Saturday, September 28, 2013

Summer/Fall Series: 50 States - Louisiana

The summer series has morphed into a fall series as we have reached the end of September.  I haven't quite made it halfway.  Hopefully, I will finish this series by Christmas.  I do hope you are still enjoying it.


Louisiana, postal abbreviation LA, is our nation's 18th state.  The land that became Louisiana and parts and wholes of 14 other states was purchased by President Thomas Jefferson from Napoleon Bonaparte, who ruled France, on April 30, 1803.  Statehood was achieved exactly nine years later on April 30, 1812.

Louisiana is located in the southern United States.  Its southern coastline sits on the Gulf of Mexico.  The lowest point in the state is New Orleans; it is eight feet below sea level.  Due to this geographic position and the failure of numerous levees, New Orleans suffered a disastrous flood as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Many folks were displaced and have not returned.  Reconstruction continues to this day.

The capital of Louisiana is Baton Rouge.  Its name is said to have derived from the writings of French explorer D'Iberville in which he describes large poles erected by the local Indians that were coated with the blood of fish and bear heads.  Louisiana was named in honor of King Louis XIV of France in 1682.

People who live here are called either Louisianans or Louisianians.  Some famous folks who were born in this state are Louis Armstrong, singer/trumpet player; PGT Beauregard, Civil War Confederate General; Terry Bradshaw, football player; Truman Capote, author; Van Cliburn, pianist; Harry Connick, Jr., actor, singer, pianist; Fats Domino, rhythm and blues artist; Randy Jackson, best known as a judge on American Idol; Eli and Peyton Manning, football stars; Branford and Wynton Marsalis, saxophonist and trumpet player, respectively; Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of President John F. Kennedy; and Hank Williams, Jr., singer, musician.

Perhaps some of the most famous Louisianans, at least currently, are the members of the Robertson clan who star in the show, Duck Dynasty.  Every Wednesday night on A&E, they share their family and their faith with millions of viewers worldwide.  Listed below are some books and DVDs about the Robertsons.

There is a great deal of history in this state, and a lot of culture.  This was the birthplace of jazz.  Mardi Gras is celebrated on a grand scale every year.  The Cajuns have made Southern Louisiana home, and their culture has impacted the entire U.S. from their music to their food.  This group of people is descended from French settlers who lived in the Acadia region of Canada.  They were forced out by the British during the French-Indian War in the 1750s and 1760s.  One place they settled was Louisiana.

It is obvious that Louisianans are resilient.  It is also obvious that they like to have fun.  One way this is seen is by the number of state symbols they have.

Bird - Eastern brown pelican Dog - Catahoula Leopard dog
Mammal - Louisiana black bear
Reptile - Alligator 
Insect - Honeybee 
Crustacean - Crawfish 
Amphibian - Green tree frog 
Flower - Magnolia blossom 
Wildflower - Louisiana Iris 
Tree - Bald Cypress
Beverage - Milk 
Colors - Blue, white, and gold

A few others not listed include a state soil, gem, and fossil.

Louisiana has several nicknames: Sportsman's Paradise, Bayou State, and the Pelican State.

A pelican and three of its chicks are displayed on the state flag of Louisiana, which was adopted in 1912.  The blue stands for truth, and the pelican is a symbol of protection.

The state motto is Union, Justice, and Confidence.  The economy of the state is based mainly on oil and gas production but also on sulphur and salt, lime and lignite.  Petroleum refining, manufacturing of chemicals, pulp and papermaking, agriculture, fishing, tourism, and shipbuilding are also very important.

If you are planning a trip to Louisiana, there are many different things to see.  There are zoos and amusement parks.  Antebellum plantations that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places can be toured.  The Aquarium of the Americas is one of the top aquariums in the United States.  There is a World War II Museum and the decommissioned Fort Jackson from the Civil War.  There are a number of cemeteries in the New Orleans' area that have above-ground vaults for all of the grave sites.  These have been shown in various films.  New Orleans is famous for Mardi Gras which takes place just before the season of Lent.  Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" in French.  This celebration is more of an adult celebration, but Mardi Gras World is a place where people can go and watch the floats be made that will be in the Mardi Gras parade.  The Delta Queen is another US National Historic Landmark that can be visited.  It is an old sternwheel steamboat.

Play some games here to learn more about Louisiana and test your knowledge.

