Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dive Into Your Imagination - a review

My kids love the ocean! They love anything to do with sea animals and the sea. Zachary is my biggest fan of sea creatures. While at the beach recently he spent hours with his goggles watching all the critters in the sea. So, naturally a video and accompanying curriculum about what lives in the sea would be very appealing to him!

We recently reviewed a video and the accompanying PDF curriculum for "Who Lives in the Sea". It is one of three video/curriculum sets done by Annie Crawley (aka "Ocean Annie"). Ocean Annie's desire is to create a love for all things ocean related. Along with this love she hopes children, and adults alike, will learn to respect and care for the creatures of the sea! My kids already love the ocean, but they are always anxious to learn more.

They loved the video, especially Zach, my animal lover. With the video came 2 PDF educator guides. One for the Pre-K to Kindergarten level, and one for the 1st-3rd grade level (each of them are over 300 pages long!) Since I have one rising 2nd grader and one rising Kindergartener we used bits and pieces of both levels. Paul really didn't do this curriculum with us, since he's a past the grade levels and he has so many other things going on I didn't add this to his plate. Zach and Molly loved the accompanying worksheets and activities. They couldn't get enough of it, and learned a great deal. We focused on the first unit about dolphins for a few weeks. You can definitely do it faster then we did, but they were enjoying the dolphins so much we just stuck with that. They learned ALL about dolphins and were even more excited about seeing the dolphins on our recent beach trip!

The DVD can be watched in its entirety (about 45 minutes) or it can be broken in to chapters based on what you are studying. The chapters are:

Let's Swim With the Dolphins
Playtime With the Sea Lions
Baby Birds and Their Families
Dinosaurs of the Sea: Marine Reptiles
Eight Armed Animals
Living Forever Under the Sea
Nudi, Nudi, Nudibranchs
Whale Sharks: World's Biggest Fish
Bonus Chapter: The Ocean Alphabet

We have watched it in it's entirety and the kids can't wait to learn about all the other animals and see the amazing photography of the ocean!

Ocean Annie has also made two other videos with accompanying educator guides.
"Dive Into Diversity"

"What Makes a Fish a Fish?"

Each of the DVD's are available for $19.95

You can purchase the entire set of Educator Guides for all three DVD's for $299, or just one of the individual guides for $69.95. However, Annie is offering a wonderful deal for you!

"As a special for the Homeschool Crew and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and followers Annie Crawley of Dive Into Your Imagination, will gift you a set of PDFs with the purchase of the DVDs. When you place your DVD order, just let her know in the notes that you are a Homeschool Parent!"

There is also free shipping for the months of May and June!

Take a look at Annie's Store to purchase whatever products you desire! With this great deal I would suggest getting all the DVD's now!

These Educator Guides and DVD's would be a wonderful summer science program if you are looking for something fun and easy to add to your day this summer! Or use them for your Science curriculum for next school year! We plan on finishing the current DVD we already have this summer! The kids will be learning and think they are just having fun!

Don't forget to head over to the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog to see what my CrewMates had to say about these products!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the above mentioned items in exchange for an honest review on my blog. All opinions stated here are my own, honest opinions. There was no other compensation given for this review.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Write Shop Primary-A - a review

We have not done any formal writing with Zach yet. He writes stories often and enjoys writing, but I knew we needed some formal writing instruction to help with sentence structure.

Write Shop offers writing instruction for Kindergarten through High School. The Primary-A level is designed for Kindergarten through 1st graders. The e-book teacher's guide is available for $24.25 and the activity pack is $4.50. The print edition is available for just a couple dollars more.

The program is very flexible and the teacher's guide explains three different ways to use the lessons. There are 8 activities for each lesson. You can use these lessons over a 1, 2, or 3 week period depending on what works best for your child. Since Zach enjoys writing we chose to do each lesson in 1 weeks time, completing two activities each day for 4 days. Even with two activities each day it only took us about 20 minutes each day to complete the activities.

The activities include brainstorming, pre-writing, writing, publishing, editing and revising techniques. There are also worksheets available as supplemental activities but we did not do alot of those. I am sure they would work well for some kids, just not Zach

Zach does also not like the actual physical part of writing and this program is great for that and encourages you, the teacher, to write for the child if writing is a challenge for them. This is what we did.

Zach loved this program. The first lesson was all about animals, which is Zach's absolute favorite thing! So, that worked out great for him, and for me!
Zach's biggest problem when writing is using periods when needed. He likes to just write, and write, and write and he absolutely hates it when I ask him to go back and put in periods. Me prompting him and having him state the complete sentence while I wrote it really helped him understand the concept of a sentence.

The program is definitely teacher-intense. There are never activities that the child can do completely on their own. However, it really doesn't take much time and it is effective in teaching the child to write well.

