#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Mason Jar Science: Jonathan Adolph

I RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING TITLE IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE.

SYNOPSIS:
Overflowing with 40 dynamic, slimy, and super-cool experiments, this fun guide encourages budding Einsteins ages 8-12 to use a mason jar to explore the wonders of chemistry, botany, biology, physics, and earth science. Mason jars are the perfect containers for all kinds of experiments, and unlike expensive and fragile beakers and cylinders, they are affordable and durable. With a jar as a little lab, readers will learn how to create miniature clouds, tiny tornados, lava lamps, squishy, colorful slime, and much more!
From the kitchen counter to the classroom or science fair, Mason Jar Science will pique a child’s love for scientific exploration and uncover­ing the mysteries of the world — no lab coat required!
MY THOUGHTS: Fantastic! That’s the best way to intro this book- it’s fantastic! If you’re a homeschool parent who has trouble with either a reluctant learner or with coming up with fresh ideas, you’re problem is solved. Even students who dislike the subject of science will love doing these experiments. I’ve yet to meet a kid- boy or girl- who didn’t like things that were ‘squishy’ or ‘slimy’. Let’s be honest: kids love anything messy.

As a mom, what I love most about this book is the wide variety it brings to the classroom. There are so many genres of science covered here. Not to mention 40 experiments! That’s a whole lot of learning in one book! Inexpensive tools, captivating lessons, and non-stop learning- what more could you ask for in a science book? To me, it’s a must-have in your homeschool classroom.

If you’re an educator at a brick-and-mortar school and teaching the 8-12 year old range, then you can absolutely benefit from this book, too. Let’s get kids excited about learning. I have to give this one 5 stars!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Adolph developed hundreds of “stealth learning” games and kitchen-science activities in his 20-year career as editor of the award-winning FamilyFun magazine. He specializes in making technical information fun for kids and is an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Massachusetts. He lives with his family in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Mason Jar Science
136 pages; 7″ x 10″
Full-color; photographs and illustrations throughout
$14.95 hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-61212-986-0
Available May 2018
*PIC & SYNOPSIS BELONG SOLELY TO THE AUTHOR/PUBLISHER

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Book Spotlight: Warriors in Mr. Lincoln’s Army: Quita V. Shier

I received a copy of the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
“Warriors in Mr. Lincoln’s Army”
By Quita V. Shier
ISBN: 978-1-5320-2716-1
Available at iUniverse and Amazon
SYNOPSIS: Anyone who has taken a grade-school history class may be able to recall dates and battles from the American Civil War that ended 152 years ago. What those history books probably did not include, was a group of sharpshooters called “Company K.”

Company K was the only company in the First Michigan Sharpshooter Regiment with only indigenous men on its roster.

In “Warriors in Mr. Lincoln’s Army: Native American Soldiers Who Fought in the Civil War,” author Quita V. Shier presents comprehensive profiles of these little-known soldiers, and why they wanted to enlist to fight a war in a country where they were not even recognized as citizens.

“Most stories we read about the Civil War are centered on generals and their experiences,” Shier said. “I’m concerned with the enlisted men, the ‘grunts’, who did the fighting and dying for this country. These are their stories.”

Shier’s book contains the profiles of 140 Native American men of Company K and the company officers, based on military, pension and census records, as well as information and pictures from some of the men’s descendants, including military experience, medical treatments of wounds and diseases, and biographies.

“My grandfather loved to read about American history,” Shier said. “He felt strongly about the Native Americans’ marginal existence in U.S. society and the failure of the treaties that the government did not honor. He asked me to do something for the American Indians and this book is the fulfillment of that promise.”
MY THOUGHTS: As a person with some Native American ancestry, I’m thrilled that an entire book was dedicated to those who are often overlooked. The magnitude of our author’s research and commitment is staggering. This is also one of those cases where a book shouldn’t be judged by the cover. Its exterior may be humble, but, the pages between contain a wealth of information.
While anyone who serves in any type of Armed Forces deserves the utmost respect, students are often taught only about the ‘big name players’ in our nation’s history. Thankfully, author’s such as Ms. Shier, are changing that. As a homeschool mom, I feel good about letting my son read through ‘Warriors’. Here we have credible, little-known history without embellishments or fabrication. There’s no bias here, either. Facts and the author’s fantastic grasp of her subject matter make this a must-have for your home classroom. While most history textbooks are good, I can almost guarantee that they don’t have these 140 proud service members in them.
As an avid reader, I can say that this book, although non-fiction, combines quite a few genres. There’s history, military, Native American heritage- the list goes on. Even if you don’t have a high school age student at home, this book will be just as captivating and enjoyable for adult readers. It isn’t specifically a textbook companion.
I can’t sing its praises enough. I highly recommend it for all readers! 5 stars!
About the author
Quita V. Shier is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and a resident of Michigan, who has a lifelong interest in American Indian cultures and life ways. She taught a course about Michigan Indian history and culture at Delta College, University Center, and is a frequent guest speaker. She is experienced in archival and family genealogical research, and is a member of the National Society Daughters of the Union 1861-1865. Some of the pictures and stories in her book were supplied by the descendants of the Company K men. For more about Shier or her book, visit: http://www.iuniverse.com.

