Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Carole P. Roman Writes Fabulous History Books for Children! {A Review}

A couple of years ago, my family was happily introduced to children's author Carole P. Roman when we reviewed several titles from her If You Were Me and Lived In... collection.  Since then, we've revisited those titles quite a number of times when working on self-directed projects, sharing at co-op classes, and studying different cultures and historical periods; thus we were delighted to add to our children's history book collection by reviewing three more titles from Carole P. Roman books and collections this past month:

If You Were Me and Lived in...Colonial America: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time (Volume 9)
If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time (Volume 3)

If You Were Me and Lived in....the Mayan Empire: An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time (Volume 4)

A Well-Written Collection of Children's History Books

Like all of the books in the
If You Were Me and Lived In... historical collection, the three books we reviewed this time were written for children ages 8-15, but can appeal to younger and older folks, too

Written in story-like form with full-color illustrations, each book packs a lot of information into an engaging format and encourages readers to place themselves in the shoes of someone living in a different era in history

For younger children, the books make a great introduction to different time periods and cultures.  For older children (and adults!) the books offer an opportunity to review prior knowledge while discussing interesting facts, concepts, and historical figures
.  The illustrations and style of writing invite all ages to learn and enjoy with the books!

Each of the books in this series also has extra features: a glossary, factual information about historical figures, lists of gods, etc. This works to bridge the books from being interesting reading about historical time periods to working as more classic children's research books. 

We find our
books from the If You Were Me and Lived In... historical collection work equally well for enjoyment and for targeted learning.  When we snuggle up to enjoy them as read alouds, wonderful discussions and connections ensue.  When we are diving into historical studies and independent projects, we revisit the books as resources. For us, Carole P. Roma's children's collection makes history engaging and easy to access. 

The Children's Thoughts

When I sat down to write this review, I asked each of my children which their favorite title was.  Since they each chose a different title, I thought I would have them write specific title reviews for you.

My daughter, at ten, had this to say about her favorite title:
If You Were Me and Lived in...Colonial America is basically about the pilgrims.  It is about a boy, and takes you through what the pilgrims were, why they left England, why they left Holland, and what life was like when they reached the New World.  It said how boy and girl pilgrims dressed and talked about how they spent time.  It gives a good, quick summary of what it would be like to be a pilgrim.
If You Were Me and Lived in...Colonial America is my favorite of the books we got for this review, because I like American history better than other history, and I like this book's design.  The illustrations are simple, but help you see the main points.  I also like how the the text in most of this book is white printed on a dark background.  It makes the text pop out more.
The story itself is simple and fun.  I listened to part of it read aloud without looking at the illustrations and was able to get pictures in my mind.  I have a lot of background about pilgrims.  However, I learned something new: The pilgrims used corn in a lot of things.  Many other books don't talk about food so much, unless they are books about food.  This book, like all the books in this series, helps you see what a normal person's everyday life is like.

Most books about history are about famous people.  I like this one, because it tells what it would be like for an average person in daily life  I would recommend this book to people who want an easy overview of colonial America with fun illustrations and the point of view of an average person's life.

My twelve-year-old son liked If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe best.

I like the Middle Age time period a lot, so the Viking book was my favorite of the ones we got to review this time.  I actually even prefer this Viking one to the the middle ages book that we reviewed before, because I prefer Norman, Danish and English history to books about the general middle ages, so reading about the Vikings was interesting.

I learned some new things in this book.  For example guests drank from horns so they could not put down their drinks until they were done or passed their drinks along. (It's disgusting that they passed drinks along.)  There are 24 characters in the Viking alphabet.  And, you measured your age by how many winters you lived through. 

Most people just know Vikings pillaged and conquered.  In this book, you learn that not all Vikings did that and can also learn what Vikings did when they weren't fighting.  In fact, they did not even have a standing army.  Instead, men fought for the king when they were needed, but, at other times, they lived regular lives.

This book talks about food, clothing, customs, famous Vikings, and more.  It was informative, and I would recommend it to people who like history. It's a story that helps learn as is you were there in Viking times.

My seven-year-old son could not decide between liking If You Were Me and Lived in....the Mayan Empire best because of its illustrations or liking If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe because of its story, so he decided to tell you about both books.

I liked all the books we got!  My two favorite were the Mayan and the Viking book.

I liked the Mayan book, because it has well-done illustrations.  They have a darker palette and are cartoonish, but still realistic.  (The plants on page 12 are so real, and so are the corn, vegetables, and forest in the book!) The illustrations compliment the text.

