Review of Brinkman Adventures Season 4

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One of our family’s favorite ways to pass time on road trips is listening to audio dramas. Have you heard of Brinkman Adventures?  We were introduced to their missionary stories when we received Brinkman Adventures Season 4 to review.  This was the first time we had heard of this audio drama series.  And I have to say, we loved the stories. For the purpose of this review, we received the audio drama as a download.  However, they are also available on audio CDs as well.  Personally, I found the downloads perfect.  I was able to download them to my computer and then use iTunes to listen to them on my computer.  However, I also have the option to listen to them on my iPhone or iPad as well.   This season contains 12 episodes full of missionary stories, adventure and more.

These adventures are in many cases based on real people and the events that happened to them.  Also, as a parent, I love how at the beginning of episodes containing intense stories, children under ten-years-old are instructed to get their parents to listen along with them. This shows the creators have a genuine concern for their listeners.  At the end of each episode, listeners are instructed to visit the website for more information regarding the real-life characters and situations.  Here is the link to the website where you can find the real stories behind the episodes.  Here are some screenshots of the stories behind the episodes.

 

Each episode is about twenty-five minutes long.  The stories engage you in the drama and keep you on the edge of your seat in many cases.  The background music is incredible and helps set the mood of the stories.  The stories themselves are engaging, inspiring and moving.

Our family loved how the episodes build upon each other.  Characters frequently reappear.  Another feature our family really enjoyed was listening to the snippets in between episodes, such as the one where the creator of the Brinkman adventures introduces his family who actually provide the voices for the characters in the show.

Our family tended to listen to these episodes together, however, there were a few that I listened to alone.  I can guarantee the next time we get in our van to drive somewhere, these episodes will be playing.

Even though our children are twenty-one, almost nineteen, almost seventeen and almost fourteen, they all enjoyed listening to the stories because the children are span such a large age range.  I also appreciated the time and care provided to the idea of grown children finding their own place in the world and respecting the ideas and concerns of their parents.  Over the course of several episodes, the story of Michelle and the young man she wants to marriage developed.  Mr. Brinkman does an excellent job of showing the struggles parents go through in this situation.  As a mother, I could totally relate to the struggles Mr. Brinkman faced.

Our children really enjoyed the episode with RD, the Koi fish and the adventures that the computerized RD had when armed with a paintball gun.  Of course, listeners were informed at the end of the end of this episode, that it was not based on real life.  Plus, they were instructed to never try doing this at home.  However, I could see my sons (especially our oldest) trying something like this himself.

So if your family is looking for wholesome audio dramas, check out Brinkman Adventures Season 4 for yourselves.  If you would like to read more reviews, click here or on the graphic below.

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Review of CTC Math’s Family Membership

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We are in our 12th year of homeschooling.  My husband and I are both gifted in the field of mathematics.  However, the majority of our children did not receive that gift.  A couple of them truly struggle with math. I was thrilled to receive CTCMath‘s Family Membership with my kids, and homeschoolers can get 60% off + 6 bonus months.  Or you can select a 4-month free trial. However, these special offers are only good until November 15th.

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I love that this program is video-based and offers the option of either a single student version or a family version.  We received the family membership.  I set up accounts for our three children who are ages eighteen, sixteen and fourteen as well as an account for myself.  For a high school student, the videos take about 8-10 minutes to watch plus the time to complete the exercises.

 

CTC Math is designed for children in grades Kindergarten thru twelveth grade.  It is perfect for getting caught up, staying up or moving forward.  I like that children learn at their pace rather than someone else’s pace.  Each high school lesson contains a video, practice problems, and a worksheet.  I like the fact that the worksheets can be printed out at the high school level. CTCMath’s founder, Pat Murray created this multisensory approach to math that is used in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom as well as other parts of the world.

With three high school students, this plan was perfect for our family.  The family membership gives the parent the opportunity to add family members to the account.  Once added, they can work on diagnostic tests as well as the various courses.  I primarily was interested in this program as a way to fill in some gaps on increase proficiency.

One of my favorite things about this program is that I as the parent have the ability to determine the proficiency level I require.  So for our children, I selected 90% as what they needed to achieve.  Another thing I love is that the program goes all the way from Kindergarten to Calculus.

Our fourteen-year-old daughter needed to brush up on her skills for Algebra.  Our sixteen-year-old son needed to brush up on Geometry.  I just selected various lessons from the different courses to try.  However, my husband and I both plan on using this program to continue brushing up on our math skills.

I did lessons in Algebra I as well as Algebra II.  I found the videos to be straight-forward, informative and easy to follow.  I appreciate that there are not a lot of distractions.  I also like that the questions in the practice section relate to the lessons being taught.  Our children found the questions easy to follow and easy to answer.

Here is a screenshot of one of the videos.

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Here is a screenshot of one of the practice problems for the Order of Operations sections of Algebra I. I love how the students can see their progress as they move through the exercises.  Plus, they can also see their score to the point of completion as well.

Here are some sample worksheets – one from Algebra I, one from Geometry and one from Algebra II.  For each worksheet, you have the option to print out the worksheet.  Then the student enters the answers and finally, the student can view the solutions.

