Tuesday, May 31, 2011

new home

I just wanted to make sure you know where to find me :)

my new blogging address is


make sure you re-follow, I don't want to miss chatting with you through the summer and into next year!

I look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eagles Wings ~~ Exploring God's Creation ~~

When this curriculum arrived, and I began to flip through it...... I smiled a satisfied mommy smile.....  the one where you can tell after about 5 minutes of flipping, you are really going to like this.......
Exploring God's Creation is a great science curriculum.  You can use it with 2nd to 7th graders.  It is such a great spring board for in depth study.

It covers everything from the creation to the parts of a cell.  The Curriculum is comprised of a Teacher's Manual, a student consumable book, and a CD with songs.  Have I ever told you how much I love teachers manuals?  Well I do..... they make my heart happy.

 I loved that the Teacher's Manual contained the text, it was a delight for my struggling reader to be free from reading in science.  The student book contains worksheets but some of them are actually projects, making this a very hands on way to learn.  I appreciated the Digging deeper section.  There were great ideas to expand the learning process.  Books to check out from the library or activities to try.  We chose to learn about the Universe while we were reviewing the product, and we made a star projector,  the solar system...and a volcano!

If you are a parent of a multi-level homeschool....  Exploring God's Creation might just be perfect for you.  It would be so easy to adapt to each student's grade level and eliminate the need for 5 different textbooks lying around.  The Student Book is fully reproducible, or you can purchase additional books for $13.95... that is VERY affordable !!  I only used it with one child, but I look forward to using it again with my youngest in a few years. 


The whole package is $29.95, and the CD is included.  The CD was a great way for kids to have little ditty's to remember lessons with.  I was very thankful that someone else was singing these songs..... because I tried to make up some tunes to the songs as they were listed in the Teacher's Manual....  and well.......  let's just say my singing and tune creating abilities need to remain confined to the shower.... (wink, wink)

We will definitely continue to use this science curriculum through the summer months.  We really have enjoyed our time with it over the last month.

For more information and to see some of the other products that Eagles Wings has to offer visit their website www.eagleswingsed.com and click on Products. 
Don't forget to stop by the TOS Homeschool Crew blog and see what other families are saying about Exploring God's Creation.

as a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received Exploring God's Creation, free of charge, for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

we're moving

At the end of May I will be moving over to my new blog.

You will be able to find me at http://www.ateachingheart.com/

I will move all of the posts from this blog and "a day in the life" over to this one place in cyberspace.  I hope you will all still follow me as I share bits and pieces of our life in this new spot.

Right now there isn't much over there,  Just my about me page.... and a very blank and lonely google connect widget. 

I am getting the hang of the new format and I am really enjoying the flexibility of it.  Stop by... and say HI!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Reading Street ~~~~ Pearson Education


Pearson Education gave members of the TOS Homeschool Crew the chance to review several of their products.  Our family was chosen to review their Second Grade Language Arts, student texts, Reading Street 2.1 and 2.2 by Scott Foresman.

***I believe that it is only fair to mention that these books are completely mainstream Public School textbooks.  They are created to be used in conjunction with a certain method of teaching, and usually are accompanied by teachers manuals.***

Each Textbook costs $43.47
A two book set is $86.97
DVD-ROM Version of the texts $86.97
Weekly Tests Student edition $ 7.97
Weekly Test Teacher Manual $41.47
Unit Teacher Manual $38.47 each (12 volumes in set)


What I did like:

  • Units were well organized.
  • Broad Range of Literary Choices.  (Poetry, Folk Tales, Fiction, Non-Fiction)
  • Built in Grammar Reinforcement
  • Writing and review sections.
  • Very colorful pages
  • The stories were all very age appropriate.

Hunter did enjoy reading out of these books.  The non-fiction pieces were his particular favorites.  It is likely that we will refer to them again and use them as supplemental reading.  We, however, prefer books that are less textbook-ey. (how is that for a new word?)

  • A more user friendly website.  It is very geared to the purchasing departments of large public school systems.
  • Make Teachers guide samples available.  Homeschool parents often need to just see a small model to better understand how the product is intended to be used. 
  • Homeschool Friendly pricing. The cost as it stands now, is very prohibitive to the home education population.
While I was not supplied with Teachers Guides.... (and I understand why.... they are very expensive)  The books as they stand alone, are not difficult to use.  We would read a story, and then talk about it.  If it was long we would divide it into 2 days.  We would orally go over the Reader Response questions.  The writing section walks you through building a composition nicely.  These books are an enjoyable way to expose your child to many different types of literature, especially if you take the time to read more books from the featured authors, throughout the school year.

While I don't feel that this type of textbook teaching is the best fit for our family, I know there are many people who homeschool very successfully with them.  If you think this product would be a fit for your family, please visit the Pearson Education website and see some of the many products they have to offer.

Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog to read more reviews about this product and others by Pearson Education.

as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received the two student texts for Reading Street, free of charge,  for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All of the above opinions are my own.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Word Qwerty


Talking Fingers has created a Reading and Spelling Software for children aged 7-9 or in the Second and Third Grades. Word Qwerty picks up right were Read, Write and Type, another product from Talking Fingers, finishes.

Comprised of 20 lessons, Word Qwerty focuses on teaching the following spelling rules:
  •   Silent E
  • Sounds of C
  • Sounds of G
  • J or DGE
  • W or WH
  • C or K
  • CK or K
  • CKS or X
  • CH or TCH
  • LL, SS, FF, ZZ
  • OI or OY
  • VE Words
  • Open Syllables
  • Double Consonants
  • Doubling rule
  • ER, IR, OR, UR, EAR
  • I Before E
  • Plurals: Add ES
  • Plurals: Y to IES
  • Plurals: F to VES
There are many different games your child will play to help reinforce all of the spelling rules.  Hunter's favorite game was the balloon pop.  The program gives you a sentence, and you have to recognize each different word in in the sentence on a balloon.  Don't go too fast.....because the program tries to trick you !!!  you have to watch carefully to make sure that you have the right word before you pop! 


Games like the one above were great to help him discriminate between the beginning sounds of words, something that Hunter does struggle with.  He was able to see the word... and a picture to match the word, and then place it in the right list.

