Friday, December 17, 2010
My middle boys (5, 7, and 9 years old) really liked an "assignment" I gave them recently--to look around the Tiny Planets website and see what they thought. We took the adventure together, and had some fun cosmic adventures with Bing and Bong, two aliens who travel the universe of Tiny Planets.
This website is divided up into different areas. The first is My Tiny Planets, which is the main page. The next is Tiny Planets TV, where the child/ren can watch videos of the show this website is based on. My Tiny Planets is where the child/ren can choose a variety of space adventures. Tiny Planets Fun contains puzzles, coloring pages, comics, etc. that can be utilized. Tiny Planets Books have interactive books that the child/ren can read, or have read to him or her. The Tiny Planets Labs is a place to try things out. You can find lesson plans and early learning goals at Tiny Planets Learning.
Ok, that is a very quick overview of the website. It is free, unless you want to purchase keys for further fun. We didn't do that, but there is that option. But, who can top free??? That is a very good thing for something that my children enjoy.
The website is set up for ages 4-12. I think there is flexibility in that as I observed with my boys. It is fast-paced and fun. It contains a lot of "stuff" that children like. There is a parent's account that I admit I had trouble setting up. That has nothing to do with this website, just the slow, technically challenged brain of mine!!
This website may not be for everyone. We will continue to look it over in more depth as the days go by. You can go to www.tinyplanets.com to look it over in more detail and see if it is a good fit for your family.
Be sure to read more reviews of this product at : http://homeschoolblogger.com/homeschoolcres/783525 to see what you think. It just may turn out to be something your children will really enjoy!
***Disclaimer: I signed up for this website at no charge in exchange for my honest review of it. I received no other compensation.***
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
It was perfect timing to get the game Wits and Wagers Family by North Star Games to review--right before Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years!! The website says it's a game with personality, and I have to agree.
In a nutshell, every player writes down a GUESS to a fun trivia question, and tries to score points by choosing which guess is closest to the right one without going over. (even if it's not your own guess.) There are 300 cards with questions (examples: how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon, how many columns go across the Lincoln Memorial, how many men have walked on the moon), a score card, individual mini white boards, dry erase markers, and Meeples. (human shaped wooden markers) Sounds like the makings of a great family game to me!! Don't take my word for it--try it out yourself!!
Wits and Wagers Family is a fun game to play. My children really liked it, after they figured it out. (which didn't take long.) The first time, my 16 year old, 14 year old, 9 year old, and 7 year old played it. (or in his case, tried to play it ) The little ones watched, and I watched the whole process. I didn't play that time so I could test to see how easy it was to figure it out, and they did quite easily.
The box says it is for ages 8+, 3-10 players. I urge you to go to the website at http://www.northstargames.com/ and take a look. You can purchase the game on Amazon, at Toys R Us, and other places on the web. The price is from around $18-20, depending on where you purchase it. It will be a fun experience for your family and friends!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
ALEKS stand for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces. it is web based. It is an artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that meets the student at his or her own level. In instructs the 3rd-12th grade student on topics he or she is most ready to learn. Wow. Sounds pretty cool, doesn't it?? It is!
It has a course library to support all that is being taught. I am impressed with all this program offers.
Now, for your enjoyment, are examples of screenshots you will see on the ALEKS website. This will give you a very good idea of the specifics of the program:
Impressed? Interested? Go to the ALEKS website (aleks.com) and sign up for the free trial. You will be glad you did! ALEKS is $19.95 for a month, $99.95 every 6 months, and $179.95 every 12 months. We were able to play around with it, and still didn't get to everything it has to offer. Have fun exploring...
***Disclaimer: I received a free month trial in exchange for my honest review of this product. I received no other compensation.***
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I've been homeschooling a long time, and have looked at and/or used a lot of things. Sometimes, though, I come across a company that sells something I've not heard of before. Master Innovations was like that for me.
