Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Great Find: North Star Games "Wits and Wagers Family"

Looking for a fun, simple to play, great for all ages family game? Then I would definitely recommend Wits and Wagers Family!  Before playing the game I went to the website to check out the company. The makers of the game set out to design games with "personality." Wits an Wagers Family!  is full of personality. When we have played the game it is with two adults and two children ages 11 and 8. It has been fun for the whole family. The variety of questions made it an game everyone has a chance to win. Our 8 year old has won fair and square several times! (We played with the suggested idea of letting the reader of the card pick their question to even the odds.)

I also found this description from the December 10, 2007 Washington Post:
Wits & Wagers is a trivia contest, but with a gaming table twist. Players seek to answer numerically based questions and use casino-style chips to place bets on their responses and those of other players. Whoever has the most chips at the end wins. Since that date, the game as been adapted to the family audience. The premise is the same but now it has a family feel and Meeples shown above instead of chips.
The instructions are simple and easy to follow. You can play the game by teams or individual.  The game is a guessing game. You can answer questions (150 come with the game) such as "How many texts does the average teenager send each day?" "In miles, what is the furthest a person has traveled on a unicycle in one 1 hour?" Each person/team writes down their "wager" the person closest to the correct answer without going over scores. The first team to score 15 points wins. There are 3 ways to score which is a variation to the game and makes it fun. I would suggest you buy the game to found out those 3 ways! You can purchase the game from the site. Currently the game is out of stock which is an indication of its popularity but you can purchase from Amazon for $17.24 which was recommended when I called the company directly about how to purchase.

In conclusion this is a really fun game. I like the eco-friendliness of the packaging also. All materials are supplied and instead of paper you use dry-erase pads (pens included). It would make a great gift but I would buy it to keep!

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Apologia Press Good Morning, God

Apologia's Good Morning God is a beautifully illustrated 44 page book.  The sweet story follows a precocious little boy through his week. Woven throughout the story is the theme text of Deuteronomy 6:6,7 where parents are reminded to inculcate God's standards on their children when they are at home, walking on the road, when resting and when getting up. You can read this book as storybook, use it to teach the days of the week, or for bible study for children.
At the end of the book there are suggested questions and activities that are organized by the theme of each day in the book. For example, Wednesday's theme suggests drawing a picture or taking a picture of your child, read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and discussing questions like " How can you take care of your body?" or "How can your sins be forgiven?".
Alluded to are ideas identifying Jesus as God, heaven and the cross. So if you want book that is more secular in nature you might take that into consideration. You can examine a chapter at the link sited above.
In conclusion, attractive watercolor and black and white illustrations, simple text, and introduces scriptural study to you children all for $14.00 plus tax and s/h.
Another quality product from Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Master Innovations "The Master Ruler"

We love the Master Ruler. It is simple to use+easy to read+and hands-on=Great product! You can get a ruler that measures metric or standard units. The concept is easy to read using clear, color coded overlays that flip over each measurement (from largest to smallest unit of measurement). The standard Master Ruler has blue bindings and the metric Master Ruler has green bindings. The measurement increments are marked on clear overlays in blue, green, red and purple. There is also an available workbook.

My children are in the 3rd and 5th grades. I was able to adapt the workbook to both of their levels. I used the workbook to introduce them to them to the Master Ruler. I watched the YouTube videos from the company's website before giving it to my children. The videos on the website are very comprehensive and easy to follow. I have to say that I fully agree with the testimonials on site!

