{Review} Chara Games

Commissioned {Chara Games}
Do you like playing board games?  I have a fun game for you!  The game is Commissioned by Chara Games and my family and I had the pleasure of reviewing this game.

Commissioned {Chara Games}


Commissioned {Chara Games}

Commissioned is a doubled sided board game for 2-6 players ages 14 and older.  With 5 unique scenario cards, various faith and trial cards, and the choice of 2 different degrees of difficulty game play is never the same. Everyone works together in the game, except there are a few situations where talking is not permitted, and everyone has the opportunity to be the Elder.  Game play takes approximately one hour and is over when you have achieved victory conditions, all 5 of the candles are extinguished or the last trial card is drawn.  Do expect for the game to take longer the first couple of times you play the game.

There is a learning curve to setting up and playing the game for the first time.  Chara Games has created a ‘How to Play’ video (linked below) that explains how to set up and play the game.  I found the video to be helpful and I was able to see the game in motion.  Also, included with the game is a Theme Appendix which shares some of the historical background of the people, places, and events that you come across in the game.

How to Play Commissioned Video:


img_2102The game starts off by choosing the scenario card.  The recommended scenario card for first time game players is “Acts of the Apostles” and then suggested the remaining scenarios be played in chronological order (“Peter’s Gentile Outreach”, “The First Missionary Journeys”, “Appeal to Caesar”, and “To the Ends of the Earth”.  The scenario card determines which side of the board you will be using, the setup of the pieces, special rules, victory conditions, and what failure means.  As you can see on  “The First Missionary Journeys” scenario card to the right, we will use Board Side A, the Apostles that we must use, as well as where everything goes.  There are no special rules.  We achieve victory when we have a church established in red, orange, and yellow cities, we have collected the faith cards for Romans, Galatians, Thessalonians, & Luke, and all Apostles must return to Antioch.  This all has to be completed before the 5 candle have been extinguished.  Failure to do this means that the church never reaches Europe.

Commissioned {Chara Games}After you have selected the scenario card, every player choses an Apostle.  Certain Apostles are required per rules on the scenario card.  Every Apostle has their own set of Faith Cards which are different from each other.  For instance if you have Barnabas his cards allow you to remove one growth stop from one church in the Elder’s region and with James you can make an additional move on the board.  Also, every card are worth different faith points.

There are three phases of the order of play: Arm, Live, & Mature.

In Arm, you draw cards based on the number of players playing Commission and prepare for the Live phase.

In the Live Phase, there are five steps (Trials, Pray, Share, Move & Grow).  The current Elder draws a trial card and applies the instructions on the card.  The effect could be losing church members or a growth block (where you cannot add any new members until the block is removed).  After applying the trials the play moves to Pray.  In the Pray step every player chooses 2 cards from their hand to share and then the elder may choose 2 cards out of all of the cards that are face up.  Unless otherwise specified players may offer advice to the Elder.  Once the elder has made his/her choices they apply the steps on both cards.  The final two steps are Move and Grow and they are based .  The Elder may choose to make two moves either moving members to an existing church (Fellowship Move) or establishing a new church (Mission Move) as long as there are no blocks in place.  You also want to make moves strategically as removing the last piece from a city during a Mission or Fellowship will cause the church to be extinguished.  The final step is church growing.  Any churches on the game board that have a minimum population of three will grow by one additional member.  Once all of these steps are completed, the Elder stick is passed on to the next player and they become the new Elder.  After the Live Phase is repeated a certain number of time (ours was 3x since we were playing with 5 players) the play moves on to the Mature Phase.img_1362

In the Mature phase, the players use the 2 remaining cards left in their hands to purchase new Faith Cards.  The total number of faith points determines how many cards you can buy.  You can choose to buy any combo of cards that total the number of faith points that you have or buy nothing at all.

Another round begins in the Arm phase and you continue until all of the Trial cards have been played or 5 candles have been extinguished.

While the game is designed for ages 14+, this game can be played with younger children.  We played Commissioned with our oldest three children (8, 7, & 6) and they have enjoyed playing the game.  I highly recommend playing Commissioned at least once before introducing younger children to the game.  The very first time we played we had the kids join us and we didn’t expect it to take as long as it did.  We also did tweak the game a little, including laying the cards face up on the table instead of holding them in our hands, to allow us to help the children.  We are enjoying this game and are looking forward to introducing others to the game.
Commissioned {Chara Games}
Chara Games has just released a new card game called 3 Seeds which I will be posting a review on it very soon but would like to give you a quick sneak peek.  3 Seeds is a 2-5 player strategic card game that takes about 30-45 minutes to play.  In the game time, money, and labor seed cards are used to complete tasks.


