The Key to the Kingdom - John Allen's Review Mood:
a-ok Topic: Book Reviews
About a month ago, I reviewed The Key to the Kingdom by Jeff Dixon for First Wild Card blog tours. Unfortunately, it was at the same time as Joshua's illness where we had to rush him to the emergency room with breathing problems and I couldn't write the review I really wanted to write.
Well, Joshua is all better now, and now is the time for the review. But...with a twist. I'm not the one who wrote the review, my 14 year old son, John Allen, did. John Allen became very intrigued with The Key to the Kingdom when I was reading it. I liked it so much that I would relay different things about the book as I was devouring it. Of course I tried not to give away any secrets in case another member of the family would want to read it. Well, I soon found that on the rare occasion that I had to lay the book down, it was never in the same location when I wanted to pick it back up again. It was always someplace in the vicinity of John Allen...usually in his hands! I almost had to fight him over it.
Being the good homeschooling father that I am, I decided to turn it into a learning experience and had him write a book review of his own. I must say that I was pretty impressed. He asked me to help him tweak it a little, but it was really an excellent review on its own. So, without further adieu, here's John Allen's review of The Key to the Kingdom by Jeff Dixon.
The Key to the Kingdom is probably one of the two or three best books I’ve ever read. This book (like many of my other favorite books) is filled with adventure, romance, mystery, action, and probably the biggest twist in the history of books thrown in there. It also has something most other books don’t have, Disney magic. The Key to the Kingdom is the dream book for any Disney fan (and even for people who aren’t fans of Disney). While reading it, you learn many secrets about Walt Disney and Walt Disney World. This novel takes you on a wild adventure through Walt Disney World, as you meet friends and foes it grabs your soul making you want to read more and more each chapter.
Dr. Grayson Hawkes, the pastor of Celebration Community Church, is invited to a place he never even knew existed by a good friend of his, Disney Imagineer, Farren Rales. Little did he know that his life was about to be changed forever. That night Farren Rales gives him something he says to be The Key to the Kingdom, and tells him to “do what Walt did”. Then he disappears in the middle of the night. I really encourage parents and their kids to read this book as you take a journey to a place where dreams really do come true.
Sadness, Sickness, and Selebration! Mood:
hug me Topic: Family
Yes, I know how to spell celebration. I just wanted my title to look good.
It truly has been a week of sadness, sickness and celebration though. It all began last Wednesday night. While out with some friends, Sarah got a call from another friend about a terrible accident that had happened in our small town. Five youths from the church that we used to attend were on there way to evening service when the drive lost control of his truck and crashed into a tree. In an instant five families were changed. Two families are with out their son and daughter tonight. One family has a daughter that will be hospitalized for some time and have a long road to recovery. Two other families have children to hug, but those children will have emotional scars for the rest of their lives. We knew four of the five teens. We are friends with their families. We hurt with them.
John Allen put it best the other night when he and I were talking about the accident. He told me he knew why God allowed the accident to happen. When I asked him why, he said so that more people would be saved through the testimonies of these young people. He said that if he ever had to die so that even one person would be saved it would be worth it. Sometimes I wonder if my kids are really "getting it". I thank the Lord that in this case John Allen did "get it".
Then, on Friday, I took Joshua and Jacob to therapy in Cookeville. Soon after Jacob went back his therapist came back out to the waiting room to tell me that he was sick in the restroom. Sure enough he was white as a ghost. He slept much of the day.
That night John Allen caught the bug and had to miss a big shooting match on Saturday. I was upset because he missed it. I was wondering if he was just nervous and that is why he was ill. Until the next day.
That's when Sarah got sick with the exact same symptoms. So, I had to swallow crow and apologize to John Allen for doubting him. Ah well, even fathers have to learn from their mistakes sometimes.
On a lighter note! We are blessed with two boys that are very good at shooting. Both are on a competitive BB gun team. Since John Allen is older, he is obviously the better shooter. He's expected to make the national team this year and perhaps win the state match.
