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Friday, October 31, 2014

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

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Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Ronald F. Youngblood is a huge resource of over 7,000 individual people, places, things, and doctrines. This dictionary is a comprehensive reference, utilizing color photographs, charts, outlines, maps, and more to enhance the detailed entries. Its ‘Fan-Tab Thumb Index Reference System’ makes the pages easy to navigate, so even younger children can find references. Along with a Bible, this book is a treasure of information, and it is especially useful for Bible students.

The Outlines for each Book of the Bible are especially nice, with a detailed plan laid out for study and clarity.

My absolute favorite features of Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary are the sections: “Five Easy Steps to Better Bible Study” and the “Visual Survey of the Bible.”

The Bible study plan tells you specifically how to optimize the dictionary for Bible study through a methodical plan of -Reading the passage, -Reading the dictionary entry, -Reading the dictionary entries on all key words, -Re-reading the Bible passage, and –Reading other entries to which the dictionary refers. The examples and explanations further clarify what all of this means, and I have already implemented this system for Bible study for myself and my students.

The visual survey shows you a complete overview of the contents of the Bible, relying heavily on charts to give you a visual outline of the events, people, places, themes, and times. This awesome tool is wonderful for visual learners, like me, and it provides a basis for understanding the scope of the Bible.

Each entry in the dictionary is clearly and beautifully explained, with Scripture references, examples, and commentary. For example, here is a portion of the entry for love:

LOVE – the high esteem that God has for His human children and the high regard which they, in turn, should have for Him and other people. Because of the hundreds of references to love in the Bible, it is certainly the most remarkable book of love in the world. It records the greatest love story ever written—God’s unconditional love for us that sent His Son to die on the cress (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10).”

I cannot imagine a more thorough or valuable resource for Bible study than Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary. A must have.

  {The publisher provided me with a review copy for my honest opinions.}

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Grandma's Guest Review: To Everything a Season

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Grandma raved about this one. Read below to see what she says about To Everything a Season by Lauraine Snelling. <spoilers>

To Everything a Season is one of the best books I have read and is one that once started, I did not want to put down. 

I have read many of Lauraine Snelling's books, and I will have to say this was a favorite. The story begins in Blessing, ND with concern about Far, who had previously suffered a stroke. His daughter who is a doctor and practices in Blessing along with her sister-in-law, Elizabeth. 

The two doctors have agreed to have some student nurses come to their hospital for training. One of the nurses, Miriam, is having a difficult time leaving her family and her sick mother and siblings She is encouraged that this was in her best interest. During this period Trygve returns home in time for a bank robbery to occur, in which a young boy is seriously injured while being watchman for his brothers, the robbers. 

The doctors take care of him, and some people in the community, along with the student nurses, help him recover. This is a love story, a story about life, caring, and faith. There is so much action and so much to say about the characters, that it is hard to review without giving the story away. I highly recommend To Everything a Season, and think everyone who reads it will enjoy it as much as I did. 

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

BUGS: Big & Small God Made Them All

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We've been learning all about bugs with the help of Master Books' BUGS: Big & Small God Made Them All. This beautiful book shows readers God's purpose for creating insects in intricate detail. It is a wonderful resource for science, as well as a fun nonfiction picture book for elementary ages.

The full-color pages feature fascinating insects such as the Titan beetle, which is bigger than your hand! This "jumbo giant" can grow to over 6 inches long! Though you might not want to read it just before bedtime, BUGS is full of thought-provoking details and constantly points to God as creator and designer of it all.

Our favorite section of BUGS is the one about camouflage. From leaf bugs to stick bugs, these amazing creatures can seamlessly blend with their surroundings, some even resembling orchids so closely that you cannot tell they are insects. What a fun way to discuss creation with kids, showing them God's attention to detail in nature.

We also like learning about the different characteristics of moths and butterflies and have enjoyed figuring out how to tell them apart. The beautiful photographs showcase the dazzling colors and details of these amazing creatures.

The "Words to Know" section is a wonderful vocabulary-builder, with clear explanations of the terms used throughout the book. BUGS has many features that make it a good resource for extending science learning from a core curriculum, but also works as a stand-alone book, suitable for a unit study on insects. 

