This blog is my attempt to document our busy but BLESSED lives. A child of God, wife to one, and mom to 6 fabulous kids. We are in our 8th year of homeschooling using a Classical approach.

Come along for the good, the bad & the ugly.



Thursday, February 28, 2013

Going to College and Paying for It ~ a TOS review

R.Marie 10thB (edit)This is Marie. She is my oldest and about to turn 16. Along with this fantastic milestone of age comes with it the realization that she will be heading off to college in 2 short years. What! How did the time go so fast? What will her major be? And the most important question of all, how are we going to pay for it? (Slight momentary panic) thankfully we do have resources in place to get her started and have the help of College Common Sense's program Going to College and Paying For It.
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Going to College and Paying For It is a program developed by Denise Ames, a financial aid counselor at a university in the great state of Texas for all families with children young and old. Denise designed this program with the goal of helping families fully understand and aware of the process for finding and obtaining financial aid for college. Available in both DVD / workbook format, which retails for $50.00 plus $5.00 shipping/handling or as an online subscription for one year's access to the video and workbook material for $25.00. These are identical products you just choose your formatting preference. We received the online subscription.  
Once you log into the program you will find access to six videos that are roughly 20-30 minutes in length, along with the corresponding PDF files for the following topics:
The Big Picture
How Financial Aid Works
All About Free Money
The System That Works
You in the Process
Pull it all Together
If you have just younger children, the author of the program recommends that just the parent watch the videos. however, with older students and teens have them watch with you or independently. The workbook includes several pages of notes, most of which is repeated on the video, and additional worksheets to go along with the lessons.
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College Common Sense has a ton of FREE information on their website! Be sure to take a look around and sign up for the FREE monthly Newsletter and FREE weekly lesson plans. A lot of essential resources are on the website that will be helpful as your child heads off to college.
I have to admit that we got a slow start to this program. I myself, was a little overwhelmed with the whole thought of starting this journey. However, once I got on the ball we were well on our way. Marie and I watched the first four videos together and then she watched the remaining two videos on her own. We completed one to two activities for each of the videos which were very helpful to understand the whole big picture of college and financial aid. We found this program tremendously helpful in our college planning and we will be referring back to its principles.
Going to College and Paying For It helps show you how to get as much "free" money as you can. They are going to give it to somebody, why not your family? Check out what my CrewMates thought by clicking the banner below.
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 Company ~ College Common Sense
 Price ~ DVD / workbook format, retails for $50.00 plus $5.00 shipping/handling or as an online subscription for one year's access to the video and workbook material for $25.00. These are identical products you just choose your formatting preference
 Ages ~ elementary through high school
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Disclaimer: I received a one year subscription for Going to College and Paying For It from College Common Sense through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided. I was not required to write a positive review and 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 27, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A+ TutorSoft Interactive MATH ~ a TOS review

While I do believe we are in a "good" place right now in our math studies, it is always nice to have a helping hand or another viewpoint. The last few weeks we have been using an online math program called A+ Interactive MATH by A+ TutorSoft, Inc. with Mikayla.

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A+ Interactive MATH is an Interactive multi-sensory math curriculum for grades 1-6. The company also offer Pre-Algebra and Algebra programs too. available in online and CD versions, the program includes everything you need to get started from:

~ a curriculum guide

~ lesson plans for 32 weeks of instruction

~ printable workbooks

~ multimedia lessons with interactive questions and answers

~ complete solutions guide

~ exams and complete solutions

~ formula reference sheets

~ instant online grading and real-time feedback (online version)

With easy installation of the program you will be set to start within minutes of setting up your account. Each of the lessons were kept short, about 5 minutes, and contain both audio and visual aspects to each lesson. I was able to start Mikayla off in the multiplication section, multiplying 2-digit numbers. At the end of each lesson there is a short interactive quiz to check for understanding. I enjoyed this instant feedback part of the program.

The 4th grade program includes 16 chapters on:

1. Number Sense Review

2. Addition

3. Subtraction

4. Multiplication

5. Division

6. Decimals

7. Fractions and Fraction Operations

8. Number Conversions and Mixed Fractions Operations

9. The Number Line and Number Comparisons

10. Algebra

11. Geometry

12. Time and Money

13. Measurements and Conversions

14. Probability

15. Displaying Data Using Graphs

16. Word Problems and Problem Solving

One of my favorite parts of the program is the handy 9 page reference sheet that is included. I printed this out and have put it in sheet protectors in Mikayla's binder so that if she needs it it is there. It contains information on conversions and fact tables...very handy.

