Saturday, December 23, 2017

Jolly Christmas Eve Box

Our Jolly Christmas Eve Box is one tradition we look forward to every year. I usually place everything in a gift box and add a bow, but this year I found this beautiful Christmas suitcase at Tuesday Morning that can be used year after year. This vintage-looking box is the perfect size for everything that I want to include. In fact, there's more space for additional items in the future. 

The Christmas Eve Box is usually a box of some kind that we open on Christmas Eve. It is filled with treats and activities for the night. This tradition makes the night before Christmas special and memorable for us. It brings us so much JOY. You can't see it in the picture, but at the bottom of the suitcase is red shredded paper. You can make your own box as a family project or just purchase one. 

My daughter is with her father this Christmas so our Christmas Eve will officially start three days after Christmas. This means I have a couple more days to prepare our Christmas Eve Box, but I wanted to share this idea with you all in case you want to start the same tradition with your family.  

What's Included In Our Box 
  • Polar Express Book and Movie
  • Christmas Pajamas (Wrapped)
  • Christmas Book to Read Aloud (Wrapped)
  • Santa's Magic Key
  • Special Hot Cocoa Packets
  • Dark Chocolate Creme-Filled Wafers
  • Packaged or Tub Popcorn (Alyssa asked for a popcorn tub as a Christmas gift.)
Other Things I May Add: Reindeer food, Santa's cookies to decorate, Alyssa's Santa letter, Christmas socks or slippers, hot cocoa toppings, candy cane stirrers or chocolate covered spoons, small games, coloring books, Christmas mugs, and a Christmas craft.

Do you have a Christmas Eve Box? 
What fun items do you include in your box?

I will link this post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet LinkyJ is the letter of the week so come join the fun and link up your post. I will also link this post up at the Homeschool Blog Link UpLife at Rossmont's Wordless Wednesday, and Tots and Me Wordless Wednesday
Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Iceland's Puffin Craft

Our last featured craft before Christmas break was Iceland's Puffin Craft. My daughter followed the directions and used the printables provided in the Let's Go Geography curriculum. I absolutely love that this curriculum is so easy to use. She wants to continue using the 3-year program next year and I am thankful that it is so affordable. 

I wanted to share her Art project with you today. She used white paper, colored paper, colored pencils, and a glue stick for this art project. She colored the Puffin's beak using a variety of color selections as suggested in the curriculum. I look forward to seeing her work at the end of the day. She also colored a page featuring the Puffin. She learned that 60% of the world's Puffins live in Iceland. The author of the curriculum provided an educational link for her to explore and learn more about Puffins. She shared the facts with me after she spent some time researching. Thank you for visiting and checking out this wintery craft. 
I will link this post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet LinkyI is the letter of the week so come join the fun and link up your post. I will also link this post up at the Homeschool Blog Link Up, Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop, Life at Rossmont's Wordless Wednesday, and Tots and Me Wordless Wednesday
Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Holiday Elf is Back!

There are so many wonderful things happening this year. It snowed for the first time in a long time in Texas. My daughter FINALLY had a snowball fight with me and the neighborhood. We took a winter walk together to view the lights as we played in the snow. Here is a picture of the front yard the next morning. The snow quickly melted away by mid-afternoon.

We also had a special visitor arrive. Our Elf on the Shelf, Faith, came to the house. The first day she spread shreds of paper across the house leading to the Christmas tree where she was hiding in a decorative Christmas box with a sign saying, "I'm Back!" My daughter was thrilled to see that she returned and helped clean up the mess.
Here is another prank she recently played on Alyssa. My daughter woke up and ran to the bathroom only to find . . . 

Do you have an Elf on the Shelf? 
Share your Elf actions or deeds in the comment section. 