Write Shop offers many levels and several of the TOS Crew Members were asked to review different levels. You can get a good feel for all their programs by stopping by the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog and reading the reviews. I am sure there is a level that will work great for your student!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated here are my own, honest opinion. There was no other compensation given for this review.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cap Jax Math Facts - a review

Paul has finally mastered all his math facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. It was a LONG and difficult journey for him, and one that I am so glad we finally got through. Just in time for Zach to start this journey. I am hopeful it will be an easier task for him, but it doesn't look good so far! Mastering math facts basically takes lots and lots of repetition, and Zach gets bored and distracted quite easily so this may be another long road ahead!

I was excited to get to review a computer program that might help us on this journey. "Cap Jax Math Fax" is a simple computer program that is designed to help kids master these facts without having to go through flash cards with an adult every day. After all, flashcards are quite boring and time consuming.

So, I downloaded the game and gave it a try myself. It is very simple. I like the fact that the parent can choose exactly what skills are being worked on, and they can set the number of problems and the time parameters. You can play for "practice" or play for a rating which basically just keeps track of your score and time so you can race against yourself. There's no pressure and that's a good thing for Zach. There's also lots of positive feedback! I also love to be able to go on myself and see how much progress my child is making.

We have officially finished our school year, but I had already told the boys we would still be doing Math and Reading daily. When it came time for Zach's math I asked him to do Cap Jax. He was very excited to try out a new program and he liked it, at first. However, he got bored rather quickly and was distracted by all the other things on the screen. I made him do it daily for about 2 weeks. It was a chore to get him to do it every day. And, I had to sit with him to keep him on task. He did like the Merit Badges he earned and was quite pleased with his progress. However, he finally just asked if we could do flash cards instead. He is not a computer kid, he would much rather interact with a person. So, this was not the program for him.

Even though the program did not work for our family I think it would work well for a child that is more focused than Zach. It also, does its job, and sometimes that's more important than rather a child likes it or not! It would be a great tool for a child to use during the summer to sharpen or keep sharp the facts he has learned through the school year. Zach doesn't always get the concept of addition so that makes it even more of a challenge for him!

You can purchase the program as a download for $29.95. Or purchase the CD for an additional $5.95. There are also group and school packages available. If you want to give it a try before you invest in the program there is a free evaluation available as well!

Be sure and check out what other crew members thought at the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions given here are my own. There was no other compensation given for this review.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Go Science DVDs - a review

It is difficult to find Creation-based Science curriculum so I am always excited to get the opportunity to review any kind of Science that I know is Creation-based. Library and Educational Services offers a ton of great stuff. We were given the opportunity to review their Go Science DVDs!

The Go Science DVD's are designed for 6-14 year olds and are full of great experiments for the kids to watch and learn from. There are 6 DVDs in all:

- Motion: Discovering the Laws of Motion and Gravity
- Simple Machines, Sound, and Weather
- Magnetism, Engineering, Electricity, and Design
- Chemistry, States of Matter, and Life Science
- Air and Flight
- Water, Space, and the Solar System

We reviewed two of the DVD's and my younger two loved them. The instructor, Mr. Roy, has students from the audience help him with his experiments and he teaches, in a simple manner, the Science behind the experiment. It was perfect for my 5 and 6 year old to learn just that little bit of Science that they can understand at their ages. My 10 year old found them a bit juvenile for him and lost interest very quickly, though he did learn from them.

Mr Roy reminds us after each experiment that "Everytime we learn something new about Science we are learning something about our Creator, God!"

You can get a great deal on these DVDs through Library and Ed Services. One DVD is $8.97 or all 6 for $47.95. Take a look around Library and Ed's website too, there are so many wonderful resources for great prices!

Don't forget to check out what other Crew Members have to say at the TOS Crew Homeschool Blog.

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned products for free in exchange for an honest review. All opininos stated here are my own, honest opinion. There was no other compensation given for this review.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Judah Bible Curriculum - A Review

"Principle Approach refers to a philosophy of education whose content and methods are designed to build character in teacher and student capable of sustaining liberty."

I had never heard of this approach until I heard of the "Judah Bible Curriculum". Judah Bible believes, as do we, that Bible should be the centerpiece of education. It is the most important subject taught in the day. It should also be taught throughout the entire curriculum and not just as a part of the school day. It should become part of our every discussion. My desire is for my children to know and understand the Bible and be able to relate it to all areas of life. I don't want them to just know the simple Bible stories, I want them to know the truths behind them and how they apply in our life today.

Judah Bible Curriculum has many of the same goals as Steve and I do for our homeschool. When we received this for review I was quite overwhelmed with the volume of information we received. We received 8 lectures/Teacher Training Seminars to listen to, a K-12 Notebooking Ideas Journal, and a Teacher's manual via ebook. The lectures are the most important part to get you started. They share with you how to teach the Bible using the Principle Approach. You are also given a username and password to access more information online.

The idea for the Judah Bible Curriculum is for you and your child(ren) to study the Bible together and to pull out the "key ideas" and make a "key ideas sheet" for each theme you study. You can take a look at the Scope and Sequence to see which themes are studied and when. The idea is to study the entire Bible every year and to go more and more in depth as your children get older. It is definitely designed to work well with multiple ages at once, which is perfect for the homeschool family. It is a wonderful program, and I think it will work great for many parents.

