TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Shepherd’s Stone (Book 5) & The Lion’s Roar (Book 6) {Review}

It is starter to get cooler outside here in Wisconsin and that means I am beginning to really plan and figure out how we will enjoy the winter that is soon to come. It can e pretty brutal sometimes around here. I was so excited to see two new books in a favorite series of ours, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Shepherd’s Stone (Book 5), and The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Lion’s Roar (Book 6) from WorthyKids Books. These are recommended for ages 6-9 (or grades 1-3) but these are books that every one of my children enjoy (and that isn’t an easy thing). Certainly these can be enjoyed by older and younger kids too!

We have been super blessed to be able to say that we have received every one of the books in this series in the past, but if you have not, this is one of those series in which each book can stand on its own. I know that can make a difference sometimes. My younger son is very reluctant to read any series of books but this is one that he is happy to dig into. In fact I often find him reading one of them on his own (in no particular order too).

The Shepherd’s Stone is the fifth book in the series, is a little over a hundred pages with black and white illustrations throughout. In this adventure Peter, Mary and their dog Hank are transported to Bethlehem where they meet a young shepherd. Did you guess that it was David?

One of our favorite figures in the Bible right now. What an exciting way to go back and experience the battle between David and Goliath – with an underlying message reminding us that the Lord is our shepherd and we have nothing to fear. Throughout the pages they experience adventure after adventure, they find clues leading them forward as they seek to solve the secret before they are found by the Soldier of Darkness.

At every turn there are reminders to trust God; to know that God is bigger than anything. What a fun way to explore the Word and increase your faith.

The Lion’s Roar, Book 6, was my boys favorite book thus far! Meet Daniel as we visit the city of Babylon and race chariots. They explore and adventure as they look for the words they need to solve the puzzle and get back home. In the process they must determine what is truth!

Outsmart a wicked high priest, beware of the lions but remember that through every challenge they face God is still in control. This is a story full of examples of courage and the value of the search for truth. What about prayer? What about song? See the power of these both within the pages of the story as we they fall into dangerous situations, as they struggle to find the answers they need in time.

At the end of each book, you don’t want to miss this, you can find details and locations within your Bible where you can go to read the complete story. There is also a short and simple explanation of each section of scripture listed.

I find this to be so encouraging – my younger son has even taken to using these references to find and read the stories within his own Bible. There is definitely nothing better than seeing our children enjoy stories that are wholesome and inspiring. When those stories lead them to God’s Word, it is even better!



Worthy Books is giving THREE of our readers the chance to win their own copy of the whole series of The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. For your chance to win please go to: Win Books 1-7 of The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls and enter today!

Don’t forget to read the other Crew Reviews so you can see how exciting these books really are (for everyone)!




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Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks {Review}

Who doesn’t love blocks? For as long as I can recall my kids have enjoyed spending hours creating with legos, tangrams, blocks – Anything that can help them to create is a winner in my book. My girls love to create all sorts of things for their dolls, while my boys love to design something that they can use for nerf wars and target practice. In the end all four of my kids have a great time!  Such a fabulous way to grow the imagination and creative abilities, we are so enjoying our experience with the Brain Blox Wooden Building Planks we were so blessed to receive from  Brain Blox,  These are recommended for ages 4 to 104. 🙂

The Wooden Building Planks come in sets of 100, 200, or 300 wooden planks that can be used to create as much as you can possibly imagine. These planks are made from 100% all-natural, precision-cut, chemical-free, New Zealand natural pine wood. (It is a beautiful wood) We received the 200-plank set which also included a simple booklet chock full of ideas to get started and also a red drawstring bag to keep all of these planks together. I think it’s important to have something to store them in that is quick and easy to use.

When these came in the mail – I didn’t get a chance to check them out – my kids tore into the package. The box was opened and the plans ere everywhere! My girls began working on a slide and a house for their little doll.

My boys got busy seeing how big of a wood cabin could be built. Later on he considered how tall he could make something using the planks.

There was pizza that had to be made (who doesn’t love pizza) which was a great time to sneak in some fractions. There was also a birthday cake. Don’t you love how something like this can spark the imagination?

While we may be thinking that they are just playing with blocks – let’s not forget that this can be a lesson in math, physics and engineering. This can help to build their creativity, and inspire themselves and others as they build awesome creations! (Especially when you use the challenges that are offered online – if you can complete those you are amazing).

Brain Blox University made sure to spice things up when my kids started getting “bored” (anyone else consider that to be a naughty world). After downloading a free ebook full of building ideas and puzzles, my kids were refreshed, So many of these were just mind blowing! We were so grateful for these wonderful ideas that made us think a bit harder about what we were building or about how to solve a puzzle.

