5/30/11

Memorial Day 2011

Today is Memorial Day.  I know that there are lots of activities, parades, and bbq’s happening today.  Some are celebrating the beginning of summer.  (It sure doesn’t feel like summer here at all), Others are honoring all service members past and present, alive or dead.  Some are just enjoying a day off from work and still others wish to celebrate but don’t have the day off.

For me Memorial Day is about honoring those who have DIED, specifically those who died IN SERVICE (started with Civil War, I believe) and less specifically those who had served at some point and died and then even more globally loved ones who have died. Though I am truly grateful those who are PRESENTLY serving, and those who have served but are STILL ALIVE, today, I focus on remembering those who have died. May their memories be eternal.

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Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II.  My father fought in Korea.  Two of my uncles fought in Vietnam.  None of them died in battle or while still on active duty, all but on of them have since passed away.  It is  Papa, Grandpa Elmo, Daddy and Uncle Vern that I remember today, along with all those fallen heroes who DIED while on active duty serving their country and preserving our freedom.

Today , I’m sticking with the meaning of the word MEMORIAL which implies honoring the dead.  Memory eternal to the service members who gave their life for their country, and memory eternal to our loved ones.

5/27/11

TOS Review: Read for the Heart

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Because we love to read and because we strive for a literature rich environment to support our literature based approach to home education, I eagerly filled out the interest form for Apologia Educational Ministries’s, Read for the Heart because “I am always looking for great books to read to my girls.  This book looks like it will give me some great ideas”. 

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Read for the Heart was not what I expected. I expected a book that listed some great books that I could read to my children or that my children could read to themselves.  Yes, Sarah Clarkson shares great literature in several categories but this book is different from other "read aloud list” type books I’ve read.

Miss Clarkson, a home school graduate, was raised in a literature rich environment.  As I read the first few chapters, I kept thinking, “this is what I hope my children have to say about our home school.”  She confirms for me the choice I made as a parent to place a high priority on books.

In the first four chapters, Miss Clarkson shares why reading is so important and what reading means to her.  The content of these four chapters is what I expected, however, she brings a new perspective: that of a home school graduate. I found it refreshing to read a book that came from the angle of “this is how I was raised. It really does work.  I really did grow up to love books” instead of the “I’m a parent (or educational expert) and we used literature in my home (or school) and if it worked for me, it should work for you.”.  

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With chapter 5 we begin to explore genres of great books that can be read alone or read aloud.  It is these chapters that set that this book apart.  Miss Clarkson explains and articulates well what to look for in each genre.  Chapter 8 explores Fairy Tales and Fantasy.  I especially appreciated this chapter because it helped me to articulate why I struggled with letting my daughters read a popular modern fantasy series.  I think Chapter 8 is my favorite because she explains what a good fairy tale should do for us and what makes a fairy tale or fantasy novel good.

In addition to genres that I expected such as picture books, children’s fiction, historical fiction, and biographies, Read for the Heart also includes chapters on poetry, spiritual reading for children and a chapter covering music, art and nature!

I was looking forward to some lists of great books I could include in my home school and instead I discovered a treasure that inspires and encourages me.  This book would be invaluable for teaching me how to evaluate a good book even if there were no lists of great books.

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Read for the Heart is available from Apologia Educational Ministries for $17.00.   You can read more about the book HERE including a sample chapter and the table of contents. Be sure and check out https://apologia.securesites.net/ to see all that this vendor has to offer!

Please click on the banner below to read what my fellow crew mates have to say about Read for the Heart.PhotobucketAll information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received Read for the Heart from Apologia Educational Ministries 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.

5/26/11

Read Aloud Challenge 5/26

I’ve had such a busy May that it should not surprise me that it is the end of the month already but it does.  Time rocketed by me during May and I missed posting last week about the Reading Aloud Challenge.

Not only have we NOT finished any of the books I’ve posted about, but for most of them we’ve not even made any progress.  Despite my desire to make reading aloud a priority in our lives, this month I’ve really struggled.  I decided to give myself permission to relax about the reading aloud and encourage the girls with their independent reading.  I also decided to spend some time reading for me.  There are benefits to having your children see YOU reading for pleasure.

And it’s not that I haven’t read aloud, it’s that I wasn’t reading aloud our literature choices.  Ok I haven’t read aloud to BooBear or Turtlegirl but I have been reading aloud history/social studies to Tailorbear and Supergirl along with some science.

You can read my past Read Aloud updates here.  Debra at Footprints in the Butter started the Read Aloud Challenge   You can find this week’s post here.

5/25/11

TOS Review: Considering God’s Creation

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I was familiar with the name Considering God’s Creation.  I knew it was a creation based science curriculum for elementary students. The authors, Sue Mortimer and her sister, Betty Smith, created this science program for their own children.  Published by Eagle’s Wings, Considering God’s Creation (CGC) utilizes a notebook approach to learning.  As students work through the program they create a notebook that is “simple to store and impressive to show to family and friends.”

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I had planned on using this with both Tailorbear (6th grade) and Supergirl (working at a 1st grade level).  The program states that it would be appropriate for grades 2-7.    Because the units stand alone and are not dependent on each other, I let Tailorbear choose the topic that interested her most.  She choose “The Universe, Stars and Planets".  My plan was to use this with both girls and add in some of the “Digging Deeper” suggestions for Tailorbear.

For every lesson CGC includes a “Digging Deeper” section of activities you can use to add depth to a lesson.  Some of these suggestions are specific such as “learn to identify three constellations”.   I found other suggestions vague and frustrating such as “check out The Astronomy Book by Dr. Jonathan Henry.”  Check out as in look it over?  What parts?  Which chapters go with this specific lesson?  How exactly should I use this additional resource with this lesson to add depth for my 6th grader?

CGC alone is not enough for Tailorbear but it is nearly perfect for Supergirl.  Trying to use some of the additional resources suggested with Tailorbear made the program too teacher intensive for me.   We decided that Tailorbear would drop CGC and I would continue with Supergirl. 

Supergirl needs quite a bit of help with the notebook pages because of her fine motor skill delays.  I would NOT want to be doing this with two or more children who require help with cutting, gluing, and even writing.  It’s working well for us and she enjoys the notebook pages but skips most of the coloring and I do the cutting and I play scribe.

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The Teacher’s Manual states, “there are enough lessons included to allow one lesson a week for an entire school year. (However, many of the lessons have several parts and it would be beneficial, especially for younger children, to spend two to three years covering the material.)” (p.iv)

Some lessons are not broken up into parts, but I feel it would be beneficial for Supergirl for us to break them up.  We are taking our time and covering the Planets (all of them are included in one lesson that is not broken down into parts) at a slower pace..  We are doing science on a rotation basis with history so we do science 2 to 3 days per week so we’re covering a planet a week.  It will take us quite some time finish the planets but she’ll have done a notebook page for each planet!

