1/31/11

TOS Review: Times Alive!

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As a member of the The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I received a download copy of the software Times Alive! by City Creek Press.

Times Alive is a fun, interactive way for children to learn their multiplication tables.  It is based on the book.TimesTables the Fun Way! (Also available from City Creek Press)

Times Alive! uses a variety of methods to teach the multiplication facts from 0-9.  City Creek Press refers to these as Lesson Types.  These lesson types are:

  • Movie: students watches a narrated, animated story.  The words also appear on the screen so the student can read along.
  • Song:  A music video where the characters re-enact the story.
  • Paint:  There are 4 fun pictures total from the stories. You use your mouse to color the paintings.
  • Test: The program starts with a pretest and ends with the same test to measure progress.  There are also 4 progress check tests and about 4 tests for specific math fact sections.
  • Quiz:  These scores are not recorded.  Quizzes are short interactive games that review the previous lesson.

To use Times Alive! the student must log in.  This brings up the Lesson List which serves as both the program menu and curriculum outline.  Please note the Log In Screen has a Log In button and a Try It button.  The Try It button allows a student to try the program but will not record or save any of the student progress.  After logging in the student then double clicks on any lesson.  It is recommended to follow the order of the Lesson List.  A  white circle indicates an incomplete lesson.  A yellow circle means the lesson is complete whereas a half filled circle means the lesson has been started.

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Parents (or Teachers) can view student progress reports by logging in as the student and clicking on the View Student Progress red bar at the bottom of the Lesson List screen.. 

*What I loved about the program:

  • The Lesson List does not follow chronological order.  It presents facts and stories of the easier facts first. 
  • It kept SuperGirl’s attention.  She enjoyed the stories and songs.
  • Times Alive! teaches tricks for the 0’s 1’s, 2’s, 5’s and 9’s
  • Supergirl (developmentally around 6 years of age and duing 1st grade level work) is beginning to recall some of the easier multiplication facts.

*What I did not like about Times Alive! software:

  • I found it frustrating that there is no teacher log in.  In order to see the progress I have to log in as each individual student, log out and then log in as the next student
  • Once a log in name is created, it must be typed in exactly the same time each and every time a student logs in.  Any variation or mistyping creates a whole new student and progress appears “wiped clean”
  • Deleting students or trying to find which name your child used to log in can be quite difficult.  Step by Step instructions are given in the Owner’s Manual but found it annoying to have to search my hard drive for files just to check log in names.
  • I do not believe there is adequate practice or drill for the student to obtain actual mastery.  I would love to see more drill.   I want my students to not have to think about a story in order to remember the answer. 
  • Although it is recommended to follow the lessons in order, there is nothing to prevent a student from just doing any lesson they would like
  • Students are NOT prevented from moving forward even though they may score poorly on a test.

My Thoughts: I think I was expecting more of a drill type program that would use interactive software to obtain mastery of the multiplication facts.  I love this program for introducing the concept of multiplication and for introducing and teaching the multiplication facts but I feel that I would have to supplement this program to achieve mastery. (Mastery would be not just being able to recall the facts but to do so within 3 seconds)  Times Alive! does an excellent job of teaching the facts to increase recall but I feel it doesn’t do enough to increase speed. 

This program was a bit young for Tailorbear,, however, she did enjoy it and I wanted her to review her facts.  Times Alive! was a fun way for her to review her multiplication facts. I don’t believe Supergirl was quite as ready for Times Alive! as I thought she was, however, I am very impressed with how much has learned and retained while using Times Alive!   I will be continuing to use this software with Supergirl as she learns her multiplication facts.

Times Alive!  Software on CD-ROM is available from City Creek Press for $48.95.   A downloadable version is available for $44.95 (MAC and PC versions are both available).  City Creek Press has other products available as well including Addition the Fun Way.

Supergirl asks daily to “play Times Alive!”  the video below is one of her favorite songs.  I was thrilled that when she saw me add it to blog she shouted “3 x 4 is 12”.   Despite my frustrations (listed above) I do think this is a wonderful tool for teaching facts 0-9.

