Pass It On {A LitFuse Publicity Group Review}

Pass It On

I think we can all agree that we want to pass on our faith to our children, but we often don’t know how or where to start.  Sure, it’s easy to pass on the Bible stories, but how do we pass on the values and the beliefs that we hold in a way that is meaningful to our children?

Pass It On: Building a Legacy of Faith for Your Children through Practical and Memorable Experiences has some ideas.  In fact, they have thirteen ideas, one for each year from Kindergarten to Twelfth grade.  In their book, they share how to take one idea per year and make a memorial of that idea through creating a ceremony with it so that you create faith-building experiences in your children’s world that they’ll be able to look back upon.  We can consider it their own personal stones of remembrance over their childhood years.

The suggestions range from ideas like service projects, bestowing a blessing, a purity weekend and a driving contract all the way to a manhood or womanhood ceremony to celebrate the adult that your child is becoming in their senior year of high school.  In each suggestion, they share a why they chose that for this particular year, the components of doing this experience and an example of someone’s memories from having one of these type of experiences with their children.  They also share some snippets of child development from that year of your child’s life.

As I read through this book, I found myself pondering how to make these work in my house of four children, ranging in age from preschool to fifth grade.  Each one is simple, from simply finding and doing a service project to things like presenting your child with a box of letters from the teachers and important  adults in their lives to bless your child and show him/her how wonderfully we think they’re growing in Christ.  I think that many of the ideas for experiences in this book are practical and easy to set up and do by busy families, making this a neat handbook for parents to turn to time and time again for ways to bless and build faith in their children.  This one’s staying on my permanent shelf for reference.

Disclaimer:  I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.

This Week

This week was a week dominated by blood moon madness.  It rained all weekend, and we didn’t get to actually get to go out and see the eclipse, so we improvised and watched it on television.  The children were still magically awed and excited to see the moon on the television.  The talked about it excitedly, wrote in their journals, drew pictures, and got all excited.

I had to smile because Monkey worried that the eclipse meant the end of the world, and he consulted me and his Grandad for advice about whether or not it  really was the end of the world.  I guess something like that is a little scary as well as exciting when you’re five.blood moon

We also enjoyed thinking ahead to Halloween.  It was fun for us to start pulling out Halloween themed shirts, dresses, etc. and to start working on Halloween themed coloring sheets and crafts.  Monkey, Owlet and I began coloring some things we’re going to use as decorations :-)

The little kids even got their Halloween costumes on order, along with a order of part of the stuff that Rose needs for Halloween.  It’s a very exciting time of the year.


I printed out a few Halloween themed dot to dots, and that led us on a hunt to find some fun and challenging dot to dots to work on.  The three younger children all worked on dot to dots on and off all week.

dot to dot

Firecracker worked a little more seriously than anyone else this week.  He added a couple of new pages to his Pokemon notebook.

pokemon notebook

He also reviewed some concepts and earned a couple of new certificates in math.


Firecracker and Rose also worked on their Surfing the Net: Science.  They’re working through a chapter on amphibians, and part of their assignment this week dealt with drawing a frog’s lifecycle.


We also read a couple of books together.  We read Whatever After #6: Cold As Ice.  After some of the longer, more serious books of mixed up fairy tales that we’ve been reading, this one was shorter and much more lighthearted to read.

We also read The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History.  We received the book as part of one of Firecracker’s Loot Crates a couple of months ago, and it’s been an interesting read though some of the less well-known, and oft-times not fully developed, comic book characters through the ages.


Speaking of Loot Crate, Firecracker and Rose each drew comic book panels to enter in the newest Loot Crate monthly contest.  They’d really like to win the Tardis Plushie that Loot Crate is giving away.

comic strips

Here’s a few miscellaneous things from our week:

1 & 7 show Monkey and Owlet both in listening ears hats that they made for the call of Samuel at Bible study this week.  Aren’t they cute?

2 is Rose with here newest sock doll creation.  She made a caterpillar that she called Wormie.  After playing around with it a couple of days, she gave it to Owlet to play with.

Number three made me laugh this week.  Firecracker received a behavior/chore chart at Taekwondo this week, and Monkey and Owlet didn’t receive them.  They were so jealous that they had me make them their own so they could earn smiley faces too.

Number 4 are some cards I made for some review games of things that we’re learning at CBS.  We’re studying Matthew this year.