Commissioned {Chara Games}

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CharaGames/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/CharaGames/ @Charagames


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Commissioned {Chara Games}

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{Review} Critical Thinking

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}
All five of my kids are enjoying Fun-Time Phonics!™ Software – 2-PCs Win Download which is part of the Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten!™ software bundle from The Critical Thinking Co.™.  We had the pleasure of reviewing Fun-Time Phonics!.

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}


Fun-Time Phonics!™ is a fun mastery based reading program for Grades: Prek-2.  The program is based on data from the National Reading Commission and you will find the program to be a comprehensive reading program.  Two robots keep children engaged during 126 lessons.  Students will learn through listening, thinking, speaking, and reading activities.  The lessons are not flashy and they are short which is perfect for the younger crowd!

Fun-Time Phonics is a downloadable program available for Windows systems only.  The System Requirements:

  • Platform: Windows® 10/8/7
  • CPU: 1 GHz or faster
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Disk Space: 500 MB

Fun-Time Phonics is composed of four sections:

  • Section 1: Teaches children that words are made up with sounds. Activities include beginning sounds, ending sounds, vowel sounds, and words that rhyme.
  • Section2: Teaches children each short vowel sound and the letter that makes that sound.
  • Section 3: This section teaches consonant-vowel coarticulation, so children learn that each consonant uses short vowels to make different sounds that are used to form words that are read.
  • Section 4: Teaches children to combine their new knowledge of consonant-vowel coarticulation and ending sounds to read their first words.

When Fun-Time Phonics loads, the last student who used the program is up on the screen.  If you wish to switch users you must click on Admin/Score in the lower left hand corner.  Then you have 15 seconds to type in the first three letters of the word teacher to gain access to the admin section.  If ‘tea’ is not typed correctly within 15 seconds, the screen returns to the screen that you were on.  The admin screen can be accessed while the student is playing Fun-Time Phonics.  One thing I have noticed when accessing the admin page while the student is in the middle of playing is that the student is penalized for not answering their question correctly/quick enough.  I don’t like that the student is penalized for not answering the question because the teacher is going into the teacher/admin interface.

The Admin page is simply laid out.  The menu (About, Other Products, License Agreement, Clear Data, Success Percentage, Manage Users, Print, and Exit) is across the top of the screen.  On the main part of the screen is the lesson information for the student that is currently logged in.  This includes what is covered on every lesson, the percentage that the student received, and if you feel a student needs to repeat a lesson, you can select the lesson and click on the Replay Play Lesson button (Note: Your score will reset and the lesson will show ‘incomplete’ instead of the percentage.  You can also skip around in the lessons.  To change students click on ‘Manage Users’ and select the student that you want and click the green continue arrow.  You can print a very simple data record page for each of your students.  The information included is the lesson number, score, and percentage.  If you need to clear the data for a particular student, you click on ‘Clear Data’.  From there you will be prompted to go ahead and clear all of the data for that student and be reminded that it cannot be undone.  As the admin, you can also change the percentage required for moving on to the next lesson.  The options are 65%, 75%, 85%, and 95%.

Fun-Time Phonics!™ Software – 2-PCs Win Download is a big hit with all of the kids.  The older kids have been playing Fun-Time Phonics 2 to 3 times a week and sometimes have asked to play it more.  The first time Little Man (4) saw one of his older sisters playing Fun-Time Phonics he wanted to play it too!  He needs some assistance playing but he sits on my lap with the biggest grin.  Munchkin (just turned 3) likes to do everything that her older sisters and brother do and wanted to try it herself and I set up an account for her as well.

The first photo is Sweet Pea reviewing sounds.  In the second photo below, you can see Munchkin trying to “help” Sweet Pea out while Little Man is watching the screen while she is reviewing sounds.  In the third photo Lil’ Bit is working on rhyming.





Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Critical-Thinking-Co/46128092293
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Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/source/criticalthinking.com/


For this review, members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed various software downloads and paperback books.

