Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Amazing Bible World History Timeline

I remember the first time I discovered I loved world history. My kids and I were reading a history curriculum that the author had specifically written to help readers understand God directed parallels present in history. This particular curriculum began with Creation and ended with the resurrection of Christ. In addition, the author wrote of events in the Middle East (Bible history) in one lesson and then followed with a lesson of events taking place on the other continents in the world during the same time period. For example, I learned that Ancient Indian Mounds in Ohio were built during the time Hezekiah was on the throne.

For the first time in my education I had the opportunity to “connect the dots”, so to speak, with all the different aspects of Ancient history. The author’s desire to share Bible history as a part of world history allowed our family to understand history as God’s story of mankind. This concept, pointed out by the author, was an exciting and inspiring moment for me and of course, I wanted to learn more.

The Amazing Bible World History Timeline was created by Bible Charts and Maps, LLC to aid students of all ages in seeing God’s plan in history. According to the company’s literature, “You see His hand directing all of the world events and the Bible set against that background.” Delivered to your home as a 36 x 46” laminated chart, the Amazing Bible World History Timeline is a lasting resource for history study. According to information on the chart, “It represents not only years of patient research by the author, but centuries of efficient effort of early historians. It contains a wealth of authentic information to be obtained at a glance. It shows the simultaneous relationship of events.”

I have never been a fan of timelines simply because I never seem to reference them. In our homeschool we many times have diligently created timelines for reference; however they usually succumb to being a wall covering rather than a learning tool. Over time edges curl, figures fade or fall off the timeline which vies for our attention, but inevitably we simply remove it having not learned much from the process. The Amazing Bible World History Timeline, I am sorry to say, met a similar fate.

I struggle with reading charts and graphs to begin with and so took a bit too long in my opinion trying to determine how to read the chart. It is designed in a circular fashion with all B.C. dates to the right and A.D. dates to the left. According to the company’s website, “It works like a clock. Adam is at the top. Christ's birth divides the circle in half.” In my mind the concept was confusing and I struggled. The printing on the chart was very small because so much information is shared on one chart. There is 6000 years of world history represented by the chart! The timeline is printed mostly in black and white with pink, blue and highlighter yellow used to allow students to visually connect various people groups.

The Amazing Bible World History Timeline may be an excellent resource for some, but not our house. I asked my 15 year old son for his opinion after spending a few too many frustrating moments with the chart and he said, “If I was just to look at the chart with no one explaining it to me I would be so confused.”

The Amazing Bible World History Timeline offers customers free interactive maps of the Holy Land, the genealogy of Christ in two different formats and a pdf file of the timeline for use in lesson planning and easy research reference. In addition, my Amazing Bible World History Timeline came with helpful tips for incorporating it into Bible study. The timeline and all the extras can be purchased at www.BibleTimeline.NET for $29.97.

I encourage you to spend some time on the company’s website and judge for yourself if this timeline is a good fit for your family. Connecting the dots in world history is an inspiring and thrilling experience. If the Amazing Bible World History Timeline helps deepen your family’s understanding of God at work then it will be well worth your investment.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sarah Books

Like all things born from the heart, Sarah Books offers homeschoolers a delight-filled option for historical educationi. Authored by 62 year old grandfather of nine, Jim Baumgardner, the author promises he wrote all three books in his current series for his grandchildren. “They (books) do not have any sex, profanity, or anything that would be offensive to young readers. I would never subject my grandchildren to such writing”, he stated.

Although others have labeled the Sarah books as Christian fiction, Baumgardner prefers the label, “Young Adult fiction written by a Christian author.” I would easily label them historical fiction with a Christian focus. The main character, Sarah, is a twelve year old girl facing the world through the eyes of a child raised with Christian principles and teaching. She easily shares her faith, as do several other characters throughout her journey, but never with a preachy or judgmental attitude.

Having raised two daughters on historical fiction, and read more girl heroine stories than I can possibly count, I was anxious to dive into Sarah’s Wish, the first in Baumgardner’s series of Sarah Books. The story is set in 19th century southern Ohio near the time of the Civil War. Beginning with great description and action readers and listeners are easily drawn into the story line from the first phrase. Good characters are very good and evil ones repulsive. Sarah instantly rises as the heroine as she assists with runaway slaves, finds delight in the simple things of life and strives for patience as she waits for her adoption into a family of her own. I thought Baumgardner cleverly wove definition of difficult vocabulary and historical references within the storyline for young readers, although a two page glossary of terms is provided at the beginning of the novel for easy reference. In my opinion, Sarah’s Wish is targeted for an 8-12 year old audience, but could easily appeal to younger and older as a family read aloud. The nature of the story line and historical context make it an adventure story worthy of boys or girls.