I am not using the Bible portion of the lesson, but for those who like to do bible reading with their other subjects, this is included.  I really appreciate the “introduction” and “vocabulary” sections.  These sections together are perfect for one day of instruction for Supergirl.  We can then do an activity or something from the digging deeper on another day.  Day 3 (or Day 2 if we do not add in other activities) is the notebook page and if I want to stretch a lesson for one more day we can use the “review” section for discussion for the last day.

I did not care for this program for Tailorbear.  It requires adding in so much of the digging deeper additional resources to bring it to her level,and some of those additional resources are complete curriculum resources.  I felt I could just save myself the trouble and use one of them instead!  Perhaps if an older student has not studied science, this would work.  I do need to point out though that she did like the notebook pages.

I really like this for Supergirl because it is all laid out for me.  It is a gentle approach to introducing her to God’s Creation.  I love the notebook pages.  When they are finished, we both get a sense that we have accomplished something.

For more information about Considering God’s Creation please check out the FAQ page HERE. For sample pages of the program click HERE.  The Considering God’s Creation set is $29.95 and can be purchased HERE.  Eagle’s Wings also offers materials for history, Bible, geography and phonics.  Click HERE to see these other products.

Please click on the banner below to read what my fellow crewmates had to say about Considering God’s Creation.PhotobucketAll information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received Considering God’s Creation 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.

5/23/11

TOS Review: All Together Social Studies

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Vendor:  Pearson
Product: Scott: Foresman Social Studies
Title: All Together
Intended Age: First Grade
Price:$43.47
Main Website: http://www.pearsonschool.com/
Product Page Website: All Together
Web page for ordering: Price Chart

This resource is divided into 4 sections:

  • Explore the United States:These glossy pages are numbered E2-E16.  There are 7 two-page spreads focusing on one state and introducing a particular social studies topic such as History, Culture, Geography, etc.
  • Social Studies Handbook: These pages are bright and colorful but not glossy.  Pages are numbered H2-H26 and divided into subsections: Citizenship Skills, Research Skills, Geography Skills.
  • The Units: This is the bulk of the book and contains the lessons
  • Reference Guide: These pages are numbered R1-R27 and include subsections of Atlas, Geography Terms, Picture Glossary, and Index.

The heart of All Together is the Unit section.

  • Unit 1: Time for School
  • Unit 2  In My Community
  • Unit 3  Work! Work! Work!
  • Unit 4  Our Earth, Our Resources
  • Unit 5  This Is Our Country
  • Unit 6  Our County, Our World

Each unit contains 4-6 lessons and a review section.  Additionally sprinkled throughout the lessons are target skills such as:

  • Reading Social Studies—Use A Picture, Alike and Different, Put Things in Order, Find the Main Idea, Recall and Retell, and Predict
  • Chart and Graph Skills – Read a Calendar, Use a Chart, Read a Timeline,  Read a Bar Graph
  • Map & Globe Skills – Use a map Key, Use Four Directions, Follow a Route, Locate Land and Water, Use a History Map,

There are three more types of pages interspersed through the lessons:

  • Then and Now—for example Things We Use, or Our Country’s Flag
  • Citizen Heroes---These are two page spreads and includes people like Ruby Bridges Hall, & Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Biographies--- These are also two pages spreads and includes people like Sacagawea, and Mary MecLeod Bethune.

Because All Together was written for the classroom, I struggled with how to implement it in my home education program for Supergirl.  I love that it has a sturdy hardcover and has bright, colorful pages, but it doesn’t include any information on how to use the textbook.  I like the information.  I like how it is presented in bite size pieces.  I like that it includes photographs as well as drawings, but I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do it!

I decided to divide up the E pages and H pages to create 4 days of lessons as an “Introduction to Social Studies”.  Then we simply started with Unit 1.   For our “lessons”  I would read aloud and we would discuss the Lesson and any pages such as Citizen Hero or Then and Now. I would stop when we got to the next numbered lesson.  When first starting the Unit I would read from the beginning of the until until we got to lesson number 2.  These beginning pages include vocabulary preview, unit introduction and a song.

We are enjoying it, but, without some type of teacher guide,  I just feel like I am missing something and that there is more that I could be doing with this resource.

To read more reviews click on the banner below:Photobucket

All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received Scott Foresman 1st Grade Social Studies 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.

5/20/11

TOS Review: Wordy Qwerty Online Edition

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I’ve said it before: the beauty of the Review Crew is finding some gem of a product.  I have to confess that I wasn’t really interested in reviewing this one.  I didn’t have any children in the target range (grades 2-4).  I knew that it was too advanced for Supergirl and that it was below Tailorbear.  But now I am so excited to tell you about Wordy Qwerty Online Edition from Talking Fingers because I really like this product! 

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Targeted for 2nd to 4th graders who have learned the basics of phonics and are ready to learn how to build words in English, Wordy Qwerty teaches 20 spelling rules in 20 fun-filled lessons.  You can download a detailed scope and sequence chart here.  The scope and sequence chart doesn’t just show which rule is taught, but also displays specific items covered in each activity of each lesson.

There are 6 game like activities for each lesson:

  • Pattern (Spelling Rule)—in this activity children sort words into two groups and look for a pattern.  From the pattern you can discover a spelling rule.  If you mistype or misspell, the “helping hands” will show and tell you the correct letter along with the proper finger position.

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  • Song--- After hearing a song about the spelling rule, students have a chance to try singing it themselves.
  • Recycler (Word Families)---In this game two spellings of a word are presented and you must choose which (or both) is correct.  For example one side will have ail and the other ale.  The recycler adds a beginning p so that you see pail and pale.  Both are real words so select Both.  (my favorite)

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  • Pop-A-Word (Outlaw Words)—Wordy Qwerty gives you a sentence or phrase and you must pop the balloons with the correctly spelled words in the correct order.  (Tailorbear’s Favorite)

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  • Write Stories (Type and Spell)--- Dictation in story format!  The student types from dictation the second part of each page of the story.
  • Read Stories (Fill-in-the-Blanks)—Students read a story and when they come to a missing word, they choose the appropriate word from a drop down list.

After completing the six activities, students are given a chance to spell the words from the first activity that fit the spelling rule.  You can take a product tour by clicking HERE.

So what did we think? Well, while having dinner, I asked my 12 year old daughter how Wordy Qwerty was going?  What did she think of it?  She replied that a child who didn’t really know how to read would be really frustrated because the words are hard but that it is a great spelling program.

Her older sister, age 15 1/2, spoke up and said “I never really got how you know when to use “g” or “j”.  I thought it was which ever way looked nicest, but now I know it’s like the hard and soft c.”   BooBear had simply been listening in to Tailorbear’s lesson and she was able to learn something! I was impressed that even my 10th grader could learn from this program.  I was even more impressed when I played around with it and learned a rule about “j”.  I learned that English words do not end in j, use dge instead of j. I knew how to spell all those words but I never knew why to spell them that way.  Boobear says that she wishes she’d had this program to use when she was learning how to spell.  I agree.  I wish I’d known about this program years ago.