After watching the videos, the children and I worked the workbook pages. It took them a second to get the hang of deciding which ruler was needed by looking at the color coding to check for the standard (blue coded) or metric (green coded). After that the workbook pages identify which ruler should be used and then the children were able to follow the directions and complete the problems. The workbook follows a simple progression from comparing fractions, equivalent fractions, reducing fractions, converting fractions and then computing with fractions. Note: We focused on fractions because this was an area of need in our family. The book very thoroughly covers standard measurement also). The problems were challenging to my students but the Master Ruler is very self correcting. When in doubt count it out. That is what my children did and that help them see the math behind measuring too. With the clear marking it is easy to count if you have not yet learned to remember the measurements of say how many millimeters in a centimeter.
You can purchase a starter set for $41.25, this includes the workbook, metric and standard rulers and the teacher ruler which is clear so that you could use it with and overhead projector. As a homeschooling family though I would recommend purchasing the standard and metric rulers individually and then the workbook, which would save you some money.
"Master Innovations, Inc. was originally formed with one simple goal in mind, each child in the classroom should own a Master Ruler."
Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bright Idea Press: Christian Kids Explore Chemistry

ckec_cover30 Lessons in five units
Hands-On Activities: including making model atoms, breaking covalent bonds, and making gas expand.
Chemistry Terms, Notations, and Rules
Unit Reviews
Supplemental Book List
Coloring pages
Comprehensive Glossary
Elements Tables

Answer Keys
Lists for further Biographical Study

This is all you need to teach a strong, basic chemistry course for Junior high and upper elementary students.
Organized and easy-to-use!
Grades 4 – 8, 384 pages.
$39.95 also for $12.95 you can purchase a downloadable student activity guide to make copies for multiple students.

I was eager to get to examine Bright Idea Press Christian Kids Explore Chemistry.  This family owned publishing company has an excellent reputation in the home school community. I have heard a lot about the whole Christian Kid's Explore Science Series written by Robert and Elizabeth Ridlon.
I was not disappointed. Though this is our first foray into chemistry, a subject I know nothing about, the book is well written and very easy to follow. I like the simple explanations and word definitions in the margins. It starts with an introduction to chemistry and progress through atoms, molecules, states of matter and concludes with organic chemistry. While my 5th grade son and I have not completed the book (do to his age we are using it as a reference work to correspond with his earth science studies). We are enjoying reading about the basics of chemistry and doing the "hand-on" activities that go with the chapter we are reading for example for Lesson 18: Salts you do a hands-on experiment to see how acids dissolve calcium carbonate. You will have to get the book to learn more, LOL.
What my son said " The book is very easy to use and understand. I am enjoying the experiments which are easy to do."
Some of the practical skill the book introduces are the scientific method, safe scientific practices and note taking skills (Lesson 4 on the Elements teaches your child to make index cards of the periodic table.)

I appreciate the comments made on the FAQs page to help you make your own decision about where to start the series in your family.

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Check out: Corps of Re-Discovery Fringe Pouch Kit

I always like a project for my children that encourages their creativity. I like them to have hands-on TV free activities. This pouch by the Corps of Re-Discovery filled those needs very nicely. My son chose to do this project. He really enjoyed doing the project. He is 11 and was able to do the project on his own. We found the instructions somewhat confusing when it came to attaching the fringe of the bag and the drawstring. Other than that the materials for the bag were all included with the holes pre-punched so that he could sew the bag easily. This bag is $11.99 on its own but can also be purchased in a kit with other "frontier" like items.

The Corps of Re-Discovery is a family owned business that specializes in frontier, American Indian, pioneer and colonial craft kits.

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Sneeze Review: The American Patriot's Almanac

The stories in this book are part of what Abraham Lincoln called the "mystic chords of memory." So begins the lead in to The American Patriot's Almanac. The Almanac is a daily source of information about history, heroes and achievements that sum up what American history is all about... What drew my interest to this book is my enjoyment of history. I also wanted a resource that I could go to for quick facts. This 560 page book certainly fills that need. Though a  packed resource the Almanac is very interesting reading. The format is broken up into months starting in January and going through December. Each day of the month for the entire year has facts, stories, biographies, newspaper clips, letters, poetry and trivia from American history.  Important documents like the  Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, The Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation are recorded in their entirety.  The reading is pleasant and enjoyable. The format well thought out. This book would make a great gift for a history buff or for use as a reference book.

