Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Musical Golden Nugget ~ Sky Spills Over~ Michael W. Smith's latest video! (And a giveaway:) )

I have an extra special golden nugget for you all today, because it includes an album giveaway! 

Michael W. Smith is an amazing musician, with a long career in writing, singing and performing. As a matter of fact two of my very first contemporary Christian albums (purchased on cassette) were Michael W. Smith's first two studio albums, Michael W. Smith Project, and  Michael W. Smith II.

Not the original album artwork...
Ask me how I know? ;) 

Yup~ my cassette cover looks just like this
Only not square... :) 
For a number of years I was a big MWS fan, and his First Christmas CD is part of our traditional Christmas Morning soundtrack. However, I eventually lost interest as many of his songs started to sound like they were written with the same formula (insert sad face). You may have discovered by now that while I have extensive musical tastes, I do tend to be a little bit picky about melodies and lyrics both. 

Fast forward to earlier this spring~ I was driving by myself, when I heard a portion of a song that caught my interest~ I later asked my daughter (who can frequently be found sporting earbuds and listening to great music) if she had heard a new song that had a really interesting rhythm and included something about "Thunder" in the lyrics. She was stumped as well, so we looked it up on our (recently defunct :( ) local radio station website~ where they published their play list as it happened. What a surprise to find out that it was Michael W. Smith! I was so happy to hear something new, innovative, and creative from him!

The song (which you may have heard if you listen to Christian Music Radio), is Sky Spills Over, found on Michael W. Smith's Sovereign album.

The album was released earlier this month, and Wed, May 27, 2015 marks the debut of a video for Sky Spills Over. The song itself is an anthem of HOPE from a lyrical point of view. The video includes that theme, but as videos often do, it seems to tell a sort of sub-story. This one appears to be a bit of lost children, meets prophecy, and a savior. 

Michael W. Smith has this to say about the video:
"I’m really passionate about the song SKY SPILLS OVER.  It was fun creating it in the studio and I’ve been overwhelmed at the response it gets when we perform it live every night.  My son Ryan is a really talented filmmaker so I always enjoy working with him on a project.  But what made this project even more special was that 3 of my own grandkids were in the video.  This video was a lot of fun to make.  I hope people enjoy it!"

Without further ado~ please enjoy Sky Spills Over ~ And when you're done listening/watching, be sure to enter in my giveaway for Michael W. Smith's Sovereign Album!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"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/or 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, 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.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Homeschool Legacy ~ We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution

The TOS Review Crew is once again reviewing a group of Unit Studies from Homeschool Legacy.  This time there are 13 units being reviewed, that cover a variety of topics. Some of them are for more elementary ages, and others are for a wider age range.  This year we were chosen to review We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution. This particular unit study has reading selections and activities that can be used with a wide range of ages, which makes it an especially good choice for a family with multiple children (which isn't to say that it can't be used with a smaller or only child family... because it can!).

You can see that there are history, holiday, and science titles. Interestingly enough, we were chosen to review a history/government title which coordinates with the title we reviewed in 2012 (Revolutionary Ideas~ The Story of the American Revolution Review).

There are many things that remain the same for this review, as the basic format of the unit studies hasn't changed overly much.

This study included material covering;
Bible (Biblical Worldview and weekly family devotions)
Quality Literature (Independent and Read-Aloud selections for many ages)
Language, History, and Research (Word studies, Vocabulary, and suggestions for research projects/reports that we tended to cover more as discussion than written papers, as my high schoolers are fairly busy covering their every day work)
Geography, Arts and Crafts, and Art Appreciation are touched on in a very limited way, which is understandable given the topic.
Field Trip Suggestions are given throughout, some of which are virtual field trips (Appreciated when field-tripping is more difficult to accomplish).

At this point it is important to let you know that my family received a digital copy of this unit study, not a physical copy. We discovered this time that we felt we might have fared better with a physical copy, as my eldest has a hard time reading and concentrating on content on her computer screen and does much better with a book in her hand.

HOWEVER, one of the huge benefits to this digital copy is that it has been reworked, and now includes links to various websites and videos, making it simple to click and go. The digital study also includes color photos now instead of the black and white photos we saw in our previous review. Nice upgrade!

We solved some of the digital/concentration issue by putting the document on my ipad and opening it in my pdf-notes app. This gave a nice screen size to the pages, and allowed for highlighting right on the page. I highlighted the bits for them to read in one color, and the bits for them to DO in another color. When they completed things they were check-marked in another color.