There were portions of the program that Hunter was very frustrated with.  There was a dictation game, and if you didn't type as fast as the program thought you should be.... It would talk to you and tell you to put your hand is a certain spot on the keyboard... (which is where they were but Hunter did not type fast enough.)  He would become very aggravated !!  It would halt his progress, because it would "freeze" the screen while it reminded you how to type.... and then you would have to begin again.  After a few weeks of playing and trying to get faster.... I would eventually just sit and type out those games for him.  He could repeat back what the game said.... just not input it in quickly enough.  Nor did he spell well enough to not have the game beep at him 50 times in a sentence.
If you would like to see the games played, they have created a video for parents to actually see the program in action.  To see a video of Word Qwerty click here.
Talking Fingers offers Word Qwerty in two different formats.
The online version which is a five year subscription

Or you can purchase a CD version.  ( note it is NOT  compatible with Windows 7 or Mac 10.6)

I really feel that Talking Fingers has done a great job and keeping their program affordable... especially for those families with multiple children in the 7-9 age range.  Their program is entertaining, and doesn't feel like you are doing the same thing over and over again.  As the parent, you can set the Mastery level from behind the scenes and build confidence by allowing your child to progress through the levels without becoming too frustrated with wrong answers.
While it wasn't an overall best fit for our family, there were many components we did like, and they DID reinforce and help Hunter grasp some of the spelling concepts.
Talking Fingers offers a variety of programs to teach typing, reading and spelling.  Stop by their website at http://www.talkingfingers.com/ and see their product list, or to contact them directly if you have additional questions.
Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog to see what other families have to say about how Word Qwerty worked for them during their school days.
as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, Talking Fingers provided reviewers with limited time access to the online version of Word Qwerty.  This access was solely for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation was received.  All of the above opinions are my own.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mad Dog Math


Mad Dog Math is a program designed reinforce math facts with your child. It is geared to grades K-5, but the struggling middle or high schooler might find it helpful as well.

There are several versions of Mad Dog Math available, if you need it for a co-op or classroom please visit their website http://www.maddogmath.com/ for more information.

In our home we used the down loadable Home software. It is available at three different prices.

A one year license: $19.99

2-years: $29.99

the forever license: $39.99

Mastery based, it begins with addition and moves through to division, breaking down fact families into bite sized pieces to master.

The goal is for the child to answer the problems in 2 minutes and then 1 and then eventually in 30 seconds. They can earn *stickers* as they complete different fact families. The time commitment for the program is only 10 minutes a day... freeing you up to work with another child for a few minutes or change over that load of laundry.

I appreciated the ease of download and set up and the small size it took up on the screen. It was also nice that the program moved from question to question.... enabling the child to move quickly through the problems. It is a very straight forward, fact learning program, that helps your child understand the WHOLE problem not just memorize an answer. I also feel the price is very reasonable

Even for all the things we liked about the program... I regret that it is not a fit for our family. Hunter was our primary user of this program, doesn't do speed timing so very well. He becomes very frustrated with not being able to meet the deadline.

I have also begun to realize that Hunter is a visual Right Brained learner. He can learn and practice facts forever, but unless he has a mental picture of the answer, it won't stick. Teaching him facts with BLANKS in them..... he will recall the BLANK and not the answer. This has led us to teach him math facts in a less flash card-ish ( is that a word?) type of way.

I know that this product was such a blessing to many families, and it may well be perfect for your family. Please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog and see what other families are saying about this great product.


Mad Dog Math supplied members of the TOS Homeschool Crew with a version of their software for free, for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received, all of the above opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Moving right along.......

After some thought..... and the issue with blogger last week..... and one of my posts for a vendor being lost to the never ending chaos of cyber space.......

Not receiving any response what-so-ever to my queries to Blogger customer service....

I am leaning toward starting a Wordpress blog... and self hosting a site, and combining both of my blogs into one site.  Trying to write two distinct posts a day isn't really isn't working out too well.

The whole process has been a learning experience......... that being:  BACK UP EVERYTHING!

I really hate to move.... in real life or blogville......the thought of moving gives me hives.....
I hope that you all will stick with me through the move....

.............considering it doesn't mean I need to borrow any one's truck or anything.....

Monday, May 16, 2011

unlock a world of wonder with WONDERMAPS... by Bright Ideas Press.

Now, in your best Superhero Narrator voice.... say  WON-der MAPS!!  because that is how I hear it in my head.  (sorry had to share that....  I will get on with the review now......)

Have you ever been working on a project and wished that you had map to go with it?  Ever wished you could just find a map of the States, or even just ONE state without having to comb through sixty websites to find on that could print to fit one page?

Well, I found it for you.  A map program that does all that and more.....

Bright Ideas Press.... Bright Ideas Press Logo
one of the all time great curriculum providers for homeschoolers...... has hit it out of the park again..... with their new product WONDERMAPS.
Wondermaps Logo

This product WILL be used by every member of your family, no matter what grade level.  It will be used by your high schoolers as they work on New or Old Testament Survey courses.  It will be used by your elementary children as they learn about the States.  You, your husband, and your kids will use it for your personal bible studies....  it really is amazing.

A BRAND NEW product........priced at $49.95, for over 350 maps.....  It is a VERY worthwhile investment for your homeschool.
Let me see if I can explain to you what sets WONDERMAPS apart from the maps that you can get free off the Internet... ( Shhhhh don't tell anyone, I am a big freebie map finder.  I don't like to pay for maps.)  

{Reason 1 : }  Saves time!  Sometimes in my quest to never pay for maps... I spend half a day searching and searching for the perfect one with the perfect information for the lesson we are on.  I so easily forget that my TIME is WORTH something.  While I may not pay for the map in money..... I way over paid in TIME...  and believe me my laundry room, and kitchen are both wrecks because of it!

{Reason 2 :} I can't manipulate my "free" map.  WONDERMAPS......  is completely adjustable.  Each map is made up of a series of customizable layers.  So you can print in color... or black and white.... you can print topographically or not.  You may have latitude and longitude lines or not.  Take away state names or leave them.  Test on state capitals?  Print out maps with them.... and go back and create a test map to print with out them.  By far, I have to say that this is the BEST feature of the program.  Being able to make the EXACT map you need to fit your school needs.... is stupendous.

