Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing: A TOS Crew Review

Barbour Publishing
IMAGINE... The Great Flood
Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing

It can be difficult to find an exciting book for ages 8-12, especially boys!  The Bentz Test Laboratory has been enjoying Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing.

This 110 page softcover is the first in a series by Matt Koceich, who wants to bring Bible to life for young people with exciting action stories.    The next book -  Imagine... The Ten Plagues comes out in 2018. 

This story follows a young, 10 year-old  boy named Corey as he gets a close up experience with the days leading up to the flood.  It's a time travel story,  Corey is a modern day child thrust back into Mespotamia around 2400 BC after taking a fall while chasing the family dog.  Corey is about to move from Texas to Florida, a very stressful event for him.

He meets Noah and his sons, the violent Nephilim, and even an evil sorcerer.  This is a page-turning adventure that makes you really imagine what it must have been like during the Bible times! I love reading fiction that makes the Bible come alive for my children. In fact, I picked up the book to give a quick look over, and ended up reading the entire thing!  It truly grabs your attention right away.

Through out his adventure, Corey is able to see how God is working in his real life adventure of moving.  This was particularly meaningful to my tester, as we have made several BIG family moves in the past 10 years.

This is an exciting read - and full of great truths, without being preachy.  The important lesson of knowing that God is with them no matter the circumstances is woven into the story and makes it memorable.  

My tester really enjoyed the adventure, and is eagerly looking forward to the next book!   My daughter has fallen in love with another series, be sure to check out the Barbour Publishing -  Diary of a Real Payne series  too!

Find Barbour Publishing on Social Media:
IMAGINE... The Great Flood

Hashtags: #hsreviews, #biblestories, #bibleadventure
See what other members of the Crew thought here
Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}
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I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.   On one hand, I get a chance to keep up with friends all over the world.

On the other, it daily reminds me that my kiddos are growing too fast!  The timehop is killing me.

This came up recently... our first day of Co-op (it said 7 years ago, but I know it was YESTERDAY!)

This is our "last" picture of the summer, before college kid left...  I bet it makes me cry when Facebook reminds me again...

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Unauthorized from Chara Games: A TOS Crew Review

Chara Games

There is nothing better than a game we can ALL play!  We have been enjoying learning a new game called Unauthorized from Chara Games.  This fun game is designed for 6-12 players.  The age on the box is 12+, but we played with ages 8 to 17, and everyone enjoyed it.

The game is designed to take 30 minutes.  It consists of 4 rounds.  I love that this game is easy to learn, and easy to play.  Having some serious board/card gamers around here... not all games are this family friendly!

The game is very high quality - with a sturdy box to hold everything.  The game contains the following items:
  • Rule Book
  • Role Cards
  • Dealer Reference Card
  • Player Reference Card
  • Experience Cards
It's a role play game in which your goal is to grow the underground church, or to try to stop the underground church.  I love the focus from Chara Games on producing well-designed, high quality games that encourage Christian values and discussions in respectful ways.  We've reviewed another game from them - Commissioned, you can read about it here.

The game begins with each player getting a Role Card.  Each Role Card has a special "power" printed on the card that allows the player to make a unique move during their turn.  This is the role play portion of the game, and makes the play lively!

We played with 7 players our first game - so we had one Pastor and one Police while the rest of us were "undecideds".

The Rule Book is very easy to understand, and all the rules and process of play is very clearly explained.   In addition, the game includes cards to leave on the table that have the card actions and player choices outlined.  This was so valuable playing with a variety of ages and abilities.  Everyone could easily refer back to them when it was their turn.

The Experience Cards determine a player's loyalty - Red for the State, Green for the Church.  The winner is decided by which card color is the majority at the end of the game.  The cards have different "experiences" like persecution, intolerance, indoctrination or curious about the faith, disillusioned with the state, and encounter spiritual truth.  There are also "wild cards" that the player gets to use as they wish for their loyalty.