 City Creek Press has more sample videos available here.

Click on the Homeschool Crew banner below to see what my fellow Crewmates have to say about City Creek Press’s Times Alive! software.

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Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. This review is my honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.

1/28/11

TOS Review: TenMarks Math

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For several years I’ve been hunting for a math program for one of my daughters that would engage her, challenge her and yet not frustrate her.  One that would give her mastery of math concepts, yet not bore her with excessive repetition and at the same time be easy for her to understand.  We think we’ve found what we are looking for with TenMarks.

TenMarks is an online math program that can be used as a curriculum or as a supplement to your current curriculum.   The program is personalized and mapped to state standards. 

 For parents and home schoolers the premium program offers:

  • A Parent Account—linked to an email address, the parent is given an access.  The parent can check the student progress and make changes to the student program
  • Parent Rewards—the parent can set up rewards.  I have not used this feature but can see how this would be helpful to motivate students
  • Helpful Hints—if a student needs help she has access to 3 hints per problem.  Using these hints DOES affect a student’s “concept strength”
  • On Demand Video Help--- Before, during or even after completing a worksheet a student can watch videos that explain the concept presented on the worksheet.  Using these videos does NOT affect a student’s concept strength
  • A Practice Environment—Students can choose to practice any concept at anytime.  After logging in a student has a Practice Tab available.  This is one of my favorite features of the program!
  • Periodic Tests—Tests are assigned at the completion of an “album”.  Some albums contain only a few worksheets and some contain several.  A student may have no tests scheduled in a week or they may have 1 or more.
  • Automatic Assignment of Worksheets—Each week, TenMarks will generate between 3-7 “worksheets” for your student.  These worksheets have 10 problems each.  The goal is to obtain concept mastery.  If the student does not demonstrate mastery a “re-do” worksheet is generated.

What I love about this program:

  • It focuses on concept mastery:   Many of the multiple choice questions are actually testing understanding of the concept rather than calculations.   The program combines the worksheet test score, with the number of hints with the overall test grade to assign a “concept strength” for a topic.
  • Only 10 problems per worksheet:  I like and my two daughters like only having to do 10 problems per worksheet.  If the concept is an easier one, or one they’ve mastered before, they can do another worksheet.
  • Practice Page:  I mentioned above that this is one of my favorite features.  If my student is struggling with a concept, I can direct them to the Practice Tab and they can watch the videos, get hints and do practice problems.
  • It is causing my daughters (and myself as I help them) to think more mathematically.   We really have to stop and think through the problems and use our reasoning skills to figure out how to approach the problem.  I love this!   I want my children to be able to APPLY the math they learn to real life problems.  This program is rich with teaching application of the concepts.

We having been using the 8th grade curriculum with TurtleGirl and the Geometry program with BooBear.  I’ve been very pleased and very impressed with TenMarks.  

For BooBear this is an excellent supplement to her regular math program.  Her learning style and personality style require a mastery based “camp out” style of teaching.  TenMarks, though mastery based, doesn’t “camp out” on a topic and moves just a bit too fast for her for use to use as a stand alone math program.  She really likes the program and has asked us to continue our subscription.

BooBear says:“It has only 10 problems and the videos are short so it doesn’t really take that long and using it with my other math program really makes me feel stronger in math.”

TurtleGirl has not enjoyed math. It is her weakest area.  Most of our school battles have centered on math.   With TenMarks,  I believe we have found the program that best suits her personality and learning style.  It moves fast enough so that she doesn’t get bored, yet it is mastery based so I know that she is really learning the concepts.  For her, TenMarks is an excellent choice for a math curriculum.  For the first time, this daughter of mine is willingly doing math and asking to do more!

Quote from Turtlegirl:  “With TenMarks, I’m actually liking Math more.  He tells me what to do and how to do it.  I’m understanding more.”

TenMarks offers 3 subscriptions options:  $10 per month, $49 for 6 months or $89 for 12 months.  Price is per student.    For more information about TenMarks click here.