The following items are some books from that looked like they might be interesting and help you learn more about different aspects of Louisiana.  DISCLAIMER: I am an affiliate with, so if you purchase through my blog I will receive a commission.

495461: Louisiana Pocket Guide, Grades 3-8 Louisiana Pocket Guide, Grades 3-8
By Carole Marsh / Gallopade International

The perfect reference guide. This handy 4" x 6", easy-to-use guide is divided into seven color-coded sections which include basics, history, geography, people, places, nature, and more! Riddles, recipes, and surprising facts make this guide a delight! Available for all 50 states! Grades 3-8; ages 8-14.

495526: Louisiana Poster/Map Louisiana Poster/Map
By Carole Marsh / Gallopade International

This over-sized map features key cities, landmarks, historic sites, rivers, regions, borders, and major geographic features + an array of state "must-haves" including state symbols, as well as fascinating state trivia, a timeline of important state events, and more. 

495534: Let"s Discover Louisiana CD-ROM, Grades 2-8 Let's Discover Louisiana CD-ROM, Grades 2-8
By Carole Marsh / Gallopade International

Interactive CD-ROM with lots of fun facts for kids to learn about their state. It includes government, state symbols, a timeline, geography, civics, nickname, landmarks, parks, schools, historical places, and more. Each of four sections is completed with a quizzing game and rewards. Also includes a FREE printed reproducible quiz. Grades 2-8

*I have used the following resource in my own homeschool, and I really liked it.
273233: Spotlight on America: The Lewis & Clark Expedition and the  Louisiana Purchase Spotlight on America: The Lewis & Clark Expedition and the Louisiana Purchase
By Teacher Created Resources

The spotlight is on the Lewis & Clark Expedition and the Louisiana Purchase in this workbook. Designed for students in grades 4-8, this workbook contains both informational reading passages and workbook pages to complete. Quizzes and answer key included. 48 reproducible pages, softcover.  

64434: Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
By Peter Roop & Connie Roop / Simon & Schuster

In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from the French for 15,000,000 dollars. The purchase made President Jefferson's dream of extending the U.S. west of the Mississippi River come true. Now the much larger United States had difficult questions to answer: How would Louisiana be governed? How would it be divided into states? Would those states be free states or slave states? What would happen to the Native Americans? It would take over one hundred years, a war over slavery, and the creation of thirteen new states before these questions could be answered. For ages 7-10.

78350: The Louisiana Purchase The Louisiana Purchase
By Michael Burgan / Heinemann Raintree

502123: What a Deal! The Louisiana Purchase What a Deal! The Louisiana Purchase
By Gallopade International
tInquire within to learn about the biggest bargain in American history. A deal too good to be true - only it was! The story of the amazing Louisiana Purchase is filled with history, mystery, legend, lore, and so much more! Softcover, 32 pages. Gallopade International.

*Since the following book is sold on, I would think it would be safe, but the last line of the description makes me question it.  It might be more appropriate for young adult or adult.

36810: Bayou Folk & Night
Bayou Folk & Night
By Kate Chopin / Penguin Putnam Inc.

In the decade before the appearance of her landmark novel, The Awakening, Kate Chopin published Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897), collections of stories set in New Orleans and rural Louisiana. Celebrations of people in their communities, the forty-four stories here depict a diversity of characters: Creoles, Acadians, and "Americans," people of color and of mixed blood, Native Americans and immigrants, adults and children, the educated and the illiterate, the rich and the poor. Some stories focus on the restrictions women face as they seek self-fulfillment - a theme Chopin would develop fully in The Awakening - but many show people striving to establish better lives amid the devastation following the Civil War. With a compassionate, knowing gaze, Chopin not only evokes the distant world of plantations and 'Cadian balls, but also anticipates the thoroughly modern, multi-ethnic, gender-sensitive, and sexually charged world that we know today.

28165EB: Jambalaya For The Soul: Humorous Stories and Cajun Recipes from the Bayou - eBook Jambalaya For The Soul: Humorous Stories and Cajun Recipes from the Bayou - eBook
By Jesse Duplantis / Harrison House

829299: Survival Series: Swamp, Louisiana 1850, Volume 11 Survival Series: Swamp, Louisiana 1850, Volume 11
By Kathleen Duey / Simon & Schuster

Bayou Teche, 1851.  No one in Lily LeGrand's Cajun community is willing to help search for Paul Courville, missing in the bayou along with his mean-spirited older brothers, William and Mark. Why should they? Paul's wealthy plantation-owner father has made no secret of his disdain for Cajuns like Lily's family. But Paul has always been kind to Lily, defending her against his brothers' merciless taunts and humiliating pranks, and Lily refuses to turn her back on him when his life is in danger. On her own in the maze of the snake-and alligator-infested bayou, Lily knows she has more to fear than her father's wrath. Her treacherous journey will test both her knowledge of the swamp and her courage. Can she find Paul in time?