I was also able to utilize this program with my older daughter, Madison when she had a little trouble understanding how to calculate the area. The short interactive lesson on area was all that she needed and now she is good to go. Sometimes just seeing the information presented a different way helps tremendously.

Overall, I feel this is a complete and thorough math program that rivals other computer based programs. I am pleased with the progress Mikayla has made and we will continue to use this product for the duration of our subscription in addition to our current Math program. It is always good to have another point of view when learning math and so lifting concepts and I believe A+ TutorSoft helps us in doing that.

Be sure to check out the free one month trial offer listed on the website to see if this program is a good fit for your child. The free month is available either in CD format or online version. Online subscriptions for ONE child cost $19.95 per month, $49.99 per quarter, or $124.95 for a complete year. Right now,                     A+ TutorSoft, Inc is offering 50% OFF Special Promotion through the end of MARCH. Just Use the coupon code "SPOFFER50" to take advantage of this deal.

Click the banner below and read what my CrewMates thought of this program.

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Company ~ A+ TutorSoft, Inc.

Product ~ A+ Interactive MATH, 4th grade online

Price ~ Online subscriptions for ONE child cost $19.95 per month, $49.99 per quarter, or $124.95 for a complete year.

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Disclaimer: I received a one year subscription for A+ Interactive MATH, 4th grade from A+ TutorSoft, Inc. 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 I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Handwriting Without Tears ~ a TOS review



 

McKenzie, who is my 3yr old preschooler, is just learning to form her letters and the sounds they make. We have used many products to find the right fit for her learning style, none that were just right. I was so excited to find out we were selected to try Handwriting Without Tears new app called Wet Dry Try, it fits the bill perfectly and she requests to "learn her letters" frequently.


Handwriting Without Tear's is a well known company in the homeschool circle. My older girls have never struggled with handwriting so I will admit they we have never used their products before this review. The WetDryTry app we used for review is based off of the HWT'S slate chalkboard used in the full curriculum program and covers the uppercase letters and numbers.

   
The app has the following features:
~ allows up to 4 separate student profiles
~ choice of HWT'S "Winning Order" or "Pick & Practice" mode
~ teaches capital letter and number formations
~ 3 levels of difficulty per each letter for mastery
~ 2 stroke tolerance sensitivity options ~ easy or challenging
         ~ economically priced at $4.99

 
The app simulates the slate chalkboard by first demonstrating the letter and the correct formation. Next the child is to practice the letter three times, first with a sponge (wet), next with a towel (dry), and finally with a piece of chalk (try). When this 4 step process is complete McKenzie would earn a star. After completing the individual letter three times with greater difficulty McKenzie would earn her letter card.

 
McKenzie used the iPad for this review as it was not available on the Kindle Fire. However, the app does work on other Android devices with a screen size of 7" or larger. Overall, McKenzie and I are extremely please with this app! She has worked very hard and mastered 6 of her letters and she can also write the first letter of her name, "F" by herself. She writes F's everywhere including her sisters papers which they are not too excited about, but she is so proud of her letter!

I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for letter practice or just a different approach to learning letters. For $4.99 you can not go wrong! Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of the app and also the hard copy books that were up for review also By clicking the banner below.

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Product ~ WetDryTry app
Price ~ $4.99
Ages ~ PreK- 8yrs
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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of WetDryTry app from Handwriting Without Tears 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 I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Song School Spanish ~ a TOS review

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  What’s not to love about learning Spanish. Especially when it is put to catchy music and you find yourself singing or humming the tunes all.day. long, ahem. If you came to visit us you would find my littles dancing and singing away to catchy tunes like “If You’re Feliz and You Know It or “Yo me llamo”. All thanks to a wonderful program called Song School Spanish from Classical Academic Press.
PhotobucketClassical Academic Press has published this awesome introduction to Spanish program for kids in Kindergarten through third grade. I have been using this program for the last 6 weeks with Mikayla (4th), Montana (K), and very loosely with McKenzie (PreK3) with great success. We have taken a slower approach to using this book and completing one chapter over two weeks, as I want to stretch it out as far as I can :-).
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Within the  31 chapters of the student workbook your child will be introduced to the Spanish language through catchy songs, rhymes and activities with two new pals Tortuga & Conejo. Chapters are broken down into manageable segments with a few new words to learn and the actual lesson. It is recommended to complete a chapter a week studying the chapter over three days. The Student book serves as the child’s workbook and is meant to be written in. It also includes cutouts in the back for puppets. A CD with over 40 songs and chants is included in the back of the student workbook. The student workbook retails for $24.95 and includes access to Headventure Land, a special place to practice your newly learned Spanish. Check out a sample lesson by clicking HERE.
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The Teacher’s Edition includes the entire student text, answer keys, additional teacher’s notes, and many fun interactive activities. For advanced students or for those needing additional practice there are over 40 pages of additional workbook pages and activities (answers are included for these extra pages too). The Teacher’s Edition retails for $24.95.
We love Classical Academic Press and the products they publish. We use several of their products from Latin to Spanish in our daily homeschool lessons and this one is just as top notch as the others. The girls have loved learning Spanish and I love that they are soaking it up like sponges. When someone asks for a recommendation for Spanish or Latin I will always recommend Classical Academic Press! Be sure to check out my Crewmates reviews of Song School Spanish by clicking the link below.
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Price ~ $24.95 for Student workbook and $24.95 for Teacher’s Edition
Grades ~ K through 3rd
Photobucket ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Disclaimer: I received a copy of Song School Spanish from Classical Academic Press, in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Flowering Baby ~ a TOS review

