Friday, April 29, 2011

Greek N Stuff - Bible Material Review

Paul has always loved reading his Bible. I distinctly remember him being barely 3 years old and he would sit and turn the pages of his Bible for 30-40 minutes at a time. It was just words, but he somehow knew they were special words. He slept with his Bible on many occasions. So, it was no surprise when he first learned how to read all he wanted to read was his Bible. He would sound out the words so slowly at first but before I knew it he was reading verse after verse without slowing down. About 2 years ago he took it upon himself to start reading his Bible every morning before we start school. His goal for this year is to read the New Testament through in a year--pretty big goal for a 9 year old to set for himself.
So, when we were asked to review a new Bible Study written by a former homeschooling Mom, Karen Mohs, I was excited for Paul to learn to study his Bible a little more in depth. The Bible study we were asked to review is called "I Can Study 1 Samuel Alone With God". This study takes the book of 1 Samuel and breaks it down into 13 weekly units. Each day of the week (except Sunday) there is a check box to remind the student to Pray and then to recite the weekly memory verse that is given. Then there are 3-4 questions about the passage to be read for that day. Each daily lesson is short and focuses on about 3-4 verses. This study is designed for middle and upper elementary students. Developer, Karen Mohs is also the writer of the Greek-N-Stuff material that many homeschoolers know and love. Who knew they offered Bible materials as well. Currently you can order studies for 1 Samuel, Jonah and Ruth, Esther, and Acts. Each study is $21.95.

Our Thoughts
Many people do not know how to study the Bible. So, I love the idea of teaching kids early how to break apart verses and learn what the Bible is saying to them. This study does a great job of this on a level that is perfect for the middle elementary student (3rd-4th grade). I think a child in the upper elementary age group might get a little bored with the very simple study, but it probably depends on how much Bible they have studied in the past. The memory verses were very nice to have to go along with the study. This is a very solid Bible Study! Also, you can choose if you would like King James Version or New International Version, which we were really appreciative of. It is hard to find good homeschool curriculum that uses the King James Version of the Bible.

There was only one small problem I found with the program, and it might not be a problem for every student, depending on how you use it. Each week takes about 21 verses of 1 Samuel, that group of verses is what all the questions will be pertaining to that week. The questions will come in order. So, as I already, mentioned, there are about 3-4 verses to focus on each day. What I found was that if Paul read all 21 verses everyday he was bored to tears by the time Saturday came along. So, I just had to go through and write down what 3-4 verses I wanted him to read and study that day. It was not a big deal to have to do that, but it would have been really nice for that to have been included in each day's breakdown. Each question does offer a reference as to where it could be found in the Bible. So, the student could just read the verse referenced for each question, but I wanted Paul to read several verses to fully understand the passage.

As always, if you would like to see what other TOS Crew Members have to say, please go here

Be sure and check out Greek-N-Stuff's website for all the amazing material they have to offer!

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.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

See the Light Art Class - Review

Paul loves art. He loves to draw and paint and always has. Last spring he took a couple of art classes at our local Cultural Arts Center, he loved them and did so well. Unfortunately the cost of art classes was just not in the budget for this school year. Paul was disappointed but I picked up some art supplies and he has continued to "play" with them on his own and done quite well. So, imagine how excited we were to review See the Light Art Class


We were asked to review Volume One of the Art Class DVD's. Volume 1 covers the first 4 lessons. There are 9 volumes total with 4 lessons on each DVD. In Volume 1 each lesson is about 10 minutes long and covers the basics of art, what tools are needed, contour and composition etc. There is also a brief Bible "lesson" in each lesson. There is no set age for this curriculum but I would think about age 6 would be the youngest I would use this. It would work for younger children with strong fine motor skills. It could be used for kids up to the middle school age if they have not had any or very little art experience in the past.

There are various options for purchasing this program and you can see the options here. There are also many other art lessons you can purchase.

If you would like to view the first three lessons of "Art Class" for free head on over here.

Our Thoughts
Since Paul has had art in the past this was a bit simple for him. Each lesson is very brief and doesn't cover quite enough for his taste. With that said, I think it will be great for Zachary when his fine motor skills are a little stronger. He has not had any art classes and doesn't have the love of art that Paul has so I think this will be a great introductory course for him possibly next year.

