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Do you ever feel like running away? Do you feel like you just aren’t cutting it as your child’s teacher? Do you worry that your best isn’t going to give your children the future they should have? Well, you aren’t alone. Most homeschool teachers feel the same way all too often. It comes from loving our children so much that we want to do what is needed, but stress, lack of knowledge about one subject or another and the responsibilities of other aspects of our life as housewife, mother, maid, church member pressures us to worry. Resources, good curriculums, and teaching tips are great, but what many a homeschool mom needs is encouragement, the encouragement that comes from no other than the Word of God. Trying to find the time to study the Word is difficult, but a certain devotional Bible study might help get you started. Encouragement for Homeschool Moms from Deeper Roots Publications was written just for you by a homeschool mom who understands the daily struggles.

This little booklet is packed with encouraging and inspirational words that will lift your heart each day and help God’s words flow into your heart giving you the strength, courage, and peace that you need. There are thirty-one devotionals that can be used in many ways to refresh your mind and spirit as you carry out your homeschooling duties during the year. Each is centered on a theme with scripture as its foundation. The author, Bonnie Lisech, gives each theme and scripture a new perspective as she applies them to our homeschool duties and struggles. Then asking such thought-provoking questions to help us focus on God’s meaning for our own hearts and lives. There is also plenty of space and encouragement to journal our thoughts and insights.

When the doubts press in, push them away with refreshing time spent with your Father in Heaven each day. As you give so much of yourself to others, don’t forget to allow God to give to you, to refill your spirit with His love, strength, and guidance. With Deeper Roots publication, Encouragement for Home School Moms, that time of renewing can be easy to plug in to your busy schedule.

To find out more about Encouragement for Home School Moms or the many other products from Deeper Roots, go to DeeperRoots.com.

Though I was provided a product to review for this blog, I have not been compensated in any other way, and the opinion expressed here is entirely my own.

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When my sons were toddlers, I had this wonderful little board book. I can’t remember the name, but it was basically a little high chair devotional book to help you get your child started on a life-long love of personal Bible study. I later gave that book away to another mom. I really enjoyed that book and using it with my two children. I could never find it again or anything like it until now. Good Morning, God by Davis Carman is a delightful little book that can be used for toddlers to children about 8 years old to help parents instill that love of spending time with God every day.

Good Morning, God is filled with beautiful illustrations that could be taken from any child’s life. Each filled with subtle color that begs to fill you with joy and peace or contrasting black and white sketches to emphasize a personalized and simple prayer. The simple but truthful words that flow almost like music are based on daily activities of a child and filled with the truth that parents are teachers of God’s wisdom and love. The message of salvation is subtle yet bold within these pages. The simple repetition of phrases helps to build a life-long message of for guidance and the need for daily talks with God. God’s own message shared in such beautiful ways to a child as God intended it through the love of parents.

Any child can learn from this simple endearing book. Special needs students will also grasp its lessons due to simple and repeated phrases, detailed but clear illustrations, and concepts that are easy to relate to for a young child. Parents can use the many activities and questions provided at the end to further enrich their children’s understanding choosing based on developmental level and abilities. Most are easily modified if needed. The book’s text is short with room on each page to place brailled labels for an alternate method of reading. The text is also easy to translate to ASL or other sign system, if needed. The author also provides some ideas for how to use the book in different ways and at different times as the child grows. This is a book truly for all kinds of students.

Good Morning, God can be purchased at Apologia Press, http://www.apologia.com for $14.00, and there is a coloring book available also for $4.00. This is such a small price for well-made hard-back book that is sure to become a family treasure.

Though I received a free copy of this product in order to review, I have not been compensated in any other way. The opinion expressed in this review is entirely my own.

Castles, knights, dragons, chivalry, and all the elements of a fantasy attract children of all ages. Many of these elements are harmless entertainment, but there are some elements which many parents wish to keep from their children. Young readers are attracted to the good examples of the genre, but some are lured to the few that might be attempts to lead them into things much worse. The few Christian books in the genre have not always been on the mark of good reading. In attempting to eliminate the negative, they often ruined the positives of action and the thrill of being part of something bigger than yourself. Author Ed Dunlop has created a world that brings all the positives to life in a very real way and includes no magic or witchcraft. Through this world though, Mr. Dunlop weaves biblical truths and life lessons that can affect a young person’s heart, soul, and mind in an enriching way seldom found elsewhere.

