Monday, February 28, 2011

Tools at your fingertips

I have been telling you since I started this blog that you NEEDED a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  It is so full of encouragement and information, I really think every homeschooler could benefit from it regardless of the method you use to school.

Ever on the quest to put resources in the hands of homeschoolers, they have come up with a new Teachers Toolbox for their subscribers.  It is a monthly publication that is LOADED with stuff.  Just look at  some of what members have access to:

• Access to EVERY digital issue ever created!
Access to a special password-protected section of the TOS website available only to subscribers, containing article after article of inspiration and support.
• A month’s worth of recipes—one for every day of the month (recipes will change monthly). (Can I get a Hallelujah here!!!  I am ALWAYS looking for new ideas for dinner!)
• Monthly calendars featuring “This Day in History” activities and lessons for each day.
• Frugal tips with Molly!
• Guest “speakers” popping up to inspire us. Think of it as a homeschool seminar at your fingertips!
• Free E-Books, crafts, printable content, unit studies, and so much more!

I know that times are tight for folks around the country but I want you to know that there is always a sale going on for a subscription to this magazine, and there is bound to be a price that fits your budget.  Prayerfully consider a subscription with your spouse.  The encouragement is so worth the price.  My husband reads the magazine too.  In the last issue, he found an article that said, when homeschool moms neglect their personal time with the Lord, and do not create a time in the day to be still and recharge their batteries...they tend to feel overwhelmed and exhausted.  He brought me the magazine.... asked me to read the article... and then said, "What can I do to help you have that kind of time in a day?"  This is just one example of how this magazine has been such a blessing to us!

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has always been more than words on a page.  In addition to the magazine it is an online community on Facebook and Twitter where you can go to ask questions and get answers from other homeschoolers. It is a place to share ideas and encouragement. The Teachers Toolbox enhances that community with providing you instant access to tools that will help you teach your child.

I am blessed to have been chosen as a Star Contributor for the Teachers Toolbox.  Star Contributors are crazy busy homeschool parents like you, that are eager to share and encourage you on your homeschool journey.  Many of us have been where you are.... searching the Internet for information.... going cross-eyed looking for things and then forgetting where you wrote them down... The Teachers Toolbox is where we put all the things we have made, and found... all for you.... and it is FREE with your subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

 If you don't have one already.... go and grab your subscription TODAY!

I’ll look for you in the Teacher’s Toolbox, where inspiration builds education.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Math Rider~ A Math Mastery Adventure

"Have your child master addition, subtraction, multiplication and division all for the cost of less than 1 hour professional private tuition!"
       ~ from the creators of Math Rider

Available to download instantly to your computer, Math Rider is a compelling choice for mastering those math facts from 0-12.  Created for children ages 7-12 Math Rider learns what you child knows and needs to learn and tailors the game to them.  This is a real value at the full price of $49.95 but it is even a better value at the sale price of $37.00, so hurry over and get it while the sale is on!
The Math Rider website explains how your child plays.
Your child is taken into a land of fantasy and quests. Living in the Land of Ray and riding a horse called Shadow, he or she will set out on various noble adventures. Riding across amazing, digitally matte-painted moving backdrops of distinct fantastic lands, they will accomplish their quest, be it finding magical flowers, returning gems to the elves or even rescuing a princess!

Each operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) contains four quests, ranging from easy to master.

The four quests are the same across the four operations, however, the rewards are not. Every combination of quest and reward holds a different reward. The rewards are all animated according to how well the player answered the questions.

All rewards are displayed on the main screen of the game. In this way there is a direct feedback and incentive for your child to do as best as they can.

Hunter, our 3rd grader, was our Math Rider user.  He uses it about 4 days a week.  It has certainly helped him retain his math facts.  When he is doing his multiplication in his workbook, the only problems that he misses, or doesn't know, are the ones that he has NOT gone over yet with Math Rider.  Even just listening to him play I know that he is learning.  Early in his quest  I hear lots of  "uugh!" and "oh, man! I almost had it!" going on.  In the middle of the quest I begin to hear, "YYYEESSS!"  as he has finished a ride and earned time points.  That tells me that the skills are sinking in, and over the days he is on a quest, the retention of the facts is faster and faster.

It is easy to set up a Quest.  You choose the operation that you want to work on and then the level (easy, medium, advanced, or master). 

Then the problems come up as hurdles for you to jump.  You input the answer with your number pad, and hit enter to record it.  If you are correct Shadow jumps the hurdle.  If you are wrong, Shadow stops, and a kind voice reads you the problem and the answer.