For me, it works more like a guide than a curriculum. When I think of curriculum I am thinking everything I need is there, and there is not a lot of extra work on my part. Judah Bible suggests you create a notebook with all the information you are learning and for your child to do the same. However, the only thing that is provided are the "key idea sheets". These sheets are wonderful and we really enjoyed working on them together. However, I need more to make this more engaging for my younger children. I found coloring sheets and crossword puzzles online to go with each theme that we were studying. No, it's not difficult to find these things online, but it would be really nice if they were included in the material, to make it a more complete "curriculum". I also created some comprehension type questions to make sure my 5 and 6 year old were understanding what we were talking about. My 10 year old and I enjoyed the "key idea sheets" and Paul was able to pull more out then I thought he would be able to. Pulling out the key ideas of each passage truly helps the student to think about what the Bible is saying. It helps them to reach the ultimate goal of using the Bible in everything they do and in building the character I desire for my children!

So, in conclusion. The Judah Bible Curriculum gives you alot of great information on how to study the Bible both on your own and with your children. It does not, however, offer much in the way of materials to do this with. You will need to create or find the extra stuff on your own. I love the idea of creating a notebook as we work through studying the Bible. We have done this in History and the kids have really enjoyed looking back over what they have learned. I don't know why I never thought about doing that for Bible.

You can purchase all of the above mentioned as a download for $44 or you can order a hard copy for $74 (including shipping).

Please take a look at what other Crew Members had to say at the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog

Disclosure: I received the above product as a free download for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions stated above are my own, honest opinion and there was no other compensation given for this review.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Homeschool Library Builder

Steve and I both love to read. I don't have near as much time as I would like to to read but it doesn't stop me from buying books. My desire has always been to instill that love of reading into my kids. I know that the best way to do this is to read to them often and from a very early age. All of the kids had favorite books from very young ages (Paul loved Sandra Boynton's "Barnyard Dance" from the time he was 5 months old!).

I have also always known that having books readily available would also help instill that love of reading. So, the kids have had baskets of books by their bed, in the living room, and in the play room forever. Recently we turned the loft area in to a home library and we have 7 floor to ceiling bookcases full of books. We love books! It had taken me a long time to collect that many books, and cost alot of money. If I had only known about Homeschool Library Builder before now I probably could have saved a good bit of money.

Homeschool Library Builder offers a huge selection of living books as well as vintage and hard to find books. You can search by category of book, or by curriculum, or my favorite thing to do is to browse through them all. The prices are tremendous and the selection is also amazing.

And if you stop by in the month of May you get 25% off your entire purchase. So, while you are trying to purchase all those great books for next school year don't forget to visit Homeschool Library Builder!

You can also get a free membership and they will keep you updated on all their specials via email.

Check out what other TOS Crew Members have to say at the Homeschool Crew Blog!

Disclosure: This is a strictly informational review. I have received no compensation for this review. And I have ordered no products for this review.

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Monday, May 7, 2012


Here's a video of Molly reading her AAR phonics Reader on the last official day of K-4

And Zachary reading his favorite story on his last official day of 1st grade!

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School's OUT, School's OUT....

Teachers let the monkeys out! That is the song I remember singing on e last day of school. My kids don't know that song, and they (especially the two little ones) barely really know that school is officially out, since we do some sort of school year round. But we are officially done with 5th, 1st and Pre-K!

I love to look back at all the kids have accomplished each year. I am so pleased at how hard they have worked!

This was our first year of SONLIGHT, and oh how we loved it! My goal has always been for my kids to love reading....well look at all the books they have read this year. Paul read all of these for his reading time! There are a few more he read from the library so I don't have those. He has read 30 books this year. That doesn't even include all the read-alouds and the history I read to him. He has really enjoyed this year and learned so much!

He also completed Teaching Textbooks 5, some Queen Homeschool Bible studies, and so many review items. He has written several papers using IEW and worked through Abeka's 5th grade Language program? He has had a terrific year!

Zach really stepped in to reading this year. He has read these books for school. And, he spends hours in our home library reading all kinds of books on animals, insects, dinosaurs, and any thing he can get his hands on!

He has also completed Abeka "Letters and Sounds 1" and "Language 1". We worked really hard in Math and he is trying really hard! That is where he seemed to really struggle this year, so we will focus on Math this summer. He worked on handwriting a lot and improved drastically. He did LOTS of creative play and cutting, coloring, painting, and creating this year.

Molly mainly worked on reading this year. It's so exciting to see her world come alive with words! She pours over books and finds all the words she can read. She takes the boys chapter books and acts like she's reading them. She has a bookmark and marks where she left off. She can't wait to be able to read "big books" like the boys. I don't think it will be long and she will be reading like a pro! Reading was the only "official" schooling she did each day. Unofficially she worked on counting, and adding as well as handwriting. She loves to "do school" like the boys, so she had her own workboxes and she always had fun learning activities in them.

So, I now have a 6th grader (sniff, sniff) a 2nd grader, and a Kindergartener! Wow, they are growing so fast!