Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew & What It's Meant to Me

I was first made aware of the TOS Review Crew when I began reading Jacquelin's blog, A Stable Beginning, around 2011.  I was often amazed by the many resources she was able to use with her girls. 

For a few years, I pondered if I, too, could review homeschool curriculum.  I wondered about the requirements and such, but I didn't have the confidence to reach out and ask.  That's the thing about blogging and me,  I always thought those who did reviews and such must have some astronomical behind the scenes numbers.  Well, I don't have astronomical numbers, but last year I decided that I would apply for the Crew because it was something I wanted to do.  Simple as that.

I applied after the cut off because I happened to come across their Google + page and saw the deadline had just passed.  I had already resolved that if I didn't get selected that it was okay because it was pass the date, but something within told me to try and be optimistic.  I am glad that I listened because being on the Crew this year was and is a huge blessing for my family and me.

What is the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew?

It is a group of women and a man :), who primarily review curriculum, but also other fun products that may not necessarily be teaching related.  This group of reviewers offer encouragement to one another in regards to blogging, homeschooling, and praying.  I am not sure of everyone's faith, but I can say that the people in this group have a heart for one another.

The group is managed by a few awesome women who keep everything on schedule.  There are expectations so it's not like some of the book review opportunities where you can post your review whenever you want to so one has to be willing to work within some time restraints.

What has the Crew meant to me?

As you all may know by now, my family and I took a plunge and moved to another state.  Our move was total faith and everything we have (had) is (was) comes from our Father.  There were times during our transition where I became uncomfortable, but I tell you having the Crew in my life provided me with hope.  What do I mean?  He knew exactly what we were walking into and He also knew our responses.  When I began to think about the bank account running low as I began planning for our school year, He had already provided us with curriculum and not just the curriculum from the Crew, but from other companies that I had been eyeing.  Although we still purchased some curriculum, He blessed us with the extras that I am sure we would have needed to wait to purchase. 

It's not only about the curriculum.  I have been motivated to write more.  This season has been about me being okay with being authentic and vulnerable.  Since the crew has a requirement to write non-review or sponsored posts, I didn't take a blogging break this year and that felt great.  It was just the inspiration that I needed, and it wasn't forced.

What about the Crew and YOU?!

Well, applications are open for new reviewers.  There is a need so if it is placed on your heart to open your blog to reviews, I can't help but think the TOS Review Crew might just be the place for you.  Like I stated above, there are commitment requirements so it's not just about getting free curriculum, but it is also about offering a service to the businesses who support homeschooling. If this sounds like something you could do for the upcoming season which runs from December to November, please consider applying.

If you have any specific questions about the Crew, please don't hesitate to ask.

Be blessed!
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©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Instant Happy Journal : 365 days of inspiration, gratitude, and joy by Karen Salmansohn

I have been on a joy kick lately.  Simply put, I've been focusing on finding joy in the ordinary.  My days can become filled with the mundane or filled with stuff for the sake of stuff, but I am relearning to stop and find the good every moment even the hard ones.  I realize that this is something that I must be intentional about because I tend to become distracted and oftentimes the distractions aren't bad things, but nonetheless they are distractions.

I was elated when the Instant Happy Journal by Karen Salmansohn available for review.  It is a compact journal that I can easily carry with me or sit in my basket of many journals.  Unlike my other journals, this is the only journal that has prompts.  Although I adore the cover of this journal,  the prompts are what takes the writer to instantly happy.  Are all of the prompts fresh? Nope.  Are all of the unheard of? Not at all.  But,  these prompts are not things that I write about daily or weekly in my other journals.  The prompts actually cause me to stop and reflect.  The journal offers me topics which I didn't have to come up with which is a perk because sometimes I think too much.  With this journal, I can flip to a page and decide if it fits my day.  There's no need go in order in my opinion, but if you are an orderly person you can go in order because of the variety.

What are some of the prompts?

  • What's something you need to finish?
  • Your mission: Love your life- problems and all
  • What's something weird about you- that you love?
Now not all of the prompts are shiny and glittery, but I have found that when I take a minute to reflect I do find myself finding the joy in the life which He has given me.   This journal is truly about inspiring those who use it. 

The journal itself is short and thick which leaves not a whole lot of writing room.  One must be concise. There's space for the date at the top of each page and a ribbon to keep your place if you decide to go in order or if you know which prompt you would like to complete the next day.

I enjoy writing in my Instant Happy Journal and am looking forward to reading it is complete.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

NIV Bible for Women: Fresh Insights for Thriving in Today's World with a foreword by Shauna Niequist {REVIEW}

I typically read the New International Version of the Bible because it is simply written.  The same holds true for the NIV Bible for Women although it has some revisions from 2011.  The last NIV Bible I received (and still use at times) was in 2003 therefore I recognized some of the revisions. 

The NIV Bible for Women shares more than the Bible itself.  There are 260 days of devotionals.   The devotionals also provide opportunities for prayer and reflection.  Although I do not read devotionals daily,  I found this aspect of the Bible a plus because during times when I need a bit of encouragement there were the words of women who have had similar experiences.  This was particularly true today when I was thinking about being "enough".  After prayer, meditation, and reading God's word,  I flipped open to a devotion which said some of the things that I needed to hear and remember.   Although God's word is enough on its own,  I appreciate the encouragement of believers who are walking in these times alongside of me. Along with the 260 devotionals, there are 52 myths that are situated throughout the Bible.  The myths are lies that have been pushed on society as truths, but are found to be untruths in God's word.

