Thursday, September 13, 2018

Unbroken: Path to Redemption Review

We are not really a television watching family, but boy, do we love our movies!  That is why there is always a lot of excitement around here when we get the privilege to watch and review a movie before it is released to the general public.

Such is the case with Unbroken.  We got to watch a special screening last month and I have been trying to wait patiently to let you all know about it.  Well, today's the day I get to talk about it, as it will be coming to theaters in a few days!

In case you are not familiar with the title, Unbroken, Path to Redemption is the sequel to the original movie made a few years ago titled Unbroken.  Both are based off the best selling book by Laura Hillenbrand based on the true story of Louis Zamperini, and the second movie picks up where the first left off.

The story is about Louis Zamperini, an Olympian and World War II hero.  After Zamboni's plane was shot down and he was found by the enemy after floating on a raft for days, he become a prisoner of war for years before returning home to California. That is where this movie now picks up.

While he seemed "unbroken" to those around him, Zamperini's life begins to fall apart due to post traumatic stress disorder.  Even after marriage and a job helping the government sell war bonds on a traveling tour, Zamperini turn to alcohol and becomes increasingly more violent and unpredictable.  The story follows his life, the conversion of his wife Cynthia at a Billy Graham rally, and ultimately the path of healing and salvation Zamperini finds. 

Zamperini and Billy Graham became friends and worked together for several years.

It is also a powerful story of forgiveness as he learns to forgive the very people who tortured him while he was a POW.

Watch the Unbroken Trailer

So what did we think?
It took a little convincing on my part to get my family to watch this movie.  While several had read the book, none of us had seen the first movie, and my daughter in particular was much concerned about this sequel being made by a different crew and starring different actors.  She was afraid that, even if you had not watched the first one, it would somehow seem disjointed.

I would have to say that was not our experience! Again, having not seen the original Unbroken, I feel the film crew did a good job with flashbacks and such to catch you up to speed with where the story was being picked up.  The acting was strong and the story line is powerful.  There are some pretty intense flashbacks as well as some slightly violent scenes when Zamperini is drunk, but I am particularly sensitive to both of those things.  I would not recommend this film for younger audiences- it does have a PG-13 rating.

While a Christian movie about grace and redemption, this is not one of those movies that forces "religion" down your throat.  It is however a movie that shows our need for Jesus and shows how stress and trauma can affect every area of your life.

All and all, it is a good movie and one I think you will enjoy. 

I have TWO FANDANGO ticket codes to give away!  Just leave me a quick comment of why you would like to see this movie and make sure I have a good way to get a hold of you if you are the winner.  We will draw a random name on Monday!

“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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Bible Biography Series for Kids!

I often get to review some pretty neat stuff, but this REVIEW has been an extra blessing for us.  Barbour Publishing has a series called the Kingdom Files Series, currently with six books, geared for ages 8-12.  We were given Who Was Jonah? and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus? to take a look at.

Other titles include-
  • Who Was David?
  • Who Was Daniel?
  • Who Wad Esther?
  • Who was Jesus?

Each book is about 90 pages long and full of black and white drawings with maps included.  The books are broken into three distinct parts- 

1. Fact file- which tells the character's name, where they were from, what they did for a living, what they did in the Kingdom of God, and more.  Timelines are also included in this section.

2. Action File- This is the Biblical account told in a child friendly way.  While the story is written as a narrative, story fashion, the author does not veer off the storyline original to the Bible.  Occasionally things are worded with "might have..." or "maybe..." but more often direct words from the Bible are used and then cited immediately.

Sprinkled throughout the story you will find text boxes labeled "clues."  These are little tidbits of information to further explain what is happening or give deeper insight.

3. Power up- This final section is the lesson portion of the book.   It takes what the child has learned from the story and helps them apply it to their life.    Examples from the Who Was Mary book include "Let your life glorify God" and "God is mighty and carries your burdens."  There is a Bible memory verse attached to each Power -Up for your child to hide in their heart.  There are 10 Power -Ups for each book.