Check out the map of Australia here.....  to see the difference in some of the layering effects.



{Reason 3 :}   The program already contains maps from existing history curricula. 

If you use Mystery of History, or All American History....  WONDERMAPS has the maps loaded right in!  When I used MOH 1 a few years back.... I cut all the maps out of the back of the book with an exacto knife.... categorized them and have kept them neat for the last few years until the next child needed them.  While the maps are not available with layering.... they are EXACTLY like they are in the text book.  There are answer keys.....  Now with a few clicks you can have all your maps for the year printed and filed.... ready to go. I probably would have sold a kid to have something like this a few years back for MOH.... now with a child using it next year....  I can't wait to use WONDERMAPS to help make all the mapping lessons easier!

P.S.... if you register your product on the Bright Ideas Press website...... they will send you updates of new maps when they become available.   I hear a MOH 4 is in the works and they will send you the updates for that when they are available.

I really could go on and on... but I think it only fair to let you watch a tutorial of the product (the same one I viewed before beginning to use WONDERMAPS)  and see for yourself all of the great things that it can do.

Cool eh?  That is what I thought too after watching.... I couldn't wait to get started !   Oh and I almost forgot to mention that there is a Teachers Guide with lots of helpful ideas, and a sample Unit Study.  It even has a recipe for making salt dough maps!  You really could just cycle through all of the Themed Maps and use this program for Geography on its own. 

Head on over to Bright Ideas Press and see some of the other wonderful and affordable History, Science and Geography products that are available for use in your homeschool.

A big thank you to the folks who created WONDERMAPS....... you have cured me forever of searching endlessly on the Internet for maps.  I will now just open my WONDERMAPS and know that I have exactly what I will need all in one place.

Lots of other families reviewed WONDERMAPS in their homeschool.  Visit the TOS Homeschool Review Crew page to see what things they are saying about this product.

If you are a TOS Magazine subscriber.  Look in the Spring Edition...... There is a coupon for 20% off of WONDERMAPS

Bright Idea Press supplied TOS Homeschool Crew Members with access to WONDERMAPS free of charge for the purpose of this review. No other compensation has been received.  There is no obligation to provide a positive review.  All of the above opinions are my own.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hurray! Hurray! It's May! and the Schoolhouse Expo is on the WAY!

So it's Sunday... and in my house that translates to a relax day.  There is church in the morning and evening, but in the middle..... it is movies or naps.... 

Today, while the DVD is playing "How to Train your Dragon"  for the 6 kids that happen to be in the living room...... while dinner is in the oven finishing up.....  I decided to sneak a peak at my emails.....

I have been very busy getting the garden done and helping some friends get their farm in order....  writing reviews.... I haven't even had time to run a load in the washer...

And ever in the attempt to avoid the laundry....  I am sitting at the computer cleaning out the inbox....  it's still work right?

Anyway, in my inbox there were reminders for the Schoolhouse Expo that is starting tomorrow!  I can hardly believe it!  It is here!

I was snooping around the Schoolhouse Expo page, looking at the speakers and deciding which of them were going to be MUST listens ( like sit in front of computer and take notes sort of listen) ... and the ones that I can listen to with one ear while I do other things....

I stumbled upon the door prize list....  Have you seen this thing?

Normally I skip the door prize page....  As an independent contractor for TOS...  doing reviews....  I don't get to play along during the give aways...  But for some reason today, I was just curious to see what it was they were giving away.......

All I can say is WOW!

One prize is a two night stay at Jenness  Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.....  I was floored!  I used to do there for Winter Retreats when I was in High School Youth Group!  It is so beautiful up there.  The family that wins that prize will be blessed for sure!

There are High School Elective courses, give aways from colleges....Latin Curriculum's, an IEW course (VERY VERY COOL!) ... and the most amazing Map program I have ever used..... Wondermaps, from Bright Ideas Press.

I really think you should check out the prize list for yourself.... go to:  http://www.schoolhouseexpo.com/?page_id=10155

I hear there is going to be scavenger hunts in the Vendor Hall this year.... so make sure you add The Schoolhouse Expo website to your favorites list so you can get there FAST!
Don't forget to "like" the Schoolhouse Expo page on FB .....  I know I stop by there during the Expo to talk about the great things that the speakers are saying. 

I really can't wait to see you at the Expo tomorrow!

Friday, May 13, 2011

End Eye Rolling with Institute for Excellence in Writing, Student Writing Intensive C !!

So..........How are you doing with teaching writing to your kids?

Yeah.....  I feel ya....

*insert sheepish look here*  I haven't done the best either.

Trust me....  it is not for the lack of trying..........I have tried.

I bought books that said they were for reluctant writers.  I bought cute little notebooks.  I thought of creative writing prompts....  I begged, I pleaded, I cajoled......absolutely everything I tried to do to make writing  fun, engaging, interesting or creative.... was met with..........

EYE ROLLING..........  and those little pshahhhhhhhhh noises that sound like your teen has some how morphed  into a pressure cooker.....

So, after a few years of banging my head into the whiteboard on the wall........

I just gave up.  I figured that by the time they got to college....  a few failed papers would be a catalyst to sharpen their writing skills....

With absolutely nothing as a writing program in use for a year or two.... it was me who was rolling her eyes when I found out that I would be reviewing a writing program....

I will admit that I was scared....  afraid that again another program would be tried.... and that I wouldn't be able to get the kids interested in it.... and that there would be moments I would have to duct tape them to the couch so we could get through this...

I stand before you ( well sit really, because I have to sit to type....  I can't type standing.... but you get the point.....)  to say........


After the first two lessons they actually asked to do it.  They asked to do it on Saturday's!  (what? who does that?)

You know what I heard every single time they did the lessons?

Laughter.  blissful laughter.

They would laugh and laugh and laugh through the DVD's.    They walked around for weeks telling each other that someone was in deep yogurt.....

