Friday, August 22, 2014

Jonah and the Great Big Fish

Jonah and the Great Big Fish
Written by: Rhonda Gowler Greene
Illustrated by: Margaret Spengler
Zondervan Publishing

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.

From the Website: “God told Jonah to obey, said, ‘Go to Nineveh this day.’ But, stubborn Jonah fled instead. Didn’t do just what God said.” Jonah’s disobedience landed him inside a big fish! And there he had time to think and pray. Children will feel the waves and hear the splash as Jonah sinks “down and down and down” into the belly of the fish. This story serves as an excellent reminder of how important it is to listen to God.

Written in the sing song rhythm of poetry that children LOVE and remember, this book encourages children to listen and do the things God wants us to do.  With beautiful illustrations and text that you will be quoting after you read it a couple of times.
The book ends about half way through where the Bible book of Jonah gives the full account, with Jonah waving to the big fish and then going to Nineveh.

I really loved this book, but wish it would have told the whole story and while I understand making young children's books must have a fine line in which parts you choose to tell, I think waving goodbye to the fish was a bit much.

NIV Teen Study Bible

NIV Teen Study Bible
Zondervan Publishing
Ages 12-15

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.

From the Website:
As an on-the-go teen, you’re moving fast. God is moving faster! The Teen Study Bible will help you keep in step with all he has done, is doing, and will do in the world---and in your life. This bestselling Bible will help you discover the eternal truths of God’s Word and apply them to the issues you face today.

Features include:

We Believe: Upacks the Apostle's Creed to reveal the biblical foundation of faith

Panorama: Keeps the big picture of each book of the Bible in view

4 full-color pages

Key Indexes: Help with in-depth Bible Study

To the Point: Reveals what the Bible says about pressing issues

Dear Jordan: Offers Biblical Advice for Teens

Instant Access: Tells what God says to you personally

Q & A: Tests your knowledge of Bible Trivia

Bible Promises: Highlights Bible verses worth remembering

Book Introductions: Provides an overview for each book of the Bible

8 page, full color map section

Complete text of the New International Version of the Bible

We received a paperback version of this Bible for review purposes.  The look of this Bible would be nice for boys or girls about ages 10-13 or so.  I think that older teens would prefer a study Bible, but this might be a great segue from a children's Bible to a study Bible.  The font is a nice size and the extra features are fun to read, but I think mostly a little light for older students.

The one area you might want to consider with this Bible is the Dear Jordan portion.  Some of these topics are pretty heavy, rape, incest, abortion, Aids, alcoholic parents, cyber sex...just check into that and see if you think these are appropriate for your family.  There is a list of the back under the title Teen Life Index and you can get a feel for how this would work in your home.

The Preview sections give a basic rundown of what is happening in the book, with some key things pointed out.  I think these sections are nice so you have a little background into what you are studying.

In our home, our older boy was not interested in this and my younger boy was too young for the topics covered in the Dear Jordan sections.  My daughter liked the look of the Bible, but I don't want these topics brought up to her either right now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Berenstain Bears Keep The Faith

The Berenstain Bears Keep The Faith
Mike Berenstain
Zonderkidz Publishing

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.

From the website:
Brother and Sister love science. But when their friend Ferdy Factual shares his questions about God creating the universe, the cubs are confused. A trip to see Preacher Brown helps them understand the meaning of faith.

I grew up LOVING the Berenstain Bears.  Originally created by Stan and Jan Berenstain, I would read the books and watch the cartoons of the bears often.  I was excited to introduce the much loved Berenstain Bears to my children, especially with such a great topic as faith.  This book is written by Mike Berenstain, son of Stan and Jan.

In the beginning of the book, you see Brother and Sister's Friend Ferdy, who loves science share that he doesn't believe in God, because he believes in science, ..."in things you can see and test and prove."  The cubs were confused and talked with their parents over dinner.  During the conversation, the question of what is faith comes up.  Mama and Papa do not answer the question, but plan to take the cubs to Preacher Brown to get an explanation, because Preacher Brown "knows all about faith."  I understand that discussing topics that are hard for adults at time to grasp is difficult, but I really would have liked to see the cubs parents talk with them about what faith is.

The next day, the family goes to see the preacher.  The preacher refers the children to the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den.  The implication is that the Lion's didn't eat Daniel because he had faith that God would save him.  Then he says, "That's what faith in God is all about- trusting in His love."  

At the end of the book, the bears head towards home.  Storm clouds are gathering and Sister started to be afraid.  She remembered Daniel's faith and that helped her feel braver.