93678: Suzanne Tate"s Nature Series #18: Perky Pelican,  A Tale of a Lively Bird Suzanne Tate's Nature Series #18: Perky Pelican, A Tale of a Lively Bird
By Suzanne Tate / Nags Head Art Inc

Perky Pelican is a story based on facts from research at a pelican rookery. It tells how juvenile pelicans must be lively to survive. Recommended for ages 4 to 9, grades preschool through 4th grade.
75978: Alligator Alligator
By Puzzled Wooden Toys

Fun craft 3-dimensional all wood alligator puzzle.
  • size when assembled: 14"L x 3.5"W x 4"H
  • homeschool, classroom, family fun
  • affordable and creative gift
  • great stocking stuffer
  • recommended for children over 5 years of age

  • 506421: Alligator Alligator
    By Patricia Whitehouse / Heinemann Raintree

    This book introduces you to alligators, including their size, diet, and everyday behavior, which highlights differences between those in the wild and those living in a zoo habitat.

    191345: The Commander"s Kitchen, DVD The Commander's Kitchen, DVD
    By Daywind Music Group

    Welcome to the Commander's Kitchen! Come on in and have a seat with Phil and Kay Robertson along with their family, share with you their favorite dishes. Watch as they give you step-by-step instructions on how to cook some of the best recipes Louisiana has to offer including crawfish pie, bacon-wrapped duck, Miss Kay's banana pudding, and more! Includes recipe book! Approx. 69 minutes.

    726092: Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy As the Duck Commander
    Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy As the Duck Commander
    By Phil Robertson with Mark Schlabach / Howard Books

    Want to meet the man behind the beard? Besides having a popular reality TV show on A & E, and a multi-million dollar business, Phil Robertson has shared his story with thousands of people at churches and public speaking events. Now in his memoir, Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander, Robertson shares his life's journey behind the camera.

    It hasn't always been the "good life" for Phil. As a young man, he turned to drinking, drugs, and wild living to try to fill the emptiness in his heart, in the process causing hurt to his young wife and family. It wasn't until he turned to Christ and dedicated his life that things began to turn around, and he became the entrepreneur who created a product that changed the duck hunting industry. Happy, Happy, Happy isn't just the story of an American dream come true; it's the story of a changed life. As you read, you'll be inspired to believe that God can reach the hardest hearts with His love and truth and fill their lives with life-giving purpose.

    703541: The Duck Commander Family The Duck Commander Family
    By Willie & Korie Robertson with Mark Schlabach / Howard Books

    An up-close look at America's favorite backwoods family! Stars of A&E's hit television show Duck Dynasty, the Robertsons take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of their life and faith, sharing how they went from eating fried bologna sandwiches to consuming filet mignon by building a hunting empire. Includes recipes and family pictures. 261 pages, hardcover from Howard.

    433680: Who Was?: Who Was Louis Armstrong? Who Was?: Who Was Louis Armstrong?
    By Yona McDonough / Grosset & Dunlap

    Full of adventure that will keep young children reading, Who Was Louis Armstrong tells the story of the man who revolutionized music through his popularization and mastery of jazz. With quotes woven seamlessly into the narrative and lots of pen-and-ink illustrations, this is a remarkably detailed look at a fascinating American man. 105 pages, softcover. Grade 3.

    603404: John F. Kennedy John F. Kennedy
    By Howard S. Kaplan / DK Publishing Inc.

    547735: Gaston Goes to Mardi Gras Gaston Goes to Mardi Gras
    By James Rice & James Rice(ILLUS) / Pelican Publishing Company

    693607: Blown Together: The Trials and Miracles of Katrina
    Blown Together: The Trials and Miracles of Katrina
    By Sebastian Myladiyil / Evergreen Press

    Hurricane Katrina was one of the most devastating storms to hit the U.S. Most of the attention is given to the destruction in New Orleans, but the Mississippi Gulf Coast experienced untold damage as well. Bay St. Louis and Waveland, MS, were ground zero for Katrina's landfall. But for all its fury, Katrina brought miracles along with trials. Blown Together is a collection of over 25 true accounts of the impact of this storm on families and communities and the beautiful unity and cooperation it brought from volunteers near and far.

