Monday, January 31, 2011

City Creek Press - Times Alive Review

If your kids are bored with learning their times tables through the traditional means Times Alive is the solution. I was recently given the opportunity to review this downloadable program by City Creek Press. The downloadable version is priced at $44.95. The program is also available on CD Rom for PC or Mac for $48.95.


Times Alive has songs and stories to teach your child the times table. The songs are very catchy and easy to remember. You can see (and hear) some of the songs and stories that are on the program here.

Paul knows most of his multiplication tables so we did not use the program exactly the same as someone who knows none of their multiplication facts. If multiplication is new to a child I would suggest going straight through the "lesson list" and having them learn them in the order shown there. Each fact or group of facts has a story or song for the child to listen to and learn that fact (or group of facts). The child is then quizzed on that fact. The facts are periodically reviewed as the child moves through the program. You can also print out the "worksheets" and have your child review them in a more traditional way. For Paul he would have been very bored if he had to go through all the tables so I had him complete the tests that they give periodically and then go back and watch any of the videos that he did not know the facts quickly. He struggles with his 3's and 4's time tables (I know most kids struggle with the higher numbers but he has no trouble with those just the 3's and 4's) So, this program has helped him move those facts in to his long term memory! He has loved it and will never forget that 4 x 4 = 16, because you "have to be 16 to drive a 4x4". I will admit that I am a bit sick of hearing the stories and songs, but I am thankful he finally has the hang of some of these more difficult (for him) multiplication tables. The program is great for visual as well as auditory learners. I also loved the way the program tests the students periodically and reviews the math facts already learned.

If your budget doesn't allow for the price of this software City Creek Press offers lots of other products that make learning multiplication facts easy and fun. They also have packages that help reduce the cost of each individual product. Also, if your child is not ready for their multiplication tables they have just recently developed "Addition the Fun Way" for younger students. There is no age range suggested on the website. I feel the Times Alive would be appropriate for any child that can understand the concept of multiplication and that multiplication is simply fast adding--probably about 2nd grade. On the other end I don't think there would be an age that would be too old for this product. If a student doesn't know their times tables no matter how old they can benefit from this program. An older teen might find it a bit childish but it would still be very effective to commit the facts to memory.
You can see what other Crew members have 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, January 28, 2011


Everyone at home is asking to see pics of our vacation. We didn't take any of skiing--sorry it was just too hard to ski with three kids and take pictures. We have some video so you can see how amazingly well all three kids did. Zach even skied a blue (moderately difficult) today with no trouble at all. Anyway, here are a few pics of the waterpark, tubing, and the crazy snow we got here on Wednesday. And not to forget, Paul won 1000 tickets at the arcade...
Zach in the snow, pretending to be a gorilla with his "Bubba teeth"


Eating the snow...
Snow Angels...

Zach loved his "Bubba teeth". Between that and his skiing "boo-boo" he is quite a sight!
Paul and the boys that are staying next door. They had a blast making forts in the snow.
Tubing... Molly LOVED it and went down alone several times as well as with Jamie or Daisy...
Daddy pulled her out of the way at the bottom, she had all the fun and none of the work...
Zach loved tubing as well. We are trying to convince him if he can tube and ski he can handle roller coasters. I think he is convinced and ready to "roll"
Paul enjoyed tubing as well. He and Jack went down together every time, just like the water slides the day before.

The waterpark. Molly loved the hot tub, which wasn't really hot and perfect for swimming.
Jack and Paul in the Lazy River. One of the few moments that they weren't on the big slides.
Zach came down the big slides with Jamie. He went down them a couple of times and then decided they were ok but he didn't need to do them again.
Zach...being Zach!!!
Zach and Jamie again. Him going down the slides was so amazing I had to post another one. Buddies will inspire you to do things you never thought you would do!
Steve on the "Flo-Rider"
Paul on the "Flo-Rider" He liked it but was a bit scared.

So, there you go, a sampling of our vacation pics. Sorry there are no skiing pics. I will try to post some videos when we get home. But for now I have to get things packed back up to head home in the morning.

