Britfield & the Lost Crown {a mid grade mystery novel review}

 

Britfield and the Lost Crown- a new favorite mid grade novel

Our nightly family read aloud for the last several weeks has been the wonderful adventure novel, Britfield & the Lost Crown written by C.R. Stewart. This 394 page mystery begins at Weatherly, an orphanage run by abusive adults. Here, Tom and Sarah, along with every other girl and boy resident, are labor workers with no freedoms, no books, no education. After outwitting the owners and employees of Weatherly, Tom and Sarah escape their captors; but the clue Tom found about his past is sending them on a truly exciting adventure.

With characters the whole family will enjoy, on the-edge-of-your-seat mystery, and action packed adventure, this novel is going to be a family favorite for years to come! (My children are already begging for more books in the series!)

Using Britfield & the Lost Crown in our Homeschool

As a mama, my favorite part of the book is not only how well written it is (adventure, suspense, excitement, endearing characters), but the vocabulary and settings of the storyline. The vocabulary used is unsurpassed for the 9-12 age group! We even had to look up a few words during our bedtime read alouds. So many aspects, vocabulary and setting included, make this a wonderful read aloud for history studies or unit studies.

Britfield is designed to be taught in schools and homeschool groups, even offering a thorough study guide covering each chapter. We have used the study guide orally, working through it as a family. I love the format of this guide, because it has a lot of room for open ended questions- what do you think trepidation means?- then offering a space for the actual dictionary definition. Vocabulary and comprehension are covered, along with a Going Deeper section that is all open ended questions.  Imagine you are in the Weatherly office and Mr. Grievous is questioning you. Would you respond like Tom? Why or why not? The vocabulary and comprehension sections are creative and vary depending on the chapter- multiple choice, matching, and cross word puzzles, to name a few!

Another favorite feature of the study guide is the Learn More with Technology- this section gives a brief synopsis of a topic, location, a map, and more, from the book to look up online. There are a few longer assignments, and a few brief ones. Of course you can go as deep into a topic as your students want.

The book itself is a thick softcover with sturdy binding. Britfield and the Lost Crown- a new favorite mid grade novel

Because it is recommended for ages 8-9 and older, as we have read through Britfield & the Lost Crown, I have kept an eye out for any language or scenes that may not be appropriate for the younger ones. My husband or I read every night with the older 3 kids (who have the same bedtime), ages almost 5, 7, and 9. The story line of the novel has kept everyone’s attention and has been easy enough to follow. There are only a few words I’ve skipped over as a personal choice- when the evil owner’s of the orphanage used some name calling, such as brat, or stupid. These are very few and far between (honestly I could’ve read it as written, but the almost 5 year old tends to be very animated, repeating anything she sees or hears in her play). So I just skipped those words.

There is also one scene, when the children arrive at Oxford after escaping where I skipped- drunken students are described walking through the courtyard. It was 1-2 sentences that I chose not to read aloud. My almost 9 year old will POUR over this book when we are done reading it as a family, and I am fine with her reading it as written. Because our crowd is a group of mixed ages, I just chose to skip.

When asked about Britfield and the Lost Crown, my oldest daughter says,

“My favorite part is when all the children overrun the orphanage when Tom and Sarah escape. I really like how exciting the story is, and I cannot wait to get to the next part to see what happens!”

My 6 year old son says,

“I like how the bad guys are trying to capture Tom and Sarah! It makes it exciting and I never know what’s going to happen. My favorite character is Tom because he’s been helping make plans, and he steers the ballon across England!”

Britfield & the Lost Crown is now a favorite read in our home! We love books, but I have never had my kids ask to keep reading every. single. night, and begging to read it themselves.

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Britfield & the Lost Crown {Reviews}
 

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Tidying Tips {with Llama Llama}

Llama Llama is back! This time, he has a big ole mess on his hands. When Mama says it is time to clean up, Llama doesn’t want to help. As any good mama would do, Mama Llama gets creative- What would it be like if she didn’t clean at all? What a mess they would live in! No space for puzzles, stinky food laying around, no clean dishes.

