Monday, August 18, 2014

Spelling You See Americana (Level D) Review PLUS an Awesome Giveaway

Are you still searching for a spelling curriculum that will meet your child's needs and learning style? If you are, then you may want to consider Spelling You See. Several months ago, I was contacted with an offer to review the recently released Spelling You See Americana (Level D) curriculum created by Dr. Karen Holinga. The timing was impeccable! Spelling You See is a brand new, research-based spelling curriculum published by Demme Learning. Demme Learning is also the publisher of the well-known Math-U-See curricula that we've been successfully using for years. I am excited to finally have the opportunity to share this review with you after using the curriculum for several months. Be sure to enter my Spelling You See giveaway at the end of this review. The winner will choose the level!


Spelling You See currently carries five levels of their curricula. They are currently working towards adding two more levels. I will tell you about our experiences with Americana.

Five Levels
  • Listen and Write (Level A)
  • Jack and Jill (Level B)
  • Wild Tales (Level C)
  • Americana (Level D)
  • American Spirit (Level E)
Each level has a required Instructor's Handbook and Student Pack. The Instructor's Handbook is reusable. However, the student pack is consumable therefore you will need to purchase one for each child working at that particular level.

The Philosophy Behind the Program
The philosophy is based on the premise that ALL students move through five developmental stages as they learn to spell at their own pace including Preliterate, Phonetic, Skill Development, Word Extension, and Derivational Constancy. The Spelling You See program guides your child naturally through the five stages of learning how to spell. More information about each stage can be read at the Spelling You See website. The spelling program does not use spelling lists, memorization of rules, or spelling tests.

Placement Guidelines
First, I viewed the placement guidelines under the Getting Started section to determine which level Alyssa would complete this year. I love that the program is not based on grade levels and that I could choose the spelling level that would meet Alyssa's needs best. I decided to place my daughter in the Skill Development stage of spelling. The hardest part of choosing the correct level was trying not to base my decision on her actual reading level. Her reading level is much higher, but I needed to focus on finding the appropriate spelling level based on her spelling abilities. She's a natural speller. I also didn't want to choose a level too difficult or too easy which is why I decided on Americana.

It is suggested that this level be used with children who are proficient 8-year-old readers or students over age 10 who are struggling with spelling skills. My daughter is 6 1/2 years old, but she is a fluent and established reader who has written stories several pages long. The next step was to have Alyssa complete the quick skill assessment. She could easily read the passage, misspelled very few dictation words, and the dictation was completed in less than 10 minutes. She probably could have worked through American Spirit, but I wanted to have room for growth and give her time to become familiar with the approach. I also want to keep things light during the summer months. An added bonus was that the words studied were related to and in the context of stories about the events and people of American History. This spelling curriculum correlated well with her American History summer lessons.

Spelling You See: Americana Curriculum Description
Spelling You See is a unique spelling program designed to naturally teach spelling using visual memory as a key to learning. There are 36 weekly lessons arranged and divided into five parts (A-E). Two facing pages of the student workbook are completed each day. Americana contains non-fiction American history passages which are read together in order to help the child familiarize and imprint the new spelling words from the passage to memory. The following picture shows Alyssa pointing to each word as we read aloud the passage.

Three Core Activities
The program is based on three core activities which take 10-15 minutes to complete. The core activities integrate reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.
  • Chunking
  • Copywork
  • Dictation
CHUNKING
During the daily chunking exercises, Alyssa was asked to identify and highlight the letter patterns within the context of the passage after reading it twice. A different color was used for each type of letter pattern during chunking exercises. The passage was read by the parent first and then a second time together. Check out the highlighted reminder box listing the vowel chucks which can be used if your child needs assistance!
(Week 1 Chunking)
(Week 9 Chunking)
COPYWORK
The next core activity was copywork. Copywork was completed on the first three days of each lesson (Lesson A-C) enabling Alyssa to imprint the word and letter patterns into memory repeatedly as she gained familiarity with those patterns on a daily basis. Her job was to focus her attention on the sentences from the passage as she carefully copied one line at a time.

The copywork is completed using the lined paper in the workbook and a digital timer. Please note that the lined paper consists of only two lines instead of three. There may be an adjustment period as your child learns to write using this type of lined paper. Some letter formations may differ from the style you use in your homeschool. If letter formations differ from what you are currently using, then you can always tell your child to write the letter the way they were taught before using the program.

There was ample space for the copywork exercises which was one of my concerns when I first received the product. My daughter still tends to write big for her age but thankfully she had plenty of space to write. A blank line was provided after each printed line of text which means she could focus her attention on one line at a time. You could easily cover the other lines if a child is overwhelmed with the length or amount of writing required.