I think Wordy Qwerty would be appropriate for 4-5th (and maybe even some 6th graders who need more spelling practice) to learn some helpful spelling tips.  I think Wordy Qwerty would be difficult and perhaps frustrating for a younger student who did not read well. I think a younger student who has successfully completed Read, Write, Type would do fine with this sequel.

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Though the Crew received Wordy Qwerty Online Edition, Wordy Qwerty is also available on CD.  All At Home product subscriptions are for five years.  Pricing starts at $25 for 1 user for Wordy Qwerty. To see all the pricing options click HERE.  For CD Products click HERE.  You can try a FREE demo online of lesson one and get  a chance to get 20% off!.  Click HERE

Earlier some TOS crewmates also reviewed Read, Write and Type from Talking Fingers.Com.  Click HERE to read those reviews.

Click on the banner below to read what my fellow crewmates have to say about Wordy Qwerty.Photobucket

All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

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.

Talking Fingers provided 2, one year licenses for the Wordy Qwerty online software program for review purposes.

5/19/11

Must. Calm. Down.

Right now I feel like life is just spinning out of control.  I’ve got so much on my plate and so much that I have to do.  My head is spinning as I try to figure out where to start.  Do I start with the last review I have due this week, or clean my bathroom?  Maybe I should start with doing school with Supergirl using the review products that have reviews due next week?  Maybe I should start with getting school done with Tailorbear who is finishing up her 6th grade work?

I am grateful the the sun is shining because that sunshine is keeping me from becoming MORE of a screaming maniac.  I am also grateful for blogging which at this very moment is helping me to sort out all this BLAH inside my head.

I keep asking myself two things:  HOW did the house get this messy and out of control? and WHY did we let it get this way?  I don’t like the answers that I hear quietly whispering in the back of my mind.  Can you hear the whispers?  Routines,  Habits,  Lazy,  Priorities, Lazy, Tired, Lazy, Routines, yes those are the words running and whispering and hinting inside my head. 

This isn’t a new problem for me.  I recognize the symptoms of the circle:  house starts to get out of control, I get discouraged, house gets more out of control, depression sets in,  house gets worse, more discouragement.

I know the solution.  I’ve actually started working on the solution!  I am participating in the 31-day challenge but the TIMING has been awful!  I’m trying to finish up our school year, finish up the Crew *AND* start a cleaning challenge?  I *should* just drop the cleaning challenge and focus on finishing school and crew but I can’t concentrate on the school or the reviews with the house in such disarray.

One more week.  Just one more week.  One more week of reviews due and one more week of “official” school.  I can do it.  I can do it because I’ll find my strength in Christ.  I think I know where to start now.  I’m going to find a quiet place and mediate on the Jesus prayer.  Then I’ll use the old stand by timer rule.  I’ll the set timer for a set amount of time and work on something.  And I’ll breathe.  Must remember to breathe.  Slow deep breaths.  Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy on Me a Sinner.

5/18/11

TOS Review: Mad Dog Math

maddoglogoOne of the fun things about the Review Crew is finding products that I never would have found on my own.  Mad Dog Math-At Home is one of those products.  Mad Dog Math is available in two formats: pencil & paper or interactive software.  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received the software with a 12 week license.

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Mad Dog Math is different from other math drill programs we’ve used.  Most of the drills we’ve done have focused on adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing by the same number.  For example all the problems in a set will have +2 (3+2, 4+2, 7+2 etc). Instead,  Mad Dog Math uses “Fact Families”.   The fact family for the number 3 would include these facts:  0+3, 1+2,  3+0, 2+1, 3-0, 3-2, and 3-1.  This is an aspect of the program that I love.

The Fact Families approach is not the only thing that sets this drill program apart.  This second difference is how I got my reluctant tween daughter to try the program.

“Do I have to? It reminds me of every other math drill sheet I’ve ever been forced to do.”  whined my 12 year old, TailorBear.  “Come here,”  I said. “Let me show you something different about this one.”

I sit in the computer chair and she sits on the floor.  I open the program, click on log in and type in her name.  I immediately click on the Challenge Tab and choose Kennel Trouble. I show her the boxes.  The Kennel Trouble Challenge asks her to fill in a chart using two step operations.  The one we did together asked her to add, then multiply by 11.

Here’s a screen shot of what I mean:

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So for the first box you would add 3+7 and then multiply by 7.  She then asked me to move so she could try it.  Gradually, she began to explore other parts including the Mutt Math challenge, which include all four operations and require the student to fill in a missing number. But it isn’t just mixed operations. She maintains that the best part is the Kennel Trouble which is her favorite.

Here is what Mutt Math looks like:

Mutt Math

 In addition to the Challenge Level, there are 3 other levels.  Levels 1 and 2 cover addition and subtraction.  At level 1, you drill fact families but in Level 2 you have missing addends for addition and for subtraction the Fact Families are Zero to Six,  Seven to Nine and then individual numbers Eleven through Eighteen.  For 11 and up you will see all the problems have the same minuend (11-7, 11-0, 11-4). At Level 3 you will master multiplication and division.

My thoughts?  Overall I really like this product because it breaks the facts down into small bite sized chunks that make it easier to master.  I like that even within each level you have “levels” with different timing options.  I could use “No Time Limit” for Supergirl to practice the 0-3 families and challenge both Tailorbear and Turtlegirl to increase their speed by having them drill the 30 second time option.

I did not like that I had to log in as the student to check progress.  I didn’t like that the Log In had to be typed in each time and if you mistyped your name you would end up as a new person.  I would like to see a drop down list to pick a name with an option to “add new name”.   Supergirl also struggled with the vertical presentation of the problems.   Overall, though I think this is an excellent way to drill Math facts.  I agree with Turtlegirl: “I like seeing how fast I can get them right.”  She says “it’s good for drilling and I wish I had this when I was younger.”

Mad Dog Math is only available for the PC but it is available for both 32 Bit and 64 Bit operating systems.  You can download a free trial (only the first fact family in each of the three levels is enabled in the free trial version) HERE.   Starting price for this software is $19.99 for a one year license.  For more details on purchasing options click HERE.

Please click on the banner below to read what my fellow crewmates had to say about Mad Dog Math-At HomePhotobucketAll information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received a 12 week license of Mad Dog Math 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.

5/17/11

Preview: The Music of Robert Pierre

Robert Pierre

Robert is just a typical teenager who enjoys water basketball and being with his friends.  Or is he?

Meet Robert Pierre, an 18 year old High School senior set to graduate this week.  This Christian singer-songwriter has just finished recording the vocals for his third album.  Hailing from the Orlando, FL area, Robert as begun rehearsals for a few summer festivals.