Would you like to try TenMarks for free?   Click here to sign up for a “test drive”.  You’ll need to choose a grade level and list your state (program is mapped to state standards)provide a parent name and parent email address, the name of student and choose an album (topic).

TenMarks has several videos available so you can see how the program works.  You can access the index of videos here.

Click on the Homeschool Crew Banner below to see what my fellow crew mates have to say about the TenMarks Online Math Solution.

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Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. This review is my honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.

1/27/11

Those pesky “Good Intentions”

I think I’ve got a half dozen or so blog posts in draft form with subjects ranging from laundry to marriage.

My life seems so full of good intentions but lacks the follow up.  I *intend* to write more but I don’t.  I intend to read more,  but I don’t.  I intend to call that friend and go out and get some coffee, but I don’t.

I don’t want my life to be full of good intentions.  When I die, I don’t want people to say “she had good intentions.  Too bad she didn’t follow through.”.

I want to adapt and then embrace Yoda’s philosophy “Do or Do Not.  There is No Try”  would become “Do or Do Not there is no Intend”.

Somehow I think it relates to procrastination and maybe even laziness.   I put off doing those things I intend to do because other things come up or because I’m tired or because I’m waiting for a more perfect time.

Ah…. yes…. there it is…. perfectionist…. I intend to do it but I want to do it perfectly.   I intend to organize that closet but I don’t have time to do it perfectly.   I intend to call, just as soon as I have the perfect time slot in my schedule.

I better post this before it gets lost in “good intentions”.

1/26/11

TOS Review: Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids

My girls have always been full of questions.  What does this mean?  Who was that person?  What does that thing do?  Sometimes my husband or I would get frustrated at reading aloud because of all the questions!

For questions about the Bible,  I can now send my children to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids.   Questions like “what exactly was the Mercy Seat?” or “What is Horeb?” do not have to send panic through me as I scramble for an answer.  

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The Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids is a beautiful hardbound book measuring approximately 8”x12” with 212 full color pages.

Inside this reference book you will find:

  • Reconstructions—drawings that show you how buildings and cities may have looked then
  • Illustrated Charts—charts that provide “at-a-glance” views with brief descriptions and biblical references
  • Charts—information such as names of God, names of Jesus, lists of Apostles, or musical instruments of the Bible
  • Entries include KJV words--- words such as engaged also include the KJV translated word (engaged in KJV is translated as espoused)
  • Pronunciation Guide—for those hard to pronounce words,  the editors have included the pronunciation guide.. very useful for those unfamiliar names!
  • Photographs--- gorgeous pictures to show you that events in the Bible happened in real places.
  • Realistic Illustrations—full color drawings depicting real people and places
  • Definitions--- of people and things and key bible concepts. Definitions include bible references.

Use the Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids as

  • a concordance—nearly every entry has one or more Bible references.   The Bible Dictionary tells you where you would find that person, topic or item in the Bible.
  • a vocabulary builder—pick a few new words to learn each week
  • a reference tool for dramatizing the story—my girls love to act out stories and create costumes.  This is an excellent tool to use to find out what things actually looked like

 My Thoughts: Although this book says “For Kids” right in the title, I have found the book intriguing.  I’ve enjoyed looking through the pictures and charts and have learned from reading the text of the entries. My favorite aspect are the photographs.  I love looking at the full color photos. My girls have enjoyed this book and I love seeing Supergirl sitting on the couch with this book.  She calls it her Bible.  We keep this resource on the coffee table so that it is readily and easily available to grab and look up something when needed.

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The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids retails for $14.99.  You can order it from Lifeway Christian Stores.  You can learn more about this gorgeous resource by clicking here.   The publisher has included a Google Preview of the book. 

Click on the banner below to visit the HomeSchool Crew blog and read what my fellow crewmates have to say about Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids.

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Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. This review is my honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.

1/14/11

TOS Review: Life of Christ Bible Study

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Until the Crew, I had never heard of Positive Action for Christ.  I wasn’t exactly sure what their studies were like and I was very hesitant about a product that seems geared for the classroom.

