Merry Christmas from FINCHNWREN to you! ~Giveaway #1 (ends 12/20/17)

Merry Christmas a little early!

My sister Finch and I so appreciate each and every one of you.  Thank you for reading our posts, entering our giveaways, commenting, and following us here on the blog and on social media.  We know that there are lots of life activities and responsibilities that require your time.  So when you take a few moments to visit us we don’t take it lightly!

Because we appreciate you so much, we’re hosting a Merry Christmas series of giveaways this month where we’ll be giving away a cool bag, neat makeup, books and other goodies.  Here is today’s!

 

 

 

One winner will receive this Henri Bendel tote bag.  It’s sturdy, sewn plastic with the Henri Bendel logo and stripes featured prominently on the front of the bag.  It comes with its own paper shopping bag.

Just click on the pink “Enter here!” link below, which will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  You can enter in a variety of ways.  Giveaway closes on 12/20/17, and one winner will be selected then.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

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“Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer” Review & Giveaway

Do you ever feel as though you need a new way to approach prayer?  Author Jeannie Blackmer did, and out of that came her new book Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer.  The BlogAbout Blogger Network generously sent me not only a copy to read and review myself, but one to give away to a reader!

 

 

So, about prayer…

What does prayer look like for you?  I’m a morning person, and I’ve always thrived on an early morning quiet time when I can have some time in the Bible and in prayer (along with a cup of coffee, of course!).  That was a great way for me to start my day when I was single and working, and it’s just as good for me as a wife and mom.  Especially as a homeschool mom; having that time of peace, God’s Word, and time with Him helps me to stay on track and get going in the right direction each day.  (And, I hope, staying the course throughout that day!)

Our family has been through a lot in the past few years, including job challenges, surgeries, and most recently, the chemotherapy treatments I had following my May 1 surgery.  And I noticed recently that my prayers had just been knocked down to the bare bones.  It’s not that I WASN’T thankful for God and His character, and His love.  But I was urgently pleading and asking for the help I so desperately needed without focusing on thankfulness, praise, and worship.  It looked a lot like, “help, help, HELP!”

 

Author Jeannie Blackmer

And about Talking to Jesus…

Also recently, I was given this meaningful book,  Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer.  Something that author Jeanne Blackmer experienced when her children became teens was that she desperately needed to find a way to pray deeply for them…to change the focus and perhaps the nature of her prayers.  Blackmer was inspired as she looked through Scriptures and found other parents coming to Jesus with their needs about their children…their loved ones…and themselves.  Out of this, the wonderful Talking to Jesus was birthed and written.  In 21 chapters, we meet 21 different people or groups of people who encountered Jesus (plus a few preceding and closing chapters).  While staying faithful to the Scripture accounts, Blackmer has written about what the characters might have been thinking or feeling as they ministered (the disciples); as they came to Jesus with a huge request (like the Canaanite woman, or Jairus, or the woman who’d bled for 12 years), or as they lived and struggled (the blind men or the scribe).  I loved this!  I am a person who loves and finds meaning in story, and by adding story to the lives of these real Biblical men, women, and children, Blackmer is able to take us into what the characters might have experienced….and help us to see how those feelings aren’t so (if at all) different from our own.  Here’s a sampling of some of the Biblical characters whose experiences with Jesus are explored here:

  • The Centurion
  • The Paralytic and His Friends
  • The Ruler (a.k.a. Jairus)
  • The Bleeding Woman
  • The Disciples (in various situations)
  • The Blind Men
  • and more!

Blackmer concludes each chapter with three very good–and very impactful–sections.  First, there is her Personal Response portion, where she talks more about what we can glean ourselves from the Bible account, and some specific things she noticed.  She concludes these sections with gentle encouragements and exhortations for the reader.  Second, there is a Reflection segment, which includes pertinent Bible verses (with both the verse itself and its address printed out); further nuggets from the Word of God that will draw the reader closer into the arms of God.  And third, is a place for the reader’s own Observations.  Here are spots where we can write about our responses to Jesus’ experiences and invitations, or prayers for the ways we’d like to move forward.

 

What this book has meant to me

So I mentioned earlier that my prayer life had been, for quite a few months, in sort of a crisis mode place.  I knew that I needed the help that only God could give me.  And I was definitely desperate enough to ask, and keep asking, for it.  During my chemotherapy journey there were a lot of moments of amazing provision…and absolute hilarity…and faith and trust.  But there were also fear and pain, which kept driving me to God for His help.

