Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Teacup

Recently our church had their annual Ladies Retreat. This actually was the first time I was able to go, thanks to a wonderful friend who sponsored me! We had such a lovely time of fellowship, and the sessions were God honoring and filled with convicting and helpful nuggets!

One thing that I did not find until we returned home, was a wonderful little story that was tucked inside our notebooks. The author is unknown, but the message was very timely for me! It was exactly what I needed to hear.  I am so thankful that the Lord knows what I need, and when I need it.

I thought you all would enjoy reading this little story as well!

The Teacup - Author Unknown

There was a couple who used to go to England to shop in the beautiful stores.  They both liked antiques and pottery and especially teacups.  This was their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.
One day in this beautiful shop they saw a beautiful teacup.  They said, “May we see that?”  We’ve never seen one quite that beautiful.”  As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke,  “You don’t understand,” it said, “ I haven’t always been a teacup.”
“There was a time when I was red and I was clay.  My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, “Let me alone,” but he only smiled, ‘Not yet.’
“Then I was placed on a spinning wheel,” the teacup said, “and suddenly I was spin around and around and around. ‘Stop it! I’m getting dizzy!’  I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’
Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat.  I wondered why he wanted to burn me, and I yelled and knocked at the door.  I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips, as he shook his head, ‘Not yet.’
“Finally the door opened, he put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. ‘There that’s better,” I said.  Then he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible I thought I would gag.  ‘Stop it, stop it!’ I cried.  He only nodded, ‘Not yet.’
“Then suddenly put me back into the over, not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate.  I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening nodding his head saying, ‘Not yet!’
“Then I knew there wasn’t any hope. I would never make it.  I was ready to give up. But the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf.  One hour later he handed me a mirror and said, ‘Look at yourself.’  And I did. I said, ‘That’s not me; that couldn’t be me. It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful.’
“‘I want you to remember, then,’ he said, ‘I know it hurts to be rolled and patted, but if I had left you alone, you’d have dried up.  I know it made you dizzy to spin around the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled.  I knew it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked.’
“‘ I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened; you would not have had any color in your life.  And if I hadn’t put you back in the second over, you wouldn’t survive for a very long because the hardness would not have held.’
“’Now you are the finished product.  You are what I had in mind when I first began you.’”
Jeremiah 18:6
O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? Saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Reading Game - A TOS Review

I LOVE IT!!!!  I can't contain it until the middle of the post! I had to tell you right off the bat, The Reading Game is awesome!!

The game is designed for children ages 4 and older. I did not intend on using this game with a small child, but I intended to use this game for a few of my special needs students who are just really struggling!

I am so very pleased with the results. The Reading Game consists of 6 levels of playing cards and 6 reading books, as well, as the instruction book, that you will need in order to play the game.

So how does this game work? Within each level of cards ( Red or Skunk or Book 1) , there are 6 levels of cards. You and your student play one level at a time, which consist of 10 cards. You lay them down in 'Match Game' fashion.  You and your student take turns flipping cards. When you match the cards you say the word out line a couple of times, clearly. You play level one and level two. Playing each level until your student has mastered those words. When you feel they have mastered those words you have them read the 'test sentence' that is in the instruction booklet. You continue in this fashion until all six levels of cards in that level (Red or Skunk or Book 1), you then you have the child read Book 1.

You can see here a bit about how to play the game.


Here is what I found. When my student used to work on reading, they would read in a sing song fashion, almost whining. No matter what we did. However, this time around, they read pronouncing the words clearly and with confidence. This is a HUGE improvement. When we completed one level, they eagerly asked to play the next one! This is BIG!

Whether you are working with a brand new reader, or a reader with special needs, The Reading Game can help.  Each of the six stories introduce the student to 30 new words.  The creators of the Reading Game believe that ANYONE CAN LEARN TO READ. Some may take longer than others, but through this method, that will hard wire these words into their brain, they will indeed learn to read.


The Reading Game is available for $24.95 and would be a wonderful addition to any homeschool or family that has a student who is learning to read!

Take some time to check out the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about The Reading Game!

***Note: I received a free copy of The Reading Game in exchange for my honest opinions of the product. No other form of compensation was offered or received. These opinions do not constitute a guarantee or promise of service.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Family Movie Night - Game of Your Life - A Review

I have really been enjoying the fact that NBC, Walmart and Proctor and Gamble have taken a step in the right direction and have offered these awesome Family Movie Nights on primetime TV!  What a departure from what is normally available. This is the 3rd time that I have been able to review one of their movies, and I have to tell you that I have loved every one of their movies. You can read my first reviews here and here.

