TOS Review: Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels”

Drive Thru HistoryIt has always been a dream of mine to travel to the Middle East and explore the places where Jesus walked. Unfortunately, due to life and budget restraints, that will probably never happen. However, this review offered me and my family a chance to experience those places anyway. The DVD set Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” from Drive Thru History® will take you on an amazing adventure through Biblical history.

Drive Thru History The GospelsIf you are familiar with the series, you may know the host, Dave Stotts. He is your tour guide as you watch the DVDs, taking you through the country and explaining the importance of each place. The set includes 18 episodes, each 30 minutes long, and they explore about 50 sites mentioned in the Gospels!

Drive Thru History The GospelsWe love history in our family anyway, but even if you aren’t huge fans, I think you will still find this series exciting. Dave’s presentation is very very good. You can sense his enthusiasm for where he is and it makes you feel excited too. My son thought it was really cool to “see” so many of the places he has read about in the Bible. I think it almost made it seem more real to him, less like a collection of stories, and more like a real history book. I mean, my son knows that everything in the Bible is real, but there is something about seeing the actual locations that makes it more so somehow.

I also liked that each episode was only 30 minutes long. This made it easy to work them into our schedule around the other things we were doing. Some days we watched one episode and then picked up watching another later in the week. However, one one day when my son wasn’t feeling well we watched several episodes back to back. I also like the fact that the series has such broad appeal. It is aimed at grades 5 and up, but I easily think you could watch this with the whole family, and with younger kids, use a story Bible to share the stories of what happened in those places with them.

I also think you could easily add this to an existing Bible study or go ahead and just read the Gospels themselves as you watch the series. There is something about making that connection between what you are reading and the images of the actual places that make it seem deeper and more real. The DVD series itself comes with a study guide that includes scripture quotes, a summary of each section, and questions you can use for discussion if you wish.

We would always talk after each episode, sometimes using the study guide as a starting point. Other times we would break out our Bibles and go read the parts of the Gospels that correspond with that particular episode, and I swear, each time we did that it was like we got something new from it, even though we’ve read those same chapters over and over again.

My family really enjoyed the Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” series. In fact, I’m seriously considering getting some of their other series to watch in the future. We would definitely recommend this if your family wants to know more about the life that Jesus lived.

To learn more about this series, connect with them on social media here:

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TOS Review: CompuScholar, Inc

CompuScholar, Inc.My 10th grade son is a techie, and he particularly loves gaming. At some point, he might like to design and create games of his own, so learning about computers is important to him. I want him to have the ability to write programs, but I am so far from being able to do that, it’s not even funny! For this review, I was excited to have him check out the Java Programming course from CompuScholar, Inc.

CompuScholar, Inc. Java ProgrammingThis course is designed for high school students, especially those interested in taking the AP Computer Science exam. The course page offers study resources to help prepare students for the exam, and the lessons go in depth into topics like getting started with Java, working with strings, user input, debugging, and much much more.

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Worried that you have no idea what any of that means? Don’t be, I don’t either. Fortunately, this online course does all the teaching for you. Of course, if you are already fluent in computer programming language, you could certainly help your child through the program, but experience on the parent’s part, is not necessary! (thank goodness)

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We found the Java Programming course to be very user-friendly. It is divided into roughly 27 chapters, with individual lessons for each chapter. Lessons include instruction (video or text), assignments, and quizzes. When your child logs on, they simply click on the chapter they are working on and get started.

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I appreciated the fact that the video lessons were pretty short, which is good for boys with short attention spans. However, even though the lessons may not be long, they are full of information. That’s why it is also nice to have a text version of the lesson available as well. If my son had trouble remembering something, or didn’t quite get something, he could watch the video again and/or go read the lesson text as well.

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The quizzes were great for me as a homeschool teacher. In high school, I do think it is important to record grades and things like that. Having everything graded for me made it very easy for me to keep track of how he was doing, and also makes it easier for me to track credits for high school. Students have two attempts at every quiz, so if my son did not do well, I had him review the lesson and take it again. Each chapter also features an exam at the end that reviews all the lessons.

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The part my son enjoyed the most was probably the activities. Some of them were complicated, but that’s what I would expect from a course at this level. He did have me read over the directions with him on a couple of assignments, but once he understood the directions, he was able to complete the assignments on his own. I felt like the assignments offered him a great opportunity to practice what he was learning. After finishing this course, I feel like he would be able to move into further computer programming courses at our local community college with a solid foundation to build on.

