Monday, March 21, 2016

Under the Sea Holy BIble

Under the Sea Holy Bible
Zonderkidz Publishing
Ages: 6-10
Price: $24.99

From the back cover: "This sparkly and fun Bible contains the complete text--Genesis to Revelation--of the New International Reader's Version (NIrV--the NIV or kids!) and is perfect for children.  Sparkling fish grace the exterior while inside whimsical underwater illustrations surround important Bible themes to help kids dive deep into God's Word."

The Under the Sea Holy Bible has 8 full color pages:
 An adorable presentation page...PLEASE write your name in your Bible somewhere!
A page of the Bible that shows the breakdown of each book into the categories: law, history, major & minor prophets, gospels, etc.  I personally love this page!
A prayer page, using the fingers of your hand to remind you who to pray for.  I do love this page, how it is set up and why each category is with that particular finger: People who POINT the way, etc.
The Lord's Prayer: this is in the King James says that this is the most commonly memorized version of the prayer.
Ten Commandments for Kids page-These are simplified, so children  can better understand.  I do not love this page.  Most of them are ok...a couple are a little strange.
Love Passage for Kids: Again, simplified... This one is ok too.  The illustration is adorable!
Famous Children of the Bible page: I LOVE how this page sends the children to the passage instead of spoon feeding the information.
ABCs of Becoming a Christian: I like this page!

It also has:
The complete text of the Bible, NIrV: I personally do not love the NIrV version.  I would have preferred the NIV.
A small dictionary
A list of "Great Bible Stories"

This is essentially a regular Bible with a few color pages.  The color pages are fun and give the child something to look at...a good step up from a story Bible.  I personally am not a huge fan of NIrV and I would love to see more translations available in children's Bibles.  I do not think we need to dumb down the Word for children.  The Bible is a book unlike all others, as these Words are the very Words of God.  I would have also liked to see some maps in here.  I love looking at maps when we are studying Scripture.  It gives me a feel for where things are in the world.  Also, I think a concordance would have been more helpful than the five page dictionary and the "Great Bible Stories" page.

I received this book in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

7 Days of Awesome

7 Days of Awesome
Written by: Shawn Byous
Illustrated by: Colin Jack
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Ages: All ages could enjoy this book

I am just going to say right up front that I LOVE THIS BOOK!  It is such a fun book that gives the Creation account in a rhyme meter that most people love!  The illustrations are fun and there is just so much happening on every page.  Both of my children LOVE this book and are probably beyond the ages RECOMMENDED for it...

From Zondervan's Website: " 7 Days of Awesome rhymes its way through each day of creation and encourages chuildren to ponder God's wisdom in creating this wonderful world.  Accompanied by charming, animated illustrations by Colin Jack, this whimsical read-aloud book will be sure to delight both children and their parents."

This book has a sort of Dr. Seuss feel about it, which is probably why we all love it so much, but it does not diminish the message with nonsense.  Another thing I LOVE about this book, any word used to refer to God has at least the first letter CAPITALIZED!  I LOVE that!!!

Isn't that AWESOME???  God had a plan!  The book continues through each day of Creation and we get to follow along!  I can't say enough about this book!  This will become a family favorite in many homes!

I HIGHLY recommend 7 Days of Awesome!

I received this book in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Angels in the Bible Storybook

Angels in the Bible Storybook
Written by: Allia Zobel Nolan
Illustrated by: Alida Massari
Published by Zonderkidz
Ages: 6-10
Price: $16.99

Angels in the Bible pulls out several places in Scripture where we see angels.  Separated by Old and New Testament occurrences of angels, the author documents 30 stories that give us a good look at the work of angels.

Pros: I think the author's WRITING shows angels accurately from what we know in Scripture of angels.
The illustrations are lovely to look at.
You see angels in both the Old and New Testament, Some in stories that are not usually in story Bibles, like Elijah in 1 Kings 19.

Cons:  The author adds embellishments to the word that I think are in the Creation account adding in phrases such as: "Let's Decorate", "Carpets would be nice too",  and "Let's have some sparkle".
The illustrations portray angels in a way that makes them look girly.  Some of the angels are have mustaches and beards, but with many, it is difficult to determine if they are male or female...the features and hairstyles could go either way.  Also, in most instances, the wings have decorations that are often swirly or look like a flower.  As far as what can be determined by specific passages in Scripture, I have thought them to be male and mighty warriors.  You see some of that portrayed, but that line is blurred.
While most of the introduction is very good, I do disagree on one point...The author says that ALL angels, except one, are good...again, according to what I can see in Scripture, Satan led a rebellion and 1/3 of the angels were cast out of Heaven.