Game of Your Life, is indeed another wonderful movie. The main character "Zach Taylor wants to become a successful video designer, but he has to pass the infamous freshman project which eliminates more than half of the class within the first three months.  Zach must make a decision that not only  affects his future, but the lives and livelihoods of the people around him as well. It's a revealing story that recognizes the magnitude behind the choices we make and the importance loyalty plays in making good decisions."

As a mom raising teenage children, ready to be launched out into the world, I really enjoyed watching how Zach learned to navigate life. The life he left behind, and the life he wants to lead. The choices set before Zach would be difficult for a well experienced adult to navigate. No matter the choice he made, his choice would impact those around him.


You can watch Game of Your Life Friday, Dec 2nd, on NBC at 8pm. You can learn more about Family Movie Night by visiting their website. Next Friday, gather your children and enjoy a wonderful movie that the entire family will enjoy!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Time Timer a TOS Crew Review

Have you noticed that this year on the crew, we are reviewing some fun items, that are not simply curriculum. But, items that will help to enhance our homeschools!  Recently, we were able to review the 3 inch Time Timer, a nifty timer that not only counts away the minutes, it also helps children get a grasp of how long the time really is.  When I first read about this timer I was excited to  perhaps get the chance to use it in my home.

I have a child that has some issues with time. When I say issues with time, I am not talking about simply telling time, I am talking about 'feeling time'. Does that make sense to you? If you have a special needs kid, this probably make s a lot of sense.

My son, simply cannot wrap his head around segments of time. By using the Time Timer, he is able to see the time count away!  When you set your timer.. you see it here set for 30 minutes, the face is covered in red with the designated time. As the time 'ticks' away, you will see the red get smaller and smaller. And when time is up.. the red disappears. This helps any child see the length of time they are measuring.

Here you can see some of the many ways you can use the Time Timer!

Piano Lessons

Computer Time

Reading Time

Video Games

TV Time

Assignment Timer

Speech Therapy Timer

Chore Timer

Overall, I really did enjoy the Time Timer. There were however 3 little things that I had issue with. First, the battery is very tricky to get in. We were able to get it in, however, at one point we needed to replace the battery ( we put in a used battery in the beginning) so we needed to struggle with it again.  The second small thing was the fact that when the timer 'beeps' you hear simply 2 little beeps.  I actually missed the beeps a few times. If you are across the room, you will not hear it.  Now both of those things are relatively small items. If you are sitting at a desk or piano, etc...  you can be near the timer in order to hear it when it beeps.

However, if you are teaching a special needs child, the last thing that I need to note is that the timer is 'backwards' when thinking about a clock face.  When looking at a regular clock face, minutes 1- 30 are on the right side of the face. However, on the Time Timer, minutes 1 - 30 are on the left hand side.  For some special needs students, who will be using this tool independently, this could cause confusion. However, for students, without special needs, this would not be an issue. So, you will need to decide if this would be an issue for your family.

All in all, I like the Time Timer... hop on over to the crew blog to see what my crew mates are saying about the Time Timer.

And don't forget to visit the Time Timer Website to see the other Time Timer options available! Including Time timers for your computer, iPhones and iPods!  You can purchase your own 3 inch Time Timer for $30.00.

**Note, I was given a free Time Time for purpose of review. No other compensation was offered or received. Statements made in this post do not constitute promise or guarantee of service.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Math Mammoth - Make it Real Learning Math

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have had to opportunity to review for Math Mammoth in the past.  You can read that review here. This year when speaking with Maria Miller, the creator of Math Mammoth, she shared that she was carrying a product line this year called Make It Real Learning  by Frank C Wilson.  So this year, my review is covering 4 products in this program.

Fractions, Percents, and Decimals II - for grades 6-11. $4.99

Sets, Probability, and Statistics I - for grades 6-10. $4.99

Linear Functions I - for algebra 1 and algebra 2. $4.99

Linear Functions II - for algebra 1 and algebra 2. $4.99

What is the one thing that most students ask when it comes to math class? When am I ever going to use this? Make it Real Learning makes the purpose of math very clear, by giving them real life situations and showing them how to put the math they are using in the classroom into action.

This is such  a wonderful skill to show your children. I know that my children do not LOVE math, so showing them the purpose of math is key to their success. And Make it Real Learning makes that happen.

In Fractions, Percents and Decimals II, which is geared for grades 6 - 11 your children are going to put those skills to use in figuring; temperature conversions, figuring housing costs, real estate investing, sales tax changes and much more!

Sets, Probability and Statistics 1, geared for 6- 10th grade, your student will look at snack foods, fast food restaurant items, license plates and phone numbers, to name a few, to learn how Sets, Probability and Statistics applies to everyday life!