I know this is a children's book...but it seems to send the message that if we have faith, nothing bad will ever happen to us.  I don't think it really addressed the issue of what is faith either.  The Bible says   " Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)
I guess I would have liked to have seen that addressed and then taken back to the comment from Ferdy that he believes "in things you can see and test and prove", rather than taken off in a tangent that was not even an issue.  I feel like the answer just muddied things up more.

While I personally did not care for the direction the story took the question of "What is Faith", my children enjoyed the story and we were able to talk it through more deeply, which is probably the best part of the whole thing!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Three Things Thursday

Three Things Thursday

So, school is coming towards us much faster than I would like...friends are grabbing out their planners and curriculum, placing orders, creating daily lessons and so much more. I feel like I am in a might be called denial!  I have been thinking about school this year and praying a little.  I feel like the Lord is leading us a particular direction and I am excited about that, but still needed to sit down and develop our action/battle plan. I thought I would share three of the Scriptures that are on my heart as I am praying about what our year is going to look like and casting vision for each of us.  I have shared this with my husband, but we have not yet had an opportunity to talk about it.

1. Nehemiah 4:6, 19-20 (emphasis is the focus of my prayer)

So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.
I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another.  At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there.  Our God will fight for us."

(now, I KNOW that this is completely out of context, but the words help me form my vision for what I believe the Lord is calling us to... Schooling children is a great and extensive work.  My children are separated by several years, at some places we need to come together and work and I am asking the Lord to help us complete it and give all of us a mind to work.)

2. Proverbs 1:1-7

The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding
To receive instruction in wise behavior,
Righteousness, justice and equity;
To give prudence to the naive,
To the youth knowledge and discretion,
A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

3. Deuteronomy 6:4-9

 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

I love that the planner I am using this year is helping me step through this process...beginning with asking for wisdom from the Lord and then prayerfully proceeding from there.  If you are in the market for a new planner, can I recommend Debra Bell's Ultimate Homeschool Planner.  I really LOVE this planner and the focus on the Lord and documenting His faithfulness to us as we walk along the way.

And THAT is my Three Things post for this week!  Do you have three things you want to share?  #linkup, #3ThingsThursday

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Three Things Thursday

So, I don't NORMALLY do these things, but my friend Heidi had a 3 Things post that made me giggle...books on her nightstand...So I thought I would post on facebook a picture of the books on my table...because I ALWAYS have a stack going all the time...I wasn't planning on blogging this, but it has been a L O N G time since I have blogged about anything I thought I would go ahead and do it afterall... #3ThingsThursday

So, number one:  The books on my nightstand...I actually had to tidy up my nightstand to get this picture...the book on the bottom cannot be seen well because of the dark spine, but a biography on George Washington...some of these books I have been working on for a LONG TIME...others, just breezing through...a couple...just got set aside...but I always have a stack that I am always reading at one time.

Number two and three are a bit combined...we have a friend from Illinois visiting and this is what is seen quite a bit at my house!  LOVE IT!

I am so thankful for the friends my children have!

So, If you want to join in on the can #linkup too!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Writing with Sharon Watson

Writing with Sharon Watson
The Power in Your Hands
Student Book: $39.98
Teacher's Guide: $14.98
Grades: 9-12

You know that song, "I've Got the Power" ?  Well that is going through my head right now (and most likely yours too!) as I am thinking about this tool for writing.  Writing has been the ONE THING that I have had quite a few issues teaching our children (well...and Math...oh yeah...and Science...).   Where do you start?  How do you teach it? How do you evaluate if it is good or not...and on and on.  Well, we have a new tool in out toolbox.  Writing with Sharon Watson.  I have only worked with "The Power in Your Hands", but already, I can tell...I WILL be buying the other two sets.

From the website: With The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, they’ll learn what they need to know for high school and will be prepared for college writing. First, they’ll write five different persuasive essays, including an SAT essay. Next, they’ll navigate a comparison-and-contrast essay, a biography, a literary analysis, a research paper with MLA documentation, and much, much more. In addition, students will master description and narration essays.

And let me tell you...this is just the TIP of the iceberg!  What this doesn't say is that she walks  you through BABY STEP BY BABY STEP through how to write.  She begins with short assignments to get the students applying the lessons they are learning, without the ESSAY looming large over them and the pressure of writing something serious while they are learning.  I LOVED this aspect.  Throughout the Before You Write chapters,for example, the student keeps revisiting the question of , "Should Teens Have Credit Cards?" until at the end, they have written an essay giving three points with their opinion on that question.
Some of the lessons covered in The Power in Your Hands are:

          SAT Essay

          Position Paper
A Devotional
 Newspaper Writing
Literary Analysis
Personal Testimony
There are over 100 daily lessons to work through in this writing program...and here is the best part...It is written in a conversational tone, so  your student could work through this on their own.  Don't check out completely though...they will need some feedback on their writing to improve. This is designed to be a two year program, but there are tips on extending it to three. I really cannot say enough good is a sample for you to get a feel for the program.