To see what other crew members think go 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, April 20, 2011

Growing Healthy Homes - Review

Growing up my Dad drove a truck for a food distributor. He delivered to fast food restaurants such as Wendy's and Dairy Queen. When a box of food was damaged and the restaurant wouldn't take it Dad often brought it home to us, since what was inside was still good. This meant we ate lots of chicken nuggets, french fries, hamburgers and all the other stuff that fast food restaurants sale. My parents owned a deep fryer and most of what we ate was fried. My parents really didn't know that all the foods we ate were horrible for us. We didn't know about trans fat, artificial flavors, colors and the like. We ate frozen french fries fried in vegetable oil almost every meal. We even had fries with spaghetti and lasagna.

Fast forward 25 years and my Dad has passed away of heart problems at only 62 years old. My Mom deals is only 58 and suffers with short-term memory loss and lots of other minor health problems. And I am desperately trying to raise my children so they know how to eat the right foods and the right portion sizes. It is all new to me. It was only about two years ago that I started learning about all the problems associated with foods. There is so much information out there I didn't know where to start. I knew my middle son was having some learning difficulties and felt certain something needed to be done, and we did not want to medicate as the doctors suggested. We already watched his sugar intake as well as dyes in foods, but I knew there was more to it than that. A little over a year ago we finally figured out he has a gluten intolerance. Since we have cut out all gluten as well as many other foods laden with dyes and sugars of all types we have seen a huge difference. But I knew there was still more information out there and I was slowly but surely wading through the vast amount of websites and books on the subject of eating healthy. And then I was given the opportunity to review a wonderful resource published by Growing Healthy Homes.


The book is called Nutrition 101: Choose Life

This is a 429 page book chock full of information about how our bodies work and what foods and other products we use daily can do to our bodies. It is a complete science curriculum and so much more! We received a pdf version of the book to review. After reading through much of it on my computer I knew I had to print it out to have it more easily accessible. So, I printed out 429 beautiful, fact-filled pages.

There a 6 different units in the book covering all your major body systems and organs. Each unit is broken down into 4 different chapters. It is enough information that it is going to take us atleast a full year, if not two to read through it all. With each chapter you are given a huge amount of information as well as discussion questions for elementary kids as well as secondary students. You are also given various activities and a recipe to go with each chapter. My kids have loved making and trying the new foods. We made guacamole as a good brain food. You can go here and see my post on guacamole! We also made "Potato Salad with Flaxseed Oil - Hold the Mayo" to show us a good nervous system food. Here you see them cutting up all the different ingredients and then their reactions to the final product. Molly LOVED it and ate two helpings, Paul thought it was "ok", and Zach didn't really care for it. Regardless of their reaction we learned that there are certain foods that are good for certain body systems.

There is so much information in this book. In addition to the units there are appendices full of useful information. Each unit also gives foods that are good and bad for that particular body system. We have taken those lists and created lists for our refrigerator to remind us to eat healthy. At most meals we will look at our lists and compare them to what we are eating. Sometimes the kids will even ask to add a certain food to our meal because we are missing a food that fits into a particular category.

At first the kids complained about Mommy's latest antics to get them to eat healthier. They didn't quite understand why we weren't eating fast food and ordering pizza quite as often. Although we haven't cut it out totally it has been limited. But as we have studied more about the body and what it needs to be healthy and what being healthy means they have started asking more questions and making wiser decisions on what they eat. Now, they still ask for candy and cookies when we go to the grocery store and they still get snacks occasionally from the concession stand at their baseball games, after all they are kids. But they also know they need fruits and veggies at every meal and they know what organic means and how that is better for you. They know what foods we need to eat to keep our brain healthy so we can learn, and they understand why I don't let them eat pancakes with syrup before we start school each day. We made a trip to a new local farmers market last week (I wish I had thought to take the camera) and they were able to talk to several local farmers and gain even more insight in to healthy living. I can not say enough wonderful things about this book/curriculum. It is great for the entire family, no matter what the age. I have skipped parts of the information about the various body systems because it is just too far over their heads. But the information has helped me make more informed decision about what I am feeding my family, and helping me to Grow a Healthy Home! The book can be ordered either on CD or a print version. The CD version is $79.95, hardcover book is $99.95 or you can get both for $129.95. I know it is pricey but I am telling you, it is worth it. Go here to get your copy! Just look at Zachary's grin as he happily eats strawberries and celery for a snack!