In Linear Functions I and II, which is designed for students taking Algebra 1 & 2, your student  will put to use these skills while figuring the best cell phone plan, figuring income increase rates, in order to still qualify for government nutrition programs, calculating carbohydrates for diabetics and much more.

As you can see, by using these workbooks, your students will get hands on experience with math in real life! Each of these E-books  are 46 pages and would be considered supplemental, rather than a full curriculum.  However, for my children they did help to cement the skills they were covering in their main curriculum.

To check out the full line of Make it Real Learning and Math Mammoth products visit their website.  As usual, don't forget to hop on over to the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about Math Mammoth!


**Note, I was provided free copies of the items describe in the review, for the purpose of sharing my honest opinion. No other compensation was offered or received.  Opinions stated here, do not constitute a guarantee of service or outcome.**

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thomas Kinkade's: The Christmas Lodge ~ A Review and a Giveaway!

(Contest is now closed)

Thanksgiving is now just around the corner..... can you feel it in the air? It is the feeling of the Holiday Seasons!  Thanksgiving and Christmas bring families together in a way that no other time of year seems to!

This year, there is a sweet DVD available that you and your entire family can sit down and enjoy together!!! It is The Christmas Lodge, presented by Thomas Kinkade.

Here is a bit about the movie from the producers:

Thomas Kinkade presents Christmas Lodge: a place where a heart-warming past and loving future meet for one remarkable group of people. During a weekend trip to the mountains, Mary (Erin Karpluk) finds herself at the now- dilapidated lodge where she spent the holidays with her family growing up. She becomes determined to restore the building to its former glory. Inspired by her grandfather and guided by her grandmother in heaven, Mary throws herself into the project, and during the process finds herself drawn to Jack (Michael Shanks), a handsome man who loves the lodge as much as she does. Historically unlucky in love, this chance encounter allows Mary to renew her faith in life and discover her one true love. For an uplifting story about the importance of faith, family and the true holiday spirit, go to the Christmas Lodge.


So what is the Creative Learners take on The Christmas Lodge? We loved it! We give it 2 thumbs up! When we sat down to watch it, it was a chilly afternoon/evening, perfect for snuggling together to watch a movie!  The Christmas Lodge is sweet, family friendly, funny, interesting and above all, it brings the message of hope, family and love to life!  We enjoyed watching as the story, rather, the history of The Christmas Lodge unfolded. It was awesome to see  this family join together and work as a team! We loved the relationship between the main character, Mary,  and her grandfather!  So often, in movies today, the older generation is cast to the side, and often made fun of and put down. In the wonderful story, Mary and her family, honor her grandfather, and their families vibrant history! This is something that our families need desperately today. The Christmas Lodge modeled that beautifully!

The Christmas Lodge would make an excellent Christmas gift for someone in your life! You can purchase The Christmas Lodge and several retailers, including Christian Book, Amazon and Walmart!

To learn more about the movie, visit the Christmas Lodge Website!

I am thrilled to let you know that I have one copy of The Christmas Lodge DVD to giveaway!  It is simple to enter this contest.... simply leave one comment per day to be entered. If you would like, let me know why you would like to win... perhaps who you would give it to.. Limit is 1 entry per 24 hour period per email address. And winners will be announced and contacted via email on Wednesday November 23rd! Just in time for you to cross someone off your Christmas Shopping List!

And the winner is Kristi! Thank you everyone for participating! And congratulations to Kristi!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255:
"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bower Books - The Person I Marry

What a wonderful treat The Person I Marry, by Gary Bower has been to read. This 'picture book' is wonderful for all ages!  And that is because of the content. This is not a silly picture book for the toddler set. Though, your toddler would benefit from learning these principles contained within the pages of this beautifully illustrated book!  The Person I Marry, however, I would say, is a book that will help future husbands and wives make the the most important decision of their married lives. Choosing a spouse!

In the world around us, our children are often sent confusing messages on what is the kind of person they should marry. Throughout The Person I Marry, the reader is guided to look at the quality of the charcter of the person above all else.

The Person I Marry, is filled with gems throughout, here is my favorite page! I feel as though these characteristics are so very important!


Watch this quick video, to hear excerpts from the book, and to see some of the beautiful illustrations.




A Great Wedding Gift for the Happy Couple!
(Give an adorable book instead of a card that will be thrown away!)
An Amazing Character-Building Tool for Kids!
(Remind your children that the INSIDE matters more than the outside!)
An Excellent Conversation-Starter with Teens!
(Discuss important topics in a NON-THREATENING way!)