How we used these and what we thought-
So as soon as these two books arrived, Colby, age 11, announced he was reading the Mary one first so I allowed him to do just that.  He squirreled it away in his room and read it over the course of a few days, brought it to me, proclaimed "That was great!" and wanted to know if he could read Who Was Esther next.  Note, that is not one we currently own, of course.  I decided to read Who Was Jonah? on my own before he could get his hands on it.  The boy is a book thief and there is always a small possibility he will run off with a book he likes and I won't see it for a while!  Jonah has always been one of my favorite accounts in the Bible.  Who out there wouldn't be able identify with the prophet who tried to run away from God when asked to do a hard thing!?  How often I want to choose to run away rather than obey and do what God is calling me to do. Power-Up #2 for Who Was Jonah is "don't be afraid."  What a great truth to teach our kids...and ourselves!

So, what did I think?  I really like these little books.  They are packed full of information and I love how they are written.  As you read you will feel that the author, Matt Koceich, is telling you the story, speaking directly to you, often interjecting his thoughts and ideas as little aside.  It is very conversational in tone, which I think often holds young readers' attention.

I love that these can be used as "just" a book on the shelf for your middle school kiddos.  Let's face it, there is a lot of inferior reading material out there and I like knowing that the books at my kids' fingertips are quality literature.  Since Bible Biographies are not often written for this level, these books fill a unique niche.

I would also recommend you use these books for Bible time with your kids as a family.  I imagine you could read the story together over the course of a few days in read aloud time.  I would then use each Power-Up point as a point of study, one each day or even one each week if you want to commit the verse to memory.  We have done scripture memory work often in our home, the kids are ALWAYS better at it than I am, and it always blesses us!

The Kingdom series could also be used as a classroom study such as Sunday School or small group settings for 8-12 year old.

The Kingdom Files

No matter how you choose to use The Kingdom Files Series from Barbour Publishing, I know you will be blessed to add them to your bookshelves.  God's Word and the lessons it teaches us about the God who loves us is always worth the read!

Kingdom Files {Barbour Publishing Reviews}
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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Comics, Anyone?

Just yesterday I was unpacking boxes of books into our new house and thought, hmmm, I wonder if one can have too many Usborne books?

Don't worry, I decided quickly that was a NO!  Thank goodness, because we were just blessed with a new one for review and it is a keeper- Write and Draw Your Own Comics.

Comics!  What more could make a 6th grader a happy camper?

This colorful, spiral bound, hard back book is 96 pages packed with fun!  It consists of 24 sections to teach a child step by step how to create comics and then provides the space to do so.  At the end you will find 4 pages with over 130 stickers to help enhance their art.

The book is really broken down into three parts.  The first part teaches you the "hows" of making comics.  Subjects include-
  • How to use this book
  • Comics: the basics
  • Making up characters
  • Drawing characters
  • Action drawings
  • Speech bubbles
  • Sound effects
  • Once upon a blank
  • Plotting
  • Rough planning
  • Pencils and ink

Each of those sections provide detailed instructions and examples and then space for your child to practice what they have learned.

The second part then provides ideas and places for your child to create their own comics and even has an appendix for them to list each of their comic titles for easy reference.  Themes include-
  • Mix and match comic
  • Good day, bad day
  • Superheroes vs robots
  • Dinos in danger
  • Pirates and treasure
  • Tiny adventure
  • Secret agents
  • Fantasy quest
  • How to be a cat
  • Time travel
Each theme has a page or two to get your child started.  These pages provide places to brainstorm,  gives them ideas to possibly use, and sometimes teaches a new skill to help them with that theme.  For example, the robots theme shows your child how to draw a simple robot.

The next 3-4 pages have comic box spaces for your child to use their imagination and complete the comic.  Around the perimeter of each page are cute drawings to further spark the imagination.

The last short part talks about how to create a cover for your comics and ends with a "few last tips."

How we used it and what we thought-
Basically, I just turned it over to my 11 year old, Colby, and let him have at it!  He was so excited to get started as he LOVES comics.  The only hitch we ran into was that he wanted to race through or even skip the "how to" pages and get right to creating.  Being the type A personality that I am I convinced him that learning a few tips from the pros first was probably a good idea.  Needless to say, he completed that first section in just three days.

After that I left him alone and just let him create at his own pace.  A few comics he has done in a short amount of time, while others he has worked on for several days.