Cleaning Up with Llama Llama

In the latest funny and entertaining Llama Llama book from Anna Dewdney comes Llama Llama Mess, Mess, Mess. You can’t help but love and relate to little Llama and this book is no different! Our family had fun reading this one together; my 4 children realized what a disaster our home would be if we never cleaned up at all. Grab your pre-order copy HERE!

 Time to pick up all your toys!
Why is Mama making noise?
Mama says it’s cleaning day.
Llama only wants to play.

So how can we make cleaning up an easy, and sometimes fun task for the littles?

  • Make a routine- Beds made upon waking, wiping out the sink after brushing teeth, and clearing the table of dishes after breakfast. I leave a Norwex cloth for my kids to use to wipe out their sink and wipe down the bathroom counter. This is perfect for easy clean up-simply rinse and hang up- and allows for once a week washing of the Norwex cloth with my other Norwex cleaning rags.
  • After each transition throughout the day, tidy up what has been misplaced- Before going outside, leaving the house for an outing, or moving on to meal time, we look around and pick up the floor and books stacked all about. This doesn’t take long at all, and means less stress later on.
  • Every night before bed take 10-15 minutes to tidy up- everything that belongs in bedrooms, on shelves, in a basket, put it away! This is a life saver. As a homeschool mama to 4, it can be overwhelming to wake up in the morning to a house covered in chaos. Make it easy by having everyone help tidy before bed time!

Mama’s To-Do

  • We can simplify our life by doing 2 easy things- throwing away and getting rid of things! If it is broken, or missing pieces, chunk it. If it is never used, resell or rehome it. This keep the clutter knocked down and allows our families to enjoy the things they do really find joy in!
  • Wipe it down- kitchen counters, tables, and sinks take only a few minutes to wipe down and immediately look better! *aaah* I love my Norwex kitchen cloths for this job, but any good kitchen rag will do.
  • Does it bring me joy?- Sometimes as a mama, I tend to collect my own clutter … books, crafting supplies, ads, coupons, and calendars of events that I *plan* to get to. but despite my love for all things journaling, planning, and listing, it can’t ALL be done at one time. Organizing my hobbies by season helps me know what I will get to now, and what needs to wait until winter. If I know using that coupon isn’t in my budget, there’s no need to make it fit (and risk going over budget) just throw it away! More will come!
  • Turn it off- I know, it is hard to step away from messages, facebook, emails, work, and bill paying to focus on chores. BUT, if we limit the distractions now, do the work quickly and thoroughly, then there will be lots of time for the other things!

Enjoy your family! Make cleaning up easy on yourself and your kids by limiting the stuff, hand off age appropriate chores to the kids, and remember to tidy a few times a day. It can make finding joy in the mess much easier.

How do you keep on top of the clutter and mess?

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The Heart Changer- a mid grade novel {a review}

Our family (my oldest child in particular) enjoys learning through historical fiction; we have been reading a wonderful Biblical fiction book from Jarm Del Boccio, titled The Heart Changer.

The paperback is 116 pages, with a glossy cover and thick, bright white pages.
The Heart Changer opens with a poem, The Master Weaver, and closes with a beautiful note from the author.
The fictional details of a true account in the Bible bring meaning to what may have been happening to a young girl behind-the-scenes; her life story may seem almost insignificant at first glance, but The Heart Changer is a book that helps dive a little deeper to see God’s hand at work in this famous Old Testament story.

This is the story of a young Israelite girl and the heartache she endures, the losses she experiences, and the changes she goes through. Much like our every day lives, Mirriam has no idea that the Lord’s plans for her life far exceed the angst and tragedy she has endured thus far. Torn from her family during an attack and chosen to serve the family in charge of destroying her village, Mirriam must overcome these obstacles (and more) in order to fulfill God’s victorious plan for her life, and those she will impact.