Although, Joshua is probably a much better shooter than John Allen was at this age, he seems to get caught in the shadow of his older brother. Well, because John Allen was sick and couldn't compete, Joshua was out of the shadow and able to shine. And shine he did! Although he still doesn't have the score to qualify him for the shoot off (top eight overall), he was able to make the top five in the prone and sitting positions and...get this...he WON the GOLD MEDAL in the sitting position!
Really, he only had one really bad shot in the standing position and one bad shot in the kneeling position. Otherwise he could have been in the top five in each of them as well. It's the fifth component of the score that really drags him down...the dreaded test.
Each competitor has to take a test on the rules and other gun safety items. Sometimes the questions can get tricky. It might be a two part question with the first part true, but the second part false. In that case, the shooter should mark false on this fifty question true/false test. Joshua often doesn't listen to the complete question or gets mixed up and ends up marking the wrong answer. If we could get him to slow down and listen, I know he could score higher on the test. Well, in two weeks it's the state match. Prayerfully John Allen will be able to compete, and we can practice some test questions with Joshua. Who knows what might happen?
Science Weekly - Another I've Got A Secret Post Mood:
caffeinated Topic: Homeschool Product Review
Now, I'm pretty sure that I've never revealed this secret before so this one will be totally new to all of you. Here goes:
I was never much good in science!
Math I was pretty good at - I guess math is considered a science - but I wasn't overly good in things like Earth Science, Biology, Physical Science, Chemistry, etc. Oh, I liked them all right, I guess. I had an excellent Biology teacher. Dr. Tubbs was awesome and I liked dissecting, so I guess that was probably my best year. I got okay grades because I volunteered for extra credit experiments a lot but I really didn't understand what I was doing a lot of the time.
It's really not been until my adult life that I have gotten more interested in science. That has it's pros and cons when it comes to homeschooling. I know that it is important and want my kids to succeed, but since I wasn't really interested when I was younger, I don't know what to look for in a good science curriculum. I found something that worked great with John Allen, but wasn't a good fit for Joshua. So I've stumbled around pulling things from here and there and using this or that unit study/lapbook. So, when I was chosen to review Science Weekly, I was excited to try something and see if it was a good fit for him. I wasn't disappointed.
The people from Science Weekly generously sent us a whole set of all of the levels of mail-outs for one issue including the teachers addition that covers all levels. That's one thing that I like about this every other week newspaper. Every level talks about the same thing but the older the grade the more advanced the subject matter is. So, if you want to order multiple subscriptions for your different aged kids in grades K-6 then they will all be studying the same thing. But, that's only one thing I like about this great newspaper.
Another thing I love is the very easy to understand way that the authors explain things. The other day I had read over the level that I wanted to use with Joshua but I hadn't shown it to him yet. It talked about fractions. While we were riding in the car I decided to begin to explain to him about fractions using the same language that was used in Science Weekly. Joshua had never studied fractions until now, but understood the concept almost immediately just by what I was explaining to him. Later on when I showed him the Science Weekly newspaper it reinforced what we had been talking about even more. I was amazed.
Each issue of Science Weekly, no matter what level, has the front page, main explanation section, and also has a math section, vocabulary section, weekly lab section (using simple things found around the house) and a "Writing in Science" section. Each section, although titled the same, is geared to the different level learner. There are also two or three sections that are exclusive to that different age group. For example, Joshua's level had a "Challenge" section and a "Bring it Home" section that was geared toward his grade.
The Teaching Notes section is separate from the regular newspaper and has all of the teaching notes, instructions, and answer keys to all of the levels. Everything is well laid out and easy to follow.
A couple of small caveats. Science Weekly is mainly used in classrooms, so the language is classroom language, especially in the Teacher Helps. It will say things like, "We suggest you do this after recess" or something like that. It sometimes can get a little humorous when your child reads that his teacher will provide him with supplies for this experiment and to share with his classmates. Homeschooler's, however, are used to that. Another thing - although I didn't see much talk of evolution in anything that I read online or in any of the materials that were sent to me, Science Weekly does not tout itself as a Christian company, so I can't promise that it would never show up. However, when and if it does, it would be a great opportunity to discuss what you believe with your children.