By William Bennett, John Cribb
Published by Thomas Nelson/Revised edition, 2010

I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Friday, October 29, 2010

Buckets-O-Fun: Your Kids are Gonna Love This!

YuckBuckets-O-Fun, the company has been around for about 4 years.  As a company though they are sending their products in a new direction with an emphasis on science projects for all ages. They have teamed up with a veteran science teacher and they have launched a series of projects that highlight four different Yuck slime products slimy, snowy, chunky and saucy. This is a product your kids are going to love. My kids (11,8) played with this stuff for hours!  Enough said to make your kids happy.
Sticky YuckAs a parent, I found it easy to mix and turn into a learning experience.  The product comes in granule form, like white sugar, and is nontoxic and biodegradable. The instructions for mixing each type of Yuck are clear and easy to follow. We talked about polymers, chemical changes, evaporation, toxicity and how this might effect the environment.
But, as a mom, I did find it hard to clean up, you cannot wash this product down your sink. My kids did not like going outside to wash everything up. I  have to say in the interest of honesty, that I am the kind of parent who takes my children away from home to do messy crafts. Here are some thoughts from more open-minded parents. Your kids will love it.
One pound of Yuck sells from $16-20 dollars depending on the type. Our samples came with a list of fun games and a science worksheet  to help you use the product in an educational and fun manner.My children really liked the Chunky Yuck and the Sticky Yuck.  This is definitely a great gift, party and rainy-day activity that your kids will love!

You can order free samples from the company:


6436 SE 134 th Ave.

Portland, OR 97236


503-760-8880 (local)

503-761-2052 (Fax)

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Introducing: PG Key SafeKey

 PG Key was developed by Brothers Mark and Brian owner operators of IT based businesses for about 20 year. Brian was being approached by frustrated parents struggling with the challenges brought on by new technology. Mark and Brian were in a position to recognize the need for a comprehensive, but exceedingly easy to use solutions for parents (or anyone) worried about the many dangers kids face online and frustrated by the challenges of parenting when it comes to the family computer. Not to mention that as dads of kids between 6 and 11, they were especially aware of the new risks created by technology for children and modern-day parenting...
That being said, I hate adjusting my technology because when I make a change it always involves a phone call to customer support. Usually that involves hours of time fixing things back. With the PG Key, it did involve a phone call to customer support, but it just took 5 minutes. Thank you technical support person, you know who you are! The technology is plug and go. I had to make a call so that I could adjust the PG key not to block all of my blogging websites.
After that the PG Key did block sites of questionable content. You can set the key to the level of monitoring you want on your computer. You can also set it to monitor just certain users. The PG Key does record the sites you visit. The PG Key worked just as described. When the Key is removed the computer is "locked" so you can control time usage. The search engine worked also in blocking questionable content, so well that I adjusted the control to the lowest level. It also recorded the sites our family visited (up to 60 hours of computer activity can be recorded and easily reviewed by parent.)
I also agree with the thinking behind the design of the key "stay involved in your children's and teen's online world. We know you can't monitor your children's computer activity all of the time, which is why we created SafeKey, an easy-to-use solution to help protect your children, be alerted to dangers and help make sure they are using the computer securely and responsibly."
I found that the PG Key did meet all of the promises made. I have an 11 and 8 year-old. I still have reservations about relying on technology to protect my children's computer time. We have our computer in a family area, my children are not allowed to "surf" the Internet, and we do not belong to any social networking sites and while I found the Key worked as described, we may not have pushed the boundaries that say a "teenager" would.
My final recommendation would be this is a definite must for families where there cannot be close supervision. The price is affordable at $49.99 plus tax which is a one time payment, no month to month fees which is good, you can check out the free trial or you can purchase locally by getting a store list from the company. So you really can't lose.