If you would like to read about what other crew members thought about this product go here.

Also, you can see a sample of the book here.

To sum things up this book has been such a blessing to me and my family. It has saved me so much time searching on the internet to learn about what foods as well as household cleaning products and personal care products are good and bad for our bodies. I have learned so much and I am so excited to continue using this book for myself and my kiddos to make us all healthier and happier! God sure knows what we need and when we need it.

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, April 13, 2011

All About Reading -- Review

I have always heard that when you homeschool the younger children will easily pick up on what the older child/children are doing. This has never been the case for Zach, probably due to the 4 year age difference between he and Paul. However, this is very much the case with Molly. She loves to sit with Zach and I while we "do school" and she learns so much just by being there with us. This year she has really, really wanted to have just as much schoolwork as the boys do, and she is no longer happy with paper to just draw on or small puzzles to put together, she wants REAL school. So, when the opportunity came along to review the very first level of the new All About Reading.

Level Pre-1 is designed for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
The program focuses on the "Big Five Skills"
Letter Knowledge/Recognition
Phonological Awareness
Print Awareness
Listening Comprehension

This program is designed and published by the same publishers as "All About Spelling". We have never personally used All About Spelling but I have heard nothing but wonderful things about it and if it is anything like "All About Reading" I may need to take a look at it at the upcoming convention. We were really impressed with All About Reading and Molly was so excited to have her very own books and papers designed just for her.

The complete deluxe package includes everything you see in the picture above and is listed below:
208 page Teachers Manual
The ZigZag Zebra: A Rhyming Alphabet (Hardcover book and on CD)
Lizard Lou: Rhymes Old and New (Hardcover book and on CD)
192 Page Student Alphabet Book (Consumable)
Picture Cards (divided into several activities)
Letter Sound Cards
Divider Cards to keep the picture cards and letter sound cards organized
A box to put the cards in and keep them organized
"Letter Sounds A to Z" CD-Rom
Zig Zag the Zebra Puppet
A tote bag
2 posters, 1 with uppercase letters, 1 with lowercase letters

All of this can be purchased together for $119.95. There is a basic package available also, but that one doesn't include the Zebra and Zig-Zag made reading so much more fun for Molly! You can also purchase the individual items.

The Zebra puppet is so soft and adorable all my kids want to play with it. Molly made sure everyone knew it was HERS! I made sure everyone knew it had to stay with the school stuff. It would have been lost somewhere in their piles of stuffed animals if I had not made that rule. So, it lives on the top of Molly's workboxes and she loves all the rhyming games Zig-Zag plays with her
All About Reading Pre-1 Level is a very gentle approach to teaching your young students pre-reading skills. It starts by teaching the capital letters. There are games and activities to go with each lesson as well as more suggested activities in the back of the book. The student book has one page for each letter. You typically have your child color part of it and then add something else to it, such as paint, constuction paper, etc. Molly really enjoyed doing her papers. Here is her "G" paper. She colored the "G" Gold and then we added "seaweed" to the fish bowl

After learning all of the upper case letters you start working on the lower case letters. The lower case activities are similar to the upper case. There are also worksheets that the child picks out the current letter from several letters all over a page and circles it. (Sorry I totally forgot to take a picture of this type of paper)

Each lesson is a new letter so you can choose to do a new letter each day, which is what we did. Or you can stretch out the letter and do a new letter every couple of days or one each week. It really depends on what your child is ready for. Molly knows most of her letters already but really needed to review them all and make sure she could recognize them. So, this was perfect for her to go through the letters quickly. On the days that I knew she knew the letter we would do two or three letters if she wanted to. The program is very flexible. There are also lots of rhyming activities and other games to increase phonological awareness in the daily lesson plans. Molly loved the rhyming games we played with Zig Zag the Zebra. Zach joined us for most of the game playing and really benefited from it as well.
After your child goes through all the upper and lower case letters you begin to work on the sounds of each letter. Each letter has a "cut and paste" activity as shown below. The student has to pick out the pictures that start with that letter sound. Any time cutting and gluing is involved Molly is very happy!