We hear Mirriam’s dialogue as she talks to God, wonders about Him, his authority, and his will. We watch as her heart changes from almost rebellious against The All Powerful One (because He could have stopped everything bad from happening) to one of love, understanding, and faithfulness.

She comes to realize, through the people Jehovah has placed in her life, that He is A God that Sees.
He sees her, her family’s situation, and all along had a plan of redemption.

I will say, seeing some favorite people from the Old Testament emerge in this book was exciting!

What We Think and How We Used It

My almost 9 year old, third grade daughter read The Heart Changer front to back in the course of a day and couldn’t put it down! We talked about what Biblical fiction means, in relation to history, and fact vs fiction. She enjoyed comparing this fictional book to the Bible’s Old Testament book, used as the base of the story.

We also used the free Teacher’s Guide (provided on the book’s page) to open some discussion, and learn more about life surrounding the story. The what’s in a name activities were the most fun- we looked up the Biblical characters’ names, our family names, and the different names of God. We enjoyed finding where those names are found in Scripture, and how they’re used differently. The Teacher’s Guide offers other activities and recipes that can be made together.

This book is lovely, and has been a blessing to our family. It would make a perfect gift for a young (or old) person in your life-it is suitable for ages 7+, easy to follow the story line, and full of surprises.

 

The Heart Changer {a middle grade Biblical fiction story}

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The Heart Changer {Jarm Del Boccio, Author Reviews}
 

 

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What Kind of CAR Does a T.Rex Drive? {children’s book review}

If you have children that love dinosaurs, then here is a new summer read for your family!

What Kind of CAR Does a T.Rex Drive? by Mark Lee, illustrated by Brian Biggs is a wonderfully fun book for your littles! What kind of car would you sell to a stegosaurus? What about a pterodactyl? Uncle Otto has no idea either- but Ava and Mickey-two kids with a lot of dino knowledge, are able to help him out.

This definitely brought about a *bunch* of giggles from my youngest 3 kids, and even the 8 year old got a kick out of the T.Rex’s vehicle.

All the super fun goodies our Penguin Random House Publicity Assistant sent us gave me some great ideas for this book.

  • Use it as a book club read aloud with your homeschool co-op book club
  • Read it as part of a dinosaur unit
  • Gift it to your favorite dinosaur loving kiddo-it will be a hit!
  • Use it in a transportation unit study with elementary students

The best thing about receiving a children’s book as a gift is the reading aloud that comes with it! Reading to our children is one of the best gifts we can give them-quality time with our undivided attention, exploring new worlds together.

What Kind of CAR Does a T.Rex Drive? is a perfect addition to your home library shelf!

 

 

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Biographies in your Homeschool- C.S. Lewis with YWAM Publishing {a review}

YWAM Publishing Christian heroes

We have been reading  C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller from the Christian Heroes: Then & Now from YWAM Publishing. My 8 year old daughter has been obsessed with the Chronicles of Narnia series since she began reading them on her own at the age of 6. I knew she would really enjoy reading about C.S. Lewis and his creative process for writing the series, and his other books.

YWAM Publishing Christian Heroes Series

Along with the book, we reviewed the Unit Study Curriculum Guide-this is such a wonderful resource! More details on it below!

My daughter’s favorite part about reading this biography was learning about C.S. Lewis’s past:

I didn’t know C.S. Lewis fought in a war! I enjoyed reading about him fighting in battles. He got hit by a shell, and when he woke up he was in a battle field with his mouth half full of dirt. Then someone that was searching for injured soldiers came, rescued him, and took him to the hospital. When he was able, he wrote a letter to his family telling them he was okay, but could only lay one side and that was a treat after only laying on his back for a few weeks.

I learned that he was called Jack, and he got married late in life; she {his wife} was sick, he prayed and prayed for her that her sickness would be taken away. At the end of the book, his kidneys failed and he died. He was pretty old.

