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Passkeys Foundation

Building Character

Building Character

Rating and Summary: 4.5.

Just recently, I received a book to review from the Passkeys Foundation…the Good News Express, The Cheerful Grump. I wish I had known about them all along! I really like the book I received, which tells a tale about how to be cheerful (and why) even when THINGS DON”T GO YOUR WAY. Wow, do we need things like this! Certainly, it is easy to be a cheerful, loving forgiving child when things go your way…but what about when your brother wakes up determined to be MAX from the Where the Wild Things are, you have to clean your room, and lunch stinks?…you get the picture!

Seriously, as a mom, have you ever found yourself sitting in frustration, near tears, in the middle of Barnes and Noble trying to find a book to help you teach your child something? Say, why they should not lie, or hit, or just be ugly because they feel like it?

Well, I sure have. As the mom of a large blended family, in which several kids really had times of crisis, I often felt like a psychiatrist without any tools!  In fact, I grew up in a warm, loving Christian home—I cannot imagine how difficult parenting can be at times for people who grow up under more difficult situations!

You know, that “Village” quote that keeps on making the rounds? The one about, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, these days, I often think our village is, at best, too busy, and at worst , dangerous and unkind. Groups like Passkeys are good to see.

I have noticed that these days, you can get wonderful things from Focus on the Family and even the major bookstores have begun carrying more books for children about character. For my youngest daughter, I have been thrilled to see these (but getting them easily came too late for my older ones!) We have two I can think of, Why We Don’t Fight, and What I do When I am Angry”. I have found these to be great tools.  Now we also have The Cheerful Grump!

I really am impressed with the book we got from The Passkeys Foundation. These books in the Good News Express series take developing character to a whole other level. They have four titles specifically for preschoolers, which are hardback (which I love, they actually last), with colorful, lovable characters. These books just teach the best lessons–having a good attitude, thankfulness, sharing and valuing people over things!  The set of four hardback books and each accompanying auditory CD is $20. See here.  You can get individual titles for $7.50 each. These would make wonderful Christmas presents.

Take a look at the website, The motto of the site is “Building a Nation of Character.” It appears that they have books, videos and lessons in mentoring and character development for all ages. The non-profit coalition is headed by Russell Williams, who gives a short address on the main page of the site about the legacy of teaching about noble character, see here.

In addition to the books, they have Character Mentoring Workshop downloads for parents, elementary schools and one for Mothers of preschoolers (MOPS) And these are just for the preschoolers.

The site offers free content such as character essays and podcasts, even weekly character mentoring messages. Their “Parts” department is where you can find books, CD’s and activity books. Take a look at the website to find some age appropriate character building items for your children. I am looking into getting some of the “Character Classics”, with stories about patience, perseverance, and self-control. (I found the website a bit tricky to navigate–it’s more businesslike than colorful…but take your time, it’s worth it)

To see what my TOS crewmates have to say, click here!

I did receive the Cheerful Grump free in return for my review. No, I don’t get paid. Bummer. (Anyway, How did they know this one was perfect for me?)

Summary and Review: 5.  I have to hurry and write this review so I can go to the website and get the second book in this series:) Seriously. As a reader of my blog, you probably know I love books…or more specifically, interesting, fun to read books. I am an English major and I have strong feelings about books…I either love them or I do not even read them to the end.

Anyway, when I pick up a book, I usually know within the first 3-5 pages of the book whether I will enjoy the book and finish it in a day, or if  I will never read it.

Well, the book Sarah’s Wish falls into my first category. After beginning, I finished it that day, because I wanted to know what happened to Sarah and because I loved the way the author whisked you away to the 19th century. Very enjoyable.

The first in the series

Anyway, I am always on the lookout for good reading material for my little ones and my teens. While reading, I noticed several things that I feel are important about Jim Baumgardener’s books:

  • He has a plot…several plot lines going on at the same time!
  • Characters in the book tackle difficult circumstances with understanding and grace. I don’t want to do a spoiler here, but one character undergoes very trying circumstances and the author handles the topic very well.
  • The book is set in the 1800′s and Baumgardener has done quite a bit of research to authenticate the characters and give readers a real experience of the past…in fact, turns out he is the great, great grandson of one of the main characters!
  • While you are reading the exciting escapade, you are also learning about history. The Underground Railroad plays a big part in the plot of the story.

Overall, I am impressed by the book. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and have passed the book onto my kids to read as well. My husband is actually reading it at night to my four year old and he says it is a fun upgrade from her picture books.

Oh! With the book, we also received a code to download an audio version of the story–this is neat as it is an added extra and was a nice surprise to me.

Check out the website! The site contains all kinds of great stuff. You can sign up for a newsletter to “go” with the Sarah books. Contests, study questions, vocabulary and some old fashioned jokes are just a few of the homeschool helps available!

PS: Sarah’s Escape, the third book in the Sarah series is now out. Order now and get an autographed copy of Sarah’s latest and most exciting adventure. Also, if you order from the website, you can get discounts on the earlier books and free shipping.

Excellent. I Love it!

To read reviews from my TOS crewmates, click here!

Nutrition 101: Choose Life! From Growing Healthy Homes, LLC


Colorful, 448 page text with lessons, recipes, tables, charts, etc

I knew this was for my kids when I saw this cover! Haven’t we ALL been there?

