August 21, 2014

Happy Kids Songs: Music for Character Development (Product Review)

When it comes to teaching information with music, I'm all ears. We incorporate music into our school day as much as we can. My boys respond well to learning things with music and retain it very well. Today I'm sharing a review of three albums of character training themed music (Happiness & Attitude, Manners & Character, and Friends & Sharing) from Happy Kids Songs.

Product Details

Happy Kids Songs Review
Happy Kids Songs is a company devoted to producing music that is a fun and effective way to raise children's social, character and emotional skills. They have eight award winning albums dealing with things from friendship and bullying, to manners and dealing with anxiety. Each of the eight albums contain 5 songs each and are available in mp3 format for just $4.95 each

Here are the eight albums available:
*Friends & Sharing
*Social Skills & Bullying
*Feelings & Fears
*Practice & Success
*Talking & Listening
*Manners & Character
*Happiness & Attitude
*Respect & Responsibility

These albums are geared for ages 4-8 but they are fun for the whole family.

I was given three of the album sets to review: Friends & Sharing (Set 1), Manners & Character (set 6) and Happiness & Attitude (Set 7).

I was also given the coordinating workbook Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-On Activities to Build Character, Social & Emotional Skills

Happy Kids Songs Review
This workbook is a 125 page activity book to coordinate with all 40 songs on the albums. It has the lyrics for each song, coloring sheets or activity pages for each song, as well as hundreds of hands-on activities to teach the character lessons from arts and crafts to drama and games. The workbook retails for $12.56

How did We Use This Product?

We were sent via email the albums to download. They were in zip files and once I opened them (just the normal extract of file) they were available to play on Windows Media Player. We like to play our music on my laptop which is always in the kitchen or wherever we are doing school, so this worked well for us. I easily saved the three albums (15 songs total) as a playlist library.
You will definitely need to have a system that can open zip files and download music files easily.

I decided to just play all the songs together instead of focusing on just one album. We began by just listening to all the songs and talking about the ones we thought sounded the coolest. I just kept the songs playing off and on all day long.
The next time we listened to the songs, I used the workbook. I picked out a key song to focus on and had Little Britches follow along with the VERY easy to read lyrics.
He was able to go ahead and start singing along with the chorus this way. He said he liked that the words were easy to read.
From here on out as we listened I would have him do an activity from the workbook that coordinated to whatever song we were listening to. Some were activities like word searches and sometimes just a coloring page.

In the back of the workbook there are "lessons" that go with each album and song to explain or enhance whatever character trait is being taught. These are made up of drama, arts & Crafts, discussions and other activities.
Sample of what the extra lessons look like for two of the songs.

We did do this name game activity
We didn't do a lot of these because they really were focused more towards a classroom scenario with more than 1 or two children.
By the 2nd week of listening to the music we were starting to memorize some of the songs...
"'s one of those greatest gifts that money can't buy..."

"Please....just say please..."

"Kudos what's a kudo?"

Now both boys easily sing with the chorus of many of the songs...especially their favorites.

What Are Our Thoughts About This Product?

Little Britches:
"I like the songs. Some of them are funny. They are easy to learn and fun to sing. The workbook had some fun coloring pages to do while I listened to the songs."
Baby Britches: 
He liked the songs more than anything and would regularly dance while they played. H-O-N-E-S-T-Y is his definite favorite and he loves spelling out the word in the chorus.
It's music teaching character. What's not to love? Seriously though. I found the songs fun and easy to follow. The words weren't difficult to understand and having the lyrics laid out in the workbook was great. I think the workbook DEFINITELY makes the songs even better because it reinforces what is being taught. 
I think that for me, the front of the book with the lyrics and activity sheets was more valuable than the back of the book; however, if I had more students to teach or was going to use this in a church Sabbath school class it would be very great to have. The activities and projects looked very fun and would definitely coordinate with the songs.
I would change a couple things--
#1 I would make it possible to get all the songs on a hard copy CD. I prefer hard copy form for things like this. I could burn the songs onto a CD, but I think having the choice of getting a physical version of the albums would be ideal. I also think it would be great to get all 40 songs on a CD.
#2 I would make it possible to JUST get the lyrics and activity sheets from the workbook. As I mentioned above, I didn't use the other because I didn't think it was really relevant for my situation. Even if they were only available as a e-file, it would be something I would consider over having the whole workbook.
#3 Make it possible to have these as a split-track so that they could be performed for church. I would love to use some of these for children's choir songs!