Our thoughts:
I really enjoyed this program and enjoyed having something for Molly to do to help her get used to "school work". She enjoyed her own special time with Mommy. The curriculum reminds you of how important it is to read to your young children everyday. It is a very gentle approach and honestly wasn't quite enough for Molly. I think it would probably be enough for most children at her age but for her she wants more. I added handwriting sheets and another letter/sound activity each day for her. So, if your child wants/needs more then you will have to add to this program. If you are just looking for a gentle, easy approach for your kiddos then this is the perfect pre-reading curriculum for you. Even if your child needs more it was very easy to add an activity or two or go through the curriculum at a quicker pace. It is so flexible!! It is a very easy, open and go, type of curriculum. The activities are fun, engaging, and they actually teach them the letters and their sounds! It does not require a lot of time in preparation and also takes very little time to teach. I can't wait until Level 1 becomes available. The scheduled release date is the beginning of June.

You can get a couple of ebooks to take a look at for free here.

If you would like to see what other Crew Members thought go 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, April 6, 2011

Kinderbach - Review

Kinderbach is an online program designed to teach young children the basics of piano. It is a very gentle approach to teaching music. It is created to teach kids aged 2-7. I have a 3 and 5 year old using it and it is perfect for them.

You can purchase online lessons or the DVD's to teach your kids music at home. Prices begin at $7.99/month and go up from there depending on what you want to purchase. You can see all the purchasing options here


Kinderbach is 60 weeks of lessons with 4 lessons per week. Each lesson is pretty short and most have other activities to do off of the computer. There are coloring pages, activities on the piano/keyboard and games to help young learners get ready to learn any instrument. According to their website each child will know the following at the end of all the lessons:

Know all the notes on the piano by location and letter name
Be familiar with the grand staff,
Read some individual notes on staff and all notes by pattern on staff,
Understand and read rhythms from eighth to whole notes,
Have improved listening skills so that he/she can interpret rhythms, intervals and patterns heard.
Play familiar melodies,
Play hands together or separately,
Have a working music vocabulary,
Understand basic composition methods

Kinderbach uses fun characters and great stories to teach all the things listed above. In the first week my 3 and 5 year old knew where the "D" was on any piano/keyboard. "Dodie the Donkey" lives between the two black keys, so the "D" is between the two black keys. The other great characters are teaching them the rest of the notes on the piano. The characters are as follows:

Frisco--the little boy who helps your kids learn about all the characters.
Alan the Alligator
Bob the Bear
Carla the Caterpillar
Edward the Eagle
Felicity the Frog
Gracie the Gorilla.

My animal loving kids have really attached to the characters we have learned so far. They can't get enough of them and are learning the notes of the keyboard while having a blast.


They are also learning what each note looks like and how many beats it has. Frisco is teaching them how to stay in rhythm and count beats. I am very impressed with the program and how well the kids are learning music theory. I feel like it is a great base for them to start with. Paul started piano lessons in the first grade and has done well with them. We were debating if Zach was ready for them or not next year. He is a "young" first grader and not quite ready for formal piano lessons and the practice time that sometimes entails. Now we know we can just continue through Kinderbach and give him a firm foundation in music before we start the formal lessons when he is more ready for them.

Molly has a slight disadvantage when it comes to piano playing (although you could never convince her of that). She has only a partial thumb on her left hand and on her right hand she has three fingers and a thumb and none of them bend and move as they "should". So, when the lessons started numbering fingers I watched her closely to see how she did. She just works with her left hand and doesn't even think about it. She has made a couple of comments about not having 5 fingers on the right hand (something she never noticed before). But she has still learned her notes and their names and is working on a wonderful foundation for whatever instrument she does decide to play. We are thinking the violin may be more suitable to her needs.

