Sep 19, 2017

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Let's Go Geography

Because of the fact that we get a voice in the reviews we do for the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we usually genuinely enjoy the products we receive. Even so, some of the products we love more than all the others. Let's Go Geography is definitely one of those products!

Several years ago, when my kids were little, I did a couple years of World Geography with them. It was a lot of fun, but it was so much work for me! I did a lot of research and pulled together a ton of different resources from various books and all over the Internet. The results were worth it, but still, so much work!

So when I first laid eyes on Let's Go Geography, I was thrilled to find the same sort of study that we had done, only all the work had been done for me!

Let's Go Geography

Let's Go Geography is intended for Kindergarten to 4th graders, but I did it with my 5th and 6th graders with success. 

As you can see on the image below, not all 19-some countries of the World are covered, but a lot of them are. You work at the rate of one country per week with review weeks and break weeks thrown in at regular intervals. At this time, only the first year is ready for purchase, but she is working hard on the other two years. 

Let's Go Geography
Let's Go Geography is an online program and you definitely need consistent Internet access to be able to use it effectively. All of the lessons are online. It is easy to download them as a PDF, but you still need access to do many of the activities. I found it easiest to download the lesson, print what I needed to print and then refer back to the PDF to access all the links and information I needed as we did the work.

As a courtesy, just in case you need it, each week you are automatically emailed a reminder with a link to the site. Or you can stay logged in and go straight to that week's lesson.

The activities in each lesson follow a predictable pattern. For each country you will find:
  • a brief list of facts like the capitol, largest city, official languages, population and size
  • mapping work
  • flag work
  • informative videos
  • the national anthem and sometimes other music
  • coloring page
  • craft
  • notebooking page
  • other links to fun facts
  • the Dewey Decimal number for that country to help you find books at your library
  • photographs of the country and its famous landmarks
There are also some fun extras like the front page of the Travel Journal. There are four different options to choose from. This was Abbie's favorite.


There is also a PDF file for printing your child a Passport. My upper elementary/middle school kids were not impressed with this, so we didn't print them, but when they were younger they would have been all over them!

The lessons are designed to do in order although it is possible to skip around if you are so inclined. We knew from the beginning that this would be our geography program all year, so we just started at the beginning and went in order.

It was so easy to implement! I downloaded several weeks' worth of lessons at a time. At the beginning of the week, I would look at the file, print what needed to be printed, and pull out any books we have about that particular country. (I tell you we have a lot of geography resources!) Then each day when it was time for geography, I would open the file and we would work our way through it.


The kids had a blast. They were able to work 90% independently, which is a plus for them. They were also able to do the assignments in their own creative ways.


The notebooking pages were their one dislike, but I'm a meanie mom and made them do them anyway.


The mapping exercises were my favorite. They followed directions to mark their maps. Then I asked them questions that they used the information on the map to answer.


My one complaint was about the flags. I had to print three flags each time, even though I only needed two, which I felt was a little wasteful of ink. I wish the flags had been all on one sheet so I could just print several countries at a time and then cut them out as we needed them.

Abbie loved the coloring pages. She put her whole heart into coloring them so beautifully!


I think it was cool to have all the videos and to be able to see what life is like in the different countries. I also liked the coloring pages!

I got to figure out what it was like in other states and countries. My favorite part was the coloring pages, I liked those a LOT! I also liked the videos.

I highly recommend Let's Go Geography! I loved it. I really wish this had been around when my kids were younger so we could have thoroughly enjoyed all three years. It would have saved me so much work!

It is super easy to use. You can just open and go, or you could use this as a starting place and add in lots of books and games and puzzles. Or you can just pick a week or two to go more in depth. It is very versatile. 

Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}

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Sep 18, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Imagine


My youngest child, ten-year-old Abbie, has recently turned into quite a bookworm. She loves to read a wide variety of books, but right now she prefers simple chapter books with exciting story lines. She was thrilled when I told her that I needed her to review Imagine... The Great Flood by Matt Koceich.

Published by Barbour Publishing, Imagine... The Great Flood is the first book of a new series. Matt Koceich, a missionary and schoolteacher, is writing this Christian kids series of Biblical adventures for kids ages 8 to 12.