Software Downloads:

Alphabet Song Game™ Software – 2-PCs Win Download (Grades: Toddler-1 | New Version 2.0)
Letter Sounds Song and Game™ Software – 2-PCs Win Download (Grades: Prek-1)
Vowel Sounds Song and Game™ Software – 2-PCs Win Download (Grades: Prek-2)
Fun-Time Phonics!™ Software – 2-PCs Win Download (Grades: Prek-2)

Paperback Books:

Sentence Diagramming: Beginning (Grades: 3-12+)
Language Smarts™ Level E (Grade: 4)

Please click the banner below to read more Homeschool Review Crew reviews of  products from The Critical Thinking Co.™.

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}

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{Review} Homeschool Legacy

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

With Thanksgiving approaching Once-a-Week 6 Week Micro-Study Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims by Homeschool Legacy was a great study for my family and I to review.  Unit Studies & Micro Studies are fun filled studies to learn about one particular theme or topic as a family.
Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims is a Once-a-Week 6 Week Micro-Study and is designed for children grades 1 to 8 and is packed full with information.  This is a downloadable Grab-N-Go Micro-Study.   During the six weeks of the study, every week has a different theme and you will learn American History, Bible, Literature, Vocabulary, History, and Government throughout the study.

The weekly themes:

  • Week 1: The Scrooby Separatists
  • Week 2: The Voyage
  • Week 3: At Home in Plymouth
  • Week 4: Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Week 5: The Puritans
  • Week 6: Merry Christmas!

Everything was easy to understand and plenty of information to study and explore.  For older children you may be able to work on the study once or twice a week but my younger children (Third, Second, and First grades) found it to be a bit overwhelming and enjoyed working on it in 20-30 minute chunks.  There are suggested read a louds that are provided but we chose to read books that are already in our home library.  Also, included are a couple of games and recipes to try out.  Due to allergies in the family, we did not try the recipes.

One of the things that I loved is that throughout the study there are clickable links that connect to websites with more information and my kids and I could explore.  While the information was not necessarily included in the study ebook itself,  I had the information readily available.   Between the study and the links provided in the study my girls were able to explore where the Separatists came from, where they were headed, and where they eventually wound up.  They had fun trying to figure out possible routes that the Mayflower during the pilgrimage to the United States.  I even learned (or relearned) some information about the Pilgrims.  The one thing the girls kept asking for were coloring pages to color while we were reading the books and information from the study.  They enjoy having something to do while I am reading to them.

If you would like to check out a sample of Once-a-Week 6 Week Micro-Study Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims Week 1, please click here, and the link to the sample is at the bottom of the page.

Homeschool Legacy was founded by homeschool veteran Sharon Gibson.  She uses unit studies with her family and it helped her family to build a strong, loving, Godly, family legacy.



Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/homeschoollegacy/


Homeschool Legacy offers various Once-a-Week Micro-Studies and Once-a-Week Unit Studies.  Members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed either one of the micro studies (Pirates or Privateers: You Decide Cooking up History with the Founding Presidents, Victoria and Her World, Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims, or Many Nations) or a Once-a-Week Unit Study (Christmas Comes to America).  Please click the banner below to check out the other reviews of Homeschool Legacy products.
Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}
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{Review} CrossTimber

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
Are you looking for a gift for someone but not sure what to get them?  CrossTimber has a great selection of personalized gifts including the Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse.  For this review, Crew members received a gift certificate equivalent to value of the Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse.  We were also given the option to upgrade the frame or choose another personalized item such as the mug or jewelry box, as long as we paid the difference.
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
CrossTimber has a wide assortment of products to personalize.  There are Name Plaques, music boxes, and coffee mugs!  Each one comes personalized with the background of your choice, the name(s), the meaning of the name(s),  as well as a Bible verse.  A great gift especially for people who have unique names or spellings of their names like our kids.  It is very hard to find something personalized in their names.  The backgrounds are very beautiful!  There is something fore everyone!  As you can see in the photo below, there are many different backgrounds to choose from and they are available options for the coffee mugs and music boxes as well.

The name plaques have a choice of 4 frames to choose from.  You can also choose to receive a 5×7 printable name plaque via email, receive a matching bookmark, pocket card, or greeting card.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews 

I had a difficult time deciding what I wanted to purchase.  There were so many choices! (Not a bad thing!).  Did I want something for one of the kids or my husband.  Even the Names of God plaque caught my interest.  It was hard to choose something for just one of the kids because I wanted to get everyone something with their name on it!  I ultimately selected one of CrossTimber’s coffee mugs to personalize to represent the family!  The design that I chose was the Couple’s Sunset with my husband’s and my names, meaning of our names, and a Bible verse.  On the back of the mug, I had the names of our children added.