I did however like what they said on their website:

schoolcurriculumTEMP-1025We received the Life of Christ study by Frank Hamrick  which is a study from the Gospel of John and I am thrilled to say I am loving it.  I received a a beautiful LARGE 3-Ring binder with the teacher materials and a beautiful softcover student book.

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THE TEACHER BOOK:  Is a valuable source and is more than just an answer key.  The Foreward gives information on how to teach the course.  It describes the features of the program.  It includes a section on the format and grade level including three charts detailing the different options for teacher.   Lastly, it contains information for a suggested BIble Memorization plan to go with the course.

 Photobucket Just after the Foreward is a Recommended Reading List and then the Lessons begin.  Each lesson in the Teacher Binder includes the completed text of the Student Book.   Rather than just provide an answer key you get the actual (1/2 size) page with the answers. Following the Lessons are tabbed sections for the quizzes (including answers), tests (with answers) and an appendix containing maps and charts. Samples from the teacher book can be downloaded in PDF format.   Click HERE then click on the  High School button on the left hand side.  Click again on the DOWNLOAD tab.  You’ll be able to download a sample lesson of both the Teacher Manual and the Student Book. (I apologize that a direct link is unavailable)

I also received a CD-ROM with PDF files containing “slides” that I could use to make transparencies for a class room.  For my “class” at home, I use it as slide on the computer.

THE STUDENT BOOK:  Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to describe this 8”x10” softcover 277 page book.  The cover and pages have that “ancient” look.  The charts, maps, drawings and illustrations are in full color.  The basic frame of the lesson in student book contains a section of text followed by a section of Student Work.  PhotobucketAfter the student work is a section called “Notes from the Teacher’s Lesson”.  This section is an aid to taking notes during the “lecture time”.  Mostly it is fill in the blank.  The last is called Digging Deeper.  This section has thought provoking assignments and research topics.

USING Life of Christ:  The material can be used for grades 7 to 12 though the tests are targeted for a 10th grade level.  I am using this as a group study for 3 of my girls.  Supergirl is not ready for this though she often hangs out with us.  There are 35 “Chapters” divided unevenly into 7 units.  Positive Action for Christ suggests doing 1 lesson a week.  The options for how to break up the lesson over the week are included in the Forward section of the Teacher Binder.  There are two options for each of the plans and there are plans for 3 days of class, 4 days of class and 5 days of class.  

PhotobucketWhen I read through the materials I planned on a 3 day a week class.  We would do the student book aloud on day 1, the teacher material on day 2 and the quiz on day 3.     After realizing how rich and full this material is I’ve modified the suggested 5 Day plan.  However, we only meet 2 to 3 times a week because of our busy schedule so we are doing 1 lesson over 5 to 6 class days over a two week period.

Here’s an outline of a lesson for my family:

Day 1  I read aloud the text from the student book and select certain questions from the student work section to discuss “in class”.

Day 2:  If we did NOT finish the discussion of the student material we finish our discussion and then before the next class time my 10th grader completes the student work in the student book.

Day 3   Begin the Teacher material

Day 4  Finish the Teacher material

Day 5 In theory the 10th grader and the 8th grader take the quiz while the 6th grader uses the quiz as an open book review worksheet. We have also used the quiz as the source for more discussion working through the questions orally as a group.

WHAT I LOVE:

  • We can easily adapt this for a group setting in the home.  Perhaps because it is intended for the classroom it really lends itself well to being done as a group.
  • I love love love the discussions that are happening in my home because of the material presented.
  • Teachers are encouraged to add additional material (it even includes suggested reading material that you can add)
  • I appreciate that multiple view points are presented without disparaging remarks.  For example, in one lesson the Teacher Lesson discusses the possible days for the actual day of Christ’s crucifixion.  Pros and Cons are listed for each date with the author then sharing which date he believes is correct.  I love that he did not condemn the other view points!

I really don’t have anything that I truly dislike about the program.  I do have to modify things to better fit my beliefs (Orthodox Christian) but that is not the fault of the program at all.  I would recommend this program to *any* Christian who would like an in-depth study of the Life of Christ based on the Gospel of John, but I will offer this caution: you may have to supplement with materials from your faith or denomination.