Alyssa also had the task of circling the chunks in her copywork passage. My daughter's confidence level with regards to spelling has improved each day. She also recognizes the letter patterns better with each lesson. One other important thing to note about the copywork portion is that errors can be erased and cursive penmanship is not allowed. Printing enables children to make visual connections to the printed words in other books.

DICTATION
Alyssa was allowed to ask for assistance during the first dictation lesson if necessary. The final dictation on the last day is meant to be done without any help. Don't forget to cover the passage with a piece of paper during dictations. We used a piece of black construction paper so that she couldn't see through it.

By the end of the week, I noticed that my daughter knew how to spell all the words. I know these words were stored for longer periods of time, because I played spelling games using the words from the passages towards the end of the review period (months later) to make sure she could still spell them. What did I find out? She could still spell the words!

Color-Coded Letter Pattern Chunks Addressed
Vowel Chunks -YELLOW
Consonant Chunks - BLUE
Bossy R Chunks - PURPLE
Endings and Silent Letters - PINK or RED
Tricky y Guy - ORANGE

Note: Overlapping may cause a little confusion as the lessons progress and become more difficult. Be sure to read the tips and FAQ. If you still have questions, customer service is top-notch. They will answer your questions promptly so shoot them an e-mail.

Passage Topics
A variety of American History topics were covered in both workbooks including but not limited to:
  • American Flag
  • Harriet Tubman
  • White House
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Davy Crockett 
  • Homestead Act
  • Martin Luther King
  • Rosa Parks
  • George Washington Carver
  • Underground Railroad 
  • Pilgrims
  • Colonists
  • Paul Revere
  • Liberty Bell 
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Gold Rush
  • Abraham Lincoln
What You'll Receive
This sweet package will safely and promptly arrive in the mail.

Set of 10 Erasable Colored Pencils

Student Workbook 1
This workbook contains Lessons 1-18 each having 5 parts labeled A through E. The workbook pages are perforated. The perforated pages enable you to remove the pages for the child to work on. You also have the option of adding a page to a portfolio.

Student Workbook 2
This soft cover book consisted of Lessons 19-36 using the same format.

Instructor's Handbook
I love the organization of the 52-page softbound parent handbook! The handbook begins with a detailed introduction to the unique and innovative spelling approach developed by Dr. Karen Holinga, an explanation describing their philosophy, a thorough discussion of the five developmental stages of spelling, placement guidelines mentioning the curriculum sequence, and an essential "Getting Started Guide" for the Americana level. "Instructions for Americana Lessons 1-14" follow the "Getting Started" section. I appreciated the use of bolded subtitles in this section. The subtitles divided the lessons into groups based on the concepts being addressed. The resource section contains the 36 dictation passages and color-coded answer keys for the chunking exercises, a glossary of terms, and a bibliography. I believe this handbook is essential to the program as it contains helpful information and tools for parents.
Dictation Passage (Lesson 9)
The best part about the teacher's handbook was the answer key! I asked my daughter to state the letter pattern and the word it was found in as I checked the answers. This activity also served as a review allowing for even more exposure to the letter patterns.
Answer Key (Lesson 9)
How We Used Spelling You See
I used the Americana spelling curriculum with my 6 1/2 year old daughter in conjunction with American History music books for several months. We did take a short "no school" summer break for a couple weeks. I read through the Teacher Handbook the weekend before starting the program to gain familiarity with the approach. Everything was self-explanatory. Any questions I had were answered either from the online FAQ or in the teacher's handbook. We began lessons on the following Monday. We completed one part of each lesson every day working five times a week. One full lesson was covered each week. 

Overall Thoughts
I am 100% impressed with this "open and go" spelling program. The program was extremely user-friendly requiring no prep or planning time. The lessons were quick lasting no more than 10-15 minutes a day which is perfect if your child has difficulty sitting for longer time periods. The short historical paragraphs were concise yet informative. I think the simplicity of the program will bless any busy homeschool family.

Alyssa is definitely learning how to spell difficult, more challenging words. I have seen evidence of it during the first week. I started using Exit Cards to find out what history facts my daughter remembered from each lesson. On the first day using Spelling You See, she asked me how to spell "colonies" when filling out her exit card. By the end of the week, she KNEW how to spell the word without assistance. She could visualize it! We didn't have to do any extra spelling activities to practice the words each week. However, I did review previously learned spelling words using spelling games later on just to check in and see if she still remembered the spellings long-term. The visual memory method definitely worked! I also notched that my daughter would identify the previously learned letter patterns in books during her independent reading time.

I didn't really need to help my daughter with finding letter patterns in the beginning, but I sat beside her to provide guidance when necessary. The letter patterns were always provided. The clear and concise instructions provided were straightforward and to the point. The directions also explained that vowel chunks are highlighted first, followed by bossy r's, and then consonant chunks if there was ever a question about which to highlight. Dictations became easier over time as she gained confidence and familiarity with the program.