He wasn’t a christian until he grew up; when he was younger, he didn’t believe there was a God (which is wrong, mama, there is a God). And he kept a journal almost his whole life, just like me!

I appreciate that this series of living books are juicy and factual biographies, but never dry or boring. They are Christian based, focusing on good people that did great works for the Lord. This story revealed weaknesses, struggles, and the journey C.S. Lewis took in finding his faith.

One of my favorite parts of this review is the curriculum guide which we used along with reading the book. This curriculum guide makes personalizing the education of your children SO simple! The download comes with helpful guides for utilizing the unit study within a classroom, home, or small group setting. Obviously, we used it in our homeschool. =)

C.S. Lewis Unity Study Curriculum Guide

 

We used the bible verses from the guide for C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller for her copywork, and as memory work for the whole family. Bible Verse Selections from Guide

 

YWAM Publishing Christian Heroes Series

Chapter questions for this book included:

  • A vocabulary question drawn from the text and referenced to a page in the book
  • A factual question arising from the text
  • Two questions to gauge the level of a student’s comprehension
  • Two open-ended questions seeking an opinion or interpretation

I *loved* the discussion that unfolded from these questions! The deep understanding and critical thinking skills my daughter showed during this portion of using the guide astonished me. It is amazing what those little people can do when given a book!

The vocabulary words really drew on her understanding and we took this opportunity to use a dictionary- which turned into her reading the dictionary non stop for days on end, for fun… We also used these words for spelling; some had rules that were a review, while others were new to her.

The Student Explorations section of the guide is full of so many project ideas and learning opportunities:

  • essay questions
  • creative writing
  • hands on projects
  • audio visual projects
  • arts and crafts

We enjoyed doing some of the activities; collecting all our C.S. Lewis books, giving oral synopsis of each (similar to reading rainbow reviews), creating a collection of things related to the book, and utilizing ideas from the Social Studies section. This consists of:

  • Places. This section covers significant places related to the story and named in the text of the book C. S. Lewis: Master Storyteller.
  • Terms/Vocabulary. This section gives ideas for studying some of the terms used in the book.
  • Geographical Characteristics. This section contains suggestions for mapping some of the physical characteristics of the United Kingdom.
  • Conceptual Questions. This section provides the teacher with conceptual social studies questions related to the book

This unit study could be used to complete the geography, history, vocabulary, spelling, and comprehension portions of your homeschool! The projects and activities can act as extra curricular, art, and handicrafts.

There really is no limit to what you can use the YWAM Publishing books and their corresponding guides for in your learning time! I wish I could cover everything found in the guide, it is just too juicy!

Along with the unit study curriculum guide download is an overview guide for the entire series. In this guide you will find a list of each book in the series, the time period it correlates with, and the geological areas found in the book. If you are studying a specific era in history, or location in geography, this is a perfect way to match those things up and fins a heroes book that fits your unit!

We have a few more YWAM stories to read that go along with our history- Gladys Aylward and George Muller. I cannot wait to use the unit study guides for those books! We plan to continue adding these biographies into our homeschool, and will use the guides as well. I am so thankful for this amazing resource!

Connect with YWAM Publishing

Other Crew members reviewed different books and series from YWAM Publishing. Click the banner below to check them out!

 

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Poetry for the Grammar Stage with Memoria Press {a review}

Poetry for the Grammar Stage Memoria Press

My 8 year old has been using the Poetry for the Grammar Stage Set from Memoria Press and is enjoying it so much! We’ve included this in her loop studies-the independent subjects she rotates through the week- and she asks for it all the time.

Poetry for the Grammar Stage with Memoria Press

About Poetry for the Grammar Stage

We received the physical copies of books in this set, which includes:

  • Student Guide
  • Teacher Guide
  • Anthology

Poetry for the Grammar Stage is a supplemental study to your literature study. The anthology is 62 pages of poems. The student book (159 pages) is meant for 1 individual student to work through; it covers vocabulary from the poem being studied, as well as comprehension/analytical questions. These questions challenge students to think critically about the poetry they are reading. It helps them break down the imagery they are reading, and apply it to life.

