Category Archives: special needs education

We’re FINALLY Back to Park Days Again!

Since I had surgery on BOTH of my feet in May of this year, the boys and I have not been able to attend the weekly home-school park days all summer. 😦 First, I couldn’t walk, or drive, then, I could walk only using a walker, then eventually a cane.

In the meanwhile, there had been a change in where the weekly park day would be held, so we’re at a new to us park. We like this park, and it’s a little easier and quicker for us to get to! 🙂

Happily, two weeks ago, the boys and I were finally able to go again, which we did for the very first time since before I had surgery back on May 15. I took my camera with me. And then, I forgot to take it out and actually USE it!

Last week, we didn’t attend. As you know, last Thursday we had company, friends who came in from Oklahoma to go to the International Balloon Fiesta.

So, yesterday, we were able to go to our home-school park day again, after another week off. It turns out though, that last Thursday, with the wind and rain in the area of the park, it pretty much didn’t happen anyway. THIS week, I remembered that I had my camera!

Here is the “The Batman”, waiting for a ball to be sent his way . . .

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“The Puzzler”, on his way to join the game (and unfortunately, it’s the only shot I got of him, which is why it’s somewhat blurry) . . .

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“Mr. Loquacious” was walking around, looking for “things to build stuff with” . . .

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And “The Artist” was just walking back to where we were to get some water and a snack . . .

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Meanwhile, *I* was sitting with a bunch of other moms . . .

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. . . truly enjoying the time I get each week to interact with other homeschooling moms, while my kids spend time with other home-school kids, and the added bonus that they are out in the fresh air, playing, running around. We do not have a good yard to play in, or a park right by our house, so they don’t get this all that often, unless we can get to a park day.

It’s also great for me to be with other moms on a regular basis who “get it” when it comes to my special needs kids, who have varying disabilities, including developmental delays and mental retardation. 🙂

If you are achomeschooling family, I strongly encourage you to become involved in a local park day group. This group is a pretty good bunch, and my boys and I are quite happy to be part of it!

As always, I would love it if you join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email information at the “sign me up” button at the top of the page, and never miss an update again!

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Filed under 2013, ABQparkday.com, Albuquerque, education, exercise, family, health, home education, Home-school Group, Homeschool Park Day, homeschooling, Kids, moving, special needs education, Transitions, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

God’s World News . . . A T.O.S. Review

For several years now, I have planned to subscribe to the magazine God’s World News, and then for one reason or another, just never did. So, when I found out it would be up for review by the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I of course requested the opportunity to review it with my four boys.

God’s World News Magazine, as it turns out, is a very good value for the cost. For a full year (10 months) subscription to the age range of your choice, you pay only $28.00. There is also no charge for regular shipping and handling.
With our subscription to the News Flash

we also received a 20″ x 30″ world map, which coordinates with the Map It! Locator maps in many of the magazine articles, allowing my kids to then look up where in the world the story is taking place. At my husband’s suggestion, I purchased a poster frame to put the map in, along with dry erase pens. That way, the paper map stays nice (I DO have all boys, you know!), plus, if they want to, they can now mark it up as we are learning, and the dry erase marker will wipe right off!

You can see the boys checking out the map below . . .

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God’s World News is available at several grade levels, all the way through high school.

I chose the News Flash edition because I thought it would be a good mid-range that all four of my boys would enjoy, and I was right. News Flash is actually written for kids in the 3rd – 4th grade range, and I have kids who range in ability from about kindergarten – 2nd grade all the way up to early high school level.

The various God’s World magazines are written to help your children build a biblical world view, when looking at stories in the news, at current events, and also at things in our history.

From the website:
News Flash emphasizes News, Knowledge and Wisdom while focusing on specific skills for students in this age range.