“I would definitely give it thumbs up”, said Micah age 12 who fancies herself a connoisseur of historical fiction with girl heroines. “He is a good writer and I like how he uses a lot of description in the book”, she added.

Sarah’s Wish consists of 123 pages divided into 14 easy to read, short chapters. Chapters easily accommodate short reading sessions, but I’m sure most readers will want to keep reading once they open up the world of adventure within the Sarah books. Baumgardner offers audio books of the first two books in his series. Sarah’s Wish, however, comes with a free audio download code on the inside back cover for on-line listening at the publishers website to all four discs of its audio version.

All three of Baumgardner’s books can be purchased at The author offers a free personalized autograph service with every purchase. Since Sarah’s Wish retails for only $9.99 with free shipping and handling, I can think of no better Christmas gift for young fiction enthusiasts this holiday season. Book two in the series Sarah’s Promise retails for $14.99 and the third, Sarah’s Escape for $17.50 both with free shipping and handling as well. The books are available as a set for $39.95. A portion of all sales of Sarah’s Wish will be donated to one of the author’s favorite charities, Carpenter’s Place,, a non-profit agency benefiting girls especially orphans like fictional Sarah.

For those wishing for more adventures with Sarah an email newsletter is available complete with interesting historical facts, an historical question of the month, contests, famous quotes and the address to write the author with comments and questions. My personal interchanges with Baumgardner were warm and witty just like his books. I found him to be an author that understands homeschoolers and children and who desires to do everything he can to support both.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guardian Angel Publishing

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. is a children’s book publisher for a contemporary audience. The company offers customers a wealth to choose from with nearly 100 titles targeted for children age 0-12 in a variety of formats including e-books in PDF files, e-books on CD, print paperback books, and very soon book video DVD’s. Guardian Angel Publishing states on their website that “education and learning are our goals!” and from the three PDF e-books I was sent to review I believe they met their goal successfully.

The first book our family read and reviewed was Rainbow Sheep by Kim Chantel. This sweet and simple picture book shares the story of an uninspired rainbow and the little girl and sheep who turn the rainbow’s grey day into one of color. The illustrations accompanying the text are actually photographs of Chantel’s unique wool felting fiber art. The images seemed to rise off the page begging to be touched.

Following the story are step by step directions for a variety of wool felted projects definitely inspired by the picture book story. One of the felting projects is recommended for ages 8 and up, however while the story is written for younger students. I found this disparity a bit frustrating since the project was understandably too difficult for the targeted audience of the story. I believe older students could benefit from the project by using the delightful illustrations accompanying the text as inspiration for their felting project.

“I really liked the book because it was colorful”, said Sierra age 8. “I liked the colorful sheep. I want to make the sheep that were in the book”.

“I liked the colors. I liked when the sheep got covered in colors”, said Aidan age 5.

Rainbow Sheep is suggested for ages 4 and older. It contains 11 original fiber art illustrations, 4 pages of felting for fun activities, a glossary of fiber art terms and further information for fiber art education. The book is available in PDF, CD, print paperback, and book DVD formats.

Hamster Holidays, part of the Pet Grammar Parade Series by Cynthia Reeg, is a fanciful book about nouns and adjectives and although not noted by the publisher provides readers great practice with calendar reading. It is written for ages 5-12, so I read the story aloud to my 5 and 8 year olds and assigned it to my 12 year old.

Throughout the book all the nouns are typed in blue font while adjectives appear in red. Other story elements are in typical black type allowing the nouns and adjectives to virtually jump off the page to readers. At the conclusion of the book a review of definitions of common nouns, proper nouns, compound nouns and noun plural spellings are provided. Various puzzles and word games make up the conclusion of the book allowing the homeschool teacher to capitalize on grammar study generated by the hamsters.

Aidan and Sierra both gave Hamster Holidays two thumbs up. “It was very good, because the hamsters had hats and costumes and stuff like that”, said Aidan age 5.

“I really liked Hamster Holidays because it was really funny”, added Sierra, age 8.

Micah, age 12, was a bit more critical. “It was cute and funny, but I don’t think kids my age would enjoy it as much as younger kids (7 or 8 year olds). The storyline was kind of young and the humor a bit too young for my age.”

Hamster Holidays is currently available as a PDF e-book, E-book CD or print paperback from Guardian Angel’s website.