Terrestria is a place filled with evil battling to control its citizens and lure them away from King Emmanuel. Two books from the series Tales from Terrestria came my way recently for me to write this review. The first was called The Quest for Thunder Mountain. This story reminds me a little of Pilgrim’s Progress in the sense that the character embarks on a journey and learns a lot about himself, life, and God along the way. This is a fresh story though with the quest being to find King Emanuel’s will for the character’s life. The struggle along the way is to find out if he really wants to know and if he will believe King Emanuel’s Word against all others that it will be the greatest joy to know and do the King’s will.

The Tales of the second book I read, fourth in the series though the books are more of a stand-alone tale where order doesn’t matter, The Tale of the Dragons ventures into other life lessons such as respecting your parents and staying away from temptations. The young character is this story is lured to an island not far from home by the need to fit in and have friends, but the friends are not true friends and only wish him harm. The young man learns to heed his father’s words too late and finds himself a slave in a foreign land far from the safety of home. His father sells everything precious to him and risks his life more than once to find the wayward son and bring him home.

These lessons are brought to life so vividly and the stories were so captivating that it was hard to put down. Several children and I went through these two together. I think the lessons made an impact on us all including me. Ed Dunlop’s heart is truly seen when he states that, “If just one young person reads this book and realizes the wisdom of bonding with his or her parents and avoiding the deadly dragons of our treacherous society, it will have been worth every hour I spent in the writing of this book”. I wish I had found this kind of book when I was young. I think at least some of the bad I got into might have been avoided.

Mr. Dunlop has not made any versions of his books accessible for special needs except possibly a few groups by the use of e-books for a select number of his free works. That would allow some learning disabled students and hearing blind to use the Adobe Reader text to speech option. However, I hope to encourage him here to consider using http://www.bookshare.org and/or the National Braille Press to offer his wonderful books to various special needs populations. Either or both of these organizations will respect his rights as author, but allow special needs students including deaf, blind, and deafblind as well as learning disabled and other special needs populations to benefit from his skills of bringing faith lessons to all.

To learn more about this series and the companion series, Terrestria Chronicles, go to http://www.talesofcastles.com. Each of the books is available for $7.99 which is a great price for a quality paperback book. Ed Dunlop also has some free e-books he wrote available for download on the web site.

I received two books free in order to write this review, but I was not compensated in any other way. The opinion expressed here is entirely my own.

As a child, I remember listening to Bible stories on records as I followed along in a colorful book. Those stories planted a lot of biblical truths in my heart as well as a deep love for my Savior. I also loved to listen to Children’s Bible Hour as a young child. Those stories were so good and full of good lessons. Recently, I received a set of books with CDs that brought back some of those memories. CBH Ministries developed these sets from radio scripts from the radio program, Children’s Bible Hour, which ran for over 60 years.

Seasons of Faith is a perfect name for this series as the stories are presented to teach lessons based on biblical truths for all the periods of a Christian walk from new life in Christ through to the deep struggles and times of trials. The stories are alive and meaningful regardless of decade. The books are illustrated by John White with detailed rich and colorful pictures that enhance the story. The narration is done by Uncle Charlie VanderMeer who is loved by many and his regular appearances on Christian radio are sadly missed. His voice alone is enough to make any story fun.

Learning Disabled children will enjoy the book/cd format helping them with their comprehension. The reading level is not too difficult for most children, especially with the read-along narration. Most low vision students should find the font size and type large enough and clear enough for easy reading with or without magnifiers. The books can be brailled on clear sheets and placed in blank areas and picture areas without too much difficulty. The books are light weight and easy to hold at 10 X 8.5 inches with a softcover. Paper is thick enough to be fairly difficult even with weak or unsteady muscles. An extra large book holder might prove more helpful to hold up the larger, slightly floppy pages for those who need the book raised for reading or who can’t hold books. Overall, there are many who can benefit from this series which is not easy to find.