I’m so thankful that we’re past the chemo now.  I am feeling better and more energetic every month.  But I’ve noticed that there can be more to my prayer times now.  After all, I’m in a relationship with God; and any relationship has got to be about more than the things one person needs from the other.  Reading and working through Talking to Jesus has been a rich, lovely experience that has opened my eyes to some wonderful things, like who God is; how He loves me; and how readily He stands to be in relationship with me.

As I read Talking to Jesus, I was encouraged to place my own name–and myself–in one of the stories.  You can probably guess which one was deeply meaningful to me!  It was Blackmer’s chapter on The Bleeding Woman.  The woman who was desperate–really desperate–for healing.  She believed that Jesus might be the one who could help her.  And He did!  She reached out and touched his garment.  Not even his hand or his leg…but the fabric of his robe.  And He noticed!  He turned, and asked who had touched Him…and, knowing she’d been found out, she came forward.

As an “unclean” person, she shouldn’t have even have been in a crowd of people in Israel.  Her very presence or accidental touch of another person would have transferred (albeit temporarily) her uncleanness to that person.  And yet Jesus didn’t say, “Get away, you’re dirty, you’re going to taint us.”

He called her “Daughter.”  Beloved girl child.  Wanted.

And then, He told her that her faith had healed her!

What an incredible moment.  I’ve loved it for years, ever since a favorite pastor taught on Jairus (and his own desperation) and the bleeding woman.  But never, in all those years, did I see until I read Blackmer’s retelling, how very deeply Jesus loved and valued the bleeding woman.  And how very deeply He loves and values us.

Wow!  What a moment.  And what a book.

 

And your chance to win!

The BlogAbout Blogger Network has given me a copy of Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer to share with one reader!  Let me tell you, whether you use this book in a devotional fashion, or just read it in huge chunks, you will be blessed and encouraged.  Just click on the pink “Enter here!” link below, and you’ll be taken to a Giveaway Tools entry form where you can enter to win this for yourself.  Giveaway closes December 18, 2017.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, we at finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinions, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

 

 

The Family Honor Plate…A Fun New Way to Connect with Your Family (A Review)

Are you looking for enjoyable, meaningful ways to connect with your children and family…in a manner that will impact them positively?  I know that family life can get so busy with life, school, activities, and chores that chances to connect on a deeper, personal level can sweep by.  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions and the Family Honor Plate company were kind enough to send us the Family Honor Plate and Table Thyme Discussion Cards to review.  We’ve had a wonderful experience using these…and they truly have provided some neat new ways for our family to connect with each other!

 

 

The Family Honor Plate…

was created by Michelle Weber.  As a mom herself, she realized that she wanted to focus on blessing her family and modeling a positive attitude and spirit with her children.  She developed the Family Honor Plate and the Table Thyme Discussion Cards to provide opportunities and jumping-off points for moms and dads to use with their children…to recognize them, encourage them, and talk about topics and ideas that might not come up in normal conversation but are keys to understanding our kids and how they think and feel.  First, the plate is a cool craft that parents and kids can create and design together.  Then, both the plate and discussion cards (more on those in a bit!) can be used at meals in ways that will bless the whole family.

Weber’s thought process on developing this neat family activity is threefold:

  1.  That Mom and Dad are the examples their children follow and we’re to be their role models
  2.  We can notice when your kids and spouse do amazing things, and link them back to great character traits
  3.  Third, that we can celebrate them by serving a meal on the Family Honor Plate.  And we don’t just stop there, we can use the moments to talk about why their behavior was amazing and how it made others feel.

 

What we received…

was everything we needed to decorate and make our own Family Honor Plate.  The kit includes:

  • A white Family Honor Plate, which has the fruit of the Spirit qualities printed around the inside rim (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)
  • A paint palette to mix colors on
  • A plate stand for displaying the plate in a special place in the home
  • 3 paintbrushes (and they’re wonderful, high-quality ones)
  • A paint set of 8 colors to decorate and personalize the plate
  • Simple instructions to follow
  • We also received the Table Thyme Discussion Cards, which are set up like a perpetual calendar and provide an interesting conversation starter on each page

 

Creating our own family plate

Jackson and I love doing art together.  Yet as he has gotten older–in high school–it seems like we have more to do in homeschool and less time for art in a day’s work!  So we both really valued and appreciated the opportunity to a) paint together and b) create such a wonderful tool that we can use as a family in our home.  We selected a design (you could paint ANYthing, really, but we chose one that was pictured in the company photos) and began to paint.

