Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Math Whizz Review

I have four kiddos with varying levels of skill when it comes to math.  Each year is a guessing game as to whether or not it will be a good year in math for us, so the opportunity to review Whizz Education's 12 month subscription to Math Whizz was a quick YES for me.  Currently I have just one student using the program, my 6th grader.

Math Whizz

Consider Whizz Education your personal on-line math tutor.  With its artificial intelligence, it is able to adjust to each individual's pace and knowledge.  Since 2004 Whizz Education has serviced over 100, 000 student world wide and are now opening their doors to homeschool students with that same dedication and expertise.


With a quick registration and set up you are ready to begin.  Your child will take a placement test to determine what they know and what they do not know.  By allowing them to complete this test alone, you will have a more accurate view of their current level.  Let's face it, assessments are not the most fun but in this case it is essential, as the program will then adjust to your child's needs.

Once the assessment is completed and scored, you as the parent will receive an email letting you know what level your child is currently working at. 

You are then ready to have your child start the program.  Be ready- there is a lot to take in! 

A couple of quick facts-
  • The Math Whizz program is animated but not a silly mess of stuff, therefore it shouldn't annoy your slightly older users.  
  • You can change your profile character to one of 8 cute, animated icons.  Currently Colby is an ant man, go figure.
  • Weekly Activity Summary Goals pop up occasionally in chart form and you can "watch your forest grow" as you add more time to your work. There are bonuses that move you ahead quicker for extra time spent in study.
  • Math Whizz Buddies- You can enter your friends' user names in and be buddies online with fellow classmates or friends using the program.
  • In the My Study area, your child can decorate their area and  "buy" items with their points.  There you will also find the play area where you can interact with the things they have bought, such as feeding the animals or watering the plants.  You can also simply go to Explore the Study to see how many points you have or what games you have, as well as begin a lesson or see what is new on Math Whizz.  
  • The notice area will show your child how many kids are online and how many lessons have been completed, allows your child to send in jokes to be shared, and has occasional bonuses like posters to print off and holiday themed extras. You can also challenge kids around the globe from here.

  • Occasional company emails.  About three weeks into the program I received a second email to check on our progress and to remind me of a few areas in the program that we might want to explore.  I actually appreciated that, as I had not seen the replay button which allows your child to go back over a previously learned section!
  Getting to the meat of the program-

By beginning in the Topic bank your child can choose from multiple math topics such as problem solving, multiplication, and percentages and ratios.  Within each topic are numerous activities for your child to complete.  Once your child chooses a topic there will be a short tutorial on that subject.  The tutorial is not only in written format but also auditory, covering many learning styles.  You do have the option to turn off the sound as well if your child finds it a distraction.  You will also find a dictionary icon on the bottom left of the screen so that your child can look up any words they are not familiar with.

Additionally, you can begin in the tutor section that will direct your child from one subject to another, again going through instruction tutorials and then having them work similar problems.  By finishing a section your child will earn points and progress on their forest path.  If your child has had a difficult time in a particular area, that area will be revisited within a few lessons for more instruction and review.  In contrast, there is a skip button that will be unlocked if your child has answered enough questions correctly, allowing them to move ahead at a quicker pace.

Our experience-

 Not all "review" or "tutor" programs work well, but this one I am impressed with.  What I love most is that it adapts to your child's needs by having them taking the pre-assessment first.  Not wasting time on things we already know is a BIG bonus in our book!

Game-like programs are also not my favorite, but I feel that this one is very balanced and I will say my son has spent more time on the lessons than anything else, though working on adding point credits to buy a dragon has been a motivator for him, for sure!  Doesn't every child need a dragon as a pet?

Colby does have a tendency to just type in an answer and move on (percentages, anyone?) when he doesn't understand a new concept, but found out quickly it would not just make that particular lesson go away!  MOM WIN!  Yep, you do it until you master it.  Isn't that, after all, the homeschool way?

I also like that the Math Whizz can be done independently.  So much so that now Colby chooses on his own to hop on the program for a few lessons after our formal school time.  Admittedly, he did this several times day at first and had to even be told a few times to be done, but now has settled into more of a routine with a few times a week.  When we were in a more hurried schedule a few days, we substituted Math Whizz for his regular math which would have taken much longer to do.

*One caution, it seems here at Halloween time, the company automatically added extras to your child's "space" such as pumpkins and cob webs and eyes in a container.  I would love if that was an options you could delete if your family wanted to.