Would I Recommend This Product?

If you are seeking ways to reinforce character development in a more creative way, this is a good choice. The words of the songs stick to you and can be called upon for reflection later. These are also just good songs to have for your children to listen to in the this world of un-godly music. I will continue to play our 15 song playlist regularly.
If you have a co-op or a Sabbath school, I HIGHLY recommend this program because when put together with the workbook--ESPECIALLY the section in the back, as there are a lot of great group activities and crafts to go with the songs.
Will we purchase any more of the albums to add to the three we received? I don't know. Maybe. It's not something I think we "have to have" but something that would just be fun to add if I had the extra money.

Want to Know More?

I reviewed three song sets (Friends & Sharing, Happiness & Attitude, and Manners & Character) each retailing for $4.95, as well as the coordinating Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-On Activities to Build Character, Social & Emotional Skills ($12.56)from Happy Kids Songs

We had 100 members of our team review this product--why don't you check out what a few of them had to say about it too!
Click to read Crew Reviews

To learn more and to stay on top of new product and sales, follow Happy Kids Songs on social media!

Twitter: @howsyourfam

Thanks for stopping by for another product review! Remember that you can always find my full list of anything I review like this on my curriculum and product reviews page. I have another review to share tomorrow! It is about a great downloadable software program to help your kids with math! 

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August 18, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo: Fast Track Bible Pack (Product Review)

Do you enjoy doing studies of the books in the New Testament? I have recently been doing whole book studies--focusing on the letters of Paul--and it's a great study. When I'm done however, it can be hard to remember the pertinent details of the books...ESPECIALLY if you've been reading a lot of them! I always thought it would be nice to have a "cheat sheet" of sorts to help remember what each book was about. Enter in the Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament from Wizzy Gizmo! I was excited to have a chance to review this product and share how it worked for me!

Product Information

The Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament is a bible study product produced by Wizzy Gizmo. Wizzy Gizmo is a company devoted to creating products to help teach the Bible and do it in a way that is fun and will help the information stick. The Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament is a set of flashcards--27 of them measuring a nice jumbo size of 5" x 9". Each colorful flashcard is about a book of the New Testament and they are numbered in order with Matthew being #1 and Revelation being #27. 
Wizzy Gizmo Review
The Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament sells for $14.95 and is geared for ages 2 and up! 

The front of each card has a general summary about the book of the Bible including who wrote the book, when it was written, who it was written for, why it was written,what the general theme was and shares a key verse from the book. 

The back of the card goes into more details, breaking the book down into an outline of the book, key doctrines, key people, key chapters, key passages and a reminder of the theme.

The flashcards were created to help all ages to remember more about the books of the Bible they are studying!

How Did We Use the Product?

There are lists of great ways to use this product on the Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament product page--breaking it down by ages. These are great ideas and I pulled some from both the ages 2-5 suggestions and the 6-8 suggestions. We started off by just looking through the cards. Little Britches was fascinated to see there was one for each of the NT books. 

The next time we used the product I mixed up the cards and had Little Britches put them in order. Fortunately, he hadn't seen that each card was numbered and instead sang the song he learned for the New Testament books of the Bible to help him.

I plan on using the same mix-up idea for Baby Britches to help him with numbers...only, I will show him where the numbers are and have him put them in numerical order since he can't read yet. 

From here on out we picked a card to read...sometimes doing it in the morning, but usually we read them before bed. I would read the front of the card (the summary) and share what the key scripture was. Sometimes Little Britches recognized them. We spoke about who the writer was and about where on our timeline he was when he wrote it. 

When we would read the card again, I would flip it over and read who the key people were for each book. We then would say the key passage together. 

We didn't do the cards in order--I let them pick the ones they wanted to do. 

Before introducing a new card, we would review the card we had studied previously. The main things I decided I wanted them to know were the main theme, the writer, and the key people. The cards are laid out so clearly that it is easy to find these things.

What Are Our Thoughts on the Product?

I think this is an excellent product for assisting in Bible Study. These ARE "cheat sheets" or rather CliffsNotes (remember those?! LOL!) for each book of the New Testament. For the ages the boys are right now, there is much more information than I really think they need, but it is EASY to pick out the things I want them to remember. As they get older, we will be able to pull these cards out and add more to what they learn.