•Age appropriate stories illustrate for young students the truth that our merciful and sovereign God is active in the world.
•Lessons in the magazine and online use news stories as a springboard to teach concepts from Civics, Geography, Economics, Worldview and more.
•MAP-IT! Locator maps correspond with a full-sized (20″ x 30″) world map sent in September to each class, homeschool teacher, and homeschool group coordinator (five maps sent to homeschool groups).
•Creative puzzles build alphabet, number, sequence, and other skills.
•Grade-level website expands the God’s World News experience with ever-changing stories, editorial cartoons, and lots of downloadable activity sheets .

Our full year subscription included:

Ten, full color monthly issues (no issue in December or May), the afore-mentioned children’s website access, a weekly email newsletter for parents and teachers, which includes answer keys to the magazine quizzes and puzzles, and biographies and topical lessons to download and print, with quizzes and answer keys.

We have so far received the August, September and October issues of God’s World News Flash, and the boys are very much enjoying it! We have been reading stories about why people move (which discusses people who are illegally going into other countries to live, and the dangers when they do so), stories that teach some geography, stories about various animals and what they can do (for example, I did not know that dolphins use echolocation!).

There is often a “Bible2Life” section at the end of an article, like the one at the end of one of my boys’ favorite stories, “Hank Aaron: Natural Born Ball Player”. The article gave us two pages filled with his story and history, and then in the Bible2Life section at the end, talked about how God has plans for all of us. It used the verse Jeremiah 1:5, which tells us that the Lord knew us before we were even formed in the womb. The Bible2Life section of this story talks about how God “consecrates” us (and explains that to consecrate means to set apart for a special purpose), and asks the reader to think about what his or her special gifts might be, and how God wants him or her to use those gifts. Many stories in the magazine have a Bible2Life section, which helps the reader in developing a biblical world view, even when they move on to reading or viewing news stories from other sources.

You can download a sample issue of News Flash, a sample answer key, a sample lesson, and a sample of one of the biographies that are archived on the website

As you can see below, “The Batman”, “The Artist”, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are all enjoying both the News Flash Magazine AND the large world map!

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I also received a copy of “World Magazine“, which is the adult version of God’s World News. There are articles dealing with things such as the government shutdown, the death penalty, common core in education, marriage longevity, etc . . ., and my husband and I are enjoying it very much!

To sum it up, I believe that at $28.00, God’s World Magazine is an excellent value, especially when you add in the online extras that come with the subscription. I also feel that the News Flash edition is a very good fit for my kids. They are all interested in things that are being talked about in the news, but we really try to be careful of what they watch and read. There are often stories in the newspaper and on the news which we don’t want them to see, feeling that either the stories themselves, or the way they are treated in the news, are not appropriate for our children (or any children, often-times!).

Reading God’s World News gives them an opportunity to learn about, and discuss, world events, current events, etc . . . within a safer environment, and from a biblical world view.

The only thing I would change (and I bet my regular readers know exactly what I’m about to say, lol!) would be that I wish the Bible references would be from the Authorized King James Bible, which is the only version our family uses. While I realize other versions have become very popular, it does seem to me that if nothing else, it would be more cost-effective for publishers to use the KJV, as it is my understanding that there is much less of a copy-write issue when using the King James Version of the Holy Bible than when using other versions.

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Filed under Bible Study for kids, Christian faith, current affairs, education, family, God's World News, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, News Flash Magazine, Politics, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

My Kids Are Learning To Play Chess! (A T.O.S. Review)

Well! I have once again been pleasantly surprised by a review product I received as a result of being part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew . . .

the Starter Chess Learning Kit from the company Chess House!

I have to admit to you right now that after I was accepted for this review, I did have second thoughts . . . and third thoughts . . . and even fourth thoughts! In fact, if it were not for the fact that my kids had been begging for some time to learn how to play chess, I very likely would not have even expressed interest in this particular review! But, they HAVE been asking for a while, and so when this came up, I went for it, without letting them know. But then, I got picked, and thought, “Oh no! What if it’s too much for them?” Remember, with four boys who have a variety of special needs, many of them having to do with developmental delays and mental retardation, it can be easy to think they wouldn’t be able to follow something and learn from it. Boy, was I wrong this time! 🙂

I mentioned above that I chose not to tell the boys about this review until it came, so they were very excited to see it when it was delivered!