Our family really enjoyed CTCMath and  I encourage you to try it for yourself.  Remember, you only have until November 15th to take advantage of the 4 weeks free trial or the 60% off + 6 bonus months.  If you want to read more reviews of CTCMath, click here or on the image below.

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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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Review of Books by Carole P. Roman

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Our fourteen-year-old daughter absolutely loves trivia and facts and sharing what she learns.   So when I saw the opportunity to review books by Carole P. Roman, I knew we had to take this opportunity.  For this review, we were given the opportunity to pick two titles of our own choosing and then the author sent us two other books.  We selected “If You Were Me and Lived In… Elizabethan ENGLAND” and “If You Were Me and Lived in Ancient China: Han Dynasty“.  The two books the author selected for our family were “If You Were Me and Lived in Ancient Greece” and A Captain No Beard story entitled “A CAPTAIN NO BEARD STORY BEING A CAPTAIN IS HARD WORK “.

The first thing that caught my eye with all four books is the amazing illustrations in the books.  These capture the essence of the author’s words on the page with great accuracy.  The words and pictures help pull the readers into the book.  All four books are written in a story format.  These books would be excellent books to read aloud.  Even if there were younger children in the household, I expect the story and pictures would keep their interest.  Another thing I liked is that these books are available for the Kindle and are part of the Kindle Unlimited program – so we can read any of these titles for free.  I love being able to take books with us for those unexpected times we need something to occupy our time. Also the three history books do an amazing job of being cultural books that capture the essence of what a good children’s history book should be like.

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For this review, our daughter read “If You Were Me and Lived in Ancient China: Han Dynasty” by herself first.  This book is designed for children ages 8-15.  I feel this book would make a wonderful starting point for a unit study on Ancient China or a comparison of life in ancient China versus modern-day China.  My daughter found the book to be interesting and worth reading.  The book goes through facts about what life would have been like in ancient China including illustrations of modern day China as well as ancient China.  Facts are also given about how China was ruled during this period, possible names children may have been given, life in the capital city, and more.  It made it more realistic when the author stated what type of family the person would have been born into as well as what his/her daily life would have been like.  My daughter really enjoyed reading this book.  I plan on having her re-read the book and then complete various notebooking assignments using facts in the books that captured her interest.  I also plan on having her doing some kind of visual display and report showing what she learned.  For this, I will probably have read additional books to discover more information as well as do research using the Internet.

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Next, she read “If You Were Me And Lived In….Elizabethan ENGLAND“.  This book chronicled life in Elizabethan England from the perspective of a child born to a baker and his wife.  Again the book gives general facts about the time period, background on the government and life in general during the time period.  Then, detailed descriptions of what life would have been like for the child of a baker would have been like.  I especially found the descriptions of how their clothing would have been made to be interesting.  I was also fascinated when I learned that bakers may have let other families use their ovens to bake things for a price.  Again my daughter enjoyed this book.  I plan on following a similar plan of using this book basically as the foundation of a unit study for the Elizabethan time period with a report, additional research and reading along with a final project to be done.

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Our first book that the author selected for us is “If You Were Me and Lived in… Ancient Greece“.  This story follows the same format as the two books my daughter selected.  Due to Hurricane Harvey wreaking havoc in our area, I read this book myself.  Again, it discusses life in general in Greece, contrasts between life in Greece in ancient times versus today, and then goes into what life would have been like for a child born to a doctor.  My one caution about this book would be that it goes into various Greek gods and goddesses.  So if your family wants to avoid discussing that, this may not be the right book for you to use.  I found the facts to be presented in a straightforward way.  Again, I see this book being an excellent starting point for a unit study approach for ancient Greece.

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The final book we received was “A CAPTAIN NO BEARD STORY BEING A CAPTAIN IS HARD WORK“.  This story is geared more for 3-8-year-old children.  Since all of our children are much older than that, I read this book myself.  The story chronicles the adventures of Captain No Beard and his crew.  The captain shows great determination about traveling to the Dew Rite Volcano.  Along the way, many decisions are made by the captain that his crew expresses concern while offering alternative ideas.  At the end of the story, the ship and seas turn back into a bedroom.  The child who was pretending to be captain learned many important lessons including the value of listening to other and that being in charge is not always easy.  I found the book enjoyable to read.

So I definitely recommend checking out these and other titles by Carole P. Roman.  You can find other reviews either by clicking here or on the graphic below.

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Review of Everyday Homemaking’s Everyday Cooking

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As a homeschooling family, my husband and I recognize the need for our children to learn the traditional subjects such as Bible, Mathematics, Language Arts, History, and Science.  But we also realize they need to be able to function in the real world as well.  So I was thrilled for our family to have the opportunity to review the Everyday Cooking cookbooks.   I have to say I love the Everyday Cooking cookbook from Everyday Homemaking because she cooks like me!  For the purpose of this review, we received both cover choices as downloadable products.  I decided to download it to my Ipad to make it easy to access the recipes.  I also printed it out and then took it to be spiral bound. You have the Joyce of either blue or red for the cover. You can buy either a downloadable version or a printed version.

