Friday, September 22, 2017

Matthew West ~ All In (Review and Giveaway)

Hey, friends! It's been awhile since I've had a review and a GIVEAWAY! :)
What a nice way to start out the Fall Season! 

This time it's Matthew West's new album All In

Here are my quick impressions/what the songs are about,  plus a few bonus videos from Matthew West to give you the real story. :) ~

Track 1: All In 
~ No testing the waters here~ he's all in!
Story behind the song:

Track 2: Broken Things 
~ Encouragement that God can and does use broken things to accomplish mighty things

Story behind this song, too... 

Track 3: Mercy is a Song 
~ More encouragement~ Mercy is a song, and Freedom is a choir singing...

Track 4: Amen 
~ This one is a high energy tune that will be a favorite in my house. ;)

Track 5: The Sound of a Life Changing 
~ Kind of a cool auto-biographical song/looking to the future for other's lives

Track 6: Something Greater 
~ Another song about life~ (And BGV's by Carrie Underwood... :) )

Track 7: Jesus & You 
~ Love song to his Lord and his wife. ;)

Track 8: The Beautiful Things We Miss 
~ Encouragement to slow down and not miss the beautiful things... 
(Teary eyes are a possibility with this song... ;))

Track 9: 1 Song 
~ drilling it down to Hallelujah! Thank You, Lord! Amen, I'm made new! 
(In a style a little reminiscent of Nico and Vinz' "Am I Wrong" ~ I like it. ;) 
~ disclaimer: I know next to nothing about Nico and Vinz beyond that song. ;) )

Track 10: Power Love Sound Mind 
~ not rap, but spoken word with a melodic chorus~ not a spirit of fear...

Track 11: Never Ever Give Up 
~ Up-beat encouragement ~  a good, positive  "amp up" song.

Track 12: Dream Again
~ When the doors (and the World) seem closed and against you
~ an anthem of starting over and giving it up to God
~ letting Him show you how to dream again...

Track 13: Becoming Me (Featuring Lulu West)
~ another family-inspired song that pulls the heart-strings
~ (and Lulu has a very sweet voice)

Track 14: You Are Known 
~ written as a note from the One Who Knows...

Summing up~ the entire album is about being "All In" in relation to the Lord, to family, community, and even to his career as a singer/songwriter. From his liner notes: "... these songs are written in the hopes that they will be arrows straight to your hearts reminding you that the goal is to reach the end with no regrets." Essentially encouraging us to understand our position, and seek to hear "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

The album is now available for purchase. Great gift idea to tuck away for a holiday or special event.

More information...
Matthew’s heart behind the album:
Matthew wrote his new album All In with the goal of encouraging himself and others to get up off the sidelines of their faith and really live it out – to go all in in your time with God, all in with your family, all in with your community, and all in battling your fears that may hold you back from becoming who God made you to be. Along that same theme, Matthew will be launching a 6-week All in Challenge on his social media starting 9/18, and each week Matthew will be challenging his fans to go all in in a different part of their lives. What does it look like when a heart that knows Jesus takes a step and holds nothing back? How can we go All In in the places that mean the most?
If you would like to enter my giveaway, please make sure to wait for the Rafflecopter to load.... :) 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

HOT Glue gun Review

Being a crafty type, being a mom, and being a homeschooler, glue guns are one of those tools that are somewhat regularly in use. For YEARS, I've only used the low temp glue guns, due to having small children around, and wanting to avoid potential hazards. However, my youngest is now 10, and I *think* I can relax my guard just a little bit.

I was please to be offered the opportunity to review a HOT glue gun, because sometimes the low temp guns just don't quite have what it takes to STICK. :/

The Cobiz Hot Melt Glue Gun with 60/100 W power options has been working well for my intended projects, as well as at least one un-intended project.

Same youngest mentioned above had a run in with a bad hop baseball, which broke the earpiece near the temple of his glasses. When his glasses broke before we tried super glue (nope) and duct tape, but they were extremely shaky "fixes." With this new Hot Melt glue gun, I am happy to say that the glasses are holding up pretty well, and will hopefully make it until he's due for his next appt in a month, when he can get new glasses! (Did I mention this is the second time the frames have broken~ insurance won't pay twice... ;/ )

I haven't had quite as much free time as I would like to try out some cool projects with my son (we have some mica that wants to be attached to something... but we haven't found the right something just yet)

However, I wanted to check it out, anyway, so I made a nifty little "pallet" coaster to hold my icy water cups on the side table in the living room, in the hopes of reducing condensation damage to the table
Glue gun heating up~ I could wish that the wire stand was a little more sturdy~ makes me a little nervous, but haven't had any trouble with it yet... 
See how fine the glue drops? I'm pretty happy with that! :) 

A couple of notes: The glue gun took a little longer than I expected to heat up and allow me to feed the glue stick through the first time (closer to 10 minutes), but it was much closer to the target 5 minute time the next time I used it.