A Weekly Glance
The activities are exactly the same for the first three days as seen below.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday
The chunking and reading activities continue for Days 4 and 5. However, dictation was added to the lesson.

The following picture is an example of her first weekly dictation for Lesson 9. She had a difficult time remembering how to spell "except." I noticed that she closed her eyes and visualized the word each time she wrote it. This strategy eventually lead to the correct spelling. She had the opportunity to ask for help, but she wanted to figure it out on her own. She simply drew one line through the errors until she found the one that looked right. After her 10-minute dictation, she checked her work using the original passage. The number of words spelled correctly is documented at the bottom of the page at the end of the lesson. We never count the first word since it is given. I love that Spelling You See encourages you to remain positive and emphasize the number of words spelled correctly instead of focusing on the number of words spelled wrong.   

Friday

What We LOVED
  • The curriculum is not based on grade levels. She started at a level based on her spelling abilities. 
  • The lessons are short and quick only requiring a maximum of 10-15 minutes each day.
  • No prep or planning is required. Enough said - right! 
  • It utilizes a Classic or Charlotte Mason approach towards spelling by implementing copywork and dictation exercises which are two methods we enjoy using in our homeschool.
  • The reading passages are slightly below her reading level which means that she focus on learning the spellings instead of being frustrated with reading the passage.
  • She can pay close attention to words within the context of a story or factoid based on history.
  • Alyssa learns spelling patterns through chunking exercises which give her hands-on exposure to letter patterns.
  • I am pleased with the inviting, colorful images used to represent each passage. My daughter particularly liked the White House images. She liked being able to see an inside blue print of how the White House was divided into three parts. 
Alyssa's Thoughts (Age 6)
I crazy love it! You get to practice spelling while learning about history and copying passages. My favorite part of the curriculum is reading the passage and highlighting the chunks. I like how colorful the page is when I'm done. I am learning about America too! My mommy gives me an exit card at the end of the week to see what history facts I've learned. Those are fun too!

Price 
Americana Instructor's Handbook $14
Americana Student Pack $30

Visit the Spelling You See store website to view sample lessons, read about each level, and purchase the appropriate level for your child.

Recommendations
If you are looking for a easy-to-use spelling program for a visual learner that takes very little time out of your day, then look no further. Spelling You See Americana may be the perfect solution to your child's spelling needs. I highly recommend this program especially to homeschool families that utilize a Charlotte Mason or Classic homeschool approach. Children that dislike writing may not be particularly fond of this program, because it emphasizes daily copywork or dictation.

Spelling You See is suitable for elementary-aged children or for older students needing remediation. If you have a struggling reader or a child with learning difficulties, then this curricula may help. Trying a new spelling curriculum gives your family the opportunity to address a different learning style, prevent boredom with lessons, and might meet the needs or difficulties of your child better.

I will MOST DEFINITELY continue using Spelling You See Americana for the rest of the year. I pray and hope that we can continue with the next level, American Spirit, upon completion of Americana. I look forward to seeing the newly developed levels in the future!

Social Media
Facebook
Twitter

It's Time for a GIVEAWAY! 
Demme Learning has generously donated one physical copy of the Spelling You See curriculum. The randomly selected winner will receive a full curriculum set of their choice including the Instructor's Handbook, Student Workbooks, and the Colored Pencils. Good Luck to all who enter and please help spread the word! If you do not see the Rafflecopter widget, please give it time to load or click on the link provided.


Giveaway Disclaimer
Many thanks to Spelling You and Demme Learning for providing the prize for this giveaway. Choice of winners will be randomly selected. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. You must be 18 years old to enter and a resident of the US. Demme Learning will fulfill the prize.

Disclaimer
I received a complimentary, free copy of the Spelling You See Americana (Level D) curriculum from Demme Learning in exchange for an honest, unbiased review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Virtual Refrigerator: Shark Week!

My daughter's interest in sharks has increased since the announcement of Shark Week. Alyssa has been learning about sharks using the videos available through Discovery Education and by reading numerous books on the topic. One of her art projects this week was to use oil pastels (instead of chalk pastels) to create a shark in the ocean. I love how she added in other ocean animals and plants.
Artist: Alyssa
Age:6 1/2
Subject: Sharks
Title: Out for a Swim
She utilized the step-by-step drawings for the starfish and shark from her Draw Write Now (Book 6) and the shark art tutorial from Southern HodgePodge as guides.

I will link this post up at The Virtual Refrigerator. What art project will YOU share this week? I can't wait to see it. Please feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments section.

Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Homeschool Mother's Journey: August 10th, 2014

In Our Life This Week . . . 
Last month I mentioned that I received devastating news. I never mentioned what it was. Well, my husband asked me for a divorce so my life has literally been upside-down as Alyssa and I deal with an emotional roller coaster of feelings.