I love that this is not only a reference book with instructions, but also a keepsake book that you can create in and then have a beautiful book with your comics and an index to find them.  I also love that after your child is taught some basics they are able to create on their own, but not left ALONE.  There are plenty of ideas and cute drawings to help get them started if they are stuck.  Let's face it, sometimes staring at a completely blank canvas can be frustrating for kids and adults alike!

Write and Draw Your Own Comics makes for such a fun activity and I think would be a great gift to give.  For homeschoolers it would be a great addition to your art credits, and for those who have kids that love to draw, well, they will be in 7th heaven no doubt!

Are you one of those who like me own many Usborne books?  It's ok, you can't have enough and you will need to add this one to your collection.  Trust me-Write and Draw Your Own Comics is a blast!


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

101 Doodle Definitions is a Hit!

It is always so much fun to review for Timberdoodle Co!  I mean, have you seen their catalog?  They carry solid curriculum and so many fun "extras,"  we have a wish list a mile long and the boys are always adding to the list!

We recently had the opportunity to review 101 Doodle Definitions which is part of the 5th Grade Curriculum Kit but can also be purchased separately.  This cute little book packs a punch with learning vocabulary.  There are 101 vocabulary words presented, hence the name, that are often found on tests.  With a word on each page, the student is given the part of speech, definition, and a sample sentence of how the word could be used.

After that there is a picture to correspond with the word, and step by step instructions on how to draw the picture.  A space is provided on each page for your drawing.  The concept is ingenious- "Don't just memorize, visualize."  By using the first letter of the word as the first step in the picture, the picture is then completed in about 3 to 6 additional steps.

Here is an example-

bombast(noun)- exaggerated speech that sounds like more than it actually means.

You begin by drawing a lower case b and then continue from there.

Pretty cool, huh?!

So how have we been using this?
As always, the timing was perfect for this review as we were stuck in an AirBNB for 3 months awaiting our move and had not brought enough school work to keep us busy!  When 101 Doodle Definitions showed up, we stared immediately with my 6th grade son.

Each day we would cover two words, reading through the word, part of speech, definition and sample sentence.  Then we would take turns trying to draw the word picture.  Of course, that usually turned into Colby drawing it while I looked on! ;)

An unexpected blessing is that he got so excited about learning new words and definitions that we began to quiz the family each night to see who else knew the definitions.  Colby takes great joy in knowing words the rest of the family does not, such as Bombast!

To make it even more fun, there was a large mirror behind the kitchen table at the house we were staying at, so we began to draw the words on the mirror in the evening to show everyone what we had learned that day.  Now that we are in our new house, it is back to a white board, but still fun.

 I LOVE this book and the way it teaches.  Let's face it, when learning is fun, more knowledge is often attained.  In addition for all those visual learners out there, me included, this is a great way to make learning easier.  While I think 5th graders and up are probably the best bet for this book, if you have a kiddo who loves art or is a lover of words, I am betting they would do just fine with 101 Doodle Definitions.  You may have to help them with pronunciation occasionally, as some of the words are not commonly heard ones.

This would also be a great way for an older teen to review vocabulary before an ACT or SAT test.  You just never know what words will show up on those things!

Be sure to check 101 Doodle Definitions out, as well as all the other fun stuff you can find on Timberdoodle Co's website.  You won't be disappointed and I bet you can come up with a wish list just as long as mine!


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Apologia's Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition Review

I am going to admit to you that I have never been a huge fan of health curriculum.  The same old "brush your teeth, get enough sleep, and don't forget to use deodorant" gets old and redundant year after year, and quite frankly seems a bit silly to me.  But of course, when Apologia Educational Ministries came out with their new high school curriculum, Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition by Doctor Laura Chase, I was intrigued.  It is Apologia so I figured it had to be worth looking into.  I was right!

We received the Health and Nutrition Basic Set to review which includes the textbook and student notebook. Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition is a 441 page hard back text book full of full color illustrations.  It is composed of 15 Modules and is intended for a full year study of health and nutrition.  Each module is broken into sections divided by On Your Own questions, which are meant to help review what the student just read.  The answers to the On Your Own questions are supplied at the end of each module.  Sprinkled throughout the reading are Think About This sections that delve in a little deeper with fun or interesting facts.  Think of them as commercial breaks.  You will also find Projects, (think of them as the "experiments") throughout the readings, allowing the student to think about or even work out the information they are learning.

