Friday, December 10, 2010

Apologia's "Good Morning God"

Thanks to my participation in TOS's Homeschool Crew I was recently given the opportunity to review a new book being published by Apologia Press.
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Good Morning, God is written by Davis Carman and illustrated by Alice Ratterree and is geared for 1 - 8 year olds. It is about a 4 year old boy as he goes through the week with his family. Each day it talks about how he worships God in the morning, what he does during the day and what he prays each night. It also offers a one week Bible "curriculum/study" to go with each day. The book has beautiful illustrations and is reasonably priced at $14.00.

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I was very excited to receive this book and thought my two youngest would love it. The pictures are beautiful and it is very well written. Unfortunately my kids weren't as impressed as I was at first. Zachary (age 5 and very energetic) did not want to sit and listen to the whole thing since it is very repetitive. Molly (age 3) listened intently and enjoyed the story and very much enjoyed the pictures but did not ask for me to read it again. Paul (age 9) was much more impressed than the other 2 were. He is an avid reader and typically reads much more difficult books (novels) but he still really liked this book! The younger ones did enjoy their big brother reading it to them.


We were able to use the "curriculum" in the back of the book and we really liked it. Each day offers a scripture reference to read as well as questions to get your child(ren) thinking about God and dwelling on the things He does for us. Anything that gets my children thinking more about the things of God I am definitely a fan of. There is also a simple activity to go with each day. It is perfect for a simple devotion to start or end your day. Or it can be expanded for older kids to be a more intense Bible Study.

You can read more about the book here. And don't forget to see what other TOS Crew Members thought about it here

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. There was no other compensation given for the review

Friday, November 19, 2010

KB Teacher Review

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was asked to review KB Teachers. There goal is to be the one-stop shop for all your teaching needs. It is a website full of worksheets for all subjects as well as webquests and various other teaching tools and clipart. They have some of their material available for free but most of the material is watermarked until you sign up for the premium membership. The membership is priced at a rate reasonable for most families $29/12 months or $49/24 months.

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There were two features with the premium membership that I used the most, the math worksheet generator and the custom handwriting worksheets.

The math worksheet generator is just that - you pick the operation and the details and it produces a worksheet. With a click of the mouse you can create a new one. This was perfect since Paul is working on multi-digit multiplication and he needed daily practice. They currently do not have a division worksheet generator that has remainders but there is a note on the site that they are currently working on that, so we (or I guess "I") can't wait for that one...Paul won't be too happy about more division worksheets!

The custom handwriting generators were great because I could make similar worksheets for all three kids with just a little tweaking. For Molly I used the large letter to color and then a line of writing that letter and one word. For Zach I used the six print words and then for Paul I just switched those same six words to cursive and it worked great!

Another benefit is they are constantly adding new material so you can go back often and find new things to print. Also, if you don't find what you are looking for they encourage you to ask and they will try to find it for you, and if they can't they will make it for you...you can't get much better than that!

They do offer a ten day free trial as well as a 30-day money back guarantee so if you are looking for a website to print some resources from you can give them a try without the risk of losing your money.

I do want to make sure and mention the lack of Christian-based material. They do not claim to be a Christian based company so I don't expect alot but something would be nice to see. Also, I was excited to see their "dino" workbook and thought my dinosaur loving 5 year old would really enjoy it. Before I printed it out I was careful to look at all the information and it does mention "millions of years ago", and supports the "old earth" theory. We are careful not to have anything like that in our home so I was not able to use that "dino" workbook. I did not look at all the other science worksheets but I imagine they are also "old earth"/secular worksheets as well. It is easy enough to ignore those worksheets and use the math and other worksheets we did enjoy, but I wanted to make sure my readers know this is a secular company.

I should also note that they are currently working on redesigning their site and I will be sure and check out the redesign and see what changes they make, and I will make sure and post about it on my blog.

Be sure to take a look at what other crew members had to say here.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. There was no other compensation given for the review

Monday, November 15, 2010

Corps Of Re-Discovery - Tomahawk Kit - Review

As a part of the TOS Homeschool Crew we were recently given the opportunity to review a Tomahawk Kit from the Corps of Rediscovery.