TenMarks Review

In our home Math is the second subject of the day (second only to Bible time) and it is the one that takes the longest. It is also the most dreaded subject of the day. Until now! Our latest review, TenMarks, has changed all that. TenMarks is an online Math program that customizes it's self to meet the needs of the student. According to their website:
TenMarks is the only online math program that helps students refresh, learn, and master math concepts - in their own time, at their own pace. Each child receives a personalized curriculum to help them master the concepts quickly.


TenMarks is available for grades 3 through high school. It is very reasonably priced with the premium version costing only
$49/6 months
$89/12 months
You can try the regular version for free which offers a limited amount of the worksheets available to the premium member.
It is also available free to educators to use in the classroom--this does not include homeschoolers.

For us TenMarks has been a wonderful experience. Paul really dislikes Math. He is good at it but has no confidence in his Math ability. TenMarks has changed all that. He looks forward to doing TenMarks daily and even asks for it. He will happily do his 2-3 worksheets daily without complaint.

How it Works: You choose the grade level your child is in and then it shows you the "tracks" that a child at that grade level will typically work through in a year. You can move them around or delete them altogether if you would like. You can also add tracks from different grade levels. You then choose how many worksheets you would like your child to do in one week and they are "assigned" to them under their own account. If your child finishes the worksheets in less than one week there is a "fast track" option. This option has been great for us since I had Paul start at the beginning of third grade and he is actually almost finished with his regular 3rd grade curriculum. Much of what he has completed so far has been review. As the child moves through the curriculum there are videos to watch at the beginning of each lesson. They can view the video again in the middle of a "worksheet" or use the "hints" to help them answer the question. At the end of each worksheet a score is given along with a "concept strength" score. The child can go back and try to answer the incorrect answers and a new score is given. The concept strength is judged on how many videos or hints the child needs to answer the questions correctly. If the concept strength is low a new worksheet is assigned. I really like this feature. Paul is really good at getting correct answers using the "hints" but not totally understanding the concepts. There are also timed tests assigned at the end of each track.

The best part of TenMarks for ME was that there was one less subject I had to plan for. I don't necessarily want all subjects planned out for me and him doing them online but it was really nice to not have to figure out what we were doing in Math. In my lesson plans I just wrote down how many worksheets he was going to do each day. The other feature that is wonderful is that I can log in to the teacher account and view how he is progressing. I can also set up rewards for him along the way.

And one more "perk" is that because it is online I can even have him work a worksheet or two while on vacation...

Now from Paul's perspective:

Ten marks was really fun. It was a good thing to learn math. Because it will teach you in an easy way. My favorite thing about it is that you choose how fast you go like if you try your hardest it will go fast and easy. if you don't even think about it and just choose an answer, well good luck.

You can see what other TOS Crew Members have 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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Lifeway Christian Stores

I was recently asked to review the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids. The dictionary is sold at Lifeway Christian Stores both in their "brick and mortar" store and online for $14.99.


The book has over 200 pages of wonderful illustrations and maps. There are over 700 terms defined in this hardcover book. The book is designed for 5 to 10 year olds. However, adults might also find it useful.

I was so excited to review this book and knew Paul would love it. Paul loves to read his Bible and since he got a new one for Christmas it has been even more of a thrill for him lately. So, the Illustrated Bible Dictionary came along at just the right time. The day it arrived in the mail Paul spent atleast an hour pouring over it and telling me all about the new things he learned. I love the maps and the beautiful pictures in it. It is arranged in such a way that it is fun and engaging to look at it. You can take a peak inside at the publisher's website here. And see the beautiful pictures for yourself.

We are a strictly KJV family so I am always a little cautious of mainstream Bible products since they tend not to be KJV. That is one of the reasons I love this Bible Dictionary. The scripture reference is listed where you can find the term but it does not have the actual verse written out. That makes it great to go with any version of the Bible. It also works great to get kids in the Bible. Paul would be looking at the Bible Dictionary and see a scripture he wanted to look up and go straight to his Bible. For me, anything that gets kids in the Bible is a great product.