Our final gift from the publisher for review was a 19 page story of determination despite handicaps or disability. Andy and Spirit Go To the Fair by Mary Jean Kelso chronicles the story of Andy, a not so typical 4-H kid, and his first experience showing a horse named Spirit at a local fair. A portion of the proceeds of this book are donated to Healing Reins non-profit organization and Horseplay of Femley, NV. The publisher offered no age suggestions for a target audience of Andy and Spirit Go To the Fair, but I would guess 8 and up could easily read and enjoy the book independently or if younger horse enthusiasts abound easily used as a brief family read aloud.

The end of the book provides a one page article on the management of wild horses in the U.S. along with helpful website listings for further research. Readers interested in learning more about 4-H will appreciate the brief informative description of 4-H along with website address included on the final page of the book.

When asked for her opinion of Andy and Spirit Go To the Fair, Micah age 12 sincerely answered, “I liked the message of the book. I felt I knew a lot about the main character, what his life is like and his difficulties”.

Andy & Spirit is available on the Guardian Angel Publishing website as a PDF download, E-book CD, Print paperback or DVD Book Video.

I am not a huge fan of e-books just because I love the sensory experience of turning pages and holding a text rather than clicking my mouse and staring at light. I was thrilled to note, however that all three of my selections are available in traditional paperback formats if I desire. The obvious benefits of purchasing a PDF e-book include instant download gratification and price. All PDF e-books from Guardian Angel Publishing are $5.00; while a CD based e-book is$9.95 plus $5.95 shipping and handling. Print paperback versions of the books are priced at $10.95 plus $6.95 shipping and handling and DVD Book versions are $9.95 plus $5.95 shipping and handling.

To purchase books from Guardian Angel Publishing visit the company website at

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nature Friend Magazine

“We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things”….. Charlotte Mason, 19th century British educator dedicated to improving the quality of education for children

I agree with Miss Mason. Children need to spend time in nature and learn to adore and respect it. I love nature study, but sometimes as a resident of northeast Ohio nature doesn’t love our family. With way too many rainy, windy and snowy days on our calendar squeezing in time for outdoor nature study can be a real challenge. I recently discovered Nature Friend magazine is an excellent alternative or supplement to outdoor nature study when faced with less than friendly weather conditions.

Nature Friend magazine, a commercial free creation based science publication, is filled with rich photography and information. Published monthly for 27 years, it is available throughsubscription for $36.00 a year in the U.S. or $49.00 for Canada and Mexico. Nature Friend appeals to nature enthusiasts of all ages. Issues of Nature Friend arrive in typical slick 8 ½ x 11 magazine format yet the paper quality stands up to hours of perusing, backpacks and tote carrying.

The pages of each issue of Nature Friend are graced with puzzles, hidden pictures, word games, step by step drawing directions for budding nature artists and a readers question and comment editorial page in addition to informative articles about reptiles, birds, mammals or insects. Articles are easily read, yet filled with intelligent detailed information. Full color photographic images are unparalleled; detailed and gorgeous allowing the reader to truly see nature up close and personal with the turn of every page.

I received two free issues of Nature Friend from the publisher which allowed me to grasp a full understanding of what this excellent educational tool could offer homeschooling families. My 8 year old daughter Sierra, who loves all creatures great and small, was thrilled when I showed her the magazine for the first time. She and I took several weeks to review each 27 page issue. We spent short 15 min. sessions with Nature Friend every time we opened its’ pages to allow us the opportunity to absorb its rich content while not getting overwhelmed by its detail.

For example, the August issue of Nature Friend had a 60 word search puzzle on page 9. We spent the close of each reading session one week looking for words in the puzzle. Breaking up the challenge of the puzzle over several days allowed Sierra to enjoy the whole experience as she reviewed the names of over 60 different animals. Answer keys for all puzzles are provided within the magazine as well for those needing a little extra confidence.

Although each issue or Nature Friend is an excellent stand alone resource of nature study, the magazine added an optional 8-12 page study guide this past April to help parents and teachers make the most of material presented. The study guide is available to subscribers only for an additional $2.00 per issue. Puzzles and fill in the blank exercises make up the study guide as well as “A Study in Nature, a Lesson in Writing” creative writing exercise and “The Photo Critique” offering tips for nature photography.

I first viewed the study guide as a comprehensive review of concepts, terms and vocabulary discussed in the magazine. As Sierra and I made use of the elements of the study guide, we searched articles for solutions to crossword and acrostic puzzles and true/false exercises within the guide as we completed each article. This method allowed Sierra to “play” with newly acquired knowledge and enjoy her nature study experience.

Nature Friend Magazine is offering TOS Review Crew readers $3.00 off subscriptions by referencing coupon code"BLOG93". The offer is available until November 30, 2009. Whether you spend your nature study hours tucked inside the coziness of home or braving the great outdoors make Nature Friend Magazine a part of your routine. Charlotte Mason would highly reccomend it.