I like that the cards are colorful and large. The font on the front (where the main writing is) is very easy to read and Little Britches was able to read most of it to me himself. I like that the cards are numbered too. 

The back of each card was interesting to ME! I love the way that they are sectioned out and found that they were pretty accurate to the doctrines of my own faith. I immediately pulled out the cards for the books I most recently studied and compared my bible study notes to those on the card.

I liked the reference page included on the cover card for the pack...
The cover card has each book listed numerically with the theme, date (it was written), author and how many chapters it has. This is a good reference page.

Any cons?
There is a lot of writing on these cards and because of that I can't just "give" the cards to Little Britches to study. Right now I will have to study them with him. 

From what I can see thus far, I've only had to make very minor revisions to the information on the card--and that is just to match what we believe in our faith. Someone else may not make these same revisions--so I don't consider this a major con at all.

The information and scripture was taken from the New American Standard Bible. I always prefer the Old or New King James Version because I think it is more accurate, but I don't think that it's a very big deal on these cards. 

Would I Recommend This Product?

Yes! In fact, I've actually taken them to church with me to show our pastor and some of the members. They are VERY interested in the product and it looks like we will be placing a group order for some. As a little side note, I contacted Wizzy Gizmo about this and they offered me a GREAT discount for a large order--so you may consider this if you want to order some for gifts or for your own church fellowship!

I think these would be GREAT gifts for a bible school or for a graduation gift to teens in your congregation. 

I plan on continuing to use these cards throughout my own bible study and will continue to incorporate them in our studies with the boys. Now I'm wanting a pack for the Old Testament!!

Want to Know More?

I reviewed the Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament ($14.95) by Wizzy Gizmo. We loved this product, but this isn't the only product for bible study that Wizzy Gizmo carries! Come check out the reviews from my fellow crew members on some of their other products--and see how others used the Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament in their home!
Click to read Crew Reviews

Stay up to date on Wizzy Gizmo's new products and special sales using their social media outlets:

Aren't those cards great? I think they are going to be an asset for our home for years to come! Tomorrow I have another great product review to share with you, so I hope you will come back and see me again!
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August 15, 2014

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop: Day 5 ~ My 10 Favorite Homeschooling Blogs

It's Friday and that means it's Day 5 of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop. It's been a great week and there have been so many incredible things that were blogged about! I hope you had a chance to check out some of the other blogs participating in this weeks hop...but if you didn't, here is the anchor post so you can see the other 49+ bloggers.

Looking back on this week I've spoken about homeschool essentials, my five favorite online resources, steps to pick a curriculum, and lesson planning methods. As a close to this blog hop, I decided that I would share links to ten of my favorite homeschooling blogs--the blogs on this list are ones that I regularly visit and I believe they help me out a lot in encouragement, ideas and resources and I hope they will help you out too!
homeschool blogs

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links

There are so many incredible homeschool related blogs out there. I could easily say there are easily several hundred--maybe even a thousand or more. But there are some blogs which draw me time and time again because of their content and writing style. Some of them I go to for encouragement more than anything else. Some I use as a resource. Others offer regular printables or downloads which are useful to my curricula. 

I have narrowed them down to my top ten choices...not an easy task I assure you! These are the blogs I find myself visiting the most and I hope that you will be able to find them just as valuable as I have.

This blog is a lesser known blog....but I absolutely adore it. Anna, the owner of this blog, is a personal friend and a mom of soon-to-be six. Anna's blog is devoted to sharing about life on the farm up in Michigan, life as a SAHM, life as a homeschooler, her focus on the Charlotte Mason method, sharing recipes to encourage healthy eating, and encouraging moms in general. She has an excellent regular series called Mothering Mondays and has hosted several book clubs. She shares a passion of reading "living" books and regularly hosts small giveaways to share "favorites" with her readers.

Where My Treasure Is is a blog that I turn to for encouragement regularly and I hope that you will consider joining her readership!

This is a fairly well known blog in the homeschooling world--especially if you have ever used the FIAR (Five-In-A-Row) curriculum. But I love this blog for more than that--I love it because #1 Michelle has become a dear friend, #2 Michelle shares her heart in her NON-homeschooling posts, #3 Michelle shares such an incredible glimpse of life in their homeschool that I want to come and homeschool in HER classroom! Did I mention she regularly shares about their meals and with the photos she posts, I just want to lick the screen of my laptop? (ooops, did I just say that out loud?)  

