Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mattie Richardson's Horses in History Series ~~ A New TOS Review!

When you have a child who is hesitant to read and says it's not their favorite then you will do pretty much anything to help them catch the "reading bug". So for my second daughter her love was horses and puppies. I have scoured the libraries and the internet to find any horse book or puppy book for her to read. Over the last few years she's actually been reading more and more which I love. So, when I asked her if she wanted to read 4 books from the Mattie Richardson's Horses in History Series by Author Mattie Richardson/Appoloosy Books, she said an emphatic YES! Music to my ears!!

Like I mentioned we received 4 books from the Mattie Richardson's Horses in History Series -- AppaloosyDusty's Trail, Golden Sunrise, and Day and Night. With Day and Night we also received the Day and Night Enrichment Guide and answer guide as a PDF. Each one of the stories is based in a historic time frame where horses were in full use. The stories are written all from the horses point of view. What a neat idea!

The stories are written for 8-14 year olds but I think any horse loving or history loving child would enjoy these books. The books are paperback and range in length from ~75 pages (Dusty's Trail) to ~140 pages (Day and Night). Also it should be mentioned that Author Mattie Richardson/Appoloosy Books began writing at the young age of 13 and owns her own horses (another hobby she shares with my daughter.)
Audrie loping in a 4H class

Some of the words and terms that might be different than what we use now are explained.
As I mentioned above, my daughter used to not like to read. It is more that reading was and sometimes still is a real struggle. At one point she told me that the letters were swirling around the page. So she has come a LONG way. She chose to read the Appaloosy book first. And she did not want me to read it to her ... but as we neared the end of the review period the book has proved to be still a bit tough for her and has taken her a long time to get through. But I am proud of her tenacity and perseverance. Here are her thoughts on the book and the whole series.

This story is about a horse, an appaloosa named Storm, whose herd got separated and all the young ones got taken away. Storm was sent to an Indian tribe. Then in a battle the white men captured him and he is now trying to escape.  This is how far I have been able to read. I love reading, but bigger books like this take me a long time to read on my own since I'm a bit slower at reading then others. 
Each book ends with a brief look in to  'A Blast from the Past'
I ike the story mostly because it's about horses. The stories that Mattie Richardson has written are interesting because they are written from the horses point of view. Normal authors don't talk about how the horse feels and what they are thinking. They only usually talk about the humans and from their perspective. These stories tell us history through the horses eyes. 
I also enjoyed that the stories were based in a true historical time period about a real event in history. That was neat. I learned that in this story we, "the white man", fought the Indians to take more of their land and basically steal whatever they could. That isn't fair to the Indians since they didn't have as much protection or people and they were traveling with women and children unlike the 'white men'.
I also thought it was cool that both the author and the illustrator started writing and drawing very young. The illustrator, Clarissa Richardson, was only 13! I'm only 14! And I love art and drawing. I also just realized that they have the same last name - SISTERS! My sister loves to write just like Mattie is. Maybe one day I'll draw illustrations for the books my sister writes.
Illustrations are black and white drawings.
I was also so surprised when I opened them because they were all SIGNED - that makes them a collectible! She also sent a bookmark. That is so cool!
I think I am planning to read Day and Night next or maybe Dusty's Trail. Both sound great ... well I also saw she has 3 more books available ... 1 that is out and I'm asking for that one for Christmas called Blackberry Blossom and the other two are coming soon! I've already added them to my list for my birthday next September!! LOL!
Extra Reading for more on the historical time period
As the story continues Storm gets captured and lands in a small farm with a little girl who really loves him, used as a bronco at an Indoendence Day event, and then had a loving life for a few more years. Then close to the end he and his barn mates were kidnapped to later escape by Storm's doing. It was a great story of friendship and loyalty all while set in the beginning at least during the Nez Perce war before ending up in Idaho on a small family farm with Storm's forever human, Faith.

This book has taken my daughter a while to read so she hasn't ventured into the other stories so I want to give you a brief overview of what you'll expect to learn from each of the other ones.

Dusty's Trail - is the shortest of the books received. It is set in the time of the Pony Express and is narrated by Dusty, an American Quarter Horse. His owner Levi answers an ad for adventure and danger as he embarks on a new job with the Pony Express. Unfortunately, Dusty would rather stay at home in his slow and predictable farm life. But as Levi and Dusty are run down by Indians Dusty has to prove he's in it for the long haul to keep his owner/rider safe from harm. Then Dusty rides off leaving Levi to fend for his own only to later encourage another horse, Ace, to help him as he searches to save Levi and not leavve him for dead.

Golden Sunrise - Cheyene, a Palomino from northern Texas, is the main character in this book along with her owner Jared. They have a special bond that helps them navigate all that is happening during the time of the Alamo, where this book is set. Along their time together they fight in two battles and also meet Davy Crockett and James Bowie on their travels. Will they both be able to make it through to see Texas' independence?