I think this would be a wonderful addition to any home's devotional/Bible time library.

Take a look at what other TOS crew members have 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, January 21, 2011

Speekee Review


If you are looking for a great immersion program to teach your young children Spanish you have found the right one! I was recently given the opportunity to review "Speekee TV" a UK based Spanish language program that is now available online. A subscription to the program is only $7.50/month. There are 10 episodes (over 150 minutes) designed to be watched multiple times. There are also some great worksheets with each episode that reinforces what the kids are learning in the episode.

Speekee logo

This program would be ideal for homeschoolers or for anyone who just wants their child to learn some basic Spanish. It would be a great introduction for preschoolers who may be entering in to a school that has a Spanish language program to give them a head start in that area. Or an educational and fun afterschool or summer activity for the younger to middle elementary kids!

My children adore "Speekee TV" and can't get enough of the programs. We have watched each episode atleast 5 times and they are still asking for more. On top of that they are learning SPANISH at an amazing rate.

Studies show that the best way to learn any language is through immersion--just like babies learn their first language. So, the episodes are completely in Spanish. Not a word of English is spoken. It has been amazing that after the very first episode all 3 kiddos (even the 3 year old) were saying words appropriately. Plus, the music and songs are so "catchy" they are singing the songs all day long. "Donde Vamos?"/Where are we going? is their favorite song and their favorite question to ask me.

There are Spanish and English subtitles that you can turn off or leave on. I have left them on for my own benefit (adults just don't pick up a language as quickly as children do-even though I had 3 years of it in High School - that was a long time ago!) My oldest is the only one of the three that can read the subtitles and he has enjoyed that and been able to figure out the meaning a little quicker than the other two. Although the two little ones have picked it up really fast too, even without the subtitles. My three year old told my husband in the tub the other day "abajo" as she was sitting down. My husband asked her what that meant and she said "'down' in Spanish." She figured that out from the episode we watched for the first time that day. It is amazing that immersion works and when it is done with a puppet named "Speekee" and other puppets named "Dino" and "Lupi" the kids love it and don't even realize they are learning!


The program is designed for 2-10 year olds and I have an age range of 3-9 year olds and they all love it. I think Paul will love it for just a little while longer before it becomes too "babyish" for him.

You can purchase a subscription for $7.50/month or it is also available on DVD. However, the DVD's are produced in Europe and are in PAL format so they will not work on most DVD players here in the states. The DVD package comes with a 34 track song CD which would be wonderful thing to reinforce the Spanish learned in each episode. However, it is not currently available for individual purchase.

You can take a look at all all the benefits of Speekee and get a two week free subscription here.

Also, don't forget to see what other Crew members have to say here.

"Adios mi amigo!"

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, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

This is my first attempt at participating in a meme! This should be pretty easy...wordless Wednesday. Typically I won't post any words but today I wanted to explain. So, each week, in Wednesday, I will post a picture or two to sum up the past week. So, this week's pictures....

Maestro Classics - Peter and the Wolf Review

Recently I received a copy of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf on CD from Maestro Classics for review. The CD is available at their website and is very reasonably priced at $16.98.
My kids are big fans of stories on CD so this was a definite hit in our home. Everyone loved it, and the kids request it almost daily. I have loved the music education that has come along with it. The kids learned to listen to the different sounds of the instruments and tell what they are. We also took the opportunity to learn about the different types of instruments--woodwinds, brass, string, etc.
The CD itself not only includes the story but also has information on the composer, the symphony without narration, and so much more. It also comes with a booklet with activities for the kids to enhance their learning. My oldest loved the activities in the booklet. Maestro Classics states that the CD's are geared for Kindergarten and up but I can attest to younger students enjoying it. My 3 1/2 year old asked for it the most and she is also the quietest while we are listening together. She listens and asks questions about the story and the instruments along the way, of course she is a pretty advanced 3 year old!
You can take a look at all Maestro Classics selections here and even listen to samples. We will definitely be purchasing more of these. What a great way to expose kids to classical music in a fun and educational way.

