Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Abraham’s Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream Review



The girls and I got the chance to read the book Abraham’s Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream by Robert and Kathleen Basmadjian. The book sells for $14.99 at Inspiring the American Dream website and is aimed to children aged 7-12.

I got to read this book with my 2 beauty queens and 1 king.




It has been really cold here so we all snuggled up on the bed together and I read the book out loud to the kids. My oldest is a great reader but my the other two can't read yet and I thought they still might enjoy hearing it in the background.  Because who doesn't love a good story time?!  Not to mention anytime we can school from bed we never pass it up.

This book came to us just after our celebration of presidents day.  I was really excited as the site said it was going to be about Abraham and his journey through a tough time of his parents losing their jobs and him wanting to help out in time for Christmas.  While reading to the kids I had to stop and think a bit.  It was confusing how there were things in it that did not add up.  For example a poor kid that had a smartphone, in which he used to travel back in time.  My kids picked up on this because they know phones are expensive and not toys.  We thought this book was going to be more true to life instead more make believe.  It has a true life feel but also a magical aspect as well.

The good about the book was that it gives a goal for kids.  They are able to see there are problems in the world and if we work at it and try we can make it through those problems.  I have always told my kids and the book even stated it, where there is a will there is a way.  This book showed the steps he was taking to look for work to earn money to help his family out.  They used historical figures to help Abraham on his journey in helping his family.  The end of the book did give definitions of words and people that may not be known to the kids.  This was great for my girls since they are still young and learning these things.  I also got to use the words and some vocabulary words for my oldest daughter.  

Overall I loved the concept of the book and how it teaches us to work for what we want.  I just wish it had more realistic settings for it.  Even for the age group it is aimed for is also the age of questions and when they see things like a kid having a smartphone but no money they get stuck on that fact instead of the overall point of the book.   I think the magical feel to books that are trying to talk about real things is not for the latter part of the age range.  Although they did like and pointed out the fact that even when he helped his family he didn't stop there, he also helped out others that were in hard times like the orphans. 


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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse review crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A+ TutorSoft Review


We were able to review the 2nd grade Online Homeschool Edition curriculum from A+ TutorSoft, INC.  The cost is $19.95 a month or you can get a full year for $124.95.  They also provide a FREE math placement test that you can have your child take to see what grade level they fall into before buying the program.  Also right now they are having a free one month trial so you can see if you like it and if it is a good fit for your child.  They have grades 1-6 and Pre-Algebra and Algebra.

        

I was able to review the 2nd grade math with my daughter.  My daughter really enjoys working on her own and not having me right by her.  So I was glad to get to try this.  I at first thought it would be a bit hard for her to navigate but she picked it up really quickly.  
You have all of your sections on the left side that go in a good learning order.  It gives you a little lesson on how to do that chapter then at the top you have worksheets to go along with it.  A perk to using the online version is that it grades it for you and stores those grades.  The chapters also come with a final test as well.  

If your child is having a hard time with a certain section you can always generate new worksheets for added practice.

We do math for an hour a day everyday.  Math is a very important skill to keep at so that you do not forget the skill.  My 2nd grader has been able to work at her own pace at this which she loves.  Since we started this review already into second grade she was able to fly through the first chapters.  Now she is working at new areas and still doing well.  The chapter introductions are very easy for her to understand.  I can say that she has not had to ask me for help yet.  She is able to understand the instructions given on figuring out the answers just by watching the chapter introductions.  She loves that she can even get the site on the iPad so we are able to have her do some worksheets while we are traveling.  Sometimes it is just nice to not have to have a book to pack around with you taking up room.

The first chapters were like review of things she learned last year but there were plenty of chapters at the end that excelled past what I think 2nd graders should know, like multiplication.  I really loved that because we were not stuck since she is pretty excelled in math but not yet ready to switch to a 3rd grade program.

This company is so great they are giving my readers a 50% savings. That is right half off!!!!  Offer code is SPOFFER50 and is good through the end of March.




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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse review crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Handwriting Without Tears Review


Handwriting Without Tears was a great addition to my first graders curriculum.  We are using the First Grade Books with her, this included the teachers guide and the printing book.  The My Printing Book is $8.25 and the 1st Grade Teachers Book is $9.25.  Well worth the minimal price if you have a child that needs some practice.  There is no need to buy anything extra unless you want to purchase the chalkboard from their site.  We already had one that we used while working on this book.  The books are sold as first grade but they are for any kid that knows their letters but is still unable to form them well.  They also have K-4 books.

This was the first time that I have ever gotten a teachers manual for any of the curriculum that I have used.  I was unsure what to expect from it and if it would even really help me.  I was very surprised to see that it had a ton of great helpful information.  Not only did it give me alternatives to showing my daughter how to do the work book but it also gave extra activities to do with her to get her to grasp the concepts that were given.