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You can find the tomahawk kit here for a very reasonable $5.50.

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We are right in the middle of our study on frontiersmen in American History so the tomahawk fit in perfectly with our History lessons. Paul is also a HUGE Braves Baseball fan so a tomahawk was fitting for that as well. He loved this project. It was very easy for him to complete with a little supervision from me. All the pieces that were needed were included in the kit...except for the paint if you choose to paint it, which we chose not to do. The instructions were very simple and easy to follow for a bright 9 year old. I think 8 or 9 would be the youngest that would be able to complete this project mostly independently. The tomahawk was well made and lots of fun for the kids to play with. You can also purchase the Tomahawk as part of an American Indian Package, as a part of the Frontier Craft Pack, or as a part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Study Pack. I think all of these kits would be a wonderful addition to a History Curriculum or as a quick unit study on their own.

You can also find many other project kits for your History studies at Corps of Rediscovery site.

Check out what other TOS Crew Members had to say here.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. There was no other compensation given for the review

Friday, November 5, 2010

Collectorz.Com Review

As a "typical" homeschooling family, we have books EVERYWHERE...

Zach's are in a basket by his bed...
Molly has a basket by her bed...
Paul has a drawer by his bed...

There's an overflowing bookshelf in the "office"
Books on my nightstand...
And of course there are books on the toilet...
Books in the playroom floor from today's playing...
Books on the shelves in the schoolroom...
More books on different shelves in the schoolroom...
And that's just SOME of our many books! So, when I was asked to review Collectorz.com book edition I knew it would be a great product for us. The "Book Collector Pro" is a great deal at $49.95.

Basically you enter your books in with either a scanner or using the ISBN code. I did not purchase the scanner that is sold separately. Entering the ISBN code was plenty quick enough for me, although it did take quite some time to enter all 758 books I have entered thus far! The program catalogs the books by genre and anything else you want to add in the "category" section. It automatically fills in the pertinent information such as author, title, publisher, and much, much more, as well as a picture of the cover. For us, this means that when we are doing a unit on fish, or dinosaurs, or American History, or if Paul wants a Star Wars book or whatever the kids decide they want to read about I can simply pull up Collectorz and search for all the books on that topic. Although, it doesn't help me then LOCATE the book on our many bookshelves it does let me know what books we have so that I don't go buy another book. So, I then go search the shelves knowing that is there somewhere, instead of thinking "Did I get rid of that book"

You can also purchase an application for the iPhone that allows you to upload your list so you can have it when you go book shopping. I haven't done this yet but plan to before I start searching for books at curriculum fairs in the Spring. I don't know how many times I have been at a Homeschool Fair/Expo and thought "Do I have that book" or have I just looked at it many times. Now I will know! In a nutshell I loved this product and think many homeschooling/book loving families will find it very useful!

Don't forget to check out Collectorz.com to see this as well as other products for movies and music inventories!

You can check out what other TOS members have to say about the product here

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. There was no other compensation given for the review.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Talking Fingers--Read Write and Type!!

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Imagine an online computer game that will help your kids improve reading, writing, spelling and typing skills. Imagine a program that they BEG to do and is educational too. Imagine a program that you can customize to each of your kids capabilities. Imagine a program that you can track their progress. Talking Fingers has developed just that program in "Read Write and Type".

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"Read, Write and Type" is an educational software that uses ears, eyes, mouth and fingers to teach students to do just that -- "Read, Write and Type". All this at a fairly affordable price of just $35 for one user, $55 for two users, and just $15 more for each additional user. The program is designed for Kindergarten through 3rd graders. The software introduces each of the 40 phonemes found in the English language one at a time and teaches them the sound of the letter as well as how to type it on the keyboard. As the child moves through the program they are taught to sound out words phonetically for reading and spelling. As the child progresses through the program new activities are added to test their comprehension and fluency. They are tested at various times while moving through the program. The parent sets the "passing level" for each child. If the child does not pass they are moved through some review exercises until they pass the "Spaceship Challenge".