My son enjoyed the Java Programming course from CompuScholar Inc., and as a mom, I feel like it was a very strong course for a high school student. We are going to review the AP resources and consider signing him up for the test. CompuScholar offers multiple pricing options for this course, from monthly to yearly payments and self-study and teacher-led courses.

To learn more about CompuScholar Inc., connect with them on social media here:

CompuScholar Inc. on Facebook

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To learn more about this, and the other courses our reviewers got to check out, like their Web Design and Digital Savvy courses, click here:

 

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TOS Review: Peggy Consolver-Author

Peggy ConsolverEven though my son is in 10th grade, I am always looking for ways to weave some read-aloud time into our schooling. Historical fiction has become one of our favorite genres, which is interesting because it wasn’t when we started homeschooling. And I always love when a book successfully weaves Biblical history and an exciting story together. For this review, we got a chance to read Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer by Peggy Consolver-Author.

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver}This book tells the story of the Gibeonites who approached Joshua in an attempt to protect their city from the eyes of a young shepherd boy, Keshub. I imagine Keshub is much like any young boy of his time, loyal to his family and thirsty for adventure. While his family is known for their pottery work, which Keshub helps with when necessary, he daydreams of being a traveler or trader and seeing faraway lands. When visitors come in from other towns, he listens breathlessly to their stories.

peggy consolver

When a caravanner who frequently stays with his family comes to town and starts talking about the Hebrews in the desert, it sets the whole town wondering who they are and what they are up to. Stories of ruined towns and ended kingdoms filter through, further raising the tension. Through it all, Keshub’s father and uncles try to keep the town calm, along with Sir Ghaleb, a local soldier.

Along the way in this adventure, Keshub also goes to school with the other local boys to learn how to fight with swords, boys, and slingshots. He meets the son of a king of a neighboring kingdom and helps him escape his father, faces off with a local bully, tries to earn the respect of his brothers, and he also faces his own dangers protecting his flock in the fields. Through it all, Keshub develops his own questions about the God of the universe and what is real and what is not.

Without giving away more of the story, I just want to say, even if you are familiar with the ending, this book is definitely worth reading. The way Peggy Consolver tells the story, it all flows together so beautifully. Her character descriptions really pull you in, giving life to a familiar plot in an entirely new way. While I knew the story of Gibeon (and so did my son), after reading this book, it was like we were really able to see it through the eyes of people who experienced it.

There is also a study guide that goes along with the book. It includes all kinds of information related to each chapter. My son found it interesting to check out the links which showed videos of things like how to square lash with a rope, the medicinal properties of honey, information about the culture at the time of the story, maps, and much more. I didn’t push the study guide very much, I mainly let him use it for the topics he was interested in, but I can tell you that it’s not a like a typical study guide with a bunch of questions and answers, this one contains all sorts of additional information that your kids will likely want to explore.

I used this book as a read aloud for my son at the start of our school day. I found that if I tried to stop at only one chapter, he quickly begged me to read more. I think you could certainly tie this book into your history studies if you wanted, but you could also read it just for fun, like we did.

To learn more, connect with the author on social media here:

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TOS Review: Memoria Press

Memoria Press

I’ve always loved studying languages, and my son has an interest in language, history, and the Bible. For this review, we got to check out the First Form Greek Complete Set from Memoria Press, which seems like a great combination of all of those! This set is aimed at students in 7-12 grades and comes with so much stuff! You get a teacher’s manual, student text, student workbook, flash cards, and quizzes and tests book, answer key, pronunciation CD, and instructional DVD. There is so much to dive into, I had to take a couple of days to work it out in my head before we could start using it.

First Form Greek Complete Set
Grades 7-12

First of all, I want to say this program is extremely thorough. Beginning with the teacher’s manual, it takes you through each part of a lesson with examples and tips for how to help your students along. I appreciated this because I don’t have a ton of experience in Greek, and it was nice to have everything broken down for me. Lessons are consistent in how they are broken up, so once you get into a rhythm, things flow pretty smoothly. The lessons in First Form Greek are scheduled to take place over five days, but I think you could easily adjust this once you get comfortable with the program.

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The student text is broken into 26 lessons, or five units, covering the declensions and different parts of speech. I found the instruction to be pretty clear, but if something was too confusing, we simply watched the lecture that accompanied the lesson on the DVD. That’s what I mean by saying this a very thorough set, it has multiple layers that you can combine to make the program fit your student.

After completing the lessons, my son would work his way through the student workbook. Sometimes he needed help with some assignments, which was fine. If he needed to review something I let him go back to the book or DVD to figure it out, because I always feel like finding the correct answer for something you are unsure of helps you to learn.  I admit, we did slow down the pace a bit, to about 3-4 days per week depending on the subject. I don’t want to rush my son through this because I want him to really soak it up.