I will link this post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet Linky. H is the letter of the week so come join the fun and link up your post. I will also link this post up at the Homeschool Blog Link Up.
Building Character Round Up {and Weekly Homeschool Link UP}

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2017 Blue Ribbon Awards

I posted my last review for the Homeschool Review Crew on the first of November. The Crew year has just finished up - we are now on a holiday break. The Homeschool Review Crew has blessed my family this year with 15 review products. We've enjoyed learning about several new companies and trying new products in the year 2017.

The Crew team reviewed over 75 products in 2017. They've given out 31 Blue Ribbons to 22 Companies. We voted on our favorites and results are in! The Crew leaders tallied up the votes in order to give out the Blue Ribbon Awards.

I wanted to end the year by sharing our personal favorite review products with you. The links below will take you to my blog reviews.

Our Family Favorite Review Products for 2017

Favorite Math: CTC Math
Favorite Math Supplement: Algebra for Breakfast
Favorite Geography: Let's Go Geography
Favorite History: Homeschool in the Woods Project Passport
Favorite Reading: K-5 Learning
Favorite Art: Creating a Masterpiece (Me) and ArtAchieve (my daughter's)
Favorite Christian Supplement: Let the Little Children Come
Favorite Supplement: Super Teacher Worksheets
Favorite Science: A Journey Through Learning Exploring Creation With Botany Lapbook
Favorite BookCarole P. Roman Books
Best Product Just for Fun!Trust Fund Movie
Favorite Parent Product: Everyday Homemaking - Everyday Cookbook
Favorite Elementary: Let's Go Geography
Resource I Didn't Know I Needed: Super Teacher Worksheets
Best E-Product: Home School in the Woods Time Travelers and Project Passport
Best Online Program: CTC Math
Kid's Choice: Let's Go Geography

Thank you to all of the vendors who offered us review products this year and congratulations to this year's Blue Ribbon Award Winners!

Now that you've read about our family favorites, visit the Homeschool Review Crew Blog or click on the graphic below to find out which companies won the Blue Ribbon Awards and to read about the other Crew members' personal favorites.
Homeschool Review Crew Favorite Products for 2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Gokstad Viking Ship Geography Art Craft

The featured craft from our Let's Go Geography curriculum last week was the Gokstad Viking Ship. Alyssa researched information about this ship using the websites provided. Norway is well-known for their prominent Viking heritage. She learned many other meaningful factoids during her research session.

Let me tell you a little bit about this art project. First, we gathered white, brown and blue shades of paper for the Viking ship. I printed the template patterns from the Printables section of the curriculum on the different colored paper for her to trace. The sails were printed on white, the ship was printed on brown, and the ocean waves were printed on blue paper.

My daughter cut out the waves and glued them in place starting in the middle of the page. She worked her way down the page. She also colored and cut out the sails. She colored the vertical stripes red and white. Then, the brown entire ship was lightly colored darker and decorated. She wrote Norway on the bottom of the page.

I will link this Gokstad Viking Ship Craft post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet LinkyG is the letter of the week so come join the fun and link up your post. I will also link this post up at the Virtual Refrigerator Linky and the Homeschool Blog Link Up.
Homeschool Coffee Break
Building Character Round Up {and Weekly Homeschool Link UP}

Friday, November 17, 2017

Finland Reindeer Craft

My daughter is studying Finland this week so I thought it would be fitting to write an F is for Finland Reindeer Craft. This is an awesome craft that can serve as a Christmas tree ornament. Did you know that in an area north of Finland there is a place called Lapland where the Sami people live and raise reindeer?

The Let's Go Geography curriculum we use provides the student with information and an educational website link to research more information about the Sami people and the reindeer they raise. We actually slightly modified the craft project. 

We gathered the following materials for the project:

  • Gold Pipe Cleaners
  • Brown Construction Paper
  • White Card Stock Paper
  • Small Red Pom Pom (Sparkly)
First, I printed the reindeer template found in the Printables section of the curriculum on white card stock. Alyssa cut out the reindeer outline. She traced the white card stock template on the brown construction paper. Then, she cut around the shape.

