Friday, July 17, 2015

Principles of Mathematics: A Moms of Masterbooks Review


My experience has been you love math, or you hate math. At least this is how we say it. In reality I think it is more a matter of, "I understand mathematical concepts with ease," or "Numbers make my head hurt." Confession: I fall into the latter category! Since I know this is true I've approached mathematics in our homeschool with trepedation and (with all honesty) a healthy dose of fear. What if I mess my kids up? What if they are mathematical geniuses? I have a feeling I'm not alone. I've met countless other homeschooling mamas who feel completely inadequate when it comes to teaching math.

It took us three tries to find a solid mathematics program which actually worked for everyone. I'm starting to feel pressure as we creep up towards middle school (my oldest will be a 5th grader next year!). Our curriculum is elementary only and I haven't felt good about any pre-algebra program I've come across. So far it has all felt dry and...I don't know...too much like math? Rose has always disliked math and I knew we needed to find something to inspire her as we move on to higher levels.


I was so intrigued when I heard Master Books was publishing a 2-year math curriculum. I love everything I get my hands on from this company because I know it is solidly written on a biblical foundation. What in the world was this math curriculum going to look like? In a word: Beautiful. Principles of Mathematics by Katherine Loop is the most beautifully written math book I have ever come across, and believe me, I've checked out a lot!

I am so in love with this curriculum, I'm currently working my way through it just for myself. I am determined to no longer dislike and fear math the way I have for years. So as I'm writing about this, keep in mind I'm speaking from personal experience of use.

What I love...

1. Short, concise lessons written in a conversational style
2. Short practice assignments
 (and most importantly)
3. Everything is centered around the Bible. 

You might wonder how a math curriculum can be centered around the Bible? I mean I always had the mindset that God is Creator of all, including math, but I never really saw God in the numbers. They were just there as part of creation. I now view math in such a different way just after reading the first chapter of this curriculum. 

What I read when I opened this book set (a text book and a workbook) has completely transformed my perspective. Math is more than just numbers. It's something we use everyday. It's a way to express what we see in creation around us. It is something beautiful and as mysterious as it may seem, it is logical, certain, and steady, just like our Heavenly Father. 

Even though I am thoroughly enjoying this, I also wanted to have a field-test of sorts within the correct age group. Since my own kids are not quite ready for the level of math presented here, I recruited a friend of ours who will be in 7th grade next year. 

We are quite close to Faith's family who is a part of our church and she was happy to comply and worked on the first few lessons while she was hanging out with us one day. Faith attends a traditional public school so I was anxious to hear her thoughts about this very different way to learn. She is also quite an advanced student. 
When I asked Faith her thoughts about this book she said she really liked how it was written. It isn't your traditional way of presenting a math concept followed by multiple practice problems. She appreciated how it not only explained a concept in an easy way to follow, but also that it related it to real life in a reasonable way rather than contrived word problems. 
The other thing she said she really liked was how it expressed that math is not neutral but instead a gift from God which allows us to understand His creation. This theme runs throughout the curriculum and shown through practical examples and practice. 

This is a two-part curriculum which can be completed in a year or two years, whichever is best for the students. The second part is scheduled to be published this fall and I can't wait! I appreciate there is both a full year and a semester schedule for finishing the book provided. This would be a good fit for pre-algebra. Some kids could do it in a year, others should take more time to process and let the ideas and concepts really sink into their minds. I'm in no hurry to push my girls through math and we'll take things as they come. 

Disclaimer: I received this curriculum in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Princess Charity Sticker Book: A BookLook Blogger Review

My girls are just like most, they love princess stories! I am not at all opposed to princess stories, but I was extra excited when we were in our local Christian bookstore and noticed the new product line from Zondervan called Princess Parables. The focus of this series is on promoting biblical character qualities from a different perspective.


Beth really enjoyed reviewing the Princess Charity Sticker and Activity book. She told me how much fun it was to put the stickers on. I like how soft and gently the illustrations appear. They have a sweet appearance that my girls really enjoy.

There are so many beautiful stickers! Some are for specific pages and others can just be added wherever on the page. Lots of creativity is encouraged this way.

Some of the pictures on the page are left white so the girls could color! We found out that markers work the best for this book because of the slick pages.



Beth declared this is a great book and she loved reading it as well as playing with it!
















Disclaimer: I received this product as a part of the BookLook Blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. I did not receive any other compensation for my review. 




Princess Grace Sticker Book: A BookLook Blogger Review

My girls are just like most, they love princess stories! I am not at all opposed to princess stories, but I was extra excited when we were in our local Christian bookstore and noticed the new product line from Zondervan called Princess Parables. The focus of this series is on promoting biblical character qualities from a different perspective.


Grace thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the Princess Grace Sticker and Activity book. With a name like Princess Grace, how could she not? She told me she liked the story a lot. Since she is reading now it is fun for her to read this on her own.  .

There are so many beautiful stickers! Some are for specific pages and others can just be added wherever on the page. Lots of creativity is encouraged this way.

In addition to the spots for coloring there are other simple activity pages like the word search you see here. Grace is old enough to enjoy these now and loves it!
Grace said this was one of her best days ever! She loved playing and reading through all the pages.















Disclaimer: I received this product as a part of the BookLook Blogger review program. I was not required to write a positive review. I did not receive any other compensation for my review.