I received a Master Clock to review, and I am really impressed!! It is a clock that has removable hands, and overlays that help with hours, minutes, and seconds. It also has a display for digital, so it can be a help for either analog or digital time-telling. It really is a clever little hands-on teaching tool!!
The clock is color coded, and goes along with the four clock face overlays. The hour hand is red, and so are the markings on the hour face. The minute hand is green, and goes along with the markings on the minute overlay. The second hand is blue, and coordinates with the markings on the second face. Gears connect the minute hand and the hour hand, so it works like a real clock. It may sound a bit confusing, but when you have the clock in hand, it makes sense.
There is a workbook that goes along with the clock. It has fun activities to learn about telling time, all using your Master Clock. It contains beginning and up to 5th grade concepts of telling time. It is very helpful to use it with your clock and make sure you are covering everything that needs to be covered.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I had been looking at the Christian Kids explore science series by Bright Ideas Press, so I was thrilled when I found out I would be reviewing Christian Kids Explore Biology. What a treat to be able to review something on my wish list!!
This science curriculum is really good. It is concise, well-written, and very Christian, which is THE most important thing to me. It is written by Stephanie Redmond, who is a homeschool mom. Funny thing is...it works for homeschooling!! You can work with individual students, or a multi-level group. You can make it work for the younger crowd, or add it to another curriculum for the older students, although it is intended for grades 3-6. It could be the sole curriculum, or a supplement. You can even use it as a review beyond elementary. Isn't flexibility nice??
The book has 35 lessons, intended for 2-90 minute lessons a week. Of course, it can be scheduled however you choose. It includes teaching lessons, coloring pages, hands on time (including some experiments--you could always add more if you like), memorization lists, review sheets, creative writing assignments, and a supplemental book list...WOW! It really packs a punch in its pages. I found it all helpful and informative for my 9 and 12 year olds. (the 7 year old listened in, too!)
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The writer of the curriculum, Rebecca Celsor, recommends the first level (on sentences to paragraph writing) for ages 11-13. I agree with that for my own children. For level 2 (on paragraph writing), she suggests ages 12-15, and level 3 (on essay writing) for ages 14-17. I found this to be totally flexible, since there are different levels of experience and skill. It was and will continue to be very helpful for my three middle girls, ages 12, 14, and 16, to make sure a good foundation for writing is in place
I received a teachers instruction manual and student worksheets. There were detailed instructions on how to put it all together, then implement it. It was confusing to me at first, but I am understanding more and more as time goes on. (yes, I'm slow--I have mommy brain most of the time!!) There is a 5 day schedule in the instruction booklet that goes like this:
Day 1: Sentence structure and sentence practice
Day 2: Instructions for paragraph writing--teacher writing instructions
Day 3: Work on paragraph writing assignment--mostly student independent work
Day 4: Finish paragraph writing assignment--most student completing independent work
Day 5: Poetry and Mind Bender (activities from the Critical Thinking company to order)
There is a 10 day schedule, too, which adds to the flexibility of this curriculum. You can tweak it to meet your needs and schedule. Oh, how I love products that allow for that!!
The curriculum is very well laid out, and gives much detail. It keeps the student engaged, and that is so important for learning. It is not a curriculum you can just pick up and teach, as it takes some thought and preparation beforehand to get a feel for it and understand how it works. It takes concentration and time to get the bugs worked out in your mind, as it is teacher intensive.
As far as ordering goes, you can order any level with lessons 1-15, 16-30 for $65 each plus tax, or a bundle that includes lessons 1-30 for $100 plus tax. You get an instruction manual, 1 set notebook ready worksheets, and a cd. Check out their website: thewritefoundation.org and get a feel for it yourself. You can read more reviews on this product at : homeschoolblogger.com/homeschoolcrew/783366
This is a writing curriculum you will want to look at. It just may be the thing for your family!