I didn't actually use the 100W power because the projects I had required small streams of glue, and my understanding is that the higher power creates a thicker stream of glue.
The 60W stream of glue from this gun is FAR superior to anything any of my low temp glue guns ever put out... Those popsicle sticks aren't budging! :)

All in all, I'm pretty impressed and pleased with this glue gun, and can't wait to put it into action getting my crafty on. ;)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Let’s Go Geography (Elementary Review)

Let’s Go Geography offers a geography program for kids K-4th grade that covers many of the world's countries (and some regions) over a three year course. I was happy to review this with my youngest (even though he's a smidge older than the target group), as it's been awhile since we focused on geography in a somewhat systematic manner.

For this review I was given a one year subscription, which allowed me to use any of the lessons for all of the countries included in the 1st year of the curriculum. While I considered hopping around a fair amount based on interest or coordination with other studies, I finally decided that we would do the lessons mostly in order. Part of my reasoning for this was to take advantage of the focus on one continent at a time (within the continents I am choosing to go "out of order" depending on outside studies or current events).

Here is an introduction and look at a Let's Go Geography Lesson: 

As you can tell, these lessons incorporate visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning with reading, map-work, music, video and craft options. I love it when all the learning styles are incorporated!

Let's Go Geography doesn't cover EVERY country in the world over the three years cycle, but it does cover a vast majority, giving a pretty good overview by the time it is completed, and at a pace that should make it easy for your child to recall the information learned. You can see in the graphic below that each continent (color-coded) is visited every year, which is also a great way to reinforce where countries are found ("Remember when we studied Belize last year? On what Continent is Belize found? Well, we're going to study another country in South America: Guatemala!" )
While you have the option, as I mentioned, of using the lessons in any order, you can take the "remembering and planning" task out of the equation, and rely on a weekly email to remind you to open/download up each week's lesson if you prefer to go in order. 

As mentioned in the video above, each lesson is set up in the following format:
1. Map It ~ as the name suggests, this section has mapwork, both for the individual country/region, as well as where it is found on the appropriate continent
2. The Flag ~ Color in the flag
3. The Music ~ Links to listen to the National Anthem, and sometimes another song
4. Let's Explore ~ interesting information and photos to help learn more about the country, as well as links to "see" the country via a video tour (usually on YouTube) 
5. Let's Create ~ a Craft of some sort that relates
6. Printables (for the teacher) ~ anything that isn't linked that needs to be printed 

A quick note here also about the layout of each year~ Every 9th week is a BREAK week, or "catch-up" week to finish anything left undone. Every 12th week is a REVIEW week. The review weeks are well set up, with blank maps to fill in the correct country, a match the flag to the country as well as a match an image (from the country) to the correct country. There are other activities as well. For instance, the first review week introduces Latitude and Longitude, with fill in the blank and test your knowledge activities. 

While I appreciated the map-work (perhaps more than my son did), he particularly enjoyed the linked video explorations of each region or country. Many of these are National Geographic and other high quality videos that give a very nice overview of the countries they cover.

I wish the flag pages had an option to print strictly black and white, and just a little larger (they could probably gain 1/2" in both directions and still fit on the map page). This would allow printing with a printer that only uses black ink, and with the increase in size, the ability to color in the whole flag (our American flag has a field of stars on a black background...), instead of having portions of it already colored...

We didn't utilize some of the other activities that are geared more toward the younger set (coloring page and most crafts), but a few years ago he would have loved the coloring pages provided for every country!

Here is one of the crafts we *did* do, for the country of Haiti~ a wax-resist (batik) market scene...