About CrossTimber

CrossTimber is a family owned business and has spent years researching names and their meanings.  If you would like to find more information on the process of how they research name meanings please click here.  CrossTimber’s customer service is A++!  You can contact them by email, phone, and they have an on-line chat feature.  Any correspondence that I have had has been seen to in a prompt and courteous manner.  In the lower right hand corner it will specify if CrossTimber is online or not.  If John or Katie is online while you are visiting their website one of the two will open the chat and see if you need any assistance.  No pressure to buy anything.  They want to see if you have any questions.


GIVEAWAY!  Now through December 4, 2016, CrossTimber is hosting a Name Gift Giveaway!  There will be 10 winners.  One Grand Prize Winner may choose between a: Personalized Mug OR a Name Plaque OR an 8×10 Plaque!  Nine additional winners will receive a $10 gift certificate.


CrossTimber 2016 giveaway
Please click the banner below for more reviews of CrossTimber and to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew received.

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} ReviewsCrew Disclaimer

What it means to be on the Crew!

What being on the Crew means ...

Being on the 2016 Schoolhouse Review Crew has been a blessing for my family!  We have had the pleasure of reviewing many wonderful products.  We have reviewed computer programs and apps, lots of curriculum (both online and physical copies), games, and even things for mom & dad like a mug (hint, hint) and delicious recipes.  In fact tonight’s dinner was one of the recipes we received from MyFreezEasy.

I have enjoyed my first year on the Schoolhouse Review Crew and it is hard to believe that the review year is coming to a close.  Being on the Crew is much more than reviewing products and writing reviews, friendships are made, we have support and fellowship from fellow homeschool bloggers and Crew leaders, many opportunities to grow our blogs, and a lot of fun!  The Lord used the Crew to fulfill a curriculum need that we had.  I had decided to change what we were doing for Math and He provided the opportunity to review multiple math curriculum.  We found what worked best for our girls and we have continued on with them even beyond their review periods.

The girls have enjoyed trying many new products that they would not have had the opportunity to had we not been on the crew. One of many examples was when we were at our local homeschool convention and one of the girls looks up and at the top of her lungs excitedly exclaims, “I know you!  I see you on our tv!”  That was our Peanut when she saw the Here to Help Learning booth. The girls enjoyed getting to visit the booth and try writing with the huge pencil (see the pictures below).  






The Schoolhouse Review Crew is now accepting applications for the 2017 Review Crew.  Click here for more information on the requirements for being on the Crew and if you feel it is something you are interested in being a part of I highly encourage you to submit your application.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!  Have a blessed evening!



{Review} The Familyman

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

With Christmas quickly approaching, we need to remember the true reason for the season.  It is all about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!   For this review, we received    The Familyman’s Christmas Treasury – Audio Collection by The Familyman which included a total of eight Christmas stories as Digital Downloads as well as one of the stories from the Christmas Treasury on CD.

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

The books in The Familyman’s Christmas Treasury are written by Todd Wilson and narrated by Jim Hodges.

The Familyman’s Christmas Treasury includes:

  • Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster
  • Cootie McKay’s Nativity
  • Gladys Remembers Christmas
  • Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest
  • The Bishop’s Dream
  • The Stranger

We also received two additional bonuses:

  • It’s Called Christmas
  • The Secret of Snow Village

The Familyman’s Christmas Treasury – Audio Collection is available on CDs for $25. The Digital Downloads of the stories range in price from $3.99 to $4.99 each.

Cootie McKay’s Nativity – The town’s cherished nativity scene is destroyed by an unfortunate accident and much to the dismay of many people local artist Cootie McKay is hired to build a new one.  Cootie is an outcast in his community and members of the town are doubtful of him being able to complete the task of building the community a new nativity set. Sadly, Cootie has never heard of Jesus or heard the account of His birth and the more he hears about it the more he wants to learn.  Will Cootie be able to finish the nativity in time for Christmas?

The Stranger – When no one else would open their door, Sam and his family welcome the stranger into their home on the snowy Christmas Eve.  What lessons will be learned from this act of kindness when everything is seeming to go wrong?