***Disclaimer: I was given this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review of it. I received no other compensation.***
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
These can potentially be dangerous times. Parents, we need to be so careful of our children! With the new technology that is available these days, things could get ugly for your children as they work or play on the computer. They could stumble on things we don't want them to see or do or read or experience. PG Key is (part of) the answer!!
PG Key is just that--a key you plug into your computer, then add a password, and presto!! Your child, whatever age, will be a lot safer on the computer. What could be easier than that?! As the mother of 11 children of all ages, I am thankful for anything that will make things more secure for them. We don't allow a lot of computer time, and it is closely monitored. BUT... it doesn't matter how young, old, responsible, trustworthy, or competent your children are--things can happen when they are doing a simple search for something, intentionally or not. With PG Key, things are just...safer. More secure. I like that!
PG Key has 10 parental controls:
-Chat and E-mail loggings
-User name and password logging
-Inappropriate activity evidence
As you can see, it has so many great features that will protect your children from inappropriate things on the computer/internet. My husband specifically commented on the time allowance, which would be helpful for anyone, young or old!! You are able to view all computer use for 60 hours--wow. That gives you a lot of useful information.
You can get a free trial of PG Key. Or, you can order for $49.99 plus shipping. There are no yearly fees. That is a deal.
Keep your children safe. Keep them accountable. Use whatever measures you have to use to achieve these goals. PG Key is a great start, along with a lot of parental monitoring. Stay involved in your children's lives--whatever age they are!!!
Visit the PG Key website and check it out:
***Disclaimer: I was given one PG Key free of charge in exchange for my review of it.***
Monday, October 11, 2010
This product incorporates phonics, reading, writing, and keyboarding. What a wonderful idea!! I always like it when a product covers more than one subject, and these subjects just naturally go together. I originally targeted my 7 year old son, and it was perfect for him. He enjoyed the activities with Lefty and Rightaway, and the villain Vexor. He would stay engaged at the task at hand for a good stretch of time, then had to stop. It kept his attention for the most part, but I think a 7 year old can only take so much learning at a time, even if it is FUN learning!
My 9 year old wasn't as enthusiastic. He is a good reader, and I think it felt a little slow to him. I think another product by Talking Fingers called Wordy Qwerty for grades 2-4 would be a better fit for him, although I may have him continue with Read, Write & Type just to get a good base in keyboarding.
I asked my 12 year old daughter to try it out, just to see if she could pick up some good keyboarding skills, but it was just too slow for her. She was able to tell me about it, so it did catch her attention, but because of her age, just didn't hold it. (and Talking Fingers targets this product for ages 6-9, so that makes sense!)
I have little ones, too, in the 3-4 year old range. They haven't done much on the computer at all, so this was too big of a challenge. We didn't get far at all, but I just wanted to check it out. They like to watch when big brother does it, and that is good for now!
This is a very good product that is lively and fun. It is geared toward how the brain learns. I am very impressed with this, and look forward to my son (s) completing it in the weeks to come.
The online version price of Read, Write & Type is based on how many users you have, and is good for five years. (one user -$35, two users - $55, three users-$70, four users-$80, and five users $100.) You can also get a CD version of RW&T for $79, and that would be good for a lot of children! Quite a good deal, if you ask me! (and I'm big on deals since I have 11 children...)
To order this online product, you can click here:
For the CD, you can click here:
For more information about this product or other products by Talking Fingers, click here:
This is a great product, and we definitely enjoyed reviewing it. Check it out today. Your child/children will be glad you did!!
***Disclaimer--I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review of it. I received no other compensation.***
Friday, October 1, 2010
My middle boys (ages 5, 7, and 9) love to have read-alouds with their dad before they go to bed. Foundlings (Book One of The Peleg Chronicles by Zoe & Sozo Publishing) was the perfect book for them to read together. I think it will leave you wishing for more! (there is a second book called Paladins already out, with a promise from the author for more...that is good news!)