Our Starter Chess Learning Kit came with the following components:

•Elliott’s Chess School DVD 1 – “Pawn Level” introduces basics of chess in easily digestable chunks, keeping it fun and interesting for youngsters as well

•All purpose chess set that will last for years.

•Solid plastic chess pieces with 3 3/4″ regulation size king. Easy to obtain replacements.

•Odor free chessboard made in USA. 20″ x 20″, 2 1/4″ squares.

•Chess bag keeps all 32 pieces, roll-up chess board, and DVD together and portable. 24x8x3″

Everything was packed within a very sturdy, easy to transport carrying case in an attractive dark green color. Other color options are black, navy, green camo and tan camo.

This set is appropriate for all ages, and worked very well for my boys, who range in actual age from 12 – 20, but in developmental age from probably 4 – 12.

My boys were excited to get going with this review, so we popped the DVD in and began watching.

Here, we have everyone, “The Batman”, “The Artist”, Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” all watching as the teacher, National Master Elliott Neff, showed them step by step how to play this game that has actually been around for 1500 – 2000 years.

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I really do credit the DVD in this kit (Elliott’s Chess School #1 PAWN Level) for getting my boys engaged and excited to learn this game. The topics that they were taught with on the DVD are:

•Intro to Chess (board, names of pieces, values)
•Pawns
•Rooks
•Bishops
•The Queen
•The King
•Knight
•Castling
•Pawn shields and when to break it
•Development

And the features on the DVD are as follows:

•Bonus booklet with practice positions for every topic helps the learner practice and master the material presented.
•Introduction of each piece
•Understanding of the values of each pieces
•Best strategy for each piece
•”Pawn Shield” strategy (how to BLOCK your opponent’s army)
•Learning about the most important squares to control
•How to start a chess game with the BEST strategy

The DVD is not so long as to become tiresome, it comes in at 49 minutes, and after each topic is introduced and taught, we paused the DVD so the boys could play the practice game using just that topic’s pieces.

Here is just a little clip from the DVD showing how Elliot Neff teaches the game in a way that my boys were able to understand . . .

The practice games are given in the bonus booklet, which is tucked right into the DVD case.

Here, you can see the twins, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”, playing one of their many games (they play it the most right now, although “The Batman” and “The Artist” do play with them at times.)

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As you can see, they have set up their own little audience of action figures to watch them play! 🙂

I am very pleased with this set. It has exceeded my expectations, and my boys have been able to understand the clear teaching by Elliot Neff. They are remembering what each piece is, how it moves, and what it can do. They are learning strategy, something that up until recently, I was unsure they would be able to do. And most importantly, because as you all know, I believe learning should be fun, if at all possible, they are having FUN! They are also no longer asking to play with the glass chess set I have decorating a shelf in our home, lol!

You and your children can also easily learn the game of chess from Elliot Neff. The Starter Chess Learning Kit from Chess House is available for the current price of $39.95 (regular price $49.95) with the Product Code: KP100.

Once you have mastered the Pawn Level DVD, there are other levels you can move on to in order to improve your skills:

Elliott’s Chess School #2 KNIGHT Level

Elliott’s Chess School #3 BISHOP Level

Elliott’s Chess School #4 ROOK Level

Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew also received the Starter Chess Learning Kit from Chess House . . . to find out what they thought of it, please click on the graphic below.
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As always, I would love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Please use the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog . . . just enter your email information and you’ll never miss an update again! 🙂

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Filed under Chess House, education, educational games, family, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review

Fundanoodle . . . Putting the FUN into Writing! A T.O.S. Review

Often, when we receive review opportunities from the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we get things which really add some fun to the day. Fundanoodle, another product that I had never heard of, was just one instance of that sort of thing!

We received two books . . . I Can Write Lower Case!

and I Can Write My Own Stories!