For example, on page 14, it talks about how shells were crushed to make paint and the picture is of someone painting the walls.  I can imagine what life was like.

I didn't like the illustrations in the Viking book as much, because they look more blurry to me and have white splotches and dots on the, like on the clothing, the ground, ...  What I liked about the book was the information.  I didn't know a lot about Vikings before, but now I know more.

I learned that their houses were shaped a little like boats, their mothers were called
moder, and women wore broaches with richer women wearing necklaces that attached to the broaches.  The book was filled with facts about the Viking's clothing, home life, gods, and more. I learned some stuff!

I would recommend this series to people who want to learn facts about history or review history.  The books in this series are like stories with facts about history which make them fun to read!

Who Is Carole P. Roman?

Carol P. Roman is a mom who took a dare from one of her sons to write a book and has since gone on to author over dozens of children's books and to win over 100 awards for both her fiction and non-fiction books.

Among her books are the collection I have been talking about and also:

  • If You Were Me and Lived in… Cultural (for ages 4-9+), which takes readers into geography and culture.

  • Captain No Beard (for ages 3-8), which offer male and female characters (modeled after Carole's grandchildren) who get up to fun and adventure as they use their imaginations and teach tender lessons about sharing, stranger dangers, asking for help, bullying, and more.

  • Bedtime Series, One to Ten (for ages 4-8), which teaches readers to evaluate a problem by giving it a number and to put it into the right perspective.
  • Rocket-Bye (for ages 2-8), which was Carole's love letter to my grandsons in the form of a trip to the stars.
  • Can a Princess be a Firefighter? (for ages 2- forever), which was Carole's love letter to her granddaughters, encouraging you to reach for your dreams.

  • Oh Susannah (for ages 7-12), which is Carole's newest series which presents life lessons in short chapter books. 
We've reviewed several of these before and find the history ones are our hands-down favorite!  Carole P. Roman just has a way of integrating plenty of history into one readable picture book.

Bonus:  Carole offers free worksheets to go along with some of her books on her blog for those that benefit from those sorts of things.

Learn More

If you'd like to hear what others think about Carole P. Roman books, click through to find links to reviews from 100 Homeschool Review Crew families!

You can also visit Carole P. Roman on social media at:

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Have You Asked Your Child to Narrate His First Holy Communion Banner {and Been Pleased that Your Child Is "Getting" Holy Week, Too)?

Is your little one making a First Holy Communion banner this year? 

If so, I encourage you to ask your child why he chose to design it the way he did.  Doing so can provide wonderful insight into your child's understanding of his faith.  I know did for me!

Since today was "Banner Day" in my youngest's First Holy Communion class, last night my son asked his big sister to quick-sketch his ideas for his banner as he described them to her. 

Then, my son set to work making his banner with her help and mine.

When my son finished gluing on each design part, he held his design up proudly.

Then, he went to work using glitter glue to add his name and a few design details.

Finally, he explained the symbolism of his finished banner to me:

This is my banner.  Why I have the cross is in the middle is to represent that Jesus dies for us to make up for our sins.  I put the host and wine, because I wanted to represent that God's time is all at once, and ,when He died for us then, for Him it is now, too.  He shed His blood for us and gave us the Eucharist across time so we can be strengthened in our faith. 
I have a heart at the top to show Jesus' love for us.  The gold is because Jesus is so rich in love. 
My name is in blue to represent our Mother Mary, because it is her color.  It also represents the water - some of the miracles of Jesus - and the sky for heaven.  Why I have the yellow is because its represent our Lord Jesus' cross shining.  When we receive the Eucharist, we shine with Christ's love and faith.

My son was too shy to offer the explanation of his design's symbolism in front of his whole class this morning, but he said I can share it here to inspire you to ask your child for a personal First Holy Communion Banner narration. 

Surely, having my son narrate the why behind each of his design choices illuminated for me his current understanding of the Eucharist.  Coincidentally, it also helped me recognize that he is "getting" the significance of the Triduum and how Christ's sacrifice at Calvary connects to the sacrifice of the Mass.  

The Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, our invitation to participate in the sacrifice of the Mass.  May we each connect the dots and grow in faith and love, strengthened by our Lord.

Also, may God bless all children preparing for First Holy Communion, guiding them to a deep and beautiful understanding of faith and an unwavering desire to receive our Lord in the Eucharist.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Make Fun Fuse Bead Designs Without an Iron or Glue {A Review}

Are you looking for fuse beads that you don't need to use an iron on to make stick together? Super Beads by Zirrly are it!  All it takes to use them is water, wait time, and what comes in the package!