The author, Matthew Christian Harding, has a fascinating testimony on his website. It definitely made you think, and I appreciate that. It is good background to the book, too, in my opinion.
The back of the book says there is no evolution, no magic, and no humanism. That is wonderful news, isn't it? My boys love these kinds of books. I'm sure some girls do, too. (mine don't, but the boys like them enough to make up for that! I've almost convinced a few of my daughters to try reading the book...) Sometimes books of this type are not books I want my children reading. You just have to be so careful. The good news is...this book is good, safe, and exciting. It contains a lot of Bible truths and Christian traits. That is a very good combination for fun read-alouds with Dad!!
Here is a description of the book from the publisher (from the back of the book):
"There will be dragons. There be giants. And God: our maker, our help, and our righteous judge." The Warrior's broad hand rested upon the eager shoulder of a boy. "Does it not stir your soul?"
It was in the days of Peleg, when the world was divided. After the flood of Noah, after the tower of Babel and the dispersion, when men wondered where they were upon the earth, and where their fellows had gone to, when beasts were more numerous than men-predators in the mood, in the water, and in the air. But men struggled and fought, carving their place. And in the process of time they once again began to multiply upon the face of the earth.
Fergus was shield-bearer, sworn protector of his liege Lord. Armed with spear and sword, his purpose, he knew, was to defend his master, anticipate danger, and support assault. But keeping up with McDougal's long legs was difficult, and he trembled with excitement of what might come next.
A human voice screaming, and McDougal exploded down the hillside. A moment later, he leapt upon a rock twenty feet from the bog's discernable edge and drew back the first arrow. Fergus scrambled up beside him.
On the other side of the marsh, a man of dwarf height, thickset, and slightly hunched, staggered from the weeds-a mace outstretched above his head. He peered into the high branches of the forest. But the pursuing creature, whatever it was, did not emerge from the canopy above. Down at the forest floor, near the base of a great dead tree, a black mouth, imbued with yellow teeth, hissed and snarled. The dwarf screamed and swung his mace through the air...
That gives a good introduction to the book, enough to make you wonder what else is inside!
The boys had some trouble following the story at times since they are young. My 17 year old son was reading it, too, and found the same problem at times, but was able to work through that. There was good character development and lots of plot to follow. You just have to love a book like that! Enjoy!!
The book (along with the second in the series) sells for $11.95, with free shipping. Order it here:
Friday, September 17, 2010
The concept is very simple. Take a look at the sample cartoon below, taken from the website vocabularycartoons.com:
Sound simple? Well, it is. And...it works to help the student learn the words. I love the use of mnemonics in learning, and that is what this whole book from New Monics Books, Inc., is about. I also like it when fun learning takes place, and that is what happened as my children read this wonderful book!
First, there is the main word with a dictionary entry. (which is not shown in this example, but the word is "Fathom, v. to understand fully; to penetrate the meaning of.") Then, a simple link word or phrase is listed, one that sounds like the main word. (fat thumb) Underneath that is the crazy cartoon to incorporate the main word and link word into something unforgettable. The caption is underneath the cartoon, connecting both words in a sentence. Finally, there are sample sentences on the bottom of the page to reinforce learning. This particular cartoon had "The jury found it hard to fathom how the defendant could commit such a terrible crime." as one of three sample sentences.
This particular book sells for $12.95 at:
It is targeted for grades 7-12. My 12th grade son already took his college entrance tests, but this book would have been a great help. I'm using it for my 8th and 9th grade daughters to develop their vocabulary for now, which is always a plus, and to help them study for their college entrance tests when or if the time comes.
So, my kids will learn lots of vocabulary words and have fun while they are doing it. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!!
