10/31/16

Internet Accountabilty from Accountable2You {Review}

Today I want to tell you about a program that I wish I had years ago when my girls were just entering their teenage years.  As they began to be more independent with their school work and using the computer , I would have loved a program that created an atmosphere of building trust. Something that wouldn't necessary restrict their internet use so much that they felt constrained or couldn't do what they needed but one in which they knew mom would know what they've been viewing. Something that I could use to teach them responsibility for their actions and keep them accountable.

Internet Accountability for the whole family! Reviwe at CirclingThroughThisLife.com #hsreviews

Through the Homeschool Review Crew I have found that program.  Accountable2You is an internet accountability software application that you can install on your computer, iPad, KindleFire, or smart phone.  They offer 4 different plans:
Individual Plan, Family Plan, Group Plan, and even a Small Business Plan. I chose the Family Plan.

Homeschool Review Crew ~ Accountable2You Review


This program provides accountability but does not filter content. They do have suggestions for free filtering programs that are compatible with Accountable2You.

So how does it work?  After setting up my account as the primary account, I added users and then I added devices. For each device you can set up accountability partners. I like that you can have more than one accountability partner and you assign accountabillity partners by device not user so you split up the accountability duties between different partners or have multiple partners for each device. With the Family Plan you can have up to 20 devices.

Internet Accountability wiht Accountable2You! Review at CirclingThroughThisLife.com #hsreviews


The program has a built in database of objectionable words. As the administrator I could add objectionable words for each user.  I can also add non-objectionable words. If a user adds non-objectionable words to his/her list the accountability partners receive an email. I like this feature because it means that my children can not just add words to the non-objectionable list to bypass the system without my knowing about it. I can not access the extensive pre-set database but I do like that I can add objectionable words for it to watch for and I can add non-objectionable words to reduce the number of hits.

At this time I have not added any non-objectionable words and I have only added "objectionable" words to play with the feature. Words such as "breast" and "sex" are already in the database. How do I know this?  Because my husband has gotten alerts about my viewing habits! One of friends posted about breastfeeding on facebook and someone in the comments typed it as breast feeding which triggered an alert.

Alerts are rated as Questionable and Highly Questionable. When adding each device you can set the alert rating multiplier: Strict, Normal, Less Strict.  These ratings are based on Accountable2You's keyword research.  You can change the Alert Rating Multiplier at anytime. When adding words to the Objectionable list, you can also set the adjustment to be Questionable or Highly Questionable.



Report Summaries can be emailed daily or weekly.  There is an an option to have Questionable Alerts emailed when questionable activity occurs within the last hour.  Another option allows you to receive a text message for any questionable activity in the last 5 minutes.

Lots of Report options with Accountable2You!  #hsreviews


Other features of the software available with the Family Plan include the ability to set time limits per account and to use GPS Location Tracking.

I love that this works on my KindleFire.  I can set up child accounts on my Kindle through Amazon but those are two restrictive for my high school student. I end up having to give her access to my profile anyway so that she can access her British Literature Anthology or other school books I have put on the Kindle.  With Accountable2You on my Kindle, she knows that if she wanders into other apps or uses the browser, I'll know about it. It keeps her accountable.

The Individual Plan and the Family Plan are very similar.  With both you can you have multiple devices per user and multiple accountability partners. The primary difference is the ability to have multiple users and to set time limits.

Accountable2You a Homeschool Crew Review #hsreview


The Group Plan is perfect for church groups or Bible Study groups whose members wish to have more accountability with their personal internet use.

Small Business owners who do not want to worry about the FBI knocking on their doors because of employee illicit use of the internet on company time may find the Small Business Plan perfect for them!

Some members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed the Individual Plan or Group plan while others reviewed the Family Plan.  Click on the banner below to read what they had to say!


Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}


Visit Accountable2You on Social Media:

 Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/accountable2you
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/accountable2youllc

Crew Disclaimer

10/26/16

Elementary Spanish from Middlebury Interactive Languages ~ a Crew Review

If you are a long time reader of my blog, you might remember that Turtlegirl had the opportunity to use and review Middlebury Interactive Languages in the past.  She studied the 1st semester of High School French 1 during in her junior year and then we had the opportunity to take semester 2 in her senior year.

Supergirl was a tiny bit jealous. She wanted her own online interactive course like her twin. This time around she got have her own course. But she didn't want French. If you know her, you know what her favorite language is! It should be no surprise that she picked Elementary Spanish 1 grades K-2.

