Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers {A TOS Review Crew Review}

Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers

As most of my long-time readers know, we love unit studies.  Finding a topic and studying through with unit studies are our favorite way to learn about things.  So when I received the opportunity to review Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers from Funtastic Unit Studies, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a peek and try a unit study from the book with my children.

What We Received

Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers is a large, trade paperback that is approximately 200 pages in length.  It contains 20 unit study chapters that target children between the ages of 4 and 13.  The first half of the book (10 units) are created for 4 to 7 year olds, and the last ten units are for 8 to 13 year olds.

Some of the unit studies included are the five senses, dinosaurs, insects, magnets, plants, health, microscopes and the weather.  Each unit study has a list of necessary books, supplies and videos at the beginning, and then the study is broken into several parts.  Each part has diagrams, teaching and activities to help illustrate the concept being taught.  The activities in the unit are placed in a sequential order where the activities in the unit build on each other and need to come in a particular order.  However, there are times when there are multiple activities that illustrate a particular concept.

Potato People

How We Used This Unit Study

Each unit study is composed of approximately two weeks of activities and work.  Some of that is going to vary depending on the unit and how involved the activities are that go with the unit study that you have picked out.

I had originally thought that I would allow the children to go through the book and pick out their own unit study.  However, because the big kids were involved in some other reviews and  it’s the middle of summer, I decided instead to start my preschoolers on the “Our Senses” unit study.  Seeing it in the book reminded me that I really hadn’t talked about the senses or done any activities with the senses with the children.  So, I primarily used this with my five and four year old.  However, when my 8 & 10 year old saw fun looking activities going on, they couldn’t help but come get involved in some of the unit work as well.

The senses unit study is divided into seven parts, and we worked on it during seven different days over the course of about three weeks.

Learning that our sense of touch is relative

My Opinion on This Book

This unit study was a lot of fun and all the studies in the book look like fun too!!  While I’ve mostly looked at the younger unit studies, the older studies retain an element of fun while adding in more information for your students and even an end of unit test.

I did find the constant emphasis on activities was draining on me, and even though most of the items needed for projects were easily available, making sure I had the right quantities of items and planning when to use them was tedious.  If I use this during the school year, I will schedule to use it two days and week ,and make sure that I go through in advance looking at the specific activities that I wanted to use and making a more detailed weekly shopping list.  Sometimes we didn’t use the unit study or we skipped activities that I wanted to use with the kids because I hadn’t looked ahead and planned to go and buy specific materials for activities.

Still, we really enjoyed the activities.  With the five senses unit study, we had a book we were supposed to use and there were a couple of short stories printed in the unit to use with specific activities.  I really enjoyed the closeness that those stories and activities engendered between the preschoolers and me.

How can you tell sugar from salt

I do know that even after I finish using the units that my children want to use from this unit study that I am going to be keeping it for use with co-op classes.  It’s been a while since I taught at a co-op class, but this would be a perfect book to go through an elementary or middle school co-op science with.  There’s so much to choose from that you could have a fun class and still assign homework if you’d like with the students.  I can picture this one in that environment in my head.

So, if you’re looking for a fun and hands-on way to do science with your children or with your co-op, or if you’re looking to add some fun activities into your classroom, this is a great book of ideas and activities to make teaching science concepts fun!

Funtastic Unit Studies ReviewCrew Disclaimer

Patterns of Evidence Exodus {A FlyBy Promotions Review}

Patterns of Evidence Exodus

I have always been a more logical and skeptical person than I probably should be.  When I’m trying to find out about a topic, there is no avenue to far to travel down to find an answer if it’s one that will make logical and factual sense.  So, I could completely relate to the premise behind Timothy Mahoney’s new documentary, Patterns of Evidence Exodus.  Mahoney faced a crisis of faith because most archaeologists have concluded that there’s no evidence that the Exodus ever happened.  So, he embarks on a 12-year journey to find out the answer to the question, “Is this foundational event of the Bible really just a myth?”

He combines scientific investigation, interviews with leading archaeologists and historians, interviews with rabbis, beautiful animations and even interviews with Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres to create a stunning, in-depth investigation of the exodus from the Bible and Egyptian history.

I have to tell you guys that this is something that I’ve been waiting on the answer to with baited breath.  When I was a younger person, struggling to determine whether or not the faith that I had grown up in was the truth or a lie, one of my biggest stumbling blocks in belief was my realization that archeologists do not believe that there is evidence for the slavery of the Israelites and the exodus from Egypt.