The "My Printing Book is very easy to follow.  It breaks all the different types of letters down into how they are wrote.  We enjoyed this because it was much better than the old fashioned writing A-Z in order over and over.  We work on handwriting daily because my 6 year old that is using this still has issues with writing backwards and mixing her capitals and lowercase letters in a word.  It was pretty simple to spend about 30 minutes a day reviewing the set of letters and doing the activities.  One is writing the letter on a chalk board with a wet sponge then drying it and then write it for real.  This gives a variate to the writing as well.  My daughter enjoyed the jump letters the best as she thought it was funny they were called that and she kept saying "watch my frog jump".  So our daily use of this consisted on the set of letters we currently had and writing them on the chalkboard in various orders.  We would then go to our book and practice them in the book once she felt comfortable with writing the letters.  The teachers guide was very easy to use which made following her book very easy to use.


My wonderful little sunshine is the type that cry's with her work.  We do believe that she maybe dyslexic and that is where her frustration comes with writing and the reason she hates to do it.  I was very nervous about trying HWT for the fact that I thought it would be a waste and so cliche to say that she wouldn't cry.  Well low and behold she actually enjoyed it.  I think doing the hands on first with the chalkboard made it a game so then when we went to the book work she already was doing good with the the set of letters and was able to write them with ease in the book.


Positives about HWT: Very easy to follow and the sets of letters help make it more interesting to follow and not be so plain like if we just kept writing the alphabet in order.  They also had cute little sayings for how to write the word.

Negatives about HWT: The only bad thing I can really say is that the books were not bold and colorful making anything pop out at you.  They did have nice little pictures but all in black and white.  Though this really didn't seem to phase my little beauty while she was using it.



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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse review crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Touch Math Review


I got to try out Touch Math for First Grade.  The first grade program is 4 units with each unit costing $59.95 or buy all 4 for $199.95.  Touch Math also offers manipulative's to go along with their program.  We got the FlipCards and they run $19 a set per unit. Also an interactive CD that is $99. We also got the Touch Numerals that run $99 as well.  Lastly we got the Student Number Cards that are priced at $24.

My 1st grader is my reluctant learner.  This was a complete different approach than what we have tried with her.  The recommended time by them is 2 times their age.  So for Kiya we should be doing it for 12 minutes a day.  She is a slow learner though so it usually takes us 30 minutes or so to get through some of the work each day.




There are four units that you download and print.  They are completely lined out with directions for you as the teacher and for the child.  Each one aligns with the set of FlipCards that go with that unit.  I really enjoyed how detailed they were.  Also the CD's gave lessons that were very easy to follow.

The Touch Numerals were a hit as soon as we pulled them out of the box.  I will say that it is a bit overwhelming for this OCD mama with ALL of the many pieces that come in this.  You have copies of each of the numbers plus several dots.  These dots did come with some plastic holders to case them but there were not enough holders for the dots.  For having a 1st grader who is not the most organized person it was  nightmare at keeping all these dots in one place.  We really did love the idea of the point system, it worked really well but took us a bit to get the hang of the larger numbers and remembering where their points were.  I also think maybe plastic numbers would be better than foam.  Foam tears easily for the numbers like 7 when they get thrown in the box and you try to pull one out. 

Overall the worksheets were great. There was very detailed instruction to each unit.  They were big and bold which kept them interesting to look at.  The unit explained everything completely and was really great to use.  I loved it because even if you are new teacher or a seasoned one these instructions keep you on track.  After each section there are also post tests.  I liked those to make sure my kiddo understood what we learned in that lesson.  If we did not do well on it we went back to the worksheets and used the CD to do more work on that section.  I do like how everything is set up and organized.  It flows well with how things should be learned and it follows common core which is a plus to me.  I know some homeschool families do not follow any standards but I like to make sure the kids are on track as much as they can be, plus it gives me an idea on what to teach next.

One issue I had was the price.  It is a bit steep for my budget, although if I had more kids that would be able to use it after her it wouldn't seem so bad since it is a product that I downloaded and can print as many copies off that I want.  Also as long as you take care of the manipulatives they will be good to be passed down as well.  But like I said for us the foam just was not great.

One more thing to add. If I could give Touch Math a suggestion it would be to make a teacher download and then the worksheets download.  It was hard to print only worksheets and go through it all so that I didn't waste paper.  Ink is not cheap so I do not like to print instructions, instead I can read them from my computer. 