Furthermore, we had to put my dream house on the market. Alyssa and I are currently living in the home until it sells. It showed twice the first week on the market. This was a huge wake-up call to me, because I have a shed and classroom to declutter still. I have to sell all of the baby and toddler items. I will need to purge a lot in order to live in a much smaller place, but I lack motivation to get things done.

Praying For . . .
  • Diana
  • Jeffry
  • Alyssa
  • Jamie and her Family
  • Motivation
  • My Hello Mornings Group
  • Fellow Homeschool Families
Grateful For . . . 
  • Time with my Daughter
  • My Life
  • God's Love, Forgiveness, Grace, and Mercy
  • Books and Curricula to Distract Me
  • Knowledgeable Lawyer with Years of Experience
  • My Sister Sam and Friends Who Have Been There for me the Last Couple Months
  • Visitors - This beautiful cat stopped by to play in our grass (which needs to be cut). Can I keep her? We've also had visits from baby foxes, beautiful birds, and deer. Love God's creations! 


What I'm Reading . . .
1.) Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate (Read sample here.)


2.) Not a Statistic: Parenting in a Broken World by Kim Sorgius - I never realized when I download this e-book for free several months ago that I would actually need to read it. God knew what my needs would be and the obstacles I would have to face. I am thankful for the book's contents! Thank you Kim!

So far this is an outstanding goal setting book! I have been journaling each short chapter in a spiral notebook. It is formatted like a 365 day devotional book.  

What We're Reading Aloud . . . 
I wanted to read this classic story to Alyssa before the movie released. I love glancing over at her and seeing her thoroughly engaged in the plot. She makes sure that I don't skip a night's reading no matter what the circumstances may be.

What I'm Listening to . . .
I hope this music will find a place in your hearts this morning.

Jen Stabro - God Speak


Dara Maclean -Wanted

Kari Jobe - What Love is This



Family Game Night Fun . . . 
I introduced two new new games to Alyssa this week. The first one is Great States and the other one is YamSlam. Years ago, I got this $20 game for $5 with free shipping during a Christmas sale. I was waiting until Alyssa was old enough. It says its for ages 8 and up, but it really depends on your child. She is loving it! Although . . . the game does remind me of poker. I hope she doesn't grow up to be a gambler. LOL. Alyssa is in charge of figuring out the total scores at the end of the game. She wins the game almost every time! 

In Our "Summer" Homeschool This Week . . .
Spelling- We just finished Lesson 9 in the Spelling You See curriculum. The review for Americana will post August 18th. I can't wait to share this review with you. Are you searching for a new spelling program using a unique approach?

Literature - She's been reading lots of books. Our current read aloud is Paddington. I haven't ever read this book and I am enjoying it. I wanted to read the book to her before the movie premiers.

Character - Our character trait for this week is Helpfulness. I have definitely noticed my daughter being more helpful with household chores. This could also be due to the fact that we are doing paid "commissions" as mentioned in the Smart Money Smart Kids book and as discussed during her Financial Peace Junior lesson. I am so glad that we started using the Save Spend and Give envelopes. She already saved up for her first item which is the Frozen Karoake CD.

Math- She started a free three month trial of A+ Interactive Math Online (Family Math Package). She's working on third grade math concepts. She already finished the lessons in the first chapter and made a 100% on her test. I purchased a one-year subscription through Educents. I love how she can work on concepts for ANY graced level! Alyssa also completes one double-digit math worksheet several times a week. We've been playing math games, using educational math apps, and utilizing hands-on math activities tom review concepts.

Budget and Finance - We've been using Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Junior in conjunction with the Save, Spend, and Give envelopes. Alyssa saved up enough money ($8.00) to buy the Frozen Karaoke CD. She's going to have a blast using it when it arrives!

Simple Schooling Classroom - These are online Science unit studies. Unfortunately, our subscription ends in five days so we aren't spending a week on each unit study. I am having her finish up the K-3 units. I am not sure we'll be able to renew our subscription this year. She completed the Classic Nature Study including an Insect, Reptile, and a Mammal Unit. She also completed the Penguin, Dinosaur, Cat, Horse, and Tree unit studies.

Art - We finally bought watercolor paper at Hobby Lobby using a 40% coupon so Alyssa has been painting family pictures and nature pictures. She learned how to use her Shrinky Dink machine. I bought her one for Christmas, but it has been in storage. She had a lot of fun!  

History and Music - Our Experience History Through Music America: The Heart of a New Nation book arrived! We've been reading the e-book format for months which we love, but we prefer having the real book in our hands so I made a small investment. We are rereading the stories while listening to the corresponding songs. Alyssa also practices her piano song for 15-20 minutes a day using Alfred's Basic Piano Library Lesson and theory Book 1B. I can't wait for next summer's recital!