Book Spotlight: Minibeasts with Jess French

SYNOPSIS:
With her unparalleled zeal for insects, Jess French dives headfirst into the breathtaking world of invertebrates to explore their unbelievable adaptations and evolution and reveal incredible invertebrates from all over the world, from bird-eating tarantulas and glow-in-the-dark scorpions to meter-long stick insects and bat-eating centipedes.

Learn about the perfect co-evolution of nectar-drinking insects and the flowers they pollinate and discover how minibeasts mate, fight, hide, collaborate, evolve, and survive in the most extreme conditions.

MY THOUGHTS: Let’s be honest. When it comes to bugs, you either love them or you hate them. A lot of that is conditioning from when we’re young. If a bee stings a five-year old, chances are that child we become an adult who detests bees. However, there are so many fascinating things about insects that it’s a shame to go through life hating them for being themselves. That’s why I love this book from Jess French.

She definitely has a way of seeing beauty in each bug, no matter how creepy it is. She’s proof of the childhood love-them-or-hate-them theory. Raised with an invertebrate-breeding father, she became accustomed to the ins and outs of creepy-crawlies. Her passion for them is evident all throughout the book.

Each full-color, intriguing picture shows details in the insects that one would never see normally. Her descriptions, explanation, and even choices with which bugs to showcase are fantastic. This is the type of book that gets kids excited about science. It is a must-have in your home school library. If you have a young reader who is currently petrified of anything that flies, crawls, or buzzes, you need to get a copy of this. It promotes a healthy attitude toward entomology and allows these often misunderstood creatures a chance to ‘wow’ kids.

‘Minibeasts’ is a great read for any age (even adults). I highly recommend it.

Bloomsbury Wildlife | Publication date: May 8th, 2018
$18 | Paperback original | 128 pages | ISBN: 9781472939555
**Pic and Synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.
*I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

The World Almanac® and Book of Facts 2018: A Resource Every Homeschool Needs


SYNOPSIS:How does the Trump administration’s first year compare to those of past presidents? How do Harvey and Irma stack up against other historic hurricanes? While 2017 was a momentous year, its significant events will live on and gain context in The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2018, available in print and as an eBook for all platforms on December 5. The 150th anniversary edition of America’s best-selling reference book celebrates its illustrious history while keeping an eye on the future in order to be your go-to source for questions on any topic in the upcoming year.

New features include “150 Years of The World Almanac,” with highlights from its distinguished past and some old-fashioned “facts” illustrating how its defining mission has changed with the times; “World Almanac Editors’ Picks: Greatest Single-Season Performances,” featuring athletes’ best single-season runs; “Statistical Spotlight,” featuring infographics relevant to the biggest stories of the year; and “The Obama Presidency,” a recap of the policy achievements and challenges of the 44th U.S. president.

Favorite sections making their return include “Year in Sports,” “Top 10 News Topics,” “The World at a Glance,” “Time Capsule,” “Offbeat News Stories,” and “Historical Anniversaries.”

“For 150 years, The World Almanac and Book of Facts has remained a constant, authoritative source for people all around the globe,” said Sarah Janssen, senior editor of The World Almanac. “In this anniversary edition, we’ve included special features that look back on our proud history and key milestones from the past—along with additions that spotlight the past year’s developments. And with The World Almanac, you’ll take on 2018 with all of the information you’ll need in the year to come.”

Highlights from The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2018 include:

150 Years of The World Almanac: This special feature celebrating The World Almanac’s historic run includes highlights from its distinguished past and some old-fashioned “facts” illustrating how its defining mission has changed with the times.

Historical Anniversaries: The World Almanac’s recurring feature expands to incorporate milestone events and cultural touchstones dating to the book’s founding year, from the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson to the publication of Little Women.

The World at a Glance: This annual feature of The World Almanac provides a quick look at the surprising stats and curious facts that define the changing world.

The Obama Presidency: A year after Barack Obama’s second term came to a close, The World Almanac reviews the accomplishments, missteps, and legacy of the 44th president.

Other New Highlights: A brand-new biography of the 45th president and profile of the Trump administration; official 2016 election results; and statistics on criminal incarceration and sentence lengths, health care, overdose deaths, shootings, terrorism, and much more.