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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Flowering Baby Review


I am a firm believer in the fact that we start teaching our babies from the time they are born on.  Even if you do not home school you still have a responsibility to teach your child until they go to school.  I have noticed that now they want the kids to already know the alphabet and numbers before even getting into kindergarten.  Well I found a great company that helps you do just that, Flowering Baby, which is a full curriculum based on development.  The age range for this curriculum is from birth to 5 years old.  The work ranges from 20-40 minutes a day for your kid and is based on their age up until 3 years old.  From three years to five years the work changes to actual unit studies that you chose from.  

They have 5 different steps as follows: Birth to One, One to Two, Two to Three, Three to Four, and Four to Five.  I used  the Three to Four and the Four to Five year old for my 4 year old son.  The price for birth to three is $30 for each level, the three to four and four to five is $38, and the entire five year program is $132. This is a very good price to pay for a full years worth of work.

One of my most loved features is that they have a book list for you that help you with teaching.  I am always overwhelmed at which books to get and this really helped me.  Now it is still easy to exchange a book off the list with another one and still have the same outcome.  However I found it very easily to find them at the local library.  It is nice to have the set of books listed up front so you can have the library gather them for you and hold them.  Makes mama's job that much easier.

The activities are quick and to the point all ready for you to do.  The items needed to complete the activities (other than the book) are generally things you already have around your home!  That is also a plus for me as I hate getting a plan only to have nothing to complete it.  I am a single income/single parent and this is a bonus for me.

What to know perk about homeschooling?  You can go check the mail with the worst hair in the world and no one cares!  The feeling of having something so cool in the  mail still makes you smile the same!



These are the CD's that we used.

When you open up the CD list everything is well organized.  It is all planned out by month and at the top of the list it shows what supplies you will need that month.  It then goes on down to show you what to do each day with your kid.

Day one we learned about the color blue!  That so happens to be Micah's favorite color and it suggested we wear all blue.  Then we went on to learn about triangles.  It had us tape out a triangle on the floor, which is something I would have never thought to do.  This gave a great visual as well as making it a fun little and silly time.  I have to say that is the best part of this program.  It isn't sitting down doing book work (what kid whats to do that at the early ages) but more fun and play time that is teaching.  We were able to make a day each week with wearing the color we were learning as well as making shapes on the floor with the tape.  It also made for a great track for his cars during the day which was also like a review.

Each day was carried out the same with fun and play.  We were able to keep it simple and fun!  This helped ease stress off of me with schooling multiple children that are all at different levels.  I think the easier it is on mom the easier it is on everyone!  It is a simple and quick thing to do everyday. We always did it usually when the other two were settled into their work.  It didn't take long and gave us some much one on one time we needed.

We mainly worked with the three to four as I had not really started any schooling with my son before this curricula.  We did review over the four to five year disk and it had more work with actually writing letters and numbers.  It still gave very simple quick task the same as the three to four year old disk.  We continued with the tape fun and made our letters with tape on the floor so he could trace them that way for learning to write them.  There are themes as well as the monthly plans.  Since my girls were doing fish in their school work we did look into the fish theme for this disk.  It helped me add in his work to theirs even more and make it yet again easier on mama.  I do think it will be great to use next year when we get to that point in is learning though.  I love the simplicity of it.  I really am all for gentle learning.

It is something that made him come to me daily asking what our new color was and bringing me the tape to make out a shape and the letter we was working on.

Want to check it out for a month for free?  Check out these links...
Birth to One
One to Two
Two to Three
Three to Four
Four to Five
An even better addition if you would like to buy a program use BLOG10 for 10% off at their website.



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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse review crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Apologia Science Review


We love Apologia Educational Ministries !  This is one of the curriculum's I have always wanted to try but had not been given the blessing to do so.  I was so excited to be able to review this wonderful science curricula and so were my kids.  The price of the text book is only $39 for a hardback book and the spiral bound junior notebook is only $24.  I loved that because the hardback works for all my kids so it is only one book to buy.

My children are 7 1/2, 6, and 4.  We got the Zoology 2 Exploring Creation textbook and the Zoology 2 Junior Notebooking Journal to review with the kids.  The girls got the notebooks and little man just got to listen with us.  The book is rated for K-6 and the JR notebook for K-3.
The book comes with a schedule already in place in the front for those of you that like to have provided structure for your lesson plans.  I loved this as I always have a hard time with what to write in my lesson plans or how long I should work on something.  This kind of gave me a pace to go and then we see how it flowed with the kids.



The type of lessons that we can sit down as a family and do together are the best in my opinion.  I loved reading the book as well as the kids learning the very interesting facts that were in it.


Lesson one we learned about aquatic animals and the waters they live in.  One of the cool projects was to make an ocean box (which will continually be worked on through out the book).  