After your ride, you are taken to a map and are able to see how far you have traveled toward your destination.  Here Hunter is about 1/2 way through an advanced skill level addition quest.

Here you can see the flower he has earned for the easy quest, a gem from a medium quest, and a flag from the advanced addition one.

You can use the My Statistics button to see exactly what as been covered, and how your child is coming along.

Clicking on any number (here 25; 5x5=25), brings up additional information.  I can see how many times the problem has appeared in the game.  What his percentage of correct and incorrect answers were.

I will be honest, I really didn't think that Hunter would like this program. He is all boy, and camo and guns, and sharks.  I didn't think he would like the horse riding theme.   I have been utterly blown away by how much he loves it.  He asks to play it all the time.  Today he did 10 rides in is Quest, he was determined to complete it!!  I think that seeing his progress on the map, and the instant feedback on a right or wrong answer, have been part of what makes this program work for him.  He loves the little stories, and often calls us in so that we can listen to them again with him.  I also think he enjoys the independence of the program.  I don't need to sit with him and explain anything.  The controls are easy to use, all he has to do is input the answers and do some clicking.  It is simple and straight forward.

If you are looking for an innovative take on drilling math facts that really does feel like a game.  I would recommend that you try out Math Rider.  Many other families tried Math Rider in their homeschool.  Don't forget to read about their experiences before you decide if Math Rider is right for your family. 

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew I was given Math Rider free of charge for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

These are from last spring, a field trip to our favorite farm....  The Happy L'il Homestead

 Trying to bench press a goat

Hey lady?  Can you get him to let me go???

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Trivia

Today's installment comes to you live from the Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal package...

Did ya know?...

Forty-seven bibles are sold or distributed throughout the world each minute of each day.

The Stanley Cup, emblem of ice-hockey supremacy in North America, was donated in 1893 by Canada's then governor-general, Frederick Arthur, Lord Stanley of Preston.

Until the mid-eighteenth century, spectators in English theaters often watched performances while sitting on stage-- just a few feet away from the actors.

According to the U.S. Hydrographic Office ( a what? this is a legitimate office? Even my spell check doesn't believe that is a real word. )  about 2,500 ships have been wrecked at sea in the last hundred years.

Monday, February 21, 2011

To busy to Expo? Get it to go!

I heard you wanted to go to the Schoolhouse Expo but May 16th -20th are busy days for you.....

Maybe it's Aunt Margret's annual visit is that week or you have a root canal scheduled or something....

Since the creators of the Schoolhouse Expo are busy mom's like you, they know things come up and life happens and sometimes you can't possibly glue yourself to a computer for a week....  they have come up with a perfect solution.

They want homeschool parents everywhere to be able to benefit from:
  • Learning how to Teach a Timed Essay, by Kim Kautzer (  I don't know about you but I don't have a clue how to do that... and I have kids needing to take SAT's!)
  • Leading with Vision, the Key to Family Unity, by Norm Wakefield.  ( We have teens and younger children and our family starts to feel very scattered sometimes.  I am intrigued to hear what Norm has to say about keeping your family unified.)
  • Devotions with Deborah Wuehler....  ( really these are like a tall glass of water in the middle of the Expo day.  I look forward to these devotions everyday!)
They really don't want anyone at all to miss out on the great information that is going to be presented. So they came up with Expo to Go!

While I have been blessed to attend every Expo as a live event, I assure you that if there were some compelling family reason that had to keep me from the expo, or if I were a working homeschool parent, I would be buying Expo to Go.

With such busy full days, it is important to take time to recharge our parental batteries.  These recordings will do just that.  You can listen while you do the dishes or vacuum.  You can listen as you walk the dog or work out.  If you work outside the home you could listen during your commute.

Live attendees get these MP3's also, so I assure you that they are a valuable asset in your homeschool journey.  I have listened to Milia Russell (May 2010) over and over again.  Her two talks on Managing the Multilevel Homeschool, and Teaching the Distractable Child...  both speak straight to my heart.  They help me refocus when I feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be done....  They remind me that my duty is to teach and train!  That same Expo is where I met Lee Binz, the Homescholar.  She demystified making a High School transcript...  She stands with you and tells you ... YES! You can do it!....  I listen to that MP3 when I am facing a stack of paper 12 inches high and when I am not sure what things I can call a class or not.
From the October 2010 Archives, I listen to John Taylor Gatto. Every. Single. Time... I hear something I missed in the original airing....  Every time I come away galvanized that Home Education is the for sure choice for our family.

I want you to have these great resources at your finger tips from THIS Expo....  and you can for only $19.99.  Make sure you make your reservation for these great MP3's.

