Typing Tournament Online and Math Invaders Online ~ Review

Gameschooling is my jam, I love setting up a board game or cards to supplement our school days.  But, it's nice to have an educational game on the computer ready for those days when time is not on our side.  Lucky for us we have been using Typing Tournament Online and Math Invaders Online from EdAlive for weeks now.  Kaden has used Math Invaders way more then the Typing Tournament, only because he types incredibly fast and accurate, like it's his first language.  But, he has a few comments about both programs that I've shared below.  But, this review will focus mainly on Math Invaders Online.


Big Bible Science ~ REVIEW

I have always had a love for all things Science and sharing that over the years with my kiddos has been a wonderful experience.  Recently since it's just Kaden and I we have taken a different approach to Science.  Concentrating on learning more about topics he is interested in by reading biographies, watching documentaries and experiments.  By far experimenting is the most fun because it gets all his senses going and working together.  We have the approach kind of like this... ask a question, discuss, research, read and then replicate by experimenting.

With all that said, we've been adding a book called the Big Bible Science from Christian Focus with our weekly studies and I can't wait to tell you a little more about it and how we used it.


The Critical Thinking Co. ~ REVIEW

I just did a whole thing on Instagram about using games in our homeschool.  We love to do this and for Kaden sometimes it's a necessity because of a hard morning or long afternoon.   Recently we were blessed with the Elementary Math Games (Grades 3-5) from The Critical Thinking Co. and have been gaming away every since we cracked it open.

This award-winning, family owned company has been around since 1958 and offers us over 200 different titles in math, reading, writing, science, and social studies.  We have used several of their products throughout our homeschool time.  And just like this time our expectations were always met and exceeded.


The Hamelin Stoop Series ~ REVIEW


We read a ton here in our home and no book is turned away on most cases.  But, we do tend to favor middle grade books for personal reading.  Honestly this next series I'm sharing with you was one of my new favorites I've read in awhile.  I'm talking about the first two books in The Hamelin Stoop Series from 12 Gates Publishing.


Dream and Dreamers Blogger Campaign ~ REVIEW

I have been able to read some really great Middle grade books over the past few weeks.  Kaden and I are wrapping up the last chapter on one of them tonight.  One of the reasons why I love this genre of reading is because of the innocence, the hope, the fire, the possibilities that are stirred up within each of the characters.  I love the wonder and adventure.  Real life is yucky at times and I find it therapeutic to curl up on the couch after Kaden's nighttime routine and escape with him.  But, sometimes I'm found sipping tea on that same couch reading long after he has gone to bed.

Here are the three last reads.....

Go Here for my full Review on this book.  But, here is the book description.

Heartbreaking but also filled with wit and hope, The Line Tender is the story of Lucy, the daughter of a marine biologist and a rescue diver, and the summer that changes her life. If she ever wants to lift the cloud of grief over her family and community, she must complete the research her late mother began. She must follow the sharks.

 Wherever the sharks led, Lucy Everhart's marine-biologist mother was sure to follow. In fact, she was on a boat far off the coast of Massachusetts, collecting shark data when she died suddenly. Lucy was seven. Since then Lucy and her father have kept their heads above water--thanks in large part to a few close friends and neighbors. But June of her twelfth summer brings more than the end of school and a heat wave to sleepy Rockport. On one steamy day, the tide brings a great white--and then another tragedy, cutting short a friendship everyone insists was "meaningful" but no one can tell Lucy what it all meant. To survive the fresh wave of grief, Lucy must grab the line that connects her depressed father, a stubborn fisherman, and a curious old widower to her mother's unfinished research on the Great White's return to Cape Cod. If Lucy can find a way to help this unlikely quartet follow the sharks her mother loved, she'll finally be able to look beyond what she's lost and toward what's left to be discovered.


This book was pretty cool, the main character Caraway June aka C.J travels the country in a tour bus with her aunt and the crew.  Her aunt is a medium and she believes they are spreading hope, giving closer and assurance to family and friends who have lost a loved one.  C.J is with her aunt because her mom has passed away and she is able to speak to her through her aunt.  Crazy.... I know.  Many things happen and discoveries as C.J comes into her own.  This is a time when kids do question and desire to know who they are, where they are from.  
Her and a new friend set off on a road trip and discovered some pretty hefty secrets that cause her to question her whole life.  Kaden and I both had fun reading this book together and were surprised over and over as the story unfolded. If your tween likes magic and mystery this will be a great summer read for sure.
Book description....
A book about life, loss, and the secrets families keep, reminiscent of Sharon Creech's Walk Two Moons, by National Book Award nominee Lisa Graff.

CJ's Aunt Nic is a psychic medium who tours the country speaking to spirits from Far Away, passing on messages from the dearly departed. And CJ knows firsthand how comforting those messages can be -- Aunt Nic's Gift is the only way CJ can talk to her mom, who died just hours after she was born.

So when CJ learns that she won't be able to speak to her mother anymore, even with Aunt Nic's help, she's determined to find a work-around. She sets off on road trip with her new friend Jax to locate the one object that she believes will tether her mother's spirit back to Earth . . . but what she finds along the way challenges every truth she's ever known. Ultimately, CJ has to sort out the reality from the lies.