OUR THOUGHTS:

I set up both Paul and Zachary with their own logins for this program. They were both very excited to get started. Zachary is 5 and just starting to learn to read. Paul is 9 and a very good reader but he has been wanting to learn how to type, and all kids can use a review of phonemes!

For Zachary he knows his letter sounds and is starting to focus on putting letters together to form words but it has been a very difficult process for him. I was hopeful that the allure of a computer game would help him want to learn to read. I was correct. He definitely LOVES the game and asks to play every day. However, it is very tough for him. After only the first lesson I told him he did not have to use the correct fingers. His hands are just not large enough to reach the keys on the keyboard correctly. That combined with his fine motor skills still developing I knew the typing was going to be a little too frustrating for him and I am much more concerned about his phonics then I am his typing skills at this point. After the third day of working through the program with him he broke his right wrist on the monkey bars so using the correct fingers was definitely not an option. Zach progressed through the first 5 or 6 phonemes with me by his side and it really helped to concrete some of his phonics skills. After that he starting working through it on his own just calling me when he got stuck or just plain frustrated (for anyone who knows Zach that was quite often...he is easily frustrated.) He is now taking a little longer to get through each group of letters and I have set his passing level very low to encourage him. But he is getting through them and really enjoying it.

For Paul I knew the phonics/reading part would be super easy, and I was write, but he also begs to play everyday and loves the certificates he gets after completing a group of phonemes. He is loving learning how to type. And, as an added bonus he is getting a great review of phonemes. It has also helped him with some of his spelling difficulties. Paul's passing level is much higher than Zach's since it is mostly review for him and I expect more from a 9 year old.

For me my favorite part of the program is that I can check on their progress. I do have to check in on Paul and watch him type occasionally, but all the other stuff can be looked at online with my own log in.

RWT Lesson Progress

90

100

100

96

90

100

90

93

100

100

100

100

90

100

100

96

100

90

90

93

The "B"

Level 1 / 2
16 Sep 10
Level 3
21 Sep 10
Level 4
27 Sep 10
Level 5
30 Sep 10
Level 6
8 Oct 10
Level 7
in progress
Level 8
incomplete
Level 9
incomplete
Level 10
incomplete
Passing grade at 90% = Phonics = Reading = Spelling = Average
Failing grade = Phonics = Reading = Spelling = Average

So, head on over to their website and check out what they have to offer. They also offer a more advanced program that I hope to be able to get for Paul in the near future.

Don't forget to take a look at reviews from other TOS crew members here.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. There was no other compensation given for the review.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

LanSchool Review

I was recently given the opportunity to review a program called Lanschool. It was a very new and exciting program to review. It is designed to use on multiple computers in either a home or classroom setting. With one computer being the "parent/teacher" computer and the others being the "student/child" computers. A home license with 3 years of technical support and updates is $99. You can take a look at their website and see all the various options they have that would work for your home or school.

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We are very careful with our kids "screen time" and at their young ages they are very limited on the amount of time and what they can do on the computer. Mostly they use the computer for educational games for very short time periods during the school day. Paul is starting to use the computer for some research as well as writing reports. As they grow and are able to use the computer more we will be in need of some monitoring software. Lanschool fits that bill. Lanschool is not a filtering software to control where your kids can go on the internet. Instead, it is a monitoring software that does the following:

- Use thumbnails to monitor what is happening on all your home computers
- Track the internet history of all your home computers
- Logs every keystroke on all your home computers
- Limit access to programs, the web, applications, USB, printing and so much more on all
your home computers
- Chat with other family members
- Provide help through remote control
- Blank the screens to reduce distraction and gain attention
- Ask questions, take polls, and even create and administer tests that will be graded for you.

All this can be done without going to each individual computer, but by just pulling up Lanschool on your "teacher" computer and looking at all the "student" computers you have. Currently I have mine pulled up and am watching my younger two play a game on the computer in the schoolroom and my oldest is watching a video on George Washington on the computer/tv in the living room. I can just pop over to Lanschool and make sure they are still doing what they are supposed to be doing. The other tool we have used it for is to give warnings on when their computer time is up. My younger ones can't read yet but they do know that when a message pops up then their time is almost up. My oldest loves when I send him a quick word of encouragement of just an "I Love You" while he is working.

