Thursday, October 30, 2014

Guess Who Noah’s Boat by Matt Mitter and illustrated by Ela Jarzabek (Book Review)

Guess Who Noah’s Boat

By Matt Mitter

Illustrated by Ela Jarzabek

(received in exchange for an honest review)

Noah's ark-001

Genre- Christian / Children

Published by- Kregel Children’s Books

Copyrighted- 2014

Number of pages- 10

Age Group- Young Children

Description of book- hardback, listed price- $11.99, ISBN 978-0-8254-4204

Do you need a book that is fun for young children, but still teaches them stories from the Bible? 

Guess Who Noah’s Boat, written by Matt Mitter and illustrated by Ela Jarzabek, could be what you are looking for.  This book contains riddles about each of these animals- tigers, bears, sheep, and zebras.  Each animal has a flap which the children will lift to see if they guessed right. 

About the Author-

Matt Mitter was born in Oklahoma City and currently lives in the Bay Area.  He has written many children’s books.

About the Illustrator-

Ela Jarzabek currently lives in Poland.  She is a freelance illustrator and enjoys working with colored pencils, acrylic paints, and gouache on watercolor paper.

My thoughts-

I thought Guess Who Noah’s Boat was very cute, but at the same time very informational for a young toddler. 

The pages in this book are made out of a light weight cardboard, similar to a cereal box, so it makes it perfect for any young toddler.  I would use this book with any child who is between the ages of one and three, who do not need cardboard books, but still have a hard time with regular pages.  I think this would also be the perfect age for the peek-a-boo aspect of the book and the wonderful illustrations will make it irresistible I can just imagine them flipping the flap back and forth to see who is hiding behind it.

I do wish that the title of the book would have contained the word ark instead of boat, but it does talk about the ark inside the book.

I think this book would be perfect for any young child.  Pick one up today!

Disclosure of Material Connection- I received Guess Who Noah’s Boat, by Matt Mitter and illustrated by Ela Jarzabek, for free from the Kregel Publications’ Blog Tour.  All links were current when posted.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In the Heart of the Rockies a Jim Hodges Productions Audio Book (Schoolhouse Review Crew review)

We received this for review purposes!

Jim Hodges Audio Books-001

Product Links: In the Heart of the Rockies (1860s)

Vendor Information Link: Jim Hodges Productions

Age Appeal: best for ages 10 and up

Format: MP3 on CD or as a download and is almost 11 hours

Price: $25/physical copy and $18/download

Are you looking for a new way to include living history in your children’s life? 

G. A. Henty’s In the Heart of the Rockies read by Jim Hodges along with the study guide covers literature, geography, history, and more.

It is the 1860’s in England and sixteen-year-old Tom Wade has decided to leave for the American West to find his uncle.  Tom finds his uncle and they fight Indians, see the Grand Canyon, and survive winter storms all while trying to find gold.

Make sure you listen to this sample from In the Heart of the Rockies 

Our Experience: 

I have always been interested in reading G. A. Henty’s books and I was excited to learn about Jim Hodges Production and his audio books.  Sometimes audio books are the best way to be introduced to new authors because the listener hears the story instead of concentrating on the text size or unknown words.

When the CD came in the mail B and C were eager to listen to the story.  We listened to a couple of chapters, then we would go over the study guide orally.  The questions and activities were excellent.  The vocabulary was nice to have, because many of the words are not used today.  The study guide costs $12.

C was never as interested in this story as Bridger.  I think that was because of her age.  Bridger was really interested in the story until they killed the horses for food and two men died.  He did finish listening to the story and we worked on the study guide together. 

While Henty’s book was excellent, I think I will wait a few more years before introducing him again. 

Mama’s Thoughts:

  • This is the second G. A. Henty book that I have heard.  I do not think that his books are for everyone.  There is a lot of detail and vocabulary which makes these books good, but many people may not have the interest level to listen to them.  I think that boys would enjoy these books more than girls.  I would definitely wait until the children are over the age 10, perhaps older if the children are sensitive to sad events.
  • I really enjoyed Jim Hodges’s reading of the story.  He gave all the characters different voices and I could easily understand every word he said. 
  • I thought the study guide was excellent.  I liked how it included vocabulary, questions, and activities.  The study guide adds to the story to make it complete so many different subjects like geography, history, and literature.
  • I do have to say that we did have problems finding ways to make the CD play, since it was in the MP3 format.  I was able to get it to play on my computer and Kindle, but not on our newer CD player or Blue Ray/DVD players.  When we listened to it, I just hooked the Kindle up to an external set of speakers.  It worked very well.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fifth grade):   

I do not know how much I really liked In the Heart of the Rockies.  It was fine until they killed the horses.  It was really bad when when Ben and Sam died (characters in the story). 