When reading this book to your children, it might be good to encourage discussion about the things in the book.  I do like this book, but I think some care needs to be exercised so that a young child is not confused.

I received this book in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

Think, Act, Be Like Jesus

Think, Act, Be Like Jesus
A Believe Devotional for Kids
Written by: Randy Frazee
Illustrated by: Steve Adams
Zonderkidz Publishing
Ages: Elementary
Price: $12.99

Think, Act, Be Like Jesus is a 90 day devotion for kids about 8-12 ish.  It is divided into three sections (Think, Act and Be) with ten categories in each section.  All devotions begin with a Scripture, have a short explanation of the passage and ends with a prayer.  The back of the book states, "A Believe Devotional for Kids: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus shares the message that the more you believe, the more Jesus can change you from the inside out, to become the best person you can be."
The devotions in this book seem to be pretty good, but mostly short. Some of the devotions are pretty thought provoking, like the one about Surrender to God and Idols.   I would have liked to see an accompanying workbook with this, pressing kids to dig deeper into each theme and then apply the word.  I personally do not think that this alone would be enough for a personal quiet time.  I like to see God's Word opened and studied, not just an author's words to be read.  It looks like a good place to start your quiet time with and set your heart and mind on things above.

The book is very colorful and appealing.  It is nice to just flip through.

I received this book in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may very.

The Story of God's Love for You

The Story for God's Love for You
Written by: Sally Lloyd-Jones
Illustrated by: Jago
Published by Zondervan
Ages: Teen and Up

When I first became a Christian, I knew NOTHING about the Bible...NOT...ONE...THING.  I thought Samson and Delilah was a love story.  I wasn't raised going to church or having these stories in our home.  I began my journey reading children's story Bibles to get the idea of what the story line was.  It was so helpful for a SMALL time.  Then I was ready to read God's Word for myself.
I really love the idea of this book.  It is a sort of a Bible Story Book for older people.  Giving an overview in a quick and easy format.  It is so helpful to see the overall picture.  When I began reading though, I realized I have one big issue with this book.  It goes a little too far in the liberties taken with God's Word.  Here are just a couple of examples:
     "Hello light!"  "Hello sea!"  "Hello land!"  Is it really so hard to say LET THERE BE?  Saying hello, to me, implies it was there...and even though the author says there was NOTHING in the beginning, this seems to contradict that AND is also a bit childish sounding.
"Does God really love you?  If he does, why won't he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit?  Poor you, perhaps God doesn't want you to be happy."  This just seems ridiculous...Satan twisted Scripture.  Again, this change doesn't clarify a difficult passage.  It just takes unnecessary liberties.
The story, "The Girl No One Wanted", tells the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel.  This one has a few issues, but the one that is most noticeable to me is where Jacob works 7 years to be able to marry Rachel and Laban tricks him and gives him Leah. The book says he has to work another 7 years and then can marry Rachel, but Scripture says he finished out Leah's bridal week and then was able to marry Rachel.  He did work 7 more years for Rachel, but did not have to wait 7 years UNTIL HE COULD MARRY her.  You can look in Genesis 29 for this story.

Pros:  For those new to the word, this can give a great overview in a short read.  I probably would have really enjoyed reading this as a new believer.

I love how the author continually points out that a rescuer is coming.  Each story has a foreshadowing that Jesus is coming.  You can see God's hand in each place and it is leading up to His great mercy and justice at the Cross.

I really love the introduction....A LOT...

Cons: The text of this book seems like it is written to a much younger audience.  I have a hard time believing that the focus is for teens and adults.  In looking for an age, I read a couple of reviews that said that it is basically The Jesus Storybook Bible. One review said WORD FOR WORD.  That makes sense for the simple text, but I am not sure what the purpose for that would be.

The errors and liberties taken with God's Word bother me...and while they do bother me, I think there is still value in this book.

I received this book in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

The Purpose Driven Life Devotional for Kids

The Purpose Driven Life
Devotional for Kids
Written by Rick Warren
Zonderkidz Publishing
Ages: 9-12
Price: $ 15.99

From the back of the book:
"You are not an accident.  Even before the universe was created, God had you in mind, and he planned you for his purposes.  The Purpose Driven Life Devotional for Kids includes 365 scripture based devotions meant to help you discover who you are in God's eyes and help you find your purpose in relation to Christ."

I have never read The Purpose Driven Life.  I don't know much about it, the purposes outlined in the book, etc.  I really don't know anything more than that about the book.  In reviewing this book, since I don't have the background information from the original, I will not be making comparisons from it.  I will be treating this book as its own entity.  Those of you who have that information should be able to see how this relates to that.