Aesthetically the Bible is beautiful.  The Bible is hardcover with a dust jacket.  I have removed the dust jacket from my Bible because I don't do well with them. :)  The hardcover is brown and the text "Holy Bible" and all other words are written in a shade of light blue.  The text within the Bible is also brown.  In the back of the Bible, I found a notes section and topical index which has been helpful at times.  The topical index is not a concordance.  Overall, I like this Bible and the extras within it. I think it will fit right in with the other versions that I keep on my bedside.

I review for BookLook Bloggers
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Out & About :: Panera's Bakers in Training Program

Our first field trip of this month was trip to Panera's with one of the local homeschool groups.  The children participated in Panera's Bakers in Training program; before moving here I had no idea that Panera had such a program.
The Bakers in Training program takes young people (& parents) behind the scenes of Panera.  The girls were given (there's a participation fee) an apron and baker's hat for participating in the program.  A part of the participation fee goes to the No Kid Hungry campaign which is fighting to end child hunger.
Once it was time to begin, all of the children were given two loaves of the starter dough that Panera uses to create their baguettes.  One loaf was to be given back to the community.  Panera donates all of the leftover bread to various places that serve those in need.   They were given the opportunity to stretch and score the dough before it  went into the oven.
While the dough was baking, the manager took them on a behind the scenes tour of the restaurant. 
After the tour,  they return to their table and were given pumpkin cookies to decorate and take home.   While decorating their cookies, the manager shared the changes that Panera has been making to their food which includes removing unhealthy ingredients.
We all enjoyed the Panera field trip.  It was engaging and allowed the girls to see behind the scenes of one of the restaurants we frequent.  Our oldest daughter found it cool that Panera gives bread back to the community. 

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©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Learning Spanish with Middlebury Interactive Languages

Middlebury Interactive Languages is an online program which offers access to several different languages at different levels including Spanish, German, French, and Chinese.  The girls and I have always including Spanish in our learning time therefore it was an easy decision to review the Middlebury Spanish Course for Elementary. This course is geared towards children in grades 3-5. All assignments for this program are online so one would need internet connection.  Another tool that is recommended to accompany the course is a microphone for the computer.

About Middlebury Interactive Languages Spanish Courses:

There are several levels of the Spanish courses; since we have studied basic vocabulary and some sentence structure over the past few years I thought it would be best if our fifth grader used the Elementary Spanish I with our free six month subscription. 

Elementary Spanish I has 16 units.  Each unit focuses on a different topic or theme.  Units include Family, Numbers, Greetings, Colors, Clothes, Calendar, and School.  Each unit has six lessons.  The format for the unit is consistent and has the same structure.  Within each lesson there are eight components or sections. 

The first lesson of each unit begins with a two to three minute video that is spoken entirely in Spanish.  This program is a full immersion program.  The English translation for the Spanish vocabulary is not shared until the second lesson.  The video within the first lesson is viewed twice in the first lesson so by watching the video the viewer can often infer the meaning of the words that are highlighted.   The highlighted words are the focused vocabulary for the unit topic.  Although several vocabulary words are introduced during the video, not all of the words are taught at once.  Each unit's vocabulary is broken down into two sections.  By lesson six of the unit, the learner is reviewing all of the vocabulary from the specific unit.

How did our 5th grader use Middlebury Interactive Languages Elementary Spanish I?

Our daughter used the course several times per week, primarily Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Since she had prior knowledge of vocabulary used in some of the units, she would complete several lessons each setting.  Most days she would complete three lessons from the current unit.  Lessons are not time consuming. I would guesstimate that each lessons takes about 15 to 20 minutes based on understanding so on the days in which she completed three lessons, she spent approximately 45 minutes on Spanish.  There were some days where she only completed one lesson because she didn't have prior knowledge, and I didn't want her to speed through just for the sake of speeding through.

Each lesson has one or two speaking labs where our daughter was expected to record herself.  We currently do not have a microphone on our computer so this required me to be around during this part of her lesson.  She would still say all of the vocabulary aloud as expected, but I would listen to her.  I believe Middlebury knew this may be an issue for some families so they have an icon within the lesson that can be used to show that the student participated 100%.

Our daughter enjoyed that the program is interactive, and since she is also a person of routine the consistency in the way all units are set up similarly is a great feature.

What did I think of the program?

I like Middlebury Elementary Spanish I.  Although our daughter does have some background knowledge of Spanish, she still is learning new things.  I appreciate the way they not only teach vocabulary, but integrate it into a story.  This allowed our daughter to hear it in context and not just a random word being matched to an English word.  Another component that I liked about the program was the grade book which allowed me to see her progress.

The program overall is easy to use.  There's not any guess work about expectations.  As I have shared, we adapted for our daughter which makes it a gem for our family. 

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
Crew Disclaimer

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©2009- 2015 A Little This... A Little That. All rights reserved. All photographs, text, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the author.