    340239: Hurricane Katrina Hurricane Katrina
    By Hilry Thomas / Xulon Press

    349027: Storm Surge: A Novel of Hurricane Katrina Storm Surge: A Novel of Hurricane Katrina
    By Ramsey Coutta / Xulon Press

    *All of the pictures above (not including the list from comes from

    Wednesday, September 25, 2013

    The Presidential Game Review

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    When you can play a game with your kids and learn at the same time, that is a win-win situation.  The game we had the opportunity to play was The Presidential Game.  It gives kids the chance to see how the electoral college works (sort of).  The goal of the game is to be the political party with at least 270 of the 538 electoral votes.  It is geared towards kids 11 and older and can be played by two or more players.

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    In our family, there was pre-campaign fighting over which political party they would each belong to, so we switched it up each time we played.  The first time we played, we followed the directions to the letter.  We decided we would only play for 10 weeks, which is only 10 turns for each political party.  The game can last 30 weeks (or turns).  Teams choose whether to campaign or go fundraising.  Fundraising can only occur in four states: New York, Florida, Texas, and California.  These are the states with the most electoral votes, and they are marked like a dollar bill instead of a solid color.  Each party has three dice they roll on each turn.  When fundraising, at least half of what is rolled must go to the fundraising state that was chosen before the roll.  The rest of the chips can be put anywhere else.  After the turn is over for the fundraiser, that party draws a politics card.  Some of these cards give your opponent chips to place; some give your own party chips to place.  Sometimes you can choose where to place them; sometimes you are told where to place them.  My kids LOVED fundraising so that they could draw a card and, hopefully, gain more chips.  Some of the cards were funny, and my kids would say, "What does that have to do with anything?"  It gave them an idea of some of the ridiculous things people get caught up in during the political process and how seemingly minor infractions can cost a state.

    The party that chooses to campaign rolls its three dice and distributes chips equivalent to each die to any three states they choose.  We constantly vied for control of California until once when 11 chips were placed on it.  This all but guaranteed the other team would control it at the end of the game.  No politics card is chosen when campaigning.

    The first time we played, we used the score card as the directions indicated. Each time a state was "won," we would add that to the total.  If we had taken it away from the other party, we would subtract that state's electoral votes from our opponents.  It just got too cumbersome to try to remember all the additions and subtractions on each turn for each party.  If there were more spaces on the score card, it might not have been as difficult.  We decided that the next time we played we would not use the score card at all but would simply add up each party's states at the end and see who had gained the most electoral votes.  This made the game go so much faster, and my kids enjoyed it A LOT more.  Their competitive spirit really came out, but they were learning as they were competing.  My boys, especially, seemed to really enjoy this game.

    Included with the game is an "Electoral WebMap Calculator."  Using a password that is on the instruction sheet, you can record the results for each team on a map on the computer which then keeps a running total of the electoral votes each team has.  We did not use this map since it was just as easy to simply count our totals at the end, but I could see how kids would really enjoy using it while playing the game.

    This game sells for $35 on the The Presidential Game website.


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    Tuesday, September 24, 2013

    Summer Series: 50 States - Kentucky


    Kentucky (KY) became the 15th state on June 1, 1792.  It is located in the south central US.  The name, Kentucky, comes from the Iroquois word, Ken-tah-ten, meaning "land of tomorrow."  The state's nickname is the "Bluegrass State" because this type of grass is prevalent in the lawns throughout Kentucky, especially in the northern part of the state.  The motto is "United We Stand, Divided We Fall."  The motto was chosen in 2004 by a popular vote of four choices.

    The capital is Frankfort.  It was named for the pioneer, Stephen Frank, after he was killed by Indians in the 1780s.  The area where he was killed was originally named Frank's Ford but was later changed to Frankfort.  This city became the capital in 1792.

    Kentucky is the 37th biggest state and the 25th most populous.  The major industries are agriculture with the growing of tobacco, corn, peanuts, and wheat; mining of anthracite coal; whiskey manufacturing; and automobile manufacturing.