You can take a look at what other TOS Crew Mates 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, January 17, 2011

Quicksand Goo!!!

The kids and I are doing a unit study on QUICKSAND. Today we made "quicksand goo"

I wasn't sure how Zachary would do with this. His sensory issues make him touching "ooey=gooey" stuff a little tough sometimes. But, he really got into this...

Molly LOVED it too and it was great for her fine-motor skills.
I knew Paul would love it. He loves everything gooey and wanted to throw it on everybody.
The quicksand was really easy and fun to make. Clean-up was not near as bad as I thought it might be! It was great for all the kids! Paul and I discussed it's "viscosity" and just enjoyed it. I am always looking for stuff to work on Zach and Molly's fine motor skills and this was great to work those little muscles they need to strenghten. It was all around fun and educational, it just doesn't get any better than that!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow in Georgia!

I have not done a very good job at keeping up with my blog (except for reviews) so here is a quick update on what we have been doing this week....

A little school. We have some great items we are reviewing right now along with our other schoolwork. I am such a horrible Mom I have been making the kids do their work even on snow days! I can attest to the fact that snow on the ground definitely motivates the boys to get their work done quickly.

And then there has been lots of playing in the snow/ice. The kids all got new snow/ski suits and boots for Christmas in preparation for our big ski trip in a couple of weeks. They are getting worn in this week with all the snow. I am so thankful that they have the appropriate clothes to play in. I remember putting on several layers of clothes when I was a kid and just playing until the water soaked through all the layers and it was so cold we had to go in. The kids have enjoyed hours upon hours of playing in the snow/ice.

Molly LOVES the snow/ice. She is "Daddy's little snow angel"
The "pile-up" at the end of the driveway. It started with just the boys but Molly had to join in on the fun.

"Boys will be boys". They eventually popped that float they are sledding on. That was ok though, the cookie sheets worked just fine too!

And then it was time for "Monster Jam" on the trampoline!

There is honestly 3-4 inches of snow with a 1-2 inch layer of ice on top of that. On Monday we were able to do lots of sledding on the hill at the end of the driveway and tried desperately to make a snowman but the icy layer on top kept that from happening. Tuesday was more sledding---until Paul's fingers were DARK BLUE/Purple (his waterproof/insulated gloves for skiing have been ordered but aren't in yet so he just had regular gloves) and I ran in with him to run cool water over them. It took a good 10-15 minutes to get color back in to his fingertips (I was terrified and so was he!) Wednesday some cousins came over to play and they were outside ALL day...sledding and slipping in the ice. Molly now has a huge scrape on her face where she hit the ice while sledding. It slowed her down for a bit and she came in and snuggled with Mommy but then she was out playing again. In the evening four-wheelers came out and they were slipping and sliding on the four-wheelers all over the ice. I tried to get some pics but I kept falling on the ice so I came back inside. The ice is now so thick that you basically skate on top of doesn't even crunch down with the weight of the four-wheelers. Paul and his 4-wheeler went sliding through the woods at one point. It scared me to death, but he thought it was great...of course, he is such a dare devil. Looks like there will be more fun tomorrow with the cousins coming back over. I am hoping it starts melting by Friday, although we have really enjoyed not having anywhere to go and not being able to go if we wanted to.

Anyway, so there is an update on us.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Easy Classical Early Modern History Schedule - Review

I was recently privileged to review Easy Classical's Early Modern History Schedule. You can purchase the schedule in it's digital version for $29.95 or a notebook version for $35.95. The curriculum is geared for K-6th graders.
The schedule includes 36 weeks of lessons plus 45 pages of extras! You will also get review questions (with the answers) for each weeks lesson as well as a shopping list of things to have on hand for the next week! You also get detailed instructions on how to use the schedule. This is a truly Classical approach to teaching History, closely aligned to Susan Wise Bauer's books on a Classical education.

The schedule is very easy to follow and very appealing to the eye. It is not visually overwhelming like some schedules I have seen. The review questions as well as the shopping list immediately follow each weeks lessons which is very nice instead of having to flip to a different section of the book to ask questions. I also like the fact that the answers are given right there as well. Sometimes, as a busy homeschooling Mom I haven't studied the lessons near as much as my kids are required to so I like to have a quick way to make sure their answers are correct!