The book also has several fun little projects and experiments to try throughout the chapters to help explain things better.  Though some of the book had some major details that were over my kids heads they had plenty more details that fit right in with them.  That is what made this book great for a family with a range of ages.  You can tailor it to each level that your kid is on.  The Jr notebook was a great way to get my beginning writers in the mood to jot down information that they thought was interesting.  The notebook went right along with the textbook with ease.  The coloring pages were detailed enough that it kept the kids still and busy while I read to them the textbook.  I also like that it was not just writing work, there were many activities/puzzles and such that kept them excited to keep working though the book.
The experiments were all things that were easily obtained around the home which was nice.  As a single mother on a low income I was glad to have things around that worked for us to use with out spending more money.
We all give this book a thumbs up and hope that our opinion will help others enjoy it as well.



Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse review crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Schick Hydro Silk


Looking for a new razor?

If so you should so try our the Schick Hydro Silk razor.  It is a multi-blade system that has a comfortable grip as well as nonslip.  There is also a moisturizing serum strip on this razor that actually leaves your legs feeling silky and smooth straight out of the shower unlike some other razors.  I also have very sensitive skin and have a hard time finding a razor that doesn't leave me "burned" but this one was one I will continue using for a long time!

  I have to say a mans razor usually holds out longer but this one has gotten me through the week on the same blade!  

You must check out the razor!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through Buzz Agent in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Our ROCKIN' Cake!

So tomorrow is my daughters 8th birthday!  I can't even believe that I have an 8 year old, but that is another story.  When I gave birth to the little butter ball it was on Super Bowl Sunday.  So we have made it a tradition to always have her little party on that day each year.  This year she got a guitar for Christmas and loves it!  I decided to try my skills at a guitar cake as well.

I started out using this template but had to free hand it to make it a bit bigger.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to do it on my printer or computer.

Next I used a chocolate cake mix and poured at the bottom of a 15X11 sheet cake pan.  I think took several bowls of vanilla cake and mixed in food coloring to them.  I then poured globs randomly through the cake.  Thought it would be a change up from the average marble cake.

Baked it according to the box of cake mix (ya had to much to do I wasn't going to go completely homemade).

After it is baked I chilled it for about an hour and turned over onto the counter and placed the template over it.  Cut around the template and hope to end up with something close.

I will never use the "P" brand of cake mix again for this lol.  Even chilled it was very crumbly and hard to move around.  Which led to being really hard to frost.  I dirty frosted it first and even let it sit and tried to add the finishing frosting and it still wanted to crumble and not stick to the cake.


Still it turned out decent and the kids loved it! Birthday girl was happy so it was a success. 



Friday, February 1, 2013

An awesome giveaway page!


So this wonderful lady from Ben and Me blog has made a great giveaway page. 

Check out the information on her page: Homeschool Giveaway Share Launch!

There are several giveaways posted each week!  Who doesn't love to get some free stuff?!

You can also post your giveaways and get more traffic to your site by sharing on the page.  It is a win win situation with this new page!

So stop procrastinating and go "Like" the Homeschool Giveaway Share Facebook page and start finding some great giveaways.

Valentines!


Oh boy the season that bring the holiday you either love or hate!

I personally love Valentines Day!  Yes, I think you should show the ones you love that you love them everyday and not just a given day of the year.  However in the whirl wind of life sometimes it is hard to always take out some extra special time for your spouse or your kids.  I think this day helps us to slow down and remember what God has given us and that we should cherish it.

Ephesians 4:2-3 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
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So the question is what do you do to make Valentines Day special in your home?

14 Love Notes
Each day starting today I will make a note and place it someplace that the love of my life will find.
This blog has some good ideas!

Since I want to make my kids feel special as well as my boyfriend I plan on having a big breakfast with the kids favorite foods.  
Color the eggs pink/red
Cut french toast into heart shapes
Make pink/red pancakes
Then for dinner the kids will have their dinner and be off to watch a movie and my boyfriend and I can have a dinner with just us.

Valentines Day themed work

Check out my Pinterest section for several more fun Valentine themed school work.

Also check out this site for a fun Valentine's Day Bible Lesson
Ministry to Children

1. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
2. "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (1 John 4:12)
3. "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalms 37:4)
4. "To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." (Mark 12:33)
5. "We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19)
6. "Place me like a seal overe your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy as unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame." (Song of Solomon 8:6)
7. Therefore be imitators of God as well-beloved children." (Ephesians 5:1)
8. "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth." (1 John 3:18)
9. "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)
10. "My lover is mine, and I am his." (Song of Solomon 2:16)
11. "Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." (1 John 4:7)
12. "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3:14)
13. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging cymbal." (1 Corinthians 13:1)
14. "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:5)
15. "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)