Both of these tablets are suggested for ages 5 – 6, or K – 1st grade. Because of their developmental delays, along with other special needs, these were the tablets I chose when asked which products I would like to review.

“Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” were adopted four years ago at the age of 8, and could not read or write much at all, something we’ve very slowly been working on, along with other things that had to be made priorities. Now, though, they have progressed to the point that they can sit and do this, so we wanted to give this product a try.

With cute characters such as Max the Monkey and Alphie the Adventurer, Fundanoodle has been putting the “fun” back into writing practice around here. 🙂

“Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” our twins, have been working with these two books during the review period. What I have chosen to do is have them work together on the same page, by alternating lines, as you can see below . . .

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“The Puzzler”
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The Fundanoodle Handwriting Program was actually developed by two pediatric occupational therapists, Michelle Yoder, OTR/L, CIMI, and Amy Bumgarner, MS, OTR/L. Between the two of them, they have over twenty years of experience, with therapy specialty areas such as:

– sensory processing disorders
– autism and
– therapeutic listening
– the interactive metronome method
– TAMO and
– the SOS feeding approach

BOTH “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” have sensory processing issues, and “The Puzzler” is on the autism spectrum, which definitely caused this product to be of interest to me, when I read that the specialty areas of the developers of these products included both of these disorders, something I didn’t realize until I fully explored the Fundanoodle website.

We really liked the special instructions at the top of each page in the I Can Write Lower Case Tablet, words like “Zip” (make a straight line), “Zoom” ( make a diagonal line), “Buzz” (make a curved line), “hop” (hop on the page), “Bump” (curve the line down), and “Dot” (make a dot). These illustrations words really helped “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” to “see” what they needed to do when they are making different letters.

The letters are taught in a logical progression, having been sequenced according to a child’s development of visual and motor skills, with letters grouped according to the way they are formed. For example, l, I, & t all have similar movements, and so they would be taught in order before moving on to letters such as o, c, & a. There are also extra practice pages in the back of the tablet, along with a page on the website where you may download extra practice pages by entering the numbers from the upc code on the back of the tablet.

In the tablet I Can Write My Own Stories, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are practicing handwriting and writing concepts, including creative writing, sentence completion, story sequencing and more.

Story sequencing is a big thing for them to work on, so I really like that aspect of this tablet. In the very first story, they were given four pictures that told the story, and had to place a number within a smaller square on each picture to show which order the pictures belonged. After that, they were to write out what Alphie was doing, in order, to tell the story.

On a different page, they had to write a number next to the pre-written sentences to show what order they belonged in, and then draw a picture of what the story was about.

One of the things my boys most enjoyed, of course, was that for each completed page, there is a corresponding “I did it!” sticker to place at the bottom of the page. Since “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are doing these tablets together, they are taking turns applying the stickers as well. Here is “The Puzzler” attaching the “I did it!” sticker to a page from the I Can Write My Own Stories! tablet . . .

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These are spiral bound tablets, and in my opinion, one of the really nice things is that they are top bound, making them both left and right-hand friendly. I have an older child who is left-handed, and this would have benefitted him greatly when he was at the stage of learning to form letters.

Another great thing about Fundanoodle is that it takes very little time to do a page, so (at least in the case of MY boys), this product is beneficial when your kids have a very short attention span. Anything that takes “too long” becomes a battle around here.

I Can Write Lower Case! (52 sheets + sticker page) can be purchased here for $5.99, and I Can Write My Own Stories! (50 sheets + sticker pages) can be purchased here, also for $5.99.

I think “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are both enjoying I Can Write Lower Case! and I Can Write My Own Stories!, which makes them worth the price to me. I’m fairly sure that we will continue using these tablets as a fun addition to our educational time, probably twice a week, unless they ask for it more often.

To read what the other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of the various products from Fundanoodle, please click the graphic below!