You can purchase The Person I Marry by visiting the Bower Books Website. This hardcover book, is available to $11.99.  While you are on the Bower Books website, please take some time to peruse their entire line of products.


You will find that each of their books are filled with heart! With your families best interest in mind! You can be sure that these treasures will help edify your child and your family!

Their other titles include:

What do Hero's Wear?

There's a Party in Heaven!

And wonderful board books -

Mommy Love and Daddy Love

Bower Books even offers Free Shipping of orders of $30 or more and, you can even request an autographed copy!

Take a moment to visit the Crew Blog to see what my Crew mates have to say about this precious book!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Excellence in Literature - Introduction to Literature

As a homeschooler with a house full of high schoolers ( and 1 middle schooler) , who happens to be studying literature this year, I was incredibly thrilled to learn that we were going  to review Excellence in Literature 's Introduction to Literature by Janice Campbell.

EIL, is geared for students grades 8-12, and even has an honors option. With EIL, your child will learn to think and write analytically. Additionally, while the author gives instructions for the assignments, you will not find included lots of background information or lengthy introductions. However, you will find that the author has provided links and resources for the children to research and flesh out these pieces of information on their own.  She also let's the student know that it is their responsibility to read through Introduction to Literature. Why? The author is encouraging the students to become responsible for their  own education! This is an idea that I have been working at conveying to my children, so this is an idea I stand behind!

There are 9 units in Introduction to Literature. These units are designed to be done in about one month. However, you could easily adapt the units to fit the needs of your family. Advance the units at a quicker pace, or space the units to fit the needs of your household. With the  Honor's Option that is available, in order  to earn advanced placement or college credit for the class,you will also need to take an AP or CLEP exam.

As a mother of several children with dyslexia, I appreciated that she also encouraged that if you needed to, you may listen to the longer unabridged versions of the books. For many children with Special Needs, having to read these complete literary works would be too daunting. Allowing for the audio versions brings them within reach of many more students! The author also provides additional 'reading' in each section. This will help contextualize the works of literature that they are reading.  Also, this course assumes that the student has the necessary skills in grammar, spelling and mechanics. If your student struggles in these areas, there are some suggested resources available.

Author Janice Campbell uses this quote in the Introduction to the program;

Learning Philosophy

Learn (lûrn) v. 1 To acquire knowledge of or skill in by observation, study, instruction, etc. 2 To find out;ascertain: to learn the facts. 3 To memorize. 4 To acquire by or as by practice: to learn good habits.Webster Illustrated Contemporary Dictionary: Encyclopedic Edition 1971

With this in mind these are the units that are covered in Excellence in Literature.  ( From their website)

By the end of the course, students will:

  • Understand the process of writing, including the use of tools such as a writer’s handbook, dictionary, and thesaurus.

  • Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.

  • Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.

  • Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.

  • Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.
    Unit 1: Short Stories by-
    • Sarah Orne Jewett: A White Heron
    • Edgar Allen Poe: The Purloined Letter (This one is not scary, if you're concerned about that.)
    • Guy de Maupassant: The Diamond Necklace
    • O. Henry: The Ransom of Red Chief
    • Eudora Welty: A Worn Path
    • James Thurber: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    Unit 2: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
    Honors: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

    Unit 3: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
    Honors: The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

    Unit 4: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
    Honors: Shirley or Villette by Charlotte Brontë

    Unit 5: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
    Honors: Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

    Unit 6: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Honors: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Unit 7: Animal Farm by George Orwell
    Honors: 1984 by George Orwell

    Unit 8: The Tempest by William Shakespeare
    Honors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

    Unit 9: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
    Honors: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Note: Books listed in the table of contents above are focus texts only. Context readings are assigned within each unit.

I feel as if we have just been able to get a taste of Introduction to Literature in the time that we have had it. However, I have liked what I have seen. I have really appreciated the way the the author gives the student just enough information, almost like bread crumbs, that keeps them searching down the path. Teaching them to keep their eyes open as the read to notice, perhaps, the style of the writer, or something about the time frame the book is written.

I look forward to completing Introduction to Literature with my children over this school year.  Introduction in Literature is available in Ebook format for $27, and in print form for $29 plus shipping and handling. You can visit their website for more information on Introduction in Literature, as well as, their full line of Literature products.

You can even follow Excellence In Literature on Facebook!

Please stop by the crew blog to see what my crew mates are saying about Excellence in Literature.

**note: I was given a free copy of the e-book Introduction to Literature, in exchange for my honest opinion. This post serves to meet that requirement. All views expressed herein are mine and mine alone and do not demonstrate and guarantees or promise of service. No other form of payment or compensation has been offered or accepted.