The paint colors are rich and the plate itself is a great canvas for them.  The paintbrushes are soft and apply color beautifully.  They were so fun to paint with!  And when we were finished painting, we followed the instructions to bake the plate in a conventional oven to set the paint.  It worked perfectly.  I’m hand-washing the plate just to keep the paint on and the plate in stellar condition, but the paint seems perfectly applied and set.

 

 

 

Table Thyme Discussion Cards

I’m sure we’ve all read the statistics on how good it is for families to eat dinner (and/or other meals) together on a regular basis.  Here are some of the reasons that underline how important meals together can be.  Children and teens who eat together with their parents are more likely to:

  • Eat more healthily overall
  • Be less likely to skip school (yes, there really is a meals together/truancy connection!)
  • Have higher GPAs
  • Have better vocabularies (really!)
  • Helps kids (both younger and older) feel closer to their family
  • and more!

 

Both the Family Honor Plate and the Table Thyme Discussion Cards can provide more ways for parents and kids to connect with each other at mealtimes.  Using the plate to recognize and honor different family members is one way.  But what if you’re looking for some interesting conversation starters?  Table Thyme to the rescue!

This perpetual calendar-ish set of cards (meaning that you can flip the cards over one at a time and get tons of ideas for questions to ask your kids…then flip the whole set over and start again) has questions that are fun, meaningful, and guaranteed to generate interesting conversations.  Here are just a few of the 170+ questions or directions you’ll find there:

  • Look at someone at the table and say something nice about them.
  • Describe a time when you were scared.
  • What is something that made you laugh recently?  Why?
  • If you could create your dream pet, what would it be like?

Tons of great–and sometimes deep–conversation starters!

Using the plate and the cards at mealtimes

We had an opportunity right away to use our plate to bless and encourage a member of our family.  Our son, Jackson, just had his wisdom teeth out so as you can imagine, his mouth is on the sore and swollen side just a couple of days after surgery.  So here is a shot of his breakfast this morning on the Family Honor Plate; poached eggs (nice and soft!).  He isn’t feeling great overall but loved having his breakfast on this special plate.

 

 

But, you don’t have to wait to use the plate for someone who’s ill or just had surgery!  Pull the plate out when someone has done something amazing that you want to recognize.  Or has exemplified some excellent character qualities or done something kind, or is living out the fruit of the Spirit that is written on the center of the Family Honor Plate.

Using the discussion cards are interesting, fun, and just plain wonderful.  Imagine the creativity that could be initiated from these—or learning cool stuff about your kiddos that they didn’t know!  We’re big storytellers in our house, meaning that we love to share details about favorite experiences.  Honestly, though, there were so many questions in Table Thyme that I’d never even thought of asking my child.  And I was captivated to discover his (and my husband’s) answers!

Some of the interesting questions we discussed recently were, 1) Which of your friends are you the most grateful for? and 2) Which Halloween costume that you’ve worn over the years was your favorite?  I loved hearing Jackson’s answers and thoughts on that.  (I can only remember a couple of my own childhood costumes!)

 

So who would enjoy the Family Honor Plate?

And the Table Thyme Discussion Cards?  People who’d like to…

  • bless their kids
  • hear more about their thoughts and ideas
  • create fun mealtimes
  • model great character qualities
  • help their families get even closer

If any of these sounds amazing to you, visit Family Honor Plate and learn more!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Social Corner for Family Honor Plate

Family Honor Plate website

More about Michelle, owner of the Family Honor Plate

Buy the Family Honor Plate kit here

 

 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this product.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 

Wonderful Gospel Tools ~ Let The Little Children Come (A Review)

Recently, Let The Little Children Come and FlyBy/Propeller Promotions sent me a wonderful collection of gospel-sharing tools to use and review, all for sharing the gospel with little ones! I received the Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sample Pack, full of 10 different booklets, bracelets, and tools.

 

 

Do you ever have the opportunity to share the gospel with little ones?

I do–at least twice per year.  In our homeschool coop, which is run from a Christian perspective, teachers share the gospel with their students each semester. And while I’m a former missionary and do have some experience sharing the gospel, I always want to be sure that I’m being as clear as possible, not overcomplicating the message, and covering all the basics. This is especially important with children, who may not have as much experience with the Bible or the teachings of Christ. I’m always looking for vivid, kid-friendly materials to use…and I really love the products Let The Little Children Come sent! They are clear, beautiful, and filled with eye-catching and memorable illustrations while staying faithful to the Biblical gospel message.