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BookSneeze Review: Where Hearts Are Free

Recently I received a complimentary copy of  Where Hearts are Free by Golden Keyes Parsons. This is the third book in the Darkness to Light Series. In this novel we are introduced to Bridget Barrington. The story takes place in Philadelphia in the 1700s.  Ms. Parsons combines history, mystery and romance into a poignant story. 
There is mystery and tension as the various characters are challenged by circumstances to make godly choices. Questions raised are what expectations should parents have as their children contemplate marriage? Do our beliefs matter as long as we believe? How can we fulfill our obligation to Cesar and God?
We see Bridget learn to balance her desire to be a faithful daughter and aspiring wife with her natural desires and the social expectations of the day. Her spirituality is highlighted in her desire for guidance and wanting to be a person of faith. The characters are well rounded, and even though this book is part of a series, you do not feel that you are missing something from the previous books.
This is a wonderful book for a rainy day or to take on vacation. The plot gently progresses to a sweet and satisfying conclusion.  I would caution there are scenes that depict aggression. I have to say though that I am going back for books 1 and 2!

Where Hearts Are Free
Golden Keyes Parsons
Copyright 2010
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-59554-628-9

I received this book free as a member of BookSneeze.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Monic Books: Vocabulary Cartoons Word Power Made Easy

Image 1 This has been a very fun book for me to review! Vocabulary Cartoons by New Monic Books, Inc. uses mnemonics in the form of hilarious cartoons and rhyming words. We have enjoyed Vocabulary Cartoons (grades 3 and 5) . This is helping with the children's reading comprehension and, in our state, standardized testing.  Vocabulary Cartoons promotes learning by association and not just memorization. Check out some of the sample pages.

The composition of the book gives you 21 word lists with 10 words per list. There are 10 cartoons per section and then a 10 question review quiz. Though not officially broken up into chapters each word list is clearly grouped. So you could say to your child "Please read Review #6" and they could find it on their own and begin reading that section of study words.

My son enjoyed the pictures but did not really pick up the book to read it. So for our use I would assign word lists for him to read. We did not do the quizzes because he had a good understanding of the meanings after reading the cartoons.

Since this is a skill area we are working on for him in this year (5th grade) it has been a useful tool for us. I think I would rather if the book was set up like a dictionary so that we could use it as a reference book to look up words to use when writing papers but the book is like a workbook and we just adapted it to our particular needs.

If you have a reluctant writer who uses the same words over again, this would be a highly recommended resource to add interest to their writing and encourage them to learn new words in a fun way. The company has a large variety materials. This particular books is for grades 3-6 and sells for $12.95 before tax, 245 pages.

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Great Gift Idea ! Schleich Animal Figures

I am always on the look out for unusual gifts for children. I keep a few things in the closet just for back up. Recently I had the opportunity to learn about Schleich GmbH. This German company is the leading manufacturer of animal figurines and play worlds.
Their quality, durable products are poured into moulds and hand painted. They are very substantial and age appropriate from 3 years of age up.
I like them personally because no batteries are included or involved. My daughter, in particular, likes to set up whole play sets and entertain herself for hours and even days on end because she constantly shifts and changes her set.
These animals also lend themselves to learning if you are studying animals, dinosaurs, habitats, Native Americans or again to encourage imaginative play.  The sets are divided up into 7 worlds: Farm life, Wild Life, Prehistorical Animals, World of Knights, World of American Indians, Bayala, and Smurfs. Also if you want to provide a creative alternative to online pets Schleich provides interactive activities that can supplement your child's studies or provide rainy day activities.  Some of the neat and unusual animals you can purchase are Meerkats, Whale Sharks,  giant Octopus, Jaguars, Apatosaurus,  Clydesdales,  Bernese Mountain dogs and the list goes on and on. You can also purchase a stable girl, covered wagon driver, various knights, elfs, dragons to round out your child's world. At our local store you can by these figurines anywhere from $2.99-$7.99 but you might go to the website to check local availability. 

My daughter and I recommend these products as a great gift and/or high,quality, long lasting educational toySearch for schleich.

