Review of Writing with Sharon Watson’s Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

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For quite a while now, I have followed the blog for “Writing with Sharon Watson”, so I was thrilled when our family received the opportunity to review one of the literature products from “Writing with Sharon Watson”. I  have loved reading about all of the products from Writing with Sharon Watson so I was super excited to add Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis to our homeschool curriculum list!  Considering that I have a son who loves anything from Shakespeare, I was very excited to see “Much Ado About Nothing” was among the selections included in this course.

In addition to “Much Ado About Nothing”, a short story entitled “A Jury of Her Peers”, another assortment of short works, and the full works of “Frankenstein”, “Silas Marner”, “Sense and Sensibility” and “The Hobbit” are included.  The materials our family received include a Teacher’s Guide, text, Quiz and Answer Manual, Novel Notebook (downloadable from the website, and online quizzes (which may be accessed on the website).

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Illuminated Literature: Characters in Crisis” is not grade-specific, but is instead designed for any high school student.  So the beauty of this program for our family is that all three of our high school students could use the same program.  On the website, you can download sample chapters, grading grids, quizzes on the course page.

The first component we received was the Teacher’s Guide, which recommends using the coordinating versions of the literature books that can be found on the Writing with Sharon Watson website.  This is because the textbook matches up with the page numbers in those versions.  This eliminates wasting time or becoming frustrated.  If using an e-reader or tablet, students should be able to use the search function proficiently.  The first pages provide a list of the books and short works that will be covered in the course.  A Grade guide and sample grading grid are also included.  This makes keeping up with requirements simple.  Course objectives are also included.  Suggested schedules, a book-of-the-month club guide and more are included in this guide.  This truly is a guide meant to direct the teacher in what students need to go along with providing an answer key.

 

The next component is the textbook, which is to be used by the student.  It includes an introduction to the course.  At the beginning of each lesson, there are certain activities the student is to complete prior to reading the assigned literature.  Some of these our children enjoyed, while other ones did not capture their attention as much.  A suggested reading and homework schedule is provided as well.  Information, descriptions and more are included for each lesson.  Our children felt the amount of work per lesson was reasonable – even if they did not always enjoy everything.  Then the students read the selection while reading the extra information along with activities.  Students complete additional activities along with a group of final selection of activities the parents or students can choose from.  For our family, I narrowed the number of choices down and then let the children select the ones that caught their attention the most.

Next, is the Novel Notebook, which is the only free downloadable component from the website.  Parents can select what questions the student answers.  Then during a discussion time, students share what they found. Or if a student is doing it alone, the teacher/parent may simply look at the novel notebook.

The final component of the program is the Quiz and Answer Manual.  Students may either complete quizzes on paper or online.  The benefit of completing the quizzes online is that feedback is immediate.  Plus, for our family, it saves paper and printing costs.  Each quiz contains approximately ten questions that demonstrate how much the student is retaining what they read.  Our children found them relatively painless to complete.

 

All-in-all, our family has been very pleased with Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis from Writing with Sharon Watson.  I encourage you to check it out for yourself.  You can read other reviews by other members of the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking here or on the graphic below.

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You can find Writing with Sharon Watson on social media at the following Links:
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WritingWithSharonWatson
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/writingwithshar

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Review of Forbrain from Sound for Life LTD

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Even though our youngest is only fifteen-years-old and our oldest son is twenty-one years old, we have various ones in our family who have difficulty remembering things.  My husband is active duty in the Army Reserves and constantly has things he needs to remember.  Our four children also have times where they have difficulty remembering things.  On top of that, I have a desire for our family to memorize Scripture.  So I was excited for our family to have the chance to review this product. Over the review period, we found that our family could improve their attention with Forbrain from Sound for Life LTD.

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Forbrain is a headset designed for anyone over the age of four years old to use.  However, the headset is not adjustable so I am not sure how well it will work for younger children.  It is important to understand this headset does not go into the ears.  Instead, it rests on the bone in front of the ears.

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This product is designed for those with speech and language difficulties, those who need brain stimulation, those with auditory processing disorder, those will reading difficulties, as well as those with ADD or ADHD and more.  It is a bone conduction headphone as well as an extremely sensitive microphone.  It also has a dynamic filter designed to create a perceptive content.