Considering our youngest child is almost 15 and our oldest is twenty-one and the other two are almost 17 and 19, we realize they will be living on their own sooner rather than later.  To this end, we have them help around the house.  For whatever reason, my older two received more cooking opportunities because they were in the Boy Scouts.  Our youngest son, the one almost 17 also had opportunities to cook as well.  However, our daughter, being the baby of the bunch, is lacking in the area of cooking.  So I knew these cookbooks would be perfect for her.

The recipes are easy to follow and contain foods that my children actually may eat.  When we started looking through the cookbook, I did run into one problem, however.  That problem was there were too many recipes my younger two liked, so it was hard for them to narrow down what they wanted to try cooking.  One thing that made me very happy was most of the recipes could be adapted to accommodate our oldest son who is extremely lactose-intolerant.

Several of her recipes are very similar to ways I already cook, so we decided to try the Pork Loin Roast since we had a roast already in our freezer.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the roast.  But here is a picture of someone’s plate that includes the sides we served with the meal.

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Another recipe we decided to try was the Veggie Saute since we were fixing a homemade Chinese dinner.  For this, we did two separate sides.  The first contained zucchini squash with onions that were served with soy sauce to resemble the Japanese “french fries” served at our favorite Japanese steakhouse.  The second was cabbage that also was cooked with onions and served with soy sauce.  Here are pictures of the children preparing the vegetables and then my daughter cooking the zucchini and onions.

 

Another recipe that was easy for us to fix was the Simple Salmon.  Although the recipe called for the salmon to be cooked in an electric skillet, pan seared or baked, our family cooked ours on the grill.  Living in southeastern Texas, I love to have my husband cook on the grill as often as possible to avoid heating up our house with the stove or oven.  Here are some pictures of the salmon.  Because the recipe called for citrus grill seasoning or lemon pepper, which members of my family do not care for, we used dill seasoning and salt and pepper.

 

I have to say I really enjoyed these cookbooks.  I love that in addition to the recipes, Vicki Bentley provides low-carb and gluten free helps, basic measurements and helps, meal planning and shopping hints, sample menus and meal planning masters, Basic cooking skills checklists, basic kitchen accessories, kitchen equipment information and more.  I definitely plan on incorporating these cookbooks into our school plans for this year.

In addition to the cookbooks, a chore system is also available.  If you would like to read more reviews about the Everday Cooking cookbooks or the Everyday Family Chore System from Everyday Homemaking, click here or on the graphic below.

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Review of Math Essentials’ No-Nonsense Algebra

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Homeschool math at the high school level can be intimidating so I’d like to introduce you to No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials.  Finding a math program that our 14-year-old daughter likes and understands can be challenging.  But with the included videos for the lessons taught by Richard W. Fisher, our daughter has found this program to be understandable.

Our daughter is our 4th and last child and she is definitely more gifted in the area of art than math.  So we have tried a variety of math programs through the years. Like most parents, we have found some work and some do not.  So when I saw the chance for our family to review No-Nonsense Algebra, I was glad to get it for our daughter.

This is a soft cover book that is meant to be used as a textbook, and the students need to do their work in a notebook.  Since it is not consumable, it would work well for families with more than one child.  As I have already stated, our daughter is not a math whiz kid.  She loves art a lot more.  So in her own words, she stated, “Some of the instructions and problems are worded in ‘mathease’, which is a language our daughter feels she does not speak.  However, the videos provided our daughter with clear and concise instructions that made the lessons understandable for her.

I feel like the videos are well-executed, easy to hear and easy to understand.  The instructions really helped our daughter.  This course covers everything from integers to the quadratic equation along with everything in between.

I felt like the lessons were reasonable in the material being covered, the examples that were given and the number of practice problems.  Each lesson contains an introduction which includes helpful hints, example problems worked out showing each step for solving the problem, exercises, and several review questions.

Since I have taught high school math and realize how it builds upon itself, I love the review problems.  It helps to ensure the students remember past materials.  I also loved the fact the book starts off with problems involving integers.  This is a necessary skill for solving most algebraic problems.  If a student can not solve problems with integers properly, he or she will probably have extreme difficulty later in Algebra.  Also, from my experience in teaching Algebra, the majority of mistakes in Algebra are caused by mathematical computations.  So ensuring students have a firm grasp on working with integers will help with their success.  The pictures below show two days of my daughter’s work and answers.  As I have stated, she is very artistic so her pages have to include some drawings.

I feel this book is perfect for a variety of situations.  It is perfect as a stand-alone textbook for Algebra.  It is also perfect for a student who just wants to brush up on certain skills.  It also would be perfect for a student just wanting to review Algebra for any reason. I also like the fact Math Essentials offers a variety of other products ranging from materials for 4th/5th grade all the way through this Algebra course.

I was very pleased with this book and the videos are provided with it.  This course is definitely worth taking a look at in my opinion.  If you would like to read more reviews about No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials, click here or on the graphic below.

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