Day and Night - a story about two borhter horses, Tucker and Shiloh, who are separated during the time of the Civil War and all the border wars. They are like day and night with one being for the Yankees and the other to the Confederates where their allegience is to their side, but still devestated from the loss of losing each other. As you read through the story both horses learn so much about this important time in our American history.

Along with this one you can purchase Mattie Richardson's first Enrichment Guide created to complement Day and Night. It has even more history that breaks the book up into 8 parts and incorporates extra reading, vocabulary, crafts, and activities that can take about 2 -3 months to complete. It is just about 100 pages! The plan is to also have enrichment guides for the rest of the books by 2021.
Special words to know and the Table of Contents
Audrie is planning on reading this book next so she can work through the enrichment guide too. I believe this will be a great way to learn history or expound on a time period in history even more once all of these guides are available.

My daughter has TRULY loved the books so far. She can't wait to read them all and the rest of the ones she hopes to get. I encourage you to read the other Homeschool Crew Review by clicking the link below to see how others used and incorporated Mattie Richardson's Horses in History Series into their school life. I also hope you check out Author Mattie Richardson/Appoloosy Books on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Let us know if you end up reading these and what your thoughts are on them and which book is your favorite!!

Book Set: Appaloosy, Dusty's Trail, Golden Sunrise & Day and Night {Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books Reviews}

Friday, November 8, 2019

CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts ~~ A New TOS Review!!

For this review I was a little sneaky. I didn't even tell my son he was getting a review. LOL! That's because I wanted him to be surprised when he watched the video that was made by Your Amazing Name - Personalized Adventures for EVERY Name.  He was so shocked when he began watching the personalized gift we had received, especially when they said his name out loud. This video was created by CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts and he loved it!

So before I show you the video of his reaction when he first played the video let me tell you a little more about CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts. They believe that EVERY name is special, unique, and beautiful and they want to help you remind your child of that.  They want to join with you to celebrate the gift of their name. CrossTimber is a family run company based out of Ohio that has a passion for researching the meaning behind names and then encouraging people with personalized gifts.
His expression says it all!
Their newest venture is Your Amazing Name - Personalized Adventures for EVERY Name a 28 minute video that not only tells the origin of the name but also the meaning of their name. It also uses the childs original artwork to help with the personalization of the video. The HD video can be downloaded so that it can be viewed again and again. You can also chose to order a DVD version of the video for an additional cost. CrossTimber will research the meaning of your children's names and then create a fun video with animated cartoon figures - including a pencil named Ben, Mr. Owl, and a Lost Lamb. These characters all help explain how special the name of a person is and that it has a deeper meaning then just what you are called. There is also Scripture sprinkled throughout the video the reiterates how unique a name is.
Watching the video
Ben meeting Mr. Owl

During the video your child will see their name over a dozen times written out, hear their name spoken about 20 times and they will even see their full name and address on a letter.

When you order the video you have the option of uploading a piece of their own artwork which will then be used within the video as an integral part of how Ben the pencil gets around to help find the origin and meaning of your child's name. I highly suggest adding this one piece of information.
original drawing I uploaded
Here it is after it became a Rocket Ship
Here his drawing was the Rocket Ship that launched them into space.

Also when ordering you the parents (or grandparents, godparents, aunts or uncles) have the ability to write up a little information of where and how your child's name was chosen. If you do this extra part that letter is read out loud to your child at the end of the video and shown to them virtually. They also hand pick a Bible verse that coordinates well with the meaning/origin of your child's name.  This is a gift which they will certainly treasure for many years.

As we sat and watched the video together I watched my son light up each anad every time the video mentioned his name specifically. You will see in the video below that he did say he was a bit "freaked out" that they knew his name. I had to pause and tell him I gave them his name. LOL!

He also recognized his picture that I had sent in. It was an art drawing that we had all done and they were on our mantle for a while. He was so proud of that drawing and I knew it would make him happy to see it 'come to life' so to speak within the video. At the end of the video it shows a picture of your child and he remembered that I had asked him to come and take a picture outside. My alterior motive was for this video, but I also like to get pictures when it's a nice day in a new season.

Later on in the video we got to hear Mr. Owl as he read the origin behind my son's name. We also were read a letter that my husband and I scripted about how and why we chose his name. He hadn't remembered heraring this story and was alight as he intently listened to the letter.
You can get this as a real framed piece of art!
There are many extras you can also purchase as keepsakes. These would be perfect as birthday gifts or even for Christmas. And there are many variations which I think is awesome. There are also a set of activities that we were graciously given to help reiterate how special a name is. Ours included a page of mazes out of his name, a page where he could practice writing his name in cursive and about 8 others. We haven't gone through them all, but he LOVED this personal touch of these activity pages.
A few of the activity pages
Working on cursive.