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One of my favorite things about this headset is the case it comes with to protect the headset as well to keep the charger and paperwork together neatly.  At http://www.forbrain.com, you can find exercises to assist in using the product correctly.  All that is required is to read aloud.  Proper posture is also required.  This means resting the head naturally, sitting up straight, feet placed flat on the ground, while breathing calmly.  My husband did not find this difficult to do at all.

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Because his goal was improving memory, he concentrated on using the headset to memorize Scripture.  He picked out some of his favorite Scripture passages to use and then used the headset for fifteen minutes a day.  The case made it easy for him to take the headset with him even when he went to work.  Unfortunately, I did not remember to take any pictures of him wearing the headset while using it.

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The training suggestion is either a session of six or ten weeks.  Younger children should use it for approximately ten minutes a day for pronunciation and speech difficulties.  For children five years old to fifteen years old should use it for fifteen minutes a day.  They can use it to improve concentration and attention. Also, it can be used for reading or memory problems or even pronunciation or speech difficulties.  For those who are teenagers to adults, Forbrain can be used for speech or oral problems, those needing confidence or energy.  and more.  It is great for preparing for oral presentations, homework, and preparing for exams. For seniors, it should be used for thirty minutes a day to help with energy, memory or speech issues.

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All in all, my husband was very pleased with his results from using Forbrain from Sound for Life LTD.  I look forward to using it for our Family Bible Study and memorization efforts as well as using it for practicing speeches and more.  If you would like to read more reviews of this product, click here or on the graphic below

 

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Flat Stanley Came to Visit

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When we lived in Pennsylvania, we were part of the Lock Haven Salvation Army Corps.  One of my favorite activities our family assisted with was the after-school program.  So when I received a request from someone at the corps asking for families who lived out of state to host Flat Stanley.  I immediately said yes.

So last week Flat Stanley came to visit.  He helped us cook dinner.  Here are some photos.

He also attended Youth Group at our church with our youngest two.  He decided to hang out with the pastor.

He also decided to go exploring in a violin belonging to one of the young ladies in the Youth Group.

Then on Thursday, he was supposed to go to Homeschool Band with my husband, middle two children and myself.  However, he felt like it would be better to stay home and relax on my husband and my bed.

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He also took a trip to work with my husband.  However, I am waiting to get all of those pictures.  So stay tuned for additional updates on the adventures of Flat Stanley.

Review of The Pencil Grip, Inc’s “The Ultra Safety Scissors” and “The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit”

 

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The Pencil Grip, Inc. sent us two of their products to try out: The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors and The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit.  I was really excited to get these products.  Since our youngest child just turned fifteen-years-old, the scissors were not a necessity for our family.  I really was looking forward to getting the pencil grips.  For the purpose of this review, I had our daughter use the scissors, while I used the pencil grips.

These scissors are designed for children 3-years-old and up.  Once our daughter understood the scissors were designed for younger children, she understood why they were made the way they were.  She found them easy to use.  I drew several curvy lines for her to follow for cutting.  I think if her fingers were smaller, they would have worked much better.  The guard on the scissors did make it somewhat awkward to place the paper in that was being cut.  Once again, for a child around three or four years old, I think these would be perfect.  The ergonomic design is made so clean cuts are achieved.  Also, the blades are covered with the guard to provide absolute protection.  There is a training lever that automatically opens once the scissors are squeezed closed and also automatically opens when the scissors are opened.

The ergonomic design is made so clean cuts are achieved.  Also, the blades are covered with the guard to provide absolute protection.  There is a training lever that automatically opens once the scissors are squeezed closed and also automatically opens when the scissors are opened.

When our youngest son was three-four years old, he was diagnosed with motor skill issues.  As a result, he had to attend. physical therapy and eventually had to attend occupational therapy as well.  I feel these scissors would have been a tremendous blessing during that time in our lives.

Our family also received The 3-Step Pencil Grip Training Kit. The first step is the Crossover grip for training.  This training should occur under the supervision of an adult.  The design of this grip provides maximum structure and reinforcement to ensure proper placement of the fingers.  I love how the product description on Amazon states, ” The “super hero cape” design of the grip,  I can see that description catching my attention easily.