Easy Classical offers many different schedules all set up the same way. The schedule I reviewed was "Early Modern American History (Explorers to 1820) and includes the following:

Explorers (Weeks 1-7)
13 Colonies (Weeks 8-12)
Colonial America (Weeks 13-20)
Road to Independence (Weeks 21-25)
Revolution (Weeks 26-36)

There are many books that go along with this schedule that would need to be purchased separately to use the schedule to it's full potential. However, since homeschoolers are known for our ability to "tweak" everything you can always find something that you already have on hand to substitute for a particular book. All the books the schedule utilizes are listed at the beginning of the schedule. They include history resources as well as writing resources, scheduled read alouds, free reading books, and picture books.
The schedule is quite heavy in the area of reading. Each new topic is typically introduced on Mondays so the reading on Monday is particularly heavy, but it could definitely be split out into other days throughout the week. There are also many activities to appeal to every type of learner. There are also great little icons throughout the schedule to help us busy homeschool Moms remember everything that needs to be done.

If you would like to learn more you can checkout Easy Classical's website and see all their great schedules and products for not only History but Geography, Science, Writing and even complete schedules.

Don't forget to check out what other TOS crew members are saying 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, January 7, 2011

See-N-Read Reading Tools Review

Recently I was asked to review a few products from See-N-Read. As always we are eager to try anything new. This was no exception as I am always searching for tools to help my kids in their reading skills.


I was asked to review all three of their products so I will start with the "See-N-Read". According to their website this product is designed to "help readers see, focus and remember text being read while filtering out distractions on the page." It is designed to reduce glare as well as line skipping.


This prodcut is available in a book size for $2.99 each or a document size for $3.49 each. You can also purchase multi-packs.

I had Paul, my 9 year old, avid reader, try this first. He used it a few times at my request and then said it slowed him down to have to move it down the page. He is a superb reader so I didn't make him use it anymore because he became fairly frustrated with it.

Zach, my 5 year old beginning/struggling reader tried it next. I was really hopeful that this would help Zach focus but instead it distracted him more. His books currently only have a couple of lines on each page so it was more distraction for him to have to move the "see-n-read" to the next page then it was helpful. I am continuing to have him use it because I think after he begins to read longer passages it will really help him. I really think this product is great for struggling readers if they can get past the novelty of the product!

I tried it out while I was doing my own personal reading and I had the same problem as my oldest (it slowed me down). However, I do enjoy it while reading aloud to the kids because no matter how many times someone interrupts I still have my place!

So, overall I would purchase a See-N-Read, especially since it is such a small investment of $2.99. It doesn't work for everyone in all situations but it is definitely a nice tool to have around!

The next product was the Memory Mark.


This is the same as the "See-N-Read" but the reading window is cut out so readers can highlight or underline the text. The boys did not have a use for this. I tend not to underline or highlight but instead make notes in the margin of the texts so I did not see the benefit in this tool for our family. I think this product would be very beneficial for high school and college students. The "Memory Mark" can be purchased for the same price as the "See-n-Read".

The final product was the "eSee-N-Read"

Again, the kids, as young as they are had no use for this. So I downloaded it on my laptop. This product works just like the "See-N-Read" except it is on your computer. You can pull it up on top of anything you want to read. The size is also customizable which was a really unique and helpful feature. I do not do a lot of heavy reading online so, for me, I did not use this product very much. I did have my husband look at it and he felt it would be great for analyzing data on circuits, which is what he does for his job. So, for someone who needs to look at lines and lines of data or text and pick out something it would be a very beneficial tool. This product is available as a download for $29.99. It was very easy to install and set up on my computer which is always a plus!

So, overall, though we are not huge users of any of the "See-N-Read" products I can see the benefit of each one for different groups of people. And all three products are very reasonably priced.

You can take a look at the products and read more about the research behind their products at their website here. And don't forget to take a look at what other crew members have 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