    Folks who live here are called Kentuckians. Abraham Lincoln was born here, as well as Muhammad Ali, Kit Carson, George Clooney, Rosemary Clooney, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jefferson Davis, Johnny Depp, Lionel Hampton, Josh Hutcherson, Loretta Lynn, John Scopes, Adlai Stevenson, Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as many civil rights activities, politicians, actors, and musicians.  If you aren't familiar with who these people are or their significance in history, look them up.  You might find it very interesting.

    Kentucky's flag was originally adopted in 1918 and was changed in 1962.  The state seal is displayed in the center of the dark blue background, and it says "Commonwealth of Kentucky" and "United We Stand, Divided We Fall."  The seal contains a pioneer and a statesman shaking hands, and the yellow flowers at the bottom of the seal are goldenrods.

    The state bird is the cardinal. We've seen this before.  What other states have the cardinal as their state bird?  The state wild animal is the gray squirrel, and the state fish is the Kentucky bass.  The state insect is the Viceroy butterfly, and the state horse is the Thoroughbred.

    The state flower is, of course, the Goldenrod (as seen on the flag), and the state tree is the tulip tree.

    Here are some interesting facts about Kentucky (from

    -The song, "Happy Birthday," was created by two Kentucky sisters in 1893.
    - The first Kentucky Fried Chicken opened in Corbin, Kentucky.
    -Mother's Day was first observed by teacher Mary S. Wilson in 1887.  It was made a national holiday in 1916.
    -The Kentucky Derby is the oldest racehorse, held every year on the first Saturday in May.
    -Pikeville, Kentucky, drinks more Pepsi every year than any other place in the nation.
    -Post-It Notes are made in Cynthiana and no place else.
    -Edison introduced his light bulb at the Southern Exposition in 1883.
    -Middlesboro is built within a meteor crater.
    -Fort Knox holds more than six billion dollars in gold.
    -The Hatfield-McCoy feud took place in Pike County.
    -Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave system.

    The following is a list of places to visit while in Kentucky:
    -Churchill Downs (home to the Kentucky Derby)
    -Mammoth Cave National Park
    -Creation Museum (see below for more information)
    -Newport Aquarium
    -Louisville Zoo
    -KFC Yum! Center
    -National Corvette Museum
    -Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory
    -Abraham Lincoln's Birthplace
    -Lost River Cave
    -Kentucky Derby Museum
    -National Quilt Museum
    and many beautiful state parks.

    The Creation Museum is a 70,000 square foot museum created by Answers in Genesis.  It provides an answer to the usual natural history museum by providing history from a Biblical point of view, including dinosaurs, the flood, insects, and dragons.

    Go here for some online activities to test your knowledge of Kentucky.

    The following is a list of resources about Kentucky and things you will find there.  They are from  I am an affiliate, so if you purchase any of these items through my blog, I will receive a commission.

    494619: Kentucky Big Activity Book, Grades K-5 Kentucky Big Activity Book, Grades K-5
    By Carole Marsh / Gallopade International

    This BIG activity book has a wide range of reproducible activities that will entice any child to learn more about their state! Activities touch on history, geography, people, places, fictional characters, animals, holidays, festivals, legends, lore and much, much more! Reproducible. Available for all 50 states! Grades K-5; ages 6-12.

    494902: Let"s Discover Kentucky CD-ROM, Grades 2-8 Let's Discover Kentucky CD-ROM, Grades 2-8
    By Carole Marsh / Gallopade International

    Interactive CD-ROM with lots of fun facts for kids to learn about their state. Includes: government, state symbols, a timeline, geography, civics, nickname, landmarks, parks, schools, historical places, and more. Each of four sections is completed with a quizzing game and rewards. Also includes a FREE printed reproducible quiz. Grades 2-8

    196094: Heroes of History: Daniel Boone, Frontiersman Heroes of History: Daniel Boone, Frontiersman
    By Janet & Geoff Benge / Emerald Books

    The Heroes of History series chronicles the true stories of fascinating men and women who changed the course of history.
    In search of open spaces and land to call his own, Daniel Boone fearlessly led a band of brave settlers into the bountiful Kentucky wilderness. Daniel's expert hunting ability, incredible outdoor survival skills, and courage under fire helped his companions stay alive in a dangerous and unknown land despite threatening encounters with soldiers, Indians, and even other settlers.
    For ages 10 and up.