Check out other reviews of this product at:
*** Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review of it. I received no other compensation.***
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
TOS Crew Review: Math Tutor DVD's--Pre-Algebra and The Texas Instruments TI-83/TI-84 Calculator Tutor
The Pre-Algebra Tutor Volume 1 is a great tool to get students ready to tackle the big world of Algebra. This was actually on my "wish list" to follow The 1st Through 7th Grade Math Tutor and Basic Math Word Problems Tutor DVD's that we already own. This DVD is Jason Gibson, a white board, a dry erase marker, and oodles of information! I like how it flows so smoothly, even when he is writing on the white board. He makes the examples understandable, and puts things in layman's terms, which is a great thing when you are beginning to work on Algebra.
Disc 1 has 5 sections as follows:
Section 1: Real Numbers
Section 2: The Number Line
Section 3: Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To
Section 4: Absolute Value and Adding Integers
Section 5: Subtracting Integers
Disc 2 has 4 sections as follows:
Section 6: Multiplying Integers
Section 7: Dividing Integers
Section 8: Powers and Exponents
Section 9: Order of Operations
Mr. Gibson works lots of examples for the students, and makes everything seem less intimidating. It is helping my girls learn some math concepts, and that is a very good thing. They are understanding things that were never clear before. Learning by examples really works! For the Pre-Algebra Volume 1 DVD, the price is $26.99 plus shipping for 5 hours of instruction, which is so reasonable, especially when you think of hiring a tutor to help with the same learning. Here is the link for this DVD:
The Texas Instruments TI-83 and TI-84 Calculator Tutor is a wonderful way for a student to learn all the "mysteries" of the calculator he or she owns. My 17 year old son is working his way through the DVD, and is finding out all sorts of things he didn't know. It is perfect timing, too, as he is going to re-take the ACT test soon, and it's giving him some good information. It goes into great detail to explain things, which is necessary for the subject of a calculator. A calculator screen appears and things are worked on the screen, and that is so helpful to see problems demonstrated. There are three discs that cover many, many topics, including such topics as the mode menu, drawing on a graph, and calculating interest rates. That is obviously just scratching the surface of all the information included. The price for the Texas Instruments TI-83/TI-84 Calculator Tutor DVD is also $26.99 plus tax--for 8 hours of instruction! Here is the link for this DVD:
The Math Tutor DVD's have a warning on them:
Caution! The use of this DVD will cause increased understanding of (fill in the blank with your subject of choice!)
You know what? I agree! And...isn't that one of the main reasons we homeschool?
****Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest review of it. I received no other compensation.****
Check out more reviews of this product (and lots of others) on The Old Schoolhouse blog!!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Are you looking for monthly resources to jump start your curriculum, such as lists and charts and writing prompts? Here they are, and lots of them. Do you need ideas for surviving as a homeschooling mom, discussing such things as burnout and manners? Here you have it. Are your meals becoming boring and bothersome? Check out the recipes included. (How about Slow Cooker Pizza, Layered Corn Casserole, White Bean Chicken Chili, and Blueberry Crumble Cake to stimulate your appetite, just for starters?) Would articles on timelining history or creative writing help you in your homeschool journey? Done! (with many, many other articles to choose from also.)
This planner is divided into months and filled with idea after idea, article after article, chart after chart, list after list...what a wealth of information for a new homeschooler, an experienced homeschooler, or even a seasoned homeschooler. Anyone can benefit from the information, whether you feel like you've got it all figured out, or you are overwhelmed with the thought of it all. There are websites listed to help with different topics of the month, and resources from The Old Schoolhouse store, too. I appreciate the work being done for me!
I love all the lists. Just to scratch the surface, there were lists for animal classification, writing prompts, cloud types, planets, branches of government... Do you get the idea that you can find just about anything you'd need here? Please don't get me started on the forms. I am a form girl, and love to at least attempt to be organized. This is form heaven. You get forms for homeschooling, like grades and transcripts, but also for home organization such as a household budget sheet or address book.
Now we get to the planner. It is great. You can customize it to your needs, and fill it out right there. It really is a great idea, and I'm excited to implement it. You have all sorts of options, and that helps make it functional for each family.