Let's Go Geography offers a well thought out overview of geography for the early elementary ages, with just enough variety in the activities, and solid map-work to give your youngster a firm foundation in where things are in the world.
Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
  • Company: Let’s Go Geography
  • Product: Let’s Go Geography
  • Ages: K-4th grade
  • Price: 
    • One Year Subscription $21.99
      • One Year Subscription in 2 payments $12.99 each
    • Semester Subscription $14.99
    • Some Individual Titles $ 2.49
        • There are other options, and at the time of posting a 25% off coupon was available for the subscription options
You can visit Let's Go Geography on Facebook and Pinterest

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Do you use SWAGBUCKS???

The digital rewards site Swagbucks just hit a major milestone – they have given their members over $200 million in cash and free gift cards since 2008! (Wow! I joined right after they started... December 2008!)

I use Swagbucks all the time to get free gift cards doing stuff I already do online, Usually from searching, but also shopping through their portal, and answering surveys. You can also earn points by watching videos and discovering great deals.

To demonstrate how big a number 200 million really is, here are some fun facts:

If you haven't joined Swagbucks yet, and are interested in earning points that turn into giftcards by doing simple everyday things like searching for information, please consider signing up using my referral link.

Now to go cash in the bucks I have so that I can go birthday shopping for my middlest... Thanks to Swagbucks, I can afford to pick up some things from his wishlist on Amazon! :)


Talk Like A Pirate Day 2017

Robert Louis Stevenson's hand-drawn map
for the original publication of
Treasure Island
Ahoy there Mates!

Just a quick little note for Talk Like a Pirate Day! Thought I would share a post I published three years ago, with a number of resources for your use (I checked links and changed or removed those that were faulty, so they should be all good today).  

Talk Like a Pirate Day Resources

Loads of printables and curriculum ideas for all ages (even up through high school!!!) can be found linked there~ Enjoy!

And here's an interesting article for you to peruse about current naval use of the skull and crossbones... Why the Navy's Top Spy Submarine Flew a Pirate Flag While Pulling Into Port.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Marine Biology!

While I've had the opportunity to review many of Apologia Educational Ministries' new products as they roll out, I've not had a chance to review any of their science curriculum since my first year reviewing (2008/2009) when I reviewed Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, and the basic General Science set. However, I have used many of their other science texts for elementary, and up through high school, so I was very pleased to be able to review one I hadn't seen/used yet, their Marine Biology 2nd Edition Advantage Set. The set comes complete with the student text, student notebook, solutions and tests book, and test booklet. We were also sent the Marine Biology 2nd Edition Audio CD.

As is typical with Apologia, the material is written directly to the student, and is easily understood. There are some things about this text that I really like from a visual point of view, that are different from the other editions I own (General Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics...):

  • A colored strip running across the top of the page that lists the module
  • A "tab" along the length of the page that also lists the module, and can be seen when the book is closed, making it easier to find your place as you get further into the book (the Glossary, Appendices, and Index are also "tabbed" this way). 
  • Vocabulary words are boldly set apart and defined on the page where they are used in the text. This gives an extra emphasis and repetition, for memory retention. While the other texts did this as well, the definitions just didn't stand out in the same way. 
  • On Your Own questions are set apart with a colored background and "sea coral" motif~ hard to miss them when they don't blend into the text! :) 
Following the normal Apologia format, the answers to the "on your own" questions are found at the end of the module, followed by a study guide for that module. Module Summaries are found in the back of the book in Appendix B. This means that for the vocabulary and important information found on the test, review is built in. 
  1. Read the text (Some vocabulary twice if it has been highlighted outside the text)
  2. Do the On Your Own Questions 
  3. Complete the Study Guide
  4. Answer the Module Summary questions in the back of the book
  5. Take the test 
The Material covered in this course (with my mini-summaries) includes:
Module 1: The Oceans of Our Planet ~ including how they were formed
Module 2: Life In the Sea ~ how living organisms live and reproduce in the sea 
Module 3: The First Four Kingdoms (Microscope Labs) ~ study of simple marine plants and animals
Module 4: Marine Invertebrates I~ Simpler invertebrates (Jellyfish, worms, etc..)
Module 5: Marine Invertebrates II (Dissection and Microscope Labs) ~ Mollusks, Crustaceans, etc... 
Module 6: Marine Vertebrates I (Microscope and Dissection Labs) ~ Jawless, cartilaginous, and bony fish
Module 7: Marine Vertebrates II ~ Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals
Module 8: Marine Ecology ~ the balance of creation~ organisms with one another and their surroundings
Module 9: The Intertidal Zones ~ Let's go to the beach! 
Module 10: Estuarine Communities ~ special ecosystem that is neither saltwater nor freshwater
Module 11: Coral Reefs ~ Complex communities
Module 12: Continental Shelf Communities (Microscope Labs) ~ learn about soft-bottom shelf and hard-bottom shelf communities
Module 13: The Epipelagic Zone (Microscope Lab) ~ the upper layer of the oceans, and what lives there (most of our food sourced from the sea can be found here)
Module 14: The Deep Ocean ~ "inner space" creatures, and much that is unexplored
Module 15: Ocean Resources ~ food, medicine, industrial resources (oil and minerals), freshwater, and energy
Module 16: The Effects of Humans on Oceans ~ Negative impacts, and how we can be better stewards of the ocean, while not neglecting those who rely on it to survive. 