Each of the 4 rounds has players passing cards to each other.  This changes everyone's hand, and potential loyalties.  You must begin play being loyal to the color with the greatest number of cards in your hand, and you can't change - unless instructed to (we did have a minor meltdown from a young player that didn't want to be part of the State :-)  Guess we're teaching them well!)   The game is both individual and cooperative. The end goal is for a majority to be loyal to the church, and have at least one player not in prison (the special power of the police)

Each round allows a player to also choose an action to complete - use their power, speak to a neighbor, seek parole (if they have been imprisoned) or a Public Execution (only the police can do this, and only once in the game).   

Poor girl was executed....  But-the Church prevailed!

We really enjoyed the game, and it has quickly become a family go-to.  It's nice that you can play with more players, especially in a family our size.  But this would also be great for your small group to play together.  It really encourages great discussions about the "experiences" of being a Christian in a very non-threatening way.  You definitely want to check it out!

 You can check out a brief video to see how to play:

Find Chara Games on Social Media:

Hashtags: #hsreviews , #ChristianBoardGames, #StrategyGames

See what other members of the Crew thought here
Unauthorized {Chara Games Reviews}
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Carole P. Roman: A TOS Crew Review

Carole P Roman Blog
Carole P. Roman 

We love discovering new books to add to our history and geography study.  Carole P. Roman has quickly become one of our favorite authors!

We recently were given 2 books in her award winning historical series - If You Were Me and Lived in... Elizabethan England: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time (Volume 8) and If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time (Volume 3).  In addition - we also received 2 "mystery titles" to look at!

If You Were Me and Lived in… Historical series - designed for ages 8-15

Books by Carole P Roman

We love these softcover books!  They are filled with information and facts about particular time periods.

 If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time (Volume 3) is illustrated with charming watercolor style illustrations.  It takes your child to a visit of Viking Eurpoe.  From what you name might be, social classes, home life, and what you might have eaten (horse meat...a treat?)  these books give your child a snapshot of life in the time of the Vikings.

What you did with your days, how you learned, and even what you called your mother give us the details of Viking life.  A section introduces Viking beliefs, and the norse gods as well as other famous Vikings from history.

If You Were Me and Lived in... Elizabethan England: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time (Volume 8)

Books by Carole P Roman

This engaging book is written in the same style, but takes you to the world of Elizabethan England. 
The illustrations are brighter in this book, and the text is larger and simpler, but still packed with interesting facts!

My testers love how they really get the "insider details" about the time periods as they read.  What did you eat, where did you learn, what did your parents do?  It takes history and makes it truly come alive for them.  We have reviewed several other titles  - you can read about them here.  These books make a perfect addition to your current history study, or as a springboard for a unit study!

Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles: A Captain No Beard Story (Volume 8) - ages 3 - 8

Books by Carole P Roman

This is a sweet story about the joys of family!  Poor Fribbet is being overrun with new tadpoles, but learns that family is worth the messes.  This is from Carol P. Roman's award winning first series for her sons.

Other books in the Captain No Beard (A Captain No Beard Story - The Series)
  • Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life
  • Pepper Parrot's Problem with Patience
  • Stuck in the Doldrums: A Lesson in Sharing
  • Strangers on the High Seas
  • The Treasure of Snake Island
  • The Crew Goes Coconuts!
  • Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis
  • Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles
  • A Flag for the Flying Dragon
  • Being a Captain is Hard Work

If You Were Me and Lived in… Cultural series- great for ages 4-9
If You Were Me and Lived In... Italy: A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around the World

Books by Carole P Roman

We love this series!  The softcover books take you to different countries around the world.  They are full color with photos and illustrations. Each book introduces your child to a country, it's language, landmarks, food, and more.  My testers loved learning what their name would be, or what they would call their parents.  We have reviewed other titles - read what we thought here

Other books in If You Were Me and Lived in… Cultural series
Australia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Kenya, Mars, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, South Korea, Turkey

If You Were Me and Lived in… Cultural series
Australia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Kenya, Mars, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, South Korea, Turkey

Carole P Roman Be sure to check out other series from Carol P. Roman:

Bedtime Stories
Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?
I Want To Do Yoga Too
One to Ten: Squirrel's Bad Day

Early Chapter Reader Books - Oh Susannah series
Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag
Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump

Find Carole P. Roman on Social Media:

Hashtags: #hsreviews, #childrenshistory, #historystorybooks, #culturalstudies
Oh Susannah, Bedtime Stories, Captain No Beard, If you were Me ... {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Cast for 2017-18

Here we go... another Senior this year!

