Tag Archives: books

Homeschool Mosaic Review: Apologia Picture Book “A Light for My Path”

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review disclaimer1We love picture books in this house, so I was glad to get the chance to check out a new one from Apologia called A Light for My Path. Written by Davis Carman and beautifully illustrated by Alice Ratterree, this ABC book is based on Psalm 119.

A Light for My Path picture book

A Light for My Path picture book by Apologia

Both of my kids already recognize the letters of the alphabet, but they still enjoyed naming each corresponding animal or plant as we got to it (and learned a few new ones as well!). Additionally, the book teaches both uppercase and lowercase forms of the letters, so it’s a good book to reinforce that concept. Their favorite part was looking for the animal from the previous spread on the current page.

L for Light with a Ladybug (and a Koala from the previous spread)

L for Light with a Ladybug (and a Koala from the previous spread)

After the ABC pictures that describe attributes of God’s Word and Law, A Light for My Path contains Psalm 119 divided into individual stanzas that start with each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. I pointed out the picture and name of the Hebrew letter at the top of each page as I read them to my kids, and noted how the letters looked different than our English alphabet.

Psalm 119 with Hebrew letters

Psalm 119 with Hebrew letters

What I love:

  • Although it’s a paperback, the book is well made and the thick pages seem like they will hold up pretty well.
  • The illustrations are colorful and engaging, and my children loved searching out the different animals throughout the book.

Potential pitfalls:

  • I was expecting a bit more text in the main part of the ABC section, rather than a repetitious phrase and a one-word attribute. I think I had initially expected the verses from the Psalm to be incorporated on the ABC pictures, instead of at the end. But the book states in its introduction (a “how to use this book” section, essentially) that this is intentional and I can see how this approach would work well for young kids still learning the alphabet.

If you’re interested in checking out A Light for My Path (available here for $14), there’s a bigger sample here on Apologia’s site. And read more reviews from the Mosaic team at the Mosaic Reviews blog!

Homeschool Mosaic Review: Apologia Picture Book How Do We Know God is Really There?

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review disclaimer1Our homeschool year has been finished for a few weeks now, so I’ve been away from the computer for a bit as we enjoy our free time together as a family. But I’m back with a couple of Homeschool Mosaic Reviews in the next week or so, including this picture book from Apologia that tackles a tough question: How Do We Know God is really There?

My kids love sitting out under the stars and listening to their dad tell them about what they are seeing in the sky (he loves astronomy!), so I was excited when Mosaic Reviews offered the chance for me to review this picture book about a boy and his father talking about the evidence of God’s existence through His creation of the cosmos. It seemed like it would fit in with the talks they have already had.

Reading Time: How Do We Know God is Really There?

Reading Time: How Do We Know God is Really There?

How Do We Know God is Really There? by Melissa Cain Travis is the first in a series of picture books “designed to introduce kids to important questions of the Christian faith,” according to Apologia’s site. In the picture book (available here for $16), Thomas and his father are enjoying viewing God’s creation through a telescope, but what he sees prompts Thomas to go even deeper with his questions, because a friend told him God didn’t exist. His dad converses with Thomas to explain about how science proves God’s existence because something (the universe) cannot be created from nothing. 

I’m not sure the science part of the book quite resonated with my kids yet; my 4-year-old in particular was antsy before we got to the end of the book. But it did prompt some good discussions, and the kids loved the pictures. They thought skateboarding on the moon and racing around Saturn would be fun, and they laughed hysterically at Thomas’ poor cat.

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Thomas scares his poor cat!

 

What I love:

  • The book is well made. The hardback cover and thick pages seem like they will hold up well, which is important in my house where my kids don’t treat books as nicely as their mom (yet).
  • The colorful and fun illustrations by Christopher Voss engaged my kids and they liked to leaf through the book and talk about what they saw in the pictures.