The Teacher BInder retails for $41.95 and the student manual for $17.95.  For other products related to the Life of Christ study click here.  Then click on the School Curriculum button.  You can click on the High School Button and then on the Life of Christ Study.   There will be a tab that says “order”.  (Again I apologize but direct links expire after a short length of  time.)

Positive Action For Christ has Bible Study Curriculum for grades K-12.  Some other titles for high school level include: The Inner Man and In Their Sandals.  

Click on the Banner below to see what my fellow crew mates have to say about the Life of Christ Study.

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Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. This review is my honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.

Positive Action for Christ provided a Deluxe Student Manual and a Teacher Manual of the Life of Christ from the Gospel of John Study for review purposes.

1/12/11

TOS Review: Virtual Nerd

Do your junior high and high school level children struggle with Math?  Do you sometimes wish there was someone else who could come alongside you and explain a concept to your child?  Do you wish you could hire a tutor for your son or daughter but just can’t seem to find the money or the time?  Then Virtual Nerd just may meet your needs.

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We’ve just had the opportunity to review Virtual Nerd. What is Virtual Nerd? It is an online subscription service that provides video tutorials for math and (some) science topics. Currently available levels for math include:  Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and Algebra 2.   For science, Virtual Nerd  currently has available Physics.    If you click here you can find at the bottom of page one a chart listing the courses they are planning to add during 2011.

Before I get much farther let me explain what Virtual Nerd is NOT.  It is not a complete math program.  It is not a math course.  There are no worksheets.    Virtual Nerd is to be used as a tool to aid in understanding math concepts and does not replace a teacher or curriculum.

How does it work? After logging in to the website you are taken to the preferences tab.  Next to the preferences tab are tabs for the courses that are currently available.  Click on the tab for the course you want.   You can either do a search or read through the list of topics.  (Topics do overlap some between courses). 

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After selecting your topic you watch a video explaining the concept step by step.  What makes this program stand out, however, is the ability to “drill down”.  Let’s say that you select a topic but while watching you realize that you don’t understand an underlying concept.  You can click on concepts that form the foundation of the topic you selected.

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Drilling Down

Three of my girls used Virtual Nerd.  Tailorbear (age 11, grade 6) watched topics that interested her from the Pre-Algebra course while BooBear (age 15, 10th grade) sought out specific topics from the Algebra 1 course to help her review as she finishes up her regular Algebra 1 program.  Turtlegirl (age 13, grade 8) did a combination of searching and watching topics that interested her and choosing specific concepts to help her with her regular math program.  She choose a variety of videos from both the Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 courses.

Tailorbear enjoyed the video presentations and said “they make sense.”  BooBear found searching for specific skills or concepts to be frustrating.  I have to agree that it was often difficult to search however, I could usually find what I needed by just reading through the  options below the search bar. 

I think Turtlegirl benefitted the most from Virtual Nerd.  She used it nearly daily to help her complete her math worksheets.  She also enjoyed using it to learn about concepts that interested her but that she did not necessarily need to know for her assignment.  I think she enjoyed Virtual Nerd more than the other girls.

Currently there are four pricing plans available ranging from $5 for a 24 hour subscription to $129 for a 3 month subscription.  Click HERE for more details.  There is also a 2 hour free trial available HERE.

If you would like more information about Virtual Nerd as a company click HERE.  For more information about the founders of Virtual Nerd click HERE.  There plans to add more features so be sure to keep checking the Virtual Nerd website in the future.

To see what my fellow crew mates have to say about Virtual Nerd click on the banner. Photobucket

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. This review is my honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.

Virtual Nerd provided me with a free 6 week online subscription to their website for review.

1/11/11

A cool date!

Today’s date is 01/11/11 or 1-11-11 or 1/11/11 or 01-11-11.   I decided I just had to do a blog post today in honor of the date.