Owlet is still enjoying cup stacking, even after three months of using them.  She had me take a picture of her newest creation.

Number six is Firecracker writing in his literature notebook.  He’s been writing very complicated Pokemon battles as the main part of his writing recently.  I’m just always thrilled when I see him writing.


I had one more thing to share.  I’ve went back to doing activities from Easy Peasy All in One Homeschooling with the little kids, so we worked on G and the sound /g/ this week.  They were so taken with G and the /g/ sound that they even colored their goats /g/ /g/ /g/ green.

G is for Goat

I think that’s about it for this week.  You may have noticed that there’s a little less formal schoolwork this week.  If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that we morph between completely interest-led times and times when we are very heavy with Crew reviews.  We’re transitioning to the end of the Crew year (because we don’t have that many daily use products left to review), and so you’ll see some of our interest-led and relaxed learning pick up.

Reading Kingdom {A TOS Review Crew Review}

Reading Kingdom

It is no secret that my eight year old has had some difficulty in learning to read.  She wants to read, but she just hasn’t put together the words in a way that allows her to read fluently yet.

Over the past two or three years we’ve tried an amazing number of programs, looking for something (anything) that will help her read and not make her miserable while she’s working on reading. So, when we received the opportunity to do a review of Reading Kingdom Online for Reading Kingdom, we were both excited and hopeful that this would be the program that would be the right curriculum for her.

About Reading Kingdom

Usually children are taught to read in our country by one or two methods.  The first, popular among classic reading instructors and many homeschooling parents, is phonics.  Using this method of instruction, children are taught to blend the letters together and to use a sight-blending technique to read by “sounding out” words.

This is a great technique in theory, but eventually you realize that you’re constantly creating and learning new rules for sounding out words because there are more words that break the basic rules for phonics than words that obey them.  This has caused no small sense of frustration and failure for Rose as she attempts to “sound out” a word proudly only to find out that once again, she’s wrong because that word is word that breaks the rules.

The other method of instruction is the method that I was taught in my teacher training classes–whole language instruction.  In this method, using games, word walls, etc. your child, by osmosis and exposure to the words builds his/her vocabulary by using strategies to memorize the words that they’re exposed too.  This actually makes more sense to Rose’s learning style. However, it’s a very slow and cumbersome method of getting a learner into reading, and is often not as effective as phonics for beginning reading.

Reading Kingdom, however, is not based solely on phonics or on whole language instruction.  Instead, Reading Kingdom uses a six skill method to teach words to children.  Children are required to use sequencing, writing, phonics sounds, word meanings, grammar and reading comprehension to decode words and learn them.  Once your child learns a word on Reading Kingdom, they can read it, spell it, use it in a grammatically correction constructions, sound it out if they need to, and understand what it means.

How We Used Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom is split into several levels for play.  Children begin with a placement test to determine where to start Reading Kingdom.  I received memberships for both my five year old and my eight year old, and so I had them both complete testing.  Both ended up not being able to start with the reading portion of the program, but needing to work through parts of the pre-reading portion of the program.

The pre-reading reading portion of the curriculum is split into two parts.  They are:

  • Seeing Sequences–Here children are asked to select letters from a list to create the words in the sequence by reading them from left to right, teaching your child to read from left to right.  This is the portion that Monkey needed to start with, and he loved the game like atmosphere and the animations involved in the game.
  • Letter Land–Children develop typing skills and learn to use the shift keys as they pop bubbles and shoot at spaceships.  Both Monkey and Rose spent a great deal of time on this, learning to type quickly enough to be able to meet the timed responses that they would need to make in the reading portion of the program.

You can change the amount of time that a child has in making responses to the program.  However, Monkey had extensive trouble in connecting the capital letters on our keyboard with the lowercase letters he was seeing on the screen, and after consulting with the customer support at Reading Kingdom, I decided that Monkey just wasn’t developmentally ready enough for the program yet.  He just needs more time to learn and get ready.

However, once Rose finished Letter Land, she was ready to take a reading assessment test to see which level of Reading Kingdom that she needed to start with.  Reading Kingdom is divided into five different levels of readers.  Each level has six books that your child will learn to read, write and spell all the words to before they move onto the next level.  The books and levels build on each other, and your child will complete assessments at the end of each level of readers before they will be allowed to move on to the next level of readers.