I have pinned many of Michelle's posts because of the ideas she shares, her recipes and just the fun that they seem to be having. If you have yet to visit Delightful Learning, make sure you head on over soon!

Dusty is the author of this blog and she has turned her blog into a must-have for me. She has reviews of so many different products in the homeschool world that I have regularly turned to them to help make decisions. She shares a lot of great recipes--especially her ABC series on Homemade Playdough. (Her playdough recipes by the way makes the best ever.) She is passionate about her walk as a Christian and her faith shines off her blog. She has recently been creating some really useful printable packs that she offers her readers for free.

If you haven't been To the Moon and Back (teehee) I hope you will consider visiting soon! (especially since she's in the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop this week!)

Jill is the author of this fun and helpful blog. Jill regularly features guest posts and provides valuable product reviews. She is also the owner of  E.H.M Members Only Store which I spoke about on Tuesday as being one of my five favorite online resources. She regularly adds new curriculum and printables to her shop and I love that for just $15 you can have access to anything she's ever created and will create--forever. She just created a colorful and fun Back to School Activity Pack. She is passionate about learning and adores books. She is the founder of the Poppins Book Nook book club and host of the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop every Monday.

I hope you will pop on over and check out her blog and say hello!

If you are seeking out a host of free printables for the elementary age--especially pre-school and kindergarten, I highly recommend the COAH blog! She has a complete kindergarten curriculum which I have used several things from. If you want something for the older students she has some great unit studies--we will be using her artist and composer lapbook studies this year. We are also going to be using her literature lapbooks with our read-aloud books. She has some incredible stuff that I have always found very useful. She blogs about other things too and I find her blog to be very helpful and encouraging.

I come to the Schoolhouse Review blog when I need more information about curriculum. The Schoolhouse Review blog is devoted to bringing homeschoolers reviews on new and old product and curriculum and have a 100+ team of homeschool moms to make it happen. I also enjoy the guest posts (I did one!) and other extras the blog shares.

I had the pleasure of meeting the owners Wendy and Leann in Cincinnati this past April. This is a must-have blog because of the full spectrum of topics that they blog's definitely NOT just about homeschooling! The bloggers who share here are "real" and share things that are very relevant to life as a homeschool mom. I find a lot of encouraging posts here about just being a mom, about battling the challenges of homeschooling in a public school world and much much more!

If you have a PreK to 3rd grader this is the blog for you! Erin is a genious with creating fun and exciting educational packs in crazy fun themes. One of our favorites is her Zoomin' Moving Alphabet. She also has a very very popular Frozen themed activity packs that your Frozen lovers are sure to enjoy. 

9. 1+1+1=1

Here is another blog that has fabulous free packs for the preschool and kindergarten ages...even tot school! I love her daily binder for the kids as well as her Raising Rock Stars curriculum. She includes a lot of biblical studies including copywork and scripture memorization. I have pulled from her printables many times and planned on incorporating a lot of her stuff into Preschool this year.

This is a blog by a friend named Marcy. I love this blog, because not only does Marcy share homeschooling tips, reviews and product links...but she shares her heart. It's another one of the encouraging blogs that I love to visit. She recently began an adventure into using essential oils which I've been enjoying reading about. This mama adores her family and it shows in all that she shares in her posts. I have pinned a lot of her posts to come back to later. I have met Marcy in real life and she's just as sweet and "real" as she comes across on her blog!
These are only ten of the incredible blogs out there...but these are ten that I feel are absolutely worth your time and attention. I believe all of them have email subscription available so that you never miss a post. I like finding a new post from these blogs in my email because it's always going to be something good!

I hope that you will take the time to visit them--or maybe just ones you haven't visited before--and I hope that they bring you as much joy as they bring me!

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop
There are 50+ bloggers more bloggers in this blog hop---here are a few to to get you started! I've seen some of what is being blogged about and it's going to be a great week!

Marcy @ Ben and Me
Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

And don't forget about the INCREDIBLE (and I do mean that in every sense of the word) giveaway that is going on this week--there are two HUGE prizes that are sure to bless two homeschool families for the new school year. You can get the details about the giveaway--and get entered to win here:
Back to Homeschool Giveaway
Well this is the end of a great week! I am looking forward to the weekend and a blogging break...until next week when I am bringing you three product reviews! Enjoy your weekend and I hope to see you back here on Monday!
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