find the right ones – but again, this took me a few minutes at the start of each lesson. So, I can handle a few minutes!!

My kids and I enjoyed the flashcards and the games that Senora Gose put together in this curriculum! Of course, the games were their favorite portions. I think my favorite part is the flashcards…I really like them!

We started each lesson by listening to the audio CD that goes along with this program. Senora Gose has the teacher set out the flashcards that each lesson introduces. I usually set out the flashcards on the floor and had my kids sit around the picture cards. Listening to the audio CD, Senora would have the students point to the cards as she said the words in Spanish. This is perfect for audio learners, visual learners and kinesthetic learners as well! I love how she incorporates various learning styles into her lessons.

The audio lessons on the CDs are very short. So, my kids never have time to be bored during Spanish. They go through old words for review and introduce a few new ones for each lesson. She also incorporates short little games onto the audio CDs. She will name words pretty quickly and see if the kids can touch all the correct cards. My kids enjoyed this one. 🙂 And it’s great practice in just a short minute or two!

I’m glad I was able to review this program. I’ve often had people ask me about Spanish curriculum and I have told them about the various programs I’ve tried but never had one I could wholeheartedly recommend! Well, I believe that has now changed with the introduction to Flip Flop’s Spanish program See It & Say It! I think it’s great!

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See It & Say It Spanish sells for $99.95 here. If you’d like to read what other families are saying about Flip Flop Spanish, please head over to the TOS crew blog!

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Logic of English Essentials {review}

I was excited to have the opportunity to review the Essentials program from The Logic of English, as this was a program I was unfamiliar with before this review! We also were able to review the iPad app from this company called Phonics with Phonograms.

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I requested the level that was appropriate for Caleb, who is a 3rd grader, but a little bit behind in reading. This program is recommended for ages 7 yrs and up.  He has made a lot of progress in the past few months, but I was excited to try out this program with him because it gave us a plan and something to work on each day. The Essentials program turned out to be a great choice and was perfect for where we are at with Caleb in his phonics and language arts learning. With my Essentials package I received the Teacher’s Manual and Student workbook along with the basic phonogram flash cards, spelling & grammar rule cards, and the game cards.

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As soon as I got my package in the mail, I opened it up and began reading! The first thing I noticed was how thorough and complete the teacher’s guide is!! If you are teaching this curriculum for the first time, I would set aside a few hours to go through all of the material before beginning with your student. There were portions I needed to read several times to make sure I understood. I do not say that it is thorough and complete to scare you, though. The more I read the more wonderful I thought the program was! I was surprised by how in depth the teacher manual went and was thankful to have such detailed instructions because I don’t always know what to do as a teacher! If you will watch the video on this page, you will learn a lot more about the Essentials program as well.

One thing that I love about this program is that it combines all of the language arts areas into ONE ~ phonics instruction, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, handwriting. I have not seen other options that incorporate all of them together and I think that is a really great thing! Because it combines several areas into one workbook for the student, it is a LOT in each lesson. I found that for Caleb, who is probably your typical BOY when it comes to attention span, I could not spend as much time as the book recommends on each lesson. I had to divide each lesson into several! But, that is the beauty of homeschooling, I could spend as much (or as little) time on each lesson that I needed to.

logic of english review

There are several parts to each lesson, so I ended up breaking the parts up into different days with Caleb. Part 1 includes phonograms and spelling rules. Part 2 has the children spelling through dictation. Part 3 is then divided up between dictation, composition, grammar and vocabulary development. In our home, each one of these little parts ended up taking one whole day’s worth of instruction.

Caleb enjoyed the app as well! The unique thing about this app is that it allows children with different learning styles to participate. So, the children HEAR and SEE and TOUCH with this app, so it is great for those kids who may learn better with those styles of learning! This app does also work on the iPod touch, the iPhone and the iPad. The app is available for $2.99 at iTunes. I liked the app because it gave Caleb a different way to practice spelling – instead of always writing, he had this option.

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The price for the Essentials program as a full set is $187.20. If you were to break it up and purchase the items individually, the teacher manual (hard-back) would be $85.50, the student workbook would be $22.50, and the various sets of flashcards are different prices as well. If you’d like to read what other families are saying about The Logic of English, check out the TOS crew blog!

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Time4Learning {review}

Caleb and I have had the privilege of trying out Time4Learning together to bring you this review! We were given a 6-month subscription to this online educational site to use with one child in order to review the site. Families can use Time4Learning in many different ways: alternative to tutoring, homeschooling, after school fun, summer studies, and more! You can use it as a supplement or as your primary curriculum. There are many ways to utilize this website.

Time4Learning
Caleb loves playing any type of game on electronics, whether this is his iPod, the desktop or the iPad. So, I knew he would be more than happy to help out with this review by playing some educational games at the Time4Learning website. I asked to review the Grade 2 program because I wanted to kind of gauge where Caleb was in certain areas as well as to provide a review for him. It turned out to be the perfect option for him. He is technically 3rd grade, but the levels on all the things we chose seemed to be a great fit for him. Time4Learning does have educational activities and games for all ages, from Pre-K all the way up through 12th grade!

Each time Caleb sat down to the computer, he would log in (after a few times he easily remembered his password and username, I made them pretty simple for him!) And then, after he was logged in, I let him choose what he wanted to do each time. There are many different parental options, however, if you wanted to go in and set what you wanted your child to work on each day! There are also parental controls for time limits –  you can set each lesson to be 2 minutes long, all the way up to 59 minutes per lesson. I think this is perfect for those kids who don’t have great attention spans just yet. 🙂 Make those lessons short! Parents can also limit the child’s time on the “playground” which is where the more “fun” games are located.

After logging in, Caleb had a choice of 5 different subjects each time. His choices (for 2nd grade) were LA extensions, Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies. BUT, after they choose that main subject there are literally endless amounts of things to choose from next! On the one hand, I think it is great to have lots of options, however, I found myself wishing there weren’t as many options because Caleb sat there for quite awhile each time just looking through the many options. I think this was a bit of a time waster. If I had gone in as the parent and set his time up to only play in certain subject areas, this would have solved that problem.

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 9.47.19 PMCaleb’s attention span is on the shorter end, so I usually had him play on the Time4Learning website for about 15 minutes each day. That is completely up to each parent as to how much time you want your child utilizing the website. I also had to sit with Caleb the first few times he played the various games, he still needed help in knowing exactly what to do. I think the older the kids get the more they would be able to work independently. But, I think for most kids, some help is going to be needed in the younger years.

Also, at anytime, the parent can log in and see their child’s progress and which activities they have chosen. This is very helpful!

Overall, Caleb enjoyed his time on Time4Learning. There were a few games that he didn’t love, but that’s the way it is with all school work, isn’t it?? 🙂 The price for Time4Learning is a little more than we can pay per month for computer learning enrichment games. The first student in Pre-K-8 is $19.95, each additional student is $14.95, and that is per month. For high school students it is $30 per month and that includes 4 courses. Now, if this was my MAIN curriculum, I could see paying a little more.

You can go to the website and try out several demos that will help you make up your mind!  And if you’d like to read what other families think about Time4Learning, be sure to check out the TOS crew blog!

 

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