Potential pitfalls:

  • Even though it’s a picture book, some of the content seemed just a bit over the heads of my 4 and 6 year olds. However, I think it’s a great conversation starter even for the younger ages and talk with them about the subject in ways closer to their comprehension level. For those with a bit more science background, I don’t think this would be a problem at all.

If you’re interested in this fun and educational book, there’s a bigger sample here on Apologia’s site–go check it out!

Homeschool Mosaic Review: The Waterproof Bible

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review disclaimer1Today’s review isn’t really a homeschool product, but it is one of the coolest things I’ve seen. Have you ever heard of a Waterproof Bible? I didn’t know they made such a thing! So I was pretty excited when my review copy of the New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs arrived in the mail. But I had trouble at first with intentionally dousing a *Bible* with water. In fact, my husband had to do the first test because I couldn’t bring myself to do it!

I needn’t have worried, because this Bible is made of tough stuff. Its synthetic pages are stain- and tear-resistant and 100 percent waterproof. Spill coffee or OJ while you’re reading in the morning? It’ll wipe right off and not leave a trace. You can hold a single page of the Bible and shake it around a bit, and it won’t tear (don’t try this with your regular Bible! :-)) The binding of the Waterproof Bible is stitched and sewn before it’s glued so it’s made to last. And there’s very little bleed-through of text between pages, so it’s easily readable.

Caught in a rainstorm? No worries; this Bible is easily wiped dry and the pages won't be ruined!

Caught in a rainstorm? No worries; this Bible is easily wiped dry and the pages won’t be ruined!

The Waterproof Bible, by Bardin Marsee Publishing, was the brilliant idea of two friends who enjoyed the outdoors and being out in the elements, but often wound up with ruined Bibles that couldn’t hold up. Or they just didn’t take their Bibles along for fear of ruining them. But they wanted to be able to read God’s Word out in His creation, and thus set about creating a Bible they could take with them and fit their active lifestyle. Their first product, called the Outdoor Bible, was a Bible in several volumes that folded like a backpacker’s trail map. It sounds pretty cool, but the format didn’t go over that well; people wanted a more traditional-looking Bible. So a few years later, the Waterproof Bible debuted.

For those who like to mark passages while they read, you can highlight on the Waterproof Bible’s pages with a dry highlighter (available here on the accessories page), as well as write with a pencil or ballpoint pen. The company does not recommend using Sharpies, gel pens or rollerball pens because those require the page to absorb liquid, which the Waterproof Bible will not do. Also, beware of using petroleum-based products, because the petroleum will smear the ink.

The Waterproof Bible is great for outdoor use, and is virtually indestructible.

The Waterproof Bible is great for outdoor use, and is virtually indestructible.

The Waterproof Bible is available in two types: the full version with Old and New Testaments (from $39.95) and a New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs ($24.95), and in the following versions:

You can also add a personal touch by imprinting a name or initials for an added fee.

The Waterproof Bible even floats!

The Waterproof Bible even floats!

What I love:

  • Its size: small and lightweight enough to stash in a pocketbook or tote bag (or backpack). At 3/4 of a pound or lighter with about a 1 inch spine, it’s not going to add a lot of bulk to your bag.
  • Its near-indestructability: I really don’t have to worry about the kids spilling anything on it, or accidentally leaving it outside in bad weather.

Potential pitfalls:

  • I think the only thing that might be a concern for some people is the font size. At the moment, that’s unavoidable, because when the company tried to make a Bible with a larger font size, it turned into a large book weighing about seven pounds, and that defeats the purpose of having a lightweight, smaller Bible that you can take anywhere. The font size is something they’ll revisit when the paper technology catches up (the synthetic paper currently used is about three times as thick as regular Bible paper, which is why it’s so durable, and thus, heavier). That said, neither my husband nor I had a problem reading the Bible.