Supergirl loves learning Spanish with Middlebury Interactive Languages! Read the Review at CirclingThroughThis.com #hsreviews


Unlike the Middle School and High School courses which are sold as Semester 1, Semester 2, or Both, this level of Spanish is only available under the Both option and includes the full year of course work.

Like the Middle School and High School courses Middlebury Interactive Languages offers options for With Teacher Support and Without Teacher Support.  Homeschool Review Crew members were given courses Without Teacher Support.

At this level students are only expected to complete about 2 lessons per week. This would mean completing each unit in about 3 weeks. I like this gentle slow approach as it allows Supergirl to incorporate what she is learning into her personal vocabulary. She is just as likely to tell me good bye in Spanish or in English and during our math lesson on reading graphs she counted objects in Spanish.



The program includes 12 units.

These units cover:

Unit 1 Greetings
Unit 2 Numbers
Unit 3 Family
Unit 4 Colors
Unit 5 School
Unit 6 Reviews Units 1-5
Unit 7 Body
Unit 8 Animals
Unit 9 Calendar
Unit 10 Food
Unit 11 Descriptions
Unit 12 Review Units 7-11

Elementary Spanish 1 Grades K-2 is fun and engaging.  Lessons are interactive and include audio instructions. The student does not have to read in English or Spanish. Children should be comfortable using the mouse to click and to click and drag.  Though reading is not required, the Spanish words are presented in written form. I like that as Supergirl can begin to recognize the written language. Activities do not involve reading.

Some activities are labeled as Explore, Practice, or Speaking Lab. Explore activities involve clicking such as the "coloring pages" activities.  For example in the Numbers unit students click on the fishbowls to color them while the program counts in Spanish.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Spanish K-2  Exploring Numbers

Practice Activities tend to involve clicking and dragging to match pictures to the vocabulary.  I really like this aspect because it means Supergirl can be very independent. She can click the sound symbol to hear the vocabulary word and drag it to the correct picture.  These Practice Activities are automatically graded. Here is the one she completed for a lesson in the Numbers unit.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Elementary Spanish Practice


Speaking Lab activities allow students to record themselves.  Listen to the Spanish vocabulary word, then record saying it.  Listen to your recording. If it doesn't sound quite right, try again! This activity must be graded by a teacher so without the With Teacher Support option this is not graded, however, the program does automatically grade participation. Students can get credit for that. I do not worry about grading at the Elementary Level in my home school but I did use the auto grading and participation features for my high school student when she used the High School French program.

Supergirl enjoys using the computer though she doesn't care for the speaking the lab exercises but I find them beneficial for both of us so we take turns.

The last lesson of each unit reviews the materials and students take a quiz. This lesson also has a "worksheet" that can be printed out.  This is a page that student can use to draw a picture that represents the vocabulary from that unit. Again no writing involved.  A second print out is available as well. This is a coloring page and is a black and white image of the Exploring activity.

Each Unit uses an authentic story from a Spanish speaking country to introduce the vocabulary.  These stories may be a myth or a legend such as how the ocelot gets his spots.  The stories are presented as videos but the visual aspect are like a blend of 2-D animation with still drawings.  It reminds me a bit of listening to the story being read while looking at the pictures of the book only sometimes the pictures move.

I do wish that the story summary with explanation and the vocabulary sheets were available in the first lesson of each unit  as well as part of the review in the 6th lesson.  All of the vocabulary, songs, and stories are linked in the Welcome lesson but I would love a reminder on the Introduction screen for Lesson 1 of each Unit. This would help me as the teacher.

This is a wonderful, fun, interactive way to teach Spanish through immersion.  Middlebury offers German, French, and Chinese in addition to Spanish and all for grades K through High School so be sure to click on the banner below to read more thoughts from Homeschool Review Crew Members.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}


Check out Middlebury Interactive Languages on Social Media

Facebook
Twitter  @middinteractive
Pinterest

Crew Disclaimer

10/20/16

My life is so much richer because of the Homeschool Review Crew!

Once upon a time I was part of two "sister" email groups for home schooling. One of my friends from the group discovered this brand new "thing".  It was a group of bloggers who used homeschool curriculum and wrote reviews. That friend convinced another friend to join.  The 2nd friend talked to me all the time about the Crew.  She'd tell me about all these great products she got to try.  Not just home school products either but products for her!

I let her talk me into joining the crew.  Best thing I ever did! So in June 2010 I became a crew member. I loved being part of the crew so much that I reapplied every single year since then.  Until fall of 2015 when I stepped up to be a Crew Leader!

What the Crew Means to Me!