The Year in Review: The World Almanac takes a look back at 2017 while providing all the information you’ll need in 2018.

2017—Top 10 News Topics: The editors of The World Almanac list the top stories that held the world’s attention in 2017.

2017—Year in Sports: Hundreds of pages of trivia and statistics that are essential for any sports fan, featuring a preview of the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic Games; complete coverage of the 2017 World Series; new tables of NBA, NHL, and NCAA statistics; and much more.

2017—Year in Pictures: Striking full-color images from around the world in 2017, covering news, entertainment, science, and sports.

2017—Offbeat News Stories: The World Almanac editors found some of the quirkiest news stories of the year, from the king who secretly worked as an airline pilot for decades to the state that’s auctioning off its governor’s mansion.

World Almanac Editors’ Picks: Time Capsule: The World Almanac lists the items that most came to symbolize the year 2017, from news and sports to pop culture.

MY THOUGHTS: I know you may be thinking, ‘There’s an App for that.’ True, Google will probably give you all the info, too. However, in my opinion, there is no substitute for holding an actual book. While all the technological bells and whistles can be handy, today’s students aren’t reliant enough on good, old-fashioned research.

This is why I highly recommend keeping reference books such as this in your home/classroom. While it may not be a cover-to-cover read, it will get them engrossed in learning. Looking up on topic may lead to reading about another. That is something a search engine cannot do.

When my generation had research to do, we went to the library and blew a Saturday pouring over books to find info. ‘The World Almanac’ comes with countless topics, information, and education. It will start a ‘Hey, mom, did you know….’ conversation. Start some teachable, family moments.

You can find more info plus ordering information at the following:
http://www.worldalmanac.com
http://www.infobaseholdings.com/
Or at most book retailers
*Pic & Synopsis belong solely to the publisher.

Book Spotlight: The Electric Pickle: Joey Green

If your kid’s eyes glaze over when you mean the Periodic Table of Elements, I’ve got the perfect book for you! No longer will parents have to agonize over Science Projects that have been forgotten until the night before they’re due. In fact, science will be FUN again.
Let me introduce you to ‘The Electric Pickle’!
“The Electric Pickle: 50 Experiments from the Periodic Table, from Aluminum to Zinc
By Joey Green
(Chicago Review Press; October 1, 2017)

It’s a strange and fascinating DIY guide for the chemistry-curious, featuring an activity for every single element of the periodic table. Activities include:
–          For Lithium: “Horrible Hot Dog”
Insert a lithium battery into an uncooked hot dog and watch it sizzle and bubble
–          For Boron: “Green Tornado Fire”
Use boric acid and antifreeze to create a green glowing flame
–          For Oxygen: “Freaky Soap Soufflé”
Microwave a regular bar of soap to turn it into a large, lava-like cloud formation
–          For Sodium: “Electric Pickle”
Conduct electricity through a pickle to watch it glow bright yellow
Projects range from relatively quick with very few simple ingredients to more exciting and complex experiments that lead to booming or glowing results.

MY THOUGHTS: Trust me: Good, quality STEM books are few and far between. It just seems that its same-old same-old. ‘The Electric Pickle’ is entirely original and quite honestly, fun. Today’s students need to think outside the box. If you’re a homeschooler, you know exactly what I mean. Not everyone has a lab in their basement and sometimes those experiments become monotonous or don’t turn out properly at all.

This book gives you 50 different experiments that are easy, basic, and most of all, unique! Entering a Science Fair this year can be a thrilling experience instead of a poster board full of mediocrity. If you have multiple students needing multiple projects, 50 experiments can go a long, long way. As a parent, I’m all in for anything that makes a child’s eyes light up. Just hearing the words ‘The Electric Pickle’ grabs ahold of their ever-waning attention span and doesn’t let go. As soon as my 9th grader saw the cover, he sat down and immediately began looking through. It was a few minutes later that he began asking if we had some of the components on-hand.

I have to give Joey Greene and his out-of-the-box thinking a full 5 stars! If you don’t have a copy, GET A COPY! You won’t be sorry.

*Pic & synopsis belong solely to the author & publisher.

**I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Movie Spotlight: ‘In Search of Liberty’


As Americans, we move day-to-day without giving much thought to what really holds our country together. For many people, the Constitution is the latest buzzword when college campuses are in an uproar or some pundit believes his or her rights have been violated. How often to we look back to what the Founding Fathers gifted to us all?

This is the exact premise for a new, family movie, ‘In Search of Liberty’. We meet a normal, American family. A chance encounter with a certain historical figure named Ben leads the family to see the Constitution as never before. This modernized Ben delivers witty humor, magical visions of the past, and a love for his country. Most importantly, the family gains an understanding of the amendments, what is and isn’t included in the Constitution, and why it’s still wholly relevant today.