It wasn't just laughter.... that was happening as they watched Andrew Pudewa teach.....  There was LEARNING !!!  Delivered in an easy conversational style, Mr. Pudewa draws the students in and makes the learning of writing skills enjoyable.  Clearly, a talent I lack.

For this review we used the Student Writing Intensive C.  This course is designed for high school students that, for whatever reason, need a jump start in writing.  It was filmed during a week long class, but it is broken up into a very manageable lessons.  They even include a 30 week schedule for you to use the program over the course of an entire school year!  It was a wonderful thing not to have to think about creating a schedule.  All we had to do was follow the one that was already created for us!

Things I   liked  loved! :
  • There were teacher notes to go with EVERY lesson.... this made me look exceptionally smart to my already hip, and knowing everything teens.
  • There was a teacher..... and this time it wasn't me ! 
  • Lots of samples
  • There was a notebook where my children could keep all their writing work in one place!!  ( AMEN!)
  • The portable wall
  • It was a pain .......and eye rolling free curriculum

What the kids have to say about it :

Evan (17, and a junior) :  I enjoyed the straight forward delivery style of this program.  It was funny, and engaging.  I have fallen asleep during other attempts to learn about writing.  This program was too interesting to sleep through.

Tayler (15, and a sophomore) : I like it. It was a fun way of learning how to write.  Mr. Pudewa made learning something that can be confusing, easy. 

Student Writing Intensive Level C is available for $99.  For that price you receive the 4 discs of  DVD lessons and a teacher's notebook that contains all the student handouts and dividers.

 Additional student books are sold for $18.  In my opinion.... if you have more than one student, just buy the extra notebook.  We copied pages for this review... and for the cost of printer ink these days.... the $18 is worth every single cent, not to mention your time copying page after page.

IEW also sent us this nifty Portable Wall.  It has all the whiteboard information on it.  I was amazed at how often it was referred to, especially when the kids were writing and editing their compositions.  The Portable Wall is available for $7.  I recommend one per student using the program.... we shared... but it was hard when they were both working on something.  It would have been nice to have two.
Ever generous in the material that they supplied for us to review, IEW also included the DVD titled; Structure and Style Overview. At only $10, I strongly suggest you purchase it.  Think of it as teacher's notes. Taken from a seminar, and with handouts available for download,  it is Andrew Pudewa teaching parents how to teach writing. Can I get an AMEN ?!?  It is a shortened version of Teaching Writing: Structure and Style ($169).  But it goes along very nicely with SWI Level C.

I can not possibly list here all of the products that are available by Institute for Excellence in Writing.  I can only offer up that if they are all to the caliber we experienced with this program.  They are worth the time, and money to be used in your homeschool.  Please take the time to visit their website and see the many products that are available.   http://www.excellenceinwriting.com/

Read what other families are saying about this product and other writing products by IEW, by visiting the Homeschool Crew blog.

If you have other more specific questions regarding the material, please feel free to leave me a comment.  I will answer them all to the best of my ability.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the above products from IEW, for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been given.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Homeschool Mothers Journal 5.10.11

weeelllllll  once again I missed the link up for this one.... but I did have a productive weekend...  that has to count for something....

In my life this week…

I have been all about the garden.  I have been eating, sleeping, drinking....  slaving in the garden!  I count it all joy for the nummy-ness it will produce.  Now, if it will stop being so stinkin' cold and let my vegetation grow....  I would be a happy girl.

In our homeschool this week…

I made some great flashcards for Hunter to help with spelling.  The big kids took a test to see if they would qualify to enter a program called Running Start, where high school kids can attend college for two years and receive their AA concurrently with their Diploma.  One passed.... one did not.  The did not child seriously missed by what must have been just a few questions.  The fall semester doesn't start till the end of September.  We are evaluating if we want to just CLEP some classes next year, or study and try again for entrance to the community college.  I have no doubt they are intelligent enough to do the work required in college....  I just think someone froze on the test :)

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Saturday was the start of the Farmers Market.  While we were there we ran into my husband's cousin (whom I had never met) she and her husband were with our nieces and nephew.  That was a fun a pleasant surprise.  Then my hubby, ran into an old co-worker and chatted with him for a bit.  He was Mr Popular for the morning. 

Then there was the car wash to help support the Young Marines....  they washed the truck very nicely. 

Today is the Car Race and Awards to finish out Master Clubs....  everyone was up until 1 am working on their derby cars last night.....  well, everyone but me and Jeremiah.  We were the smart ones.  We were in bed.

My favorite thing this week was…

Meeting another member of my husband's family.  They are not a close and chatty family.  Everyone tends to leave the other members alone.  It was nice to meet a new member and hear that she was looking to move closer.

What’s working/not working for us…

the nicer weather is not working at all.  I swear to you, I can not keep that Hunter-boy indoors for longer than two seconds.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

Can I duct tape him to the chair and get away with it?   LOL!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Kinda hungry for this right now...............

Join Sue on Friday's and link up to HSMJ @ The Homeschool Chick

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monki See ~ Reading DVD's for babies.


Monki See is a fun and interactive product produced by Intellectual Baby, llc.   We were given the opportunity to review their Volume 1 DVD, Baby's First Words which is available for $19.95.  Monki See also included their book Know Your Monkey for us to review as well.  It is available for $9.95.

These products have been created for children ages 3 months to 3 years old.  They are however, geared to help your child begin to learn how to read during that special window of time between birth and 5 years old when children learn many things with ease.

In our home, Jeremiah (age 4) was the primary user.  The first few times that he watched the DVD he was not to interested in it.  At. ALL. Being at the top of their age range, I wasn't surprised.   However, over time he became more entranced.  I found that if I sat with him through the show, he was more likely to watch it to completion.  He would  become most distracted during the baby items sequence... since bottles and pacifiers are not really on his radar anymore. 

He did enjoy the remainder of the words that were on the DVD and would instruct me to touch my "cheets", "net" or "ton" like the kids did on the "moobee". He even declared "dis show" to be his "favwit" on more than one occasion. 

Jeremiah really enjoyed the book Know Your Monkey, and asked for it to be read to him often.  His 8 year old brother would read it to him when I was not available.  He has the pages fairly memorized, and that is one of  the first steps to reading on his own. 