They have even thrown in a few free gifts every one of them something that can help you in your homeschool journey.

To check out the gifts in detail click on the purchase now button.  It will link you to a page that explains the whole Expo To Go concept and links directly to the spot to order your very own Expo to Go.

*A link to download your Free Gifts will be available in your account upon checkout.
**You will receive an e-mail sometime mid-June notifying you when your MP3s will be available for download

Lawyers, Doctors, Divers and Cheeps.... oh my!

Cruising from the office chair, once again, but today with the Hubbster sipping coffee next to me.  I could get used to this... 

Today's topic is: "What do your children want to be when they grow up and what are you doing to help them pursue their field of interest?"

Evan who is 16 for a few more months, isn't home this morning so his "what does he want to be" comes from his sister, who he talks to about these things....  My sources tell me that he currently wants to be a lawyer, pastor, music minister, oh... and maybe a software developer.  With no solid landing yet in any one area,  we currently let him explore the things that interest him....  If he is on fire to learn more about government.... we give him things like that to read or research....  He has started taking more music classes, and wants to take voice lessons....  We just try to give him the space to investigate all the possible jobs from all sides...

Tayler, she is 15.  She wants to be a doctor, paramedic, farm/ranch (a "franch" she called it..) owner, a missionary, and maybe a zoo owner.  We encourage her by letting her keep Noah's ark at our house....  She also helps out our friends with their farm work whenever she can.  She knows how to vaccinate animals and clip pig teeth, and help goat babies come into the world.  She is an amazing goat and pig wrangler...  I have seen her chase a 300 lb pig and win.  In her pursuit of medicine, she really likes to study how Herbs work in our bodies to help us naturally.  She has mentioned becoming a doctor of natural medicine.  For missions, we have been on a trip to Mexico, and I think our church will be going on another one in a year, so we will attend that also.  If she wanted to move to a different country ranch alpacas, tell people about Jesus, and grow herbs to help treat sicknesses, at 17...  I'd be ok with that. 

Hunter who is 8, states he would like to be an underwater welder.  This is news to me.  I have no earthly idea how in the world to encourage that one.... Maybe help him practice holding his breath for long periods of time???  Time to get investigating...

Jeremiah, my lovely 3 year old for only a few more weeks, proudly declared that when he grewed up he wants to be a "fyah cheep".  Fire Chief, I can do.  We will start investigating all the fire truck we see when we are out running errands.

Don't forget to click on the big ship at the top, to check out what the kids of other homeschoolers want to be when they grow up, and how they are helping them be whatever God has designed them to be.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kid Scoop News ~ Reluctant Reader Solution


Do you have a Reluctant Reader?
Me too...

The Reluctant Reader Solution is geared to entice children ages 7-12 into reading with a very friendly and interesting format.  If you choose to purchase this program for your child, be aware that it is comprised of three different parts.  First you can go to their home page,, and sign up to receive daily "Make Reading Fun" tips for 30 days.   The first portion of the Reluctant Reader Solution is an e-book.  It is an immediately down-loadable PDF file that you would store on your computer, or portable disk drive.  With that FULL and I do mean FULL book of activities, you also receive online access to a monthly magazine "KidScoop", for one year.  This package is available for only $97. It comes with a 365 day money-back guarantee. That is how important it is to them that you are happy with their product!

So how does this thing work???  It isn't mind control or a secret formula you feed to them...  It is based on something all kids have.  Curiosity!

The worksheets in the book and the monthly magazine are chock full of bite sized,  trivia filled articles that kids love to read and explore.

The Down-loadable file that you receive, comes with an explanatory page suggesting several different ways for you to use all of the files.  You can sort them by month ( it gives you that list)  or just go one by one through them.

In January and February I just printed out the files that were listed for those months.  I would keep them on a clip board and we would take them to church with us.  what?  yup.  That was where we would use them.  My son is 8 and at our church there are no longer children's programs for him during services.  I have tried and tried to get him to do some school work during that hour, and he has always been resistant.  Until now.

Now, he is asking for his "papers" and he eagerly sits and works while he listens.  I no longer need to shush him for making shooting sounds with the pencils in the pew....  he is too busy writing with his pencil to play with it.  So there you have it, I found a fun way to sneak school in on Sundays!

I really liked how the articles and activities are linked to State Standards.  You can at a glance, see the places that you child gravitates to, and standards that they are comfortable with.... and you can see the ones they struggle with or avoid altogether.