The teacher guide (159 pages) includes the answers for the student book, which is good because I’d forgotten quite a bit about poetry! The beginning of the teacher’s guide tells you how to go about teaching poetry in a classroom or homeschool setting. We didn’t use this exactly as written, but it was helpful for coming up with our study plan.

Poetry for the Grammar Stage

Poetry should be shared aloud! If there is anything our family poetry tea time has taught me, it is that poetry should always be shared aloud for everyone to hear together. I had my daughter read the poem she was working on aloud to us at the table before morning work. This gave us a chance to talk about it a bit, and it allowed the littles a chance to add in their thoughts about the poem. They really enjoyed listening along and I was impressed with their thoughtful responses.

The description for this set on the Memoria Press website says these are poems students learn in their literature studies, for memorization, in their classical education program. This is a supplemental set to help students have more poetry work and understanding. Because we don’t use the Memoria Press literature studies (but they do look great!), we used the poetry in conjunction with our current curriculum. It was a great fit for my daughter! The set is meant to last through the entirety of the grammar stage, but trying to slow my girl down has been hard, just during this review period!

The works do get more difficult as you move through the book; poems like Paul Revere’s Ride, The Lady of Shalott, and The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe (he’s my favorite). She loves the poems, she really enjoys the copywork, and answering the questions! This has been one of her favorite loop activities over the last few weeks; and I expect she will continue loving it through these grammar stage years. I am looking forward to memorizing the rest of the poems together!

We will continue adding in the poetry in our morning basket together as a family, memorizing the poems, discussing, and then letting my oldest work through the student book during her independent loops. I may also get a second student book in the fall for my son’s independent work (how is it he will be 7?!). I really like how well this fits into our homeschool, how thorough the program is without being “too much,” and the structure it gives us in learning new poetry together!

Connect with Memoria Press

 

Click the banner below to read more reviews from the Crew- we reviewed Poetry for the Grammar Stage but other Crew members reviewed different Memoria Press programs!

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Listicle: Favorite Christmas books

Winter Wonderland Blogger Campaign

This is one of our favorite times of the year as a family. While the world is going full speed ahead with over commitment, stressful obligations, and an abundance of distracting noise, our family likes to take this opportunity to be home, in a relaxed environment with close friends, and focus on the blessings we have already been given.

Part of that time together as a family is spent playing games, enjoying movie nights, and of course … reading good books.  There are few things more enjoyable than hot cider, a bowl of popcorn, and some fun family time enjoying each other in all our craziness!

Here are our top Christmas Books this year, a few classics, and a few newbies (to our home):

  • The (illustrated) Narnia Series– We are reading The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe this December as a family, and I am *loving* it. I haven’t read C.S. Lewis since I was a child, and I honestly did not fall in love with them (mandatory reading in middle school). But my 8 year old has multiple copies, all falling a part, of each Narnia book, and has read them tens upon tens of times. So … I felt like we should try a one for Christmas time as a family. It has not disappointed!

  • A Christmas Wish for Corduroy This was sent to me in a precious Christmas package from my PRH publicity agent (along with an ornament and hot chocolate, y’all!) and let me tell you, she chose a perfect set for our family. This sweet story will take your  family back to the beginning; back to Corduroy’s first wish of becoming a special child’s toy. Each distinguishable thing about Corduroy makes him special, much like each person in our family, and those specials things are exactly what Lisa loves about him. Your family will find the classic Corduroy illustrations and a sweet story to inspire hope, perseverance, and love this Christmas season.
  • Corduroy Takes a Bow- The second title in my Christmas gift package was Corduroy Takes a Bow; during the time of year when we are all going to the theatre for ballets, Christmas Pageants, and plays, this is a perfect way to get children interested in the goings-on behind the scenes of their favorite show. Everyone loves Corduroy and his shenanigans, this sweet story is no different! We added both of the Corduroy titles to our Christmas book opening for the month of December and my kids have so enjoyed them.