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Sometimes McKenzie gets lost in the shuffle of schooling the older girls. I feel guilty about it and do my best to make sure I am doing some kind of preschool activities for her, whether it be coloring, counting, or playdough. I know she is learning and that little children learn through play, so I have been trying to cut myself some slack. For the past few weeks we have had the wonderful opportunity to review a relatively new curriculum for the little kids in your life, called Flowering Baby

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Flowering Baby takes a whole child developmental approach to learning for children from birth through age five. During the pivotal early years Flowering Baby strives to provide an academically and cognitively rigorous program, while still being fun and interactive. Using this curriculum will help your child to develop his  language, social, cognitive, gross and fine motor, emotional and self-help skills. Created to be studied by year and then also broken down by month you can jump into the program any time, in any given year or developmental stage. Programs include:

 

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Birth to One ~ Infants are very busy learning all the time and it only takes a few minutes a day to increase that learning even more. We have developed a program where you will work with your baby at least twenty minutes a day for twenty or more days a month on specific skills.

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One to Two ~ As your baby becomes a toddler and learns to walk an entirely new world opens up. This year is about great exploration. He will discover to sit up, pull up, walk, run and maybe even kick a ball. He will work on directional tasks, experience paint and Play-doh, find out about dozens of new tastes and best of all realize he is capable of doing many tasks himself.

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Two to Three ~ This year your child will continue his learning of the physical world, your family and his capabilities. Coupled with all of that he will begin to learn more traditionally academic tools as well: how to sing the ABC song, count, sing or recite nursery rhymes, shapes and colors and he will continue to get his hands dirty with paint and Play-doh. You will perform simple science experiments, play in the dirt, and use your imagination to take a plain cardboard box and create a space ship or a castle. He will learn to count in Spanish, learn to cut and hold a crayon, listen to a wide variety of music and enjoy countless books. What a wonderful and fun-filled year.

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Three to Four ~ At the age of three our curriculum changes somewhat. We now have two parts, a daily general education guide and the theme studies. The general guide includes math, language, science, physical, self-help and such. your child will work on recognizing letters and their sounds, counting by one's and two's and in Spanish, shapes, colors, and patterns. Your child will learn about community helpers, safety issues, expand his self-help abilities, read, sing and listen to music. Children this age are very active so we have included many physical activities to get him moving. He will discover many new things: magnets, cooking and nutrition, playing more advanced games, and additional social skills.

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Four to Five ~ Using the general guide you will help your child learn more advanced language and math skills. He will strive to recognize, write and sound out each letter of the alphabet. With the math skills you will work on counting to fifty, counting by two's, and you will begin writing numbers. He will play board games, put puzzles together, use paint, Play-doh and numerous other supplies to increase and solidify his knowledge. We have included many physical activities because he still has tons of energy. There are lessons on self-help; your city, state and America; safety and community helpers. You will listen to a wide variety of music, read dozens of wonderful books, sing songs, learn about weather and celebrate many holidays. This is a magical year, enjoy sharing this great world with your child.

                                                                            ~ program descriptions taken from website

Year plans cost just $30 a piece for Birth to One, One to Two, and Two to Three. Year plans Three to Four and Four to Five cost $38 each or purchase all five year plans for $132 for a solid early foundation. We received the whole program download that included all 5 year plans, however, we mainly concentrated on the year three to four plans.

The three to four year old curriculum is broken up by month with general educational guides and by themes. Each month includes plans for 15 days worth of simple and easy to do activities sure to keep your little one learning. Suggested activities include reading a book, small art projects, or practicing counting skills with cookies or raisins.

