I am so excited to begin my second year on The Homeschool Review Crew. I have been blessed to be able to receive free product for our homeschool in exchange for my honest opinion. One of the best parts of being on The Crew are the homeschool moms I’ve grown in relationship with over the last year. During the Christmas break, I got to review my first product — The Beginner’s Bible by Zonderkidz.
The Beginner’s Bible has been a best selling children’s bible for many years, with over 25 million products sold. It is the perfect bible for moms to read to children as young as 2, and perfect for young children around the age of six who are just learning to read. This beautifully illustrated bible has been redesigned with more vibrant, 3D illustrations that will keep young ones excited to read and be read to.
When I opened the package containing this bible, I immediately noticed the beautifully illustrated cover. The colors are vibrant and rich and the image sort of popped out at me. The bible itself is very sturdy and just perfect for little hands to hold. Contained within the rich and colorful pages are 48 stories from the Old Testament and 46 stories from the New Testament which provide hours of story-time fun with stories such as Noah’s Ark, Jacob’s Dream, A Baby In A Basket, Twelve Spies, Shepherds Visit, A Hole in the Roof, A Gift for Jesus and so many more!
This bible is very easy to read, with a large font, which is just perfect for this Nana’s eyes. Each story title has a scripture reference underneath. As I read through the bible, I couldn’t get over how the illustrations appeared to pop off of the page with every turn!
One of the things that I really loved about this bible is that there is a dictionary in the back which contains a short, easy to understand definition of every word that is in italics throughout the bible. This will come in really handy when the little ones begin to ask questions such as “What is Bethesda?” You will be able to tell them that it is a pool in Jerusalem where miracles sometimes happened.
Even though I believe in reading the bible to children at a very young age, I debated about whether or not to give this bible to my grandson for Christmas. He is just 18 months old and although he loves to sit and turn the pages of books and look at the pictures, he’s not yet sitting long enough to engage in story time, although we do try. So I’ve decided to save this for his birthday, which is in just a few months. This Nana is going to love reading The Beginner’s Bible to him as he gets older.
As a one-income family due to my husband’s disability, Christmas shopping can put a strain on a budget. I am a giver by nature and I enjoy finding the perfect gift for those I love. But I can quickly allow things to get out of control if I’m not careful. Even gifts of the smallest monetary value can add up and cause undue stress in a season where I should be experiencing an abundance of joy. This is why I love browsing Groupon Goods, especially during the holiday season.
I love the idea of shopping without leaving my home, and Groupon has something for everyone. Whether you are shopping for mom and dad, teens, toddlers, your girl friends, teachers or your boss, there are literally thousands of products to choose from, all at sale prices.
Most recently, I was checking out Bluetooth speakers for my teen girl and came across these nifty little waterproof speakers that you can use in the shower. These would make great stocking stuffers!
Recently I was searching for sweat pants for my boys, and came across so many more items I could consider as gifts for the men in my life.
If you still have last minute shopping to do, hurry on over to Groupon and check out all of the goods offered. I guarantee you will find gifts for everyone on your list and stay within your budget.
When I first came to know the Lord at the young age of 19, Amy Grant was one of the first Christian recording artists I came to know and love. I played her “Age to Age” and “Unguarded” albums on repeat in my car as I grew to know and love the Lord. I would shut myself in my room and sing, “Sing Your Praise To The Lord” and “El-Shaddai” until I lost my voice.
Through the years, I’ve enjoyed listening to Amy’s albums. I loved her Christmas album, “Home For Christmas” (the only one I own) so much that I was thrilled when given the opportunity to review her newest, “Tennessee Christmas”.
Unlike any of Amy’s other Christmas albums that are packed full of traditional hymns and songs about Jesus, this album takes on a more somber, melancholy approach to Christmas. Truly, it is an album for both those in relationship with Jesus who may be struggling through a hard season, as well as for those who have not yet come to know Jesus.
The songs on this album are peaceful, reflective and cause you to stop and ponder the season. Although there are a few joyful and upbeat songs, as well as a couple of remixed hymns, most of the songs on the album found me thinking about those who feel as if they have no hope. Even though some have asked where Jesus is in this album, I believe Amy has done a marvelous job in creating something for all mankind. I love what Amy told the Detroit Free Press,
“I’ve recorded a lot of Christmas music, but I thought, what I haven’t done is to consider somebody that spends their holidays alone,” Grant said, during an interview in Nashville, Tennessee. “I want to make a record for an audience of one. I want to tell one person ‘Merry Christmas’ and I want to be willing to sit there in the sadness too.” – Amy Grant
I really enjoyed this album. I love Amy’s duet with her husband, Vince Gill of “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. Her song, “To Be Together” gets me excited about being with friends and family for the holidays. You can listen to an audio version of the song below.
Amy is asking for fans to upload any videos you may have surprising loved ones for the holidays to social media. Those chosen will be part of a compilation video that Amy herself will share on her large social outlets! Post to your socials using the hashtag #TNChristmasSurprise!.
One reader will win a copy of Amy’s Tennessee Christmas on CD. Winners must reside within the Continental U.S. and have a valid email address for confirmation purposes. To enter, just follow the prompts on the giveaway widget below. *This giveaway will end at 9PM (Pacific) on Thursday, December 8th. If you do not win, you can purchase a copy here.
“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, 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.
When my children were growing up, we loved to play board games. We especially loved playing board games where the entire family could join in and play. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been playing Commissioned from Chara Games, which is unlike any other game we’ve ever experienced.