 

The Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sample Pack has ten colorful, bright booklets, folding images, and bracelets, all of which can be used to illustrate the gospel presentation to children.  There are “animated” booklets, pop-up booklets, “magic” folding cards, and Wordless books and bracelets.  You could use these one at a time when sharing with one child, or you could order more of the individual tools if you were sharing with a group.  Let me tell you more about each tool I received!

 

 

Animated Tracts

These Animated Tracts are small shiny booklets which tell a particular story related to the gospel.  After the story, each booklet ends with an explanation of how we can receive salvation through God’s gift of His son, Jesus, and a sample prayer which anyone could pray to receive Christ.  The added bonus in the animated tracts is a striped clear and black card which readers hold over the booklet pages.  When the reader slides the card back and forth, the images seem to move!

The three booklets are:

  • The True Story of Christmas, which tells the story of Jesus’ birth
  • Where’s Everybody Going, which tells about the God who made the earth and everything in it, including us; and about the sin that separates us from Him
  • John 3:16, which works its way through this pivotal verse with captivating “moving” illustrations

 

 

I really liked all three of these little booklets!  The stories and verses are simply, beautifully, and clearly brought to life.  The gospel, and humanity’s need for a Savior, are plainly and gracefully explained in ways that anyone—even a child—can understand.  The card which makes the illustrations “move” is fascinating!  Even my teenaged son, who’s very into art and illustrations, thought it was amazing, even though these products are designed for a younger audience.

 

 

Gospel Buttons Flip About

We received two of these Flip About cards (Gospel Buttons).  They are sort of like a little magic trick.  The square cards fold shut then open but consecutively display 4 different pages or sides.

  • One has images only; a heavenly kingdom, a darkened heart of sin, the cross of Christ, and a redeemed and cleansed heart.
  • The second contains a phrase-by-phrase and image presentation of John 3:16.

The Gospel Buttons are very cool little gadgets.  They will really keep the listener’s attention as the gospel is presented.  The only caveat I’d add is that the user should practice a couple of times before the presentation is made, so that the folding and unfolding of the various pages is done in order.  But they’re colorful, fun, and interesting.

 

 

 

Pop-up Tracts

Children love pop-up books.  And these little Pop-up Tracts carry on that fun tradition!  The Lost Easter Egg is a story about an Easter egg hunt woven together with the Bible’s Luke 15 parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd who went to find it.  The Most Amazing House talks about the heavenly home God is preparing for us…but how our own sin keeps up from getting there.  Both these tracts close with prayers we can pray to accept Jesus’ death as payment for that sin and to enter into a relationship with God.

 

 

The Wordless Tools

I’m sure you’ve seen something from the Wordless family of products.  These tools are just as simple as can be, yet they still powerfully communicate the gospel message.  Each color represents a part of the gospel (yellow/heaven; dark/sin; red/the shed blood of Jesus; white/belief and cleansing; green/growth in relationship with God).

The Wordless tools are available as the Wordless Book, a small laminated book with no words, just the colors I mentioned above.  There is also a Silicone Salvation Bracelet, which has the 5 Wordless colors printed around the loop of the bracelet.  Finally, there’s a Wordless Bracelet Kit, which includes the beads, a leather bracelet to thread the beads on, and a small flyer explaining the steps to salvation.  There’s even a sample prayer printed on the other side.

 

Where you can find these awesome tools

This Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sample Pack I’ve just told you about is available at the Let The Little Children Come website.  There, you can also find these tools for sale individually, as well as lots of other cool evangelism products!  (Follow this link to purchase:  https://www.letthelittlechildrencome.com/child-evangelism-tools/gospel-tracts-and-evangelism-tools-sampler-pack)

In addition, Let The Little Children Come has a Resources page which is full of ideas on how to make your own Wordless evangelism tools, tips on sharing the gospel, devotions, Bible verses, and even a New Believer Follow-Up Book for Children.  So many good tools, available to you for free!

I can definitely recommend these effective–yet still very kind and loving–tools to help you share the gospel clearly.  They are wonderful, and I’m looking forward to using them myself!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this product.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 

 

Apologia Biology: Our Fall Semester with Bridgeway Academy (plus a coupon code for you!)

Are you homeschooling high school, or preparing to?  If so, Biology is probably on your mind as you’re planning your student’s classes and high school transcript.  We were so fortunate to be invited to review Bridgeway Academy‘s high school Apologia Biology course (FYC Biology Course w/Lab), which Jackson started in September.  It has been an academically rigorous, yet fascinating and enjoyable, way to study high school Biology.  I’d like to share some of my son’s experiences with this class and studies.