I like the idea of teaching children to read at a young age,(before 5) and I would agree that this program could do that very thing.  I would have enjoyed a bit more time to review the product to see if we could achieve some concrete word recognition...  we will continue to use it, and I will update you in a later post as to how Jeremiah's word only, with no picture, recognition is coming along.

Monki See has put together an incredible deal they call the Reading Kit  it is available for only $139.95.  If you are planning on using this with more than one child it is quite a good investment.

It contains over 800 words for your baby to learn and set them on the path to greatness!

Stop by http://www.monkisee.com/ and see if their product is a fit for your family, and don't forget to read what other families are saying at the Homeschool Review Crew site.

as a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a Monki See DVD and book, free of charge for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All of the above opinions are those of the people who tested and used the product.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spelling struggles

It really isn't a secret, I have shared with you for awhile now that Hunter struggles with spelling. 

The frustrating thing for me has been that the words he struggles with are what one would think were "easy" words.  No other child of mine has struggled this way with words. 

At the risk of sounding like a commercial for Dianne Craft, I will again mention how much her presentation at the Schoolhouse Expo was so revealing for us.  It was like having a window into how Hunter learns!  You can read about that ah-ha moment here.  I really can't wait to hear her speak again this month!  somewhere between the 16th-20th!

I wish I could invite you to listen in on what she has to say live, but the live tickets are all sold out.  I guess I could invite you to hear it live.....  you will just have to come over here to my house.  Let me know if you are coming so I can set up the spare room for you!

Man....  I am easily distracted!  Back to the SPELLING part of the program!

Anyway.... today I decided to use the list of Dolch sight words to see which words Hunter was having the most trouble with.  I read out the Pre-Primer and Primer list of words to him, and made his spelling list only from the words that he has misspelled. 

His list for the next week will be the following words:

  • bluy (blue)
  • cum (come)
  • funy (funny)
  • littl (little)
  • won (one)
  • sed (said)
  • too (to)
  • tooo (two)
My next job is to take the words and turn them into flashcards.  I will use black for the letters that he has already placed in the word, and we will use a color to highlight the letters that are missed or incorrect.

When I get the cards drawn up I promise I will post some pictures of them for you.  Along with the stories we will make up to help them stick in his brain.  We will take pictures of these words, and spell them forwards and backwards.  ( the whole spelling backwards thing is really amazing to me.... because I can't do it.. AT. ALL.! )

This technique has been such a revelation to me that I really want everyone who has a struggling speller and reader to know about it!!  I really wish you could join the Expo and hear Dianne speak!  Maybe you could get an Expo To Go ticket and listen to her on the MP3's that will be out in June?  I know I am ready to have the MP3 of her last talk... I know I have forgotten some key things she mentioned and it will be real nice to hear it again.  I think the price of 20 bucks is a steal to get some information that could seriously impact your child's learning.

Ok... I need to get out my markers and make these flash cards for Hunter.

I will be back to show them to you when they are done !!

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Homeschool Mother Journal 5.2.11

{In my life this week…}

Pretty busy.  Ridiculously so in fact.  The calendar hasn't shown busy at the beginning of the week, but then things are added, and added, and added, by Saturday....  I usually ready to sleep for a week. 

Last week there were Dr appts... and then one the very next day so we could be "squeezed" in for a procedure. 

...Then a wedding shower for a couple at church and there was much running around and preparing for that. 

This week the calendar is showing pretty empty....  Hoping it stays that way... and I can get some serious gardening done and some plants in the ground!

{In our homeschool this week…}

This coming week the big kids have a placement test for the community college.  They want to attend there through a program called Running Start.  If they pass the test (I am sure they will)  they will take classes next fall.

I think I am ready for this.

For Hunter... we have really been working on teaching to the little camcorder that is in his head.  Doing lots of Spelling work with the Right Brain techniques....  I think I am going to buy Dianne Craft's video course to help me better grasp all of what she talks about on her website.  It is really making a huge difference in our school days.   
We are also reading through some of the classics in literature....  we have finished Dr. Doolittle and we are on now to Anne of Green Gables...  which I am liking much better than the mini series.

{Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…}

Tayler has her last game this week.  Softball this year has been swift and furious, but very fun.  The game is in West Valley and that is past Yakima....  I will be staying home for that one. 

I plan on having quality time in my garden.  The farthest I want to travel this week is to the side pasture.

Oh... and the big kids are off to a Youth Retreat with church for Friday and Saturday.... good times for them.

{My favorite thing this week was…}

My husband.  He came with me to the wedding shower.  (which if you knew my manly-man, is a heroically selfless gesture) 

{What’s working/not working for us…}

Right now the biggest thing that IS working is Right Brained Teaching Techniques from Dianne Craft.  If you have a child that struggles in reading and memorization of math facts... please check out her site and see if it will help you!


{Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…}

How do you go about starting a Co-op?  Anyone got some advice?

{A photo, video, link, or quote to share…}

Don't be a captive to your past.  Jesus has forgiven it.  You should to.

Philippians 3:13  " Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do,  forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,"

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Link up @ The Homeschool Chick and share your Journal

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Field Trip..... to the Dr.'s Office???

Lately it seems as though we are at the Dr.'s office every other day....  At least last week we were.. and that was just with one child!  This week it was two appointments in two days, with another one.

People have asked me,  "So what do you do for school when you have 4 kids and one has a Dr. appointment? "

Well, the quick answer is that we "school" through the appointment. 

Dr.'s offices walls contain a wealth of informational material!  When we are at the Orthopaedist, we study the skeletal and muscular systems that are up on the wall.  We discuss how tendons and ligaments help our bodies move.  We practice movement with our uninjured parts and try to see what muscle on the chart is working in our body.  We also sound out the complicated medical terminology, looking for the Latin bases to the words to help us understand what the word means.

We learn about the equipment that is being used.  The Otoscope, looks in our ears.  The Blood Pressure cuff and how it works to measure the flow of blood in our body.  We talk about how X-ray machines work and what those beeping boxes are on the walls in emergency rooms.