Okay, you may be thinking that it's called Science Weekly, but only comes about every other week. Well, that is true, but the Science Weekly website has a lot of really neat things that will keep your child busy during the off weeks as well. There are six free science coloring books that you can print out and use, and there are also five interactive Science Weekly issues where you can complete the activities directly on the computer, or print out to use if you would like. There's even a free trial issue that you can print to see what this fantastic four page newspaper is all about.
So, what are you waiting for? Get on the site by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above and begin boning up on your science - I mean your kid's science - I mean have your kids get on to bone up on their science - oh you know what I mean! And while your on the site, don't forget to order your subscription(s). The cost is only $19.95 for each single subscriptions. Your kids will love you for it.
Other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew reviewed Science Weekly and you can find out what they had to say by clicking here. Happy Home Educating!
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent free copies of every level of Science Weekly along with the Teacher Notes in order to try out and review on my blog.
Kinderbach - Well if Joshua doesn't become a linguist, maybe a pianist! Mood:
a-ok Topic: Homeschool Product Review
Last year we got to review a fantastic online piano program for Joshua called Kinderbach. Joshua loved it! So, when the opportunity came up to review it once again, we were on pins and needles hoping that we would be one of the ones chosen. When Joshua heard that we were, he was thrilled!
Kinderbach is made for pre-schoolers to get a fun introduction to the piano or keyboard. In fact all you need is a small keyboard or piano to be able to use this great program. We found, however, that this easy approach was perfect for our Joshua, who is in second grade this year but has aspergers syndrome. Since this is a very gentle approach, it is perfect for kids who may have trouble learning piano in a traditional way. Joshua has a tendency to get frustrated very easily. With this program, you can move at your own pace. If Joshua is having a good day, he can easily do one, two, three or even a whole week of lessons in one day. That may not be advisable for younger children, but since Joshua can handle more on good days then that's what we have done. On the other hand, if Joshua becomes frustrated we can simply turn it off and try again later or, even watch the same lesson over again. That is the beauty of Kinderbach! Work at your own pace.
Kinderbach is divided into six levels and each level has 10 weeks of lessons in it. So, this program can easily go for well over a year or more if you choose to repeat lessons. Each level has an accompanying downloadable workbook for your child to work in. They will use it during the lessons, so have it handy. Each week has four lessons in it, so if you miss a day there is no problem - you won't get behind. Of course, as I said before, there is no time limit. You don't have to do a lesson on a particular day. It is at your own pace.
Joshua loves the lessons. Karrie, your teacher, is in every level, but each level also introduces some colorful cartoon characters that help miss Karrie teach the lessons. A young boy named Frisco and a donkey called Dodi are introduced in the first few lessons, but along the way you will also meet Carla the Caterpillar, Edward the Eagle, Felicity the Frog, Gracie the Gorilla, Alan the Alligator and Bob the Bear. They are so famous that they each have their own web page!
The lessons start off very easily by learning such things as high and low and learning about the keys on the piano. Soon, however, you child will be learning about notes, rhythm, rests, beats, spaces, lines, proper finger placement and even Crescendo and Fortissimo! And it's all done with fun games and activities that you either play along with the video or do in your workbook.
Since last year there have been many changes to the website as well. There are is a new section with added fun worksheets if you want to print them out, and a fun song section and game section are going to be added in the near future.
This was once again a hit for Joshua and is definitely a keeper for us. How much does all of this cost? If you purchase an online membership for a whole year at once, it's just $7.99 per month. If you would rather buy it on a month to month basis, the cost is still very reasonable at $19.99. They also have physical CD's and DVD's that you can purchase. Check out the website by clicking here or on any one of the links above for bundle pricing for there physical products or to become a member online. They are also selling themed products this year like a Patriotic Songbook and a Christmas Bundle. As always, you can check out what other TOS Crew members had to say about Kinderbach by clicking here. Happy Home Educating!
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a free limited time membership to Kinderbach's online program to try out and review on my blog.
Haven't Been Very Active But... Mood:
a-ok Topic: General
A new series is coming!
We just got back from the MidWest Homeschool Conference and I have a series of three or four posts about our adventures. The first will appear tomorrow and it has something to do with "The Clampetts Go To Cincinnati"!