    175384: Kids" Book of Horse Games & Puzzles Kids' Book of Horse Games & Puzzles
    By Workman Publishing

    Test your horse sense--in 102 zany ways!
  • Fill in the blanks to create funny pony poems
  • Solve this riddle: "What's a horse's favorite hairstyle?"
  • Find all the lost horses in the pasture
  • Track down a smorgasbord of horse treats
  • Compete a Horse Lover's Crossword Puzzle
  • Pair up the famous horse this its rider
  • Draw four horse faces
  • Match the Cantering Chef's horses to the foods he named them after
  • Sort out a corral of letters to spell hours breeds
  • Draw a perfect horse, in 6 easy steps
  • Run for the roses in "The Kentucky Card Derby"
  • Plus a whole lot more!

  • 173179: Storey"s Horse-Lover"s Encyclopedia Storey's Horse-Lover's Encyclopedia
    By Deborah Burns / Workman Publishing

    The horse world has many different "arenas," and even many professionals don't know the terms used outside their areas of expertise. Here, finally in one place, is a complete guide to everything horse-related - a guide that will be equally useful to a seasoned professional, a novice equestrian, and someone who just wants to know everything there is to know about horses.
    This hefty, fully illustrated, A-to-Z compendium is an indispensable answer book addressing every question a reader might have about horses and horse care. Covering breeds, tack, facilities, equine care and management, health and safety issues, riding styles and disciplines, shows, horse professionals and what they do, and much more, this book is a reference that will be turned to again and again. From stable design to practice lessons to choosing a riding instructor to loading a trailer, the information is presented in an easily accessible and easily understood manner and is accompanied by clear line drawings throughout.

    582844: Drawing Horses: Project Book for Beginners [With Blending Stump, Acetate Grid, Sandpaper Block and 7 Pencils and Paint Brush and Paint and Era Drawing Horses: Project Book for Beginners [With Blending Stump, Acetate Grid, Sandpaper Block and 7 Pencils and Paint Brush and Paint and Era
    By Patricia Getha & Michele Maltseff / Walter Foster

    698011: Horses: The Ultimate Treasury Horses: The Ultimate Treasury
    By DK Publishing Inc.

    Horses is a lavishly illustrated collection of all you could ever want to know about the wonderful world of horses. Packed with information and stories that will entertain and enthrall, this is the ultimate read for horse lovers.
    Throughout the book, breed portraits feature stunning photography and vital statistics, allowing you to see what makes each breed unique and compare it with images of similar breeds. A fascinating section at the back of the book tells you everything you need to know about keeping your own pony and what equipment you will need.

    594775: The Old West: Villains and Avengers -Unabridged Audiobook on CD The Old West: Villains and Avengers -Unabridged Audiobook on CD
    By Joe Loesch / SpringWater

    Experience the rugged frontier as you encounter villains and avengers in legendary locations.
    • The Saga of Frank and Jesse James - These two brothers began their reign of terror during the last days of the Civil War in the no-man's land of Missouri.
    • Billy the Kid - In the late 1870s, this skinny young boy vowed to live above the law with other criminals in the sparsely populated territory of New Mexico.
    • Tombstone - The colorful western town was home to the O.K. Corral, the Crystal Palace, the Bird Cage Theater and the notorious Earp brothers.
    • The Hatfield McCoy Feud - For years these two families in the mountains of Kentucky and West Virginia took justice into their own hands with the barrel of a gun.
    • The Valley of the Greasy Grass - When General Custer and his men rode into this valley, they launched the Battle at the Little Big Horn. Unabridged. 5 CDs. Read by various artists.

    309228: Journey Through the Creation Museum DVD Journey Through the Creation Museum DVD
    By Answers In Genesis

    Beginning with a brief welcome from Answers in Genesis and museum founder Ken Ham, this documentary overflows with commentary about the amazing features found throughout the museum and grounds. Watch animatronic dinosaurs move and roar, hear the "inside story" about the exquisitely handcrafted Tree of Life, and take a chronological walk through history--including the worldwide flood of Noah's day and the amazing geological and climate changes that followed. As the events of the Garden of Eden and Noah's Flood are related before your very eyes, you will understand as never before the effect of sin on our world. And you will look forward as never before to the soon-coming consummation of this part of eternity.
    Watch visitors as they experience the 80-seat Stargazer's Planetarium, 200-seat Special Effects Theater, a full-scale section of Noah's Ark, plus the beautifully landscaped museum grounds, delightful petting zoo, and so much more!
    22 minutes, plus over an hour of intriguing facts and other bonus material. All Ages.