Rose ended up having to begin Reading Kingdom at the very first level and first reader.  As she encounters each new word that the readers contain, she is asked to write the word, and if she knows the word well enough to successfully write it, then she can skip that lesson.  Otherwise, she goes through all of the steps contained in the lesson, and by the end of the lesson, she really knows the word that the lesson is over.

My Opinion on Reading Kingdom

I think that Reading Kingdom is an awesome reading program.  It’s completely on the computer, and you’ll need a good internet connection to use it.  It’s meant for the student to do completely independently, with the parent just providing a little hand support to those children who have not completely mastered mouse and typing skills.  I love that I’m able to just hand my laptop to Rose and allow her to interact with the program.

She also loves using the program.  Some of the activities are like games.  Others are harder work, but they are all more fun and less burdensome than completing worksheets, phonics drills and spelling tests.  It’s the first reading program that she hasn’t complained about and it’s the first that has not caused tears.  Having a tear-free little girl is priceless to me, and is proof to me that this program meshes very well with Rose’s learning style.

I can also see great growth and self-confidence in Rose’s spelling and reading after just a few weeks on this program.  Although she’s only on the fifth reader of the first level, and she’s only actually been introduced to 25 different words so far on the program, she’s taking more chances and trying to sound out more words in her other schoolwork.  She’s also already trying to spell more outside of the program, and her invented spelling guesses are not that bad.  I’m happy to see how much this program has added to her self-confidence.

At first glance, the program seemed to move very slowly to me, but then I realized that once she knows words on the program, she really knows them.  She can read them, write them, spell them and tell me what they mean.  Even if she’s only learning one new word a day, over time those words are really adding up and building a very confident reader.  I plan to continue to use it for as long as she needs it to become a fluent reader or until she finishes the program.

Reading Kingdom ReviewCrew Disclaimer

She’s Almost a Teenager {A Bethany House Review}

She's Almost a Teenager

My eight year old daughter often acts like she’s eight going on thirteen, so when I got the opportunity to review She’s Almost a Teenager: Essential Conversations to Have Now, I decided it was a chance to get ahead of the curve and start having the discussions with my husband about how we’re going to handle these conversations that will accompany the transition to the teenage years in my daughter.

The book covers the topics of: the big picture, friends, academics, body, faith, boys, money and technology.  The book is led by Peter and Heather Larson, two parents who are in the thick of the tween and teenage years with their daughters.  Throughout each chapter, there are also boxed-off additional advice from some older parents, David and Claudia Arp, who have already raised their children and can look from the long-term/big picture perspective on a topic as they give advice.

There are many great nuggets of advice in the book, and I think that many of the topics that they address are actually ones that most parents do get around to addressing with their children in many ways, so much of the advice is actually going to be on things that, when the time is right, the conversations will flow naturally.  Still, it gave me a few areas to think about as Rose continues to grow and develop and we want to start laying our ground rules and ideas in a proactive kind of way.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

More For Girls Only! Devotions {A Tyndale House Review}

More for Girls Only Devotions

I try to have a personal Bible time to sit and talk about the Bible, prayer and other personal things with each child daily.  However, I don’t want my time with my children to be secure time for them, especially for my 8 year old daughter who completely shuts down whenever she thinks that she feels a lecture coming on.  So, when I received the opportunity to review the More for Girls Only! Devotions from Carolyn Larsen, I believed it would be a great element to introduce into my Bible time with Rose.

This book contains about sixty devotions, and each devotion is four pages long.  Printed in pink text, each devotion contains a story, a quiz for self-evaluation, ideas for action, and quotes from the Bible and from famous people related to the devotional.  Most days, I read the story, Rose takes the quiz, we discuss and sometimes journal using the prompts in the book, and we close by reading the quotes and verses.  It occasionally produces a very fruitful discussion between the two of us.

Rose often asks to start the individual work part of the day with this devotional life.  She says that the stories are entertaining and she can relate the situations that the girls in the book are making decisions on.  She loves the quizzes, and filling them out is her favorite part of the book.  She often chooses a prompt from the devotional, like making a list of her worries and praying over them, to become her prayer journaling time of the day.  In fact, I often journal with her through prayers related to the prompt.  I do find it funny because none of the girls in the illustrations have noses and Rose is pretty insistent on drawing noses onto the girls.

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.