His new CD is due out later this summer, but I had the opportunity to listen to his EP and I get to share these four songs with you!  If you like contemporary Christian music with an upbeat, feel good tempo you’ll want to check out these songs.  I particularly enjoyed “Jesus” and as the mother of teenagers, I appreciated the fourth song “Identity”.  I think hearing about standing up for your faith in midst of peer pressure is more effective coming from another teenager than from a parent or another adult.

This EP by Robert Pierre is available on Noisetrade.  You can go to https://www.noisetrade.com/robertpierre# to listen to each song individually.  (Click on his picture to find the the listen now playlist). Alternately, you can enter your email address and receive the EP as a download.

You’ll also want to check out Robert’s Facebook Page:  http://www.facebook.com/RobertPierreMusic

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation, Robert!

5/16/11

TOS Review: Wonder Maps

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Our family has recently had the opportunity to try out Wondermaps from Bright Ideas Press.  Wondermaps is a customizable collection of over 350 maps.  Mapping is a great way to add geography skills to any literature rich home school. 

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Product name: Wondermaps
Vendor: Bright Ideas Press
Age Range All ages
Price: $49.95
Format: Software available as download only or download + CD
Operating System: Available for Mac or Windows
Website: www.brightideaspress.com

I  want describe how Wondermaps works but I think this tutorial clip does a far better job explaining the product than I could.

Features that I appreciated:

  • Alphabetical Indexes of maps. There is an alphabetical index of maps for the two section that covers the World, Continents, Regions and Nations, and United States
  • Chronological Index for the Historical Maps section.
  •  Thematic Index for the Thematic Maps
  • The Teacher’s Guide section which includes a tutorial video, a Quick Start page and a user manual as well as links to other helpful resources.
  • I could create a map that my student could label and I could use the added layers on the software as an answer key to grade the student printed map.
  • Maps for Mystery of History and All  American History are included.

 Some things I found frustrating:

  • There are a limited number of individual country maps.  If I wanted map of Germany, for example, I would have to go to the regional map, enlarge it and choose to print “current view”.   (Please Note: This is addressed on page 5 of the User’s Guide in the FAQ section)
  • I found it difficult to navigate.  For example, a map that I thought should be in one location, was not in that location but in a different location.  Other maps would be in both locations.
  • Customizable options were not consistent across the different maps.  I would have loved to have had the same options available for all maps such as the color/political layer available for states.  I would have loved the color/political layer for regions such as Western Europe.
  • Maps for Mystery of History were not customizable.  I could not add layers and they were sidewise.

Overall, I think this is an incredible product.  It’s not working as well for me as I hoped but  I think that is a flaw in my character and not with the product.  This is a great supplemental resource and I struggle with being consistent with adding in those great supplements.  Next year we’re going to be using a literature based curriculum that has mapping suggestions on the assignment sheet.  I plan on using Wondermaps to complete those mapping assignments.

Bright Ideas Press has many resources be sure to check out their product page.  I’m partial to the Mystery of History series myself.

 Click on banner below to read what my fellow crewmates have to say about Wondermaps.PhotobucketAll information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received Wondermaps from Bright Ideas Press 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.

5/15/11

Thinking Back on the Crew Year

Blog Cruise Button

I can’t believe how fast the year has gone!  The Crew year starts in mid-June and we’ll finish up the year at the end of May.  Jodi, our lovely Blog Cruise hostess, encourages us to share our favorite homeschool experience in relation to our participation in this year’s Crew. I don’t know how to pick out ONE favorite experience so I’ll share three specific experiences.

First, I  want to share about something that happened early in the crew year.  Our Vendor Liaison Crew Leader, Brenda kept a list for us of upcoming vendors with links to the website.  This list whet our appetites and kept us guessing as to which particular product we might receive. 

There was a vendor on the list that I was sure I did not want their product.  Just what in the world would I do with it?  Why would I want it.  It seemed geared for the classroom; how would it possibly work in a home environment?  I was sure this was one product that I did NOT want.  Well, my name was on the list.  Remember this was very early in the Crew year.  I’ve been keeping a top ten list of favorite products and here we are two weeks from the end of the Crew year and this product is STILL in the number one slot!  I bet you’re curious right? You want to know what it is?  It’s LanSchool.  You can read my review here.   What an experience to think that I wouldn’t want a product and to find out that it’s been something we have loved and used every day!

The second experience is also product specific.  In this case though I knew from the get go that I *wanted*, no *needed* this product.  I shouted for joy (really nearly woke up my children!) when I saw my name on the vendor list for IEW.   But even though I knew I wanted and needed this product, I had no idea just how well Teaching Writing Structure and Style along with Student Writing Intensive would be for my family.  I didn’t expect that I would end up planning on purchases MORE products from IEW.  You can read my review of IEW here.

I wish I had a picture that captures the essence of experience number 3.   Pictures are worth a 1,000 words but my words will have to suffice.  This isn’t about a product per se but rather about Supergirl’s reaction.  Whenever we would receive a product that was specifically targeted for her, she would get so excited.  She wants so much to be like her sisters.  She wants her own school.  We’ve been so incredibly blessed by the Crew with review products just for her that have been *incredible*.  In fact, I’ve set aside much of the curriculum I had planned to use with her in order to continue using products after the review period was completed.   We’re using a Latin program, a reading program, a social studies program and a science program all provided by the Review Crew.

I have loved being a part of the Crew.  Thanks Old Schoolhouse Magazine for the opportunity of a lifetime.

5/14/11

31 Days to Clean Challenge Days 6-10

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean

Like I posted with my Reading Aloud Challenge, this wasn’t such a good week for cleaning either.  I might not have completed as many cleaning tasks as I would have liked, but I did get a blessing from one of the readings: Day 6, the 6 item list. The author, Sarah Mae, sums it up this way:

Every night before bed write down the top six things, in order, that you need to accomplish the next day (no more than six). then, go systematically through the list, completing the tasks in order, crossing out each thing as you go. (p. 17)

The idea of a to do list isn’t new to me.  It’s the narrowing it down with which I struggle.  I tried this one day towards the end of the week but I found myself asking “6 specific or 6 general?”  “Can I pick six things of housework *and* six things of home school?”

Even though I only tried one day, I realized that I do need to narrow it down to six things.  This week, I’m going to choose 6 things that I MUST do.  I’m not going to try to categorize things and have several different “6 item lists”.  At least not until I get this 6 item list mastered <grin>

Reading Days 7-10 also helped because I know that I am not the only one who struggles with laziness and feeling overwhelmed.  I’m hoping that the 6 item list will be one step towards overcoming laziness and being not quite so overwhelmed.

If you want to know more about the 31 Day Challenge click on the button at the top of this post.  Are you joining in on the Challenge?  How’s it going for you?