For instance, with the Hockey Volume, Hunter avoided like the plague a section on Proof Reading, but he did very well with the letter sequencing, recognizing identical words, skim and scan reading and recalling spelling patterns ( the Word Search puzzle).  You are able to see what skill the activities are working on building up in your child, that will carry over into those multiple pages, picture-less books you want them to read.  It may look a bit like you are giving your child busy work, but you are really giving them skill building work that they think is just plain fun.

As a reviewer, we were given access to the monthly online magazine as well. 

This is what it looked like on my home computer...  It was vibrant and colorful, and contained lots of great reading material that was very interesting.  It has a full screen view to help with reading those little letters.... and for those that need the writing even bigger, there is a zoom function,
that brings everything into a super easy to read size.  You just click and hold your mouse down to move around the page.  The online version also has the option to have the text read to you.  The robotic voice was a bit hard to get used to... but the thing that I had the most trouble with was when you clicked to hear the audio, your screen would go dark, and the audio files would be covering the actual text.  I tried to move it, but it just stayed put.  I think my son would have benefited from being able to read along with the audio file.  Seeing and hearing the words to help build a better connection.  That being said, it wasn't a deal breaker thing, we just chose to read the magazine and not listen to it.
The Reluctant Reader Solution is a great tool to have in your corner.
It makes writing, reading, grammar, spelling, sequencing.....  all that official stuff we want to make sure our kids are understanding.... it helps you make it all fun.

We will continue to use this product after our review, to help build these great Language Arts skills.

As always, opinions on products will vary from family to family.  Please take the time to read the other reviews from my TOS Homeschool Crewmates.

**** Disclaimer****
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a copy of The Reluctant Reader Solution and access to their online monthly magazine, free of charge from KidScoop, for the purpose of writing this review.  No other compensation has been received. All the above opinions are my own.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A friend of mine turned 40 last December.  They had some butcher paper up on the walls where you could write something you liked about her or a memory....

This one came from a very cute 6 year old

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Trivia

My children and husband are kings of trivia.  Random facts that lie lurking in their brains only to spew forth at the most random of moments.  Me?  not so much... most days I find pleasure in remembering my own name and not calling any of the children by one of the names of our pets....

Oddly enough, most people are impressed by these bits of knowledge.

I thought I would share some trivia with you all on Tuesdays...  sort of a running theme.  Maybe you can share it with your kids, and they can impress Aunt Sally at Easter dinner....  and maybe I will be able to keep up with all the smart people in my family.

In this day in History, February 15:

1764: the city of St Louis, Missouri is established

2005: YouTube was launched in the U.S.

1546: Galileo Galilei was born

1965: Canada inaugurated their national flag.  Today is Flag Day.

Share some of your new found knowledge with your family over lunch or dinner today...

Monday, February 14, 2011

How our family helps me homeschool

Blog Cruise time again.........  I was thinking last night in church ( wrong place to be day dreaming...LOL ) how a cruise on a real boat might be so much fun....  for now...  cruising from the comfort of my spinney office chair will have to suffice.

Topic for the day is : "How are your spouse, grandparents, or other family members involved in your homeschooling?"

Well...  lets see... starting from the top..  My Spouse.
He is involved in our homeschool as the Principal.  He solidly stands behind me in discipline issues, when needed.  He has been known to leave work, on days that are especially difficult to help with some attitude adjusting.  He also helps me with scheduling the children's day... letting them know that is isn't just mom making these "rules".  He is very artistic, and in the past he has taught our children an Art class in the evenings.  He is also very mechanically inclined and repairs our own automobiles and those of people in our church.  He models servant-hood, and teaches "shop" to anyone who wants to go and hang out while he is working.

Back in the day when I was a working homeschool mom...  My mom would do the kids work with them during the day when I had to work.  At the time, I was a bus driver...  she would do school on the days that I had field trips scheduled and would be driving all day.  Most days, I could come home after the morning run and supervise, till the afternoon.  Having her there to help the days I couldn't be home were such a wonderful blessing.

Other Family Members:
This happens most in our home as just a natural extension of the day.  Lots of times I will just catch my daughter working on letters and numbers with her 3 year old brother.  Sometimes she reads to him.  Sometimes she teaches him words in Spanish. 
My sisters have helped too when we visit and are still schooling.  Everyone really pitches in and wants to see the kids learn, and be successful.  One of my sisters is the queen of fieldtrips.  She is always finding fun places for the kids to explore when we visit.

Click on the big Cruise ship to read more about how other families are involved in homeschooling

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Blog Walk Week 15~ Feb 7-11

Slowly I crawl to catch up.
Yesterday was week 14....  today week 15...
and when this weeks list comes out, maybe I'll get it up before Easter...LOL

Everyone have their blog walking beverage?
Ready. Set.