Some favorite things about this study remained the same as in our last review :

  • The addition of movies to school time (Although we had already watched "National Treasure" we thought it was great that it was recommended!) 
  • The easy links to get to various websites, videos, etc...
  • The inclusion of recipes and games (What good unit study doesn't have those? :) )
  • The great information (Of course!) and topics for discussion. 
  • Christian Worldview~ Although the history revisionists would try to suggest that people like Ben Franklin maintained less than a Christian Worldview, Homeschool Legacy does a fabulous job of including quotes that show this is far from true. Take for instance one of my daughter's favorite quotes by Mr. Franklin (taken from the weekly family devotional): 
What we found more difficult with this Once-a-Week Unit Study (beyond the electronic vs physical debate) also remained the same~ you can go back and read my first review (Scroll towards the end) to see why I don't feel this works really well for high school students in particular as a Once-A-Week Study, but why I also think that it is a great resource (If planned into your regular week for more than one day), particularly if you are looking for an interesting quarter (?) credit in Government for your high school student.

One more thing to mention, and then I'm down to the Nitty Gritty~ Those who have children involved in Boy Scouts of America or American Heritage Girls can use these unit studies to help them earn credit and/or badges, and the studies include forms and notes throughout to help with those endeavors.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
You can visit Homeschool Legacy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
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Monday, May 18, 2015

Nuggets of Gold for the Week of May 18

I'm back with a few more nuggets for you all~
Short and sweet this time around as I didn't get this posted last week,
and I want to get this up while the first Kindle book listed below is still free.

Music: Ginny Owens is a Contemporary Christian Artist (Musician). I was introduced to her when I wrote a review for one her albums back in 2011. She is still writing, singing, and performing music. In fact, I sadly missed the opportunity to hear her live just last night when she was performing with Michael Card.

Aaaanyway....  I wanted to let you know about a Ginny Owens Acoustic Sampler available on Noisetrade (Same deal as the last set of music I posted from Noisetrade~ you have to sign up, and give them your email, then they send you a link to download the songs. You can pay as much or as little as you decide to help support the artists in their endeavors).

Just to give you a little taste of her music (note~ please keep in mind as you watch her that she is blind, so she doesn't have typical expression in her eyes, and she tends not to blink, but her voice is wonderfully expressive!):

And here's another~

Here are a few Kindle books that I'd like to share with you.

The first is a childhood classic republished by a fellow FIAR mom's publishing house, Purple House Press. It's being offered free today (eek! only a few more hours) for Kindle.
The other two are a couple of novels that were enjoyable reads. (Click on the photos)
"New Adult" Romance
Free at the time of posting

Civil War Historical Novel
Free at the time of posting
Sweet Reprint by Purple House Press
Free at the time of posting
(Possibly only 5/18/15)

Once again, please let me know if you appreciate/enjoy these sorts of posts. :)


Thursday, May 14, 2015

"S is for Smiling Sunrise" Alphabet picture book (TOS Review Crew)

If you have a Pre-K - second or third grader, you might be interested in this latest item I received for review, S is for Smiling Sunrise, which is an ABC Picture book. In addition to the book, if you visit the WordsBright website, you can download a free Teacher's Guide (*Note: the Teacher's Guide comes in two levels Pre-K/K and K-3), and a free mp3 alphabet song.
This is a nice addition to any Alphabet Book collection (yes... I have one of those :)), and can be used with a variety of ages. Each letter of the alphabet is accompanied by an illustration and a rhyme. The rhymes are positive interpretations of things in the world around us, and celebrate goodness, beauty, and wonder. The first time we read this book, I had my 7 year old read it to me. Another time I read each letter/rhyme and asked youngest if he thought it was talking about goodness, beauty or wonder. Beauty and Wonder were often both his answer. It was a nice comprehension exercise which helped him think a little more critically about what we were reading.

Some of the letter rhymes offer a little art, others a little science, and a few emphasize character-training, or are more relational in nature. Almost all of them are good jumping off points for discussion.

If you have children on the younger range, there is a one page Parent's Guide with Pre-K recommendations to extend the learning. While a little young for my second grader, I personally felt that the Teacher's Guide could be most useful for the 4-6 year old range. It includes Concepts, Questions, Vocabulary and Activity suggestions for each letter/rhyme of the alphabet. If you do a "letter of the day" in your homeschool, this might be right up your alley!

No offense to the person singing the "S is for Smiling Sunrise" ABC song, but I didn't find it to be something that my children young or old would be interested in listening to. However, it was nice to hear the way the rhymes fit together in the traditional ABC tune, so that they can be sung at home.

When reading this book to my 2nd grader I have to admit that he wasn't overly excited about the concept. In his opinion, ABC books are for "little kids." However, once I explained to him that ABC books can be used to explore different topics, and show what you know about something he was much more willing to be a participant in listening and discussing.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Visit WordsBright on Facebook.

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wordless Wednesday ~ Schedule Explosion!

When your schedule explodes in May, 
it might be because of your kids... 

And I wouldn't have it any other way! 