5/13/11

TOS Review: IEW Teaching Writing Structure & Style + Student Writing Intensive C

 Institute for Excellence in Writing ~ Review by Tess
If there is one subject that I feel inadequate to teach, that subject would be writing.  I’ve been formally home schooling  since June of 1999 when my oldest daughter turned 4 years old.  For 12 years I have hunted and searched for some program or resource that I could use to teach writing skills to my children.

I didn’t lack assignments, I lacked instruction.  Program “X” would assign writing 8 sentences, yet leave me wondering how do I teach them how to write 8 sentences?  Another program would tell me that my children needed to write everyday and that writing everyday would be the key to learning how to write, but they failed to tell me what to write or how to write.  My children didn’t know HOW to organize their thoughts. They didn’t know WHAT to write. Still other programs required so much “coaching” and “mentoring” that I felt I had no time left to teach any other subjects never mind the fact that I didn’t know how to coach or mentor!

Despite my desire to make writing a priority, I feel I failed.  Oh how I wish I had found Institute for Excellence in Writing years ago!  I wish I knew then what I know now.  It is possible to have a writing curriculum that teaches writing in a step by step process while developing critical thinking skills and create a coaching or mentoring relationship with the student.

For the past several months we have been using IEW’s Teaching Writing Structure and Style along with Student Writing Intensive C. We also received a Portable Wall.  Let me tell you a little bit about each of these products:

The Portable Wall is an excellent student resource!

The Portable Wall is a tri-fold file folder with all the information you are supposed to put on the classroom wall.  Info such as the Story Sequence Chart or the list of Dress Ups.  It has lists of –ly words and synonyms for “Said”.  This handy portable tool puts the info right in front of the student at eye level so they have it when and where they need it to complete their writing assignments.   I didn’t think we would need or use this but it has been so helpful and handy to have around.

Teaching Writing Structure and Style

Teaching Writing Structure and Style is a DVD seminar designed to teach teachers and parents how to teach writing.  The TWSS consists of 10 DVD’s.  The first 6 DVD’s cover the 9 units.  There is a Tips & Tricks DVD for teaching through the 9 units.  The next 3 DVD’s are student workshops: Level A for grades 2-4, Level B for grades 5-7,  Level C for grades 8-10+.

The TWSS 3-Ring Binder contains all the handouts from the DVD seminar. It also includes sample lesson plans for each of the 9 units and samples of student writings.  The teacher will also find hand outs of the information for wall charts This information is on the Portable Wall but it is nice to have it on a full sheet of paper when going through the unit. IEW included lots of information in the Appendix such as “Student Workshop Source Texts”, “Lesson Planning” and more!

The “Structure” portion of TWSS is divided into 9 units. Units are presented in a logical order and build upon each other.  The “Style” of TWSS is taught “throughout the units at the speed with which the students can understand and utilize it.  Techniques are introduced one at a time.” (TWSS p 1)

Student Writing Intensive C from IEW ~ Read Tess's Review!

The Student Writing Intensive is a DVD Seminar preparing students to write with structure and style.  I received Level C which is for “Advanced Intermediate/High School Age Students”.   SWI is described as a video seminar for high school students.  According to the “Overview” SWI was “produced to  give parents and teachers a jump-start for teaching writing to the their students by providing direct instruction for the students or model lessons for the teachers”. This Video Seminar course includes 4 DVD’s and a 3 Ring-Binder which contains all the handouts and supplementary materials needed to teach writing to high school students.  It even includes source text material!  Also provided in the binder are “Scope and Sequence Chart”, “Time Signatures” for the DVD’s, and a Suggested SWI C Course Schedule.  

I am the kind of person who needs some structure. When travelling I need directions and a map.  If I have those, then I feel comfortable making side trips and stopping for tourist attractions.  For me SWI provides the structure or “driving directions” for teaching writing.  I can use the suggested course of study.  I know how to get there. 

I needed the combination of both Teaching Writing Structure and Style, and Student Writing Intensive C.  Although TWSS teaches me how to teach writing, I would have been overwhelmed without a specific set of writing assignments.  I would have struggled with having to do prep work such as hunting for more source texts, preparing lessons, and creating assignments.  SWI provided the structure I needed with lesson plans and source texts but it lacks the “big picture” map quality that TWSS has. 

Although I lack confidence in my ability to teach writing, TWSS gives me that confidence. TWSS helps me to see the big picture and to understand what's going on in the SWI C.   It also helps me to feel confident about slowing down and speeding up according to the needs of my students and has helped me to adapt SWI to my 6th grader (who can't quite keep at the pace of her 10th grade sister) and has given me ideas to use with my special needs dd.   I *wish* had known how valuable the TWSS was years ago!

The Teaching Writing Structure and Style plus Student Writing Intensive C combo pack brings together the elements I liked from other programs.  The combo pack has the structure of “write this many paragraphs and include this many dress ups” along with daily writing assignments and teaches me how to coach and mentor.  I’m not left floundering wondering what I should be looking for in my student’s writing, nor am I at a loss as to what should be included in each paper.

I don’t just love IEW because it provides the “road map” and “driving directions” that I need, but I love how the approach can be used with all three of my “big” girls.  I have one daughter that loves to write, another daughter that hates to write, and a third daughter who desires to write and likes writing but lacks the foundational skills.  IEW has worked for all of them.

I wish I could say that my writing hating daughter now loves writing, but I cant. I can say though that she has enjoyed watching the DVD’s just as much as the rest of us.  (Andrew Pudewa is an entertaining and encouraging speaker).  I can also say that writing has become less of a chore for her.  She may never love writing but she will have the skills to write well. 

My daughter who loves to write is learning how to improve her writing and be more concise with her thoughts.  She’s learning how to organize and structure her thoughts. Writing comes easily for her but editing is a skill she lacked.  IEW is teaching her to revise and edit her papers by giving her specific things to check. 

My daughter who wants to write is encouraged.  She was afraid of college because she was afraid of writing papers.  She enjoys writing and she is gaining the skills she needs to write well written essays.  With these skills, she is no longer afraid of college papers.

I am so impressed with IEW that I purchased Primary Arts of Language: Writing for Supergirl and I plan on purchasing more IEW products this summer for our 2011-2012 school year.

**********************Breaking News********************************

June 10, 2015! IEW has revised and updated the Teaching Writing Structure and Style!

Read my review of the NEWLY UPDATED TWSS!  Teaching Writing/Student Writing Value Package A.

Please check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about IEW products.  Just click on the banner below!

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Institute for Excellence in Writing generously provided Teaching Writing Structure and Style and Student Writing Intensive C  combo pack as well as a portable wall for review purposes.

This Graphic contains the FTC Regulations statement for Reviews.

All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.