Flowering Baby is designed for ease of use on the parents part, however, do not let the simplicity of the program fool you. Even though the activities are ideas that you could think up on your own, having them listed out makes it so much easier for this Momma. Working with your child for just twenty to forty minutes a day on various skills you will see learning happening through each purposeful activity.

I was really excited to try out this program and overall I find it to be a gentle approach to early preschool learning. A perfect starting point to get your child into the daily habit of “doing” school. McKenzie really enjoyed doing most of the activities, especially the art aspects. While I do not see us continuing with the program into her four to five year plan, I would still recommend Flowering Baby. The ease of use of this program gives the child the right start to blossoming into their full potential.

Be sure to click through the sample plans linked above and if you like what you see, receive 10% off your purchase by using the code “Blog10” when Flowering Baby website . Click on the linky banner below to read how my Crewmates  used Flowering Baby in their homeschool with their little learners.

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Company/ Product ~ Flowering Baby

Price ~ $30 a piece for Birth to One, One to Two, and Two to Three. Year plans Three to Four and Four to Five cost $38 each or purchase all five year plans for $132

Age ~ birth to five years old

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Disclaimer: I received a copy of Flowering Baby’s curriculum plans, in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Valentine’s 2013 ~ Recap in pictures

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Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Apologia ~ Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day, a TOS review

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Welcome back friends! Today I am excited to share with you my first review for the 2013 Schoolhouse Review Crew year! When I sent in my request form for this review I had initially requested a  different book feeling it would be the best fit for us… boy was I wrong! God knew we needed to start with the Swimming Creatures  of the 5th Day. Funny how things just work out for the better!Photobucket

 

 

I am sure you have heard of Apologia Educational Ministries if you are a homeschooler. If you are not, let me tell you a little about them. Apologia is one of those companies that everybody talks about and for good reason too! Apologia publishes K-12 Creation-based science and worldview curriculum for children K-12, inspirational books about homeschooling, and hosts online classes through Apologia Academy.

"So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good."                                                   ~ Genesis 1:21

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We received the beautiful hardback book that is filled with over 230 pages of insightful information and pictures of the beautiful sea creatures God created on the 5th day. We also had the choice between the Notebooking Journal and the Junior Notebooking Journal; we received the Junior Notebooking Journal for our review with Montana and I purchased the Notebooking Journal for Mikayla to use along with us.

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The book follows a Charlotte Mason approach, however, you can adapt the program into your homeschooling style very easily. The notebooking journals offer a suggested weekly schedule for completing the lessons each week. Since my girls are such science fanatics we went full steam ahead and aimed to do science 4 days a week and added in some living books for extra enrichment.

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The Swimming Creatures book is filled with numerous hands-on experiments that reinforce the lesson along with opportunities for journaling, coloring pictures, completing mini-books and/or matchbooks, and narrations. The 26 week study coveres topics on:

~ Aquatic Animals
~ Whales
~ Seals and Sea Cows
~ Aquatic Herpes
~ Primeval Reptiles
~ Fish
~ Sharks and Rays
~ Crustaceans
~ Mollusks
~ Cephalopods
~ Echinoderms
~ Cindarians

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The books in the Elementary series are designed especially for kids in Kindergarten through Sixth grade. I love that I can use these books with more than one child and they each individually can take away something from the lesson on their own level. Since Montana is a beginning reader it made the most sense for me to just read aloud the reading selections toApologia misc 027 both her and Mikayla, who also is studying the Swimming Creatures. Madison would chime in every once in awhile with her own thoughtful insights and we would soon find ourselves down rabbit trails and finding answers to new questions.

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My girls especially enjoyed completing the hands-on experiments. Many of the supplies needed for these projects can be found around the house or you can opt to purchase a kit from a secondary science supply company. A listing of  lab supplies needed is also conveniently provided in the book so that you can be fully prepared to teach the lessons each week.

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We have thoroughly enjoyed our study so far of the Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day and look forward to diving a little bit deeper in the weeks to come. We have learned so much so far and the girls are still so thirsty for more! Montana is especially interested in the Primeval Reptiles section as she is really into dinosaurs. I love that the information she learns will  be from a Creation standpoint and not the other gobbly guck! Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this book and the other three series being reviewed by clicking the banner below.

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Company ~ Apologia Educational Ministries

Product ~ Exploring Creation with Zoology 2, Zoology 2 Junior Notebooking Journal

Price ~ 39.00 for the book, $24.00 for the Junior Notebooking Journal

Grade ~ Kindergarten – Sixth

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Disclaimer: I received a copy of Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Zoo 2: Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day and the Junior Notebooking Journal, in exchange for a thorough and honest review. I purchased my own copy of the regular Notebooking Journal for concurrent use with my older daughter, Mikayla. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.