Wednesday, October 18, 2017

On Online Reading Program My Daughter Actually Asks For! {A Reading Eggs Review}

What a delight it has been for my daughter and I to have found Reading Eggs - an online program filled with reading lessons, activities, games, and books that teach children aged 2–13 needed literacy skills.  Seriously!  I could not be happier about our experience with
Reading Eggs, since it has accomplished three goals for us in the month or so we have been using it so far.

Reading Eggs

(1)  Independence:  After a couple sessions with help, my daughter was able to use
Reading Eggs 100% one her own.  This has proven a welcome blessing for our family, because it enables my daughter to progress with reading lessons even when Daddy, Big Brother, or I are unavailable to help her.  For us, this is HUGE, because my daughter has often struggled with literacy skills and has rarely cottoned to online reading programs enough to succeed with them on her own, but now can.

My daughter likes
Reading Eggs and gets how it works, so more days that not, she voluntarily logs in, set a timer and completes ELA lessons before I even suggest she does so. She enjoys being able to learn and practice reading skills on her own, and I appreciate the opportunity her doing so gives me to have 1:1's with her brothers, to prepare other lessons, or to simply witness her sense of accomplishment and confidence grow as she moves through the Reading Eggs program.

(2) Sound Learning: My daughter typically does not care for online learning programs, because she finds them too fluffy, too busy, too boring, too difficult or, too you-name-it.  Such is not the case with   Reading Eggs.  Somehow, the way Reading Eggs presents its "bells and whistles"  colorful animations, fun music, motivating rewards, etc. - perfectly suits my daughter at her current stage and, likewise, the way the included lessons, games, and activities present phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency works for her, too.  She remains engaged and, more importantly, she keeps learning! Already, my daughter has completed lesson number 106, proving knowledge of phonics skills and sight words along the way.  

A reading test at the start of the program placed my daughter at an appropriate lesson to begin with and carefully designed, self-paced lessons have kept her moving right along helping her to gain proficiency which is beginning to transfer into
her journal writing, letter writing, and more.  She even surprised me the other day by beginning to write an essay on our computer and reading it back to me.  It would seem that Reading Eggs has come at an ideal time for her personal reading and writing development.
(3)  Joy: 
As I have previously mentioned, my daughter has long struggled with reading and spelling.  Often, this has caused frustration, tears, and lack of self esteem. 
Reading Eggs is helping to change that.  When my daughter has been doing her Reading Eggs lessons, there has been laughter, enthusiasm, and a desire to keep going.  There have also been brothers peering over my daughter's shoulders wishing they could have a login with Reading Eggs, too!

Reading Eggs
But, enough about my thoughts.  Let me share some of my daughter's by offering a transcript of a brief interview I did with her:

What is Reading Eggs?

It is a program for all different ages.  First you can take a test or you can just go to your age.  What I did is take the test.  I was placed on a level and, then, I took lessons online.  For each lesson section, I got eggs which I could use to buy stuff for my virtual house.  It was fun.

Did you like Reading Eggs when you first started?

No, because I could not understand it. I got confused, but, then, you helped me understand the program, and I actually liked it afterall.  It's a fun program and it's helping me to read and spell.


Is there anything else you want to tell me about Reading Eggs?

You can also use something called Math Seeds.  It is for ages 3-9.   It is okay.  It is mostly below my level, but is good to reinforce things.  I like it and use it a lot, because i,ts fun and when you use it, you can tell it is based off Reading Eggs, because it is for math, but the things you do - the activities - are a lot like the Reading Eggs ones.   You get acorns instead of eggs and buy stuff for your virtual treehouse with them.  The things for your treehouse are cheaper than the ones for your house in Reading Eggs.

Oh, Reading Eggs program has parts for ages 2-4, 3-7, and 7-13.

Would you recommend Reading Eggs?

Yes.  It is a fun program.  It's good.  What I like is that I read a story in each lesson, but, at the end, you get something fun for all your work.  For example, you can get an insect or a person that hatches out of an egg and they do something based off the lesson.

Anything else?
Yes.  I don't usually like online learning, so I was mad when my mom made me try this, but it's actually a really fun program.  I want to keep using it, and my older brother is jealous, because he wants to use it, too.  Now, can I do Reading Eggs, Mom?