    515303: Journey Through the Creation Museum Journey Through the Creation Museum
    By New Leaf Publishing Group

    Imagine having a true-to-scale Noah's ark or the tree of life in your classroom! Take your students on a photographic learning expedition to the Creation Museum with this gorgeous book that "tours" the faith-inspiring facility. They'll view animatronic exhibits, life-sized dinosaur models, a breathtaking planetarium, and more---all designed to reveal the biblical history of God's creation. 80 pages, hardcover.

    515380: The Complete Creation Museum Adventure: A Field Trip in a Book The Complete Creation Museum Adventure: A Field Trip in a Book
    By Master Books

    Take your kids on a "field trip in a book" to the exciting Creation Museum! You'll discover answers to important biblical questions---and learn that we're all designed with a purpose and a plan. Includes an adventure map; fact-finder, creature feature, eyewitness, and challenge cards; case files; devotions; teacher guides; and reproducible activity sheets. 160 pages, spiralbound hardcover from Master Books.

    DL150379-CP: Mammoth Cave [Music Download] Mammoth Cave [Music Download]
    By Buddy Davis / Syntax Distribution

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    Seed Sowers Review

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    My kids and I had the opportunity to review a book by Gwen Toliver: Seed Sowers.  The full title is Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures.  It is available in three different formats: hardcover, paperback, and Kindle edition.  They are $27.86, $12.56, and $3.99, respectively.  Gwen's website lists several different companies online which sell her book.  We received the Kindle edition.

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    Gwen has interviewed missionaries and put their stories into a form to share with generations to come.  I would gather my kids and sit at the dining room table or comfortably on our living room couch to read from the book stored on my computer.  I had hoped to see a spark within them as I read or some sense of wonder and amazement.  They just listened as if it were any other book.

    The twenty one chapters in this book tell stories of single people and couples in places like Brazil, Peru, Mexico, and Papua New Guinea.  They detail certain events in their lives and relate how many years it took them to translate the Bible into the native languages of the people they ministered to.  Since one of my sons is currently learning two languages, my daughter thought it was interesting how one of the stories told about a translator who had to learn five different tones in one language.

    I was most impressed by the story, "It All Started with Dionisio," about the spiritual battle that was being raged for the people of a tribe.  They had some dark beliefs which, to us, sound like superstition, but these beliefs played themselves out in real life.  Those people began to believe in God because of the missionaries persistence in prayer.  They realized that they did not have to live in fear any longer.

    A lot of the stories have a jaw-dropping effect because they seem too amazing to be true.  Other stories do not.  It is a good lesson to learn, in this day and age, that not everything worth doing needs to have some miraculous or climactic event.  God more often than not leads ordinary people to do ordinary things in order to reach the world for Christ.  Sometimes he intersperses harrowing events that cause us to have greater faith than we knew we had.  These stories help to increase others' faith.  Because this book has both kinds of stories, I highly recommend it.

    The amount of work these missionaries had to do, including studying before even entering the mission field, is quite amazing.  They were called by God.  They persevered through rigorous training and difficult situations.  I hope that these stories, even though we are done reading the book, have touched some place in my children's hearts so that they can be in awe of the power of God and his faithfulness to people the world over.  Gwen also provides updated information on each of the missionaries at the ends of each chapter.

    You can place faces with some of the names by looking at the pictures on Gwen's website.

    Gwen's book is geared toward the sixth-grade reading level.  It makes for a good book to read out loud to the family.    


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    Monday, September 16, 2013

    Shakespeare in Bits Review

    Is your child struggling to learn Shakespeare?  Do you wish there was a way to make it easier and more engaging?  Enter Shakespeare in Bits.  The company, MindConnex, has fully animated five of William Shakespeare's plays.  Since my son, who is in tenth grade this year, has Macbeth on his reading list, I was happy to review this product.  Not only did I have a chance to view Macbeth, but I also had access to Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet.  The other two plays which are offered are Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream.  

    Shakespeare in Bits is unique in that it provides many visuals to engage the student.  Each play has a section that describes the characters in detail along with an animation so that the student will know the character when he/she sees him in the play.  A character map is also provided, almost like a family tree.  It lets the reader know how the characters are related to each other.  I found this to be an invaluable tool.  Shakespeare can be difficult.  There are a lot of characters in his plays, and it is helpful to know who is related to each other, who the friends are, and who the enemies are.