If you want a unique gift that showcases your childs wonderful name that will be a treasured piece for years to come I highly suggest you check out  Your Amazing Name - Personalized Adventures for EVERY Name by CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts. Also you want to go over to the Homeschool Review Crew and check out their reviews of this product as well - click on the link below! You can find them also on Pinterest!

Your Amazing Name - Personalized Adventures for EVERY name! {CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts Reviews}

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Kregel Publications Goldtown Beginnings - A New TOS Review!

The children in my house are long time readers of Susan K. Marlow books so when we had the opportunity to read her newest ones - the first two books in the Goldtown Beginnings Series from Kregel Publications. Jem Strikes Gold and Jem's Frog Fiasco are Book 1 and 2 in a series slated for six books created for ages 6 - 9 as independent readers. Since my son loved listening to his eldest sister read all about the Andi books (the first series of books that had us fall in love with Marlow's work) we thought these books would be a great set for him. And even though he's a little older the reading level of these books are just what he needed to help cement his confidence in reading alone.

Goldtown Beginnings is set in Goldtown, California during the gold rush in the 1850's. This series has the main character as a young boy, Jem Coulter who is also the main character of the older series called Goldtown Adventures (where he is a bit older as well). Their family is camped by Cripple Creek as their dad, his younger sister Ellie and he pan for gold.

In Jem Strikes Gold, Jem tries to keep the gold mining rules at the forfront of his mind as he also tries to help his family.  Along with panning, Jem also helps his mama out by delivering pies that have been ordered from the other miners in their gold mining community. But a bully, Will Sterling, is always trying to stir up problems with Jem. In the midst of his weekly errands Jem has to find the strength to do what he knows is right. In the end, his own "gold nugget" comes to the rescue as Jem and his sister Ellie also strike it rich!

We haven't completed Jem's Frog Fiasco, but I have read ahead. My son is slower at reading and during this review also seemed to "lose" (or purposefully misplace) his reading glasses, which made our reading sessions longer than necessary. Anyways, we again meet Jem, his sister Ellie, and their new pet, but Jem wants to help his pet stay helathy so he decides he needs a job. Once he gets his job he has a time trying to keep his pet and his little sister out of the way so he can catch the bullfrogs.

In the end Jem's temper gets the better of him and his sister gets the brunt of it. And then Ellie runs away. Jem is left to have to face the facts that his anger may have caused his sister to be in harms way after he promised to watch over her. The final chapters have us follow Jem searching for his sister and praying that God will help him find her. You will have to read to find out whether she is found and the mystery will keep your young reader turning pages for sure!

Throughout the stories the characters exhibit Biblical teachings and even ponder Scripture to help them stay on the 'straight and narrow'. This is something I tend to look for in books for emerging readers so that my children can also learn about God in the day to day.

Even though these books are aimed for ages 6 - 9 my eldest has read ALL of Susan K. Marlow's books and I even saw her take them with her for a "break" from her college work. She loves the mystery and action all packed in the little books. They only take her about 20 minutes to read! She also likes the black and white pencil drawings sprinkled throughout the 10 chapters.

My son, not a lover of reading (GASP!), has enjoyed the stories. We have been reading them together so that we can try to finish them sooner than he would on his own. He was thankful that the printing was larger then some other books he reads. That is a complaint I have heard from many younger students ... the words are too small. Here the book seems to be at perfect font size.

He also wanted me to print a few of the coloring pages which are free on the main website. My middle daughter liked to color the black and white drawings in the book themselves instead of just the coloring sheets. There are 10 sheets for each book and some of them have a "Just for Fun" section where the child is asked to add additional details to the page.

You will also find a few other neat things in the book. After the contents page you will find New Words. This is helpful since this is based in a historical time period and some words like claim, prospector, hit color, fiasco and coyoute hole might not be known or mean what they mean in this context.

At the end of each book there is also a section called A Peek Into The Past where the young reader gets a little more information about the historical context the book is based on. In these two books we learn more about gold and coyote holes.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the first two books, Jem Strikes Gold and Jem's Frog Fiasco, of the Goldtown Beginnings Series from Kregel Publications and look forward to the rest of the 6 book series. There were many other Crew members who also reviewed these books and I encourage you to read some of their reviews by clicking the link below. You can also find Kregel Publications on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Jem Strikes Gold & Jem's Frog Fiasco  {Kregel Publications Reviews}

Friday, October 25, 2019

Excelerate SPANISH ~~ A New TOS Review!!