And, there you have it - her thoughts and her departure from our interview.  Did you catch it?  She asked, "Now, can I go do Reading Eggs, Mom?"  Yep!  She was asking to get online to begin her reading lesson for the day, did so, and went extra time- again -doing so.  That says A LOT. Reading Eggs has proven itself a worthwhile resource to her and to me.  I am so glad to have found this "easy button" for my daughter to be independent with reading lessons when I am busy, to succeed in learning and practicing literacy skills, and to enjoy herself while learning.  I would not hesitate to recommend others give this program a try with their reluctant readers or developing readers.
Reading Eggs*

If you would like to do so, you can click through for a FREE 4-WEEK TRIAL
,which should give you plenty of time to see if Reading Eggs is as good a match for your child as it is for mine.  (Offer expires on November 30, 2017.)

Learn More

Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs
is not just effective and enjoyable for children, it is designed to make things easy for parents, too.  D
etailed progress reports let you know how your child is doing.  Hundreds of downloadable activity sheets that correspond with the lessons in the program can offer offline reinforcement.  Over 2000 online books for kids – each ending with a comprehension quiz that assesses your child’s understanding - are available as part of the program (so library fees don't add up!; ;) )  And, now, there are helpful new week-by-week homeschool guides for kindergarten through second grade!

The homeschool guides can be downloaded for
free from your online parent dashboard and contain week-by-week overviews to aid you in introducing and and tracking learning for children in Kindergarten through 2nd Grade.

The guides provide a 36-week sequence for Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies, mapping online lessons, books, quizzes and assessments, and listing reference books in the Reading Eggspress library to help expand ideas and concepts.  These guides really are a great resource!

Reading Eggs

Seventy-five Homeschool Review Crew families reviewed
Reading Eggs.  Click through the banner to find all of our reviews.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Enjoy St. Luke's Little Summer with Rock Art and More

Last year, the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist fell on an unseasonably warm day here - a truly "St. Luke's Little Summer" sort of day.  Thus, we combined an excursion to our favorite "lazy river" with a feast day celebration, thereby enjoying an afternoon filled with faith, friendship, and fun.

{Disclosure: Some of the links which follow are affiliate ones.}

This year, it looks like St. Luke's Day will once again bring beautiful weather, so as we plan to enjoy another outdoor celebration with friends making rock art to leave behind for others.  This seems an ideal (and easy!) activity to enjoy for St. Luke's day, since St. Luke is patron to artists and painters,  his name means "bringer of light" and he was an evangelist among gentiles.  Creating rock art with faith-based images and messages on them and leaving them behind to brighten other's days can help share a bit of light and the love of God.  

A Look Back at Our Our St. Luke's Day at the Lazy River

Last year, as I mentioned, we ended up spending St. Luke's day outside enjoying the incredibly warm fall weather we were having. 

However, it was not just warm weather, it was unusual King Tide weather.  So, when we arrived at the beach, we found the King Tide was causing the parking lot to flood.

Thus - much to my amusement - while we waited for friends to arrive, my children decided to get to work right away building dams. 

Meanwhile, St. Luke (in peg doll form) watched over us.

Soon enough, the waters in the lot began to recede a bit, and our friends arrived, so we walked out onto the beach.

As we trekked down to the typically lazy river, we were surprised by how high the tide was. We'd never seen it so far up on the beach before.

Luckily, the "Give One - Take One" rocks my daughter had left on an earlier excursion were high enough up on the beach to escape the King Tide, and some still sat ready to greet passersby.

Then, when we got to the lazy river, we found the tide had made it more of a lazy river-lake. 

That was A-okay with the kiddoes.  

They enjoyed the warm ocean water caught in the deep tidal pool.

Meanwhile, I found a high bank to set up our St. Luke's Feast Day picnic on.  For it, we used a lace tablecloth atop our picnic blanket, since St. Luke is patron to lacemakers and set out our St. Luke peg doll and the Picture Book of Saints.  

Most of our fare was not so much symbolic as easy to take along to the beach, although I did make mini-meatballs since St. Luke is patron to butchers and is often symbolized by a winged calf.  These did not make it into the picture though as the boys scoffed them right up as soon as they saw me taking them out. 

So, it was onto prayers, lunch, and a reading and chat about St. Luke.

Then, it was time for more lazy river fun for the children while I packed the food away and out out Sharpies, paper, color sticks, and a few rocks.

And, oh the fun they had!

The lazy river was not so lazy at times...

After they children had enjoyed riding the current for some time, I invited them back to the blankets and suggested we make artwork to leave on the beach for others to find, since St. Luke was an evangelist and is also patron to artists and painters.