So, it was with great pleasure that I began listening to the documentary, hearing the interviews with archaeologists, hearing them say time and time again that whatever piece of evidence Mahoney wanted to discuss with them could not be evidence of the Exodus because it didn’t fit the accepted timeline of the events of the Exodus.  After two hours, I could see that there were far too many coincidences in the timing that Mahoney was proposing for the Exodus (and the resulting revision in accepted Egyptian history) for it to be anything but the hand of God.  These men were looking at the truth and not even able to tell it or to accept it because their biases got in the way.

I also really enjoyed seeing Mahoney take the dating and the evidence from Egypt and continue on into the conquest of the promised land.  I walked away encouraged and sure that the Biblical account was correct.  I still want to see some of the special features I haven’t watched yet, and read the book, but this is a great apologetic work for Christians who are asked about the Exodus and how to they defend their belief in the Exodus.  I’ll be recommending it to all my friends, sharing it with others who are interested in Egyptian history and the Exodus and keeping it to use as a history resource in our homeschool.


Twitter: @PattofEvidence


Official Website:


Official Website to Purchase:

Blog featuring interviews with director Tim Mahoney and an article by Anne Graham Lotz:

And now for the good news!  I get to give away a copy of this DVD!!  Just leave a comment to enter.  This giveaway will end on August 10, 2015! (This giveaway is good in the US and Canada.)

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): 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. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

This Week

This is one of those very quiet weeks, where I didn’t take many pictures, and I almost didn’t write a weekly wrap up, but I want to keep things real here, so I’m posting :-D

The new Dragons series came to a couple of weeks ago, and we quickly realized that it wasn’t the beginning of the series.  So, we’ve been going back and watching all of the first and second season episodes that were on Cartoon Network before the show moved to Netflix.  While most of the children just watched, Monkey felt like watching Dragons was a great time to pull out his legos and make some Lego dragons to go along with the show.

DragonRose has a new phonics and reading program.  It’s the Alpha Omega Horizons program, and she’s making some progress with it.  It’s hard work, but I keep encouraging her and telling her how proud she’s going to be when she works through this curriculum and is reading better.

HorizonsFirecracker continued working on Orphs of the Woodlands and a little on UnLock Math, but the truth is that we’re kind of between reviews right now, and we’ve taken a little bit of a break for a few days.  Firecracker’s getting a new math program in this week (His fifth this year if you’re keeping track.  He is totally awesome!) and a new computer game called Mayan Mysteries.

We’ve spent most of our “school time” this week with me reading aloud and the kids writing in their literature notebooks.  If you’ve never spent a lot of time reading aloud to your children, you’d be surprised at how time consuming it is.  We finished Roald Dahl’s The Twits and we read many picture books.  We’ve also been reading from a couple of other books, and I’m hoping to finish them up and share them with you in the next week or so.

Literature time

Firecracker and Rose also spent half of this week at our church’s elementary school camp.  It’s only about an hour or an hour and a half away, but it’s a very nice few days for the kids to play and to spend time with friends as well as to learn more about Jesus.

While the big kids have been at camp, the little kids and I have been playing far too much Wii U.  We’ve played Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse, MarioKart 8, and Super Mario 3D World.  It’s been a total binge.


I really thought we’d work some on our Blueberries for Sal box while the big kids were gone, but we didn’t do it.  Monkey and I made a blueberry pie, but that was the only time we even thought about blueberries.

Still, even though it wasn’t a very showy week production-wise, I felt like it was a strong and solid learning week.  We took in a lot of fun stories, we did some reading practice, and we even wrote some in our notebooks.  If we do nothing else, that’s still pretty successful–even if there’s not much to show for it.

With Lee in Virginia {A TOS Review Crew Review}

With Lee in Virginia

We have learned over the past year that Heirloom Audio Productions is a company that consistently creates high-quality, fun and family-friendly products that we love.  Having listened to all of their previous recordings, I knew that I wanted to be able to listen to With Lee in Virginia with my children, and I feel blessed that today I have the opportunity to not just listen with my children, but to share more about With Lee in Virginia with you.

What We Received

We received a two 2-CD audio adventure from Heirloom Audio Productions.  I could only smile at Heirloom’s attention to detail as I opened the CD and found that one CD is blue and one CD is gray.  Perfect for a Civil War audio drama!