Super Beads Mega Pack

We received a
Mega Pack of Super Beads for review and have been having fun with them.
My daughter (10) said she wanted to describe them for this review.  She said:

"I think
Super Beads
are great for passing time.  They are also good if you want to improve your fine motor skills and make designs.  You can make multiple types of stuff. 

In the kit we got, you had your boards and your beads, a water bottle, and you also got pixelated pictures that go underneath your board.

You place the beads on the colors that show on the picture to make a design.  You have to make sure the line on the beads is facing up. That's pretty easy, but not when the electricity has gone out.  (We did some by candlelight.)

After all your beads are on the board, you press the design down nice and tight, and, then, the cool thing about Super Beads is that, instead of ironing them, all you have to do is spray them with water and wait about an hour (or more!) and, then, use a special little tool that is included to remove them from the board.  It is sometimes hard to remove them, but not too hard.

Once you peel your designs off, you can set them out throughout your house or play with them.

Oo, if you touch the beads, you have to wash your hands, and wet hands stick to the beads.  Use dry hands!

We made two elephants with our friends, a turtle, an apple, and I also made a little sign.

We still have lots of beads.  I am going to use them more, and I think crafty people would like these.

When I asked her sons for their input, my twelve year old said:

"I enjoyed making the apple with my friend, and we sent it home with him.  The things we kept, I don't play with.  It takes a very, very long time to make things, and, then, I never even play with them.  So, they are not very worth it to me, but if you like that kind of stuff, then, they'd be good.

They take a lot of patience and use fine motor skills."
My other son, at seven, said:

"They are beads that stick with water.  I like using them to make signs.  Sometimes they pop off the boards, and you have to use one particular side of the beads, so you have to be patient.  It takes over an hour for it all to be done.  It is worth it depending on what type of person you are.  If you need to practice fine motor skills, it is good.  If you are crafty, it is good.  If you want to pass time, it is good."

As you can see, the consensus around here , then, seems to be that:
  •  The beads are not hard to use, but take patience.
  • You get a fine motor skills working with the beads.
  • Crafty kids like these beads.
  • The beads are fun to share with friends.
  • You can easily pass time with these beads.  

We have used our Super Beads on multiple occasions so far, including during an Art-Music, and Poetry club meet up when the children made designs while listening to poetry read aloud and classical music playing, at a playdate when then kids wanted to make signs for a "town" they are making, and during a power outage when the children chose to pass time using the beads by candlelight.

We inadvertantly discovered that the beads make a great sensory fun tool for littles, too.

Our young friend (who knows not to put small things in his mouth - which would be a caution for other young friends) had fun playing and pouring with the beads when he wasn't placing them into designs the other children.

The Mega Pack comes with:
  • 4500 Super Beads (including limited oranges and blacks and plenty of whites)
  • 5 X 4 Assorted Design Templates (which means you have repeat designs, not 20 different ones)
  • 2 Spray Bottles (which are used to wet - but not soak - designs so they can fuse together)
  • 4 Boards (which connect together for larger design patterns)
  • 1 Design Tool (for removing your designs fro the boards once they dry)
  • Instructions

We did find some defective beads in our kit, but not too many, and we still had plenty more to use and are enjoying doing so! 

Learn More

Zirrly sells a variety of fun kits with crafts meant for ages 5 and up.  Some are:

Super Beads

Super Beads Jungle Animals

Super Beads Jewelry Set

Super Beads Bird Set
Super Beads 3D Car and Truck
Super Beads 3D Animals
Super Beads Spinning tops

See what 100 Homeshcool Review Crew families made with
Super Beads by clicking through the banner below.

Super Beads {Zirrly Reviews}


Find Zirrly on social media at:
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Art, History, and More A La Carte from Home School in the Woods {A Review}

Don't you love when a good thing gets even better?  I do, and, that is why I am excited about Á La Carte products from Home School in the Woods.

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

My family has enjoyed reviewing
Home School in the Woods product before, but, honestly, sometimes we just don't have the time to dig into deep unit studies, so would like to nibble on quality without a large commitment. That is just what Á La Carte projects offer - the same wonderful design as all-in Home School in the Woods products but in small,fit-into-life sized bites.

Games, newspapers, timelines, and more - depending on which 
Á La Carte projects you pick, you can discover fun, learning, or review for an hour, an afternoon, a week, or even longer.