IMAGINE... The Great Flood
The story is about Corey Max, a ten year old boy who is faced with the prospect of a move across country. He isn't happy about leaving his home and his friends and the tale begins with him complaining to his mom about the move. His mom tells him he needs to trust God, but he is struggling to do so.
When his dog runs away into the woods, Corey chases after her and is mysteriously sucked into the past. The far distant past. The early days of Genesis, in fact. 
He quickly meets Shem, Noah's son. Yes, Noah, of "Noah and the Ark" fame. Shem invites Corey to help him gather animals for the ark. In the midst of this endeavor, Corey is attacked repeatedly by the Nephilim and must learn to trust God for his very life.
Abbie grabbed hold of this book and devoured it quickly. She reads books by chapters and she would often come to me and exclaim over the cliff-hanger endings of various chapters. Then she would start reading again. She pretty much couldn't put the book down until she had finished reading it.
Once she was done, I was able to pick it up and read it. The reading level is definitely upper elementary so I was able to finish it in a single sitting. 
I found that it was a good book with a gripping story line. It was easy to be drawn in and keep reading just to find out what was going to happen to Corey. There was high drama all the way to the end. 
I did struggle some with the historical inaccuracies, though. Shem tells Corey that God told Noah to put two of each animal on the Ark. An incorrect detail that a lot of Sunday School stories do tend to get wrong.
Also, Shem has to run to make it to the Ark on time, which is a touch of artistic license with the timeline, since God closed the door to the Ark before it started raining.
Artistic license was also taken with the Nephilim, who are described as evil giants trying to keep Noah from getting the animals on the Ark. This isn't exactly the impression the Bible gives us of the people.
Otherwise, I found the story to be fun and creative. I always love Biblical fiction because it helps me conceive of the story and the people from a viewpoint of: this actually happened. It makes the story about real people instead of just the rote tales I have heard my entire life.
I was happy to be able to give my daughter a Bible story for kids to enjoy. We used the details as a discussion starter and she enjoyed going back to the Bible to compare and contrast truth and fiction.
I asked her what she thought about Imagine... The Great Flood and she said:
I liked it because it was showing you what it would be like if maybe you were to get transported back to the Great Flood. Or what it would be like if you were there. I wish the story didn't stop at when he finally reached the Ark. I wish it would have gone all the way to the part where Noah sends out the doves. I feel the book was trying to teach me about faith. Corey learned to God was in control so he should trust and obey Him. 
But you don't have to just take our word for it, click on the banner below to see what our Crew mates had to say!
Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}
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Sep 15, 2017

Old Poetry

I was looking through old files and came across these poems the kids wrote years ago. Enjoy...

by Nate 
I want to go fishing
I hear the water swishing
But someone stole my tackle box
I need more lox.

Rainy Days    
by Kaytie
                                           Today is boring                                         
The rain is pouring
I yearn for skating  
Simply stating   
The rain splashes my gate 
Making me wait         
I play a game          
Watch the rain         
I wish it would stop     
Or else I may pop        
The sun breaks the clouds    
I run around    
It's gone away 
My rainy day!
                                                                        My Sheep                                                                          
                                                           by Abbie                                                                
                                            I asked my sheep to sweep                                                     
                                              And all she did was sleep.                                                      
I asked my sheep to bleat       
But all she did was eat.

Goats and Boats
by Daniel
There was some goats
That ate some boats
It made their tummy
Feel very crummy
They went to bed
But they still aren't dead
Since I lived by the sea,
They came to see me.
I gave them some honey
For their tummy.
Now they are glad
Not at all sad,
But those silly goats
No longer eat boats.

Sep 14, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Unauthorized

We love games around here. The kids play all the time. I play often, and sometimes, we even talk the dad into playing with us. When we learned to play Unauthorized by Chara Games, he had no choice but to join us.

Chara Games was founded by a couple in 2014 with the goal of creating games that encourage joy and relationships. Unauthorized is their third published game. All of their games encourage awareness of church history without espousing any one particular doctrine. So you can play and learn without worrying about your kids being taught something you do not believe. 


At first glance, Unauthorized is a simple game. It is a card game in a sturdy cardboard box with Role Cards, Reference Cards, and a deck of Experience Cards. It also, of course, has a booklet with instructions. It is meant to be played with 6 to 12 players, which is why the Dad was pressed into service. 

The object of the game is to either grow or extinguish the Church. Players' loyalties are determined by the Experience Cards that they are dealt. Their loyalty can be swayed by the actions of other players. Some of the Experience Cards are Wild Cards, so certain players can determine their loyalty, at least some of the time, with the use of these Wild Cards. 


At the beginning of the game, each player is dealt a Role Card. This card not only assigns loyalty in certain cases (Police and Pastor) but also tells each player what they can do during their turn. Some of the roles are: Teacher; Rebel; Clerk; Thief. There are ten roles, so depending on the number of players, you might or might not have all of the roles. If there are more than seven people playing then you need two Policemen and if more than nine people are playing you need two Pastors. This ensures that each game is unique and interesting!

The game lasts four rounds, which keeps it short and exciting. The winning team is the team who has the majority at the end of the game. Executed players do not count for either side. The Church also has to have at least one player not in prison. The State wins if there is a tie or if all the Church members are in prison.

