The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews
|With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.||
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Tess Hamre and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!
Bethany House Publishers Review by Diane Wheeler and 3 morewww.bethanyhouse.com
Money Doesn't Grow on Trees
By Ellie Kay
Once upon a time, there was a handsome young man and a lovely young lady. They were having a summer picnic at a beautiful beach, complete with a stunning sunset and crashing waves. The evening was the moment the young man had planned for months. "Will you marry me?" he asked, full of anticipation of her agreeing to be his bride. Violins played in the background as she said, "Yes!" But, alas, they came to a screeching halt as his fair princess answered, "Um, well, you better know my credit card balance first!"
I wish this was not how John and I started our engagement, but yes, it was the Wheelers on that romantic beach. We have come a long way in almost 17 years, but not without a lot of hard work and discipline. How nice it would have been if I had learned the basics of financial management and frugality before we married.
Now that we have our own children, we are determined to provide them with skills and convictions about financial responsibility. That is why I was delighted, thrilled, and relieved to find Ellie Kay's book, Money Doesn't Grow on Trees. In 12 chapters, Ellie covers delayed gratification, allowances, budgeting, saving, work ethics, credit and debt, and giving. She discusses seeing through sales pitches, preparing children to live on their own, games and activities to help learning, and ideas for children to earn their own money. Woven throughout are stories and examples that made me burst with laughter. Ellie Kay really has an eye for the humorous things that happen in her life and there have been plenty. She does, however, have a real no-nonsense attitude about finances, and that is just what many of us need!
The best recommendation for Money Doesn't Grow on Trees comes from the forward, written by Ellie's son Daniel. He says, "With my mom's book, not only can you get some good prices and rad deals but you can make other people feel good, too. That's what it's all about." That is what Mom does.
If you are like the Wheelers and need help in the area of teaching financial skills and goals to your children, I recommend Money Doesn't Grow on Trees. It will provide you with great ideas and a lot of laughs. Just think, maybe your daughter will be able to accept a marriage proposal without considering her credit card balance!
-- Product Review by: Diane Wheeler, Senior Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
Here's more Bethany House reviews!
If you are searching for great Christian fiction for all ages, the perfect resource for a Bible study, or even for Christian educational supplements to use in your homeschool classroom, chances are Bethany House has what you're looking for!
I was delighted when I found out that every time I purchase a Bethany House book, I am also helping to support the training and sending of evangelical missionaries all over the world!
As with all publishing houses, of course, discernment is ultimately left to individuals to test any work alongside their own beliefs and convictions. And at TOS, we pledge to give honest reviews in accordance with our own Mission Statement. Click here to view.
We found a lot of great things from Bethany House. And for some great choices this upcoming school year, here are a few of our favorites.
The Promise of Zion series
By Robert Elmer
My eldest daughter is an avid reader, so I am always searching for a series that she can dive into, without having to worry about possible negative influences from the characters (even with some Christian titles) about which she is reading. And while I am thrilled to have a teenager who would rather read than lounge in front of the TV, I am still concerned about too much time spent in "fluff" books, which are certainly great fun to read, but do nothing truly beneficial for the mind and spirit in the long run. So, I was beside myself with glee to come across The Promise of Zion Series.
The Promise of Zion Series, by Robert Elmer, offers, above and beyond, the best choice for young adult fiction literature that I have ever come across. Book I, Promise Breaker, is a fast-paced, exhilarating work simply immersed in the true-life, historical saga of the Jewish people during 1947 as they struggled to become a State after World War II.
This series follows the riveting lives of two young teenagers, and their different viewpoints of the volatile times in which they lived. Dov is a young Jewish boy searching desperately for the family he lost in his city that is being shredded to pieces. Emily is a young, spoiled British girl whose father is a Major who has been employed to keep the cheeky Jews under control. The characters are wonderfully written and based on real people and actual events. It was hard to put down!
The Promise of Zion Series is similar to the Adult Historical Fiction series, The Zion Chronicles, by Bodie Thoene (also put out by Bethany House), which I read years ago. It was actually life changing for me, as I "saw" the amazing, real life struggles the Jewish people underwent during 1947, in an entirely feasible and understandable context. I am hoping that The Promise of Zion Series will have the same affect on my daughter. I believe it will. She polished off the first book and absolutely climbed the walls with anticipation until I brought home Book 2, Peace Rebel.
Lastly, considering the everyday, front-page news that we are presently watching play out between the Jews and Palestinians, this is the perfect time and open opportunity to teach the background and deep-rooted history in a way that is true, understandable, and at the "heart-level." The Promise of Zion does an incredible job of doing exactly that. This is a truly worthwhile series.
Fins, Feathers and Faith
By William L. Coleman
Finally! A "family" Bible study that can be used for the whole family! This can be hard to find for those of us who have larger families, or for those who have a wide age-span between children. William L. Coleman has done a brilliant job of putting together short, high-interest chapters filled with amazing and fun facts about animals and nature - like "Monkeys in a Hot Tub," or "The Pincrusher" (all about porcupines) - in a way that ultimately glorifies the Creator and ties into daily Christian living.