Some of us made Mary rocks, since St. Luke was said to have painted a number of images of Mary and Baby Jesus.

My oldest made Armor of God rocks.

Friends made artwork on rocks and paper, too.

After that, it was time for more fun straight through the golden hour.

It was truly a delight-filled celebration, and, this year, although we won't be returning to the lazy river on St. Luke's feast day, we intend to evangelize by rock out made outside again after Mass and co-op.

Perhaps where you are will experience St. Luke's Little Summer, as well, and be able to use our idea of creating rock art in honor of St. Luke's patronage and leaving it behind to brighten other's day's, in honor of St. Luke's name meaning "bringer of light" and of him being an evangelist.

Three More Ideas for the Feast Day

St. Luke, pray for us.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Another Great Season of The Brinkman Adventures on CD! {A Review}

Oh, the Brinkman Adventures! Since the very first day we listened to their awesome radio dramas, we have loved them, so we were psyched to receive the Brinkman Adventures Season 4 CD-set for review.

Season 4 arrived in our mailbox, my children could not wait to listen to it and neither could I. So we popped the first CD into our home CD player and enjoyed the first story, which was about 30 minutes long.  Later, we brought the set out to our minivan, to listen to more of the 4-CD, 12-episode set, all the while, alternating between laughter, proverbial mail biting, and pauses to chat about things that came up as we enjoyed hearing about the semi-fictitious Brinkman family's missionary adventures.

As long-time Brinkman Adventures fans, we knew that the Brinkman Adventures are based on a real life family whose names have been changed and that many (but not all!) of the events that take place in the story are based on real events, dramatized for increased listener engagement.  We also knew that the stories of other missionaries included in the series are based on true events from the lives of missionaries around the world.  As such, we found ourselves chatting about realities in different cultures and countries, fun things families get up to, connections in our own lives, and which parts of the stories might be the closest to actual events and which parts might have been fictionalized and why.

We also had fun beginning to read the real stories behind the episodes (which do have spoilers, so don't read them until you've listened to the stories.)  The audio drama includes real missionary stories and the website lets you know which parts are real!

Preview Each of the 12 Episodes

Speaking of listening, if you'd like to get a taste for how he stories sound, be sure to listen to the previews at the Brinkman Adventure website. There, you ill get a flavor for what makes the Brinkman Adventures so engaging to listen to: realistic character voices, a dramatic soundtrack, fun ambient sound effects, drama, humor and more!

Geography also comes into play, as stories take you around the globe to:

A Paradise Lost in Wisconsin
The Brinkmans are at a Family Camp about missionaries when things go wrong and they have to change everything around so that they can keep the camp going.  They recognize God is in control.

Remember Nhu in Cambodia
Carl Ralston seeks to find and help a child sold into slavery.  Perseverance pays off.

Aisha's Fear in the Middle East
A Muslim husband is cruel to his wife.  Together, they run a store, and the husband refuses to sell to the Christian doctors across the street.  Then, he gets sick, the doctor helps him, and he and his wife convert to Christianity before he dies. The wife then must overcome fears through faith as she deals with persecution.

Heart Song in Russia
A man who wants to teach his son about Jesus accidentally starts a church in his home, and, then, gets arrested. He sings his "heart song" in the prison, sharing the love of Jesus with everyone he can despite his terrible imprisonment.  He certainly shows tenacious faith!

The Crashed Kitchen in Zambia
Aunt Sarah faces discouragement and accidents on mission in Zambia, where she went to teach children.  Then, after she crashes into a kitchen, she ends up converting a man.  We recognize that God does not make mistakes.

Crisis in the Congo
Some of the Brinkmans and company fly a powered parachute to get to a village in order to show a "Jesus Film".  All the while, one of the Brinkmans - Kate - concentrates a bit too much on writing a blog post about the showing the film and has to learn to love people over projects.

The Mysterious Palm Feller in the Congo
Still in the Congo, palm trees are being pushed over and a witch doctors tries to persuade the people to follow him instead of Jesus.  However, the missionaries succeed at confronting evil and converting souls.

War of the Raccoons in Wisconsin
One of the Brinkmans - Ian - and a neighbor wage a warn some raccoons. Ian, though, forgets to complete his responsibilities as he gets caught up with his robot in the war, and has to learn to"Let your yes be yes and no be no" as well as to have faithfulness in work!