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Salem Ridge Press Wholesome Family Stories

As Fall approaches and inclement weather, I stock up on chocolate, coffee and good books! I like to have books on my shelf just waiting to be enjoyed. I am trying to get my children to take an interest in reading and stock up their own shelves. Recently I was able to present my son (age 11) with a book from Salem Ridge Press based on true events with a fictional setting. I am trying to expose him to a variety of "quality" reading material. He has his favorite reading genres but sometimes I would like to see him read something more meaty.
Soldier Fritz
 Soldier Fritz
Story Setting: Germany in 1525 - 1526
Notable People and Events: Martin Luther, German Reformation
Originally published in 1871; 137 pages; For Ages 8 – Adult
$10.95 soft cover edition

The font of the book and line spacing makes for easy reading for children. The drawings are simple black ink pictures. This book has two illustrations which might seem lacking to some children who still enjoy picture books. I like that unfamiliar words like : furbishing, palfrey, anteroom are defined simply in the margins of the book.

My son's opinion: That the story is long, very wordy but interesting. He would describe it as realistic and teaches the lesson of conquering your inner fears and learn to control yourself before you can conquer the world. It teaches that the Holy Bible is real and though people tried to keep the bible out of the common people's hands they failed. It shares the historic fact that before people could read the bible for themselves they were taught lies by the spiritual leaders of the day. It is a good story for kids because it explains how children lived in medieval times and kids can relate because the lessons the book teaches are still valuable today.

My daughter (age 7) and I are enjoying Mary Jane Her Visit
Mary Jane - Her Visit

Originally published in 1918; 190 pages; For Ages 6 – 10
Softcover $12.50
The second book in the Mary Jane series, five-year-old Mary Jane has more happy wholesome adventures, this time at her great-grandparents' farm in the country where she hunts for eggs, picks berries, finds baby rabbits, goes to the circus and more!

I have to say I like the illustrations better in this book. They are very reminiscent of the ink drawings of Victorian art. Again the spacing and font are well suited to pleasant reading with definitions in margins as needed. I am enjoying this story because it dignifies the values I want my children to learn of contributing to the welfare of the family by working together (Chapter 10 Learning to Cook), working to earn what you want (Chapter 13 Earning Money), and being considerate to others (Chapter 5 Gardening with Grandfather).
So in conclusion I would definitely recommend these stories for your family's shelf. The wordiness my son mentioned can be attributed to the time period that many of these books were written in-late nineteenth century. I liked that it caused him to "stretch" himself and think more as he read. I also enjoyed that the stories broadened both children's vocabularies. We used the word "valor" in a sentence! The stories reprinted by Salem Ridge Press are historical fiction but they have made selecting the stories very easy by dividing their book lists into categories based on readers' age, time period and author.

Winter's coming get stocking those shelves.

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Looking for help teaching math?

An opportunity to review an up and coming math site was presented to me recently. America's math teacher is a new math tutoring site that is just launching. The producer/teacher Rick Fisher is a math instructor for the Oak Grove School District in San Jose, California. Since graduating from San Jose State University in 1971 with a B.A. in mathematics, Rick has devoted his time to teaching fifth and sixth grade math students.
Rick designed this system for elementary, middle grades and even high school students who were not prepared for algebra, to help bring them to algebra-readiness in less than one school year. The program, states that many of Rick's students have improved several grade levels in their math abilities in just one school year. Rick has also used the program successfully with students who are struggling with math and have limited English skills.

I am teaching (3rd, 5th) and I did find that my children used the recorded tutorials and worksheets provided. The program is divided into 2 courses. We examined course 1 which covered math tutorials from adding, subtracting, dividing, and multiplying whole numbers to fractions, probability, ratios, and over and above the course of study my children are currently using. Based on my examination though I found all tutorials easy to follow and understand.

One year's subscription is $195. You can check out the program by taking advantage of the free sample lessons and downloads. So if you are looking for a better fit for teaching math this would definitely be something to examine.