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As always, I would LOVE it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life! Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the page and follow directions. Never miss an update again! 🙂

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See It And Say It Flip Flop Spanish . . . A T.O.S. Review

Anyone who is a regular reader here at My Journeys Through Life knows that my family moved all the way from Port Huron, Michigan to Albuquerque, New Mexico a little over a year ago. Ever since then, no matter where we go, we hear the Spanish language being spoken, and have developed a real desire to learn it for ourselves. So, when I was offered the opportunity to review a curriculum called See It And Say It Flip Flop Spanish by Senora Gose from Flip Flop Learning, I grabbed at it!

Flip Flop Learning’s See It And Say It Spanish

is SUPER easy to use . . . all I needed to do was get a three-ring binder with the clear pockets on the outside for the cover and spine (which, by the way, were included in my package), put the curriculum in the binder, stick the first CD (also included) into the laptop, and away we went!

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Flip Flop Learning’s See It and Say It Spanish claims to be a full, two-year Spanish curriculum for ages 3 to 93, and judging by what we’ve seen thus far, I believe it is.

With the very first lesson, we learned six words/phrases, enough to begin making sentences immediately! Now, you all know my motto . . . “instant gratification takes too long”, so this was PERFECT for us! 🙂

Because of an error in shipping, we did not receive our curriculum as quickly as the company intended, but that’s OK, because it really allows me to honestly tell you that you CAN learn a lot in a short period of time, with the right materials. It was already a given that we would be taking this at our own pace, just as we do with most everything, to accommodate the various special needs of my children, but I’m telling you, this curriculum has been a very good starting point for us to move from our desire to learn Spanish, to actually being able to speak several sentences, right away!

Because of the shipping mistake, Senora Gose was very generous and sent me a copy of one of her other books, “The Key To Learning Everything” vol. 1, which I can also very highly recommend to you!

We are learning with three different styles all at once . . . audial, tactile, and visual. We hear Senora Gose give the lesson, we touch the cards with the pictures (the Spanish and English words are on the back of the cards), and we see both the pictures and the words as we go.

Here are the cards we were using by the second lesson, including two that we were instructed to make, for the words “Y” (and), and the word pero (but), which helped us make even longer, more complete sentences.

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In this picture, you can see all of the boys, as we practice with the cards.

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Beginning with lesson one, we were instructed to read the manual, lay out the cards called for, and then, listen to the tracks referred to in the lesson while following along. Each lesson is repeated at least three days before moving on to the next, and on the third day, we were told to do the lesson without the CD, that way my children and I are learning to interact with each other in Spanish, not just with the CD (although, Senora Gose DOES have a voice which is very pleasant, easy to listen to and understand, and a clear, smooth speaking style). That’s really all there is to it! Even the description on the back cover tells you there are just 3 easy steps to See It And Say It Spanish . . .

1. Read the manual

2. select the flash cards for the lesson (just 4 or 6 cards per week)

3. play the CD and follow along

Our lessons are taking around 15 – 20 minutes, 3 times per week. The manual says 8 – 15 minutes, but as I said, we take things slower, plus my boys are having fun, so sometimes we play around with making sentences for a longer time.

Here are some short videos of the boys after only our second lesson:

“The Puzzler”

“The Batman”

“The Artist”

“Mr. Loquacious”

And finally, even I am learning! 🙂

Once we did lesson two, we were given a speed round to do. That was harder, and not just for the boys, but I know we will get better at it as we go along! 🙂 After that, the curriculum also added in what it calls “extra fun”. To learn even more, we put the noun cards we had already learned into a brown paper bag and took turns drawing them out. Using the white paddle board and the dry erase pen that came with the curriculum, the person whose turn it was would attempt to draw a picture of the noun on the paddle for us to guess (remember Pictionary?). The first one who could correctly call out what the card was would win that card. We had fun with that, we really enjoy games, and my husband and I particularly like what HE calls “stealth” games, which are games in which you are learning without realizing it, lol!