Next, my daughter hole punched the top of the figure in the middle between the ears. Then, she cut and reshaped the gold pipe cleaners to look like antlers. You can add a tree hanger through the hole to place it on the Christmas tree. The pipe cleaner antlers will be between the two pieces of paper. 

Alyssa glued the brown paper reindeer on top of the white card stock paper to make it stronger and sturdier. She also decorated the reindeer craft. She drew on the eyes instead of using Googly eyes. Ears were drawn as well. My daughter also glued on a red sparkly pom pom for the nose using a glue dot. It looks like Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. She decided NOT to add glitter to the reindeer's face. The glitter would make the face appear snow-blown. Finally, Alyssa wrote Finland on the back of the reindeer craft and drew snowflakes. I think the craft is super adorable. She plans on making several of them as ornament gifts.   

I will link this Finland Reindeer Craft post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet Linky. F is the letter of the week so come join the fun and link up your post. I will also link this post up at the Virtual Refrigerator Linky and the Homeschool Blog Link Up.
Homeschool Coffee Break
Building Character Round Up {and Weekly Homeschool Link UP}

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ecuador Butterfly Craft

We are continuing our journey through our Let's Go Geography curriculum. I wrote about my beginning experiences and opinions with this curriculum on my blog, A Learning Journey, about a month and a half ago. Ecuador's featured craft displayed the beauty of the butterfly. Ecuador is known for having many more different species of butterflies than any other location around the world. The curriculum provides an educational website link for children to research and explore butterfly pictures.

Let me tell you a little about this week's craft. First, we gathered the necessary supplies for the project including black construction paper, white cardstock, black pipe cleaner, scissors, glue stick, and acrylic paint.

I printed the butterfly template on white cardstock for my daughter from the Printables section of the curriculum lesson plans. Then, she folded the template on the fold line with the design face up. She also folded the black construction paper and placed it inside the folded butterfly template.

Next, Alyssa cut along the dark lines of the butterfly. She glued the white butterfly pattern on the black paper to give it a background.

In order to make a symmetrical butterfly, my daughter painted one side of the butterfly and then folded it so that it would paint the other side of the butterfly. Touch-ups were needed to fill in white spaces. She continued using this painting technique for most of the project except for the outside borders which were painted by hand.

The last step of this project was for her to fold the black pipe cleaner in half in order to create butterfly antennae. She placed the butterfly inside the folded pipe cleaner and twisted the top. Alyssa wrote "Ecuador" on the butterfly.

I will link my Ecuador Butterfly post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet LinkyE is the letter of the week so come join the fun and link up your post. I will also link this post up at the Virtual Refrigerator Linky and the Homeschool Blog Link Up.
Homeschool Coffee Break
Building Character Round Up {and Weekly Homeschool Link UP}

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Poison Dart Frog Featured Craft

We are still working through our Let's Go Geography curriculum and we recently finished the South America unit. I wanted to share with you one of the featured crafts from that unit which centers around Colombia's Poison Dart Frog. This week at Blogging Through the Alphabet we are focusing on the letter D so I chose Dart Frogs as my blog topic.

A short paragraph about the Poison Dart Frogs was provided as part of the curriculum. She learned that these Colombian frogs secrete a poison on their skin that you can't touch as a defense mechanism to warn off predators. She also learned that in ancient times, the poison was placed on the tips of arrows or darts when hunting for food or utilized in warfare. Alyssa also used the educational website link to research more information about them. 

In order to make this craft we needed white and green paper, scissors, glue sticks, and crayons. I printed the leaf template on green paper and the poison dart frogs were printed on white paper. After researching images of poison dart frogs, Alyssa colored the dart frogs. She was fascinated by the colorful designs of all the dart frogs. Next she folded, cut out, and glued the frogs to the green leaf template. That's it . . . it's a super simple craft.   