The Series, Seasons of Faith, and other stories are available on the website for CBH Ministries at http://www.cbhministries.org. The book sets are available for a very affordable $10.00 each, and right now my readers can use the code FREESHIPAPR15 for free standard shipping from now until April 15, 2010. These could make a great gift for the Easter basket or summer time fun.

CBH Ministries provided me with a copy of each of the Seasons of Faith series, but I received no other compensation for this review. The opinion is entirely my own including accessibility suggestions which are based on my experiences using the products with my students. There is no guarantee these will work with your student, since all children are unique.

History, by the definition of http://www.dictionary.com, is the branch of knowledge dealing with past events. An old history text I had in school and can’t remember defined history as the story of man. There should only be one story, but that isn’t the way it is. As a Christian, I know that man’s story is only possible because of God, so really history should be defined as His story. Secular historians as guided by the great deceiver, Satan, have sought to remove the creator of history from the story. Church history took God’s story and corrupted it over and over again for the power derived for one group or another. There are as many church histories as there are denominations and religions.  How do we know what is truth and what is not? The answer is simple. The truth is the Bible. God has filled His word with His spirit and keeps it from corruption through His spirit stirring in Man’s heart. How can we teach our children the Truth and guard their hearts from the corruption of the world? We can try to teach them only the Word of God and keep them away from all dissenting forces while they are with us. When they leave, we can only pray that their hearts and faith are strong enough to withstand any attempt to sway. Often, we know that plan fails. To me, a better way is to teach our children the Truth, but expose them gently and carefully along the way to what the world teaches as we lay it beside the Bible for comparison. When viewed by the light and truth of the Bible, all other things will either confirm or deny God, the creator and Jesus, the son and Savior, and the Spirit who acts upon the hearts of man throughout time.

The Amazing Bible Timeline that I was given free to review here is a tool that seeks to give parents the ability to instill not only the Truth in their children, but also that strength of heart and faith to withstand the attempts to sway and corrupt. The originators of this timeline researched all the many histories of our time and past and placed all those together side by side in the chronological order of time along with the history as present by God through the Bible. They have made it as thorough and accurate as humanly possible. The company continues to update it as more is learned about history and as God and man continue to write history. The material is presented simply as an expanded time line incorporating the many time lines of the Bible and other world histories without emphasis to one religion, denomination, or secular historian. This gives the parent the full control to use the tool to teach their child how the Bible teaches and what man has sought to confirm or deny of that truth. Using the method of presentation given for the use of the chart, it is easy to see how God has influenced the world as His creation despite men and Satan’s efforts to purge the evidence of Divine influence.

The 37” X 45” chart is multicolor-coded and lay out is circular and wide to be as useful as possible despite the overwhelming amount of information provided. The print is small and difficult to read at times, but a magnifier helps. In addition, the company provides Adobe Reader .pdf format files on their web site free after purchase for download. With those files, it is easy to zoom into one particular area to study the contents more closely. Use the chart on the wall or a table along with the computer files either on the computer or printed out for particulars areas you wish to highlight at a particular time to see the specific events within the bigger picture of history as a whole. In this way, it is easy to see how the control of the Romans and culture of Roman society affected the Jews as they rejected the Messiah because they were hoping at the moment for an earthly king to rid them of their captors. Or, you can see how God influenced man as He worked to purge our country from the sin of slavery, and directed the forces that prevented Hitler from ruling the world.

As far as accessibility goes, the company providing .pdf files is a great help for the Learning Disabled and low vision students who might want to use the time line. The blind and deafblind will not get any true use of the product due to lack of braille access. The company must use graphic files, and there is no way to present graphic information in braille except as a verbal or written description which may or may not facilitate comprehension. Parents and teachers will have to find other ways to present the material to them.  One suggestion would be to take the information and provide it in small chunks of time with a tactile and braille-labeled timeline. If you provide all the material across the circular bands for a time period of a 1000 years or smaller increments, the students could gain the knowledge the same way by seeing the variations of history for just that period for comparison and study. Even though accessibility is an issue for some here, this product should not be discounted. The knowledge gained by students or parents in preparation to teach students can be invaluable.