Linking up with

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Nuggets of Gold for First Week of May~ Music, Books and More~

Nuggets of Gold for First Week of May~ Music, Books and More~

May has arrived and there are green shoots and bright flowers popping up everywhere~ the trees are budding out, and (here at least) there are baseball games upon baseball games upon baseball games! (So many that my schedule blew up, and I missed posting last week! EEK!)

However, just now I happen to have a few minutes to share some Golden Nuggets with you all~ please let me know in the comments if you found anything interesting or new here! :)


I know I've mentioned Christ August a number of times~ his latest album, The Maker, was released last month, and I highly recommend it! However, what you may not know is that there is an "Unreleased" album of Chris' available on Noisetrade. There are some fun songs, some sweet songs, and it's *all* Chris (I don't have every song on this album uploaded to itunes, but a goodly number of them are). :)

The deal with Noisetrade is that you can download music for free~ then, if you love it, if you have funds available, etc... you can "tip" the artist. Sweet!

Here's a neat lyric video by one of our favorite artists (who we *haven't* seen in concert yet...) Jamie Grace. She's a fighter (she has Tourette's Syndrome). Great song!

Jamie Grace has released a new Album~ 
not  a free or discounted "nugget" but a great find, none-the-less.
My Eldest made a quick Irish Step Dance video for a fun challenge on Jamie Grace's Facebook page~ it was quite appropriate, as it was the day before she left on her mission trip to Guatemala~ Doing Life Big! (We goofed a little on the last clip by not having the music right by the camera, so it's not quite as loud, but the STEPs are loud!)

Now for a couple of Books~ click on the covers to go directly to Amazon~
some lighter fiction today...
YA Fiction
Free at the time of posting

Sweet WWII Romance
(I enjoyed this one)
Free at the time of posting
I'll call it good for now, as we're on our way out the door again!
Again, please let me know if you enjoy these posts, or find something new here! :)


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Real Life Press ~ Firmly Planted, Books of Moses, Part 2, Family Study Guide and Student Book (TOS Review Crew)

Are you familiar with Heidi St. John and her company Real Life Press ? I had heard good things about her, but had never had occasion to hear her speak, or see any of her materials first hand, therefore I was pleased to be sent the second set of books in the Firmly Planted Bible Study Series ~ the Books of Moses, Part 2 Family Study Guide  and the accompanying Books of Moses, Part 2 Student Book.  The books are available  in both digital and physical formats, both of which were sent to TOS Review Crew members. As you will see from the photos, I was sent physical copies for my review. 

The Firmly Planted Bible Study series is set up to be just what it says, a family devotional/Bible study, although it could be appropriate for other group study situations as well (just be sure to read and adhere to copyright information for the student books). Finding devotions that are appropriate for a wide range of ages can be difficult, which makes it especially handy that the Family Study Guide is set up to be read to/with a mixed age group.

Each lesson incorporates the Scripture for the lesson (generally ESV) directly in the text. The Bible stories are condensed (with the chapters and verses designated), which on one hand makes sense (saves space, and helps with focus), but can be a little confusing if one's children know the story well, and pieces are missing from the telling ("What? Wait a minute! What happened to___? Did I miss something?").  My oldest was concerned about not reading directly from the Bible when we first started, but the Daily Devotions do give the scripture references for the lessons, which relieved her on that point. 

There is a "Seed" for each lesson (The main idea) which is "Planted" in hearts via memorization (with an additional challenge for older children). A conversational discussion of the Scripture story "Waters" the seed.  

The Daily Devotionals each emphasize a section of the Scripture, directing the reader/listener to think about the "Seed" in relation to their lives. Next, there is a "Digging Deeper" section for upper level students that cross-references other verses and encourages deeper thinking and discussion. Each Daily Devotional ends with "Tasting the Fruit" which is the Life Application portion of the study. 

Once we completed reading/discussing the Scriptures, I gave my children some of the pages from the Student Book to further their engagement in the study (please note that families are allowed to copy pages for their own children, but in a group setting, a Student Book should be purchased for each child/family). Because I have children in 2 levels, and I wasn't planning to have them do every activity, I appreciate being able to make copies for my two older, and have my youngest only do select pages. 
My youngest had some questions to answer, as well as fun activities: crosswords, word-searches, mazes and more. There are also coloring pages for the very young, or those who enjoy coloring while listening to the lesson. I loved the variety of options for the younger set especially. The comprehension questions, the puzzle worksheets and optional activities mean that there is something for everyone. 
My older students participated somewhat in the Student Book activities (answering questions and filling out acrostics were some of the things they accomplished), but because they have outside Bible Studies with fairly heavy loads, I didn't have them do as much as my little guy. 
For more sample pages be sure to check out the links below. :) 

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Visit Heidi St. John on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say about this and other products from Real Life Press. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

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