So . . . you probably want to know what all is included in this curriculum, and whether or not you will have added expense for extra materials, don’t you? Well, this is what you will receive when you order this curriculum:

One curriculum manual, with 150 pages of four semesters of lessons

3 sets of flash cards (135 cards) which are color coded

4 CD’s of audio lessons

1 dry erase paddle

1 dry erase marker

2 card holder pages for sentence building (although we build our sentences right on the kitchen table or the floor!)

Really, the ONLY extra thing I bought was a three-ring binder with clear insert covers, and that was only because we had run out of the right sized binders!

Some included vocabulary topics are:

common household nouns

colors and opinions

animals

clothing

food and family

manners

rooms in the house

places in town

Some of the activities which are included for extra learning are:

charades

Paleta (drawing board paddle)

speed rounds

skits

crosswords

find a word

and others.

Grammar concepts included are:

Spanish phonetics

definite and indefinite articles

conjugation of ser, estar, ir, and tener

regular -ar verb conjugation

forming questions

singular vs. plural

noun/adjective agreement

command forms

numbers up to 50

possessive

adjectives

parts of speech

prepositions

Spanish syntax

According to Senora Gose, we will learn over 250 words, and thousands of possible Spanish sentences!

See It And Say It Spanish can be ordered here for the current price of $99.95, with the regular retail price being $129.95. Our family gives it a resounding “”me gusta – “I like”!

To check out what the other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members thought of See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish, please click on the graphic below!

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As always, I would just love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys”, by clicking on the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and entering your email information. Never miss an update again! 🙂

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Filed under education, educational games, family, Flip Flop Learning, Foreign language homeschooling, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, moving, NM, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, See It And Say It Spanish, special needs education, TOS Review

The Presidential Game . . . a T.O.S. Review

OK, so I’ll be honest, back in the beginning of August, when I requested to be chosen as a reviewer for The Presidential Game,

it was primarily because it looked so interesting to ME. I love to follow politics. I have, however, been trying over the years to teach my boys about elections, and several years ago “The Batman” and “The Artist” even did a lapbook about the presidential election (this was before we adopted “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”, so we’ll probably do it again during the next big election”).

When the game arrived and I got a good look at it, I got a little nervous, I was at that point unsure if my boys would be able to “get” the concept during game play. I also wondered about the price, and what my husband would think of that. More about that later, however. 🙂

The Presidential Game is a board game, with an online component. The game itself is VERY sturdy and well made! I’ve seen (and had!) a number of board games which were very cheaply made, the fold up boards coming apart, the boxes coming apart. The Presidential Game is going to stand up to a LOT of wear, I think, which is a good thing, because my family is enjoying it very much!

I told you that at first, I was unsure whether my boys would be able to “get” the process of playing this game, because of their various special needs. I guess my friends who keep reassuring me about what home-schooling is doing for them are right though, because it didn’t take very long at all for all four of the boys to start strategizing to try to win the game.

The Presidential Game is intended for players age 11 and up, and for at least two players. We are a family of six, and play it in teams of three players.

This is from the back of the box:

“Think you have what it takes to be America’s next president? The Presidential is a fun and exciting game of strategy where two teams, Democrats and Republicans, battle for control of each state to ultimately gain 270 electoral votes or more. An entertaining and educational family game – it’s great for both students (11+) and adults. Enjoy the thrill of playing to win the most powerful job in the world!”

When your game arrives, it will include the following in the box:

1 20″ x 30″ game board
1 score pad
3 blue dice
3 red dice
80 politics cards (some of these are truly funny, too!)
150 Republican votes (red chips)
150 Democrat votes (blue chips)
1 electoral webmap calculator
Access code for the webmap calculator

Using the interactive webmap calculator was great fun, it helped the boys catch on very quickly to how fast and frequently the lead can change during an election campaign! 🙂

The very first time we set up for play, it took only a few minutes to get started, and the learning curve was slight, much easier than I had thought it would be, as I said above. We played as two teams. My husband, “The Batman” and “The Puzzler” were one team, with “The Artist”, “Mr. Loquacious” and myself being the other.