Places We Went
We went to the movie theater to see Guardians of the Galaxy. My daughter really wanted to see the movie. After discussing it with Jeffry and remembering . . . she's seen the Pirates of the Caribbean - we decided she could go see it. Wrong choice on our part! The movie is PG-13 and did contain foul language. Several of the scenes were scary and inappropriate too. I wish I had watched it first but I can't undo what has been done. We all make mistakes. Thankfully, she hasn't had any nightmares or repeated any bad words. I had a discussion with her after the show.

What I'm Cooking
Alyssa and I made Winter Granola. We are loving Marathon Mom's recipe and will definitely make it again. We put the white chocolate chips in too soon, because we were in a rush to eat it. We eat this during movie night and it tastes great in milk as a snack.

What I'm Watching . . .
Every Sunday evening, I watch Witches of East End, a new series on Lifetime. Check out past episodes if interested. I started watching this last year. I do NOT allow my daughter to watch it so she'll watch a movie on the portable DVD in her room, play in her room for an hour, or go swimming with her father. Alyssa watched a Barbie Princess Charm School show last night.

Random Five on Friday: My Most Recent Reviews
1. ) Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze
2.) I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson
3.) Experience History Through Music by Diana Waring Presents
4.) My Child, My Princess by Beth Moore
5.) VeggieTales Celery Night Fever

Awesome Freebies, Giveaways, and Homeschool Deals . . . 
Educents is currently offering all five of the The Old Schoolhouse Planners for FREE for a limited time.

Educents Back-To-School Giveaways - Wow! Have you seen this one? Get yourself prepared!
  • The GRAND prize is an Apple Mini iPad. 
  • On a personal note . . . I'm super excited about the Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading Curriculum (Level 1)! I would LOVE to try this curriculum this year. 
  • Did you see the $100 Gift Certificate to Home Science Tools? This would help make our Science lessons more hands-on this year. we still need to purchase Science curricula, supplies, and tools for experiments.
  • The Neu Year Calendar and MySchoolYear.com Subscription would help keep us on track with regards to planning and organization. I need some way to track all our appointments, reviews, play dates, extracurriculars, and visits with daddy. 
  • Oh . . . and wouldn't the Constitution Quest game be a fun and educational game to play during family game night? 
If you haven't visited Educents yet - head on over to enter these giveaways. Good luck!

Visit APlusTutorsoft to enter numerous FB Party Giveaways! I had a great time attending the party. There are so many incredible giveaway prizes - hoping we win one of the items on our wish list!

Ben and Me Schoolhouse Review Crew Back-To-School Giveaway - Fantastic vendors and prizes listed as part of these two awesome ginormous giveaways. Be sure to enter as soon as you can!


I have a VeggieTales Celery Night Fever giveaway posted here on A Learning Journey. Click on the link to read my review and enter the giveaway. Please share this giveaway with all of your friends. Good luck!

God Bless! Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

VeggieTales: Celery Night Fever Movie Review and Giveaway


It was a privilege to have the opportunity to review the newest addition to the VeggieTales DVD collection, Celery Night Fever, as part of FLYBY Promotions Blogger Network review program. Celery Night Fever is exclusively available in DVD format and was released on August 5th.

VeggieTales is a beloved company that creates faith-based products and a line of family DVD's that teach children about God's love and how He made them special. Years ago my daughter received a collection of VeggieTales DVD's as a gift. Alyssa became a huge fan of the DVD's when she was much younger and since then we've added several more movies to our personal collection over the years. I was thrilled when I found out we had the opportunity to review Celery Night Fever!

DVD Synopsis
In Celery Night Fever, the retro funkadelic sights and sounds of polyester leisure suits and disco balls take center stage – along with a timeless message of friendship and forgiveness. Actor Terry Crews provides the voice of Bruce Onion, a nefarious real-estate developer who plans to turn the serene, green Celery Park into a parking lot. His unsavory scheme spurs Laura Carrot and Junior Asparagus to enact a bold plan: reuniting the long-lost ’70s band The Groovy Brothers to play at a fund-raising concert. The problem is, The Groovy Brothers haven’t spoken to each other in decades, and the members have little interest in getting back together.  Their long-simmering feud spills over to affect Laura and Junior.  It’s not just Celery Park that’s in jeopardy – if best friends can’t learn to forgive each other and accept each other’s faults, the veggies might lose their cherished community gathering spot. Celery Night Fever features six original songs, including a rousing number from Bruce Onion, showcasing the musical side of Terry Crews.

Do you think the band members forgave each other? 

How We Used the DVD
We watched Celery Night Fever during family movie night as we snuggled on the couch eating popcorn. My 6 1/2 year-old daughter also watched the DVD several other times during the review period. This would be a great movie for children to watch with their friends during a sleepover or movie playdate.