The second grip is designed for transitioning.  This grip is to be used on all writing instruments.  The description on Amazon states, “the unique partial “wings” allow for both structure and freedom”.  Finally, the third grip is designed to be used on all writing instruments, with the idea of providing a lifetime of comfort and control” according to the product description.

Once again, I would have loved to have used these grips when our youngest son was learning to write.  I truly believe it would have made things much easier for him.  Our daughter used the grip on a pen to create an amazing drawing in just a few minutes.  I can see me using the final grip for a long time to come because it truly is comfortable.  I also appreciate the fact the pencil grips are available either as a set or can be purchased individually.

Once again if you are looking for a terrific pair of safety scissors or pencil grips I recommend you check out The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors and The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit for yourself.  These will become valuable kids school supplies.  Click here or on the graphic below to read more reviews of these products fromThe Pencil Grip, Inc..

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Homeschool Band Participation

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So this year our family is doing something new.  Our second and third sons along with my husband and myself are playing in the homeschool band.  The picture above is our second son who is playing the baritone.  He has played the baritone in the past when we were in Pennsylvania.  So far he seems to be enjoying himself.  He began learning it when we were part of the Salvation Army band at our local Salvation Army Corps.

Our youngest son is going to learn how to play the alto saxophone.  This is rather interesting since I started on the alto saxophone in the fourth grade.  Unfortunately, our family moved to South Carolina and I had to wait until I reached sixth grade to play again.  Also in his past, my husband has played the alto saxophone as well.  Yesterday was his first time actually playing his instrument in band class.  He was very excited about it.

My husband who played clarinet and trumpet is playing the trumpet for the beginner band.  Then he is playing the clarinet in the advanced band.  Unfortunately, his clarinet needed some work done on it, so right now he is using a borrowed one.  It is fun to listen to him practice.

I am playing the flute for the beginner band, which I have always wanted to learn.  Then for the advanced band, I am playing the french horn.  I played french horn in high school.  Then I played an E flat horn in the Salvation Army band.  I am very excited that we were able to find an amazing french horn for us to purchase for me.  It is a double french horn, which is new to me.  But so far I am loving it.

Review of “Captain Bayley’s Heir” from Heirloom Audio Productions

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Our family absolutely loves listening to audiobooks – especially when we are traveling.  So I was thrilled for our family to have the opportunity to participate in this review.  Heirloom Audio Productions brings another G.A. Henty novel to life with Captain Bayley’s Heir!  The quality of this audio drama is fantastic.  For the purpose of this review, we simply listened to the audio drama.  The listeners are pulled into the story which begins in England, but tells of the Gold Rush in the United States and includes visits to various countries in Europe as well.  This is our second review of a production by Heirloom Audio Productions and we enjoyed it as much as our first.

This two-and-a-half hour audio drama begins with a conversation between G.A. Henty and a young man while they are traveling together.  The young man mentions that he is in love with a young lady who is a Christian.  However, he is not.  During the course of their conversation, G.A. Henty mentions that he writes books, so the young man asks for G.A. Henty to tell him a story.  This story brings out the boundless grace offered by God if we are only willing to take it.

G.A. Henty proceeds to tell the story of a young man in England who encounters various individuals and his life.  Frank is the nephew of Captain Bayless and has a cousin named Fred.  He also is good friends with a young lady named Alice.  Frank encounters another young man named Harry when Harry’s dog needs to be rescued from the water.  Frank heroically saves the dog.  They become friends and Frank discovers Harry’s birth parents had passed away.  So Harry is living with another couple who were generous enough to take him in and give him a home after his mother died.

This story contains many twists and turns.  Those twists and turns include Frank finding Harry’s adopted mother a job with his uncle.  Frank is accused of a crime he did not commit.  The headmaster of the school accuses Harry of stealing from him in addition to “going out of bounds” by leaving the school campus, which results in him getting into a fight.  He begs his uncle in a letter to show whether he believes Frank is innocent.  When Captain Bayless fails to respond, Frank and Fred determine the best course of action is for Frank to escape to America.

This drama wreaks of action and adventure as well.  From a terrifying encounter on a boat with a storm and a tree to an encounter with Indians, along with stagecoach robbers.  This drama does an amazing job of painting what life was like in America during the time of the Gold Rush.  The friends Harry makes truly make this story memorable.  Also, the use of “Amazing Grace” frames the story to perfection.  While faith and the Bible are not shoved in the face of those listening, the role of faith is made clear.