We also received access to a digital study guide along with several other digital goodies, including a printable poster and a download of the MP3 soundtrack.  As you’ll see on the order page, there are different packages that you can choose that contain different numbers of CD copies as well as different digital packages.

The study guide that we received digital access to is a 52 page full-color, illustrated PDF download.  The main part of the study guide is divided into three sections:

  • Listening Well:  These are basic story comprehension questions
  • Thinking Further:  These are more open-ended thinking questions to get your child evaluating the ideas in the story and learning more about its’ themes.  There are also occasional learning questions or websites to investigate to add to your study
  • Defining Words:  Vocabulary words to define that may be unfamiliar to your  child from each section

There are also small Bible studies included, short biographies of Henty, Lee and Jackson, authentic pictures from the war, a look at sectionalism and at slavery in the Bible, a map for geography study associated with the audio drama and some resources for further learning about Robert E. Lee.

Duty is ours; consequences are God's

How We Used This Product

When this CD came in, my ten-year old son gave a huge fist pump and yelled out “Yes!!”  I insisted that we listen to the CDs together as a family once or twice before I gave the CDs over to him.  However, he has listened to portions of this CD almost every day during his quiet time in his room since we received the CD.

Usually, we would listen to something like this slowly with the listening guide and go through it as a literature study.  However, because my son took the CD over, I’ve planned to do a With Lee in Virginia unit study later this fall, using the study guide and perhaps adding in some additional activities.  I’ve got to wait until some of the newness wears off to be able to use this for an actual study.  I am only telling you this because I wanted to try and give you a picture of how much my son treasures these CDs.

My Opinion on This Product

This is the story of a young man, Vincent, who is a southerner, a slaveholder and a young man of character and dignity, surrounded by many other leaders who are have godly character.  Yes, there are a few bad guys, and there are slaveowners who abuse their slaves in the story, but Vincent is a man of character.  He, Lee, Jackson and the other influential persons of the audio drama are the kinds of hero figures that you want to surround your growing children with as they learn what it means to be responsible, dutiful and godly people.

learning about War

This story does follow the southern side of the war.  Some people may find that offensive, especially if they don’t know much about the war other than slavery.  I find that this is the reason why stories such as this one are so important.  We all need to know that there were good and godly men who lived, loved, fought and died on both sides of the war.  In my own home state, there’s been recent discussion about taking the stone carvings of these men off the side of a large mountain here, and that would be such a tragedy as we would lose the opportunity to have the discussion about these men and the beliefs that powered their lives.

As someone who is raising men, I also see that this is an opportunity to discuss with my sons  the duties that true men need to fulfill.  I love the portion of the audio drama where Vincent, while recovering from the injury he receives at Manassas, has lost his passion for the southern cause.  He had believed that war would be a great adventure, but he learns that war is a terrible business.  Robert E. Lee comes to visit him in his convalescence, and he suggests to him that perhaps, if Vincent has lost his enthusiasm for the cause, then his enthusiasm might have been directed in the wrong place.  In this, he means that maybe Vincent was more excited about the possibility of adventure than he truly was passionate about the southern fight for freedom.

This conversation turns into a discussion of duty, even when the cause we’re fighting for is failing, because God holds the outcomes in his hands.  This was such a stern reminder for me of how I’m only responsible for the job that God has given me.  He can handle and is responsible for the way that it all turns out.  This is a great place to discuss Christian duty with my children, and to explain to them that even when our faith and our lifestyle seem deeply countercultural, we’re responsible for obedience to God.  He’ll handle how everything turns out if we’re obedient, even when it’s not in the way we would have our fights and struggles turn out.

In the end, this audio drama gets my highest recommendation, not only for entertainment value, but also for holding up truths about the Christian life and about history to educate our family and to help us become more responsible in our obedience to God.

I’ve previously reviewed two other titles from Heirloom Audio Productions.  You can read my review of In Freedom’s Cause here and my review of Under Drake’s Flag here.  The children and I agree that each of these titles teaches us, not only history, but also lessons for living a faith-filled life.

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama ReviewCrew Disclaimer

Slow to Judge {A BookLook Bloggers Review}

Slow to Judge

Words like judgmental, tolerant, intolerant and hate are tossed around so often in our culture that it begins to feel embarrassing to take a side on anything unless it’s the majority opinion. After all, the two most common feelings that younger generations have about Christians is that they are “anti homosexual” and “judgmental”.  What’s a Christian to do?