Overall
Celery Night Fever is a wonderful family movie and addition to our VeggieTales collection! This DVD didn't disappoint us. The story's plot was entertaining and engaging. The VeggieTale stories always teach valuable lessons with appropriate scenes and adorable characters. There was only one awkwardly funny part where Junior came out wearing his underwear over his pants after realizing he was late meeting his friend, Laura. My daughter couldn't stop laughing. Alyssa sat through the entire show without EVER getting bored! It doesn't surprise me that VeggieTales has once again captured her undivided attention.

The movie consists of catchy disco-style musical tunes. As always, the music motivated my daughter. Her favorite song from the movie was "Perfect Puppy." I caught her groovin' to all the fun tunes on many occasions. She LOVED dancing to the six original songs included in the show.

Celery Night Fever lasts approximately 45 minutes and provides both English and Spanish subtitles. I appreciate that the VeggieTale products always emphasize great moral values. I was throughly impressed with the fact that Alyssa automatically caught on to the story's theme. She learned to value the importance of friendship and forgiveness in a fun, interactive way without further explanation from me. The message contains meaningful lessons which can be applied to my daughter's life and her relationships with both friends and family members. I'm glad that my daughter is still young enough to appreciate and watch the high quality shows created by the VeggieTales team. I can trust that VeggieTales DVD's will always contain appropriate content that my daughter can safely view without constant supervision.

The movie arrived at the perfect time for our family. We are currently dealing with unfortunate circumstances where forgiveness has been extremely difficult. This movie served as a great reminder during these challenging times. The message is that we should forgive others just as God has forgiven us. I truly want my daughter to know that she can forgive others when they have wronged or hurt us. Everyone should also understand that holding grudges hurts and brings trouble to all involved. Other underlying themes in this show are hope, trust, and selfishness.

Visit the VeggieTales website to view the Celery Night Fever FREE Downloads including coloring pages, recipes, crafts, and activities which reinforce the lesson and message of the show. We enjoyed the psychedelic celery experiment and had a blast making tie dyed rice cereal treats. We have plans later this week to watch the show again. We will attempt the homemade sidewalk chalk paint and rock coloring activities following the show.  

Recommendations
I HIGHLY recommend Celery Night Fever and ALL VeggieTales movies to children ages 2-7 yeas old. VeggieTales fans will definitely appreciate this show! The important message is one that we can ALL learn and benefit from. I recommend this DVD for at home use and to use during Sunday School class at church. I look forward to seeing future shows. I can't wait to watch Beauty and the Beet featuring Kellie Pickler in the fall!

Price 
VeggieTales Store $14.99
Walmart $9.96
ChristianBook $9.99
Amazon $9.96 

Social Media
Would you like to win a copy of Celery Night Fever?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don't see the Rafflecopter widget, please give it time to load or click on the link to enter. Thank you so much!

Disclaimer
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. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

I will link this post up at My Fab Fit FortiesMoney Saving Mom's Giveaway Galore Linky5 Minutes for MomLiving Montessori Now Family Friendly GiveawaysDiana Rambles Weekly Giveaway LinkyMama to Five Blessings: Super Saturday Giveaway LinkyMusings from a Stay At Home Mom Rafflecopter Only Giveaway LinkyMom Saves Money Blog GiveawayConserveaMome Monday Giveaway LinkUpI Choose Joy From House to Home Link Party 78Rock-A-By-Parents Giveaway Link-Up, and Super Saturday Giveaway link at The Review Wire.

Monday, August 4, 2014

FREE 2014-2015 Digital Schoolhouse Planners

Are you planning for the next homeschool year? 

If so, then I MUST share a freebie with you today that will knock your socks off! Educents is offering the 2014-2015 digital Old Schoolhouse Planners (one or ALL of them) for FREE. If you are a homeschool family this freebie will bless you and help organize your school year.

These planners are wonderful and full of great information including forms, calendars, checklists, articles, and more for your homeschool and home management needs. They have a retail value of 125.95!

I already downloaded all of my files. I received a coupon code and used it during checkout after visiting The Old Schoolhouse website.

What's Included
  • Schoolhouse Digital Planner $39
  • Primary Schoolhouse Digital Planner $9.95
  • Intermediate Schoolhouse Digital Planner $19
  • Highschool Schoolhouse Digital Planner $29
  • Special Needs Schoolhouse Digital Planner $29 
This deal expires in 27 more days, but why wait?
You can get started now!

OH . . .  and before you go be sure to enter Educents 31 Days of Back-to-School Giveaways. There is one giveaway that I am praying we win! Good luck! Enjoy the rest of your summer if you are still on break! 

Thank you for visiting a Learning Journey! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

B&H Publishing Group Review: My Child, My Princess: A Parable About the King written by Beth Moore

I adore reading Christian picture books. I recently had the opportunity to review My Child, My Princess: A Parable About the King written by best-selling author, Beth Moore, as part of B&H Publishing Group's book review program. 