This Devotional is taken from material from The Purposed Driven Life and is  broken down into six sections, which I am guessing, are the 6 purposes.

Purpose 1: The Reason for Everything
Purpose 2: Faith and Friendship with God
Purpose 3: Your Part in God's Family
Purpose 4: Becoming Like Christ
Purpose 5: Serving God, Serving Others
Purpose 6: You Were Made for a Mission

There are 365 devotions, which I think is book to use all year round.  Each day begins with a Scripture, has a very short devotion and then ends with a prayer.

I have mixed feelings about this book...

Pros:  I think this devotion could be used in conjunction with a Bible Study to make a complete quiet time for young believers.
I like that there is one book for the entire year.  I think the continuity there is helpful.
I like that many of the devotions center on who God is...I think that is a great way to begin our worship.  I have not finished the entire I cannot fully comment on all the content.
I think that the little prayer at the end of each devotion is helpful for those who struggle with HOW to pray...they can follow the model.
It's a SMALL thing, but there is a book mark attached...SO HELPFUL for remembering where you are in the book!

Cons:  I am not sure if I would consider it enough as a stand alone item.  I believe that even young students are capable of developing the habit of being in the Word every day.  I think we dumb down the Word too much for younger students and keep them in milk too long.
It feels like all the content is spoon fed...the reader doesn't need to do anything but read from the book.  No questions to answer, no application.  It feels a little like I will give God five minutes, pray a little prayer and then on with MY LIFE.  How do these devotions change our lives or impact our thinking?  It would be wonderful if there was a workbook to go along with this to encourage digging deeper and applying what you read to your life.

I received this book in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.

Monday, March 7, 2016

To Co-op or Not to Co-op

To Co-op or Not To Co-op

As I am sitting before my computer – bone tired and most likely brain dead after a FABULOUS, but exhausting first day of co-op – I am thankful for the season of co-op that I am in. Throughout the seasons of my homeschool life, co-op has been an activity that I have chosen to do and also stepped away from for a time.  Guess there really IS a time for everything under heaven.  This month, I will share some of the reasons we have had for each place in our journey. Please note, my experience is coming from a Christian perspective, but these points could be valid in a variety of situations.

TO Co-op:

Probably the number one reason many people co-op is SOCIALIZATION!!!  We want to be sure we’ve got that one covered, because we wouldn’t want to have our children fall behind in that (sorry, homeschool joke!).  While that is very tongue in cheek, a lot of people see the value of meeting together with a like minded group and encouraging our children to have good friends from among these people.  One social aspect I really LOVE about our current co-op is how the children are very inclusive with each other and the Mommas are all like Aunties…these aunties both love on and correct the children we have with us and it is really sweet…we really have a special group!

My OWN number one reason to co-op is to give my children opportunities to learn key subjects from people who are passionate about things I am not.  This year, for example, two of my children are getting the opportunity to take a dissection class from a Momma who was a college professor who wrote/writes her own curriculum.  This Momma LOVES science and my children are getting the opportunity to learn from her.  I am truly blown away by her excitement, her syllabus and her plans, and her excitement is CONTAGIOUS!  Those kids were SO fired up after class, thought seeing the inside of a worm was the best thing ever and CAN’T WAIT TIL NEXT WEEK!  Did I mention these kids will be dissecting something new EVERY WEEK?  Ok, so I HATE science personally and if I had to lead a dissection with my children, I would probably faint, and the experience would be nothing compared to what they will get at co-op. I know…I totally scored this term!  I also get to share the things I am passionate about.  I led an election class last term that was so much fun and those students really taught me something about the levels of leadership they are capable of and they learned first-hand about our election process.  Well, because of that class, my child is getting some leadership experience in a bigger way from co-op.  Also, you now have a NEW ANSWER when people ask you how on earth you are ever going to be able to teach your child nuclear astrophysical molecular marine biological calculus-ish supersytems engineering microcultural habitat-ometry!  Yes, I totally made that up…but I think you might be able to fill in the blank! CO-OP!