Kinderbach has really increased both of the kids desire to learn music and they often want to pick out a "song" on the piano instead of just banging on the keys. Early on in the lessons we made rhythm instruments out of butter containers with beans inside. We have used them as "maracas" as well as "drums" with pencils as drumsticks. The kids love this!
Notice Molly's "I am really trying" face!
Zachary thought it would be so funny to use his "twistable" crayons instead of pencils. Kids crack me up when simple things make them so happy!

To see what other Crew Members have to say about Kinderbach go 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, April 4, 2011

Goal Planning Monday

An update from last week: I really enjoyed playing several board games with the kids. Our new favorite game (which isn't a "board game") but still a game is "Toy Story Kerplunk!" All three kids can play it with the same chances of winning. We all laughed and played for several rounds. The dress pattern still sits on the top of my sewing basket begging to be cut out, Easter outfits still need to be purchased and my kitchen cabinets still need to be cleaned out. I did enjoy a nice chat with an old friend and really enjoyed that. I also immensely enjoyed spending some extra time with my kiddos. All too often we, as homeschool Moms get caught up in lesson plans and housecleaning that we forget to find time to spend with our kids. I hate it when I do that. So, my goals did not go so well last week, but that's ok.

This week is "Spring Break" for the Christian School that most of my kids' friends go to, so we take the week off as well. We enjoyed a great day with family today at an Animal Safari not to far from our home. For the remainder of the week we have plans of heading to Six Flags, Lake Winnie, and just hanging out at home with friends over to enjoy this beautiful Spring weather. So, my goals for this week are:

1. Enjoy my time with the kids! As I already said it's hard to find time to spend with the kiddos sometimes, and I want to make sure and do that this week!

2. Plant some flowers. I love flowers, but I kill them. Last year I didn't plant any. We didn't really have the money and I never did find the time. But this year I am determined to keep some flowers alive as well as start a small garden. This week if I can just get the two containers on the front porch filled with flowers I will be happy!

3. Plan out the last few weeks of school. I sat down a few weeks ago and wrote out all our lessons for the last 8 weeks of school. Then, my Mom was in the hospital for a week and our whole schedule was thrown off. The week after that was spent simply catching up around here, so now I need a new plan to finish off the school year.

4. Cut out that pattern. This is a carry over from last week. Maybe it will get done this week.

5. Get those Easter outfits purchased. (Another carry over)

Head on over to Mama Manuscripts and take a look at every one elses goals and perhaps link up with your own goals!

Kabongo Review

Kabongo is a new "online world of brain boosting games for reading". It is designed for 4 to 7 year olds to help them build the skills needed to learn to read.


The games are created to work on the skills kids need to develop good reading skills. These skills include but are not limited to:

Attention and Focus
Working Memory
Successive Processing
Spatial Awareness

There are three "habitats" that your child can play in, "Laughter Lake", "Twister Tops" and "Galaxy Gardens". Laughter Lake is free to learn and enjoy and each of the other habitats is only $4.95. In each habitat there are several games with different skill levels. Your child progresses through the skill levels at their own speed and in their own time. A break down of the skills acquired in each game is below:


There are lots of fun characters that help the student along the way with their learning activities.


My kids LOVED this program, they simply could not get enough, and I loved the fact that they were learning without realizing it. It was simple enough that they could do the games on their own, but challenging enough that they did not get bored. They are 3 and 5 and I would say they are the perfect ages for this product. They asked for this daily, sometimes multiple times/day. If I needed a reward for them to motivate them to get something else done Kabongo always did the trick! The game starts in the "treehouse" and then the kids can click on the map to move to the habitats with all the games.

Kabongo home

Kabongo map

One warning, my kids loved the comic book portion and they wanted to print their creations all the time. So, you may go through a good deal of ink if you allow them to print often. Mine were limited to only one page each per day. That kept them happy without using all our ink!

Each week parents are sent an email for their child and what games they have played that week as well as the skill level they are working on. Or, you can log on to the parent account at any time and view how your child is doing. The site also offers lots of great activity ideas as well as printables for the kids to color.

My two youngest helped me review this product and they could not get enough! They would like to say THANKS to Kabongo for creating an awesome, easy to use, computer game for their age group.
You can see what other crew members had to say about Kabongo 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