My favorite is when you are in a room with a model ear or intestines or brain.  I never let it sit on the counter, it is always picked up and discussed.  We learn by touching the hammer and the anvil in our model ear, we pull out the hemispheres in the brain model to reveal the cerebral cortex and discuss its functions.  Intestines are terribly interesting, and we will talk about absorption, and peristalsis and how our food moves from our mouth and through our body.

Curiosity is the key to learning while you are at the Dr.'s office.  Don't be afraid to ask your doctor questions while you are there about the things you see on the wall or counters, or pick up the card that usually accompanies the model as your answer key.  If there isn't one, come home and look up what you saw on the computer or in your science book and learn some more.

Lots and lots of Dr. appointments doesn't mean you have to miss school.  Thinking of them as a science field trip, can create an endless amount of opportunities for learning

Monday, April 25, 2011

free transcripts

My Homeschool Transcripts just came out with a new feature...

If you need a transcript in a jiffy, or maybe you only have one child and don't need a life-time access....  whatever the reason ....now you can generate a professional transcript that you are able to save to your computer and print out as needed.........


.....learning hard lessons.....

Yesterday we had a tragedy.....

One of the puppies died.

Hunter was leaning on the gate that make the laundry room the Nursery.

The gate crashed down, hitting one of the puppies.

It was sad.  Hunter was devastated.

Learning life lessons the hard way, ........... sucks.

Now there are four..........

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Homeschool Mother's Journal 4.23.11

In my life this week…

I managed a majorly Epic mom fail.   You can read all about it here.   I  managed to write up two recipes, make 6 printable sheets, write three reviews, catch a game of high school softball, take one kid to three different Dr appointments.... and not lose any kids in the process. 

That has to count for something.

In our homeschool this week…

School has been very scatted.  With all the Dr appointments, and regular errands, it has been a week of Car Schooling for us.... grabbing work books or flash cards or just reading Dr. Doolittle, have been what Hunter has been doing. 

We also had puppies this week... so Tuesday.... was a whole lot of Animal Biology.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Easter Sunday we will be hosting some friends over for Lunner.  I very much enjoy having people over to visit with and cook for.

I do not enjoy very much the prepping and cleaning before hand.....  and that is why I am blogging instead of cleaning.

Don't judge me.

My favorite thing this week was…

Trying on glasses with Evan at the eye doctors.  It is fun to make faces when you try them on.

What’s working/not working for us…

The truck isn't running as it should.  I am praying that it is obedient and can wait until next week to be disassembled and put back together.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

My daughter has approached me about wanting to participate in a program offered here called Running Start.  She would finish out her HS years with a AA degree. 

I am sure she will do fine.  I am just having trouble adjusting to the fact that my little birdies aren't so little anymore and that growing up is bittersweet.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Link up with other moms and share your Homeschool Journal

Friday, April 22, 2011

Art Class by See the Light

See the Light has come up with a way to help homeschooled children have Art Lessons right in their own home.

Art Class is a 9 Disc Set comprised of 36 individual Art Lessons.


Each lesson is about 15 minutes in length, and it does offer ideas of what to practice drawing after the video lesson is over.  I would suggest watching one lesson a week and practicing a few other days during the week, for reinforcement.

I was given Volume 1 to review.  It starts out with the basic tools you will need to use with the program.  Most of the items could very easily be purchased inexpensively when school supplies are on sale in August.  Every item that was listed in the first lesson, we already had lying around the house in our everyday supplies.

From gathering supplies to the basic way to hold a pencil, the lessons swiftly progress. Moving through the drawing of lines and shading.... to contour and composition, then drawing what you see, not what you know. 

We were also given a preview disc that shows a wide variety of excerpts from Volumes 2 ~ 9.  This preview disc had my two artsy ones literally drooling.... and creatively begging me to get the whole course.


As soon as it arrived and was out of the package, I think it sat on the kitchen counter for maybe 30 seconds.  My 15 year old daughter grabbed it and plugged it into the computer to watch.  She watched the first two lessons in rapid succession.  At this point she was joined by my 8 year old son, who was just as enthralled. 

In following weeks the two of them would get their art pads and watch it in the living room on the TV....  Tayler (15) was much more diligent with the follow up practice than Hunter (8) was, but the each had different goals.  Tayler was looking to practice for mastery of the skill, and Hunter was just trying to get it to look like something on the paper.


Volume 1 was clear, and easy to follow.  Both children used the suggestions of the teacher for follow up work...  It did a good job of whetting our appetite to learn more about creating art using different tools and mediums.

I am not an artist.... I don't even play one one TV....  I never took an art class in high school.   Still, I enjoyed these lessons.  Watching them with my kids, I felt confidant enough to give them pointers and reminders from the video lessons as they were working on their own. 

My husband IS an artist, he *could* play one on TV....  He does technical drawing and he can take things that are in MY head and draw them out on paper.....  that's right, I'm in awe.... 
.... how easily I digress....
Anyway.... he was impressed with the step by step method of teaching, and that it was very easy to follow for beginners.

A few things worth noting: 
  • the product is billed as "art class" yet throughout the first disc the instructor kept referring to it as art club while it really wasn't a big deal, it might want to be addressed from a continuity standpoint.
  • the preview disc, and the website state that the product offers Art History with the Class.  I did not see any Art History contained on the first disc.  It was shown on the preview disc, and I would surmise that it is contained on later discs when the lessons move past the basics.
  • my daughter was "overwhelmed" by the speed of the bonus lesson.  my husband said that the instructor glossed over many of the steps without explaining why you might need to do something in a certain order.  we understand that everyone has a different teaching style, but this lesson would be one we would have to watch multiple times to fully grasp the concepts. ....  but the black light trick.... is WAY cool!

See the Light offers their Art Class lessons two different ways....  the 9 disc set.... for $99.00 or through an online subscription for $10.00 a month. It is appropriate for children of all ages... even my 4 year old will sit and watch "da wady dwah".

Check out these three free lessons!

Here are some lessons in lettering, chalk work and watercolors.

Viewing those videos above will really give you a taste of what this program is all about.  Take the time to surf around on their website : www.seethelightshine.com and see some of the other products they offer.

As always, you should never take just *my* word for it....  Other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew Reviewed this product.  Pop on over and see what they are saying about it!