Modules include-
  • Who Am I and Why Does Health Matter?
  • Physical Influences on Thoughts and Feelings
  • Mental and Emotional Stability
  • Interpersonal Harmony
  • Treasuring Your Senses
  • Processing Nourishment and Hydration
  • Food Science I- Macronutrients
  • Food Science II- Micronutrients
  • Let's Look at What You Eat
  • Delivering the Oxygen
  • Let's Move
  • You're Stronger Than You Look
  • At War With Infection
  • Peace in Difficult Times
  • The Gift of Reproduction

The accompanying student notebook is loaded with amazing stuff and is an integral part of this program.  You can purchase additional student notebooks if you have more than one student using the program. Each module has a place for note taking, places where the book module questions can be answered, places to complete the projects, and study guides to fill out for test preparation.  Exams for each module are found in the back of the student notebook, and the answers can be accessed from the books extra site.  Most important in my opinion is the Suggested Daily Schedule found in the student notebook.  Assignments are listed to be completed three days a week for 32 weeks.  This includes the readings, On Your Own sections, projects, study guides and exams.  If you decide to work though the program daily, it can be completed in a semester.

Apologia also offers a free activity book, Whole-Health: God's Design for Your Body, Mind, and Soul, that you can download to enhance your learning.

Please note- Apologia is a Christian based vendor.  Because health can address some hot topics, this is one of the many things I appreciate about this curriculum.  From their FAQs concerning this program-

We have worked hard to provide information in both medical and Christian terms so that
controversy may be minimal. We do not openly support any one main view because we recognize
that each family has the right to decide what is right for its family members.

How We Used It and What We Thought-
Ok, I still may think most health curriculum is a bit silly, but not this one!  WOW! Because of our recent cross country move and crazy transition we are only three weeks in, none the less it is still a WOW! I am impressed, and yes, we are still currently using this as a high school health credit for Salem, my 16 year old 11th grader.  It is well laid out and easy for him to follow alone, so he just checks the suggested schedule and completes the assignments on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Taking notes is something fairly new to my son, so I am thrilled that the student notebook has a dedicated space for that, and he is thrilled that all other work can be done in the same notebook.  Organization is important to him and so not having multiple composition books for one subject makes him happy.

I love that Apologia chose to begin the study with intriguing subject matter and projects that would appeal to a teenager.  One of the first things discussed is personalities and then you take a temperament test.  This we did together, as it asks to have someone confirm your results. We were so interested in Salem's results that we decided the whole family should take the test.  Trust me when I say it can prompt some pretty interesting family discussions!

While we are clearly not at the end of this study, I do want to address the last chapter on Reproduction for just a moment.  Let me be clear in saying this is intended for a mature teen.  Reproduction is discussed honestly and with pictures of the male and female reproduction systems.  Virginity, pornography and STDs are also discussed.  This may be a chapter you choose to work through with your teenager if you are uncomfortable with them doing it alone.

Also from their FAQs-

We also want to make sure that parents are aware that we respectfully cover other issues such
as drug abuse, pornography, and the act of marriage. We live in a culture polluted by sexual
dysfunction. It is our intent to tell the truth to teens about the beauty of married sex, the developing
baby, and being parents. We want to warn them about the dalliance into immodesty, pornography,
and casual sexual activity. This is why we have stated that mature students should take this course.
Parents have every right, and we support their decision, to skip certain materials in the book. 

I did think I could use this curriculum with both of my boys at one time since our second son is a 6th grader and reads at a high level.  That being said, we did the first week together, reading out loud, and then chose to allow our 11th grader to continue without his younger brother.  While I have no doubt the younger brother would have gotten some things out of the information, much of it was over his head.  It is because of that and some of the material in The Gift of Reproduction module, that I recommend you sticking with this program for your high schoolers only.  

Honestly, it is no surprise to me that we love and will continue to use Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition for the rest of the school year.  Apologia Educational Ministries is a wonderful homeschooling resource and has never let us down!

Health and Nutrition Basic Set {Apologia Educational Ministries Reviews}
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