Summary and rating: 4.5: I really like this colorful 448 pg. family nutrition and health program. I have seen many nutrition programs that focus on healthy eating, portion sizes and exercising–but this curriculum delves even deeper to understanding exactly how our bodies interact with food, and why we should make certain food choices.

The text is perfect for my ninth grader, a little advanced for my younger one (but she joins in for the recipes). I think this would be good for middle to upper grade students, especially. I appreciate the format of the text, with lessons that culminate in a hands-on Power Recipe cooking activity. There are also fun activities, discussion questions, and a ton of useful appendices. (Sometimes even Mom isn’t positive which vitamin does what!)

N. already wants to be a chef. These lessons are vital for him!

N. already wants to be a chef and this textbook is perfect for him. Here, he is making one of the "power" recipes. Finishing each chapter with this type of activity makes learning a celebration!

Anyway, the curriculum is biblically based and the title “Choose Life” refers to making right choices for our bodies so that we can enjoy health. So far, I like this book and curriculum. I understand healthy eating, but still don’t always make the best choices. Working through this book will change our habits for the better over time—I have no doubt of this. When you truly understand something, I find it is easier to get it done!

So, here we go with truly understanding food. This is a real tool for me as a mom. Instead of just saying “No, that’s bad for you,” I can teach my children exactly why certain choices are better than others—and, I’m not the bad guy! Also, it gives me charts and lists for reference. I found myself reading through it and learning a lot.

The program has six overall units. These units cover the major body systems. In our home, at first, I was going to include this course as an elective and not spend too much time with it. However, after beginning, I realized that we were doing a lot of biology with our nutrition and enjoying it! So, we are using this four days a week, more as an additional science. Here are the units:

  • The Brain and Nervous System
  • Digestion and Elimination
  • Respiration and Olfactory
  • Muscular and Skeletal Systems
  • Cardiovascular and Immune Systems
  • Endocrine System and Emotions

Here is the coolest thing: my teenager also thinks it is great. Interesting. He likes the science of the study and that he gets to choose from the discussion questions, activities, and additional resources. He also loves to cook, so the recipe idea makes this study work for him. He learns, he gets to cook extra—Mom buys healthy food, no questions asked!

Guacamole was the hit during the Football game! (Yes, we should have used veges to dip. I let them do chips--but not next time:)

Guacamole was the hit during the Football game! (Yes, we should have used veges to dip. I let them do chips--but not next time:)

Cooking makes him so happy. This course should help him learn to understand food.

Cooking makes him so happy. (yes, he did play to the camera a little) This course should help him learn to understand ways to control and use food.

N. the teacher & Chef!!

By Chapter 2, N. is the teacher for "Recipe Day.

Take a look at the curriculum in process, here:

You can also get an overview by viewing over 25 sample pages, here. These sample pages include the index topics and an overview of how to use the book.

Overall, I recommend this program. Even if you are not homeschooling, but want to work on family health, you should take a look. Parts can be implemented little by little and the reference sections are great.

$79.95 CD-Rom
$99.95 book
$129.95 book and CD-Rom
Excellent.  I Love it!

To read reviews from my TOS crewmates, click here!

Studypod and Discount!

September 22, 2009

StudyPod: Study Smarter and Finish Faster With The StudyPod Book Holder!

Awesome Tool

Awesome Tool

Summary & Rating: Definitely a 5, for both low price and overall usefulness! Don’t you love it when you get a package? I really do. I love getting things for the kids…but, when I got this StudyPod package, I felt like it was made for me! I once had a cookbook holder, and one of my kids took it. I have no idea what happened to it…I liked that and used it. But, that holder was nothing in comparison to this StudyPod book holder. This holder is designed to allow you to use it with any size book (big, small, few pages or many pages) and it sets up so you can easily turn pages. It also folds easily for portability and has a pocket to store your “study stuff,” pens, post-its, candy…whatever. It is lightweight. I chose this picture, below:


because it shows a teen using it to hold guitar music…which is what my son wants it for! (I am going to buy some for my kids because they ARE useful and I don’t want to share). I saw my dd typing and I meant to give her my StudyPod–she was all hunched over! Just like this photo from their website:

Such a Simple Thing--But it makes life easier!

Such a Simple Thing--But It Makes Life Easier!

The creator of this is onto something.

I just want to buy some more for my kids. This is a good little present for your student or yourself. I just LOVE it when something works! (My Dad is an architect and he is always into that as well–it is funny when I realize how much like my parents I am!)

Anyway, the StudyPods come in black, blue and pink and they are available online for $19.95.

Actually, if you buy several, they do offer a discount on the website.  BUT, just for seeing this on a TOS Crew blog (mine:) you can get a $5 discount on one–use the coupon code TOSBLOG5 on your online order. The video below shows how it works– Go check it out!

Excellent. I Love it!

To read reviews from my TOS crewmates, click here!


August 20, 2009

Rating and Summary: Definitely 5. Very comprehensive Math curriculum system. Can be used as a complete curriculum program or as an additional tutoring program. This web-based program is complex in it’s abilities…but easy to use! ALEKS can be used by children in grades 3-12 and can be accessed on the internet, so the program is mobile as well. The graphics are excellent and the program flows smoothly, with quick page loads and an amazing amount of assistance available on the main website. Read my review & then go try this out yourself!

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