Because of the current political climate and all the debates I’ve seen on Facebook in the past couple of years, it was with great pleasure that I sat down to read Slow to Judge: Sometimes It?s OK to Listen, the newest book in the Refraction series. In this book, author David B. Capes addresses the multifaceted issues of interfaith dialogue, listening to others, love and forgiveness, “homophobia” and other “phobias,” the problem with tolerance as practiced in our culture, and how to build an authentic tolerance.  Along the way, he also works through the famous passage on “judge not,” discusses moderate Islam and the writings and thoughts of C.S. Lewis.  That’s a lot topics for a slim 150 page volume!

There’s something on every page for the reader to dig into.  I especially found myself needing the chapter on the passage of “judge not” because I’ve seen that phrase used for so many reasons and propagandas that I had found myself needing to hear a measured and reasoned interpretation on what that means.

I also really appreciated his ideas about tolerance and how tolerance should be more than just accepting opinions you agree with, but also with listening to those opinions that you find uncomfortable.  I also was grateful to find his vision of tolerance doesn’t mean the same thing as agreeing with those who have differing opinions.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.

Parenting Training Center Giveaway for Churches

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been reading the book Parenting is Heart Work as a part of the National Center for Biblical Parenting’ s new Parenting Training Center initiative for churches.  Learning more about our children’t hearts and how to reach them has transformed many things that I do as a parent, and  I can’t wait to share more about that with you guys.  Today, however, I’m here to share a little more about what parent training centers are and how you can win some parent training resources for your church.

A Parent Training Center is a church that intentionally trains parents, providing resources and tools both for discipleship of believers and for evangelism to families in the community.

The National Center for Biblical Parenting offers resources, and practical support to help you become the Parent Training Center God designed. The Equipping Program contains a number of mobilization tools to help you advance to the next level in your parent discipleship ministry.

With this program you’ll interact with experts as well as other pastors and church leaders. Receive personalized guidance for your unique church situations. Use resources that will equip your parents to reach their children’s hearts.

Parent Training Center Giveaway for Churches

To introduce your church to the Parent Training Center concept, we are hosting an awesome giveaway that includes some of our best church and parent training resources, along with a $100 gift certificate to the National Center for Biblical Parenting store. Here’s what your church could win:

Parenting Is Heart Work DVD Church Kit ($199.95 value)

Equip parents to touch the hearts of their kids with this biblically-based, practical training program. Parents and teachers of children 2-18 years will benefit from this life-changing curriculum. The Parenting is Heart Work Church Kit includes:

• Eight 35-minute video sessions

• A Leader’s Guide with reproducible pages for attendees

• A copy of the 256 page book Parenting is Heart Work

The videos were filmed before a live audience of parents and children. Using drama, Bible stories, and lots of illustrations, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN will energize you and provide you with tools you need to strengthen your family. Use this eight-part video series in your church, small group, or even in your own family. Many times parents have to change the way they parent in order for children to change the way they live.

The Family Toolbox DVD Church Kit ($179.95 value)

he Family Toolbox has 8 lessons for parents, teens, or both in a small group setting. Each one has a 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships. A discussion guide prompts dialogue among parents and a 10-minute teaching session featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away.

As the group works through the lessons parents learn:

• How to focus on the heart instead of just behavior

• The cues you give that tell your children when you mean business

• Practical ways to remove conflict from the problems of family life

• How to end correction times with impact

• A tool for maximizing heart change in the correction process

• The value of teaching kids to accept no as an answer

• Ways to reduce anger episodes in children

The Family Toolbox is designed for families with children ten years old and up and is an excellent resource for small groups. Each lesson can be done in 20-30 minutes, but could also lead to discussion and dialogue lasting an hour or more.

Coupon to purchase resources in the NCBP Store ($100 value)

Visit the NCBP store to discover a plethora of church and parent training resources.


To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

This giveaway is open to residents of the U. S. only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.  Entrants to this giveaway will be added to the email list for the National Center of Biblical Parenting.


UnLock Math Pre-Algebra {A TOS Review Crew Review}

UnLock Math Pre-AlgebraMath is something that we tend to struggle with at our house.  I’m always looking for resources that will make math simple to understand and help the children increase their math knowledge.  Even though I have always been good at math, I don’t always know how to break it down into a level that the children understand, especially when we start getting into higher math levels.  So, when I received the opportunity to do a review for UnLock Math, I knew that it was an opportunity that I had to take.

