Friday, September 28, 2012

Box of I.D.E.As. (Ideally Dynamic Enrichment Activities)


Box of Ideas -- doesn't that sound delicious? It brings to my mind a treasure chest filled with Pirate booty. In our house, my youngest granddaughters and my son-in-law frequently dress in Pirate garb and race around the house searching for treasure with lots of pirate talk like "Arrrrrgh, Matey! Walk the Plank!" My particular treasure Box of Ideas came in the form of downloadable PDFs. Each one contains treasure! You can also opt to get a physical box of ideas delivered to you through the mail with all the copies made for you, but it is quite easy to print off what you need either on paper or cardstock as the instructions prescribe and do everything with the download.


My particular box of ideas is "World War II - Pearl Harbor." The company has many other boxes of treasure available too. I can't wait to check out the Quilting Box of Ideas. There are many fun things you can learn with a treasure box from Box of I.D.E.As. (Ideally Dynamic Enrichment Activities)

We delved into our treasure chest and I pointed out to my granddaughter (age 13) that there was a treasure -- a nugget or pearl -- in each module and we need to find it. The first module was ideally suited to her. It is called "Before Becoming a Base." This refers to the Naval Base that Pearl Harbor became. Before the Naval presence was there, however, it was just a beautiful harbor that was know for its oyster population, the beautiful shells, the wonderful edible soft inside and the wonderful pearls that were harvested from them. This particular module was well-received by my granddaughter because she is an animal lover and the first thing it discussed is endangered animals and why they sometimes become extinct. There are two card games that can be played at this point with cards printed out on cardstock. The cards are of endangered animals and portray what part of the animal is coveted by poachers and / or harvesters of these animals. There are links to interesting information on pearls and a printable ruler that can help you measure pearls, for which there is a printable worksheet. Obviously the treasure here was a literal pearl and an understanding of where it comes from and the various sizes and quality of pearls.

Module 2 is "Beginning of a Naval Presence." Here we learned about Maps and the Whaling Industry. The worksheet is on Bathymetry, which is mapping the depth and contour of the floor of an ocean. The cards are fun pictures of the uses of whale products such as whale oil for lamps, whalebone for ladies' corsets and panniers, hair accessories etc. There is also a map game using the printable map charts. Treasure is even mentioned in this module! Question 9 on the worksheet reads, " The sunken treasure chest measures 2 ft x 2 ft x 2 ft. 253 gold coins fit in each cubic foot. Calculate how many coins the treasure chest holds."

Module 3 is "A Week Before the Attack." In this module we find out a little about military jargon and what the military forces were doing a week before the attack on Pearl Harbor. We learned about the aircraft carriers, the supplies being taken to the Pacific and other pieces of military equipment and aircraft. The card game is about the various military branches that came into play during this time in our history: U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, W.A.S.P (Womens Air Force Service Pilots), United States Merchant Marine, U.S. Army Air Forces, and the National Guard. For a military dependent like my granddaughter, the treasure in this module was learning a little bit about the history of our country's military.

Module 4 is "Day of Infamy" -- the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese (December 7, 1941). In this module, my granddaughter had the opportunity to write an essay on another day of infamy in our country's history and why it should be considered that way. She picked September 11, 2001, and all the attack on American soil by terrorists. She wasn't even 3 yet when it happened but she has heard much about it over the years and wanted to write about that. There were some great links provided for this module and a copy of Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech. Also included is the "rough draft" of his speech where you can see what was crossed off and replaced before the final delivery of the speech -- very interesting. The card game here constructs a timeline of events on that fateful day.

Module 5 is "Day After the Attack" and deals with newspaper headlines on that day. The activities included taking notes for a whole day and writing a factual account of events of that day, reading newspaper articles about the attack on Pearl Harbor and deciding how objective the writer was, and finally, writing a headline and article about something that happened to the student or a family member or friend. My granddaughter really enjoyed this assignment. I don't think she will switch her interest to journalism from veterinary medicine, but she may be the newsletter editor for a club or organization some day. The cards are "memory cards" with questions about the attack on Pearl Harbor on them. There are some really nice pictures of those events printed on the other side of the cards.

Module 6 is "Weeks After the Attack." This deals with the clean up of the naval base after the attack and the sunken ships in the harbor, specifically with the raising of the "Oklahoma" from its watery grave. The worksheet is putting the events in the salvaging of the Oklahoma in order. The card games is matching a description to the photo it goes with and then flipping the description cards over to spell a term related to the module. If you spell out that term when you flip them over then you matched correctly.

Module 7 is "Six Months After the Attack." This deals primarily with Code Breakers and the Navajo Code Talkers. The card game with this one was a treasure! The airplane side of the cards is face up. These are cool depictions of WWII fighter planes. If a player draws a ship part they lay it in front of them. If they draw a bomb they lose a turn or win a piece from an opponent. The one with the most completed ships when all the cards are gone is the winner.