1. Heritage Homestead and Homeschool Academy
The first thing that greets me from this blog is the happy pink and green circles...  they are so refreshing :)
There is lots here.  Mom of 4, 1 with special needs, there is much wisdom and sharing on this blog.  There is a tenderness to know the mind of Christ in raising all of her children.  Oh, and she has written a novel.  Wow!

2. The McClanahan 7
 I am enjoying getting to know this homeschool mom.  We will be working together on some TOS projects for you all, so stay tuned to hear more about that...  She makes cakes.... and WOW!  the recipe for chicken chili made me drool.

3. The Happy Homeschool Mom
Mom of 6 with #7 on the way any time now....  ( I think I am tired just thinking about that many kids!)  Mom's of big families like this just amaze me.  Lots to read and explore with this great family.  Information from about Middle School on down. 

4. Books \'n Other Stuff
Widowed Stay at home Mom, of 3 boys.  Reading the story of her Husband brought tears to my eyes.  She shares her passion for books, especially children's literature with us on her blog.  Her life is about perseverance, and the all sufficiency of Christ.

5. The Midlife Housewife
Ok.. the title alone makes me smile.  The first post I read about chickens and the egg falling to the floor, really made me smile.... because I have lived it.  This blog feels cozy, and homey.  The kind of place that you could kick off your shoes, tuck your feet up under you on the couch, and swap stories for awhile.

6. Because of Our Children
Mom of 4 who describes her house as loud, disorganized and always interesting.  Amen!  Mine too! Lots of great reviews and photos to go along with them. 

7. This Day Has Great Potential
Mom of 4, she shares her homeschool adventure with us all.   Great reviews, and everyday life thrown in too.

8. Ladybug Chronicles
Time for a refill...  I'll wait.  Go fill up your cup.
Now, you are ready to explore this blog.  Curriculum reviews, book reviews, field trips... all here.  Not to mention she has separate photo and card making blogs... wow.  one busy momma!  See, I told you, you needed a refill.

9. Freelance Homeschool Mom
Mom of 2, if you don't count the furry four footed children.  She is a Walmart-Mom...  I will have to see what that is all about.  I could get into the blogging about Walmart thing.  Check out the Valentine Basket. It is a cute idea!

10. Ben & Me
One of those blogs with an absolutely adorable layout that makes me wish I somehow knew how to do all that /*html*^$* stuff.  Did you know there was such a thing as a Mixing Bowl Academy for kids to learn how to cook?  Me either.  Go check it out on her blog.

Happy reading...  Don't forget to leave some comments, and let them all know how wonderful they are!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Blog Walk Week 14 ~ Jan 31- Feb 4

Late much?
Only two weeks behind..... yeesh.

Well better late than not at all I suppose... 
Get your coffee, and get ready to meet some amazing folks that work with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew!

1. Homeschooling In Nova Scotia, Canada
Lots of great reviews are up on this blog.  As the title suggests they live way up north in a far colder land than mine. They have a 50 Acre wood ( slightly smaller than Winnie the Pooh, but really who cares..)  She is a Work at Home Mom, that homeschools.  A fellow FLYer, and Workbox user.  Lots of great information here

2. Clever Title TBA
I know how that goes... you want to write a blog and you get stumped by the title!  I love this mom's solution to that!  A mom of 4 from Middle School down to new fresh and snugly, she shares with us reviews, and sweet childhood moments with her Tiny Talk Tuesday participation.

3. Until the Day Dawn Weblog
Very well written posts, by a mom of three.  This blog truly captures her passions.  There are great reviews and you will learn much about her faith, family, and homeschool when you visit.

Stay at Home Mom of 4, her days are full of fun.  Her youngest child is just precious.  With a face like that, you know you are in from some adventures with that child! Great reviews and information for those with children in the younger Elementary years.

5. Smooth Stones Christian
Wow.  This family is a must read. All their children are adopted, so far they have 6.  They are now on a journey to adopt 2 more daughters.  Through it all they homeschool, and share lots of love, and the light of Christ.

6. Clothesline Musings
This is a blog I have been following for awhile.  Stay at home mom of 3, she does a great job on reviews and always seems to have a pile of laundry like I do. :)   They have a pioneer night, that is lots of fun to read about.

7. Four Little Penguins
This family of 6 has you guessed it, four little penguins.  The header pictures are candid and full of personality.  I am sure that quiet moments in that house are few and far between.  I can relate to that! Great information for the early Elementary years, she is homeschooling Pre-K through 3rd grade right now.  Go refill your beverage, and get lost over here for a bit.