We have loved going through this delightful book. Though it serves incredibly well as a supplemental science resource, it has become our primary Bible Study Lesson Book. Each chapter uses parallels in nature to introduce Biblical concepts, character training, and faith building messages, which have been relevant for both our five-year-old and teenager alike! Each chapter ends with a Bible verse that corresponds to the lesson, and includes comprehension questions that cover scientific aspects, and critical thinking questions that are very interactive, and encourage the reader/listener to set their minds on the things of God, apply themselves to be godly in all situations, and to appreciate the wonders our Lord has created.
I particularly enjoyed this book because it is written in a gentle, straightforward manner, and does not condescend, or present itself in a fashion that panders to the "cool-and-hip-kid generation," which, personally, drives me nuts.
Fins, Feathers and Faith will make a truly beneficial addition to any Christian homeschool library. My entire family loves it! Nicely done, Mr. Coleman. I hope to see more of your wonderful work in the future!
Look What You Made, God
By Elspeth Campbell Murphy
How do you get a one-and-a-half-year old to sit and stay still?
I was dumbfounded when my baby, Geoffy, sat next to me with his hands folded in his lap, and was wide-eyed with curiosity for the entire reading of the very sweet children's book, Look What You Made, God. I figured it must have been a fluke, but incredibly, time and time again, when I've pulled out this book, Geoffy races to the couch and pats/pounds the cushion next to him for me to "sit and read!" and gets offended if any page gets missed (it's like he's got them memorized - it's weird and eerie!).
Look What You Made, God, is a short book filled with darling, catchy poems, which glorify God with everyday examples in the world He's made. The selections use illustrations from every season (great idea!), like the poem, Flower Beds: "Today we planted tulips, God. I told them, Don't worry about a thing. Just settle down for a nice, long nap. And God will call you when it's spring. Isn't that precious? The best part of this book is that each poem correlates with a Bible verse, which is written out next to it. The bible verse for Flower Beds is, Luke 12.27: "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." The illustrations, by Jim Lewis, also make this book an absolute delight.
This will definitely be what I use for future baby shower gift baskets, or for birthday presents for the "little" friends we have. Perfect choice for a great, God-centered, reader! And excellent for busy-babies!
Be sure and check back regularly as we feature other great finds from Bethany House!
-- Product Review by: Jenefer Igarashi, Senior Editor, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
by Jonni McCoy
Eating is something that happens way too often in my home. I have five children, and three of them are boys that promise to stretch my ideas of frugal eating to the extreme in the years to come. If a favorite meal is served, the amount consumed in one sitting is staggering, and none of the children are even official teenagers yet. I know that my learning curve will grow in the next 10 years, and that serves as a major motivation for finding inexpensive recipes. Another factor is that I often use leftover money from the food budget to buy books. In my book-aholic mind, that reads, "The less we spend on food, the more books we have." But, when I look at recipes in popular cookbooks, I am often left to wonder where I can find practical, kid-friendly recipes that won't kill the budget. They are hard to come by.
Jonni McCoy, author of Miserly Moms, has just the book for me. Miserly Meals is not only filled with great recipes, but each recipe includes the cost-per-serving, a nutritional analysis, and kitchen tips. There are plenty of recipes that I would be willing to serve to company, too. This is not just bean soup and cheap casseroles. There are artichoke appetizers, Egg Drop Soup, yummy salads, Tandoori Chicken, several vegetarian main dishes, and a great variety of bread and muffins. Some of my favorite chapters include mixes to make yourself, and The Twelve Days of Turkey, a great compliment to post-Thanksgiving.
For specific shopping tips, you will want to read Jonni's book, Miserly Moms. Those tips, combined with the recipes in Miserly Meals, can help all of us to not be victims in the grocery checkout line.
Eating is essential, but going broke in the process is optional. I look forward to saving more on the food budget - maybe enough to buy a bookshelf for all those books I am buying with the extra food money!
--Product Review by: Diane Wheeler, Senior Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
The Trailblazer Books and Girls Only
Bethany House Publishers is the publishing home of Dave & Neta Jackson, authors of the exciting Trailblazer Books series. They are also the home of other popular youth authors, such as Beverly Lewis.
The Trailblazer Books are adventure stories that introduce young readers to Christian heroes of the past. The recommended age range is from eight to 12. Our church library and our home school support library are well stocked with these books. They are immensely popular with home schoolers who love a literature-based approach to history and who seek a plain-old good read! I had a chance to look at their stories of George Muller and Hudson Taylor. The life stories of the Christian heroes were skillfully woven into a story told from the point of view of a person who might have witnessed the events first-hand. They are well written and engaging. I can understand their popularity! The George Muller book, The Bandit of Ashley Downs, came with a separate curriculum guide. This contained seven meaty lessons including historical information, vocabulary, discussion questions, and suggested activities. There is enough here to keep your young scholar reading and exploring for a few weeks, or a few months.