Perhaps a good number of people ‘my age’ may remember those projector films we watched in school. A monotone narrator would tell us why history was important. This is the direct opposite of those movies! In fact, one of the first things we noticed was the cinematography. Seemless transitions and professional acting made it enjoyable as well as believable. The small town setting is perfect and could be any community in our country.

Each of the actors chosen are excellent. They definitely gave you the feeling that they believed in what they were doing and were passionate about their portrayals. This most certainly wasn’t a ‘get-it-done’ and marketed film. It has substance and utilized modern film techniques to make the learning fun.

I watched the movie in its entirety along with my husband and 14-year-old son. We each got a little something out of it, but all agreed that the scenes in the ‘FunHouse’ were our favorites. (You’ll have to watch for yourself! No spoilers!) Both my husband and I were pleased that the film was very pro-Constitution without being preachy or pushy. As a family who is also very pro-Constitution were appreciated that it had no subliminal overtones. Everything is present in a more matter-of-fact delivery.

Due to its family friendly nature ( we only spotted two questionable word choices), I’d say it’s a film for late-elementary/early junior high students- say 4th-6th grades. Homeschoolers could add it to Government lessons while still remaining confident that students are learning. Seeing, physically where the Founding Fathers got the idea to write it as well as real-life, scenarios where the Constitution is used, will help students make the connections as to the document’s relevance. This is especially important seeing that many of today’s curriculum’s are ‘glossing’ over its importance.

If viewers are simply history buffs, then they’ll love Ben and his humor. Regardless, I would recommend adding it to your viewing library. It’s an investment that can be used as reference or to have a family movie afternoon as we did.
‘In Search of Liberty’ was released on 8/29/17.

*Pic belongs solely to the film’s makers & authorized persons. We received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

EASY Ways to Encourage Your Teen To Read

It’s hard to compete with Snap Chat, Instagram & Facebook. Written word has taken a far backseat. But, with school having started or starting soon, apps and electronics need to be shelved. It used to be that public figures sang the praises of reading, but we don’t hear much anymore. Ben Carson has applauded his mother for making him read- a lot- and even demanding he write a book report for every book he read. It’s hard to argue with a neurosurgeon’s logic!

If you’re the parent of a teen or preteen, you know the struggle is real. Once in a blue moon, you find a child who loves to read. Otherwise, it’s like pulling teeth. How do we encourage without being a nag? Here are a few simple ways to do it.

Do you read? Lead by example. When is the last time your son or daughter saw you read? In our house, my youngest knows that bedtime for Mom means she’s reading. My Kindle is never far. He physically sees me reading.

What are you reading? If you’ve read something lately that really excited you, whether it was a newspaper article, digital magazine or book, tell them about it! Recently, I thought my favorite book series was ending. I was legitimately upset. During lunch, I told our son about it. This launched into an entire conversation over what the series was about, why I liked it, and so on. Impart onto them why you prefer a specific genre. If possible, let them see some of the book. Share it.

What is their favorite movie? Chances are, it was a book first. I purposely watch the ending credits of movies just to see if it says ‘based on a book by’. Kids are often blown away to learn movies like ‘Jaws’, ‘Jurassic Park’ and more all started as written word. If they like the movies, perhaps they’ll want to discover its origins. Maybe you’ll be surprised too. Do a Goggle search of a show or movie you love to see if it was a book first, too.

Never assume you already know what they’ll like. Having 3 sons has taught me that I never knew nearly as much as I ever thought I did! I never thought our youngest would like non-fiction. To me, non-fiction is a research tool or read specifically for a reason. However, he seems to prefer actual events and knowledge gained from true stories and books that teach him things. Since he has decided to go into ministry as a profession, he has chosen to read books targeted to ministry and Christ. Recently, a youth leader suggested that the kids read a specific book about being a youth leader. He read it straight through! I was amazed. Now, I have a better understanding of what he wants to read.

Behold the power of peers! What are their friends reading? One of the reasons book series such as Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid are so popular is word of mouth. Find out what other students frequently check out of the library (ask the librarian!) or ask your kids. We all know how powerful peer influence can be. Use it for the good!

What are they into? Have a computer/tech fanatic? Do a search for biographies of people like Steve Jobs. Sports books are easy to find. There seems to be a different one daily. Don’t limit it to just fiction. A budding basketball star may be encouraged by books about Christian players. Remember Tim Tebow? He was homeschooled AND he has had a number of books written about him.

Never give up! If you find it frustrating and nothing seems to help them want to read, stick with subtle hints and leave books in plain sight. Sometimes seeing a book that might interest them is enough to pick it up. Keep encouraging them. If you care about it, they will too.