8. Laurie's School Days
Mom of two adorable girls, shares her reviews and other quiet moments.  She has this fish feeder thing on her sidebar, that is absolutely mesmerizing....

9. Sunshine to Flowers
6 great kids, all of whom are exceptional artists.Lots of Photos.  Information from Middle School on down.  I loved the snack her daughter made for her.  It absolutely made me smile!

10. One Big, Healthy Family
This one I am positive I am going to be following.  Goat kids in the house, chickens running around.... I have lived these types of days....  minus the chickens... but Goats for sure.... I am interested to go back and see how she uses Herbs and such...  My daughter will like it too... Herbs are her passion

Enjoy meeting these great people.  Don't forget to leave them a comment or two.  It is nice to hear from the lurkers :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Stylish Blogger award? ~ who me?

I received a note from Wendy over at Homeschool Blessings that she awarded me a Stylish Blogger award.
My initial reaction was: "Aww, how sweet."

Immediately followed by.... " I am so not stylish.."

I mean really, sitting here in my washed out jeans, Ocean Week 2005 T-shirt from the school I used to work at, my hair barely done and in desperate need of dye, drinking my coffee out of a slightly chipped cup...
well it just isn't a word that I would use to describe me....

ANY~ WAY....Thank you so much Wendy for thinking of me!

This award comes with some rules....
I am supposed to Thank and Link back to the person that Awarded me (check)
Share 7 things about myself...(ugh)
Award 15 other bloggers with this same honor (do I know that many people?)
Contact these bloggers and let them know about their award. (sounds easy enough)

I better get on with it....
7 things about myself........ hmmmm

1. I just turned 40 in October.  So far I have lived to tell about it.  My mom told me on the phone the other day, that she can't even believe she has a child that is 40....  don't worry mom, I can hardly believe it either :)

2. I secretly wish I could live in an RV and travel around the country.

3.  I have had the following jobs, Bank Teller, Collections Agent, Teachers Aide at a School for the Deaf, Bartender, Waitress, Bar Manager, Sold Industrial Fans, Pampered Chef, and Mary Kay, Kindergarten Teachers Aide, School Bus Driver, School Secretary.

4.  I have flown an airplane, a little one, with supervision, when I was about 8.

5.  My kids do something every day that makes me laugh.

6.  I have learned that when you move 750 miles from your parents, sisters and pretty much everyone you have known for your whole life, then ship your husband off to Iraq for a year only to find out you are (Surprise!) pregnant.....  you will live through the experience.

7.  I really like to cook.  I also like to teach people about cooking.  I find people are scared of it...  I want more people to know it doesn't have to be hard to make good food for your family.

OK.......  'nuff about me....
My 15 blogs are more like 7....  but that's ok.  I really would like to have you check these folks out. Some are on the list because I know them personally,  others I know only through the window of the Internet.  All of them I enjoy reading.  Only a few on the list have anything at all to do with Homeschooling.

1. Clothesline Musings
2. Interruptions
3. Pink and Orange Coffee
4. Everyday Christine
5. The Rest is still Unwritten
6. My Unrehearsed, Well-Examined Life
7. Consider the Lilies

Congratulations guys!

Curiosity Files ~ MRSA

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has come out with another great Unit Study Series.  The Curiosity Files are geared to help your child explore the wonderful oddities of science. They offer 9 different titles that are sure to get your 8-13 year old interested in the world around them.  You can purchase all 9 titles for $46.00, and they are available in instant PDF dowloadable format.  If you are low on storage space in your computer, or prefer CD-ROM format, they have that too!  It is available for $49.00.  Each one is also available for purchase separately, but it is best to check the website for individual pricing.

I want to take the time to define for you what a Unit Study is.  I remember back when I was just starting to homeschool, and people would talk about them, or I would see them as I searched the Internet for curriculum ideas....  and I never really understood what they were.  I don't want you to feel that same sense of confusion, so, here is my explanation of what a Unit Study is:  It is an in depth analysis of one topic, that incorporates other subjects to enrich learning. A study like this one, is science oriented, but it uses Math, Bible, and lots of Language Arts skills to reinforce the material.

We were able to choose the title that we wanted to study for this review, and my 3rd grader Hunter, chose to study MRSA.  We picked this nasty bacteria to study because his cousin, has an immune disorder, and is often affected by the MRSA bacteria.  We wanted to take the opportunity to better understand what someone we love has to fight often.