Initially, the game seemed complicated with a lot of confusing rules. However, we just jumped in and played, referring to the instruction booklet as we went. Sometimes, we did something wrong. But that was okay. We either fixed it as soon as we noticed or we fixed it in the next game. By the end of the second game, we had a good grasp of the game and could play it quickly and easily. 

The game box says ages twelve and up, but my ten and eleven year olds had no problem grasping and playing the game as quickly as the rest of us. 

It was fun not always knowing who your opponents were or who you should try to sway to your side. It was fun to be the mysterious neutral who could go either way. Daniel especially had fun as the Policeman when he got to execute me, the Pastor. See the expression on his face? 


We highly recommend this game! It is easy to learn but challenging to play. Strategy is involved, but also luck of the draw. It's complex but doesn't drag on. We could usually play several rounds before any kid got restless. It's a great game for the whole family!

Unauthorized {Chara Games Reviews}

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Sep 13, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Carole P Roman

We love books around here and some of our favorite books are those by Carole P. Roman. She knows how to pack an entertaining book full of information! We were asked to review four of her books: 
Books by Carole P Roman
If You Were Me and Lived in... Viking Europe is a seventy-six page, soft-cover book. It is laid out with text on one page and a lovely illustration on the facing page. The pictures look like chalk drawings and my children enjoyed them very much.
It is full of information about the Vikings. We learned where they lived and how they spread around Europe. We learned about their food -- what they ate, how they obtained it and how they prepared it. We found out about clothing, lifestyles, and how men and women and children were expected to behave. We explored their culture through feasts and games and rituals. Their religion and their historical figures were discussed. And there was much, much more. 
Books by Carole P Roman

If You Were Me and Lived in... Kenya is soft cover book with twenty-seven pages. It has text on one page with a illustration on the facing page. The first illustration is a map of Kenya with the capital city, Nairobi, marked. The illustrations are simple but colorful drawings of Kenyan people living their lives. 


The text is full of information about Kenya and its people. The reader learns where Kenya is found in the world, and about the Maasai. There are some vocabulary words (mom and dad), as well as common names. Currency, wildlife, food and games are discussed. There is also a page about holidays. 

For both Kenya and Vikings, a pronunciation guide is provided in the text as well as in a list at the end of the book.  

Books by Carole P Roman

If You Were Me and Lived on... Mars is a forty-three page, soft-cover book. Each page has both text and full color illustrations. 


This is an imaginative book set in the future, when, presumably, Mars has been colonized by humans. This story is more science-based with information about the conditions on Mars, how long it would take to travel there, and how we would have to invent and adjust in order to survive there. 

Books by Carole P Roman

Oh, Susannah: Things That Go Bump, is a different sort of book than the others. Rather than being outright educational, it is a fictional chapter book. Susannah, the main character, is eight and afraid to sleepover at her best friend's house. The story covers many people in Susannah's day who are all afraid of various things. Eventually, Susannah learns some big lessons about fears and what should be done about them. This is not a scary story and would be great for an anxious child to explore what fear is and how we should face them.


As I said before, we love Carole P. Roman's books! My kids can read them all easily on their own, but I put the educational value of these books to good use. 

My teenagers are studying Africa right now in their high school Geography course. Now, If You Were Me and Lived in... Kenya is not a high school level book. But they loved reading it to get a little different view on one of the countries in their current continent. It added a little fun to their day. :) 

We have used several of her geography books over the years. They are an awesome supplement to any elementary course!

I read If You Were Me and Lived in... Viking Europe aloud during our group school time, a little each day because we are just about there in our history lessons. This book isn't a high school reading level either, but it was so full of information that we feel it added a ton to our study! We know a whole lot about Vikings now!

The other two books didn't really go along with anything we are currently doing in school, so I just let the kids read them for fun. Because that is a great way to use these books, too!

We all highly recommend Carole P. Roman and all of her books no matter how old your kids are!

Oh Susannah, Bedtime Stories, Captain No Beard, If you were Me ... {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

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Sep 9, 2017

Carlsbad Caverns: Our Labor Day Field Trip

Even though it is a state away, Carlsbad Caverns is a day trip for us. We were supposed to go camping on Labor Day weekend, but weather changed our plans. So we gave the kids four options of what to do instead. Those options were, literally, North, South, East, or West. The kids chose West.


At the opening of the Caverns. This was actually after we had come back out. They don't even look tired!!!


I love looking at all the formations in the Cavern. They look like tiny scenes from dramatic books.


An underground pool. 


This looked like a big, creepy idol from Bible times.


This one is called Lion's Tail.



And this one is Whale's Mouth.


They were looking at the ceiling, which looked like cirrus clouds. 

It was a very fun day, even though we were exhausted after walking downhill all that way and then standing in line for 45 minutes waiting on the elevator to take us back up. 


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