*** For the purpose of this review, See the Light, provided Volume 1 to members of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, free of charge.  No other compensation has been given.  All the above expressed opinions are my own and those of the members of my family that used the product.***

Thursday, April 21, 2011

an unexpected ah-ha moment.....

What do you do when your child struggles?  Do you have a child that just isn't "getting" a subject or concept?  Do you feel like you are at your wits end, having tried nearly every product out there and they haven't helped?

I have been feeling that way with Hunter lately.  Mostly with reading and spelling and getting down the multiplication facts.  It isn't that he can't do it....  it just doesn't stick in his head.

It isn't that we can't walk through the process and figure out the math problem.... it is that he has drilled and drilled them with computer games, but when he sees the same problem two hours later on a piece of paper.... the memory of it is Gone! Poof! Disappeared!

........and then, I am fighting the urge to bash my head against the nearest wall.......

We have used Explode the Code, Reading Kingdom, TATRAS phonics, The Victory Drill Book, Math Drill books, Math Rider, Flash Cards.....  anything and everything I can think of......  All of these products work to a point.... he is learning to hear and sound things out better and he can remember the facts as he plays the games...........  but absolutely not a one of them has helped spelling concepts to transfer over from the words he sees on  the screen into a pattern he can use away from the screen and apply to other words. Not one of them has helped him move a math fact repeatedly from the screen to a question in a math book.

( Note:  My purpose here is not to bash any of these programs....  They are wonderful, and if you ask my son, he loves working on every one of them...  I love them too they are great programs!!  I am just at a loss in how to turn that "key" or open up a door for my son.....  I am desperately searching for something to make it "click" for him)

So I keep searching.... looking up things on the Internet, trying new games, changing up routines so that he can tackle different things when he is fresh in the morning....  All the while..... silently bearing my soul to the Lord...... asking him to show me something that will work....

show me the one thing that will make it all click......

Let's rewind back to last week.  Crazy busy week....
You're organized and on it so I know you don't know what crazy weeks are.... right?


Tuesday was the April Pre-Show for Schoolhouse Expo.  And I will be honest....  I groaned when I realized it.  I already had to drive everyone everywhere in the afternoon, and I was afraid that I would be missing most of it.... I had that feeling of one more responsibility being piled on to a plate that was dangerously full.  I had no idea how I was going to manage to get it all done.........  but I purposed to listen, and asked God to help make the time available so I could try and hear at least SOME of the speakers.

I was able to run around and mostly be ready to listen at 1:30 when it started....then I had to leave and drop a kid at her games.... then she forgot something so I knew I had to go back with it..... I got home and someone was there that needed to use my computer ( I forgot that I had said yes come over and use it at that time.... ) the audio was annoying so they turned it off....  I missed a speaker....  I was trying to be gracious, and not pace back and forth, wondering what great information I was missing......

Computer usage done..... I was able to turn it back on, just as Dianne Craft was starting up.....  suddenly the house was quiet... the boys were playing outside and occupied....  I didn't have to run back to the ball field just yet....  dinner was already started....  I actually could devote all my attention to this speaker....  It was as if Jesus had calmed the stormy day.... just to focus my attention right here, right now.

So I took the hint.

I sat and was still.

Dianne talked about brains.... the right side and the left side of them...  How the side with the dominance can affect the way your child learns.

The title of the talk was "My child doesn't learn like my others: Right Brained Strategies"

Just reading the title; I was agreeing....  I was thinking to myself... " You're telling ME he doesn't learn like the other ones!!!!" ....  I was quickly getting eager to hear more..........

The first strategy that she spoke about was with Math Facts....  Flash cards and Math Games have BLANKS at the bottom of the problem..... She said that Right brained kids will make a mental imprint of the flash card....  so to them when they see 9x4=  in their math book........and they try to recall what they saw and recorded in their head when you did flash cards.....  they come up with BLANK...  because that is what the mental imprint was for them during drill time. 

I sat there and said.... AH-HA!!!!!

She reminded us parents that we don't test with flash cards.... we TEACH  with them.....  and for a child that is right brain dominant, we need to put the answers at the bottom of the problem, to create the mental record that 9x4 really is 36.

She applied the same technique to spelling.  She asked if any of us had a child that could do spelling words for a week, and get 100% on a test..... and then next Tuesday when you asked him how to spell a word from the week before it was completely wrong.....

I sat talking out loud to my computer speakers, waving my arms, in my kitchen, saying " YES!!  YES!!! that is MY CHILD!"

She then offered up a tool to help move words from short term memory, to long term memory, with little or no effort on the child's part. 

I was sceptical.  little or no effort on the part of the child?  Certainly she was unaware of the meltdowns, frustration and total avoidance of all things WORDS that was going on in my house.

As she talked.
A visitor straggled in.
Hunter....  the one who I had been mentally wrestling with.....
He pulled up a chair and started to listen to Dianne Craft speak..

He looked at me and said.....
"That's how I think.... I see things like that.... the way she is talking about, that's me."

Remembering it now brings tears to my eyes.
It was as if a fog had lifted, and we were both learning how to learn together.
Oh, Magnificent God who heard the cries of a frustrated mother's heart..... and brought this information right to me..... thank you, I whispered.

So together Hunter and I watched how Dianne drew spelling words.  How she used color, humor, "weird", and emotions to move words from short term memory to long term by teaching to the video recorder that is inside the head of Right Brained kids.

One of the words she had on the screen was PEOPLE.  She drew a brown earth circle for the O... and colored into it the continents and the ocean. She told a story that the world had to be big to hold all these people.   Then she moved to the next word....  MANY....  her A this time was lower case and inside it was a bunch of kids on a jungle gym or something....  really to me it looked like colored dots and squiggles.

She went on to say how to hold the cards, make the cards, to ask the child to recall the picture and the colors used for writing the word, to have them spell them both forward and backward and to do it every day for five days.

I decided that later in the day I would test Hunter on these two words and see if he could remember them.  Both of these words he would spell as Peple or Meny.

After Dianne's lecture, we eventually left to take his sister her forgotten envelope.  On the way home in the car, I asked him to spell "people".