What We Received

We received a full year’s access to UnLock Pre-Algebra for Firecracker.  This is a math program that is written for middle school children around the seventh or eighth grade range, but I found myself interested in this program anyway because the first five units actually take the foundational ideas and concepts that your children should have learned in basic math and go through them to build a firm foundation for the algebra that is to come.  Because of our relaxed, sometimes child-led, homeschooling atmosphere, we often go long periods of time without doing math, so I wanted to see what gaps Firecracker might have (as a rising fifth) grader, so that we could address those gaps as he reaches an age to begin to understand higher level math.

Easy to Navigate Screen

UnLock Pre-Algebra is divided into sixteen units.  Parents have a pacing guide as well so that they can keep their children on track to finish this course in one year.  These fourteen units are:

  1. Whole Numbers
  2. Integers
  3. Variables and Expressions
  4. Rational Numbers
  5. Fractions
  6. Equations
  7. Inequalities
  8. The Coordinate Plane
  9. Decimals
  10. Percent
  11. Polynomials
  12. Triangles
  13. 2D Geometry
  14. 3D Geometry
  15. Analyzing Data
  16. Probability and Stats

Students are also given a midterm exam after the coordinate plane unit and a final exam at the end of the course material.

Each lesson within a unit is broken up into six predictable parts:

  1. Warm Up:  Here the student “warms up” or gets into math mode by doing some practice computation.  Most of the warm ups that we’ve encountered so far include easy “mental math” arithmetic based problems.  This section is just to get you thinking mathematically.
  2. Lesson Video:  This is where the instructor, Alesia, gives a small lecture, usually lasting less than ten minutes, on a math concept that your student is going to be working on in this lesson.
  3. Practice Problems:  These are all problems related directly to the lesson that your child has just learned in the video that they watched.
  4. Stay Sharp:  These are problems from previous lessons to keep the previous material fresh in your child’s mind.
  5. Challenge Yourself:  Bonus problems to help your child apply lesson concepts to mathematical thinking!
  6. Reference notes:  A pdf of all the concepts that Alesia explored in the lecture.  These are great to print out and keep in a binder for when your child has a question or can’t remember a concept learned in a previous lesson.  There are often example problems and solutions printed out to help your student remember what was taught.

How We Used This Course

We went through this course and used it as it was written.  However, I often allowed Firecracker to do a half lesson at a time, where he would do the first three sections in the lesson the first day, and then he would come back and do the stay sharp, challenge yourself, and print out and read the reference notes on the second day.  This doesn’t put you on a path to finish the course.  However, he’s rising fifth grader, so I’m not really concerned about him completing pre-algebra at this point.  I’m just concerned about him mastering the concepts that he’s presented.

Progress Report by Unit

Our Opinion on This Course

This is truly a lovely course.  The instructor is interesting and engaging.  Information is given in small lessons and the introduction of new concepts is at a pace that is completely manageable for your child.  Firecracker felt capable and empowered to do his math as he went through the course.  He has never been a kid who looked forward to math, and he didn’t complain about having to do math with this course.  That’s a big deal to this Mama.

I loved the instruction for him.  I loved the components of warm-ups, practice problems and stay sharp separated out in each lesson.  Because the lessons were separated into pieces, it ended up being the type of program where Firecracker knew that each section would only take a few minutes here and there.  That made for a much happier student.  The menus are also user-friendly and easy to navigate.  He didn’t need me to help him figure out what do to next, and I appreciated that.

I also appreciated the grading and weighting that the course does for the parent.  Everything is perfectly weighted according to the program, and I can go and look at his grade books and progress reports.  I can get a quick picture of how Firecracker is doing overall or I can look at it on a unit by unit basis.

Viewing Answers to Student ProblemsFor example, in the unit progress report that I share above, Firecracker has an excellent grade in everything except the Practice Problems for lesson 1.4.  This is the lesson on writing with Roman numerals.  Upon noticing that, I can open up the problems in the gradebook, and I can view his answers and the correct answers in the gradebook to see where Firecracker’s misunderstanding is occurring.  As it happened, in this specific example, Firecracker and I made a Roman numeral chart so that Firecracker could have a reference to help him remember how to write larger Roman numerals.

This is just one example of how easy, user-friendly and detailed this math program is.  As he works through the program, he’s closing some gaps that he had in math and enjoying himself along the way.  I can see his confidence with math and his skills with math growing as he works through this program, making this program a winner at our house!

Unlock Math ReviewCrew Disclaimer