Honestly there are so many things you can do with these. They can be math manipulatives; what about number and letter “writing”? A great and fun way to practice phonics. And of course you can use these in a similar way as tangrams – try to determine how you can make various shapes using these wood planks.

There are also lots of free resources and ideas to be found on their website and the Brain Blox YouTube channel. They provide many amazing ideas and challenges; you won’t be able to stop building! Some of these will even leave you rather boggled!

Be sure to check out the reviews of other Crew members – see how they created and were inspired with this box of goodies that helps you to make just about anything.


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Fun Family Chess {Review}

I cannot remember a time when one or more of my children was not begging to play chess. With me or with one another. I am not a fan of screen time but with the many different hats I wear, it can be hard to keep my children focused and active in positive ways. Some days we seem to just survive and I want so much for my kids to thrive. So we have begun collecting (again) puzzles and board games, card games, craft materials – whatever I can find that will get them inspired and creating while also learning. Needless to say when I saw that there was the opportunity to review Fun Family Chess by Brain Blox, I was SO excited. My kids were too,and trust me, they are not always excited about reviews. My youngest is four and my oldest just turned fourteen but we always looking for fun games that every one of us can be a part of.

Brain Blox is an amazing company! This is a family company – one that seeks to help others thrive and have those strong, special relationships that are so vital! And with games like this, it isn’t such a struggle to get those screens turned off after all! This company has some great blocks (will share more about those in an upcoming post) and amazing looking journals that I hope to explore with my kids in the near future. All of these are designed to encourage and inspire! I love how they say:

“Toys for Happy Brains!

Brain Blox offers toys, games, and journals to empower families toward a more conscious, vibrant lifestyle.”

These are exactly the sort of things we want for our kids, right? I love anything that brings us into a more vibrant and conscious lifestyle. As they say, play should be meaningful and our kids should be able to explore and engage when it comes to their play time. This is a family company too – one that seeks to help others to thrive and have those strong, special relationships that are so vital! With things like this, it isn’t such a struggle to get those screens turned off after all.

So what is Fun Family Chess? This is so much more than a chess board. Simply put this is a two person chess game BUT there are lots of other options that are a part of this game which make it super fun for everyone (they recommend ages 5 and up). Fun Family chess is color coded – you learn as you play and the set includes:

  • Folding Wooden Chess Board
  • 32 Wooden Chess Pieces in a Soft Pouch
  • Full Color Chess Book
  • 2 Reference Cards
  • Chess Cube

While this is a standard chess board, what’s really handy is that it folds up so you can keep everything inside the sturdy hinged box which is also the board.

Since we spend lots of time out and about lately this is great for when we are travelling or just away from home too. It’s something any one of my four kids can do no matter where we go. There are also two draw-string velvet bags for storing the chess pieces. My youngest (who is five) loves the dice. My older daughter loves the cards that help her to see and remember what move each piece makes. My two oldest boys just appreciate being able to play with “their” own set.

This also includes a full color illustrated instruction book that contains instructions for how to play Fun Family Chess as well as the standard chess game. There are reference cards that you can use as you play. These are great and very durable and colorful. The cards give both an image and a short description of how each piece can move. There are also some nice tips included on these, off to the side.

There are lots of great videos that they share to help you learn how to play because, as they say, “Chess is fun for everyone.” I tend to agree.

One of those fond memories I have from long ago is sitting in front of a chess board. There’s nothing quite like it for developing those critical thinking skills! I cannot wait for warmer weather (as we enter fall haha) so we can take this to the park and picnic and play for hours.

There are lots of great videos that they share to help you learn how to play because, as they say, “Chess is fun for everyone.” I tend to agree.

One of those fond memories I have from long ago is sitting in front of a chess board. There’s nothing quite like it for developing those critical thinking skills! I cannot wait for warmer weather (as we enter fall haha) so we can take this to the park and picnic and play for hours.

I am always impressed by something my kids enjoy for extended times. I lov not hearing about being bored. With this, there are so many ways to learn and continue growing in your ability as you play. It’s something that is bringing all of my kids together (how we need that). Play, learn, grow with chess!

Don’t take my word for it. Be sure to read the other reviews that were written about this great family game!

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Wait…Be of Great Faith!

I have been seeing answered prayers.

Of course me being who I am, my prayers are answered and then I begin to worry about the next thing..

I was connected with a nearby house church recently. I need fresh, living water. I need something more. Finally, I felt life in these dry bones…It has been so long yet seeing faces from long ago (my old, little church) I was renewed. It was beautiful!

Yet Bible Quizzing starts soon .. same night, same time…

God make a way.

He answers our prayers and yet still we doubt. I still doubt.

Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

God will make a way where we see none.

TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

Progeny Press {Review}

We have been spending a lot of time on the go lately. What with hockey season in full bloom (travel, no less) it seems we are always on our way to a rink. Somewhere. Sometimes, somewhere far away. So we have been investing in lots of great stories. Audio books, movies and documentaries that are worthy of their viewing and my listening. Some of those classics are coming out – what a great way to enjoy these stories – Progeny Press is a great way to expand on the learning that is within so many great stories! For the purpose of this review we received the following two literature guides: Hound of the Baskervilles Study Guide (recommended for grades 9-12) and Shadow Spinner Study Guide (recommended for grades 5-8). I received these as PDF files for download. I love when all I have to do is click and go. Doesn’t that sound great? 🙂

We have had the pleasure of reviewing a number of materials from Progeny Press in the past. There is absolutely nothing not to not love about a company whose desire is,”To teach children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scriptures for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!” Certainly in the years we have been using various literature guides from them, we have not been disappointed. There is so much to learn and they do a great job of putting it all together for us to easily enjoy. Plus, with there being so many of us, it is nice that there is such a wide variety to of stories choose from! Certainly there are many we enjoy exploring together both old and new.

My oldest son is fourteen and not at all a reader. It can be frustrating because he has an amazing ability but chooses not to read unless he absolutely has to. He is the one who always wants to know if there is a movie he can watch in place of the book. For whatever reason he just has not caught the bug (so frustrating for this momma who cannot get enough of books). So we do a lot of reading aloud. I read and the kids all listen and maybe draw or build quietly. Yet I want to be sure that my oldest son really gets it; that he is attending to the story I am sharing with them. This is the best way to do that (I think) and it only requires a couple things: a Bible, dictionary, thesaurus and a concordance now and then can help too. Working through one section per week, these can easily be completed in about eight to ten weeks. As you work through the pages of these guides, you can see the story coming to life all the more as kids connect the dots and see even more of the art of story telling and those themes and ideas within.

These are so easy to use! Each of the study guides begins with a synopsis of the story. Following that is an introduction to the author, and then background information for the story being studied. Each guide also has an amazing number of ideas for pre-reading activities that can include geography, vocabulary, timeline development, perhaps researching certain topics related to the story about to be read. As we worked through The Hound of the Baskervilles we began to research various breeds of dog. Since this story was inspired by a folk tale we also looked to see if there were any folk tales related to the area we lived in. We certainly found quite a few related to not just the state we live in but also the Upper Peninsula of Michigan were our family resides. Who knows if we ever would have looked into folk tales or urban legends if it hadn’t for the direction given within this study guide. Aside from the ideas in the study guide they also have lots more on their Pinterest page.

Once we began to read the book, we really dug into the study guide. Each section covers about three chapters so its really not that difficult to work through. One day we would complete the vocabulary words – the study guide is interactive so you can complete the questions with a click of the mouse – there is an answer key that comes with the study guide. I kept that for myself and would use it to review as needed once the activity was completed. In some activities it was multiple choice, in others you needed to type out the definition, as you understand the word.

There are also comprehension questions – sometimes my son would write the out, more often than not we would use them to engage everyone in a conversation about their thoughts related to what we were reading. Even the younger ones can get involved and share what they think.

With my oldest son I really appreciated the analysis portion of the study guide – a great way to ponder what characterization means, dig deeper and delve into how the scriptures can be used to interpret and better understand the story. Many of the activities in this area really encouraged by lately very reluctant and restless older boy to consider not just what the scriptures say but what they mean for him and his life. Being observant, or diligent, the worshipful act of study. There are so many things like this that we can find when we slow down and look more closely at the story and the characters within.

Each study guide is so involved, so comprehensive. It would be so easy to spend months, maybe even years working through the pages of each one. In one of the activities we were to design a map; in another there was research to be done. I have always loved writing and researching – my kids? Not so much. But many of these activities really introduced it in such a way that it was not overwhelming at all.

An example of one my oldest worked on for some time was this: what does the Bible have to say about prayer, how we do it and what it means. Since it has been a real struggle to get him really praying, searching the scriptures, I was rather excited to find some paper that he was writing on related to prayer. Sometimes it takes something like this. Really, I always remind my kids, it doesn’t matter what someone else has to say, if you don’t understand it for yourself. We need to know what we believe, not just following along on someone else’s path. Our greatest learning experiences often come from our own desire to search for ourselves, making something personal.

There is so much more I could share within the pages of these study guides too; always so much more than I expect. In one of the study guide activities we researched pigeons; what are they and how/why do people raise them?

For the brief time we were in a local 4H group my kids loved learning about different sorts of animals; what they are used for and how they are cared for.