In addition, the company, Bible Charts and Maps, LLC provides a document presenting tips for using the timeline for Bible Study and history teaching. They also have interactive maps for the Holy Land and a genealogy of Jesus Christ in various file formats to use, as well. The Amazing Bible Timeline chart is $29.97 plus shipping and handling including the digital version and the interactive Holy Land maps for free. Go to http://www.BibleTimeline.net for more information and to purchase. Use this tool wisely and as intended, and you have a resource to help build your child’s faith on the truth of Jesus Christ.

It seems today with television and video games so popular that it is almost impossible to get them outdoors for exercise, play, or learning. As parents, we are always on the lookout for ideas and resources to motivate our children to get out and enjoy the beautiful world God made for us. Nature Friend magazine is just the ticket.

These magazines just lying on the coffee table or school desk beckons you to pick it up with each gorgeous full-color cover page and back cover. My students love to grab it at break time and pour through the pages of full color pictures of animals and insects and scenery. Each basic magazine has a crossword puzzle or word search and an art activity including a drawing activity. Drawing skills are wonderful to have to allow your students to document their outdoor studies with sketches as well as journaling. There is also a wonderful nature photo with a fitting scripture for students to learn for the month. In addition, the entire issue is written from a biblical perspective and appropriate scriptures throughout reinforce the concept that God is the creator, and the whole earth is his handiwork depicting His nature to us. You also have a fun scavenger hunt to let your students improve their observational skills hunting for the drawings of a plant, or an insect, or animal track hidden in the pictures throughout that issue. Some are easy, but others really make their eyes work.

The optional, but inexpensive study guide extends these activities for fun and learning even more adding several more pages of pictures and stories, and fun. There are research activities, photography tips, word searches, crossword puzzles, etc. All of these activities help to reinforce the information found in the stories and articles on different animals and insects. Learning different ways to get good photos of nature is so informative and fun. Students will love getting outdoors to try getting the best angles. There are also writing activities for students to try. Journaling about nature observations can be fun, and is a learning tool used by naturalists.

Your students can also mail in submissions of the activities they have done to Nature Friend that just might be included in a future issue. They can send mail asking questions or telling how they love the magazine. They can also write their own articles or stories about nature and send it to them. Each issue has lots of art work, articles, photos, etc. done by the young readers of the magazine. That will certainly motivate your young naturalists.

Nature Friend will be useful for many special needs students, as well. The font is a comfortable size for learning disabled students and many low vision students. The reading level is easy to comprehend while challenging the student with its content. My students love to read the articles and sign or fingerspell their favorite things to me. Your students don’t have to sign, but let them tell you what they like, too.

Nature Friend is available by subscription for $36 for 12 issues in the U. S. while Canada and Mexico subscriptions are $49 and International is $62 for 12 issues. The study guide can be added for just $2.00 per issue for 12 issues and is highly recommended by this author. Nature Friend is well worth this price with all the fun packed into each issue. To find out how to subscribe to Nature Friend magazine, go to http://www.naturefriendmagazine.com. This just might be the magazine that gets your students off the video games and into God’s creation.