The Five Guys in an Undisclosed Country
In Bangkok, pastors are being arrested, so the missionaries go on a side trip, where they teach five guys how to listen to God and be Christians in a Muslim nation.

Toughest Man in an Undisclosed Country
A soldier who converted to Christianity tells his story of how he was arrested by his old unit, but saved by a fellow soldier who also follows Jesus. He has to learn to surrender everything.

Cambodian Quest in Cambodia
Some of the Brinkmans go to visit Nhu's House in Cambodia and find out more about some of the girls at the home. One of the girls ends up in danger because of a mistake a Brinkman makes and, in the end, they learn to go deeper with God.

What Brings Us Together in Wisconsin
The Brinkmans get ready for Michelle and Anthony's wedding, but everything goes wrong, including the would-be groom Anthony doubting if he should marry Michelle because he is an architect and feels as though that isn't a spiritual enough vocation in comparison to Michelle's call to mission.  We learn to glorify God in every vocation.

We Enjoy The Brinkman Adventures!

As you can imagine, as the stories vary in location, theme, and topic, so does their level of intensity versus humor.  As a whole, the series is replete with sensitive and heart-wrenching moment as well as humorous, laugh-out-loud ones.  All intense stories are preceded by a spoken caution for younger or more sensitive listeners to listen with a parent.  Many stories are followed with a tidbit about the real inspiration for the story.  All five plus hours of listening, in my opinion, are worthwhile.  Gripping, exciting, faith-filled, suspenseful, encouraging, sometimes predictable, but always edifying, 
the Brinkman Adventures Season 4 does not disappoint!

Brinkman Adventures

My children think so, too.  My daughter said:

It is a good series, because it has wholesome, adventurous, faith-filled stories about a missionary family called the Brinkmans or about people they know.
One of my favorite stories was the lake one - Paradise Lost.  It's funny!  The Brinkman's go to a beautiful lake for a Bible camp, but the lake gushes away.  So, they have to replan the whole schedule.  They change the schedule to games and kids go in groups to do activities like a trust walk, but, when the last activity happens, a storm comes in.  The activity is a game where the kids are hiding from adults, so - uh oh - they run away from their parents who are trying to bring them to safety.  It's exciting!  The story also has funny parts like when a little boy goes to a kitchen and they have horrible oatmeal and when the kids bucket trap dumps accidentally on a guy's head. 
Another favorite is one about Mr. Pennington's fish being eaten by raccoons and the Brinkman boy trying to help him with a robot that get artificial intelligence - oops!  The story gets ridiculous at parts and so funny.
People that want to listen to children's CD's about missionaries will like this, but some stories are a little intense, so watch out if you're sensitive.

My yougest son (seven) said:

My favorite part is the rogue robot one called War of the Raccoons.  I liked the robot.  He as smart and funny, but I didn't like what happened to him in the end.
I also liked the end of the wedding story,. A lot of bad things happened, and, then, at the end, they were like "What a strange waiter."  It was the robot and it said, "Safety off."  I imagined it shooting ketchup.
The other stories were good, too.  One was about a girl named Nhu who was a saved slave.
In another one, a woman had a really mean husband that beat her.  He was not a Christian and hated Christians.  He got a bad cancer and a missionary helped him before he died.  So, he became a Christian.  His wife was alone and got arrested, but was freed.  She became a Christian, too. 
In another one, there is a rhino.  It chases part of the Brinkman family across a river.  They survive by throwing a bike down and distracting the rhino.  They were going on bikes for a few days to show the Jesus film to a village.  They flew to the village later on. 
People who want to be missionaries would like these CD's.  I don't want to be a missionary, but I like the music and stories on the CD's.  They help me think about all different things.

My oldest son (eleven) said:

I like the robot story and the one where the camp dries up.  Both are funny.  There are serious stories, too.  They are good, too.  All the stories teach about God - sometimes with action - what happens in the story - and sometimes with what people say in the story, but they don't feel preachy.  They are really funny, exciting, and adventurous.  
 I have all the CD sets except Series 1.  I want Series 1 for Christmas!  
Everybody would like these CD's!  They are funny and awesome.

Learn More

If you're curious about other seasons of 
the Brinkman Adventures, we've also enjoyed:

Eighty Homeschool Crew Review families listened to Brinkman Adventures Season 4 on CD or as a digital download.  See what each family thought by clicking through to the reviews.

Brinkman Adventures Season 4

Find the Brinkman Adventures on Facebook:

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