Beverly Lewis has written a series for girls published by Bethany House called Girls Only (GO). I looked at Star Status, the story of a girl facing the final ski race of the season. Her desire to focus solely on her performance in the race becomes muddied by everyday life - her concerns about the other members of the Girls Only Club, her church and youth group, her absent father. Strongly and steadily, though the angst of a young girl's life, comes the message that she must first bring her cares and concerns to God, who will help her to win life's race gracefully. Eight titles are available in the Girls Only series. Beverly Lewis is also the author of the SummerHill Secrets series and the Holly's Heart series. She is an author you can trust the minds and hearts of your precious daughter's to read and enjoy.
-- Product Review by: Christine Field, Senior Correspondent, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
More on Trailblazer Books:
The Trailblazer Series are wonderfully written books that bring Christian Heroes of the Past to life. These adventuresome and exciting books are historical fiction, which keep you on the edge of your seat. But what makes these books so special and incredible is that most of the Characters and events are true! I especially loved the book, "Quest for the Lost Prince" (Samuel Morris). It is all about a man who, despite incredibly hard circumstances, became a great missionary and led many to Christ.
The Trailblazer Books introduces young readers to famous missionaries and remarkable Christians such as: John Bunyan, Mary Slessor, William and Catherine Booth, William Bradford, Amy Carmichael, Martin Luther, Hudson Taylor, and so many more! I have enjoyed reading these books, and they have been placed - easily - near the top of my "favorite books" chart. I start a new book the same day I finish the last! I can't put them down (I sometimes get in trouble for it)!
At the end of every book is a short biography on the missionary on whom the book is based. I like this because it introduces me to who these people really were, what they were like, or who their role models, or "heroes" have been. These books are encouraging because they show how one person can make such a difference for God. I have always wanted to be a missionary, and the Trailblazer books show how so many have been able to do it, and how God has used them even when things or circumstances seemed impossible.
I highly recommend the Trailblazer Books. On the back of these books, it says that they are intended for kids between the ages of 8-12. But I am close to 13 and a half and I plan to read these forever (someday maybe even to my kids, but that'll be a while)!
Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson for hours of great reading and encouragement!
-- Product Review by: Coie Igarashi, age 13, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine
Woman of Faith Series
Please note: "Watch your life and doctrine closely, persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" 1 Timothy 5:16.
I was excited to review the Women of Faith Series, because I am always searching for stories of great women who can be looked up to as examples, that will encourage my daughters, and myself, in our faith. I was delighted to hand one of my girls the biography on Joni Erickson Tada - such a godly example! My daughter simply devoured the book, and was touched by the life of this woman. Susanna Wesley is another amazing example represented, as well as Corrie ten Boom and Florence Nightingale.
I was horrified, however, when I found the edited autobiography of Madame Jeanne-Marie Guyon, included as one of Bethany House Publishers "Woman of Faith." I was under the impression that these were strictly women of the Christian faith. I am simply baffled that a woman like Guyon could be represented among true Christian believers. If you don't know who Madame Jeanne-Marie Guyon is, you are probably not alone. This is why I believe offering this book is not only irresponsible, but dangerous as well. The following quotes are taken from G. Richard Fisher's article, with permission from Personal Freedom Outreach:
Guyon's beliefs do not even come close to biblical Christianity. What she proposes is sheer essence mysticism and Catholicism mutated into even more horrible errors'. Interspersed into Guyon's emotional highs were freakish lows where she would see horrible faces in blueish light, and for a time experienced poltergeistic activity. If this was not scrambled brain chemistry from sleep loss, it was occultic. "Mysticism is a dead-end, and cannot be supported by Scripture. Meditation of the true biblical kind is not mindless and self-centered, but focused on God, His works, and His ways (Psalm 1, Joshua 1:18." Even if [Christian] publishers would want to issue books like this for historical purposes, there should be loud disclaimers in the preface for the sake of the untaught and the novice.
Click here (http://www.pfo.org/mguyon.htm) for the full article by G. Richard Fisher that appears on the Personal Freedom Outreach website. Unfortunately, there is no warning offered in the preface from Bethany House on this title.
While I am thankful for most of the wonderful and worthwhile godly Women of Faith titles that Bethany House offers on Christian women, I am really disappointed to find this book among them. I strongly caution parents to diligently examine the Women of Faith titles you may be considering, as one is unable to safely assume that all of them line up with Christian Orthodoxy. Bottom line - an overall fine series, but not necessarily one you can simply "grab a book from" with confidence to offer your daughters for godly examples of Biblically Christian women.
Note from Publisher: We at TOS Magazine are dedicated to providing honest, objective reviews for our readers. We must state that with Bethany House, although much of what they offer is lovely and godly, there are some items that we would have to caution parents strongly against. TOS reviews a number of faith based and secular companies. Ones that are secular (like Saxon Math for instance) are not "watched" as closely as our faith-based representatives are. Why? Because those who claim Christ and who teach on the precious gift of salvation in their products/curricula, must perpetuate the true Gospel! Bethany, for the most part, does this. It is our hope that publishing houses that claim Christ will take great measures in ensuring that the essentials of the Christian faith are present.