We'll start at the bottom this time...

Our first day of school tradition!  = NO school - just pictures and Chick-Fil-A!

And, even when they leave...they still do it - just for mom!  

 Yes...they're ALL mine!

Charlotte’s Web E-Guide from Progeny Press: A TOS Crew Review

Progeny Press
Charlotte's Web - E-Guide
Charlotte’s Web E-Guide  (Grades 4-6) from Progeny Press

Is there anything better than rediscovering a childhood favorite with your children?  We have been delighting in a personal favorite with  the Charlotte’s Web E-Guide  (Grades 4-6)from Progeny Press.

Progeny Press is our hands down favorite supplier of high quality literature guides for ALL grades!  They offer dozens of choices in each level, and we have used them for high school literature study for the past several years.

This time, my 4th-6th grade testers are getting a chance with Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.  I have such fond memories of this book, and my 4th grade class play (I was the narrator...)  My 4th grader is our official tester this time.

The Interactive E-Guide is a 55 page downloadable study guide to go with the book (which is sold separately).  They are called "interactive" because your student can type directly into the PDF and save their work.  This s a great option if your child would rather type than write!

They are also printable - which is my "old school" option.  I love having a resource that I can use with multiple children too! You can see sample pages here.

The E-Guide is clearly organized.  It begins with the Synopsis,  About the Author, and About the Illustrator sections that will help your student understand the general plot and some background information about the author and illustrator. E.B. White is a wonderful children's author, and Charlotte's Web was his second novel.  Illustrator Garth Williams is another well-loved children's artist.  My tester really enjoyed learning the other great books written by them as well.

The next section offers Ideas for Pre-Reading Activities.  This is a fun way to "set the stage" for your student.  From planning a field trip to farm to learning all about spiders, the E-Guide offers suggestions to help bring their reading to life.

Each section of the E-Guide corresponds to chapters for the student to read and complete several different types of learning exercises.  Progeny Press does recommend spending a week reading the entire book before going back to study in depth so your student understands the story, and can enjoy it in it's entirety first.

The lessons include:

  • Vocabulary - the exercises are varied, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, context clues, and dictionary definitions.  We love the variety!

  •  Comprehension Questions - these are designed to get them to remember what they have read.

  • Thinking About the Story - these questions are more in-depth and make connections from what they read to outside topics, and what they think or feel about the characters as well.

  • Descriptive Writing - fun exercises to help encourage their writing skills.  Once again, they have a variety of types from Mad Lib style paragraphs to creating vocabulary for their pets.

  • Dig Deeper - these are great discussion starters!  Scripture and life lessons are woven throughout this section with a decidedly Christian Worldview,  it's truly my favorite part of the Progeny Guides..  

  • Literary Devices - this section introduces literary devices like characterization, mood, irony, foreshadowing and more.  I really appreciate how each guide is tailored to the grade level, and builds up their literary knowledge step-by-step.
The Overview section contains questions that outline the story structure, characters, and theme all with Scripture to back it up.

The final section - Post-Reading Activities offers several ideas for art projects or letter writing to wrap up the book.  In addition - Additional Resources are listed if your student enjoyed this book.  There is plenty of ideas to turn this into a full-blown unit study!

A complete Answer Key is included for busy moms.

Progeny Press E-Guides are so very well designed, everything you need is right there - just add the book.  They are comprehensive and make teaching literature at a high level easy.  Be sure to check out the other titles the Crew is reviewing:

Find Progeny Press on Social Media:

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/progenypress
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/progenypress
Instagram:  instagram.com/progenypress
Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/user/ProgenyPress
Pinterest:  pinterest.com/progenypress

Hashtags:  #hsreviews #progenypress #literatureunitstudies #literaryanalysis

Study Guides for Literature {Progeny Press Reviews}
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