Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: The Woodcarver DVD

I was blessed with a copy of The Woodcarver, a family friendly Christian film from Christian

ABOUT THE WOODCARVER (taking from the Christian Cinema site)

Matthew Stevenson is a troubled kid from a broken home. When he vandalizes the local church to get back at his parents, Matthew has to repair the damage to the church to avoid criminal charges. While working at the church, he meets Ernest, an accomplished wood carver who created the intricate woodwork decoration that Matthew destroyed. Ernest has become something of a hermit, but reluctantly comes out of reclusion to help repair the church. Now Ernest and Matthew must work together to preserve the church's beautiful antiquity, and along the way, they also manage to restore their faith in God and in life

You can purchase the DVD today for $10.92, just click here

Disclosure: I received one of the products mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Monday, March 19, 2012

TOS Review: Action Alert



We’ve all heard of the dangers allowing children to ‘play’ unsupervised on the internet. Action Alert is an organization that is working hard to help parents protect their children. They have used feedback and knowledge from parents, children’s and family psychologists, law enforcement, internet security experts, and educators to come up with a program known as Action Alert. They have received quite a lot of attention recently from some pretty big names. I was lucky to be given a chance to review for them.

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What impressed me was that they offer a Free Version for those who really want to protect their children but aren’t able to spend the money for the Maximum Protection version ($29.99). This convinced me that they weren’t out to simply make money, they really had our children’s safety in mind when offering this program.


There seems to be very little difference in the Maximum Protection and the Free Version. From what I’ve learned, Action Alert seem to want their customers to try the FREE version and then if need be, upgrade. Some kids will need more supervision and protection.

To get a better idea about the difference between the two versions I’ve listed what I know about them below:

The Free Version sends a message or text to your phone when an alert occurs, offers a web filter to ensure safe searches, website blocking that prevents access to a constantly updated list of websites (you can even add your own list of sites), time controls to ensure your child doesn’t linger too long on the internet, and free tech support.

The Maximum Version offers everything the Free version offers with added tools to help trace your child’s steps and/or a wrong doer who may be targeting your child. One of these tools is something like a DVR so it’s sort of like watching a recording of what your child has done while online.

So if you don’t have a protection in place, head to Action Alert and try their Free Version today. I will caution that this is a fairly new program so there may be a few kinks but remember they offer free tech support so make use of it.

If you’d like to read more reviews of Action Alert from my fellow TOS Crew members visit the review blog.

**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.


Monday, March 12, 2012

TOS Review: Progeny Press


Do you love to read to your children but worry that reading them that wonderful novel, so rich in history and insights into the human soul, just isn’t enough? Do you ever get up from your family reading time and feel like there needs to be more, something’s missing, but what?

Progeny Press has the answer. They offer study guides for all kinds of wonderful literature and they cover grades K-12, so there’s something for everyone. When I first heard about them I thought they would just offer some questions to prompt discussion (which would’ve been great) but I was wrong, very wrong. They offer so much more.


The study guide I received was for the novel Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt. I read this book to my children at the beginning of this school year, before I had heard of Progeny Press unfortunately. This novel turned out to be one of our favorites this year (so far, we still have three or four to go) so doing this review has been a real joy, reminding me of all the laughter and sorrow we shared while being absorbed in this book.

That brings me to my first opinion (meaning you may disagree but this is how I feel about it) concerning Progeny Press. I’ve been looking over their online catalog and from what I’m seeing the books they choose are all very literature rich without a lot of fluff and puff. I like a book that doesn’t leave my heart and mind when I put it back on the shelf. The books we read are not one sided and I truly don’t want them to be. I want my children to view the world from all angles in order to discover error in worldviews that go against our truth measuring stick (The BIBLE) thus allowing the Holy Spirit through the truth in His Word to guide them to the path they should take (with their mom prodding them along ever so gently…gently? yeah right, lol) This is not to say that Progeny Press doesn’t promote a Christian worldview, it does, but Progeny Press teaches them how to think and come up with these truths on their own.. They explain it this way:

“At Progeny Press we are committed to teaching good cultural literature, examined from a Christian perspective. We believe in the equation "Biblical Truth + Cultural Relevancy = Effective Christians." Take away biblical truth and Christians become no more than a religious subculture-- salt without saltiness. Take away cultural relevancy and Christians become isolationists with no impact on the world-- lights hidden under bushels. We believe in looking at the world clearly and openly with the Bible firmly in hand.”


So what is a Progeny Press study guide? It is a list of questions to go with each chapter, as you would assume, but it also includes background information on the author, activities for the child to do while reading the book (they recommend reading the book the first week then diving into the guide), vocabulary, introduction and use of literary techniques, Bible study, creative writing assignments, history study, geography and map work, and so much more. As I said, I was truly amazed at all that was included.

If you enjoy doing Unit Studies, than you will love Progeny Press because to me, it’s like a literature unit study. I love it. I’m not sure how/if I’ll be able to incorporate Progeny Press into my homeschool schedule next year, but I’m seriously considering it as my history curriculum as well as a supplement for several of my other subjects, including creative writing and grammar. The money it will save me is astounding! Plus we’ll become much more involved in the subjects we’re studying. I’m not 100% sure I have enough faith in myself to drop the curriculum I’m using now, but as I said, I am considering it.

A few things you need to know:

  • In addition to the study guide students will need a good dictionary, thesaurus, Bible, concordance
  • Typically it will take 8-10 weeks to do one guide (elementary level is shorter) which would give you time to complete 3-4 study guides per year 
  • There are options available for testing
  • Most Christian high schools have assigned a value of one-fourth credit per study guide and this also seems to be acceptable to colleges assessing homeschool transcripts
  • If your child would rather type than write, order the PDF version. It’s interactive and they can type their answers right in

I received, through email, a PDF version of Across Five Aprils study guide and it included a total of three files: a read me file, the actual study guide, and an answer key. (It did not include the actual novel).

They offer most of their guides in the following formats:

--> Paperbound booklet (reproducible) $18.99
--> PDF file on CD (opens with Adobe Reader, interactive files can be completed on computer or printed)$16.99
--> PDF file emailed directly to you (opens with Adobe Reader, interactive file can be completed on computer or printed)$16.99
All formats include full student text and complete answer key.
--> A booklet/CD combo set gives you both the booklet and CD formats of the guide for classroom use. Print what you need when you need it. Refer to your booklet copy at any time. Substantial price savings buying both formats together! $23.99

Progeny Press offers many guides to choose from and the TOS Crew reviewed these six:

  • Across Five Aprils
  • The Cay
  • The Bronze Bow
  • The Screwtape Letters
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Julius Caesar

Visit the Crew to read reviews on each of these study guides.


**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.

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