I thought that the narrating was excellent.  I thought the elocution skills were excellent.  I really liked Harry’s voice.  I enjoyed that the narrator’s voice was so different from the characters.  I savored how the speed of his voice was not too fast and not too slow.

Overall I do not think this audio recording would be good for people younger than me.  I think this would be good for kids ages ten and up.  I think this would be good for grownups too. 


C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in third grade):

This story was not for me.  I do not think that people younger than me would like it.

Dad’s Thoughts:

I found the G.A. Henty story of In the Heart of the Rockies: A Story of Adventure in Colorado to be a bit dry.  At times it seemed as if the dialogue was forced and stale.  Now, I do like stories about the American west in the 1800's and I also like stories of people traveling in search of adventure and fortune and Tom Wade certainly does that.  He travels from England to Colorado in search of his Uncle who is mining the Colorado Rockies for gold. Tom wants to be able to provide for his siblings back home since their parents had recently died and he and his sister decide this would be the best thing for him to do.

The main characters have morals and values and that helps the storyline.  I guess the best way I can describe this is like eating a piece of beef jerky, it has flavor and nutrition but you really have to bite into it and chew hard to get there.  It took me almost halfway through the story before I started liking it to the point of enjoyment.  I listened to the audio version of the story, so if you have a trip coming up this would be a good time for it.  If you're reading list has books that are higher on list then I recommend reading those first and come back to In the Heart of the Rockies when you have a little more free time.

Mama highly recommends this audio book for older children and adults!


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Clued in Kids Treasure Hunts (Schoolhouse Review Crew review)

We received this for review purposes!

Clued in Kids-001

Product Links: Pirate Clue Book and Soccer Treasure Hunt

Vendor Information Link: Clued in Kids

Age Appeal: 4 and up

Format: Pirate Clue Book is a physical copy and the Soccer Treasure Hunt is a downloadable PDF

Price: $8.99 for Pirate Clue Book and $5.99 for Soccer Treasure Hunt


Are you looking for something fun to do with your children when they have friends over or for a party?  Clued In Kids Treasure Hunts are fun for children young and old.  This makes them perfect for birthday parties and other social functions.

The Pirate Treasure Hunt has clues related to pirates.  The Soccer Treasure Hunt has clues related to soccer.  It will takes the children around an hour to complete each hunt.  Each of these treasure hunts will work for 1-10 children.

Our Experience: 

The children and I were excited when we learned about Clued in Kids.  B and C enjoy playing games.  They like pirates, soccer and treasure hunts, so I thought it would all be the perfect combination.

We decided that we would pick a time when Dad was free, so he could join in the fun.  I had the children stay in the schoolroom with the door shut while I set the hunt up.  I had fun setting it up.  At the bottom of the page it listed where I was supposed to hide the clues, so I was done setting it up in the 8-10 minutes that the directions said it would take.

The first hunt I set up was the pirate treasure hunt.  After I set it up I got the children and Dad and I handed B and C the first clue.  They started the hunt out working together, but part of the way through it was not working, so they took turns answering the clues.  It worked much better when they took turns.  That is also the way we did the soccer treasure hunt. 

I decided to put an IOU at the end of each treasure hunt.  I did that, because I wanted each child to be able to pick exactly what they wanted.  C still needs to pick out her treasures.  B decided he would like to have row counter for his knitting, so we have gotten that for him.

These treasure hunts were so fun, that we will be trying some of the other treasure hunts that are available at the Clued in Kids website.  

Clued in Kids-002

Mama’s Thoughts:

  • I thought these two treasure hunts were well done.  The graphics on each clue were colorful and child friendly. 
  • It was really neat how these hunts could be used with one child or up to ten children.  I know it could be a lot of fun for a group of fun for a large group of children, perfect for birthday parties.  These treasure hunts would also be perfect for rainy days or when the children need a fun activity.
  • I had really hoped that this would be a good teamwork activity for B and C, but it turned out that it worked best to have them work on the clues individually.  They had a lot more fun when they were solving the clues themselves.  After they solved the clue I would have that person go get the next clue and pass it on to the other person.  I was glad that it worked out well.  This idea was also included in the instructions.
  • The instructions were very clear.  Since they were so clear, B and C could have set up the treasure hunt for the other one.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fifth grade):   

I really liked Clued in Kids.  I thought it was very creative.  I liked how they sometimes hid the object in the picture in the clue and you had to figure out where the next clue was.  I loved how there were codes to figure out.  I liked how the soccer treasure hunt could be printed out however many times you want, because it came in an e-mail.  In the soccer game it was neat how you got to do math too, only a little bit though.  One of my favorite parts about the hunt was that in one of the clues you had to tell the time to figure out a code.

