Posted in Book Reviews, Homeschooling

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: There’s a Monkey In My Backpack!: Don M. Winn

SYNOPSIS:Did you know? One in five children in the United States has a learning difficulty such as dyslexia or ADHD. These challenges can make children feel inadequate, misunderstood, and frustrated in and out of the classroom, yet – if harnessed correctly – they can also be viewed as beneficial and consequently empower the kids who live with them.
In the clever and truly helpful new book There’s a Monkey in My Backpack! (September 2019), Winn explores how learning difficulties affect kids in a unique way that helps children and those who care for them to better understand their challenges. Winn writes from his personal experience as a lifelong dyslexic reader and writer.
There’s a Monkey in My Backpack! follows Anna, a third-grade student who has an unusual companion – a monkey in her backpack! Not everyone can see him, but he causes a whole lot of trouble for Anna by mixing up her spelling letters, distracting her in class, and making it hard for her to keep up with her schoolwork. He causes so many problems for Anna that she wonders if she will ever make it to the end of third grade with the other children. But she learns that her troublesome monkey can also be a big help to her if she learns to understand, accept, and appreciate her unique situation.

MY THOUGHTS: Written for the elementary school reader, ‘There’s A Monkey’ offers a unique perspective to learning disabilities. Instead of an invisible thing, the author portrays the issue as a physical thing that can be handled, seen, and communicated with. Third grader, Anna, our heroine, is given two choices: either fight the monkey or accept and deal with his antics. By showing children that they can regain control of their actions and learning path, Mr. Winn offers them options they may not have considered. It’s empowering.

Illustrator Dave Allred has done a wonderful job depicting Anna and her monkey. The colorful pictures will keep younger readers engaged while giving a great visual to older readers. This book may not be geared toward every child, but I believe it will be helpful to those who’ve been recently diagnosed, don’t understand their diagnosis or have a sibling with learning disabilities. These kids have a lot on their plates so anything we can do to help them is a plus.

Encouraging and engaging, I give it a 3 star rating.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Don M. Winn is a multiple award-winning children’s author of thirteen picture books and the Sir Kaye the Boy Knight® series of novels for independent readers. As a dyslexia advocate and a dyslexic himself, he frequently addresses parents and educators on how to maximize the value of shared reading time and how to help dyslexic and other struggling readers to learn to love to read. Winn lives and writes in Round Rock, Texas.
In addition to his latest picture book, Winn’s first nonfiction book, Raising a Child with Dyslexia: What Every Parent Needs to Know is forthcoming this fall. In October, Winn will be the keynote speaker at the Central Texas Dyslexia Conference.
Find out more at

I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. Pic & synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.

Posted in Book Reviews, Homeschooling

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Wilderness: Earth’s Amazing Habitats by Mia Cassany

This captivating book brings the natural world into sharp focus. Beautifully colored and intricately detailed illustrations depict places as exotic and wide-ranging as Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba National Park, Russia’s Sikhote-Alin mountain range, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka, Daintree National Park in Australia, the Mexican desert, and China’s bamboo forests. The animals that live in these remote places, cleverly hidden in the trees, plants, and flowers, create a marvelous challenge for young readers to find and identify. Each spread contains more than twenty different species including birds, snakes, frogs, iguanas, leopards, tigers, gorillas, pandas, and wolves. The back of the book is filled with additional information about the animals and their habitats. Young readers will find much to discover, explore, and learn in this absorbing celebration of our planet and the amazing creatures we share it with.

MY THOUGHTS: This is an absolute must-have for homeschool classrooms. Each page contains intricate detail of animals, habitats, and geography. It is one of those nonfiction books which can be used for multiple classes: geography, science, and Language Arts. It could also be utilized for an incredible book report.
I was amazed at the level of information that our author packed into each paragraph. In fact, I felt ready for Jeopardy after I finished it!

Marcus Navarro has done an exquisite job with the pictures, allowing the specific animals to ‘come to life’ from the pages. I enjoyed the little smiles on some of their faces. While showcasing nature’s beauty, the illustrations don’t distract from the point of the book. They enhance it.

I appreciate that the author took time to explain larger, more complex terms. She also was careful to explain how & why the endangered species came to be endangered while not scaring younger readers. She makes the point without being graphic. All in all, it’s a brilliantly done book. I give it 5 stars with a high recommendation.
Illustrated by Marcos Navarro (ISBN: 978-3791373720; April 2019; Ages 6-9; Hardcover $19.95; 48 pages)

MIA CASSANY is the author of numerous books for children including Atlas of Imaginary Places and Great Ports of the World (both by Prestel). She is the co-founder of Mosquito Books. She lives in Barcelona, Spain.