Author Bio
Beth Moore has written many best-selling books. She's a dynamic teacher and a prolific Bible-study author whose public speaking engagements take her across the United States to challenge tens of thousands. Beth is focused on teaching women all over the world and is known and respected wherever she goes. She leads Living Proof Ministries in Houston, Texas and teaches an adult Sunday school class at her church.

Book Summary 
A wistful fairy tale at first impression, best-selling author Beth Moore’s My Child, My Princess — her first children’s book — is a simply profound story that rings true among kids and grown-ups alike. When a king’s rebellious daughter disobeys her father’s wishes, his forgiveness and patience vividly remind us of God’s unconditional love. Indeed, every girl is a princess; a child of the King.

Book Description
This book is a re-release of Beth Moore's first children's book. The main character struggles with the responsibilities and privileges of being a princess and not wanting to be one. She feels like she doesn't have any freedom. In this story, the princess was asked to clean her room. She couldn't understand why she had to pick up after herself. She felt like her father wasn't paying enough attention to her, because he was busy with "other" important business. The princess is so upset with his request to clean her room that she decides to disobey him. She said, "I'll show him." She disguised herself in old clothes dressed as a peasant and ran away from the castle through secret door exit. The princess enjoyed playing stickball with the other children in the muddy neighborhood streets. She was thrilled to have fun and be "just like them." The other children begin disrespecting her father by spitting spitballs at him during the King's special appearance on the main street. The princess begins to understand that she made a terrible mistake and wonders if her father will ever forgive her behavior. Her heart fills with guilt, horror, and shame. 

Our Thoughts
My Child, My Princess would be categorized as a fairytale genre beginning with the ever popular "Once upon a time" story opener. It is a tender-hearted story with an absolutely gorgeous cover. This 32-page hardcover book contains Beverly Warren's beautiful Medieval illustrations. The message was clearly stated in the book. The lesson theme emphasizes forgiveness, patience, acceptance, and unconditional love. It reminds us that our Heavenly Father will always love and accept us no matter what. The book's message contains a powerful lesson written in parable format stating that every girl is a princess or child of the one true King (Jesus/God). 

My 6 1/2 year-old daughter enjoyed reading and hearing this story read aloud before bedtime. There is some mention of disobedience, rebellion, name calling, and teasing that you may want to discuss with your child as you read the book aloud. I wanted to make sure that my daughter knew it wasn't safe to runaway from home. I also wanted her to feel good as the person God intended her to be. We discussed the importance of rules and why children must obey their parents.

I loved the fact that the princess confesses and admits what she's done wrong in her apology to her father with sincere feelings. I also appreciate that the book focuses on how the King reassures her that there will be times when she will break his heart, but that he will open the door EVERY time she knocks. The book ends with a scripture reference, Matthew 25:34, which relates to the story's plot. Overall, the book is a heartwarming tale that will instill values and character traits which will help your child grow up to be a princess of God's heart.

Recommendations
I recommend this picture book for children ages 4 to 8. I believe older girls will find this book of particular interest. The underlying Christian message may be a little too complex for children at the younger age range especially if the message is not discussed and explained. However, this children's story or allegory is suitable for ALL ages. Adults will surely enjoy reading this book aloud to their children. This would make a precious gift or keepsake gem for any child. I was thinking to would also be a great party favor or story to read aloud at a princess themed birthday party.

Price
BH Publishing Group: Every Word Matters $9.99
Amazon $12.81

Note: Prices are subject to change.

Social Media
Blog
Facebook
Twitter @BethMooreLPM

Disclaimer
I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from the publisher as part of the B and H Publishing Group Book Review Program in exchange for an honest, unbiased review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BookLook Review: Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

I’ve always wanted to read one of Dave Ramsey’s books. I jumped on the chance to review the Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money book written by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze as soon as I saw it posted on the BookLook bloggers availability list. I knew that I would be a huge fan of his work! I can't remember learning much about money management skills as a child in school or at home. I want to teach my daughter, Alyssa, how to manage her money in hopes to avoid the same financial mistakes my husband and I made in our 15-year marriage. I only wish I had this information in my hands years ago. 

The content in the book is geared towards increasing the financial literacy of our children. It's meant to guide you as you teach your children the skills that will literally CHANGE your financial legacy and their lives as adults. You will hear anecdotes from both Dave and Rachel’s perspectives and memories. They share how these principles were applied to their lives and explain how to implement the strategies into your life. 


About the Authors
Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He sold numerous copies of his four New York Times best-selling books including Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. 