  • The Christmas Story– Y’all. Come one now, Eloise Wilkin? Always. The answer is always. Her illustrations are just lovely and I haven’t found a single book with her name on the cover that isn’t just perfect.

A few more favorite titles:

    

This entry was posted in books.

365 Devotional Journals with Ellie Claire

Ellie Claire Christian Books and More

I am so thankful for the beautiful products Ellie Claire has sent me to review- Y’all, if you love to journal, know someone that does, or want to find a starting place- this is it! (Check out my video below for an in depth flip through of each journal.)

3 Ellie Claire 365 devotionals image

These devotionals are absolutely delicious! Each one has a cover to feast your eyes upon, and are filled with scripture and quotes that will motivate and invigorate all, from young to old!

Each book would make a perfect gift for a young lady to begin devotional journaling, and would be great grandma gifts (think of grandma journaling to her grandkids in these). In each you will find a color coordinated ribbon bookmark, thick, crisp white lined pages for writing, and sturdy binding. Each devotional features artworks coordinating with its theme/cover artwork.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus is a dated (beginning January 1st), daily devotional filled with scripture and prayer to help you stay focused on Him through the full day to day life we all lead. These are perfect to begin each morning with a devotion and Jesus, to help get our hearts ready for serving those we love. There is plenty of room for recording your thoughts and prayers on the lined pages. Each devotional in this book begins with a line of Christian hymn and ends with scripture. The devotion in paragraph form brings both the hymn and the scripture into more focus/meaning for the reader and reminds us of all Jesus’s glory using scripture as an example.

Inside Page of Turn Your Eyes

Peace Begins with Me is also a dated devotional, beginning each day with scripture, and a life-applicable devotion. The day’s page ends with a verse of scripture. Ellie Claire describes this devotional with this:

Our peace affects others. And the Giver of peace awaits to give us the gift that can change our world. It begins with a prayer. It begins with me.

How true is this?! This summer I felt everything spiraling out of control-our home, the farm, grieving a huge loss, our hectic schedule of commitments. And you know what happened? I broke down, and asked God to give me peace; I asked Him to show me how to bring peace back to our family, to my mind, to our day to day life. And he delivered! It wasn’t what I expected, but things turned around greatly when I seeked Him for my personal peace and understanding. When life feels out of control, He is the only one that can take the reigns and deliver peace.

This devotional is full of every day, practical life application and prayer to get us through those times of chaos. If anything will help give you quiet in the chaos, this devotional will!

The Earth Is the Lord’s, and Everything In It: 365-Day Devotional Journal points to all of God’s glory in the natural world around us. Your favorite science, nature, and animal lover will adore this journal. Filled with stories and facts that point to God’s hand in creation and the natural world, this devotional begins each day with scripture, and ends it with prayer. The lined pages have ample room for journaling thoughts, prayers, and even doodles and sketches. Adding borders and quotes that go with the peacock and floral theme would be fun!

These devotions show the intention in God’s Word as applied to every day life; our life surrounded by His beauty, how people and animals, all of nature, relate to one another in His image.

 

    

Mark Twain House {and inspiration}

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).
– Notebook, 1904

At the beginning of October my husband and I traveled to the east coast. Not only was it amazingly beautiful, and refreshing to get away together, but we learned a lot.

This book nerd nearly lost it when I saw Orchard House (where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women and based her stories) and the Mark Twain House were right near where we were flying in for our first night’s stay.

Mark Twain House {Conn}

The houses were both beautiful, and the Mark Twain museum had loads of information I didn’t know about him in a timeline format. It was so neat to see who he was, and what he was creating in the world around him at that time.

Orchard House and that visit deserves an entirely different post, all its own. To say it was divinity would be an understatement. The experience was so amazing and I cannot wait to take my girls there one day! I am already planning that trip. haha

Mark Twain Journals

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

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