In addition to being 1/11/11 today I realized that what a blessing it was to have my mother here for 4 weeks.  I live 2000 miles away from her and I can’t do anything for her from so far away.

I can’t take her shopping or out to lunch.  I can’t go to church with her or take her to Bible Study.  I can’t help her with doctor appointments or take her to get her hair cut.

While she’s been here I’ve been able to do all of those things for her.  We’ve been out to lunch (and dinner LOL).  We’ve gone shopping several times.  We’ve even been to the clinic for blood draws twice.  I’ve taken her to Bible Study and to church.  Today I took her to get her haircut.  Tomorrow, however, I have to take her to the airport.  She has to go home.  I’m going to miss her.  It's been a long time since I spent so much time with my mother.

The girls are playing a last game of Wii Bowling with their grandmother before they head to bed.  There won’t be time in the morning for games.

So today with its special date has been a special day as I realized that I have been able to do things for my mother while she was staying here.

(scheduling this so that it posts at 11:11pm on 1-11-11)

1/10/11

Tradtional or Non-Tradtional: Scheduling the Home School Year/Day.

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I think it is rather fitting that the first Blog Cruise of the New Year asks about Traditional or Non-Tradtional school scheduling.  As I write this we are finishing up our extra long Christmas Break 

For the 2010-2011 school year we are following more of a traditional year by starting in August and finishing in May but we are taking a longer break for Christmas and we’ll be taking at least two weeks for Pascha (Easter).

Though we are following somewhat of a traditional school year, we haven’t always followed a Aug/Sept through May/June type of calendar.   When the girls were younger, I did a “year round” approach to home education.    We took shorter breaks which allowed better retention.  It also gave more structure to our days which we all needed for sanity!

Now that we’ve been homeschooling for years, I find that I really need a summer break.  Education and learning still happen but summer becomes the time when I can focus on other projects and can spend time planning, researching and preparing for the next school year.

Though I am now following more of a traditional calendar,  we still do not follow a rigid or traditional “school hours” type of day.   Home education is a way of life for us and as such our school work flows and blends with our daily lives.  We might start with school and then take a break and do chores or start with chores and then flow into school work.  Some days we start with group school (such as Bible and Greek) and other days the girls start with more independent subjects or online classes.  

I aim for being finished with formal academics by 4pm but that doesn’t always happen and we often do our literature reading and supplemental dvd’s in the evenings.

I love the flexiblity of being able to set my calendar and take of the days that I want to take off or rearrange the hours of my school day to accommodate my family’s needs.   We can school longer on one day so that we can take an unexpected day off or do school on Saturday so that we can take a week day off.  We are free to take off the days that my husband has off from work.  I am glad I am not confined to a predetermined schedule set by someone else.

 

1/7/11

TOS Review: See-N-Read Tools

We are a book loving, literature based home schooling family and as such we do a lot of individual reading and reading aloud. Because we love to read, I was excited  that  as part of the TOS Crew I received several samples of See-N-Read tools.

CeadenSmith Enterprises included a book size (5 1/2” x 3”) and document size (8 1/2” x 3”) of the See-N-Read Reading Tool, a book size Memory Mark and a 45 day subscription to the eSee-N-Read software.

See-N-Read tools are great for all ages.   The website states that it is research based and tested for users in grade 2 through adult.  Click here to read about the research and click here to read the story of See-N-Read tools.

The See-N-Read and Memory Mark are $2.99 each for the book size and $3.49 each for document size.  The eSeen-Read for the computer is $29.99.  For more pricing info including combination packages and discounts for purchasing multiples you’ll want to start here.

See-N-Read Reading Tool:

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We all used the See-N-Read Reading Tool including my mother who has been visiting.   For those of us who are strong independent readers (that would be all of us except Supergirl), the Reading Tool is more of a hindrance because we read faster than our fingers can keep up with moving the Reading Tool.  However, I *love* using the See-N-Read Reading Tool for reading aloud.

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When reading aloud, we read slower than when we read silently.  When I am reading aloud, I often pause for discussion or to answer a question and I lose my place.   It’s not unheard of for me to lose my place when I haven’t been interrupted.   In the past I’ve used a regular bookmark turned on its side to help me stay on the correct line.   Now I use the Reading Tool. 