One of the reasons I like having this type of "tutor" program available is that they often become self checks for us.  Has my child been exposed to that?  Does he understand that?  Can he still work those problems when presented in a different way?  Math Whizz has allowed us to identify a few weak areas in our current 6th grade math knowledge and catch up a bit in a fun and fairly easy way.

Let's face it, if they are having fun while they are learning, they seem to learn faster and retain more.  What more could you ask for?

Over 30 additional reviewers have been using Math Whizz this past month- you can find their reviews by clicking on the banner.

Math-Whizz {Whizz Education Reviews}

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Indivisible- A Military Wife's Perspective

Movie theaters are not really my thing.  My family loves them, but me, not so much.  On the other hand, when I can watch a movie, especially one for review, in the comfort of my house, I am usually game.  After I heard about Indivisible being a "military" movie but more about the family and not just a shoot 'em up type movie, I was intrigued.

Indivisible is a faith based movie based on the true life story of Army chaplain Darren Turner and his wife, Heather.  Shortly after basic training, Darren is sent to Iraq to support a unit deployed there and is separated from his wife and three young children. Heather is left behind at home to "support" the spouses there. While the movie does depict the experiences the chaplain has while in Iraq, it is primarily a movie about his relationship with his family prior to and then following his deployment. It is also a movie about a crisis of faith, of questioning God, and fighting for a marriage that has been strained by the separation and stress of a war.


If you have been around Family Faith and Fridays for any length of time now, you know I am pretty careful about recommending movies.  I know everyone has different tastes and tolerance levels, therefore, I try to give you just the facts and a quick personal thought or two.  Unless a movie is just horrible, I do not ever want to assume what I like or dislike would be how you would feel as well.

That being said, I think Indivisible is a solid movie.  It is well done, has solid acting in it, and is not your typical sappy, faith-based movie.  The scenes are believable and the story is good.  It is based on a real life person, after all.

It was also hard for me to watch at times.  As a military wife who has had a husband deployed several times, it hit pretty close to home.  While I cannot tell you about my husband's experiences, I can tell you about mine.  The loneliness, the fear, and at times, the desperation Heather felt, I have experienced.  The way your heart skips a beat when your doorbell rings at odd times and the heartache of standing by a friend who has lost a spouse has been my reality.  So while the war scenes did not tug at my heart as much (yes, I did close my eyes during one intense part), the scenes back at home gripped my heart.  I can tell you the things you see the wives talk about and think are indeed things many military spouses through the years have thought about and said. 

Because of my perspective as a military wife, it is those scenes that I identified with the most.  But this movie also allowed me to see deployment from a different perspective- through the eyes of a man who is also experiencing the same separation but with different stresses and realities.  It opened my eyes to a whole different side of the husband wife relationship that is affected by war.  It also reminded me that my faith in God has undoubtedly carried me through our deployments.  God has used them to stretch us and grow us and ultimately pull us closer together.  May he get the glory!

Yes, my retired military husband watched the movie with me.  While he enjoyed the movie, he did have several critiques about it to include questionable uniform details as well as military protocol details.  Several times he said, "they would not have done that."  Trust me when I say this is not the first time I have heard that while watching a military movie.  

I would encourage you to go see Indivisible.  But I would also add this disclaimer- those who are sensitive to war issues need to be aware there are a few intense battle scenes, a scene with an injured child, and a death of a squadron member.  I would be concerned for anyone with PTSD to see it.  As a family who has lived just a tiny part of this life, I would be hesitant for my 16 year old son or my 20 year old daughter to watch it.

If you are looking for a faith based movie, minus the fluff, but big in the reality of war and military life, Indivisible will be one you enjoy.

Starring Sarah Drew, Justin Bruening, Jason George, Tia Mowry, and Madeline Carroll, INDIVISIBLE opens in theaters October 26. 

In case you haven't seen the trailer, here you go!

I have two Fandango movie codes to give away to a Family, Faith and Fridays reader.  Just leave me a comment here on the blog and tell me what is the last movie you saw in a theater.  A random winner will be chosen next 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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Our Legacy Library

For years it has been my dream to have a "library" in our house.  I pictured wall to wall books surrounding us, but more important to me were the things of Clarke's military career.

The military spouse community has a phrase they use often- the "I love me" wall.  Ok, I know that sounds harsh, but it is not really used as a mean term.  Instead it just refers to all the little (and big) things the military member has picked up along the way during their career.

Think pictures.  And plaques. And medals.  And certificates. And awards. And paraphernalia.  And more and more pictures.  