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The quizzes and test book is another nice addition to the program, especially at the high school level. At this point, I do like to have test and quiz grades for my son, since I want to count courses for credit, and it’s nice to not have to make them up on my own. I think First Form Greek is a solid program for a high school student or an advanced middle schooler, or even an adult (like me) who has wanted to further her understanding of an ancient language that played such a big part in the world. As my son has been working through this program, and I have been grading his work, I find myself learning alongside him! This has opened up new avenues for me as I begin to see the patterns in the language, especially when it comes to Bible study, as I often like to look up words or phrases, and many places include Greek translations!

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If you would like to learn more about this program, connect with Memoria Press on social media here:

Memoria Press on Facebook

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To find out more about First Form Greek and the other products the Crew Review team got to check out, click here:

 First Form Greek, Iliad/Odyssey and American History {Memoria Press Reviews}

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TOS Review: Creating a Masterpiece

 

Creating a MasterpieceArt education is one of those areas I struggle with. I am one of those non-artistic people. I tried to do one of those “paint nights” with my girlfriends and my painting was terrible!! However, I believe arts education is important, and necessary when a child is in high school. So, I was happy to get to review the monthly plan from Creating a Masterpiece with my 10th grade son.

Creating a MasterpieceCreating a Masterpiece offers online art education for students of all ages. There are programs to suit younger and older kids, and you can choose different projects and mediums to explore. Projects range from Beginner level (which are usually one lesson) to Level 5, which may be three lessons or more for one project. Students can experiment with watercolor, acrylic, sculpting, charcoal and pencil drawings, pastels and more.

Creating a MasterpieceEach lesson features step by step video instruction, and the teacher is very clear, with a pleasant demeanor. This is especially important for my son, who easily loses interest when an online teacher speaks in a monotone voice and goes on and on. You can tell the instructor enjoys art and is enthusiastic about the projects.

My son wanted to get into the pencil and charcoal drawings, so that is where we started. We did need to pick up some supplies like a drawing pad, different types of pencils, and some other things, but I was able to find them at a local art supply store for a minimal cost. I really like the fact that you can search for projects by medium and that the necessary supplies are listed for each project. This makes it easy for me to see what you need, and, if you are on a budget, you can choose projects that do not need expensive supplies.

stork

The first project my son chose consisted of four lessons, which we did over four days. Each session was further broken down into sections of 10 minutes of less, which is great for kids with short attention spans. It also makes it easy to pick right back up where you left off if you are having a busy day and only have time for a short lesson. My son felt the lesson was easy to follow and enjoyed working on his art projects. I would like him to move more into the pastels and watercolor in the future, but for now, pencil drawing is his thing, and that’s okay.

If you have a child who loves art, you can allow them to choose the medium they are most interested in. If your child isn’t really into art, but you want to get them started, you can begin with the simpler projects (like the pencil and charcoal drawings) and then encourage them to try out other forms as they get more comfortable.

Creating a Masterpiece also includes a section on Art History, which we found pretty interesting and would be a great place to kick off a further study of art in general. For a high school student you could easily add books and trips to the museum and essays about art history along with the projects if you wanted to beef it up.

Overall, we enjoyed Creating a Masterpiece a lot. I think I might even get myself some pastels and see if I can’t pick up a few skills! To learn more about this program, connect with Creating a Masterpiece on social media here:

Creating a Masterpiece on Facebook

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Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: MyFreezEasy

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

As a busy mom, finding time to cook every night is hard enough. But now that my husband and I decided to open a small business, and I work several nights a week, it’s even harder. However, I still want to make sure my family eats healthy meals at least most of the time. I’ve heard about “freezer cooking” before, and wanted to try it out,but it seemed so complicated. When I got the chance to try out the MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy, for this review I figured I would give it a try.

The premium membership included access to a variety of different plans each month. Choose a specific type of plan like the Slow Cooker Plan, the Gluten Free Plan, the all beef or pork plan, and more. Each plan gives you the indgredients and directions to make 5 meals. You can simply download the PDF file, print the shopping list, and come back and start cooking.

Prep

You can also build your own custom meal plan (which is what I do), selecting up to five recipes from a variety of plans and receiving your own customized PDF. If you wanted to, you could download a new plan for each week. The recipes offer a nice variety of meats and vegetables while some are just for meat and you can make your own veggies when you cook the meal. Vegetarian recipes are also included.