 

 

What is Bridgeway Academy?

Bridgeway Academy is an online educational provider that we’ve long admired.  They provide accredited courses, taught online by qualified educational professionals and teachers, which are both academically excellent and interesting to homeschool students. Live courses are offered for students in first grade all the way through 12th grade, and over 30,000 students have participated in Bridgeway Academy classes from 1989 on. And 83% of Bridgeway Academy students proceed to their first choice college!

 

Apologia Biology

Jackson is enrolled in Bridgeway Academy’s FYC Biology Course w/Lab for the 2017-2018 school year.  This Learning Lab course uses the Exploring Creation with Biology textbook, along with Bridgeway Academy’s own Biology Lab Kit, and the course provides 1.5 credits upon completion with a D grade or higher.

The 16-chapter textbook covers:

  • the definitions of life and biology plus classification, taxonomy, and biological keys
  • Kingdoms Monera, Protista, and Fungi
  • the chemistry of life
  • the cell, cellular reproduction, and DNA
  • Mendel and Genetics
  • Evolution
  • Ecology
  • Kingdom Animalia (invertebrates, arthropoda, chordata)
  • Kingdom Plantae
  • Reptiles, birds, and mammals

The textbook contains daily reading sections and questions to answer on the reading, plus experiments, study guides, and review questions for each chapter.  It’s definitely a textbook that’s written for high school students; the material is advanced but still very doable for the high schoolers.  Good reading and comprehension skills would be an advantage for students, however.

 

The supplies

Everything we needed for the course (the Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology 2nd Edition, the Bridgeway Biology Lab Kit, including the Bridgeway Biology Lab Manual) was purchased from Bridgeway Academy.  Also included with these are the Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology answer booklets, for the parent.  The course and supplies (books & lab kit) are priced separately, so you can price compare items or obtain a used copy of the textbook if you so desire.

You can see the ingredients of the lab kit above.  It is shipped in a sturdy cardboard box, but we purchased the plastic containers with lids so we could store them more effectively.  (Plus I wanted to keep the dissection specimens, above on the right, in a separate container.  As anyone knows who’s ever done a biology dissection, there is an odor to those specimens that we didn’t necessarily want permeating our house!)  There is also a dissection pad which is pictured below.

Students will need some additional household goods and objects, like ice cubes, eggs, vinegar, etc.

 

Class slideshow on matter

What a typical class period looks like

The live online class, taught by Carla Berg, an experienced certified science teacher (as well as a very fun and interesting one!), meets once weekly for an hour and a half.  Mrs. Berg introduces and teaches about the current chapter’s materials.  She includes scientific photos and videos, Powerpoint-type presentations, questions-and-answers (of various styles), and lots of interaction with the students.  The students have the opportunity to communicate via text chat as well as via computer audio/video as they answer questions and participate in class discussions.  Below, you can see the whiteboard she also uses for class interaction and Q&A and the students’ responses.

 

Jackson says, “The live class work does usually stay for an hour and a half, with the first 30 minutes covering an introductory topic or some questions that Mrs. Berg wants to address from the previous week.  The last hour is usually composed of learning about the topics that will come up in your book that week and doing fun activities sometimes with several other (groups of) people in the class.  These many assignments help towards the full grade.  The class itself overall is well-taught and the class participation helps the students get to know each other and the time is used well to teach or participate in activities.”

 

Interaction via the class whiteboard on Moodle

 

It’s clear that Mrs. Berg is an experienced and quality teacher.  She does a fantastic job interacting with the students and teaching and presenting the information.  She has high expectations for the students which are communicated clearly.

Following the class, Mrs. Berg puts the week’s assignments and links up on the Moodle site.  Moodle is the interactive classroom where the Bridgeway Academy classes are held.  Through the Moodle site, students can attend class, view/complete/submit for grading their daily assignments, take tests, and keep tabs on their class scores and grades.  It works incredibly well and is, I think, a great tool for today’s generation of students.  Generally, the week’s work could include: daily reading and questions; glossary work; experiments; test review assignments.  Tests occur every few weeks, one chapter (module) at a time.