About Chara Games
Chara Games was founded in 2014 by Patrick & Katherine Lysaght, who had a desire to design innovative and fun games with Christian themes. Chara means unshakeable joy in the original Greek. I love their mission: building games that create joy by building relationships with God and people.
Commissioned is a historically-based, cooperative style board game for 2-6 players. Players act as Apostles of the early Christian Church and work together to strengthen their individual decks of faith cards, grow the church, collect the books of the New Testament, and overcome persecution. The game is played in rounds where players draw Faith Cards (ARM), face trials (LIVE) and expand their faith (MATURE).
Players take turns being the group’s elder and are faced with making decisions that affect the team. Together, players must achieve the scenario victory conditions before the Trial Deck runs out without losing 5 churches. There are 5 scenarios that cover the first 150 years of Church history and 2 difficulty levels (as well as a 1-vs-all variation).
You do not need to know anything about Christianity or history to play. Commissioned is recommended for ages 14 and up, and is noted to take about an hour to play.
I have to admit that when I first unpacked the game and began to read about how to set it up and play, I was completely overwhelmed. There is so much that goes into the game and I kept losing my train of thought. I had to call my husband over to assist me. Thankfully, Chara Games has provided a set up video that you can watch that will explain how to set up the board and run through various scenarios of play. Even so, I still had to have my husband by my side as I started and stopped the video multiple times trying to understand.
My husband and I played (or attempted to play) first and it took us a while to get the hang of it. We opted to play the “Acts of the Apostles” scenario on disciple difficulty as it is recommend for new players. In order to have a victory in this scenario we needed to have a church in every city and collect all 9 New Testament Word Cards. Not easy to do. Although total play time is about a hour, from set up to finish I have to say that it was at least an hour and a half, perhaps more, before we called it a day.
After my husband and I “practiced” playing a couple of times, I brought my son in (who is 13) and we tried to explain how to play the game to him and also had him sit and watch the video with us. To say he was confused is an understatement.
Here is is being a good sport after helping me set up the game.
I did not get very far in playing this game with my son. He was very confused and began to get irritated so I allowed him to step away. Since then, I’ve attempted to play with my oldest son, but he has the same issue with absorbing a lot of instruction all at once so I have yet to finish this game with either of my boys.
My husband and I have played 3 times, and while we haven’t won yet, we are going to keep playing and hope our boys will come around. I think the more we understand it, the better we will be able to help our kids understand it.
Overall, this is a very well made game with stunning artwork. I love that fact that it is historically based. I love that it’s a game with Christian values made by a Christian company. And, I will will love teaching my son that this game can be fun if it takes us a bit longer.
Does your family love cooperative board games? Check out Commissioned and let your family experience how things were done in the early church and learn a little history along the way.
Chara Games is coming out with a brand new game, hopefully by the end of 2016, called 3 Seeds. I am looking forward to checking this one out because it appears much easier and something my son may enjoy.
A long, long time ago when I was in elementary school, I learned something called sentence diagramming to help in my understanding of grammar. I don’t remember much about it, except that I thought it was fun and I learned a lot. This is why I was thrilled for the chance to review Sentence Diagramming: Beginning from The Critical Thinking Co.™
About The Critical Thinking Co.™
The Critical Thinking Co.™ has been creating award winning products since 1958 that help students achieve greater academic results with lessons that sharpen the mind. They offer physical books, ebooks, apps and software for students in pre-K through 12th grade in subjects covering science and technology, language arts, mathematics, writing, history, reading, critical thinking and test prep,
Sentence Diagramming: Beginning is geared for students in grades 3-12. This 72-page book encompasses 12 lessons and is perfect for logical and visual learners as an alternative way to learn grammar. The grammar lessons in Sentence Diagramming: Beginning are:
Simple Subject and Main Verb
Adverbs Modifying Verbs
Prepositional Phrases (Adjectival)
Prepositional Phrases (Adverbial)
Compound Direct Objects
Compound Predicate Adjectives and Nouns
For the purposes of this review, I received a paperback book, which retails for $12.99.
How We Used This Product
While we could have easily completed 2-3 lessons a week, we opted to focus on one lesson per week, mostly because of my son’s weakness in grammar and my desire to go slow so that he would grab a hold of what was being taught.
Each lesson is 4 pages in length. The grammar portions are briefly explained at the top of each lesson, followed by examples and plenty of practice for the student. The flow of each lesson is to:
Correct a diagram that has an error by diagramming it correctly.
Filling in the diagram for each sentence.
Writing your own sentence to match the diagram
So far we’ve made it through the first four lessons and have another 8 to go, which will most likely be the most challenging for my son. So far he’s scored 100% on each lesson, except for one, where he needed to make corrections due to what I would call careless mistakes (he knew the right answer, but got confused in his mind, or so he tells me).
The book contains perforated pages, and a very generous Reproduction of Copyrighted Material clause. Although I could have copied the pages before giving them to my son, I opted to just have him work in the book. It’s wonderful to know that if I had been using this book with multiple students that I would have the right to make copies.
All of the answers are contained in the back of the book, so I was careful to have my son working under supervision so as not to be tempted to peak at the answers.
Overall, we loved this book. It is helping my son to grasp basic grammar concepts without having him stress out about learning grammar. Because he is a mostly visual learner, seeing the sentences diagrammed makes the structure of the sentence easier for him to remember.
Here is a short testimony from my son:
I felt this book was very helpful. Before I started diagramming sentences it was hard for me to to understand a lot of grammar. But when I see the sentences diagrammed it’s like a light bulb goes on in my head and I can understand it. This book is very easy to understand too.