Rachel Cruze is a seasoned communicator and presenter who has been speaking to large groups for nearly a decade. She’s the daughter of Dave Ramsey. She uses her knowledge and experiences from growing up in the Ramsey household today to educate America’s students and young adults on the proper ways to handle money and stay out of debt. 
Book Description
Financial expert and best-selling author Dave Ramsey teams up with his daughter, Rachel Cruze, in order to teach parents how to “raise money-smart kids in a debt-filled world.” In Smart Money Smart Kids, the authors equip parents to teach their children how to win with money starting with the basics like working, spending, saving, and giving. More challenging issues are addressed such as avoiding debt, paying cash for college without going into debt, creating a wedding budget and plan, and battling discontentment in the second half of the book. Dave and Rachel present a no-nonsense, common-sense approach for changing your family tree. They discuss the principles of good money management for children as well as giving the reader plenty of stories of what life was like for the Ramsey kids. 

My Thoughts
This well-written book presents information in a practical way using a natural, conversational tone. It is a guide that teaches you how to discuss money management skills with your children and teaches you how to train them to handle money at an early age. The book was interesting and packed with insightful references. The 258-page hardcover book contains student budget worksheets for older children which are included at the back of the book. Smart Money Smart Kids is chocked full of useful information that will help parents train their children to make wise financial decisions in the future and to have strong work ethics. I agree with the authors about the importance of teaching these concepts at a young age not only through discussion but by modeling your behaviors and being a good example. Children do learn more from what you DO than from what you SAY. Let them catch you in the act of handling money properly. We really need to practice what we preach with regards to money habits.   

After reading this book, I have gained a much greater understanding of how to teach my daughter to be a good steward of her money. The handy and modifiable suggestions will instill values in her character while teaching her to be financially responsible. I love that the authors tell you it’s better to teach your children how to handle money now while they live at home rather than later when damage has possibly already been done. The ideas presented begin with a more hands-on approach for younger children leading more towards independence as children get older and mature. They give sound and insightful advice making it easy to start your children off on the right foot. The authors emphasize staying out of debt while finding a financial balance. They also explain the importance of teaching your children with grace. I especially appreciate the content found in chapter 10 with regards to parenting after or during a divorce. They encourage parents to remain unified with the goal to teach money smart skills and to cooperate by following the same principles in each household.   

I thought reading a book with two authors would be a bit confusing. This was NOT the case with this book. Each author was identified in bold print before they began writing. They took turns writing in sections. The use of two different fonts in the book (one for Dave’s writing voice and another for Rachel’s writing style) helped me keep track of each author's perspective. Dave definitely presents his ideas in a straightforward, to the point approach while Rachel’s writing style seems more personable as she reveals stories of life growing up as Dave’s daughter. Her stories added in a little humor making the book have a more light-hearted, softer feel. The writing styles of this dynamic duo balanced well with one another.      

First, a concept is clearly introduced and thoroughly explained to the reader. Then, Dave and Rachel organized the suggestions into different age groups. They discuss how to apply that concept into our children’s lives using age-appropriate examples. For instance, they encourage parents to use clear containers with younger children (age 6 and under) as they learn how to save their money. It allows them to see the money grow over time. We are using Dave's clear envelopes from the Financial Peace kit. Children between the ages of 6-13 begin setting financial goals and start saving for a special toy they want. My daughter is currently saving for the Frozen Karaoke CD. Older children between the ages of 14-18 will learn how to save for bigger ticket items such as a used car or college tuition. 

I already started implementing the strategies into our life. A couple months ago, I purchased Financial Peace Junior with intentions to utilize this system with my six-year-old daughter. It sat on the shelf collecting dust. I can happily say that this book has motivated me to begin teaching Alyssa. We recently started the envelope system using her piggy bank money. First, we made a list of age-appropriate chores that she would be willing to do. We categorized each chore as either a “paid commission” chore or a family expectation. I love that Dave uses the term “commission” instead of “allowance,” because it eliminates the idea that children are entitled to a certain amount of money that they expect us to give them each week.

The plan is to give Alyssa the opportunity to diligently work towards earning $5 a week. She’ll decide how much goes into each envelope with a minimum of 10% going in the GIVE envelope. She was fascinated with finding percentages and using them to figure out how much money she will place in each of her envelopes. I remember when I first asked her how much she wanted to give from what she earned - she said 75%. I am glad that she has a generous heart! She’s eagerly budgeting and learning how to handle her money. I am most thankful for having the opportunity to review this book!  

Price
Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money can be purchased for $24.99. Amazon is selling the book for $ 17.56.   

Note: All prices are subject to change. 

Recommendations
highly recommend this valuable book to EVERY parent with children ages 18 and younger. This is an absolute must read that I encourage you to read as soon as possible. It will be one parenting resource that you won't regret purchasing. You will be more informed which will enable you to teach your children how to handle money properly. It’s time to bless your children with the knowledge that will help them have a more successful future. I also recommend that you obtain the Financial Peace Junior and use it with younger children. The authors do make several biblical references that you may or may not agree with depending on your Christian beliefs. 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from the publisher as part of the BookLook Book Review Program in exchange for an honest review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I review for BookLook Bloggers