I will link my Dart Frog post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet Linky. D is the letter of the week so come join the fun and link up your post. I will also link this post up at the Virtual Refrigerator Linky and the Homeschool Blog Link Up.
Homeschool Coffee Break

Building Character Round Up {and Weekly Homeschool Link UP}

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Let the Little Children Come - Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack

Let The Little Children Come

Let the Little Children Come sent us the Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack to review.  The company offers a variety of interactive evangelism tools and resources that teach about God's love and share the Gospel with children. The sampler pack contains TEN Gospel tracts and evangelism tools which are suitable for children ages 5-12 years old. The assortment of items are easy to use and effectively teach the profound message of salvation. We received four popular types of evangelism tools including the Pop-up Tracts, FlipAbouts, Animated Tracts, and the Wordless Salvation Bracelets and Book. Our items arrived in a bubble envelope which included an enclosed plastic carrying case or pouch.

What's Included in the Sampler Pack
  • Wordless Bracelet Kit
  • Silicone Salvation Bracelet
  • Wordless Book
  • John 3:16 Animated Tract
  • Where's Everybody Going? Animated Tract 
  • The True Story of Christmas Animated Tract
  • The Lost Easter Egg Pop-up Tract
  • The Most Amazing House Pop-up Tract
  • Gospel Buttons FlipAbout
  • John 3:16 FlipAbout

 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks

Our Experiences
I used the products with my nine-year-old daughter. I wanted an easy way to share the message of salvation with her and I wanted to teach her about God's love. I am also hoping she will use these tools to openly share the Gospel with her friends.

Let me start by telling you about our experiences with the wordless bracelets and book. We received two bracelets and one wordless colored book as seen below. 
 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks

Silicone Wordless Bracelet
The wordless silicone bracelet is an awesome way to teach and share the Gospel of Salvation to children. It is also known as the Gospel or Wordless Bracelet. We received a medium sized bracelet which is intended for older children and youth. The bracelet fit Alyssa without falling off. Alyssa wore her bracelet on her wrists to church and other locations. People would notice and ask about it. This tool is a neat way to ignite a conversation about salvation. She could easily explain the Gospel message because each color represented a significant piece of the message. The bracelet is available in three sizes: Small (Younger Children), Medium, and Large (Adults).

I think these bracelets would be a wonderful Sunday School welcome gift for children attending. They could also be passed out at any church event or function. For example, these would be great prizes at our church's upcoming fall festival or even at child baptisms. They can be added to goodie bags at a Halloween party or given out to trick or treaters. 

The silicone salvation bracelet came with an explanation of what each color symbolizes. Gold represents God love for us and how He wants us to be with Him in Heaven. Black represents our sins and the reason why we can't be with God. Red represents Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. White is the color that stands for the cleansing of sins and our new relationship with God including the fact that we can be with Him in Heaven one day. Green represents our growing relationship with God. We used this rolled up paper explanation for the Wordless Book too.  

Wordless Bracelet Kit
I thought this activity was going to be my daughter's favorite, but it wasn't because of the sliding knots. She had a difficult time creating the knots without help. She quickly thread the colored beads on the black cord. She watched the video demonstration and read the written instructions to learn how to create the sliding knots, but she still needed my help. It may be easier just to tie the ends together with one knot.   

Wordless Book
I used the rolled up explanation from the silicone wordless bracelet tool with this product. This tool can be used in the same manner as the bracelets. It is a simple way to explore the message of salvation. It is a stapled booklet which consists of five colored pages. Gold, black, red, white and green pages are included. No words are written in the booklet. The booklet can be used with children and new believers. They can tell the message in their own words using the colors as cues.     

John 3:16 and Gospel Buttons FlipAbout
This was Alyssa's favorite activity! I highly recommend spending some time familiarizing yourself with this activity before sharing it with your child. We spent several minutes attempting to use the FlipAbout and it became a competition to see who could use it properly first. My daughter was the first one to figure out how to use it. Now that we know how to use it we will use it as intended. I will quickly flip through the Gospel Buttons in hopes to intrigue the children that I share it with. Then, I would share the message of salvation beginning with Heaven. The How To Use instruction sheet provides the user with key points in the form of questions and verses to cover. The directions for this particular activity could use some minor wording clarification. 