MRSA starts off with an introduction by Professor Ana Lyze. (The name makes me smile.) She very conversationally tells you all you never knew, you needed to know, about this little bacteria, that is simply EVERYWHERE. I would like to thank the developers of this study for permanently curing my 8 year old from picking his nose.  Ever since we learned how many germs are on absolutely everything we touch.... and that he has been putting those germs in his nose....  he is the picking police!

After learning the basics of the bacteria, there is a little "test" to see how much you have comprehended on the subject.  Here the study offers other ideas to increase the depth of study on this subject.  In our house, we let the older children who have taken or are taking Biology further explain why antibiotics don't work sometimes, and the differences in cellular structure between bacteria and viruses. 

The Bible Section does a good job addressing the issue of sickness from a biblical perspective, and leaves it nicely open to study the topic more in depth in the Scriptures.

In order to better understand just how small the MRSA bacteria is, the Math portion introduces the Metric System, and writing with Exponents.  For us, this complemented our current area of study in 3rd grade math very well.

I also enjoyed the Writing Section, which we did mostly through Narration.  This is really where an older student would really be able to shine and share all they had learned about this bacteria.  I liked the inclusion of the different methods you can use to develop your writing topic into a great essay or paper.

There are lots of ideas in the JUST FOR FUN section that help bring the studying of terms off the paper and into fun games that help you remember.

There was only one thing I saw that I might offer up as a change....Page 12 states that Bacterium "makes people and animals ill".  I offer up the addition of the word CAN into the definition.  God created some bacteria that are very useful, and without them we become sick....but maybe, those bacteria are another unit study waiting to be born.....

Overall, I think that the Curiosity Files E-Books are a great way to get your child interested in some obscure scientific topics.  They would be a great spring board for science projects in the upper grades, and certainly interesting enough to supplement your existing science curriculum.

Take the time to read reviews written by my TOS crew mates on the other 9 titles offered by The Old Schoolhouse Magazines Curiosity Files.

*** Disclaimer***
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a copy of the E-Book MRSA , free of charge, for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation was received.  All of the above opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tick-Tock... Tick-Tock....

Time is running out!

I really don't want you to miss out on the Early Bird Pricing that is available for The Schoolhouse Expo...  So stop reading this post....  click HERE....... and go get your ticket!

GO on.... do it!
What are you waiting for?

Early Bird pricing($19.95) is over at Midnight (EST)  February 9, 2011

Now GO!

February's Character Qualities

The Character Qualities we will be working on this month are:

Initiative not Unresponsiveness
Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it.  (anyone else out there ever want that to happen in their house?)
Romans 12:21~ "do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Responsibility not Unreliability
Knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting me to do. (can I get an Amen?!!?)
Romans 14:12~ "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God."

As time has gone on, I have found that placing the definitions onto index cards has been helpful.  We go over each new card, and the ones that we have worked on previously, every day. The trait, definition and verse are read.  We then take the time to go child by child and ask them to tell us a time in the last 24 hours that they have exhibited the Character quality that is up for discussion.  If they can't remember, I offer up when I saw them exhibit that trait.  The positive feedback has been the biggest benefit for us all.  We are looking for the good in each other to brag about the next day.

I think that I am going to devise some games to help with the concept of Initiative.  Responsibility we can encourage with our chores, and other activities.

Hopefully working on these Character Traits will begin to lessen the stepping over of someones shoe in the living room because it isn't "mine", and the waiting until 10 pm to start washing the dinner dishes.... yes it happens to me too......sigh.

Monday, February 7, 2011

VocabAhead ~ Vocabulary made painless

Fun, Fun, FUN, that is what this book was....  The cover of the book boldly states "The Entertaining and Effortless Vocabulary Building Solution!"  They weren't kidding.  It was effortless and FUN!

The folks over at VocabAhead have products that will make learning common words that are on the SAT test, interesting, and at least in my house, quite entertaining.

VocabAhead offers two different physical products (and one virtual) to help your student, with their SAT vocabulary building needs. The first product is a book that covers 300 words.  It is available through Amazon for $12.95.  The second product they offer, is a DVD-ROM that contains 1000 words.  It is available through Amazon for $24.95.  They even have an iPhone App!  We chose to review the Book, and loved every minute of it.

The book is divided into chapters, that have a built-in review at the end.  All of the answers are provided at the end of the book, making it easy for parents to grade. Each word is accompanied by a cartoon printed below the word and definition, but above several sentences that use each new vocabulary word in context.  In our homeschool we used the Review first, to test our general ability to guess what the words might mean.  We then read through the chapter, and re-tested the Review.  It was interesting to see the close to 80% improvement over just guessing.