I prefer the Reading Tool over the bookmark:

  • The bookmark often has designs that can be distracting
  • The Reading Tool is larger than a bookmark and the line that I am supposed to read really “pops out” at me.
  • The Reading Tool can be used as a bookmark. 
  • The Reading Tool is sturdier than paper based bookmarks
  • The Reading Tool reduces my eye strain

All the strong independent readers of my family took turns using the Reading Tool for reading aloud and agreed that for us it works better as a Read Aloud tool.

Supergirl See N Read

I love the Reading Tool for working with Supergirl.   She is a beginning reader.  She needs the words and/or sentences highlighted in some way so that she does not lose her place or get distracted.   The Reading Tool is perfect for that.  One phonics instruction book suggested cutting a rectangle out of an index card.  I immediately thought of the Reading Tool and we’ve used that instead of an index card.   I prefer the Reading Tool because it reduces the glare from white paper.   It’s easier on the eyes. 

The Memory Mark Reading Tool is just like the See-N-Read tool except that instead of clear window, the Memory Mark has an open window that allows you to make notes, underline or highlight text that you are reading.

In addition to some obvious uses like highlighting Bible Verses or underlining key words in a textbook, the Memory Mark can help with adding columns of numbers or working out large multiplication and division problems when you need to make sure each number is in the correct place value column.

 image But what about the computer?  We live in a modern world ever moving towards dependency on technology.  Well See-N-Read Reading Tools have a Reading Tool that works like a Memory Mark for the computer: eSee-N-Read

I strongly dislike reading PDF’s and other e-books on the computer.  The eSee-N-Read tool makes such an unpleasant task bearable.   I still prefer to read a “dead tree” book but it doesn’t drive me quite as crazy to read an e-book while using the eSee-N-Read..

 My preferred way to use the eSee-N-Read tool though is working with spreadsheets or grid format database such as I use for keeping track of home school records.  I get very frustrated when I have a very wide spread sheet and I lose my place and can’t tell which line I am checking.  eSee-N-Read makes it easier to make sure that I input the correct grade in the correct the line.

Some of the features of the eSee-N-Read tool include:

  • the ability to change the overall size of the Reading Tool. 
  • The ability to change the size of the open window.  Is the text too large? Make the opening larger!
  • You can customize the eSee-N-Read
  • You can make it go vertical to work on columns instead of just rows

Be sure and  click on the banner below to read what my fellow crewmates have to say about See-N-Read Reading Tools.

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 Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. This review is my honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.

CeadenSmith Enterprises provided me with See-N-Read Reading tool, Memory Mark and a 45 day subscription to eSee-N-Read for review.

1/3/11

Reading Challenges for 2011

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time is read more books.  I love to read.  I love homeschooling using Sonlight because it gives me the opportunity to read great books to my children.  But reading for myself has been pushed aside and I’d like to do more reading for myself. 

At first I thought about just challenging myself to read some books and keep a list (maybe on my sidebar?) but then in the last two days I’ve come across some friends who are participating in some reading challenges.   I’ve decided to join them.

First I came across Karla’s blog post where she shared about the challenge What’s in A Name.    There are 6 categories and the challenge is to read one book that fits each category.   I’m looking forward to finding books that fit the name challenge!

Earlier today one of my FB friends mentioned a Jane Austen reading challenge.  I *love* Jane Austen.  With this challenge you can read Jane Austen novels, novels inspired by Jane Austen novels or movies inspired by the novels.   I am planning on re-reading all of her novels and watching a few movies.  I think I might even read a couple of Jane Austen inspired novels.  I checked out an audio book about Mr. Darcy but never got around to listening to it.  I think I’ll try again.   BooBear plans on joining me for this challenge and I look forward to spending some mom & daughter time together watching Jane Austen movies.