We selected two products for review: The Art Gallery File Folder Game and the A Young Country Newspaper Collection. Both came as e-files that were easy to download, print, and use.

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

Art Gallery came with different options for printing color or black and white art cards (depending on your printer/ink situation) and clear directions about how to print and assemble the game.

Directions for play were easy, too. Basically, four players move about the Art Gallery board as they answer questions about who painted artworks, what the artworks names are, and what mediums the artworks were done in.

Since my children are not familiar with all of the art within the game, we adapted the directions to be:  If you can name the artist, artwork name, or medium, you can automatically move a space.  If you cannot, but can use enough "art speak" to describe what you see in the artwork that other players give you a thumbs up, you can move on a space.  Playing this way allowed my children to review what they have previously learned about art appreciation  -things like describing composition, noticing warm and cool color palettes, commenting on tone, describing how many central figures there are, naming if something is a portrait, landscape, or still life, etc. 

We had quite a few laughs as we put on "art tour" voices and described the paintings.  We also began to better notice similarities and differences in styles, picking out "another one by (fill in the blank artist)!"

We enjoyed the game enough that we opted to play it with friends at our Art, Music, and Poetry club, too, introducing them to Home School in the Woods wonderful products.  Our friends enjoyed the game, too!

When I asked my children for their quick feedback about
Art Gallery, they said:

"I liked the selection of artwork.  There were many different styles.  I had fun playing with my friends."

"I liked the artwork because they have so many different types of artwork and a good variety of artists.  I like guessing who the paintings were by.  The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci was so easy!  A lot of the others, I didn't know who the artist was, but I liked them."

"I like how the board looks, and I like how there was not hundreds of teeny tiny pieces.  Instead of just having the artist's name, the board had illustrations.

I like artwork that was picked for the cards.  It was many, many different styles.  It made it fun to not know what was coming up next.
 We played it differently than you are meant to.  We decided to use big "art language" to talk about the artworks, because we did not know a lot about some of the art.
Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo, and Beatrix Potter were easy to figure out, because we have studied their styles before.  The others were not all familiar, but we began to notice more about their styles.

It is a fun game!"

For us, the game is a keeper we will enjoy again.  If you're looking for a fun way to introduce picture study or review prior art appreciation learning, I'd recommend it!  

The game is meant for grades 3 and up, but my second grader played along just fine and we even had a two year old buddy teaming up with a preteen to play and enjoy!

The A Young Country Newspaper Collection was also a hit here.

Meant for children in grades
three to twelve, the collection includes 10+ pages of templates for creating a newspaper called the Daily Bugle and another called the Westward Weekly, thereby reviewing early U.S. history studies while practicing creative writing skills at the same time.

Headlines for articles and advertisements encourage writers to report on specific topics, yet allow them freedom to decide which facts and ideas they wish to include.  Blank templates allow complete freedom of choice.  

I found my children truly enjoyed using their own ideas and words to create their newspapers - and I enjoyed how doing so acted as a catalyst for them to do some independent or team research, work on beautiful handwriting, and seek how to spell words correctly.  I also loved that it was print and go - no research, prep work, nor fussing about trying to design something for Mom.

My children said:

"I really like how you can write what you like and don't have to write something specific.  The headlines and pictures give ideas, and, then, you can write about anything in the topic.  The newspaper style makes it fun to write all my facts about history."

"I like writing the newspaper!  I find it really fun to do.  I like how you kind of have free range about it, but you don't completely.  They give you a topic and you write what you know.  It also encouraged me to figure out what some of the stuff was that I didn't know about.  I want to do more newspapers! I like their style!"

"I chose to write about my own thing and used beautiful handwriting.  I researched the Pony Express."

The newspapers proved a great way to engage my children in learning and narrating history while exercising creativity and writing skills.  Not only that, but they encouraged my developing reader to happily practice reading, too!  I love that and would therefore recommend  A Young Country Newspaper Collection to others studying early American history that have creative kids who enjoy telling stories.

 Learn More

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

Home School in the Woods offers many Á La Carte products to choose from, ranging n price from jut under $2 to about $13.  Click through the images below to learn more about specific projects.

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

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Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products

Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products
Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products
Home School in the Woods  Á La Carte products 
One hundred Homeschool Review Crew Families selected Á La Carte products for review.  Click through the banner to read all of our reviews.

À La Carte Projects - Individual projects designed to enhance your studies! {Home School in the Woods Reviews}
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