He did.
I asked him to spell it backwards.
again, perfectly....
"Do you remember the colors and picture that she drew?"...
He did.  perfectly.

and so it went for the word "many".....

There was a Hallelujah chorus going off in my head.
I had found the thing that would make other things *click*

Thank you God for quieting my day at just the perfect time.....for answering the prayer of this mother's heart and for allowing me to learn a tool that will make learning easier for my child.

Thank you Schoolhouse Expo for bringing this wonderful speaker directly to me.

Thank you Dianne Craft for being oh so much smarter than me and so graciously sharing what you know with others....
Dianne Craft will speak again at the May Expo (16th-20th)  If you don't have a ticket yet, and my story sounds like your everyday life..........  please get a ticket and join in.  Even if she is the only speaker you listen to.....  you will learn more about how to teach your Right Brained child and make information stick!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Puppy Count

The puppies have all arrived....

We are now the proud parents of 5 more puppies.  Four boys ( 2 black and 2 chocolate ), and one girl (chocolate) .

I will post some pictures as soon as Momma stops looking at me like I'm a kidnapper.

Growing Healthy Homes : Nutrition 101: Choose Life !


It was a pleasure to review the book Nutrition 101: Choose Life!, by Growing Healthy Homes.  It was great to have a product that is meant to be used by every member of the family, including dad !     

Nutrition 101: Choose Life!,  is a 448 page book divided into 6 different units of study. 

  • The Brain and Nervous System
  • Digestion and Elimination
  • Respiration and Olfactory
  • Muscular and Skeletal Systems
  • Cardiovascular and Immune Systems
  • Endocrine System and Emotions
The book is a really nice family health and nutrition curriculum.  Very informative and easy to use.  There are many recipes with in the book, and they are wonderful tasting!  It is a great way to teach your kids  how what they eat affects their body in many different ways.


We would read the chapters on Monday evening as a family after dinner, and everyone would participate in answering the questions that are at the end. 

Then we would look ahead to see the recipe that we would be making later in the week.  I would shop for the ingredients with the kids at some point during our week, and they would help select the fruits and vegetables that were listed. 

Everyone would help prepare the dish on Thursday evening, which is typically one of our more relaxed family evenings. 

There were activities that helped to reinforce the topic for the week, and the older children would help the younger ones with the ones that they had chosen.

One of the things that I liked most was that there was no right or wrong way to use this book.  You can go section by section, you could use it only for recipes, or use it front to back as a stand alone curriculum.  I find myself referring to to often to see what foods will help those in my family who have stomach aches, or intestinal troubles.  We have changed the way that we look at many different foods, and have benefited greatly from this product. 
Nutrition 101: Choose Life!,  is available as a full color professionally printed and bound book for $99.95.
There is a CDROM version for $79.95..... or both for $129.95.
Here is a wonderful 27 page excerpt from the book.
While I can't guess what version of the product will work best for your family.....  I think that it is important to note that as reviewers we received the book as a digital download (PDF).  I loaded this version onto my Kindle and was very happy using the book, reading and making the recipes in this format. I sometimes even double checked the ingredient list while I was AT the store !
Visit Growing Healthy Homes and check out all the products they have to offer.  If you use the code TOScrew11 at checkout you will receive a 15% discount on your purchase. 

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a PDF version of Nutrition 101: Choose Life, free of charge, for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has be received. 

The best laid plans...........

Sometimes I see questions on Facebook walls, asking " What do you do when your homeschool day doesn't go as planned? " 

Seeing as though today is going to be one of those days........  I figured I should blog about it.

The original schedule was supposed to be Dr appt for Evan, home to do school and then the regular errands in the afternoon.

Instead......... the day is turning into...... Dr. appt with Evan, home to a dog in labor, Hunter and Jeremiah still sleeping.... and no school yet completed.  I really think today is going to be all about lessons in Animal Behavior, and Veterinary care............  and way less about books and math. I will still try to get that in too

....between puppies that is....

One of the important things to remember is that life happens..... all around you, everyday.  You can be insular and strict, and rigidly keep a schedule.... but some days... it just doesn't work.

Today we are going to gracefully live out Proverbs 16: 9

" A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps "

So don't be too hard on yourself when your planned day doesn't go as planned.  Trade the disappointment for excitement and find out what God has in store for your day.

and yes..........  I promise to let you know how many puppies we have

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Homeschool Mothers Journal 4.19.11

The Homeschool Mother's Journal 

Forgive me friends.......... for I have sinned.  I have broken the cardinal rule of blogging.....
I have failed to make even ONE entry in nearly 2 weeks.
bad blogger I am...

I suppose I should catch up.... and fill you in on my own personal insanity that has kept me away from the screen........the link for HSMJ is closed for the week, I will just have to try again next week to link up.

{In my life this week…}

I have been a busy busy bee.  Last weekend was the Annual Ladies Retreat for our church, and I was on the decoration committee.  Our venue was changed, more decorations had to be thought of and made....  there were work days... and work days....   .... you get the picture.... I was busy !

{In our homeschool this week…}

We tried to get as much done as possible.  I was listening to the April Pre-show for the Schoolhouse Expo last Tuesday, and well.....  it was wonderful.  I have a whole post brewing in my brain about one of the speakers.  It was like a light bulb went off for us, and we are going to really work on implementing a few new things to help Hunter with his spelling and reading.

{Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…}

Well, we have spent a lot of time in the car.... driving, and dropping.  I really need to get a CD player for my rig so that we can listen to some things while we are in the car for 3 hours everyday. 

We have seen lots of Doctors this month.  Check-ups and referrals and follow ups with broken fingers, eye appointments and GI doctors.... 

{My favorite thing this week was…}

Seeing the vision I had in my head for the Retreat coming to life.  It is one thing to have this idea that you think is great.... but when it all comes together and looks halfway decent....  It was a nice sense of accomplishment.

{What’s working/not working for us…}

the weather!... 
it is getting nice outside and everyone wants to play and not work on their school!
{Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…}
I just feel real blessed to be able to homeschool.

{A photo, video, link, or quote to share…}

from a vacation a few years back.....
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