MARCUS NAVARRO is an illustrator living in Spain. This is his first book.


Posted in Homeschooling

Guest Post: ‘Help to Make the Right Choice in a College Counselor’

The following is a guest post from Laurie Kopp Weingarten, CEP.

Private counselor, educational consultant, college coach, IEC, Certified Educational Planner – these are all terms used to describe an expert who helps high school students prepare for and apply to college.

But, how many of these so called “experts” really know their stuff?

“A very small percentage,” said Laurie Kopp Weingarten, CEP, a graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, who then went on to receive her MBA at Harvard Business School. “In fact, only 20% of self-proclaimed college counselors are currently associated with an industry-related professional organization.”

Weingarten, who was awarded her CEP (Certified Educational Planner) by the American Institute of Certified Educational Planners (AICEP) is one of the founders and Director of College Admission Counseling for One-Stop College Counseling. She warns parents searching for a reputable college counselor for their son or daughter to ask questions – the right questions – in order to know that they have chosen a counselor who is certified, experienced, and knows the intricate details of the college application process.

“Applying to colleges today is far more competitive than it ever was,” said Weingarten, whose children were both accepted to Ivy League schools. “Parents and students need the advice and direction of someone who is up to date with the admissions process and can successfully navigate in their child’s best interest, she adds. “But, it’s not about getting into an Ivy League university; it’s about attending a school where the student thrives and is happy – a school that is best suited for this teen,” she continues. “And, beware of any college consultants who claim they can guarantee admission into a particular school. There is no such thing as a guarantee unless there is a 100% acceptance rate!”

So, what are the questions that parents need to ask a potential college counselor?
· Are you a Certified Educational Planner?
· Are you affiliated with any well-established professional organizations?
· Do you visit colleges? If so, how often?
· Do you attend conferences and other training to stay current with trends and changes being made with regard to college admissions?
· How do you help with college essays? (Stay away from anyone who will write them for your student!)
· How long have you been in this business and how many students have you advised?
· How do you prep students for their college interviews?
· How do you create a balanced list with reach, target and likely schools?
· What is your success rate for getting students into their “dream” schools?
· Do you help students select schools that are affordable?
· Are you familiar with which colleges award student scholarships?
· How do you help select the colleges that are the best fit?

Posted in Homeschooling

Geometry Drama

I had to give an inspirational speech this morning. It was one any movie, football coach would’ve been proud of giving. It wasn’t in front of a crowd or a bunch of VIPs. No, my speech had an audience of 1- my son.

Math is the thorn in my side, the cloud on my sunny day, the rain on my parade. I hate it. No, I loathe it. Elementary school math is cake! Give me the times tables any day. I knew geometry was coming. As soon as sophomore year began, I got a tremendous case of anxiety. Full disclosure: I passed the class myself, with a ‘D’. True story.

My son has always been a good student. He’s articulate and conscientious. Math has never been his forte, but he’s been a basic ‘B’ student. That is: until this year. Yesterday, my brave little soldier gave up. He threw up his hands and said he couldn’t do it. He’d checked out. As a parent, that’s the very last thing you want to hear.

So, this morning, he started his pity party and confessed that he felt stupid. I had enough. He may be struggling but he is definitely NOT stupid. So, I had to deliver an epic speech. I thank the Holy Spirit for providing the words. I explained to him that God has a purpose for him well beyond geometry. I reminded him that his goal is to go to college and become a youth minister.

I reminded him that he mustn’t give up. Giving up is a slippery slope. Once you do, it becomes a cycle of throwing in the towel when things stink. I don’t want him to venture into those waters. I didn’t raise a quitter. So, Mommy speech complete, we went online and found some quality tutorials.

Now, we know it won’t be easy and we know it’s going to be a fight. But, we are NOT giving up. Eventually, the year will end and geometry will be behind us. Hopefully, we’re going to come out on top. I’d love to see him excel at it and become this super, geometry whiz. But, I know that even if we don’t excel or fly through that he’s going to be ok. He will go on to serve the Lord in ministry. He will not quit because the Lord & I won’t let him.