 

Dissecting a mushroom on the dissection pad

What we’ve covered this fall

As of this week, Jackson has completed the work for weeks 1-10 of the semester.  He has studied these chapters (or modules, as they’re known in Apologia world):

  • Biology:  The Study of Life
  • Kingdom Monera (a.k.a. bacteria)
  • Kingdom Protista (including protozoa and algae)
  • Kingdom Fungi (yeasts, mushrooms, slime molds, and more)

He has completed several experiments at home, many of which have been just amazing.  He grew bacteria in petri dishes for several days, and wrote an extensive lab report on his observations.  He’s dissected a mushroom (which you can see above) and drew a diagram labeling the various components of the fungus.  That was a painless introduction to the world of dissection and dissection tools.  Currently, as he studies the 5th chapter (Chemistry of Life), he’s learning the difference between chemical and physical reactions. (We have an egg in the kitchen which has been soaking in vinegar for two days.  The shell has completely dissolved and the egg has expanded.  Tonight we’ll switch the vinegar for Karo syrup and make more observations in 24 hours, then soak it again in distilled water.  Jackson keeps daily reports on the egg, its measurements, and any visible changes.)

Sometimes, the experiments are done during the actual class time.  When Jackson learned about yeasts, Mrs. Berg displayed photos of the changes in yeast that occur when they’re being used in the making of bread.  All of these experiments deepen the students’ understanding of the kingdoms being studied and really help them to remember and retain the information.

The tests for the chapters are difficult and challenging, yet still very doable.  They are fantastic college preparation, in my opinion; students who are used to a homeschool environment with Mom or Dad can still, via Bridgeway Academy’s classes, learn how to interact with a non-parental teacher in a given subject.  He also took a quarter test (sort of a mini-midterm) over the first four chapters.  And he and his classmates are just beginning work on a Biology project which they’ll present to their classmates via Powerpoint, YouTube videos, or spoken presentation later in December.  Great experiences, all of them.

 

My impressions thus far

I honestly couldn’t be happier with Bridgeway Academy, Apologia Biology, and Mrs. Berg, as Jackson is working through this high school Biology course.  He is gaining vital experience that will benefit him not only for college, but for life after college and even the remainder of his high school studies.  The course is fascinating and the class time is enjoyable.  Jackson is getting a excellent Biology education in this course.

Jackson says, “This is a good preparation for the type of work one would have to do in college if he’d never taken any homeschool classes like this before.  Thus, since I hadn’t, it has been a little challenging.  But the On Your Own questions (from the textbook) are good-length assignments and the tests are well-spaced out.  They have review pages that are the assignments before these tests, which are good because they help you prepare for it.  The labs have people do some very neat and cool experiments, showing different processes in the biological world, such as osmosis, diffusion, and other in-depth topics that cover something in a very neat way.”

I also wanted to mention that last week, Mrs. Berg scheduled a phone conversation with the parents of each student in the class.  During this time, she was able to share how she thinks each student is doing in class–sort of a phone parent-teacher conference.  I felt that I already knew how Jackson was doing (because I can access his Moodle page, plus I sit nearby for all his classes, but I enjoyed getting to hear Mrs. Berg’s impressions.

I have seen some incredible growth in my son this semester as he has participated in this Apologia Biology Learning Lab. He has learned to schedule and complete his assignments each day so that his class work is completed at the end of each week.  By interacting with Mrs. Berg, he is learning more about how to do excellent work; he is challenged not only by the daily assignments and tests but also by the interactive class time, where he is expected to participate.  He is also learning about persevering when faced with a difficult task…until success is achieved!

 

And a coupon for you…to save 15% on a class!

So…does this make you think that you’d like for your child to take a Bridgeway Academy course?  I hope so!  Our experience has been most excellent and we’re looking forward to the remainder of the year in Biology.  (That is saying something, because Biology has always been my least favorite of the sciences!)

–Save 15% Thru December 13.  Use Code AUTUMN17 at checkout!

Sign-up today and get 15% off of your selection from over 30 highly engaging, real time, instructor led Learning Lab  courses. Live online Learning Labs offer expert teaching and in-depth study opportunities within a supportive learning community. Designed for students in grades 1 – 12, Bridgeway live online Learning Labs have something for every student!

For the full list of live online courses and to register* visit Bridgeway Academy Learning Labs

*Each course has limited space available. Kits & materials as additional purchase may be required for some courses.See Bridgeway Academy for details.

 

In closing

Be sure to visit Bridgeway Academy Learning Labs and check out their extensive list of awesome online courses.  They truly are amazing and you might find just what you’re looking for, for your own family!