Lisa Graff (lisagraff.com) is the critically acclaimed and award-winning author of The Great Treehouse WarA Clatter of JarsLost in the SunAbsolutely AlmostA Tangle of KnotsDouble Dog DareSophie Simon Solves Them AllUmbrella SummerThe Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower, and The Thing About Georgie. Lisa Graff's books have been named to more than sixty state award lists and have been touted as best books of the year by booksellers, teachers, and librarians. A Tangle of Knots was long-listed for the National Book Award in 2013. Lisa Graff lives with her family just outside of Philadelphia. Follow her on Twitter @LisaGraff.

The last book I want to share with you is called The Bridge Home and let me tell you your heart will be wrecked.  Get ready to fall in love with these characters hard.  The setting is in the streets of India where two sister are running away from an abusive home.  They connect with two homeless boys and the compassion, camaraderie and bond between the four begins.  I loved that this book touched on some heavy topics in a way that was age appropriate.  Kaden and I spent moments in deep conversation almost every single night after reading together.  Many of the situations these kids were in Kaden will never know or endure God willing, but it was eye opening to see the lives of children going through severe poverty, disability and abuse through their eyes.  
This book took my breath away and swelled my heart.  Kaden said he will keep this book forever in his collection.  This is a must read!!!
Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman's stirring middle-grade debut.

Life is harsh in Chennai's teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, eleven-year-old Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. Fortunately, the girls find shelter--and friendship--on an abandoned bridge. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city's trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. After all, they are now the bosses of themselves and no longer dependent on untrustworthy adults. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom.

Padma Venkatraman was born in Chennai, India, and became an American citizen after attaining a Ph.D. in oceanography from The College of William and Mary. She is also the author of A Time to Dance (IBBY selection, ALA Notable, CCBC Choice, Notable Books for a Global Society winner, and South Asia Book Award Honor Book), Island's End(ALA Best Book of the Year, ALA/Amelia Bloomer List selection, and CCBC Best Book), and Climbing the Stairs (Julia Ward Howe Award, Bank Street Best Book, YALSA BBYA selection, Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, and CCBC Choice).


Techie Homeschool Mom ~ REVIEW

I love unit studies with all kinds of cutouts, lapbooking, projects and adding cooking or field trips to round out the whole learning experience.  My two oldest kiddos loved that too, Kaden not so much.  He wants to learn based on need, not enjoyment.  Every now and then though we study something that he dives deep into and I love those moments with him.  Recently I was able to try out Famous Inventors Online Unit Study from  Techie Homeschool Mom.


The Line Tender Blog Tour ~ REVIEW

Book Description

 Heartbreaking but also filled with wit and hope, The Line Tender is the story of Lucy, the daughter of a marine biologist and a rescue diver, and the summer that changes her life. If she ever wants to lift the cloud of grief over her family and community, she must complete the research her late mother began. She must follow the sharks.


CrossWired Science ~ REVIEW

For the last few weeks, Kaden and I have been reviewing a new online science program called CrossWired Science and their very first two projects: Sound, and Fluid Dynamics.  This curriculum is geared for all ages and offers an eclectic learning style which fits us to a T.  It can be used as a stand alone program or supplement along with your current science program.  I simply love the whole "crosswiredness" with this program.  Because there is so much packed into these topics that touch on many different subject areas to insure a concrete understanding of the topic being taught.  It's perfect no matter what your learning style is.  And the Christian worldview presents the world so beautifully as we learn the power behind God's creation.


Stopmotion Explosion ~ Review

I have never really been into making videos or editing photos, but Mahala has always had an interest in this.  I was excited to share with her that we were chosen to review the Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion.  I figured both her and Kaden would enjoy working together on this project.  The Kit is a wonderful independent activity for kids 13 and older but, younger kiddos will probably need some parental or older sibling assistance. We have had a fun couple of weeks with this Kit, let me tell you all about it.


Vietnamese Egg Rolls for Days!!!

I've enjoyed egg rolls for years, but it wasn't until I tried my father-in-law's Vietnamese egg rolls that I fell in love.  They are crispy, salty, earthy and porky...it honestly can't get any better. :)
I was thrilled when Mahala wanted to learn the exact way Grandpa made them and every time he comes to visit he makes them with her.


    Pork Filling
  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 1/2 cup dried Woodear mushrooms (re-hydrate in water for 30 minutes or until soften then finely mince)
  • 2 oz dried vermicelli/cellophane noodles (approximately 1 cup, re-hydrate in water for 30 minutes or until soften then finely mince)
  • 3 green onions (trim off ends and slice thinly)
  • 1 small white/yellow onion (peel and finely dice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 1 beaten egg yolk (to seal the egg rolls)
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground pork, onions, mushrooms, noodles, all spices and oyster sauce. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Gently pull the wrappers apart. Set on plate and keep covered with a damp paper towel.
Place about 2 Tablespoons of filling on one wrapper and roll as show in the photo above. Before completing the roll, use a small amount of egg yolk to seal it. Continue until all wrappers are rolled.

Fill a heavy pot or wok with a few inches of vegetable oil and heat to approximately 350 degrees.  Fry egg rolls in small batches until golden brown, turning as needed. Place on cooling rack.  And serve wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves. 
This is one of our family's favorite meals, Enjoy!