When you purchase the book it contains a web address that will entitle you to a free download of MP3s and Videos for you to keep on your computer.  We easily loaded these MP3's onto our portable players, and could car-school our vocabulary while running errands.

Both the book and the DVD are backed by a wonderful website.  In my opinion, this is where it all comes together.  Here is the perfect balance for both visual and auditory learners.  You can see the cartoon in full color, and then you listen to someone reading the information that is contained in the book.  It is a great way for more than on person to work on vocabulary lessons at the same time.  One child curled up on the couch, laughing, and the other on the computer laughing.  The pictures are silly and make an instant connection with these words,  putting familiar scenes together with difficult words, and making them easy to recall.

In the Study Room you can see videos, use flash cards, and take quizzes...  It is the perfect supplement to the book.

While this book is geared to those who are in the high school years and preparing for the SAT, ACT, and GRE tests.  It is a book that would make a great gift for any wordsmith you may know.  My husband and I both enjoyed reading through this book.  Everyone that has come over and seen it on the table, has picked it up, read a few words and chuckled.  I think that kids as young as the 6th grade should begin to be exposed to these words.... that way by the time they are taking their big college tests, they are quite familiar with them.

I know this product works.  I don't just say that because I have graded the Reviews that my children have completed, I say that because I hear them using these words in their conversations.  They have had their own War of the Words and every word came straight from the time they had spent using this product.  Another fun thing the kids did was use the words from the book to play Mad Libs.  They had to find nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc....  using only words they could find from the book.  When they read the Mad Lib out loud, they would give the definition of the word....  It made for some silliness when the words were used wildly out of context.

For more information on how this product may suit the needs of your child, you may send an email directly to VocabAhead through their website contact page.

As always, opinions on products will vary. To read more reviews on this product, as well as reviews on the DVD-ROM product, head on over to the TOS Homeschool Crew Review page.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew I received a copy of the Book SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons Videos & MP3s free of charge from VocabAhead, for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All of the above opinions are my own.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Do you have a Teentrepreneur?

I had a lemonade stand once.  A guy up the street happened to take freelance pictures for the newspaper, and that got me, Steven, and his sister Kara about 2 seconds of our allotted 15 minutes of fame....

I have sold Caramel Corn and my world famous Toffee, with a friend at local Craft Fairs....we did pretty well....

My husband wants to make and sell soap, and distressed furniture, and... and.... and.....

Lets just say the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in this house.  My teens have certainly caught the bug, My daughter babysits and works out on a farm, to learn more about animals, dreaming of a way she can go into business for herself with a place full of critters.  She checks out books from the library all the time on how to start a business at home. My son rakes leaves, mows lawns, and shovels snow, and makes some good money at it I might add. 

One of the things that is included with the Schoolhouse Expo this Spring, is a Teen Track.  That's right they are including some individualised business instruction for my teens!  My high school kids generally listen in with me while they are doing their work.  During the first Expo seminar we attended, for a talk on Creationism, I actually think it was my then 15 year old son, whose ears were glued to the speakers. I am confidant that for this Expo, some of the speakers are going to be family gatherings.  Especially the Hogans, a mom and son speaker team that will be discussing home based entrepreneurship.  That is right up our alley!

I think it is great to have specific topics like this, targeted to teens.  Let's face it, they aren't going to be in the nest forever, and during these years, they need to be exploring who they want to be, and what they want to do, when they grow up.  Having home based businesses now, will help them finance and pursue their goals and dreams in years to come.

Gena Suarez, publisher of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, has written an article about her children and their own entrepreneurial  adventures, called Teens in Business--Beyond the Lemonade Stand.  I think you will enjoy it, so in your blog-reading-while-sipping-coffee-or-tea-time, take a moment to read it and see what you think.

Don't forget to get your ticket to hear all this great information.  Early bird Registration closes soon!  I want you to be able to get the best deal possible for your hard earned money. 

What's that?
You can't attend the Expo live?

That's ok...  still go and get an early bird ticket.  No, I haven't lost my mind.  Let me explain.  When you buy a Expo live ticket, you automatically get everything that happens; all the speakers, and workshops, delivered to you in MP3 format!  A few weeks after the actual event, you will be able to load them onto your listening device of choice and hear them while you are on the beach.  ( If you do that, don't tell me.  I will be jealous.  I love the beach.)  Buying the ticket to attend the Schoolhouse Expo now, is the best of both worlds, you will get all the freebies, AND the flexibility to listen and learn as you can.

I hope to see you, and your kids at the Expo!
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