This is the first time that we have had the Audio CD Narration to go along with the text. The narrator (Marissa Leinart) reads the entire text with the exception of the text in the Figure graphics. She has a pleasantly modulated voice, and I believe the Audio CD would be very beneficial to the auditory learner, or to a reader who has difficulties~ they could listen to the audio while following along in the text. I can't imagine narrating an entire textbook, so when the few occasions arise that Marissa uses a different emphasis than I would if I were reading aloud, I definitely cut her a little slack. By and large she is very easy to listen to. Having the Audio CD is a great option if you are a family that is in the car a lot~ studying can be done on the way without reading-induced car-sickness! 

The other resource that we used for the first time was the Student Notebook. This was a favorite feature for my son. He loved the way it was set up, so that it followed the text with the On Your Own Questions, the Study Guide, and the Summary directly following. His feeling is that this makes studying for the test much easier because all of the information is right there in front of him. He doesn't have to look from the text book to his notebook to find the answers to each question, it streamlines the entire process.

I also appreciate that it lays the grading process and the schedule all out for the student. It really is intended to be a mostly self-directed course, which is appropriate for upper high school classes.

There are a number of note pages (at the beginning of each new module, prior to the On Your Own questions), that Middlest will be working on learning to use. Note taking is not a skill that I've emphasized (as I don't lecture my one person class), so using this Marine Biology course could help him gain this essential ability.
1. Study guide questions and Summary Questions, 2. and 3. Lab Experiment notebook

The back of the Student Notebook contains all of the experiments, their directions, and Lab Sheets to record the experiments, with space for the Hypothesis, Observations, and Discussion and Conclusions. This makes it so easy to keep everything in one place, and having the instructions for the experiments right there means only one book to deal with during the experiments. I am a big fan of efficiency!

A word about the experiments here. Once again, Apologia comes through with a Lab Science course that is thorough, but takes into account a homeschooler's budget! There are some that require a microscope with prepared slides, and I counted 3 dissection experiments (shudder... not my thing), but everything else can be completed with household or easily obtainable items.
The Tests and Solutions book, as always, includes all of the tests (Which can be copied) and their solutions (with grading points given, which makes life so easy for the teacher!), as well as solutions for the Module Summary questions. 

Apologia has another winning Science text on their hands, with this Marine Biology course written from a Christian Worldview. I so value the apologetics built into these courses, that give my kids a solid foundation to discuss Christianity AND science, and how the two DO connect and support one another.

If you want to check it out yourself, there is are samples from the first module found on the product page (see below) under the "downloads" button.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
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Friday, September 1, 2017

Less Messy Painting ~ Kwik Stix @ BJ's!!

You might remember a post this spring highlighting a no mess (or at least "great, less mess potential...") art product, Kwik Stix solid Tempera Paint. Well, I have some great news for my wholesale club shopping friends. Kwik Stix are now available at all BJ's Wholesale Clubs!

If you're looking for a cool new art supply for the school year, this could be it! Oh, and although it is somewhat marketed to the elementary crowd, just know that you'll probably be having fun with them yourself! :D You can (re)read my review from this spring to get an idea of what all can be done... (I think there is great potential for Popsicle stick painting and various lessons for the Prek/K crowd, too!). 

It's also a great idea to stash away for gifting! :)

I'm loving the new greater variety of colors, and can't wait to get started with some projects of our own (I'm holding off from officially starting school until the first full week after Labor Day, as usual). 



I love trading in points(450), earned during normal searches, for ($5) Amazon Gift Cards!


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