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peterson Directed Handwriting/Cursive Handwriting Review

Recently our family received the privilege to use a handwriting system developed by Peterson Directed handwriting. When you read the word "system" you might think complicated. That is not the case. The program offers a very clear, easy to understand narrated tutorial that explains the Peterson approach to teaching handwriting. Basically it is a system that teaches 6 handwriting sub skills that can be summarized in these techniques:

1. Illustrate and Describe
2. Air Writing
3. Finger tracing 
4. Write and say

Based on your child's level of handwriting this can all be done10 minutes. My son and daughter already knew the basic formation of the cursive letters of the alphabet. So I reviewed Cursive step1 and the moved into Cursive step 2 which is the appropriate level for them. Step 1 is more of an introduction, and step 2 goes into more mastery.
Also, you can still buy  individual products or kits, BUT, the Ebooks do replace the kits. We used the e-books, and were able to pull up the pages on our screen and print just the letters we needed to work on. If you use the program in this manner you would not need the wall cards or cd's. Essentially all you need is the ebook downloads. There are many optional products such as positioning strips, pens, pencils and grips. We did not use these products but I would certainly recommend the use of these items if you notice your child has trouble in these areas. 
Peterson Direct Handwriting workbooks are designed to make one book take a year in a school, but as homeschoolers, it would really only be a couple of months or so, depending on how often you use it. Mastery is the key so we are adjusting the pace to our skill level. We are still working on ebook 2 but there are a total of 4 e-workbooks. I would suggest that you go to the site and look at each book sample to help you decide where to step into the program. I would also suggest that you learn the skill techniques before buying a workbook at your child's level because this not just your ordinary handwriting workbook. For example, my children have learned the "incorrect" way to form their letters in the past and so were having trouble linking to form words clearly able to be read. By using the skills taught of 1) drawing the letter in air, 2) saying the scripted wording as they form the letters they have really corrected their individual styles.

A parent or teacher can purchase a copy with an individual license for $19.95.  The license fee is a one-time charge. You won't have to pay again next year. The company states "we are planning to offer improved versions and hope you will take advantage of the minuscule cost to keep teachers current as the technology improves."

In my opinion handwriting is a dying art. I think this is a great program to teach handwriting in a clear, concise manner. We are still using it and enjoying it.  This is definitely a program to check out. I think the website is flooded with information and samples so I would suggest listening to the tutorials, consider you individual needs then just look at those resources.

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How to make home school affordable?

I just wanted to share a heads up that this week's Blog Cruise Carnival has some great ideas about this. My favorite resource is my local library. They have great programs, a wonderful collection of books, DVDs and they will get books I am looking for either through interlibrary loan or buy them! So I recommend becoming friends with your local library's children's department. I also recommend sites such as your local freecycle and craigslist. I have found free office supplies, desks, and even homeschool materials for free or very minimal cost.
The another resource I use a lot is the local paper. I look for free events and activities. We live near a state park which offers free naturalist programing and nature crafts.
Join your local homeschool co-op. Many times classes are taught by parents with wonderful skills to share. A local co-op also provides encouragement and a support system if you live in an area where homeschooling is still viewed as unusual. So check out this week's Carnival!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Are you ready for school to start? If not check this out!

I am a planner! I love to plan for school but sometimes I get lost in the planning. I just found a great resource that gives me a guideline from The Old School House Store! On special right now for $39.00! All in one neat little package.

This planner supplies over 600 planning pages for school, work and play all in one spot! The calendar pages cover 2010-2013.

In one book you have menus, blank calendar pages for weekly and daily scheduling, forms for recording attendance and keeping records for up to 5 children. The school calendar portion of the planner covers of July - June. Some of the monthly extras are:

July-5 tips for managing your homeschool while managing your home.
August- Hey Dads!
September- Beating burnout-don't survive thrive.
October- 10 factors that motivate a student's motivation to learn and his rate of learning.
November- Help others while spending time together.
December-American sign language for foreign language credit.
January- Online learning sites that can add to your homeschool.
February- Super Food!
March- The heart and soul of learning.
April, May, June...