It can take up a lot of space, and quite frankly though I love much of it and it is quite meaningful to us, I did not always want it front and center in our living room.  So for much of our career it has been spread out between his work office and boxes in the garage.  Sad but true.

One of the must haves for me when we began to house hunt here in Arizona was an dedicated office space, which I choose to call a library because it makes me happy.  I knew it would be a blank space but I was ok with that.  After all, I have had pictures in my head of this room for years, just waiting to be made a reality.

OK, so sometimes our reality looks different than our fantasies, but that is alright.  Long story short, we did get a library and I did get some book shelves.  And I learned that my fantasies are VERY expensive so I did have to compromise and come up with a new fantasy. That is ok, too.

In the end, we spent two weekends together building bookshelves and then Ashton worked her magic and "staged" the shelves.  And we hung all those pictures and put out all that stuff.  It reminds me of a museum and I LOVE it!!  I may even spend more time in it than Clarke does, just saying.  And the boys can often be found in it doing school or just reading a book.

Shhh, don't tell I sneaked a picture of Ashton!
Almost every item in it represents some aspect of the last 26 years of our lives.  It speaks to who we are and what we have done, not just Clarke, but as a family.  There is something comforting almost about that, especially since we are still trying to figure out what it means to be a "civilian."  (Who knew that transition would be challenging?!)

Yep, a favorite dog space too!

As I type, here I sit once again in the library, and smile as I take in all the memories and realize what a legacy my dear husband will leave to our four children.  He has taken us on an adventure.  Some of those times were certainly more challenging than others, but all have been experienced together by a family that loves each other with our whole hearts and was willing to walk through the journey hand in hand.

I am thankful God allowed us the adventure, and is with us for this new chapter!


Friday, October 12, 2018

Adventure is Waiting

My older kids grew up on audio adventures, so it has been neat for us to continue that tradition with my youngest son, age 11.  Reviewing the digital version of Season 6: Underground Rising from Brinkman Adventures  was a treat that brought a big smile to his face.  Let's face it, who doesn't like a good adventure?

The Brinkman Adventures is a faith based adventure series featuring a family of missionaries, the Brinkmans.  Each story, about 26 minutes long, is based off the lives of real life missionaries. Some are recorded in two parts, as were two from this season.  Founder Ian Bultman and his production team hope to one day be able to support missionaries through their ever growing Beachglass Ministries which produces the Brinkman Adventures, both on CD and in digital version. In the meantime, they are inspiring future missionaries one story at a time.

Titles from season 6 include-
  • Dutch Underground (parts 1 & 2)
  • Twice Born Fly
  • I Wonder Why?
  • Free Burma Rangers (parts 1 & 2)
This 2 plus hour season is a change from their previous 4 plus hour sets, but I think is a more manageable series to listen to.

One neat thing about Brinkman Adventures is that by going to their website you can get the back stories to all of the adventures in each series.  This area often includes interviews from the real missionaries involved, pictures, videos and more.  In our favorite adventure in season 6, Twice Born Fly it also includes a video of a fly metamorphosis!  Also on the website you will find podcasts to listen to that will expand the adventures even more!

Our Use and Our Thoughts-
After a quick download of the adventures to my computer we were ready to listen!  Because of the relatively short length of each adventure, it has worked out well for the two of us to listen to these either right before or right after lunch, in between school subjects.  Despite the still hot weather here in Arizona, it provides some snuggle time with my boy.

I have to admit, I am not an auditory learner like my boys and have sometimes struggled with listening to audio dramas in the past.  This is not the case with Brinkman Adventures.  I do not know if it is due to the length of each one or how exciting and intriguing they are, but like Colby, I often find myself sitting on the edge of my seat to see what happens next.

My boys have never struggled with their listening skills (with audio dramas, that is) and love listening to Brinkman Adventures.  Colby will often listen to them while he is playing in his room, and even occasionally while reading a book, go figure.  They are also great for longer car rides around town or while off on an adventure ourselves.

We often differ on picking our favorite episodes, but such was not the case this time.  We both agreed that our favorite story from Episode 6 was Twice Born Fly.  For me, I just loved that the gospel was so clearly pictured using a story that the dad told his kids about a dream he had, and that it eventually led to the decision for his young son to be saved.  The conversation between father and son and what it means to be "born again" is precious and brings back memories of a conversation we had with our own son just a short year ago.  Colby loved the dream part of the story the best.  Not surprising as it involves a prison break out!  What is it with boys and their sense of adventure, right?!