5/12/11

Read Aloud Challenge May 12th

This was not a good week for us for reading aloud.  We just didn’t get to it.  I did start a couple of books this week:

Source

This is Tailorbear’s Read Aloud for her Sonlight Core 4 (now called Core E), In Search of the Source, by Neil Anderson.  It’s a true story of how the Folopa people received their the Bible in their own language.  This is my third time reading it aloud and I am enjoying it as much this time as I did when I read first to BooBear and next to Turtlegirl.  The other girls are allowed to listen in as well but it is only required listening for TailorBear.  We’ve really only really just started it.  I am hoping for some nice weather so Tailorbear and I can go outside to read together.

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I’ve started a new Yesterday’s Classics book to Supergirl.  Dooryard Stories by Gudrun Thorne-Thomsen.  This is going to be our “Wednesday wait in the van for her sisters to come out from piano lessons” book.  Since it’s on my Nook it will be easy to just bring it along and it gives us something to look forward to on Wednesdays.

We still have our other books, we just haven’t opened them this week.  Hopefully, I’ll get more of a schedule/routine built up and we’ll get more reading aloud time done.

What have you been reading this week?  Want to know about the Reading Aloud Challenge, check out this post from Debra at Footprints in the Butter.   Want to join in this week?  Click here for Debra’s post for this week.

5/11/11

TOS Review: GoTrybe.com

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My 10th grade daughter has been wanting to do more to take care of herself. When we found out about gotrybe.com, Boo Bear eagerly asked me to fill out the Vendor Interest Form for the crew.  She knew this would be something she could do on her own and take responsibility for her own health.

According to the FAQ, gotrybe.com is an “online fitness and nutrition community that delivers daily fitness, nutrition, wellness, and motivation content to students and teachers across the US”.  They provide a place for kids and teens of all ages to get moving.

gotrybe.com “encourages everyone to: GO get active, TRY something new and BE your best!”  Their fitness videos are led by certified trainers.The nutrition information is approved by GoTrybe's own registered dietitian.

When you create an account with gotrybe.com you get to choose which the Trybe that fits your grade level.  There are three: ZooDoos for grades k-5,  Trybe180 for grades 6-8 and NextTrybe for grades 9-12.

Members earn points for participating in daily activities.  The points from these activities can be used to purchase items for their personal avatars. Points are also used to achieve badges.

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There are four daily activities:
1. Fitness : this is where you choose your daily workout. You can choose from a GoTrybe workout or build your own.
2.Nutrition: you are given a short paragraph of information about something related to nutrition such as flouride and then you answer a question.
3. Motivation These are short video interviews of gotrybe.com participants.  An instructor asks questions such as “What do you like about gotrybe?”

4. Wellness: These are short videos about health and wellness related topics such as texting while driving, relieving stress or handling embarrassing moments like tripping in front of your friends.

A one year membership is regularly $39.95, however, if you try it for free using the promo code GETFIT and then upgrade it will be only $19.95 for one year.  For more information about gotrybe.com I suggest reading the FAQ page

I was not too sure about this program when I first looked at the website.  I had concerns about the idea of it being an “online community”.   I was afraid that it would be more of a social media type membership.  I was wrong.   It is possible to enjoy the benefits of the program without participating in any of the forums.  My children have not participated in the forums or “messages”.  They go in and do their daily activities and work outs.  Here is what my children thought of the program:

Turtlegirl’s Thoughts: “I really like it. I’ve noticed I’m not so clumsy so my balance has improved. I’m also finding it easier to carry in the groceries. I think overall it is a good idea. I liked the fitness videos but the videos before the questions [wellness videos] were a little annoying because there was just talking, no emotion. She speaks in a monotone voice.  I like the motivation videos.”

TailorBear’s Thoughts: “It’s good. I’m actually getting my heart rate up.  I’ve noticed a difference in my core strength.  I like everything about it."

BooBear’s Thoughts: “I like it because I can choose different workouts and make my own.  I like being able to stay fit and not have to use a lot of equipment or go someplace. It is better than I thought it would be.  I would appreciate more avatar choices, though.  I don’t like the one for the teen girls. I don’t like the pose she is in.  I like that I can put different clothes on her though.”

To read what other crewmembers have to say about gotrybe.com click on the banner below:PhotobucketAll information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received 3, three month, subscriptions to GoTrybe 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.

5/10/11

It Can’t Be Done

My family has been on a Stargate kick here lately.  We’ve been watching 1 to 2 episodes most nights for some time now.  I don’t remember what season we are on now.  It could be season 8, but I want to say season 9. My daughter just informed me that we are indeed in season 8. In last night’s episode, “Avatar”, Teal’c, is trapped inside a virtual simulation game. The game is in learning mode and creating the game based on Teal’c’s thoughts and wishes.

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Teal’c wants the game to be harder.  He wants it to be more realistic. The game adapts and becomes more realistic.  The fail safe fails because in reality Teal’c would never give up so the game won’t allow him to “give up” or quit.  Deep down, almost secretly, Teal’c also believes that the Goa’uld can’t be beat. Since the point of the game is  to defeat the invasion of the Stargate base and since ultimately the Goa’uld can’t be beat, the game cannot be won. Teal’c becomes discouraged.  He can’t quit and he can’t win. 

The rest of the Stargate team figures out what’s happening, hooks up another game chair and sends Dr. Daniel Jackson to help Teal’c.  With Daniel and Teal’c working together as a team they are able to defeat the Goa’uld and win the game.

As I watched the episode I could clearly see in myself how I have been affected by the attitude of “it can’t be done.”.  For me it is spiritual.  It is the essence of my lifelong search for God’s Truth. 

Growing up I believed that in order to go to Heaven, God must love me.  I thought that I had to *earn* God’s love.  I knew it could not be done.  I was never going to be good enough for God to love me.

I confused the concept of good works that we do because we love God with the idea that I had to do good works to be good enough for God to love me.  Then I came into contact with Protestants who also could not see what my problem was and confused the issue further by telling me that I was trying to earn or work for my salvation. 

It wasn’t until recently, when I realized the distinct difference between striving to earn God’s love and working to earn salvation.  I was unable to grasp the reality of God’s love.  Even though I was always told over and over again, and even though I could read of God’s love in the Bible, I just didn’t really believe that God is Love.   That is, I didn’t believe, until I discovered Orthodoxy. 

Through the ancient faith of the Orthodox, I have come to see God as the God of Love.  I no longer strive to earn his love.  I am assured that He loves me.  The Truths that Paul writes in his New Testament Epistles ring true in my heart for the first time. 

I am no longer motivated by fear.  Fear that God will punish me or fear that I won’t be good enough.  I am motivated by love.  I know that I am going to fall short but I’m no longer striving to make up for that shortness. 