And just so you know, they have much more than just high school courses.  You’ll find elementary and middle school courses as well!

Bridgeway Academy on social media:

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/HomeschoolingHelp

Twitter- https://twitter.com/bridgewayvoice/

Pinterest- https://www.pinterest.com/bridgewayacademy/

YouTube- https://www.youtube.com/user/bwacademy

Blog- http://www.homeschoolacademy.com/blog/

We’ll continue to share with you over the year more about our experiences with Apologia Biology and Bridgeway Academy, so be sure to stop back by to see more about our homeschool life and science.

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLOSURE:

From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinions, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Brand New Magic Stix & Kwik Stix to Up Your Art Game! (And Giveaway!)

We have been fans of The Pencil Grip, Inc. for several years, ever since we tried out their amazing Kwik Stix tempera paint sticks. So when we discovered that they’d created a brand new marker–the Magic Stix–we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it! The Pencil Grip, Inc. sent us a set of the Magic Stix 12PK and the Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK to review and share with you. (Plus at the end of the post, you’ll find a giveaway to enter to win your own Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK!)

 

 

What are Kwik Stix?

Kwik Stix are amazing little tempera paint sticks that work a lot like glue sticks.  They are in a plastic capped container and you can roll the paint sticks up and down.  The colors are vivid and marvelous and work on tons of different media; everything from canvas, to paper, to cardboard, to wood, to rocks, and more…just pick an art surface and the Kwik Stix will probably work beautifully on it!

Kwik Stix are ideal for any artist (whether child or adult) and are safe for little ones aged 3 and up.  The tempera paint sticks are non-toxic, dry in 90 seconds (no more getting paint on the side of your hand as you work on your art!), and there is no need for water cups or paintbrushes (or paint shirts).  They’re even ideal for travel since they are so mess-free.  All you need are Kwik Stix and paper!

The Kwik Stix originally came in chubby 3 1/2″ long tubes (and they still do), 3/4″ wide.  Later, The Pencil Grip, Inc. developed Thin Stix, which are basically the same tempera paint sticks in a longer and thinner version (5 1/2″ long and 1/2″ wide).  We love both of these.  The Kwik Stix are available in assorted colors as well as in Neon and Metalix color palettes.  (You can see the Metalix paint sticks that The Pencil Grip, Inc. sent us to try out above!)

They are just a joy to work with.  They impart gorgeous, vivid colors, they are absolutely mess-free, and they don’t have any odor at all!  We have used them in fine art, in fun art, in free drawing, and we come back to our Kwik Stix collection over and over again because of the ease, enjoyment, and results of these amazing paint sticks.

 

What are Magic Stix?

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has created some fabulous new products for people who love to make art.  Now, they’ve introduced their own beautiful color markers, which come in 12- and 24-packs.  The 12-pack we received contained the following colors; red, orange, pink, yellow, light green, green, dark blue, light blue, violet, purple, brown, and black.  They’re housed in a sturdy, clear plastic slipcase.  And have you ever had a marker dry out because someone forgot to put the cap back on?  You’ll never have that problem again with Magic Stix 12PK…because they are guaranteed NOT to dry out for up to 7 days with the cap off!  Isn’t that amazing?  Like their Kwik Stix cousins, they’re also non-toxic and have no odor.  They’re also washable, so you don’t have to worry about colors not washing out of clothes.

 

All the art we did with them!

And now…the fun with Kwik Stix!

We already knew that we’d be able to use our Kwik Stix paint sticks for fine art, art journals and Bible journaling, and art study in our homeschool.  But, with the holidays approaching, we thought we’d also try them out on Christmas ornaments and decorations.

First, Jackson painted a Christmas ornament with the Kwik Stix Metalix blue stick.  You can see it has sort of a “Starry Night” feel to it.  That would be an incredible art lesson, by the way; reproducing famous artworks on Christmas ornaments.  The ornament took the paint well, but we recommend that if you try  this project at home that you use either ceramic, glass, or plastic ornaments that are designed for painting.

 

I found some darling wooden wall hangings at Hobby Lobby and painted them fun girly colors (for the girly corner of my husband’s and my bedroom).  The Kwik Stix Metalix laid down beautifully on the wood; I started with the Metalix fuschia polka dots, then used our older (yet still amazing) Neon green for the background.

 

I used the Metalix fuschia again for “Blessed” and the Metalix gold for “Thankful.” I love the finished product!

 

 

Last, we found some fun ceramic snowman ornaments.