Overall I really liked Clued in Kids.  I think it would be good for people ages 8 and up.  I even think this product would be good for grownups.

Clued in Kids-003

C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in third grade):

I really, really liked Clued in Kids.  It was really fun.  It is really good for people of all ages.  I liked finding the clues.  Some of the clues were easy and some clues were hard.  I liked the pirate one better.

Dad’s Thoughts:

The Clued in Kids Treasure Hunt products are a unique way of learning and having fun at the same time.  The kids are given hints as to the whereabouts of their first clue. Then once they find it they have to complete the task on the card to reveal the clue for the next card.  The tasks can be solving a simple riddle, doing an exercise like hopping on one foot, repeating a phrase (What does a pirate say?  Arrrrr), code deciphering (with the keys on the card), or even figuring out the picture within the picture. They say that the treasure hunt could take up to an hour but my 10 & 8 year old kids had it done in less than 15 minutes.  You get to decide what the treasure will be. Maybe a special outing or activity, favorite treat, or exemption from a certain chore.  The opportunities are endless.

Clued in Kids would be great on bad weather days to get the kids up and moving about or just to break up the routine for a little bit and put a smile on everyone's face.  It's a nifty idea to for any family.

Mama highly recommends!

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Twitter: @cluedinkids

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Anthem for a Nation from New Liberty Videos (Schoolhouse Review Crew review)

We received this for review purposes!

New Liberty Video-001

Product Links: Anthem for a Nation

Vendor Information Link: New Liberty Videos

Age Appeal: General Audience (you will want to watch in first to determine if you want your younger children to watch it)

Format: Physical DVD

Price: $19.95

New Liberty Videos, founded by Brian Barkley, has a variety of different videos.  Our family viewed Anthem for a Nation.  This video is about how much God was involved in the founding of our country and how we need to get back to God.  There are a variety of patriotic songs, information about how important the Bible was in the founding of our country, and the stories of Maria Anne Hirschmann and Kitty Werthmann (they lived in Nazi controlled countries.

Here is a link to a short video about Anthem for a Nation.

Our Experience: 

I was very interested when I learned about New Liberty Videos.  I thought that Dad would also be very interested in this company.  I was not sure what B and C would think, but I knew the information was important for them to learn.

I was excited when I learned we would be reviewing Anthem for a Nation, because I had watched the 15 minute video on the internet and it was very interesting.

I watched it by myself first, then gave it to Dad.  I thought the video was excellent, but I decided to forward through the part about abortion for B and C.  I want them to be aware of all things in life, but there are still subjects they are too young for.

I thought this was an important video and I plan on having my family watch it yearly.

Mama’s Thoughts:

  • I really enjoyed the music and videography in this video.  The patriotic music worked perfectly with the theme of the video.  The songs set the scene for all of the information about the history of the founding of the U.S.  The scenery of different parts United States was spectacular.  It was a good representation of the country.
  • I never knew how much the Constitution was based on the Bible.  According to the American Political Science Review from 1983, the Constitution is 94% either directly or indirectly based on the Bible.
  • When this country was young it was very involved with Christianity.  The Capital used to be a church and President Jefferson sent missionaries to the Native Americans and built Christian schools for them.  Congress bought 20,000 Bible for the troops and others during the Revolutionary War.  Our country was based on the Bible and it lasted until the 1960’s.  That is when Christianity began to be removed from public schools.  It is when that happened that drugs, alcohol, and abortions really grew in number.  That is really sad and as a country we need to change that.
  • I thought Maria Anne Hirschmann and Kitty Werthmann’s stories were a crucial part of the video.  I especially liked Werthmann’s story about growing in Austria during Hitler’s reign.  Her story showed me that we have been sucked in by all the promises of good, like health care and preschool, just like Austria was.  We need to take a stand and bring Christianity back!


B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fifth grade):   

I learned a lot from Anthem for a Nation, even though I did not like it.  I do not know why I did not like it.  I would have liked it to include more history.  I liked the videography and the music.  I think this would be good for kids ten and up.   

C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in third grade):

It is good because people can learn history from it.  I really liked the music.  I liked the scenes they went through.  They were really pretty.  It is good for people older than me.

Dad’s Thoughts:

New Liberty Videos' Anthem for a Nation, Relighting the Torch of American's Liberty touches upon several topics that should be more publicly addressed.  First and foremost is how much America and American's have done for the world.  It's a great idea to start talking about the positives instead of the constant negativity and blame being put on America.  Let's start looking up instead of down all the time.  Second, we need more education about our Founding Fathers and their beliefs that they had for this new country.  New Liberty's Video brings to light just how much our founding documents ideals come from the bible itself and not secularism.  This video goes beyond teaching just the three branches of government and their functions.  Third (but not last), the comparison of the number of lives lost from wars and from abortion is a wake-me-upper.  This highlights an immense tragedy that must not only be addressed but must be stopped as well.