St. Paul talks about God’s love through his epistles but I was quite certain that Christ was not the same Christ whose demands I could never meet.  “Be ye perfect even as I am”.    “Take up your Cross and follow Me”.   I did glimpse a bit of Paul’s Christ in the Gospel of St. John but for years I lived with the attitude of it can’t be done.  I can’t meet Christ’s demands, therefore God can’t love me therefore I am a lousy Christian.

The Orthodox Church is my Dr. Daniel Jackson.  The Orthodox Church has joined me in my “game” and helped me to defeat the fear of failing God and to learn to live and walk in His unfailing Love.  What I thought couldn’t be done, is already finished.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come , nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:38-39)

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Christ is Risen!

5/7/11

31 Days To Clean Check In Days 1-5

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean

This was not the week to start a challenge!  We were starting back to school after having 2 weeks off for Holy Week and Pascha.  That meant we were really supposed to hit the books hard because we had 4 weeks (now 3!) left of this school year.

If that wasn’t enough, I’ve been sick.  I haven’t been sleeping because I have this horrible cough.  I also ended up with two out of four sick children.  I made the command decision that we would do what we can and that I will just plan on repeating the 31 day challenge over and over again.

Christian at Joyful Mothering proposed a 5 day a week schedule. This means that we’ll be going past May 31st.  She wants to allow for days off to avoid burnout.  Oh yeah and to allow for life to be well life like it was for me.

I intend to follow the 5 day idea but I suspect that I won’t be taking Saturday’s off.  We typically allow for projects and deeper cleaning on Saturdays.  If I do one or 2 projects on Saturday, I won’t feel quite so pressured trying to do the cleaning challenge *and* teach four children (highschool, junior high, upper Elementary and my fourth one doing Special Ed).

I also decided that for each project we will do what we can and do more then next time we do the challenge because we are so going to do this again and again!

I’m struggling with the Mary challenges.  I did write down a list of reasons for why I wanted a clean home (Day 1) My reasons are not lofty or spiritual.  What is motivating me is purely my flesh. I don’t want to be frustrated anymore.  I get frustrated trying to find the things I need. I don’t want to be depressed and discouraged.  A messy house is a depressing and discouraging place for me and I don’t like it.  I want to save money!  Yes money.  I had crossed it off and then I decided that “mistake” was not a mistake.  When I can’t find what I am looking for, I end up purchasing something I don’t need!  Or because we didn’t take care of it, it got broke or became unusable and has to be replaced.  That is a waste of money. I want to save time.  I hate wasting time looking and looking for things or losing things because they get buried.  When the house is clean or at least not cluttered we have more time, more money and I’m a happier person!

The other Mary challenges were a bit too much for me to try to tackle mentally this week.  Those are more long term projects that I need to ponder more about. 

For the Martha Challenges, I skipped making a list of cleaning and organizing supplies.  I think I’ll keep a list and jot down specifics as I discover a need.   So moving on to day 2,    The fridge is a longer project but I did get some nasty stuff thrown out and I washed down three of the door shelves.  So progress has been made. 

Day 3: Haven’t touched the top of the cabinets or fridge but my wonderful 15 year old daughter took Murphy’s oil soap and lots of elbow grease and tackled the lower cupboard doors and drawers.  They look great! 

Day 4:  I love having a self cleaning oven!  I have the oven going right now on its self clean cycle.  I should be able to get the microwave done too.

Day 5:Has morphed or blended with another project we needed to get done.  My husband needed to take off the plastic wrap and since he had to take down blinds to do it we’ll be washing the blinds from the kitchen, dining room and living room.  I’m excited about this one.  The blinds have been grossing me out for a long time but I never had the motivation to take them down and do something about it.

Thought I’ve labeled things with Day 1 Day 2 etc, please keep in mind that I did NOT do them Monday-Friday and I did NOT necessarily do them in order. 

And I need to mention that this is a FAMILY project.  All members of my family are participating in some way with this 31 day challenge.  It’s the only way we’ll get it done!

Do you want to participate?  Do you want to see what others are doing?  Just click on the graphic at the top and you can see the posts that Christian has been making.

5/6/11

TOS Review: Andi’s Fair Surprise

Supergirl and I have been reading an adorable book from Kregel Publications.  This book, Andi’s Fair Surprise, is part of the Circle C Beginnings Series by author Susan K. Marlow.

Supergirl is learning to read and is not quite ready for reading chapter books independently, but I thought we could try reading it together.  I took the time to underline words I knew she knew and I would read until I got to an underlined word, then she would read it.  This was good reading practice for her but we weren’t enjoying the book.  So we stopped and we started over using the book as a read aloud.

Andi's Surprise

Andi’s Fair Surprise is the story of 6 year old Andrea Carter of Circle C Ranch and her trip to the California State Fair.  She wants to bring her pony for a chance to win a blue ribbon but she is told that she is “too little”.  While at the fair, Andi discovers a ring toss game.  She really wants to win the cowboy hat and spends all her money trying to ring a peg.  Discouraged and disappointed when she fails to win, she and her sister visit the exhibits to check for winning tickets.  To her delight, Andi wins a black lamb.  Unfortunately, she can’t keep it.  Her family raises cattle and sheep are not allowed on the cattle ranch. In the end mother gives Andi a blue ribbon for character because Andi was very brave and gave up her lamb.

These books are intended for children ages 6-8 who are ready for first chapter books. According to Kregel’s website, the reading level is 2.0 to 2.8  or an early 2nd grade to mid to late 2nd grade reading level.  Based on my family and my experience, I agree with the reading level but for the interest level, I would say a better range would be age 5-7. BooBear was not ready for chapter books until she was in 3rd grade and about 81/2. I think she would have found Andi’s Fair Surprise to be a bit young since the main character is 6 years old.   On the other hand these would have been perfect for Turtlegirl and Tailorbear who both read at an early age.  I really wish Circle C Beginnings would have been available whey they were 4-6 years old.  It can be so  difficult to find age appropriate content in advanced readers. 

Despite my opinion that the book would be better suited for younger students, the moment the book arrived, Tailorbear whisked it away to read.  She’s 12 and finishing up 6th grade.  Turtlegirl, 19 months older, snuck off to read it as well.  Both said that the book was a little babyish for them but that it was a good story.  So even though they were years past the target range, they enjoyed the book.

The plot line and simple language make these ideal for young readers, however, the topics such as giving up a lamb you won, can spark great discussions even among older children.  Tailorbear, already having read the book to herself, listened to me read albeit covertly.  She happened to choose to tidy the living room or work on a project at the same time I choose to read aloud) and asked me what I would do if she won a lamb.  We talked about what circumstances would cause me to make her give it away and what would be necessary for me to allow her to keep it. 

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Supergirl loved the book.  She would bring it to me everyday to read aloud and would protest if I didn’t read more than one chapter.  She would show me the book and tell me that she was going to go read it herself.  This week she even took the book outside with her to “read”.  When she is truly reading independently, I will be considering purchasing the rest of the books in the series.