Choosing Not to Worry

A year ago my older daughter, Rose, was racked with all the worries that could plague a seven year old.  She was worried about ebola, nuclear deals, her Daddy dying, a tornado hitting our house, and so many other things that were out of her control.  It drove her crazy that life was out of her control, and I’d find that she would often cry and worry over things I would find silly.  She would be so stressed out that she would sometimes even vomit in her worries when a particular worry struck her.

We tried different coping strategies with her, and we trying praying and memorizing verses, but nothing made her feel better.  I found that sometimes her worries were infesting me and I was looking at everything through a worry-colored glass.  I found myself sometimes consumed with worry.

Choosing Not To Worry

I didn’t even really notice it, but I found that sometime over the Spring I wasn’t talking to Rose as much about her worries.  I found that she wasn’t freaking out nearly so often.  She didn’t come up to me every time I was on the computer to see whether or not I was reading some dread news report.

I didn’t really notice how much happier Rose was our how much less I was thinking that my own beautiful daughter was crazy until last week.  One morning, Rose and I were sitting working out of a devotional called More for Girls Only! Devotions, and the devotional that morning dealt with worry.  Part of the devotional activities had her making a list of all her worries.  Mentally, I was prepared to sit there for an hour as she wrote everything down.  She only came up with three worries.  They were all still things out of her control: tornadoes, house fires and kidnapping.

However, as she wrote, she was able to reason how God still loved her even if something like that happened to her.  She was able to talk about how sad she’d be if our house burned down and how much she’d miss our house, but that she knew that God would still provide somewhere for us to live, and she could still trust God.

I was impressed.  I commented to her, “Wow!  You definitely are spending a lot less time worrying than you used to.”

She told me that between learning to pray to God when she got worried, and a technique she learned through one of her church classes where they wrote down their worries and then crumpled up the paper and threw it away that she was feeling a lot better and less worried these days.  She  told me what a relief it was to finally be able to get rid of the worry.

I was relieved to see her so strong and happy.  I knew that God had answered my fervent prayers for her to worry less and be happier.

I know now that worry is a choice, and that Jesus tells us in verses like John 14:1 and Matthew 6:25-34 not to worry.  I realize that when I choose to turn to God and away from my worries that is the only way that my worries can be relieved.

There’s no easy fix for worry.  That’s the one thing I’ve learned from dealing with Rose.  However, I know that God is faithful to help us overcome our worries if we’ll just trust in him.  That’s why I’m choosing not to worry.

This Week

This week was an exhausting week.  Our church had missions conference this week, so we were at church until late every night.  That meant that this week was not the most the productive week.  We got in some Taekwondo, and we also did some bookwork as though, so I have a few pictures and progress things to share.

We read the book The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone as part of our Egypt studies.  It was interesting to me, but the kids weren’t that interested.

We also finished reading Lottie Moon: Giving Her All for China that we reviewed for the Crew.  I, of course, cried throughout the ending, and we all found that it was a wonderful book.


We worked on our Middlebury Interactive Spanish.  We finished up a unit on Family, and I feel like the kids know the words well.


Firecracker continued working on his Fun Spanish workbook.  It’s really a pleasurable experience for him.  I’ve been glad to see the giggles he’s getting out of this.

fun spanish

The kids worked on our Veritas Press Old Testament and Ancient Egypt history as well this week.  We’re being introduced to the second intermediate period in Egypt, and as a part of that we’re learning a lot about mummies.


Firecracker also started working on two different science programs this week.  The first is Nutrition from Standard Deviants Accelerate.  The other is Surfing the Net Science from The Critical Thinking Company.  He’s barely started either of them, so I can’t hazard an opinion yet, but he loved the SDA science last year.


The kids also decided to work on some plush toys this week.  The one on the left is an AWANA Sparky.  The one on the right is Luigi.  I think they both turned out cute, but I’m especially impressed with Sparky.


Firecracker got his LootCrate for this month, and it had a Pikachu hat in it.  The best crate ever!!

We’ve been watching lots of football.  Rose drew her Daddy a smack talk note about the Saints since that’s her favorite team and her Daddy had been making fun of them because of their losing ways.

We did a little math too, and Firecracker got a new certificate.  Rose worked on Reading Kingdom, but I didn’t take any pictures.


I guess that’s about it for the week.  I’m kind of tired, so this week is going to be very short and matter of fact. :-)