That gets you to Spring break. Yeah! Rounding third heading for home! The school calendar part of the planner continues to the end of your personalized school year date.  I should also mention that each month has about 5 other articles, per month, which are just motivational and helpful to Mom and Dad over and above the educational components: course of study, field trip planner, booklist forms, nature journaling, preschool-highschool forms, menus, checklist for home maintenance...You get the idea. So take the stress out of your planning and check it out!

You might think that a 614 page planner seems overwhelming but the format is very user friendly. You can type/save directly  on the forms , navigate through the table of contents via the live links and print forms as you need them. Start the year organized, stress free, and excited to begin! Get your planner today!

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog. I am posting this information as a sell sheet  for this product because I am participating in a contest.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Indulgence...

During the summer we reduce our school work load and use the relaxed schedule to work on areas that require repetition. This summer we have been working on our times tables, handwriting and our typing skills. As a mom this really frees up my time to catch up on things around the house and assess our goals for the coming school year.
More importantly, LOL, it allows my to feed my indulgence of reading. This is a really decadent pleasure for me because it is totally MINE. Our family picks dinner, movies and vacations based on our children's desires and needs. We are happy to do this and glad that we have the circumstances that we can make our choices based on their preference.
But when I read the only person I have to please is myself. For those of you who are readers you might agree that it can be hard to find a good book. Many times I find I re-read old favorites.
You can imagine how thrilled I was to stumble on a site that discusses the latest historical fiction, which is my favorite, with reviews and observations! Historical Fiction online is a group that I just found and now I have a whole list of books to read for the next couple of weeks before school starts. My family would call this a reading frenzy. I stay up late and read, am distracted, and I let the kids watch too much TV. The joys of summer!

Friday, July 23, 2010

August is coming...

I am starting to watch the calendar and think about school starting. This is because I have a whole list of summer projects that I want to finish before school starts. I have been going down the list. I cleaned out my linen closet, my kitchen cabinets, sorted out the kids clothes, painted my daughter's room, moved all the furniture so that I can sweep behind it, now on to the school room!
There I sort through our mountain of paper, organize the kid's cubbies, and print up a new schedule and goals for the year!
We have continued to work on our summer skills list of cursive handwriting, memorizing our times tables and working on our typing skills so that keeps us organized. (We find it very hard to get back on track if we get totally off of our schedule.)
Next, I indulge the kids with school supplies, that we don't need, by hitting on the local sales.
Once school starts nothing else gets done!

Monday, July 19, 2010

June TOS " Travel the World" E-book Review!

I am very excited to share my first TOS review with you today! When I approach a product or item for consideration some things that are very important to me are easy of use, and multi-age adaptability.

For $7.95 Travel the World is a high-interest E-Book. The book has easy to read text, activities, coloring pages, and ready-to-print copywork pages. There is an extensive resource list to help expand your child’s study. The resources listed will allow you to include older children and younger children in the same study. That is a real plus for our family. The description of the product defines it as a module. What is a module?

“A module is an add-on for The Schoolhouse Planner, planner brought to you by The Old Schoolhouse®. This module includes a study guide, activity pages, quizzes, coloring pages, copywork, lapbooking, and more!”

You do not have to have The Schoolhouse Planner to use the modules. Each module is designed to be its own stand-alone unit study. You can choose to purchase the modules by themselves or bundle them with The Schoolhouse Planner.

The book starts with a general introduction to geography. I read this with both students. Geography concepts and definitions for land forms such as savanna, isthmus, archipelago and strait are identified in a very useful manner. If you click the link for strait, it takes you to a page with a definition and a map of the Strait of Magellan.