The Bishop’s Dream – When Bishop Nicolas falls asleep his dream he is taken to present times.  He learns what Christmas has become to many people in our generation many, many years later.  What he sees surprises him!  He is saddened to learn that to many people it is no longer about Jesus.  How does Bishop Nicolas use this knowledge to change his view?

Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster – A boy wishes to make the nativity  more exciting with adventures with Captain Chaos and he may very well get that wish.  Captain Chaos comes creates chaos and Jason quickly learns what life would be like without Jesus.  No Christmas tree, no decorations, and no Baby Jesus or His birth.  Does Jason really want to change the nativity and the events surrounding  Jesus’ birth?

Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest – Isaac wonders why the Christmas vest is important to his dad.  The Christmas vest once belonged to a lonely and mean old man named Harold Grubbs.  See how coming to know Christ changed Harold’s life around and how Isaac’s father wound up with the vest and continues the special Christmas tradition.

I love how every single one of these stories point back to the true meaning of Christmas!   I am glad that ‘The Bishop’s Dream’ does mention that santa claus isn’t real.  While our kids already know the truth, ‘The Bishop’s Dream’ could be used as a way to share with kids who they should really be focused on during the Christmas holidays.  The stories are all short in length (between ~15-30 minutes each) which is perfect for shorter car rides and for younger children.  Thank you for a wonderful series that points to Christ and I look forward to more stories in the future that I can share with my children.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ToddWilsonFamilyman/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/youdadad
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/toddwilsonthefamilyman/
Pinterest:  https://au.pinterest.com/familymantodd/
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/107435990705080484154
Blog: http://familymanweb.com/blog/

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The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

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{Review} MyFreezEasy

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}


The MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy has been a blessing to my family!  We have had the opportunity to try new recipes as well as build our freezer meals for the busy days while reviewing the Premium Annual Membership.



With the Premium Annual Membership I have eight downloadable meal plans available every month to choose from and every month there are new set of recipes to choose from.  The following meal plans are available:

  • Traditional Plan
  • Gluten-Free Plan
  • Slow Cooker Plan
  • Clean Eats Plan
  • 20 Meals Plan
  • All Chicken Plan
  • All Ground Beef Plan
  • All Pork Chops Plan

Due to children that have multiple food allergies and food sensitivities I used the create your own meal plan feature to build a custom menu for my family.  I love it because one of the categories available in the search is a Top 8 Allergy category.  This is a huge blessing for my family because four of the eight top allergens are on our list.   I would love to see it as an option for one of the monthly meal plans.  I would also like to be able to search for recipes containing specific ingredients and exclude recipes containing specific ingredients.  It is helpful when you want a recipe using specific items that you already have in your pantry or if you need to exclude ingredients (like in our case would be due to allergies and sensitivities).

Another bonus with the Premium Membership is the ability to change the portion sizes of meals.  The preset meal plans are set at 4 servings.  Through the swapping a meal feature the meal portion sizes can be adjusted to 2, 4, 6, or 8 servings.  Perfect for my family of 7!  The portion sizes are generous and has left everyone satisfied.

Once I completed my meal plans I savde the recipes as a PDF (They can also be sent via email.) and printed everything off.  A shopping list is included to make 2 meals per recipe.   The recipe offers a couple different directions for preparing.  One if you are cooking a single meal (and freezing the second one) or prepping both meals for freezing.  The recipes also provide freezing and thawing instructions and how to make the meal dairy-free and gluten-free.  I did find a few meals that said there were no good options for making them dairy free, when there are dairy free alternatives available to be used.  I chose to cook one meal and freeze the second one on all recipes that I used from MyFreezEasy.   It was is a breeze!  It only took a couple extra minutes to open up the cans and dump them into a freezer bag and to measure extra spices.  Then on the bag I wrote if any items were missing from the bag since I already had some of the ingredients frozen.

The MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership is very affordable.  There is a Basic Membership which is $7/month or $77/year or the Premium Membership (What I am reviewing) is $10/month or $95/year.  Both plans have access to the same meals & videos but the Premium Membership allows you to adjust serving sizes, create your own meal plan, customizing existing meal plans, and access to a favorite section that you can mark your favorite recipes and find them quickly.  For the extra few dollars a month I find the added features well worth the cost!

I look forward to continuing using MyFreezEasy and trying out the new recipes that will be release in the upcoming months as well as building up our freezer meals.

Social Media Links:
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/freezeasy
Instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/freezeasy
Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/5dollardinners/freezeasy


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MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}


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