Module 8 is "A Year After the Attack." This one is all about the planes. We didn't get to put together a model of one of the airplanes but we did do quite a bit of research on them. The worksheet is about matching acrobatic maneuvers of the planes. The card game is about flight patterns. This module would have been more interesting to a male student who loves airplanes very likely but we had fun with it anyway.

Module 9 is "Four Years After the Attack." This one is about our victory over Japan -- VJ Day (September 2, 1945). We concentrated also on the use of atomic bombs to win the war and the devastation that was caused by those bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the potential for mass destruction in the future with the vast improvements that have been made on this technology. This was a sobering module for us.

Module 10 is "Decades After the Attack." This one is about the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial and modern-day Pearl Harbor. The cards are about memorials all over the world with really nice pictures and descriptions and a pinpointed map. We have decided that our ultimate treasure would be to someday visit Pearl Harbor and see all the history and the memorials to that day.

This system is a wonderful way to study a subject. It keeps interest high with all the activities and card games. You can take as much time as you want on each module. You are the homeschool teacher so you can decide how much time you can devote to it and how much extra research you want to do to glean even more on the subject. Available topics are World War II, Eleven -- go HERE for a description, Pigs, Salt, Quilting, and Laundry. Coming soon: Mystery, WWII Kitchen, WWII Innovations, Olives, Pine, Cemeteries and "many more!" For the Box of Ideas that I am reviewing, the cost is $49 for the download like I had, or $79 for the physical box with everything printed out for you. If you have more than one student, you can buy an extra student module for $4 each. See the information HERE. Happy Treasure Hunting, Matey!

To read what others on the TOS CREW had to say, please click on TOS CREW.

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given a this unit study on Pearl Harbor free of charge to review. However, I did not receive any compensation. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Whispers in the Wind by Lauraine Snelling

Cassie Lockwood was part of her father's Wild West show all her life until he died and his partner declared that the show was bankrupt. She and some long time friends from the show took off for South Dakota to find the ranch her father was part owner in and follow his dreams. There she met the family of the partner he had left behind when he became part owner in the Wild West Show many years previously. His partner was deceased but his wife welcomed her with open arms. His sons were a little more reticent as they did not know about the partnership until she arrived. This story is about her settling in to the life on the ranch.

Whispers in the Wind is the second book in a series. I did not read the first one, but this book stands alone very well. In order to finish the story I will need to read the next one that comes out because I am anxious to know how it all turns out, but again this book still stands alone. I think that is a rare talent for an author. The fact that there was no romance at all in this book and it stood alone based totally on the story is another sign of a great author. This lady knows her craft.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House to review. I did not receive any compensation for completing this review. All opinions are my own. This book is well worth the read and I recommend looking for other books by this wonderful author.

Friday, September 14, 2012

As usual, Jerry B. Jenkins has written a book that keeps you turning the pages long after you should have put it down and taken care of other stuff. I love this series. I had read the previous book in this series and after all this poor cop, Boone Drake, went through in the last one I was hoping he'd get a little break here, but no such luck. Life doesn't always deal him a great hand but he is always up to the challenge apparently.

Tyndale gave me a copy of this book free of charge to review and the author requested that we not give away the plot, but suffice it to say, once again Boone's family is in danger. (I did not receive any compensation for reviewing this book and all opinions are my own.)

This is a fast-paced book with a lot of surprising twists and turns. I learned some astounding things about human trafficking that I never knew before.

I am always so pleased when a Christian author writes a crime story that anyone would enjoy reading and is able to inject the main characters' faith into the story without being preachy or taking away from the action. It is just a part of who they are. Jerry Jenkins is a master at this.

Best of all, in spite of all the crazy things Boone and his family endure, it ends with a happy ending and hope for the future. All good novels should end this way in my opinion.

I can't wait to see what Mr. Jenkins serves us next. Hopefully poor Boone will get a little break -- maybe the bad stuff could happen to someone else on the force next time. But however the story goes I know it will be a great read!


I am giving away a certificate for a free copy of this book redeemable at your local bookstore. Just post a comment on this posting on my blog or on facebook. I will put all the names in a hat and choose the winner next Saturday, September 22. Please post by the 21st.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What Have You Got to Lose?

I have been scorned by others for my faith. I thank God that in His mercy I have not been tortured or killed for my beliefs, but if it comes to that I will go through that too. Many people think they are intellectuals and that precludes them from believing in God or having faith. I find that contemplating the non-existence of God is much more difficult to believe than believing that He does exist. I was born knowing He exists. Then, for a while, I listened to others' questions and asked some questions of my own and God helped me find the answers to every one of those questions. All I had to do was ask Him. Now I am in relationship with Him and the idea that He does not exist is laughable to me. Of course He exists, I talk to him constantly all day long and He shows His presence to me over and over and over.