What really make Anthem for a Nation, Relighting the Torch of American's Liberty  a great learning tool are the eye witness accounts of Maria Anne Hirschmann and Kitty Werthmann.  We can discuss ideals all day long but when someone tells their story of living through those events and recall what actually happened and how it happened it makes you stop and reflect upon your beliefs.

This entire program should be viewed in every school in every city in every state. It's that important.

Mama highly recommends!

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Picture of the Week! (October 21, 2014)- Geraniums by C

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I took this picture while we were on a trip.  I usually see red geraniums, but not pink.  They were very pretty.

C’s camera specifics:

  • Nikon Coolpix L18
  • f/3.9
  • Exposure time: 1/250 sec.
  • ISO-73

C is a girl who is almost nine.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Elementary German from Middlebury Interactive Languages (Schoolhouse Review Crew review)

We received this for review purposes!

Product Links: German Courses specifically German 1 for us

Vendor Information Link: Middlebury Interactive Languages

Age Appeal: Elementary German is grade 3-5

Format: online, go to the FAQs page for computer requirements

Price: $119 per semester


Are your children interested in learning a different language?  Middlebury Interactive Languages offers German.  We reviewed Elementary German 1.  This course has 45 lessons for a semester.  The lessons include video, text, pictures, and speaking practice.  There are videos with stories and ones where the student will learn about castles and food.

They offer Spanish, French, and Chinese as well.  The ages levels are from kindergarten through high school for most levels.  Please check the website for more information.    

Our Experience: 

C really enjoys trying different languages, so she was excited when she was chosen for Elementary German 1.  We have relatives who live in Germany, so she was excited to learn some German so she can speak to them.

The Middlebury Interactive Languages program is set up so C would practice German two to three days a week with 45 lessons for the semester.  She did it differently, she did one lesson a day for four or five days a week.  Her lesson included videos, exploring vocabulary, practicing, and speaking.  She was super excited for each lesson and she always wanted to do more.  B and I sometimes watched over her shoulder.  We wanted to learn some too.

There were some days when I would do some of the practice sections again with her.  I wanted to know if she was learning.  She did a wonderful job.  I could tell she was really learning and remembering everything.

Mama’s Thoughts:

  • I was really happy to see how much fun C had with this program.  She is always to work on her German.  I am so pleased with how much she is remembering and learning.  I am very proud of her.
  • German 1 for 3rd to 5th grade has been designed perfectly for that age.  The use of stories like Hansel and Gretel (told in German) make the new lesson vocabulary come alive.  The different unit subjects were perfect for the age group: family, numbers, greetings, adjectives/feelings, food, hobbies/professions, body, and the last unit is a review.
  • I was impressed with the layout of the program.  C would click on the unit she was working on, the specific lesson, then next activity in the lesson.  After she had finished the activity the program would put a checkmark in the box.  There was a nice mixture of video (story), explore (learning), and practicing.  There was even a speaking lab, so C could practice and record the words she was learning.
  • It would be helpful if the new words could be clicked on individually, so the student could hear the pronunciation one word at a time.  I thought it was difficult to say the phrases when the words were spoken so quickly.  C did a good job of picking up the phrases, much better than I did.

B’s Thoughts (boy, age 10, officially in fifth grade):   

 Bridger did not participate enough to be able to write a review.

C’s Thoughts (girl, age 8, officially in third grade):

I like learning different languages.  It was fun learning German.  I really liked the stories.  They were really good.  I liked The Brave Little Tailor and Rumpelstiltskin the best.  I listened to Hansel and Gretel, Tale of the Clever Hans, and The Tale of Mother Holle too.

Middlebury Interactive Languages is good for people of all ages.

Dad’s Thoughts:

The Middlebury Interactive digital world language course for Elementary German 1: Grades 3-5 is designed for easy interaction.  The graphics are colorful and appropriately sized for its intended age group.  The audio pronunciations are crisp and clear adding to the ease of learning.  As you progress through the course you build upon what you have learned by adding new words as well as reinforcing what's already been taught.

I find this course to be engaging, user friendly, and extremely functional through its intentional design.  My daughter has been enjoying it and has already gone ahead and done more lessons than required.  This is a winner in my book.  

Mama highly recommends!

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Picture of the Week! (October 16, 2014)- Beautiful Clouds

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As many of you know, I enjoy taking photos of clouds.  This is one I took in the spring of 2014 as the leaves were just coming out on the trees.  As winter approaches, I am looking forward to spring coming again.