    An analysis is provided which summarizes the plot, talks about the themes that run throughout the play, describes how imagery is used, and provides a wonderful explanation about the language in the play.  This language analysis is a very helpful section that aided our understanding of how to read Shakespeare and what the characters were saying.  Of course, the animation of the play provides the most insight.  It is cleverly animated and enjoyable to watch.  The actual words of the play remain on the screen so that the reader knows who is speaking and what they are saying.  The words of the one speaking are highlighted.  Some parts of speech are highlighted in green.  These words can be clicked, and a definition appears.  Notes are provided to the left of the speech that help the reader comprehend even more of what he is hearing and/or reading.  Notes are provided and scene synopses are given for each scene.

    I don't think the makers of Shakespeare in Bits left one stone unturned when they created these online animated plays.  So much information is provided that it is hard to believe someone wouldn't understand Shakespeare after reading everything and watching the play.

    Versions are available for PC, Apple Products, and Android for $14.99 per play.  I am honored to have been given the opportunity to review these plays.  I think it has definitely enhanced my son's understanding of Macbeth.  I asked him what he thought, and he said he felt it was better suited to people who are in middle school.  However, I enjoyed it immensely and was incredibly impressed by what I saw.  I think that anybody who is going to be reading Shakespeare should have this to supplement their learning.

    DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge in order to provide an honest review.

    PeopleKeys Review

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    I was excited when PeopleKeys showed up as a vendor we were going to get to review.  I have three children, and I have a pretty good idea what career path two of them might choose.  I have NO idea for the other.  This was going to be my opportunity to, hopefully, help him focus his gifts and talents into a pathway for his future.  I was given the DISC Career Style Report online.  

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    As soon as we received the email with our online code, I had Nate complete the questionnaire.  Through a series of questions, PeopleKeys was able to formulate a kind of portfolio of Nate's strengths and weaknesses based on his DISC personality - dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness.  It also gave suggestions for careers that might work with his personality style.

    The report identified Nate's style and then described the characteristics of that style.  Many of them described Nate to a tee.  It also listed things that may motivate him.  There was a slight disconnect, however, since a lot of the report talked about a work environment.  Since it focused more on older individuals, some of the questions weren't easy to answer.  Examples of situations were not what he was used to.

    He is described as a "governor" and is strongest in the "influence" personality.  Workplace descriptions aside, there are characteristics that I can see in Nate that can be applied at places like church or our co-op.  The "Interactive Workplace Style Characteristics" that most closely represent Nate are: desires to have fun and be spontaneous, desires to be friends with 'coworkers,' is not afraid to show emotion or be expressive, can be indecisive, values maintaining a good relationship, clever use of humor and creativity, can be inventive and resourceful.

    "Tips for the workplace" is a page or two that gives characteristics and tips to manage them.  For example, it says, "I's tend to always be talking," but it also gives instructions to remember to listen and concentrate on what others are saying.  Another example which may help me to understand why he does or does not do something is "I's don't like to manage the details and are not particularly self-disciplined."  The instructions tell him to not procrastinate or have someone who can take care of the detailed tasks if he is not able to.  Of course, at this stage in his life he is not going to have someone to "take care of the detailed tasks."  He will have to learn how to do that.  So, some of what is in the report is not applicable at this stage of his life.

    There are other characteristics that fit him as well: he fears rejection; he has difficulty finishing what he starts.  The latter characteristic describes me as well.  The suggestion is to practice following through and not beginning what he can't finish.  This is great advice whether a teenager or a twenty-something businessman.

    While there are great tips on dealing with the characteristics of his personality, I was disappointed with the "Career Match" sheets.  I was hoping to have a narrow field of about five things that might give me a better idea what sort of job his personality is most suited toward, but his "Best Match" sheet listed 54 jobs.  Some of them I can't ever see him doing, but he is young yet.  His interests may change.  There was also a "Close Match Career Sheet."  It listed 93 jobs.  So, basically, he can do anything.  There are jobs that will be better suited to his personality and ability, but there is no best job out there.

    PeopleKeys has several different products available for students.  I think it would be better for an overall understanding to have all the resources.  This particular one, the DISC Career Style Profile, sells for $32.00.  Judging by what I've seen in it, it seems most appropriate for seniors in high school or college students who are looking more seriously at career choices.  Even though, as a parent, I'd like to know where Nate's natural bent is, he is too young yet.  There are a lot of years and a lot of maturing that will happen before he needs to make any decisions.


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