 

 

We colored one with the Metalix blue with a silver overlay (choosing Hanukkah theme colors), and used the regular Kwik Stix colors on the other.  Both the Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK and the Magic Stix applied nicely onto the ornaments, but we decided to go with the Kwik Stix.  They go on so smoothly, they’re just a pleasure to use!

 

And…the brand-new Magic Stix!

Jackson and I LOVE the Magic Stix.  They produce great color on lots of different materials.  Just like their Kwik Stix cousins, the Magic Stix apply beautifully on canvas.  Jackson used them on canvas to paint one of his all-time faves; the LEGO Minifigure.

 

Are you, or your kiddos, people who like to color?  I personally love the adult coloring books that are so popular right now.  I have several, including a Pusheen Coloring Book that has huge, full drawings to color in.  Look how vivid and colorful everything looks with the Magic Stix!

 

 

Jackson and I also decided to try out the Magic Stix on serving plates.  Have you ever made or painted a plate or serving tray?  It is so easy to do.  We simply got some white plates at the dollar store.  Jackson used one to paint the logo of one of his favorite games:

 

Together, he and I free-handed a Hanukkiah (Hanukkah menorah) on a second plate.  We baked both of these in the oven to set the paint and it worked beautifully!  Just be aware that the vivid colors do lighten up a bit, so if you want darker colors you might want to go over them a second time.

 

 

So…what ideas do YOU have to create with Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK and Magic Stix?  They are just amazing.  If you’ve never tried them before, we so recommend them.  Non-toxic, beautiful colors, easy to apply…and wonderfully safe for kids 3 and up.  You’ll run out of Kwik Stix before you run out of ideas of art projects with them!

 

You could even win a set!

The Pencil Grip, Inc. is going to bless one of our readers with a set of Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK paint sticks!  All you have to do is click on the pink “Enter Here” link below.  That will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Giveaway closes on December 10, 2017.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLAIMER:  From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

Cyber Monday Deals at MyFreezEasy.com!

(affiliate links included)

I’ve shared with you all how MyFreezEasy has benefited my family.  It provides the easiest, most delicious, and doable freezer meal plans and recipes.  Every month I print out the new recipes, staple them together, and put them in my binder.  Then I make the meal plan for the week.

Sometimes I pre-prepare meals by combining all the ingredients in a ziploc bag and freezing them until I need them.  Other times I use the recipe and throw everything together in the crockpot that day.  Either way, it keeps us from eating too much takeout, simplifies my life, and provides healthy meals that the whole family enjoys.

As a matter of fact, I did the meal planning for the week yesterday (and my sweet husband did the grocery shopping).  Here are the meals on our plan this week, all from MyFreezEasy.:

  • Slow Cooker Santa Fe Chicken
  • Slow Cooker Pepperoni Chicken
  • Slow Cooker Ranch Tacos
  • Slow Cooker Caesar Pork Chops and Potatoes
  • Slow Cooker Sloppy Chili Dogs

(We have some amazing organic beef hot dogs for that last one!)

Doesn’t that seem easy?  My entire week’s menu is planned and all I have to do is to throw ingredients in the crockpot every morning.  I can’t tell you how that simplifies my life and reduces stress PLUS provides amazing meals for my family!

Cyber Monday Deals at MyFreezEasy.com

So…if you’d like to check out MyFreezEasy so that you, too, can simplify your life, reduce stress, and feed your family well, there are some great deals you could take advantage of today!

  • For Cyber Monday, we’re offering 20% Off everything at ShopFreezEasy.com:    

    Beginning 7 pm CST Sunday November 26
    through 5 am CST Tuesday November 28.
    Use promo code: CM20

  • $5 Meal Plan:  6-month and Annual Memberships to our weekly meal program are on sale! From $.74/week!  (This is the only day every year we run a promotion, so…)
  • ShopFreezEasy: All products are 20% off! Use code: CM20 – today only!!
  • Erin Chase’s MyEfficient Kitchen class: Just $10 to register for my online course!

 

 

We are huge MyFreezEasy fans.  You might be too–check it out!  (Just so you know, if you click through FINCHNWREN and make a purchase at MyFreezEasy, we will receive a small commission which will help the blog provide cool opportunities.  You will not pay any additional fees or charges there!)

Enjoy!  –Wren

DISCLOSURE:

In accordance with FTC regulations, we are providing this Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in our posts are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we may receive an affiliate commission, which will never cost you anything. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our readers.

From time to time, finchnwren may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog.  We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews.  We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products.  We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.