Why do I love the crew so much?   I would not have been able to give my children the depth and breadth of an education without the crew.  Computer Programing.  Logic.  Art.  Music.  Even Physical Fitness and Health.  How about an Animation Kit?  an Online Filmmakers Course?  Greek. Latin. French. Spanish. Russian. Japanese. We've had fun little unit study courses and full year writing programs, literature programs, and math!

It is so much more than just the free products that I get to use in my home school. I've made friends. The Crew becomes an extended family.  A place I can run to when I have a question, or need support.  The private forum access is like gathering around and chatting.  We laugh together.  We cry together.  We pray for one another.

In addition to support for home schooling and home making, I've received encouragement about blogging. I've learned about my style and  I've learned about social media.

Over time, being part of the crew has given me the ability to give back to the homeschooling community by being able to answer questions about curriculum or make specific recommendations for friends.

Because of the Homeschool Review Crew my life is richer.  My daughters have experienced a fuller education.  I've made friends. I've got a great support system and I get to learn about all kinds of different home school products!

We are looking to expand the The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine Homeschool Review Crew and we are now taking applications for the 2017 Crew Year.  We have some information available on the Crew Blog.  Click on the banner to fill out the application!

homeschool-review-crew-2017-applications

10/17/16

Freezer Cooking Made Easy with MyFreezEasy! {Review}

I love to cook. I enjoy getting creative in the kitchen. But sometimes I am too tired and lately my family has been too busy. We were eating take out and frozen pizza way too often.  Many evenings I am just too worn out to stand and chop onions or brown hamburger even to make something as simple as sloppy joes or tacos.

Just when I was reaching the breaking point wondering if I would ever serve my family a real home cooked dinner again, the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review MyFreezEasy.  Erin Chase rescued my family from fast food and frozen pizza with her MyFreezEasy.com Family Meal Plan Subscription.

I had heard of Erin Chase before. I'd even seen mention of something about $5 Dinners but really didn't know anything about her or what she offers.  MyFreezEasy is her newest offering and I am in love!

MyFreezEasy ~ Freezer Cooking Meal Plans!


One complaint that I hear frequently about making meals ahead and freezing them is that the food often tastes overcooked. It's like eating reheated leftovers.  Who wants to eat leftovers every night? Not me. Not my family.

But MyFreezEasy is different.  Meals are not pre-cooked and frozen.  They are assembled and frozen and, for the most part, cooked fresh on the day you serve them.  I was a little uncertain about that but keep reading to find out about my experience!

What is MyFreezEasy?


MyFreezEasy is a membership plan that gives you access each month to 8 freezer meal plans.   There are two membership levels: Basic and Premium. Both give you access to the same 8 meal plans each month but, the Premium plan gives you the ability to swap out recipes, create customized meal plans and even to mark recipes as favorites. With the Premium Plan, members can also adjust serving sizes! The Homeschool Review Crew received the Premium Annual Membership.

The 8 meal plans are:
  • Traditional Meal Plan
  • Gluten Free Meal Plan
  • Slow Cooker Meal Plan
  • Clean Eats Plan
  • 20 Meals Plan
  • All Chicken Meals Plan
  • All Ground Beef Meals Plan
  • All  Pork Chops Meals Plan

How does the program work?


Each month members receive an email that the new plans are available. Each meal plan has 5 recipes that make 10 meals except for the 20 meal plan which has 10 recipes to make 20 meals. Each recipe is written for 1 meal but includes assembly directions to make 2 meals. I love that it has the entire recipe written out for 1 meal with how to cook it immediately as well as assembly instructions if you want to make 2 to put in the freezer.  This means I can test a recipe by making one to determine if we like it enough to include it in both or if I find frozen chicken or hambuger in the freezer I don't know what to do with it, I can thaw the meat and try a new recipe.

MyFreezEasy Review by Tess at CirclingThroughThisLIfe.com


The meal plans include shopping lists arranged by recipe, by grocery store section, and by assembly day.  They also include Assembly Prep Instructions.

Meal Plans are available for the whole month but only for the month which means you get new meal plans each month. And those old recipes? They get added to the data base so you have even more recipes to choose from when customizing a meal plan.

My Family's Experience


I was so excited that I started planning right away!  For our first freezer cooking session I used the Build Your Own Meal Plan option.  I created an ALL Chicken Plan, an ALL Ground Beef Plan except I included 1 vegetarian recipe. I also found two pork roast recipes to try. I was expecting to get 22 meals into my freezer but I miscalculated the amount of chicken I needed so I opted for making one each of two meals rather than not using a recipe. I did put 20 meals into the freezer.