I am obviously just scratching the surface, but you will want this planner. You will NEED this planner. Even if you just use part of the planner, it will be well worth it. Here are the links for the downloadable version: http://www.theoldschoolhousestore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=191_193&products_id=14269 or CD: http://www.theoldschoolhousestore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=191_193&products_id=15592.
Homeschooling is tricky enough without having to worry about the things that are already included in this wonderful resource. It takes a lot to impress this old homeschooling mama, but I must say I am impressed with the 2010 Homeschool Planner. All I can say is...check it out soon!!! You (and your homeschool students) will be glad you did!
FYI and Disclaimer: I am a member of the TOS crew, and I received and used the 2010 Schoolhouse Planner free of charge so I could enter a contest where I write an ad about it for a chance to win. But, I really did like it, so I can wholeheartedly recommend it, contest or not!=)
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
That would have made for a wonderful week, but then Greg and Nancy led science classes for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. It was so much fun. I told Greg he was like Mary Poppins pulling things out of a bag. It went from one interesting thing to another. We tested blood, did our fingerprints, talked about genetics, and learned how to do stitches. (not on each other, fortunately--it's harder than you'd think! We'd have some funky scars...) The kids liked the dissections--a worm, crawfish, sheep's pluck, cow's eyeball, and a sheep's pregnant uterus. This is a lot, but it seems I'm just barely scratching the surface of the activities of the week. It was so well planned and smooth and interesting and educational yet fun...who could ask for more??? They even had classes for the little ones each day, led by a wonderful teacher named Jody. It was just such a blessing to see the dads and moms work and play with the kids. I just wanted to cry every time I looked around the room.
Ok, I know I will post more about the week, and Greg and Nancy, in the weeks to come. (I may even post some pics if I can figure out how to do that--or should I say if I can get Travis to do it for me!!) Now I need to bury out from under laundry and sunburn and vacation stuff first. But, I did want to say how great the week was, and how wonderful a teacher Greg is. We were blessed beyond belief. The kids are still sad about coming home!! They want to save up to go to science camp next year!! (and to think they were a bit hesitant about going to the first science class!)
Monday, July 19, 2010
I have been homeschooling for 15 years, so I pretty much know what I like within a few minutes of looking through it. I really like this product!! It has such an easy, conversational style that is fun to read. It starts out with basic geography information, then moves into continents where things are more in depth. I appreciate the Bible verses that are included--a very nice touch. There are vocabulary words and concepts in blue that you can click on within the text to get more information. That is very helpful to my children as they go through the geography lessons. I also like the hyperlinks for other activities--there are a lot of them, at different levels, and they are very good resources. My middle school age girls had fun with them. My younger sons had fun looking over their shoulders.
I like the extra activities that are included. There are games, like a word search, a crossword puzzle, and rebus puzzles that are fun for the younger kids. (and even the older ones, although they probably won't admit it!) Then, to check comprehension, there is a fill-in-the-blank sheet and maps. Just to make sure the students have enough to do, there are copywork pages and lapbook activities. Wow!! There is a lot of material here! The high schoolers get a different set of activities more geared to their age, such as recipes (they looked good!!)and different activity sheets for older learners.
This is good supplemental material. It is not a full curriculum, though. My children and I had fun with it as we looked it over and tried it out. I think it is a wealth of information on geography, and would be a great addition to any homeschool curriculum. Some of my children really like the extra things, and some would rather just get their work done and not mess with it. Most of them really enjoyed playing around with this e-book. My 17 year old son, however, did not have much interest in it due to his age. That is just how he is. It's still a great product, and you can use as little or as much of this material to adapt it to your homeschool easily. And... that is what homeschool is all about, isn't it??
***Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion of it. I received no other compensation.***
Check out more reviews of this product (and lots of others) on The Old Schoolhouse blog!