The top picture shows BOTH of the FlipAbouts we received in our package. These tools required her to fold the FlipAbout back horizontally away from her body and then she needed to turn the FlipAbout to the left 90 degrees counterclockwise. The common problem occurred when we tried to open it as we would a book. You MUST use your right hand to grab the left-side of the FlipAbout to open it. Once you get the hang of it, this activity rocks! 

The FlipAbout on the right-hand side only uses brightly colored symbols to share the salvation message with children. The images included are the symbol for heaven in a gold background representing God's home, the white splashed heart with a black background representing sin, a white cross over a red background represents Jesus taking the punishment for our sins, and a white heart with a green background which represents our cleansed hearts.       

John 3:16 FlipAbout
Sorry about any blurry images. My daughter was folding and turning too fast for my camera. This FlipAbout utilized both words and colorful images to share the well-known John 3:16 Biblical verse. These tools are extremely fun once you get the hang of them. My suggestion to the company would be to make more of these FlipAbouts to help children memorize relevant Bible verses. It was used in the same manner as the Gospel Buttons FlipAbout.  

John 3:16 Animated Tract 
My daughter's attention was immediately captured when she opened this tract. It was her first time to utilize an animated tract. The movement of the images definitely caught and maintained her interest. The tract helped her memorize the Bible verse too! A phrase was added with each page until the complete referenced verse was revealed at the end. This tract was one of my personal favorites. The images selected will aid the child in their understanding of the verse. The tract includes circling hearts when stating "For God LOVED the world so much . . . " It also includes images of a cross, people walking, and an image of what is meant to be Heaven or eternal life.

First, Alyssa read the salvation message on each page and then she created the animations. The concept was simple. She placed the striped plastic acetate sheet over the cover and blurred images. Then, she slide the plastic sheet left to right to make the image move. This process was followed throughout the presentation.

Where's Everybody Going? Animated Tract
This tract contains the same usage directions. However, this is a story about God's Creation. It begins with a question about who made the Earth spin and includes an image of the Earth spinning. My daughter's favorite image was of the dolphin jumping out and back into the moving water. There is also a sweet image of an enlarging heart above a girl and boy when the tract explains that God made us and LOVES us very much. It also includes images of two people fighting, a spinning cross, and people going with God. My daughter didn't like the fighting image. I REALLY wish this tract actually included one image for each Day of Creation. 

There was a How To Use instruction sheet included with this product. It provided the parent or educator with thought-provoking questions that can be tailored to meet the needs of the audience's age group. The directions also provided Biblical verses to sprinkle in your presentation if you feel your children are ready for them. The second time we used this tract I added in the verses and questions to dig a little deeper.

The True Story of Christmas Animated Tract
I did not share the True Story of Christmas Animated Tract with my daughter yet, because I wanted to use it as a stocking stuffer this year. I absolutely love this tract! The tract begins with a true account of the Christmas story beginning with Mary's visit from the angel Gabriel. There are images of Baby Jesus crawling, their trip to Bethlehem on a donkey, the birth of Jesus in the manger, angels telling the good news to the shepherds, a one of a wise man following the star. The last illustrated page of the story does not need the plastic strip. It ends with a reminder of why we truly celebrate Christmas. We celebrate the birth of Jesus and his love for us all. It also references John 3:16. This tool may help children memorize the verse. 

This would be a great tool to give to students who participate in or to guests that attend our church Christmas event. 