The Teacher's guide has a LOT of tools to guide you through "teaching" this class.  The guide begins with about 60 pages of content for your grading toolbox.  Things like How to earn an A, B, C, D or F, Proofreading Marks, Practical Helps for Reluctant or Unskilled Writers, pages that cover the Student's toolbox and so much more.
One of my favorite parts of the Teacher's Guide are the 14 minute Power Surges.  The 14 Minute Power Surges help students get those juices flowing and just write.  These are categorized by month and give 4 suggestions for each week for each are just a few to whet your whistle: You are in a job interview.  Describe yourself to the interviewer.  Define a beautiful person. Tell any portion of the Christmas story without using the letter t.  What's the most important thing you know? Write the five minute script for a children's TV show segment that teaches them to wash their hands.Write a sermon on peace. Theorize why reality shows are so popular.  These are really fun topics and can be a writing curriculum on it's own.  They are intended to be used daily for four days, without any corrections and then one is selected by the students to complete.  These are NOT supposed to be used when you are working through the student book.  I LOVED doing these.  We worked through a few of these.  It was hard for my children to write for 14 minutes at first, but as they progressed a little more through them, it became easier. Teacher's Guide Sample

The back portion of the Teacher's Guide has answers for the student guide.

I began using The Power in Your Hands with both my 16 year old son and my 12 year old daughter.  I quickly found out that it was beyond my daughter's abilities at this time.  I think this is DEFINITELY a high school program. I plan on getting Jump In for her to work through in the fall.  I think that will be a good fit for her! Jump In Student Sample

Well, to sum up, we REALLY LOVED The Power in Your Hands.  I thought it was well written.  I appreciate that it is mostly for the student to work through alone.  Although we have not gone too far into the book yet, I have already seen some positive progress in my son's writing.  I look forward into digging in this fall.  
If you have a student who LOVES writing fiction, then Writing Fiction might be a great fit for you! Student Fiction Sample

Check out what others have to say about Writing with Sharon Watson

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Zonderkidz Let's Go Explore Series

I received these books as a member of Zonderkidz ZBlogSquad in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own, no other compensation has been received.

Zonderkidz Let's Go Explore:
$6.99 each

All four of these books have similar features and I have linked them individually above.  For review purposes, I will focus on the Jerusalem book.

Let's Go Explore...what child does not LOVE to hear those words.  These books are filled, and I mean JAM PACKED filled with wonderful pictures, maps, drawings and information about such Biblical and historically significant places that most of us will never get to visit. Let me take you on a guided tour of Jerusalem.

As you open the book, you come to a map...showing where in the world Jerusalem is and a map of the city.  I have looked at MANY maps of this Holy City, but THIS is a wonderful map for all.  Nice and large with famous sites clearly marked.  The next 12 pages or so take you site by site through all the things you would want to see if in Jerusalem.  This is not the same as being there, for sure, but certainly a nice substitute. As you walk through the book, site by site, you get just a snippet of information.  Just enough for little ones, but that spark interest.  I love how there are comments that children might be able to relate to...such as, "Disneyland is a little bigger than present-day Jerusalem" and sharing about a stone that weighs "roughly the same as 12 humpback whales".  While it might be difficult to grasp the full immensity of that size, I think most children will understand, WOW, that is BIG!

After browsing through the places to go, you have the sights to see section.  Here you will see the Upper Room, The Garden of Gethsemane, the Garden Tomb, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and so much more.  As we continue on through the book, we get a feel for the culture within the city and the people who live there.  Did you know that 1/3 of all the people who move to Jerusalem are from the United States?  I sure didn't!  Besides getting a feel for who lives in Jerusalem now, you will learn a little bit about some people you need to know.
Our final stop in this books lets us take a peek at some curiosities.  The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Ark of the Covenant, Holy Relics (nails, crown of thorns, Shroud of Turin)and animals in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.  Fun things to look at over and over again.
I think it would have been fun to have a couple of recipes to try at home included in the book, but as it it VERY easy to find some online, it is not something that is missed much.
While I have only detailed ONE book, all of the books are similar in layout, equally jam packed with information and amazing pictures and just as interesting as this one.  As you are reading through the book, Scripture is sprinkled throughout the pages as relevant.  I LOVED THIS!  You may have been able to tell, but I HIGHLY recommend these books. We had a great time reading through these and the children looked through the pictures several times already.  I think you will enjoy them too!