Although we did enjoy Lanschool, I don't feel we are the target audience for this software. We used a couple of the features but it can do so much more then what we were able to use it for. I really think that it is designed and works best for older students and/or students who use the computer alot in their schooling. I can see it being a great tool to monitor and help with research as we get in to that more. I also loved the test taking feature and we did use that a couple of times, but more for fun, since we don't do a great deal of testing yet. As a middle school teacher in my former life I can see how this would be great for a classroom setting.

So, head on over to their website and check out what they have to offer. The technical support and customer service is phenomenal and I am sure they will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Don't forget to take a look at reviews from other TOS crew members here.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. There was no other compensation given for the review.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Fall!

To "celebrate" the first day of fall we had a "Happy Fall" day in our homeschool. Here is what I managed to get pictures of:

We started our day with some of our favorite "fall" books and the kids colored fun fall pictures


All of our books were about leaves so we then took a walk outside to find some cool leaves...it's still HOT here so not many leaves have fallen but we were able to find a few. Of course, because there are boys involved, finding leaves digressed in to burning leaves with a magnifying glass...



We then created some cool "leaf suncatchers" with our leaf finds, wax paper, and crayon shavings.


I didn't get a lot of pictures of this because a hot iron was involved. The kids loved this craft.

We also did our scarecrow puzzle and there was some regular school involved.


We also completed foam jack-o-lanterns to hang from our ceiling as well as started some leaves that we will finish tomorrow. Nothing fancy, but the kids loved this painting, cutting, and gluing craft. Here are the "work in progress" pics.



And the completed projects!



We are now ready for fall -- hopefully the temperatures will cooperate with us and NOT reach the low-mid 90's!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pyramath Review

Memorizing Math facts has always been a bit of a challenge for Paul. He knows the concept but because the facts aren't memorized he can't recall them quickly. We have worked on addition and subtraction facts for a couple of years now and continue to review them regularly. Now we add in our multiplication and division facts for almost daily review. We have used flash cards, various computer games and just simply saying the facts over and over. Now we have added Pyramath to our repertoire of tools to review math facts with.

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PyraMath Decks Include:

  • 54 Math Learning Cards
  • Each card clearly numbered
  • Each card clearly labeled with 4 mathematical symbols
    addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • Each card clearly marked with English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Roman, and French numerical translation and symbols.


At only $6.95 a deck this is a great value and can be used for many years and for multiple children, making it an even better deal.

Paul and I really enjoy this game and play it often. We have taken along with us to play while waiting for the other two to do gymnastics. We played it often the weeks that we didn't do as much school because of Molly's tonsillectomy and it is a regular visitor to his workboxes on a normal school day. It has helped him sharpen his math facts while having fun at the same time. It is definitely a game that will be used often for years to come! There are many different ways to play the game and Paul even played it alone a couple of times.

The company, Brainy Attic, that makes Pyramath also makes many other great card games for kids that help with Math and Language skills. I know we will be purchasing the Fraction game soon! There are also some online games that you can try. We haven't tried them since I try to limit the kids computer time but I have heard great things about the games online. Don't forget to take a look at reviews from other TOS crew members here.

Disclaimer: I received this item for free in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. There was no other compensation given for the review.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

I am in love....

Now, most of you have probably been using this for years, but I just found out about a WONDERFUL site called "Homeschool Share", and I am in love. It has all sorts of unit study ideas and they even have ideas to use for multi-age groups. AND, the best part is it's FREE!!!! I am so excited. I have been thinking about taking a different direction with Zach and now I know what I am doing....unit studies....next week we are going to start a unit study using our Curious George books. All the kids are going to love it! Again, the best part is IT'S FREE. It lists a ton of ideas for all the different subjects and most of the activities don't require any materials that we don't already have. So, if you haven't checked it out take a look at what we will be doing next week here!