The Waterproof Bible’s tagline is “Be Inspired. Anywhere.” And with their product, I believe that’s true! This would be the perfect Bible for military personnel on deployment and missionaries in remote locations–as well as backpackers, kayakers and families going camping. The possibilities are endless.

Where will you take your Waterproof Bible?

Where will you take your Waterproof Bible?

 

Edit: Check out what else you can do to this Bible in more Mosaic Reviews on the blog.

Homeschool Mosaics Review: Ooka Island Adventure Reading Program {+Coupon Code!}

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review disclaimer1Over the past several weeks, Homeschool Mosaic Reviewers have had the chance to use a pretty fun tool for reading: Ooka Island Adventure. Ooka Island’s program is geared toward pre-K to second graders and teaches phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. Due to the nature of the program, children are introduced to a new skill only when they have mastered the previous one.

Ooka Island is divided into three sections, called the Learning Flow Cycle by the creators. Guided Play focuses on phonic development through skill-building instructional activities;  the e-Reader book series focus on fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension; and  Free Play allows children to play activities that reinforce what they have learned, reread e-books or just do fun games. Guided Play lasts for 20 minutes, the e-Reader for up to 10 minutes and the Free Play for about 8 minutes. The structure and sequence of these different sections help the children stay engaged in the program.

Ooka Island's cast of colorful characters

Ooka Island’s cast of colorful characters

My kindergartener (age 6) is already a reader, but she’s a brand new one and still learning. I liked that we could use Ooka Island to reinforce concepts she’s already learned and to improve her reading fluency and comprehension. She loved playing all the games, unlocking various rewards after completing certain levels and enjoyed listening to and reading the stories. Her favorite games were the soccer ball one and the submarine one, where the pigs are dropped into the water. My 4-year-old also used the program, but his attention span for the game was not as long as my daughter’s. He also had a more trouble maneuvering the mouse in the game, but as he practiced more, I could definitely tell he improved in that area. All the games are point-and-click based, so it was more of a physical skill of moving the mouse for him to learn than the interface being difficult. He would only play for about 10 minutes or so at a time; my daughter could probably spend all day on Ooka Island if I let her!

Ooka's books follow the adventures of Kayla, Jaiden and Boo.

Ooka’s books follow the adventures of Kayla, Jaiden and Boo.

What I love:

  • Ooka Island’s colorful graphics and fun games entertain my kids as well as help teach them phonics and reading skills and computer skills.
  • Because it’s not a streaming online program, I don’t have to worry about either of my young children accidentally surfing to something I wouldn’t want them to.
  • The Ooka Lighthouse assessment on the web site helps me keep track of which skills the kids are learning and their percentage of correct answers in the games.
  • The freebies online, including motivational tools like certificates and book paths to track your child’s progress.

Potential pitfalls:

  • A few times, the program would freeze up, and once or twice it kicked my child off in the middle of play. Part of the reason for this might have been our computer, which has been locking up more over the past month. They didn’t seem to lose their progress, however.
  • Due to the way the game is set up, players have to wait until they progressed in the game to certain points and unlocked features and places to use during free play. Not a big deal, but it took some convincing of my four-year-old who desperately wanted to go to the volcano first thing. 🙂
Ooka Island's map filled with areas to explore

Ooka Island’s map filled with areas to explore

This was the first time I’ve used a computer program in our schooling, and it’s been a good experience so far. If you’ve got a child in the 3-7 age range, or a slightly older child who could use reinforcement in reading skills, I invite you to check out Ooka Island. For home and homeschool editions, you can pay monthly ($12.95 for 1 student/$19.95 for up to 4) or annually ($124.95 for 1/$149.95 for up to 4). There is also a school edition.

Ooka Island has given Mosaic Reviewers a coupon code good for 30 percent off your annual or monthly subscription! Offer valid until June 1, 2013. Simply copy and paste this URL when you order:

http://offers.ookaisland.com/inblog?purl=wnOve

Edit: More Ooka Island experiences at the Mosaic Reviews blog!