Cost is also a factor in my decision to co-op.  While it is often painful to write that check for $130, I have three students taking some pretty cool classes. Close to half of that amount is for administration type expenses, like rent and insurance, so when you take that out, co-op can really be an affordable option for many families.  Like I mentioned above, two of my children are taking a dissection class for high school credit.  This class is costing us $20 each.  Have I mentioned that I am beyond blessed to be in this co-op?  I will say also, because your experience may be different in your area, we attend an independent, Momma-run co-op.  Being independent allows us to have classes that cost a fraction of what they might cost anywhere else.
Another great benefit of co-oping is the support system we have built within the group.  Our group functions quite a bit like a large family.  We get to love on each other and all the children, every week!   In the last year, together, we have been blessed to get coffee every week at co-op, eat some fudge, get school pictures taken by a professional (yup, they come to our co-op and share their gift with us!), welcome a few babies, lost some family members, completed a couple of online Bible studies, shared curriculum wins and losses, gone on some field trips, applauded personal successes, given up, pressed on, brought dinners, given supportive hugs when life seemed to be too hard, and many more things I am sure I am forgetting. While the support is amazing and necessary, the fellowship between each of us sisters in the Lord is truly the sweetest part of all.
Co-op Dads have been a great blessing to us in this season of co-op.  We do not get many dads in the week to week running of co-op classes, but that can be a possibility if your husband has a flexible schedule and is willing.  We have had a few times when dads have been able to come to a day or a class or two and have given us the gift of their time and passions.  One of the dads in our co-op ran for governor in our state and spent a day in our election class sharing his experience on campaigning, fundraising, walking courageously in your faith in a public arena, and so much more than I have space or time to include.  Another dad brought a turkey he had cooked and carved up for our end of the term potluck.  One dad planned a few street hockey sessions and got in there to coach/referee these kids in such an encouraging way.  Children young and old had a blast and we were given a gift of coaching that we would not have had otherwise.  We have had a couple of instances where we have sought out the counsel of the dads to get their input or see things from another view.   Most of the dads have to work and cannot be with us, but it certainly is a treat when one is able to come and be with us.

Did I happen to mention dissection class?
I think  you are getting the drift of the To Co-op part!  I am sure you can add some of your own reasons and ideas!

NOT To Co-op:

One reason we have had to step away from co-op for a season has to do with the time investment.  Co-op is really a LONG day for us and when we have had little ones who had to have those naps on time and in their beds, we have had to say no to co-op for a time.  Related to time as well, would be the dreaded, “My child is not completing any of their school work from home because of the work load from co-op .”   There could be many reasons that the time factor is too much… other outside activities or family work schedules could all be a cause.
Another reason could be to deal with some family or character issues.  If you are having a family crisis of some sort or have a child who really needs to have a time of specific and focused training in a particular area, there may be a need to hold off from co-op for a while.
While cost is a benefit, it could also be a reason you are not able to attend.  Our co-op is run very inexpensively, but often homeschool families have only one income and really need to work hard to make that income cover all the bases.
Class selection has its feast times (dissection class!), but can also have periods of famine where you wonder if it is really worth the time trying to get out of the house.  We have had some FABULOUS classes, but have also seen some duds over the many years we have participated in co-op.  While you often need to ride those seasons out, for some it could be a reason to pull back for a time.
To Co-op or Not to Co-op…I cannot make that decision for you.  It is as personal as each one of you reading this.  I know the pros look more appealing than the cons right now…I am in a season of blessing with co-op and we really have a special group.  I have had the best experiences ever and some that we wish would have never happened.  It may be WONDERFUL for this season, but so wrong for the next. Just take a look at the season you are in and see if this is the time to Co-op, or maybe they are offering a dissection class!
Originally Published at Home and School Mosaics

The Looney Experiment

The Looney Experiment
Written by Luke Reynolds
Blink Publishing
Ages: 12 and up
Price: $15.99

From the Zondervan Website: "Humorous and heart-warming, author Luke Reynolds' The Looney Experiment chronicles one boy's journey through bullying, first love, and--with the help of an older than dirt and crazier than insanity itself substitute English teacher named Mr. Looney--an up-close examination of the meaning of courage."

In The Looney Experiment, Ryan Reynolds addresses some tough issues young people have to face today...struggles in family, bullying, being afraid, and young love.  As a 7th grade English teacher, I am sure that Ryan has quite a bit of experience with these issues.

This book made me laugh out loud and cry like crazy.  I really enjoyed the antics of the Substitute teacher, Mr. Looney...his classes sounded like a lot of fun!  It was hard to read the parts of the bullying that Atticus endured.  Some of the description is hard to read.  Overall, though, I liked this book!  It had a message of hope and courage...standing up for what's right, even when no one else does.  The things in this book are not sugar coated to make it pleasing to read...there are TOUGH issues kids deal with and it looks ugly sometimes.  The main character has a lot of growth throughout this book and even though things may not be better in every area, he learns valuable lessons.  Parents, you may want to preview this book before handing it over to your child.

I received this book in exchange for a frank and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Your results and/or opinions may vary.