In the meantime we may stretch the enjoyment of the book with some free resources. There are coloring pages and activity pages for FREE to go along with each of the 4 Circle C Beginnings Books.

Andi’s Fair Surprise retails for $4.99 and can be purchased at your local bookstore or through Kregel Publications.  Look for 2 more books from the Circle C Beginnings Series in August 2011.

The Crew reviewed the four books.  To read the other reviews please click on the banner below. PhotobucketAll information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this book from Kregel publications 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.

5/5/11

Reading Aloud Challenge 5/5

Wow, today is May 5th.   Today my father would have been 75 years old.  I miss him.  He wasn’t a book person though.  I don’t remember ever seeing my father with a book in his hand nor do I recall my father ever reading to me.  He might have.  Maybe.  When I was very small but I doubt it.

I have no memory of my mother reading aloud to me either but I suspect she did.  She introduced me to books.  She always has a book around that she is reading.  When she was here visiting last time, she even went to the book mobile with us and checked out a book.   I have fond memories of riding my bike to the library to check out books.

Yesterday was a bright and beautiful sunny day.  My girls needed to be outside so I shooed them out with books!  I love reading outside.  We often do our read alouds outside in the summer.  We’ve only had two nice days so far this spring but neither of them allowed for reading aloud together outside.

I’m sick (again!) and haven’t done as much reading aloud.  The “big” girls are still reading plenty to themselves and I’ve concentrated on reading aloud (mostly school) to Supergirl.  Daddy has done some reading aloud of history to Tailorbear.  It’s on the to-do list to read some science and history to Tailorbear and Supergirl.

Earlier this week, Supergirl and I finished reading Andi’s Fair Surprise (review coming tomorrow!) and we’ve continued reading from The Dutch Twins (did you catch the review yesterday?  225 ebooks beautifully formated for just $99.95 you might want to check it out!)

How is reading aloud going at your place this week?  You can join in the reading challenge too!  Debra at Footprints in the Butter issued a reading aloud challenge to herself.  I love the idea so much that I’ve been posting with her.  You can read my past  posts here.  You can sign this week’s linky here.

Do you have a favorite reading memory of your parent? Please share it with me in the comments!

5/4/11

TOS Review: Yesterday’s Classics

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Do you or children like to read?  Do you like e-books?  Do you use a literature based approach to home education?  If you answered yes to any of those questions you’ll want to know more about this bundle package of e-books from Yesterday’s ClassicsI love to read.  My children love to read (and be read to!). I use a literature based curriculum to home educate my children.  I do not like e-books.  Or rather I didn’t until I discovered Yesterday’s Classics. Grab a cup of coffee or tea or whatever hot (or cold) beverage helps you relax.  Let’s talk about e-books from Yesterday’s Classics.

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Yesterday’s Classics republishes out-of- print classics from “the golden age of Children’s Literature, the era from 1880 to 1920.”  They have history books covering the great civilizations such as Greece and Rome and literature books including poetry and hero tales. The books encompass 22 genres! There are books for young children, books for upper elementary and even books for high school students!

When I thought of e-books, I thought of PDF files that needed to be read on the computer with something like Adobe Reader.  I found those difficult. frustrating and annoying to read on the computer. Yesterday’s Classics e-books are NOT PDF files.  These books are formatted in Kindle format and in EPub format.  EPub format can be read on a variety of e-readers such as Nook and Sony.  I had been on the fence about purchasing an e-reader but when I found out about the e-book bundle deal,  I knew I needed to purchase an e-reader.  I also knew that if I was not chosen to review Yesterday’s Classics, I would be purchasing the bundle offer for $99.95. 

I purchased a Nook and then waited (rather impatiently) for the Vendor List to post.  I was thrilled to see my name as a reviewer for Yesterday’s Classics.  When purchasing the bundle, you get to choose Kindle or EPub formats.   The TOS Crew also got to choose.  Since I now owned a Nook, I chose EPub.

So what is this bundle package?  It is 225, yes that’s correct two hundred twenty five books, in Kindle or Epub format for $99.95.

When you purchase the bundle, you receive an email with the download links.  Included with the download links are four PDF documents links:

  • Guide to Downloading Files and Transferring Them to E-reader Devices.
  • Guide to E-reader Devices and Software.
  • List of all books arranged by level, genre, author, and title
  • List of all books with descriptions and thumbnails

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I have found these list documents to be helpful in choosing books and planning which books to add to our studies.  I can search for books on church history to add to our Sonlight Core 200 program or I can search for books on Greece, Rome and Egypt to add to our Sonlight Core 1/6 combo.   I have found so many wonderful sounding titles such as Famous Men of Greece,  Famous Men of Rome, The Early Church, Tales and Customs of the Ancient Hebrews.   I’m looking forward to supplementing our study of the Middle Ages with some books about Vikings such as Viking Tales and The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow.

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I did a search for Robin Hood because my girls love the Robin Hood legends.  I found a book of Robin Hood stories and a couple of story books with stories about Robin.  We’ve been reading Stories of Robin Hood as part of our afternoon read aloud time.  Although intended for younger students, my 6th, 8th and 10th grade daughters are loving these just as much, if not more so, than my special needs daughter who is cognitively in the age range! To quote Turtlegirl (my 8th grader), “Good books for children don’t need to be confined to an age range.”

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Though this is an incredible deal at $99.95, it is still an investment.  Yesterday’s Classics offers The Dutch Twins FREE so that you can see the beautiful formatting for yourself.  Click HERE to go to the offer page.  Lots of information about the package so don’t skim too fast! If you read and scroll down you’ll see a link for downloading The Dutch Twins in your choice of Kindle or Epub formats.  Click HERE for how to view this on your computer without a dedicated e-reader such as Kindle or Nook.

 I love have having these books available on my Nook. I love how well these are formatted.  I can easily jump from one chapter to another and I like that that many of them include black and white illustrations.  You don’t have to have a dedicated e-reader like the Nook to Photobucketenjoy  these books. You can also use them on your Ipod or Ipad.  You can use them on the computer but you will need software such as the free Kindle App or the Nook app or something like Adobe Digital Editions or Calibre.  The PDF file included with the download links describes the different e-reader applications and software and includes links.   You can download the e-books and enjoy them on your computer and if you decide to get a dedicated e-reader in the future you can then transfer the books or copy them to the e-reader. 

In addition to the e-book bundle package, they do sell paperback versions of these titles.  After June 1st, 2011 the e-books will be available for individual purchase as well as bundle but the $99.95 offer for the bundle ends May 31st!

Edited to Add Breaking News!: Yesterday’s Classics has reinstated the availability to purchase individual e-book titles.  Click HERE for Epub or HERE or Kindle.
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You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.

Yesterday’s Classics generously provided me with the 225 Title e-book bundle for Epub for review purposes.