I am hard-pressed to have conversations about this with these "intellectuals" because most of their conversation is "I think," "I heard," "I feel," "I read somewhere," etc. Mostly they don't know enough about what they are talking about to even really have an opinion much less a conviction. I have an advanced degree myself and I am not impressed with that. There are so many, many Masters Degrees and Doctorial Degrees out there that you can get, but none of them make you superior. I don't know anybody who has them all. I am on the higher side of the IQ range. I'm not impressed by that. God created us. His thoughts are so far beyond our thoughts that we are limited in our understanding. The workings of His creation are far more intricate than any technology created by man.

The bottom line is God wants to have a relationship with you. It is His whole reason for creating you. It is your choice whether or not you accept that but it does not make it any less true if you reject it. And you don't have to study for a lifetime to get to the place where you can understand it enough to accept it. You just have to do one simple thing. Ask God to come and live in your heart. You can even say, "God, if you are really there, please reveal yourself to me." And He will. What have you got to lose? What have you got to gain?

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Speekee is a delightful way for your young child to learn Spanish. It is available on DVD or as an online course. What I received was the FastTrack, a one-year curriculum where a lesson is e-mailed to the student each week.

Speekee is a puppet who is the main character in all the episodes. My 7-year-old granddaughter loves watching the program, singing along on all the songs and repeating the Spanish phrases. It is extremely entertaining but also repetitive enough to really get the words and phrases in the child's memory.


The first week we received instructions for making Speekee's friends, sock puppets Dino and Lupe. There were also flashcards that could be downloaded on the website. There are games and activities with each lesson, as well as songs to learn. A link to the video is given and also a page of teaching instructions is included in each weekly e-mail.

This is really a fun, easy way to help your child learn Spanish and even learn it yourself along with them if you have not already learned it. The videos are engaging, fast-moving and fun. I have tried out several different Spanish curriculums for kids and this is one of the simplest to use, most enjoyable and effective programs I have seen.


To read what others on the TOS Crew had to say, please click here: TOS CREW REVIEWS

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given the Speekee program free of charge to review. However, I did not receive any compensation. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 6, 2012



Per the Math 911 website: “Buy Math911 for $49.95 (Student Special) includes FREE USB version (Algebra In A Flash).”

Math 911 is a website where you can practice your math skills. In our case, it was Algebra. Since my granddaughter is taking Algebra I this semester and I am about as rusty as a grandma can be on her Algebra skills, I was all over using this program. Right now you can get the Algebra I for free but when you get the $49.95 package you get much more: you get Pre-Calculus and Statistics as well.

It is a simple download and I didn't experience any difficulties. It is not as polished looking as some of the games but who cares? It does the job. You can use it with any curriculum you are using and it just provides extra practice and instruction. It was great for me because it gives you the answer when you mess up and then it asks you the question again later in the sequence or at least a similar one so you can get it right this time if you were paying attention. As you advance through the lessons, you start feeling a little more confident of your ability to succeed in all this. It keeps track of what you have done and also allows you to go back and do those sections again if you so desire.

My granddaughter has been using it to hone her skills and get some extra practice where she needs it. The bulk of the time, however, I have been using it trying to brush up on my skills. I did well in Algebra "back in the day," but that was many, many days ago and I need lots of review in order to keep up with her. She is happy to have discovered a format in which she can just jump in and be successful while getting some feedback on where she might be missing the mark. I am happy to find a format in which we can just move forward without having to peruse several pages of a chapter trying to figure out where we went wrong. We were stuck for about a month with our old curriculum because we kept re-listening to the instructions, trying it and failing at it. We had to get outside help. With this, it just kind of works you through it by showing you the correct answer and then giving you more similar questions until you get the hang of it.

I would have liked some video instruction clips of some kind like we had been accustomed to, to go along with the practice but we were able to move through it without them. Also, as I already mentioned, they haven't always been that helpful in the past anyway. I believe the Professor is a no frills kind of guy who expects the student to succeed using their own brains. Novel concept! I like it. I love his disclaimer!


Professor Weissman mentioned to us in his introductory letter that he has been teaching mathematics for 49 years and that both of his children are Mathematics educators. I love his method and I think that the fact that his children are pursuing mathematics as a career, as well, is proof of its effectiveness. The Algebra teacher at our Co-Op has the kids play math games as part of their "homework." I have recommended this site for their use as well.


We will continue to use this and work through the lessons. It has been a great supplement to our other curriculum.

To read what others on the TOS Crew had to say, please click TOS CREW.

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given a Math911 membership free of charge to review. However, I did not receive any compensation. All opinions are my own.