It took much longer than one hour to put these together but I think that has more to do with my lack of organization and my inexperience. The fact that I was working 20 meals made it go longer as well.

MyFreezEasy Review by Tess at CirclingThroughThisLIfe.com

For my next round of Freezer Cooking I choose the All Ground Beef Meals Plan. I choose to do only 4 of the recipes since the 5th one was one we I chosen before.  I only had 6 lbs of ground beef so I opted to 2 each of 2 recipes and 1 each of the other 2 so that I made 6 meals.  I also choose 2 different roast recipes for my 4 pork roasts. This went much faster.  I paid closer attention to the assembly instructions.  It still was longer than hour but it was fabulous to get it all done!

My Thoughts!


This plan has restored order to the chaotic dinner time.  I love having a freezer full of meals. This is the easiest freezer cooking method I have tried and the tastiest as well.  I was worried about putting the veggies into soup raw. I do not like mushy vegetables in my soup.  The vegetables were not mush!

Of all the recipes we have tried there has only been one that none of us liked. For most of the recipes, we all have liked them.  I found it easy to modify recipes to suit my family's needs and tastes. I'm already thinking ahead to my next freezer cooking session!

Visit MyFreezEasy on Social Media:

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/freezeasy
Instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/freezeasy
Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/5dollardinners/freezeasy

Several other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to try MyFreezEasy.  Click on the banner below to read what they had to say!

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

Crew Disclaimer

10/14/16

Five Minute Friday ~ Mail

I am trying something brand new!  A friend of mine from the Homeschool Review Crew participates in a link up called Five Minute Friday.  The link up isn't new at all but it is fairly new to me and I've never joined in before.  The idea is that you write for minutes about a one word prompt.  This week's word is Mail!

#FMF  Five Minute Friday ~ Mail at CirclingThroughThisLife.com


 Go!

When I think of "mail" I suddenly hear Steve's voice singing "Mail Time!" I don't remember the words exactly and I'm refusing to go find it on Youtube.

In this world of technology when almost everything is digital it is even more exciting to get a piece of real mail. I don't remember the last time I got a letter in the mail. I mean I got birthday cards for my birthday but a letter?  I don't know.

These days "Mail Time" means packages. Around here it's usually a box from Amazon or another vendor with a review product for the Homeschool Review Crew. I love getting packages.

The girls would get so excited when the doorbell rang and it was UPS or FedEx or maybe in USPS with a box.  They were excited because 9 times out 10 it was for them.  They associated the brown UPS truck with Sonlight our favorite home school curriculum.  I remember Turtlegirl getting so excited when she a UPS truck at a neighbor's house.  "Look, mommy, they must use Sonlight, too!"

Times up!

Click on the button below to visit's Kate's blog and read the other Five Minute posts from this week!

10/9/16

Turtlegirl Morphs into a Cougar

Well actually she became a freshman Coug!  This post is almost 2 months overdue so you'll just have to pretend that it is still mid-August and she just left . . . instead of the reality that is is early October and her mid-terms will be happening soon!

This is more of a photo essay:

Tailorbear needed to be distracted the weekend we were leaving and she didn't want to be home with her two sisters.  I love this picture of  two sisters saying good-bye!

Two Sisters Saying Goodbye

All loaded up and ready to go!

All Loaded Up and Ready to Go!

I know it doesn't look like much.  She packed the bare minimum that she thought she needed.  Turns out she was too minimalistic though.  We had to send a HUGE box of forgotten items later. (And no she didn't need the toilet paper so we ended up bringing that back home with us!)

Here she is keeping comfortable on the long long drive!

Keeping comfortable on the long long drive across the state!

On Move-In Day the University has volunteers with carts to help unload your vehicle. We were grateful for the cart and the elevator.  She lives on the 3rd floor!

We've carted up her stuff from the van to her room.

We left her to deal with her own things and headed to our motel room.  We had dinner and breakfast with her and I got to take more pictures.  Here she is standing outside one of the doors to her Residence Hall.

She is at the door of her new home!

It really is a beautiful building though we only saw it from one side and the back.

Turlegirl and her Dad standing on balcony outside her Hall.

She unpacked her things and started turning her room into her home away from home!

She unplacked her things and started making her room into home away from home


Yes her room itself is tiny but it is part of a suite.  There are 7 girls who share the suite.  The suite includes a kitchenette area with sink, microwave and space for a mini-fridge. There is a also a living room.  Each suite has their own bathroom. Other residence halls are much more of the typical dorm room style.  

She's made the transition well.  She loves her classes, studies a lot and made friends.  She may be a Coug now but she'll always be my little Turtlegirl!