My eldest daughter wants to learn multiple languages before the end of high school so when we learned that we could review a curriculum that could allow her to learn Spanish fast we jumped at the chance. We've been graciously blessed by Excelerate SPANISH with a one year membership to Excelerate SPANISH Streaming with acces to Level 1 and Level 2. To say that Arianna was excited would be a slight understatement. 😀
Excelerate SPANISH Streaming was created with the homeschooler in mind. It can be used with your whole family from appriximately age 7 and up. There are no textbooks or workbooks required or needed, but we had access to Quizlet where there were vocabulary word flashcards, games, and even quizzes that we could use to help strengthen the learning from each lesson.

There are 24 lessons in both Level 1 and Level 2 of this unique homeschool Spanish program. You join in each lesson as if you were in a classroom with Miss Caryn as the Spanish teacher. The lesson begins first with vocabulary that are spoken as well as written on a whiteboard. The students will also see a gesture that was created to match the word or phrase. This is called Total Physical Response (TPR for short) and has been scientifically proven to help learning languages. As the lesson progresses previously learned voacbulary is added in to help with review. The student is also not pressured to start speaking so that they can absorb and hear the language and speak it once it 'clicks'.

Once the introduction has concluded the students hear the words again, but this time in context within a short story of shorts  - that is how my daughter described them. They are encouraged to do the gestures of each vocabulary word or phrase as the teacher reads the story. Once they have seen it acted out, the student is encouraged to act it out on their own. I have walked by my daughter many a time with her waving her arms and mumbling something in response to what she's watching on the computer. That's how I've figured out she was working on Spanish during the day. LOL!
Dong the gestures
Taking notes on the vocabulary
Each leson has a theme or set of activities that the lesson is built upon. And Caryn Hommel begins staright away with speaking in Spanish. She repeats the voacbulary word two times and then translates it to English all while writing the word on the whiteboard. These are the words Arianna has been adding into her notebook.  She pauses with the voabulary section to review. Then she also calls out prior words they have learned and the students are to add in the gestures when they remember. No pressure to talk, unless they want to try which helps with the anxiety you have learning a new language.

At the end of the lesson the teacher acts out the skit as the children call out the Spanish words or phrases. She then goes through the vocabulary one more time. The student then hears the words and phrases many times. As the lessons progress into Level 2 they get longer (about 40-45 min is what we've seen) and harder with more useage explained - like personification, subjective form of words, etc.

Here are some thoughts my daughter had on this homeschool Spanish program.
So far most of the words she has been using are in the third person. I am currently in Lesson 7 of Level 1. The one thing I don't like about this is that I can't use them in everyday language. There are a few that are in first and second person so I'm trying to piece those together in my notes. I looked ahead to Lesson 21 in Level 1 and I noticed that the language is getting more difficult. The motions are also a bit longer. The teacher does and says everything a little faster than she did in the beginning. 
I had hoped to do about 3 lessons a week to complete Level 1 in 8 weeks, but my History 101 class at the community college was harder than I anticipated and took more time. I've been doing more lessons over this week on break and I hope to continue doing several a week so I can finish before the holidays. I want to know multiple languages before I graduate college and this program has been fun and is easy to use. You just login, pick the level and lesson and watch the video. While I watch I pause the video to write down the vocabulary words. Then when I need to study them I cover them up with a post it stickie and if I know it I can uncover it. If not, I keep it covered. 
I also use the quizlet access that we get to study, review, and take tests. That has helped a lot. As you progress into Level 2 it seems they are in a different location and the camera angles are different. Even on full screen some of the words are a bit cut off so for me that made it hard to pause the video and write down the vocabulary. They also seem to be done in a slightly different order than in Level 1. But in the Level 2 lessons I perused it seems that we will be learning a lot more words and phrases and then the motions or gestures are also for everyday situations, but the techniques are the same as Level 1. In Level 2, Lesson 3 she was going over masculine and feminine, past and present tenses.
All in all I like that she speaks in Spanish almost the entire time. It helps me to understand how the words or prhases need to sound and how they fit into sentences. I feel I have learned a lot in the few weeks I've been working on it. I plan to hopefully finish Level 1 by mid November and then start on Level 2. That's my goal! Thank you Excelerate SPANISH for helping me to learn Spanish fast!

 I hope you have gotten a better picture of what Excelerate SPANISH Streaming can offer your entire family. I took Spanish for 2 years in high school and 2 years in college and I have lost most of it, but I have watched a few of these videos (on my own since my daughter's schedule is so different than mine) and I've enjoyed the learning structure with the gestures and immersion of speaking in Spanish almost all of the time. But don't just take our word for it, check out the other reviews of the Homeschool Review Crew by clicking the link below. You can also find  Excelerate SPANISH on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Excelerate SPANISH help your students to learn FAST, naturally! (Streaming)  {Excelerate SPANISH Reviews}

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