Posted in Homeschooling, Product Reviews- DVDs

#Goosebumps2 #Sponsored Gummy Bear Slime Recipe, Science Experiments, Bonus Clips and More

Slappy New Year! GOOSEBUMPS 2 is now available on Digital and arrives on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD on January 15th from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment! Below, please enjoy a batch of thrilling science experiments that you should try with your kids at home, as well as a few awesome bonus features clips!!!
Click on Slappy’s Pic (above) to watch “BONUS CLIP: Slappy-oke: Take Me Out Of The Manuscript” !

Check back for a review & info about Goosebumps 2!

Posted in Book Reviews, Homeschool Lessons, Homeschooling

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: C is for Chickasaw: Wiley Barnes

SYNOPSIS: The award-winning children’s book C is for Chickasaw by Wiley Barnes walks children of all ages through the letters of the alphabet as it teaches elements of Chickasaw history, language, and culture. Each topic is introduced by two lines of rhyming verse, followed by additional information explaining its place or importance in Chickasaw culture.
Colorful illustrations familiarize readers with the style of Southeastern Native American art, and a question and activity section in the back provides a springboard for further discussion.
The C is for Chickasaw children’s book can be paired with its companion learning tools, the C is for Chickasaw app and the recently released C is for Chickasaw coloring book, to provide additional hours of fun while learning about Chickasaw language and culture
AUTHOR INFO: Wiley Barnes, Chickasaw, holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Oklahoma State University. He has spent nearly eighteen years forging a career in publishing, writing, printing, and graphic design, with the last eleven years at the Chickasaw Nation. During that time he has had the pleasure of working on a number of projects that promote Chickasaw culture and celebrate Chickasaw people. Barnes lives in Ada, Oklahoma, with his wife and two children.

MY THOUGHTS: What an absolutely fabulous idea! Wiley Barnes has brought children a way to learn Native American History quickly, efficiently and happily. Obviously, parents/educators know how much elementary age children love books that have a pattern or a rhythm. ‘C is for Chickasaw’ brings them this beloved way reading with a twist. While reinforcing their knowledge of the alphabet and including Native American history, you’re combining two classes in one great book. Adding the coloring book brings art into the mix while they’re re-reading the story! Brilliant!

I completely understand why it is an award winner. The colorful images that are on each page will catch even the youngest readers’ attention. Older, independent readers can benefit from the extra, more detailed text. The easy-to-follow, rhymes will allow for memorization. The knowledge that young readers will gain from ‘C is for Chickasaw’ is priceless. History books just don’t offer these same important and under-taught details. I give it 5 stars and highly recommend adding it to your homeschool library!
Further info can be found here.
*I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
**Pic & synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.

Posted in Arts/Crafts/Hobbies, Book Reviews, Homeschool Lessons, Homeschooling

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art: Hudson Talbott

SYNOPSIS: The story of an immigrant from England who arrived in America 200 years ago and – through his passion for art, landscape, and the Hudson River Valley and the Catskills – came to define America’s visual identity and set in motion an artistic legacy that continues to impact art and culture to this day. A major international exhibition of Cole’s work, organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is now on view at the National Gallery, London.

Thomas Cole pictured for the world an America that would become known as “America the Beautiful.” Until then, there was not a clear succinct image of our country. In the process, he became a pioneering advocate for environmentalism, raising the alarm over industrial destruction of our landscape long before there was an environmental movement.

Hudson Talbott has written and/or illustrated more than 25 books, including Newbury Honor Book Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson, ALA Notable Book Leonardo’s Horse by Jean Fritz, and We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, adapted into an animated film by Steven Spielberg, starring the voices of John Goodman, Jay Leno, and Martin Short, among others.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hudson Talbott is a resident of the Hudson Valley and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, NY. In many ways, Picturing America is a companion book to Talbott’s River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River, which was named the New York State Children’s Book of the Year in 2009.

MY THOUGHTS: There is so much to love about this book! For homeschoolers, this book touches on multiple classes. Art (of Course), geography, & history are all part of Thomas Cole’s story. Students will also experience a biography about an immigrant who worked hard for his success. Those who are looking to get into a career in art or excel in the subject will find Mr. Cole’s story inspiring and worth their time.

Younger students will marvel at the stunning pictures. Mr. Cole was beyond talented. His vision of American is one worth imitating. He found it beautiful and desired for the landscape to remain rural. This is the perfect resource to discuss the Industrial Revolution, immigration, and art history.

Brick-and-mortar students will definitely benefit from having a seldom discussed artist’s biography. It would be a unique book report and/or history project. Even parents/guardians will love this book. From the pictures to the story itself, this book is phenomenal and gets 5 stars from me.

*I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

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