Homeschool in the Woods is a wonderful company operated by husband and wife team, Ed and Amy Pak. They create and publish hands-on activity packs. I received the newest one in their history series, The New Testament. This packet is definitely a product of their belief that hands-on activities are the best way to cement a child’s learning in the mind.
This packet over the New Testament provides fifteen hands-on activities to create a book that a child can hold and follow the course of history from the birth of Christ to His ascension. A child will reveal for himself the Old Testament prophesies fulfilled in the New Testament. This child will then explore the beginnings of the Church that helps us to know how the Church was intended to be and how it needs to be again. There are also two additional activities that take the student beyond the lessons of this packet to teach research and application of scripture verses. You and your child will have no problem creating this wonderful book because the step-by-step instructions are provided along with all the masters to print out and cut out and color photos of the finished products to guide your experience. By putting these activities together and creating this book, the child will have a resource to return to again and again to learn about the wonders of the New Testament.
We enjoyed all of the activities. The children were of different ages and abilities. Many of my students have physical disabilities or learning disabilities. I was able to find an activity for every child and of every age regardless of their issues. For me, this allowed us to work together to put together this book for them to use in the classroom. A homeschool family with multiple children can use the same method, or purchase as set for each student to complete with the parent or alone depending on ability. Sticky fingers are a fun part of it, of course. One child with autism and cerebral palsy wound up with much of the book glued to her, but she was proud of the part she played as she continuously pointed out to everyone exactly which section she did. She adamantly repeated her simplified version of who the twelve disciples were and what they did. I think the newspaper was a big hit with everyone, but the older children were able to fully engage themselves here as they completed the sections and even added some of their own creation. Finally there was lots of glee when we added their face pictures to the soldier in the Armor of God activity. One eight year old child discovered the enlarging capabilities of the school copier and created a paper suit of armor for his small body using his sister’s thin hair bands to tie the parts to his arms and legs after gluing them to poster board. He remembers easily the name of each piece and the verse that goes with it. I was thrilled with it, but I do need to buy more copier paper now. Fortunately, my motto has always been, “Go with the flow.”
If you would like to try this activity pack, New Testament, by Homeschool in the Woods or find other products by this couple, go to http://homeschoolinthewoods.com.

Splish! Splash! Let the flood waters rise because we are on the ark with Noah. On One 2 Believe’s playset, Noah’s Ark, we are having fun learning about God’s promises.
After loving the Nativity playset from this company, I couldn’t wait to show my 8 year old DeafBlind student the new set that arrived at my door. This set was made with the same durable materials and had the same delightful, l textured features and colors. The ark comes apart to store the animals and Noah neatly inside when not in play. The little, colorful storybook provided helps to tie the love of reading the story to the imagination of acting out the story with the palm-sized characters. The best part of this set is one unbeatable additive to the mix: Just add water!
Floating on the sea of bath or the blue lagoon of a water play table, you have the makings of some fun adventures in Bible Land. My little boy flapped his arms in excitement as we signed, “toy, new” and then “boat”. He carefully took each piece out of the “cargo hold” of the ark and felt each piece. He signed the name of each piece as he recognized the ones he knew with a big smile across his lips and a twinkle in his beautiful blue eyes. With an unknown figure, wrinkles would appear across his furrowed brow, the facial marker of the ASL sign “what” as his right index finger moved down his left palm signaling that sign. He often gets so excited that he forgets that I can’t see either and signs with a flash before I can place my hands on his to understand his side of the conversation. I can’t help, but smile at his desire for learning like a sponge soaking up water. I taught him each sign for each animal letting him touch my hands to read them. He carefully copied each sign sometimes holding a wayward finger in place. Then with help from my aid, we reenacted the story of the Great Flood in the play table designed for sand and water. We signed every part of the story while placing the ark and each character and animal in place. We signed how Noah is told by God to build that big boat. We signed how others laughed and made fun as Noah told them the flood was coming. We marched those animals and Noah up that gangplank signing that God was going to save them from the rising water. His eyes grew big as we poured water from a large pitcher over his hands while signing “water, rising”. We placed one hand gently on the ark as it began to rise and float with saying, pouring “rain”. Those shining eyes popped wide and the mouth opened and gasped. We signed, “, people, animals, God, save, finish which in ASL means God saved the people and the animals. Now he has a toy he can play with in the water at bath time or wherever, but he also has a vivid memory to remind him of the meaning for the signs “promises, God, keep and “me, God, save”.
My student needs the play to help him understand the world around him and the stories that will help him grow into a man with God’s integrity. All children can use this kind of play. That is why I love the interactive playsets from One 2 Believe. The Tales of Glory playsets like the Nativity written about at Christmas and Noah’s Ark are at great prices between $24.99 and $29.99. You can find these and more great toys from http://www.one2believe.com.

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