Apricot chicken prep

Apricot chicken prep

For my first set of recipes, I choose the slow cooker Beef and Black bean chili, which was a one-dish meal, Cuban Pork, slow cooker Green Chile Chicken, Lemon Dijon Salmon and Apricot Chicken. Most of the recipes I chose came from the Paleo category, because I do not eat a lot of carbs myself, and it is very easy for me to whip up some mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice to use as a side for my family.

Beef and Black Bean Chili

Beef and Black Bean Chili

When you choose your recipes you can also choose your portion size, so, in the case of the slow cooker meals, I choose a portion of 8 because I like to make a double batch in my slow cooker so we can eat for two days off of one meal. I like this feature because it does all the calculating for me and I don’t have to try to double everything in my head!

Cuban Pork Chops

Cuban Pork Chops

As far as putting the meals together, I was worried it would be really complicated, but it turned out it wasn’t. The website has helpful videos to show you examples of assembling meals, and the PDF really lays out the instructions step-by-step. I spent about two hours prepping my meals one morning in the kitchen (while I had that night’s dinner already going in the crock pot). I have a feeling I will get faster at this as time goes on.

Apricot Chicken

Apricot Chicken

So, how were they? Well, my family loved everything I made from my meal plan. One change I did make was upping the called for spices a little, because my family loves spice and flavor, but it’s cool that you can make adjustments as you go. Also, getting the meals prepped and in the bag was easier than I thought. If you want to, you can use the printable labels for your bags, but I just wrote the name of the meal on the bag with a sharpie marker.

Apricot Chicken

Apricot Chicken

When it comes time to cook, you simply thaw the meal (and you can even thaw it in water for about 20 minutes if you forget to pull it out, which may or may not have happened to me), place it in the dish or slow cooker, and let it cook! Let me tell you, this was so easy on the days when I was running around doing stuff for the business and homeschooling and everything else. It made me feel so good to know that a healthy dinner was already prepped and ready to go at home.

Cuban Pork

Cuban Pork

MyFreezEasy offers different levels of memberships, ranging from $7-10 per month or $77-95 dollars per year, so you can choose the level that suits your family. The Premium membership that I got feels so worth it! Learn more by connecting the MyFreezEasy on social media:

FreezEasy on Facebook

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To see what other members of the crew had to say about this product, click here:

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TOS Review: Everyday Education, LLC

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}Let’s face it, high school writing is hard. There is so much to remember. When I was in high school, I had notebooks full of notes and references to help me when I wrote my papers. Of course, back then, there was no such thing as the internet! I always thought it would be easier if I had some kind of reference I could refer too when writing. So, I was really excited to get to review the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education, LLC for my high school son.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

My youngest is not a natural writer. In fact, he fights it almost every step of the way. However, I know how important writing is for his future. We have done tons of grammar and writing programs along the way, but it doesn’t always stick in his head. At first this used to make me feel bad, but then I realized that’s just how he is. So, wouldn’t it be easier if he had a resource where he could just look stuff up to help him along the way? That’s exactly what the Handbook for Writers is.

 

It contains a wealth of information on writing in various topics. From grammar, to examples of certain kinds of essays, to how to reference resources, it’s all here! You can easily use this as an addition to any high school writing curriculum, allowing your child to refer to it as needed. I also think, with a little creativity, you could even use it as a writing curriculum, expanding on each section with other materials and giving your child a chance to practice and hone their skills.

I really appreciate that grammar lessons are included, because it gives those kids who did not master grammar before a chance to really apply those skills to their writing. For some kids, learning punctuation, nouns, verbs, gerunds etc. is really hard out of context. With the writers handbook, you can easily apply what your kids are learning directly to their writing, which really works for kids like my boy.

Also, the reference and citation sources were really helpful in this book. To be honest, I don’t completely remember how to cite sources anymore, but I know (from my experience with my college-age son) that it’s important. Also, a lot has changed since I was in high school. Now there are simply so many more things to cite! Having the writers handbook to refer too is really handy in those cases!

The PDF file offers hundreds of pages to help your student write the best papers possible. In fact, there were a couple of times my older son asked his brother to use his handbook when he had to write a paper for school! I think that over the next two years of high school we are going to refer to this handbook a lot, and my son may even still use it when he is in college. At less than $40, I think it is a steal!

To find out more, connect with Everday Education on social media here:
Janice Campbell on Pinterest

Excellence in Literature on Facebook

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Janice Campbell on Google+

To see what other crew members have to say about this resource, and the other ones we got to check out, click here”
Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

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