The maps of the continents are colorful and detailed. Major cities on each continent are labeled. There are live links throughout the text for each continent and the five oceans. My second grader enjoyed the coloring pages and word-find pages. My fourth grader enjoyed exploring the different links providing games and actual photographs of areas of interest (Ayer’s Rock in Australia was a personal favorite for my son). The module also supplies review for each of the continents learned. Review is provided by fill-in-the-blanks, and a variety of online games for each continent such as match the continent to the shape and a link to a website that gives you the name of a continent and your child has to correctly identify it on the map.

I printed off the handwriting pages because that is one of the summer skills we are working on. You have a choice of print or cursive writing. We chose cursive. The pages had plenty of room for copying the topic sentences. For example, copying in cursive the five oceans and the seven continents.

In conclusion, this product, of 56 pages could be printed off and used without the computer. The live links make it meatier for the child who enjoys online learning. If you have the TOS Planner I think this a worthy addition. The module is clear, concise and easy to understand. It would make a good independent study project for older grades such as 4-6th. It would also be useful to introduce geography to younger students. Though we did not use the lesson plans this product is appropriate through high school.

The activities can be adapted to the visual learner and the hands-on-learner with the colorful map pages, online tools and the lapbooking options with a project for each continent. There are even recipe suggestions for Greek stew and Chicken in a Pot.

If you are looking for a geography supplement I would certainly encourage you to check out this website for more about the Planner and samples of the module:


The Schoolhouse Store
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC
PO Box 8426
Gray, TN 37615
Phone: 1-888-718-HOME

So this product gets a definite A for easy of use, open and go learning, and multi-age teaching.

What is inside?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Exciting new reviews coming

I am excited to let you know that I get to start sharing reviews as a new member of the TOS home school crew! I am not paid to provide these observations. As a home school mom I, of course, love books and school supplies. But I am not a "gadget" person I like to keep things simple and useful.

We describe our home school day as like "herding monkeys" so I like simple to use products that get to the point but can be adapted to multiple age levels because if I get destracted my monkeys are off!

So that is how I will approach my reviews, easy to use, simple instructions and quality instruction.

Looking forward to sharing with like minded moms!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A good book!

Open Sesame

Oh, for a book and a shady nook
Either in-a-door or out,
With the green leaves whispering overhead
Or the street cry all about,
Where I may read all day at my ease,
Both of the new and the old:
For a jolly good book whereon to look
Is better to me than gold.

by Thomas Heywood

Sunday, June 27, 2010

You are never too old to learn...

I am very excited to check my blog today and see that I have new friends! Thanks so much ladies. I hope I have something interesting to post in the weeks to come. I am excited to be a newbie on the TOS homeschool review crew! This has plunged me into the world of blogging. I have always been blog reader but now I need to learn how to be a producer. I am avidly reading about HTML, BB codes, how to promote my blog, reviewing an exciting product and trying to finish our school year. But isn't that why we chose the path of homeschooling so that we could feed our desire to learn!
More to follow, thanks again for the show of support fellow crew members!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Month of leaves,
Month of roses;
Gardens full
of dainty posies;
Skies of blue,
Hedgerows gay,
Meadows sweet
With the new-mown hay.

Flowery banks,
A-drone with bees,
Dreaming cattle
Under trees:
Song-birds pipe
A merry tune-
This is summer,
This June.

by Irene F. Pawsey

Friday, May 28, 2010

Writing Letters

Every time I write a letter,
If I do not write too fast,
It is sure to be a better,
Neater letter than the last.

by Rodney Bennett

Friday, May 21, 2010


We are very little creatures,
All of different voices and features;
One of us in glass is set.
One of us you'll find in jet.
T'other you may see in tin.
And the fourth a box within.
If the fifth you should pursue,
It can never fly from you.

by Jonathan Swift

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kind Deeds

Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean,
And the pleasant land.

This the little minutes,
Humble though they be
Make the mighty ages
of eternity.

Little deeds of kindness,
Little words of love,
Make this earth an Eden
Like the heaven above.

by Isaac Watts