Note: Remember to hold the plastic sheet horizontally across the images of the animated tracts. At the end of each tract, information about salvation and accepting Jesus Christ in your heart as your Savior is provided. Additionally, a prayer to say sincerely is included.
 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks

Pop-up Tracts
Our package included two pop-up booklets: The Lost Easter Egg and the The Most Amazing House. The tracts read like a story in the form of a miniature pop-up book. Basically, Alyssa turned the pages of the book and charming images popped up telling a portion of the story.
 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks 

The Lost Easter Egg is a story about three friends searching for Easter eggs at the park but one egg is missing. Obviously this book would be best used during Easter time. The children persistently search for the missing egg. They eventually find it beneath a sheep-shaped spring rider which reminds one of the children of The Story of the Lost Sheep as told by Jesus. The pop-up tract reminds readers that Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that they can be forgiven. It also states that he became alive again on the third day and discusses the real reason why we celebrate Easter. I am saving this pop-up for Alyssa's Easter basket this year.  

This miniature 3D pop-up book below is titled the The Most Amazing House Pop-up Tract. As you can see by Alyssa's face she enjoys reading it. The images jump out at her and are meaningful to the story. These pop-ups will help non-readers better understand the story if it is being read aloud. The story talks about God's home in Heaven. It explains that God wants you in Heaven with him. The pop-up defines sin. Sin is anything we do that makes God unhappy which includes telling lies, fighting, and stealing. My daughter was reminded that Jesus came to Earth to take the punishment for our sins and that he died on the cross so that our sins can be forgiven. The book ends with an explanation of how your child can get to the amazing house and a prayer. The salvation message is clearly stated. Alyssa prayed to Jesus by first admitting to her sins and asking God for forgiveness. Then, she stated that she believed Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Lastly, she invited Him into her life again.     

Overall Thoughts
The colorful sampler tools pack is a fun and engaging way to help children understand God and His Word. Children will quickly understand their salvation in Christ. The message is profound yet clearly stated and explained in the simplest terms for children. I believe these interactive tools are powerful and any child or new believer will benefit from using them. We plan on sharing all of these tools with our church leaders in hopes that we can utilize them in the near future. I love that so many of the products included detailed instructions and prayers.

Some items may require practice to gain familiarity with how the activity works. For example, the FlipAbouts and the double sliding knots which are required for the Wordless Bracelet Kit will take extra time and practice. The written directions for the Wordless Bracelet Kit were easier to follow than the online video demonstration. It was hard to see the knots via the video. Helpful illustrations accompanied the written directions of the more complicated or challenging activities. Some assistance may be needed at first especially with younger children. It is always best to model the activity first as the parent or teacher.

The hands-on component attracts and maintains their attention. The activities, tracts, and booklets are age-appropriate. I really appreciate that instructions are provided for each item. If you misplace any of the directions or if they are missing from the package, you can easily find and download them at their website. I did not receive specific detailed instructions for every item so I visited the website to obtain them. Many activities did not require directions, because they were self-explanatory.

Alyssa's Thoughts
My favorite tools are the FlipAbouts! They were challenging at first, but the more I played with it the easier it became. I also really like all of the the animated tracts. The picture movements fascinated me. However, I didn't like the fighting image in the Where's Everybody Going? animated tract. 
 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks

If you are wanting to share the Gospel with your children, then the Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack is a product worth checking out. I highly recommend this sampler pack to churches, pastors, Vacation Bible School program leaders, church camps, prayer groups, Sunday school teachers, children's outreach programs, individuals in children's ministry, and those participating on missionary teams. The items can also be added to Easter baskets or used as stocking stuffers. The tracts and miniature booklets can be used individually, in small groups, or with larger groups. There are so many things you can do with these tools. I offered a few ideas on how to use these tools today, but I am sure you will think of many other useful ways. 

The sampler pack costs $11.95 for 1-10 packs, $10.95 for 11-20 packs, and $9.95 for 21 packs or more. The sampler pack includes 10 items in each pack. You can also purchase the products individually in bulk through the online store. Visit the website for pricing plan options. Discounted rates may apply when purchasing larger quantities for specific products. The company offers free standard shipping for all products and orders worldwide. 

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice.

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The Homeschool Review Crew Blog has several Let the Little Children Come: Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack reviews for you to read.
Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools {Let the Little Children Come Reviews}
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