To go along with the audio dramas, Heirloom Audio Productions has introduced a club called the Live the Adventure Club that includes a wealth of resources.  This club includes valuable resources including a study guide for the drama.  The study guide is available as a download on the Live the Adventure Club site from Heirloom Audio Productions. The study guide offers background information on what is included in the study guide, a background on G. A. Henty, information about Heirloom Audio Productions, a list of the members of the cast and crew, background information on important people during the time of the story  and other resources to facilitate the study and discussion of the story.

The questions are broken down by disc and tracks on the CD.  The questions include questions for listening well, thinking further, defining words along with opportunities to expand learning and Bible Study as well as additional resources.  Here are some screenshots of pages from the Study Guide.  While our family did not use the study guide this time, I plan on everyone listening to the audio drama and utilizing the study guide and other resources at that time.  Heirloom Audio Productions has done an amazing job with this audio drama.  If you would like to read our review from the first product, you can click here for our review of “In the Reign of Terror”.

The “Live the Adventure Club” offers the ability to see the selections you have purchased along with the bonus material, kids activities, and games, educational treasures as well as other educational resources.  When members click on their listening library, they can select from listening to the audio drama online with the ability to answer online questions, take quizzes, listen to the soundtrack, view or download the e-book, print a cast poster or inspiration hymn poster, download desktop wallpapers, and utilize the study guide and discussion starter.  Once your family has completed the drama and the online activities, you have the ability to print a completion certificate.

Or if you would like to read other reviews of “Captain Bayley’s Heir”, you can click here or on the graphic below.

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Review of Barbour Publishing’s “Imagine…The Great Flood” by Matt Koceich

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As I have stated before, our family loves books.  So anytime we get the opportunity to review a new book, we take it. We’ve lots of historical fiction over the years but recently we just finished reading a Biblical fiction for kids book called Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing.  This book details the experiences of a young boy named Corey who travels back in time to the days of Noah and the Ark.

This is the first book in a Christian Kids Series by Matt Koceich.  Mr. Koceich is a school teacher who created this series with children ages 8 to 12-years-old in mind.  However, I can say after reading the book myself, I believe almost anyone of any age would enjoy this book.

`This book begins with Corey Max and his mom taking his dog Molly to a park in Texas to avoid the chaos at their house where a moving truck was being loaded with all their belongings.  The family was preparing for a move to Florida.  In the typical fashion of a child, Corey does not want to move and leave everything familiar – even though they are moving for his father’s job. Corey’s mom tries to help Corey understand and recognize God will be with them and will care for them wherever they go.

While at the park, a storm comes up quickly with lightning, thunder, and rain.  Molly had rushed into the woods, so Corey has to go after her.  While running after his dog, he trips over the log and finds his surroundings changing to new ones he did not recognize.  Unexpectedly he encounters a lion.  He begs for God to show him mercy.  The story then chronicles Corey’s encounter with Noah and the Ark, Noah’s sons and getting the animals onto the Ark while dealing with individuals who try to interfere with their plans.  The Great Flood is chronicled in a way which made me feel as though I was actually there.

I read this book and then had our 14-year-old daughter read it as well.  When I asked her for her opinion of this book, she had definite opinions.  She felt the beginning of the book was excellent.  However, she felt like the ending was rushed.  She thought it was a good book to read.  She stated she would have liked to see more details about the motivation of the antagonist.  Overall though she thought it would be a good book just to read for fun.

I felt the author did a great job with pulling the reader into the story.  I felt like I was actually in the story.  I could feel Corey’s pain and frustration over the move to Florida, which he had no control over.  I also felt the love and compassion of his mother.  I felt Corey’s amazement when he realized he had traveled back in time.  I enjoyed reading the details about Noah’s sons gathering the animals and preparing them to get them on the ark.  At the same time, I felt Corey’s fear as he encountered the unknown enemies and faced danger.  I won’t spoil the story for you, but I will say that Corey returns safely to his own time and finds the move to Florida better than he expected.

This is the first book in the Imagine series, and I personally can not wait to read more.  If you want to read more reviews on “Imagine…The Great Flood” by Matt Koceich, click here or on the graphic below.

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