Sometimes I think we forget how much can be learned about one thing – math, history, geography, science, reading and writing. I have to remind myself to get out of the box sometimes and not worry as much about the academic books but look deeper myself and see all the opportunities and adventures we are involved in, along with those academics that are sometimes hidden within. I cannot say enough how much of a blessing I always find these to be. I admit we do not keep to a strict schedule when it comes to completing each portion of the guide but we definitely, in ur own time, do enjoy and learn so much more than I often could have imagined, from these.

There are so many more to choose from than the two that our family had the chance to explore. Be sure to click the image below to read reviews from oter members of the Crew who dug into lots of other great literature guides from Progeny Press.,



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Ramblings, TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

Soundsory {Review}

Two of my four children really struggle when it comes to traditional learning. They cannot sit still for long; bouncing about, humming, spinning, upside down even – There are lots of challenges that come with my decision to home school these crazy kids of mine. However, no matter how differently they are wired, they are still created in God’s image. Rather than trying to force them into my way, I seek out methods and tools we can use to assist them in their own way – Soundsory from Sound for Life Ltd, is a program that is designed to help students (and adults too) with these sort of challenges. Needless to say I was pretty excited to have the chance to try this out with mine! This is a forty day program meant to develop and enhance the body and brain, which is an area I have really been recently digging into more myself so I can understand and assist all four of my children in their awareness overall.

Soundsory is multi-sensory. This program combines movement and sound. This is meant to stimulate the vestibular and auditory system simultaneously, ideally assisting with cognitive skill development and emotional regulation. This could be a wonderful resource for any child who has ADD or ADHD, Autism spectrum and developmental issues, sensory and auditory processing disorders, motor delays, balance/coordination issues. Each days session is about 30 minutes long and consists of 25 minutes of listening and 5 minutes of body-movement exercises (while still listening). There is so much amazing research related to this (for any of you science lovers out there) showing the benefits of using dynamic music along with body movement exercises targeting the body (balance, left and right integration, gross motor, fine motor, etc). If you are looking to really understand more about how this all works, I encourage you to spend some time on their website because they really have all the answers right there. I admit, there is much that was a bit over my head, but there is nothing I love more than being able to understand what we are doing and why it works. 🙂

Each day my daughter would use this as she read a book, or did some drawing or painting. I loved watching her dance along a bit to the music. It is recommended that this is used when the child is relaxed and calm so it can be a great addition to quiet time each day. Each day is broken up into two parts – the first involves 25 minutes of listening and then five minutes in which music and body movements are paired together using videos on the website. Some of the exercises I really had to coax her into because she wanted to do her own thing; for 25 minutes as she listened she would whistle and sway about. There would be little jumps and twirls at times. I had to remind her that she can do hers but she also needs to do the ones on the website (there are only four of them). These are so simple to do!

Each exercise involves three basic different body movements: Somatic, Timing and Rhythm Control, Balance and Spatial Judgement. As it turns out rhythm, balance, and movement coordination all have a great impact on our fine-motor and academic skills, translating to a variety of cognitive and motor skills. Wow! There is so much I have been learning since we obtained these headphones. What I thought was just a simple tool to assist in integration and regulation for my children is turning out to be so much more! I love when I come across something like this that can really open up my understanding to the body/brain connection. Especially for my oldest son (he just turned fourteen) I think it helps him, making him more willing to use this, when he can gain a bit more understanding of it for himself. It isn’t just something he has to do but something that he wants to do because he can see how it benefits him in the long run.

The music is delivered through air-bone conduction – on the top of the headphones is a bone connection transducer.

This means that as the music plays it also provides auditory stimulation. There is a variety of music played throughout the listening experience – some my daughter loved and found so peaceful “it almost made her sleep” while other music she admitted made her jumpy and jittery – this was obvious because she would be up jumping and jittering. Ideally, you feel the vibration in your body but none of my children who have used this say they have. I attempted to feel the headphones myself and didn’t sense any vibrations from it.

What I do know is that there does seem to be a calm and focus that comes over my daughter (especially) as she listens each day. Its so fun watching her paint and draw, read and book or play with her dolls dressing them and designing new things. For myself, I have always known that music assists (me personally anyway) in whatever task I am at, especially when it might be troublesome or a bit challenging.There are times I think we all need a bit of help exercising our ability to concentrate and focus. This really does seem to be a wonderful way to do that. It is fun and interactive, engaging, in a sense. There is no limit to how old you must be in order to get something out of it either. Even my four year old daughter would ask to do her “music and move”.

There are so many distractions our kids have to face each day with technology and the constant busyness we all seem to struggle to beat down (or master). I do believe it is a much needed skill for us to help our children exercise – that of focus and attention – for them to be able to stop and see. To hear and respond. IN so many instances these are skills that are desperately needed to be had. We are surely going to be using and enjoying this one for some time!

Click the image below to see how the other Crew members used this one!