Maggie Bright: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

The shatterer has come up against you. Man the ramparts; watch the road; gird your loins; collect all your strength. 
Nahum 2:1

There are times when a novel is entertaining and pleasurable. It allows an escape from reality into a world of happy endings. Other times a novel moves you deeply, speaks into your soul, and drives you. Maggie Bright is the latter. This novel of the evacuation of troops at Dunkirk is more than just historical fiction. It is a deeply moving encounter with characters endearing. I can't remember the last time a story moved me to tears the way this one did. 

Tracy Groot is a new author to me and I am very excited to read more from her. The setting is 1940, England. Hitler's campaign to control all of Europe is in full swing and the English troops are in trouble, attempting to evacuate back to England. Back on the homefront rumors of retreat and disaster circulate although no formal announcement has been made. As these larger picture events unfold, a young woman is suddenly caught in the middle of a spy mission aimed at revealing the true horrors Hitler and his Nazi regime are spreading with the growth of their evil empire. America has yet to enter the war and hope is beginning to fade. If only the horrible truth can reach the shores of the United States there is hope that England will not be left alone as one-by-one the countries of Europe fall. 

This beautifully written story of Dunkirk pulled me in with the first chapter. The dual story-line showing the embattled front-line action and the home-front of England gives a very unique picture of the all encompassing nature of World War II. This war was more than just the soldiers going away to a foreign land to keep them at bay from their own country. All of England was affected as Hitler's troops edged closer and closer to the United Kingdom. 

It did take some time for me to sort out who all the characters were within the first few chapters, but it was worth it. Each one progressed the story along in a different way. I love the 3rd Person point of view which allows us insights into a variety of characters' thoughts. While spiritual themes run throughout this book, it never feels preachy and explores the way those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ react to God at times of crisis. Many of the characters began to seek God for the first time and I appreciated that this was not a fast journey, but genuine and realistic seeking. 

Although I was left wanting to know more at the end, I was also left with an urgency towards prayer. Running throughout the book is the theme of searching to understand what prayer is, how prayer works, and why we do it. I loved the way this was handled as several characters sought to express their perspective on prayer. God's answer to a nation who stopped to pray corporately is seen in the success of the Dunkirk evacuation. Though many lives were lost, thousands upon thousands more than were expected were saved. Many civilians showed unprecedented courage as they sought to bring their soldiers home. The verse quoted above expresses how those in England viewed this time during the war. They sought God and realized they needed divine intervention in order to overcome the evil one who sought to destroy. 

I'm fascinated by this era in history as my own grandfather served in the army during World War II. I knew very little of what was happening prior to the entrance of the United States into the war and I am intrigued to study more about this now. 

I highly recommend this book and I will personally am anxious to read more novels by Tracy Groot.

Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of Maggie Bright from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Scrapbooking Disney

Here are some fun layouts from our one-day, whirl-wind trip to Disney last year. I'm working on our more recent trip now! I'm currently learning all about the newest craze in both traditional and digital scrapbooking: Pockets! I love this stream-lined, easy on the eyes as well as fast to create. I will probably continue to use both a more traditional styled layout as well as the pockets, but this new type is just lovely!

When I scrapbook I do not have any one particular way I follow, except that I like for my layouts to look as much like traditional paper layouts as possible. So how do I do that?

1. Learn how to shadow! Fortunately when you are just a newbie programs like Photoshop intuitively help you out with easy to use shadowing tools.

2. Use a handwriting font rather than a typed font for the journaling. I love using all sorts of different varieties of fonts, but for journaling I usually use a font which looks like handwriting. I'm resarching how to create my own font of my own personal handwriting and will update once I find more out about this!

3. Use templates. Wow! When I first began digi scrapping I used a program which I bought for free from Amazon. It functioned, but I never could use any of the wonderful templates available. While I'm grateful for the experience I gained by creating my own layouts and learning what style I liked through trial and error I am in love with psd templates for Photoshop!!! I am scrapping incredibly quickly now. even I modifying the template some, having more than just an empty page to start off with has really stream-lined my efforts. This kit was created with a template and kit from British Designs.

4. Use quality digital kits with coordinating elements and papers. While using only free things may seem fine and good, I think it is helpful to purchase a few high quality kits. If you get a few basics with various colors to begin, you can always ask for paypal gift cards. This is how I am building my digi srapboooking stash. I also have a handful of designers I really, really like who I follow closely on facebook and their blogs so I can snag freebies when they are available! I like kits with uniquely themed elements to enhance my layouts.

5. Network! There are an incredible amount of forums and digital galleries out there. Some are themed for things like Disney World. Others are unique for designers. Some are wide open! My two personal favorites are Pixel Scrapper and Mouse Scrappers. Nearly every forum I've participated in has monthly or weekly challenges which often results in some pretty great digital prizes!



My favorite Digital Designers...

Robyn Pali Designs (retired)
My 4 Sisters Scraps (retired)
Forever Sisters Scraps (retired)


I'm partial to designers and kits which look like paper. Textures and layered papers are my favorites. 

Do you scrapbook either traditionally or digitally? Tell me about it in the comments? 

Do you have any questions about digital scrapbooking? I'm definitely not an expert on everything, but I love chatting about scrapbooking!

  



Welcome!

Hi, my name is Melissa. Pour yourself a cup of tea and stay a while. I'm completely devoted to my Savior, madly in love with my husband, and joyously raising my daughters. I'm so glad you stopped by and I hope you enjoy your time here!