Our second favorite was the I Wonder Why? adventure.  While the family involved started with heartache, the story follows their adventures of following God's lead to sell all they have and move to another country to help orphans.  Because Colby was adopted as a small child, this story gave us much to talk about!  We were not only able to discuss how hard it would be to sell all we have and move away from friends and family, but also what it means to help others and how that can look different to different people.  Orphan stories are sometimes hard to listen to, but for our family, it is another opportunity to discuss how the Lord has blessed our family and many others we know through adoption.  Another central theme to this story was forgiveness and changed hearts once we are saved.  Again, a great way to introduce some pretty deep discussions to your family time.

Ever so generous, The Brinkman Crew is offering our readers a discount through the end of this month!  Think about Christmas, my friends, it is just around the corner, and these would make great gifts!

Friends,  you need Brinkman Adventures in your life.  You don't have to just take my word for it- over 70 of our Homeschool Review Crew members reviewed Brinkman Adventures as well.  Click on the banner below to read what they had to say.

Brinkman Adventures Season 6 Reviews
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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Do You Know Your Bible? REVIEW

The Bible is a big deal in our house.  It is the basis of our faith- God's Word passed to us so that we might know Him, worship Him, and teach others about Him.  So when we were given the opportunity to review Books of the Bible At-A-Glance I was thrilled!  Books of the Bible At-A-Glance is just one of many Bible resources from  Teach Sunday School.

Also available are Sunday School lesson plans, craft ideas, games, hand outs, skits and plays and so much more. Teach Sunday School allows for home use as well as church and small group use.  It really is a one stop shop full of resources and you can print as many copies you need.

 So what is Books of the Bible At-A-Glance?
You could consider it your Bible cheat sheet.  Remember the days of Cliff Notes?  This is kind of like that- an overview of the Bible in a condensed, but thorough version.  While it should not replace your Bible reading, it can indeed enhance it.  All books of the Bible, that is 66 in all, are represented.

Each book has a dedicated page with all sorts of information packed into it.

  • Title
  • Order in the Bible- What book it is in order, whether in the Old Testament (39 books) or the New Testament (27 books)
  • Who authored the book- Included is the author's name, or ideas of who is speculated to have authored it if it is not for sure,  or simply unknown.
  • Dates Written- These are often approximate, but are noted if so, and help to give you a point of reference on a timeline.
  • Time period- This tells the complete time period the book actually covers in history if applicable.
  • Famous stories included- These are the accounts you will be most familiar with if you have any Bible knowledge.  
  • Most famous verses- These were gathered from the web of the most searched for verses.  In many cases they are ones you will be most familiar with and hear quoted often.
  •  Important points about the book- This is an outline of the book.

How we have been using  Books of the Bible At-A-Glance and what we think.

When we first got the pdf of Books of the Bible, I printed the file off and bound it so it would be easy to reference.  I did a quick perusal of it first and then put it aside until we could use it as a family.  Because we do nightly devotions as a family that includes Bible reading, I knew this would be a good resource for us.  Before beginning a new book of the Bible I am able to pull this reference out and read it to the family giving them a little background before we start.  This year we are reading the Bible chronologically and so we just began reading Esther.

Though we have read Esther many times together, this was a good way to remind the kids when it was written and why.  Included in the Important Parts About the Book section, it told that the events took place in Susa which is now a part of Iraq, so you get a little geography too!  By giving a general overview of the story, it helped us to anticipate some things that would happen.  This was especially good for our 11 year old, who obviously has not read through the Bible as many times as our 16, 21 and 24 year olds.  

One of the things we would like to begin doing is memorizing some of the verses the study lists.  We have been excited to see there are many we already know, but because this information was based on a web search, there are some verses we are less familiar with.  Take note that some verses are not necessarily ones that would point someone to faith if trying to teach the gospel to someone, but are occasionally ones that just speak of the main focus of that book or help to tell the story.  

I love this little reference book!  It is so easy to use and is perfect for a quick glance when you need basic information about a book of the Bible.  It is easy to use and understand so I would not hesitate to use it with younger kids as well.  Though we have used it for our family use, it would also be perfect to use with kids in a Sunday School setting, or even to pass out for adults in a Bible study for reference.

I have also been able to use this in my own personal Bible Study time to reference things I am reading and obtain additional information.  It is great to be able to have that information at my fingertips.

I think you will be blessed by  Books of the Bible At-A-Glance as well as the other phenomenal resources from Teach Sunday School. 
Books of the Bible At-a-Glance { Teach Sunday School Reviews}
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