From the blog of the Jane Austen Challenge Hostess, I discovered a Reading the Classics challenge for 2011.  For this challenge I am allowed to use the Jane Austen novels.  I’m planning on choosing 6 more “classics”. There is no set limit for this challenge but I’d like read at least 6.  I’ll post when I have my list of 6 finalized. 

In addition to the above reading challenges, I am challenging myself to read at least 4 NON-fiction books that would encourage, educate or challenge me in the area of my (still relatively new) faith.

What are your reading plans for this year?

1/2/11

How do you say…?

It is so hard not to take things or people for granted.  Though we all know that all it takes is a blink of an eye everything changes we don’t really *know* it until it does.  It’s like we think “yes my loved ones could die tomorrow or my husband could lose his job tomorrow” but underneath runs a current of “but really that only happens  to OTHER people.  That’s not going to happen to me.  But it does happen to [me] and to those I love.

The past 14-15 months have been very difficult as our family has been touched by death so much.   What makes it harder for me is the realization that I struggle with keeping in contact with those I love.  It’s extremely difficult for me and I can not explain why to myself let alone anybody else.  I dislike talking on the phone and I feel I have changed so much and I wonder if I even have anything in common with my friends or relatives. I don’t spend the time writing letters or even email but I don’t know why.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss them.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t mourn with them or rejoice with them. It means I struggle with how to express myself and how to tell them I mourn with them or I rejoice with them.   I am grateful for Facebook which gives me the opportunity to work towards being more in contact with my family.

I could use “being busy” as an excuse but I don’t want to make excuses.  I want my family and my friends to know that I love them.  That I care.  That they are important to me.   I struggle with finding the right words or finding the common ground.  When you haven’t seen somebody in years and years what do you say?  I am not the same person I was 20 years ago.   I know that friend, that aunt, that uncle, or cousin is not the same person either.   I treasure the memories of the past but how do I create new memories in the here and now?

As a New Year begins, I want to spend 2011 building up my communication skills.  I want to work towards sending that email or letter that says “I’m thinking of you today.”   I want my loved ones to know that I have prayed for them and thought of them on his/her birthday or anniversary or that I’ve seen something, read something or came across something that made me think of him/her.

 A little over a year ago in November of 2009 a very good friend passed away.   He loved the Lord and I believe he is with the Lord rejoicing in the constant love of the Savior but I miss him.  Oh I have no doubt that his family aches for him and that he has friends who were nearer and  dearer to his heart that miss him in ways I can’t imagine but I still find the world a little emptier because he isn’t here anymore.

That death was only the first of several.  My husband’s cousin, two forum friends,  my childhood best friend and most recently my beloved uncle.  He was the uncle that I loved and adored as a child.  He was my favorite uncle.  It grieves me to think that he might not even have known he was my favorite. I certainly wasn’t an active part of his life these last few years.

This will not be easy for me.  I’d prefer to just bury my head in the sand and bemoan the passing of time.   I’d rather not be stretched and I’d rather not grow.  Growing is painful.  But I’d also rather not stand before God and have to answer “why didn’t you just say I love you, I miss you or I’m thinking of you?”

1/1/11

A New Day, A New Month, A New Year

So today is a new day… though technically it’s half over as it is Noon here now and today is the start of a new month but it’s also the start of the New Year.

I like new beginnings.  I like starting fresh.  So I should be thrilled to start a New Year, right?  I’m not so sure I’m as excited for 2011 as I was for 2010.   2010 was a great year for my family for spiritual growth and healing. 

There are aspects of 2010 that I could have done without and I’m not sorry to see those relegated to the past but the growth of my faith overshadows all and I can’t say “good riddance” to 2010 but rather I say “thanks for the memories”.  Thanks for the reminders of what is important and what is not so important.  Thanks for teaching me lessons I would not have learned any other way.  Thanks for opportunities and experiences.

My hope and my prayer for myself and for you:

May God continue to richly bless us with His unending love, mercy and grace.  May I continue to learn to find contentment and joy no matter what my circumstances may be .

In the words of St. Paul in his epistle to the Philippians “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Phil 4:11)

Have a blessed and wonderful New Year!