They've even tucked a special treat at the back of the book: punch-out cards with stats and details for 12 different insects. They are great for using as flash cards, or taking outside with your nature journal as field guide references. 

Find out more in this book trailer video below:

{The publisher provided me with a review copy for my honest opinions.}

The Kitchn Cookbook

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My little chef and I recently got the new The Kitchn Cookbook: Recipes, Kitchens & Tips to Inspire Your Cooking by Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand, and we love it! The authors are the owners of Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn website, and now they are sharing their expertise and experience with readers in this new cookbook. 

What really makes this cookbook different is that it combines a complete guide to organizing and working in your kitchen with a well-stocked selection of recipes. The Kitchn Cookbook is full of photographs, which inspire and teach. There are even glimpses into actual kitchens, showing how and where "real" cooks create. 

This book is like a kitchen primer, taking you through all the basics from setting up your kitchen, to what tools you should stock, and how you should maintain and care for your kitchen. There is advice for stocking the pantry and meal planning, as well as a wonderful section on "50 Essential Skills," such as how to reduce a liquid, separate an egg, blanch vegetables, and safely thaw and store meat. 

The recipes offer a wide variety of ideas for simple cooking. Each recipe forms a basis for any level of cook, so newbies can learn and practice new skills, and more experienced cooks can add to their repertoire. These recipes are "road maps" to meal planning for any season and any meal of the day. 

The ingredients lists are clear, and the instructions are easy to navigate. Each recipe is introduced with the authors' commentary, which helps give you an idea of what to expect from the dish (a big help for advance meal planning), such as whether a dish can sit out for awhile or should be served straight from the stove. The authors offer suggestions that make meal prep a pleasure.

The Kitchn Cookbook is a nice gift idea for recent graduates or newlyweds just starting their own kitchens, or for more experienced cooks who love inspiration. It's as much fun to sit down and read as it is to cook from.

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Monday, October 27, 2014

NKJV Study Bible

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The NKJV Study Bible: The Complete Resource for Studying God's Word is a hefty hardback full color edition. In addition to the full text of the Bible, this edition also includes articles, Bible times and culture notes, charts, diagrams, maps, and word studies. Photographs and maps appear within the text, along with numerous notes throughout. One cool extra is the free download access you get with this Bible. 

I'm sure you can find out a lot about this Bible through the book description page, so I'll tell you how we are utilizing it in our homeschool and what I like about it. 

In our home, I'm using this Bible as a spine for my sons' Bible curriculum. I can literally create lesson plans straight from the pages of the NKJV Study Bible. And, because of the wealth of information contained and the ease of use, I am able to use it as a resource for multiple ages. For example, when my youngest son's Bible curriculum covered the creation, I found some interesting facts to share with him to give him a little more insight into this event. In the notes for Genesis 1, we read:

"He made the stars also: This is a remarkable statement. In the ancient Middle East, other religions worshiped, deified, and mystified the stars and looked to them for guidance. In contrast, the biblical creation story gives the stars only the barest mention, as though the writer shrugged and said, 'And, oh yes, He also made the stars.' Such a statement showed great contempt for ancient Babylonian astrology" (p. 6).

There is an article about God as Creator within Genesis 1, as well as a color picture of The Garden of Eden by Jan van Kessel. The word studies add vocabulary meaning for my children, and the genealogy timeline of the Ages of the Patriarchs make it easy for us to add this information to our timeline notebooks. 

My middle son is studying Egypt for history, and he finds this Bible to be a big help in researching topics he encounters, such as cuneiform writing in ancient Mesopotamia. On page 26 is a nice detailed Bible Times & Culture Notes article about Cuneiform with a color picture of a cuneiform tablet. The beautiful map of Mesopotamia works perfectly for map tracing and geography, and it is so convenient to have it right within the text of Genesis instead of in a separate section you must flip to. 

The introductions to each book provide a great framework for the reader, including information about the significance of the name of the book, the author, date, historical setting, and other context details. Each one also includes a section called "Christ in the Scriptures," which ties the New and Old Testament together. Then there is an outline of the book, including timeline details, dates, and verse references. 

I am really impressed with the care and attention to detail that went into the NKJV Study Bible. Though it is a bit pricey, it is an incredible value when you consider how much information it contains; it is like having multiple resources combined into one.

{The publisher provided a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}