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We got right into the game, which is played as a series of campaign “weeks”, where each team is either fundraising or campaigning. We decided to alternate. Week one (the first found) we decided both teams would fundraise, and on week two (round two) we would campaign, and so on through the game. In your fundraising round, you must choose which one of four states (California, Texas, New York or Florida) you will be going to in order to raise money. You then get to roll your three dice. Whatever your total roll, one half of that number must remain in the state where you chose to fundraise, so for example, if you roll a 12, then 6 votes (chips) in your color are stacked onto that state. You may, of course, put all 12 on your chosen fundraising state, or you can divide the other half between any other states you like. That’s when strategy begins to kick in, because sometimes you can regain a state your opponents control, or gain a new state.

During campaign rounds, your team chooses and must announce three states in which you will campaign. Your team then rolls your three dice, and must allocate your votes (chips) according to the numbers on each dice. For example, if you roll a 3, a 5 and a 2, you must put 3 votes on one of your chosen states, 5 on another, and 2 on the last of your chosen states, but you get to decide which of your chosen states get what number.

The politics cards are fun! Your team gets to draw a politics card from the deck during your fundraising turn. Most of the cards can be used right away OR held to play later, although some will say “play immediately” on them. You can use only one card during a turn, though, so it won’t help to hold a bunch in order to get extra votes! Here is a politics card that my team drew, and used. I thought it was hilarious, because we are originally from Michigan, and the topic on the card was very much in the news during a political scandal in Detroit only a few years ago. 🙂

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The counts on the board change frequently, as votes (chips) are stacked on states and taken away because the other team gained or re-gained that state.

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As you play, you can keep score of the electoral votes gained by each team either by using the score pad (a lot more work!) or by using the online Electoral WebMap Calculator (a lot more fun!) The online map is visual, and the boys could see immediately how quickly things change and turn around during an election, because at any time during play, states were being won and lost.

This is what the Electoral WebMap looked like when we started the game . . .

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And these shots will show you how quickly things can change during a campaign!

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It really didn’t take very long for any of the boys to pick up on the strategy of the game, and they got very good, very quickly, at figuring out which states to fundraise and campaign in, and how to best allocate votes (chips) in order to either take over a state or at least turn it neutral again, if the opposite team currently controlled it.

“The Batman” and “The Artist” . . .

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“Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” . . .

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The Presidential Game is available to purchase here for $35.00, which both my husband and I feel is a good price, especially considering the online component.

Our family is truly enjoying this game, and will absolutely put it into the family game night rotation!

To read about what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of the Presidential Game, please click the graphic below!

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Filed under current affairs, education, educational games, family, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, Politics, Presidential Game, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review

Time4Learning . . .A TOS Review

Well, I was really excited when I was selected to review Time4Learning with one of my children, because over the years, I’ve heard so many positive things about this online educational program.

I was given a six-month subscription to Time4Learning to use with one student, in exchange for giving an honest review, and I chose “The Batman” this time around. Because he was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, mental retardation, and is also on the autism spectrum, he is severely deficient in several areas of education, most particularly in arithmetic. When I asked him questions given by Time4Learning to figure out where to place him, I was primarily asking him simple arithmetic questions. Based on his answers, I chose 1st grade level.

I did later, discover that I could change his level in separate subject area, and while I have left the math level alone, I’ve been raising his level in all of the other subjects.

Surprisingly, “The Batman” is actually really enjoying Time4Learning! He likes the variety of things to do in each subject area, and especially loves that for every hour he does in the lessons, he earns 30 minutes in the “playground” area, which is just really fun educational games. We did have to get past an initial problem with that part of the program though, which was NOT fun for me, because it was so upsetting to “The Batman”. He earned his playground time, but then the program wouldn’t let him into it, not at all. Of course, by then, it was late in the afternoon and we are in mountain time, so I told him we’d have to call tech support the next day. This did not go over well. 😦 The following morning, however, I did, as promised, call Time4Learning. They have very good support at the other end of the phone, and I was told that ever since the internet explorer browser had updated, it has been causing some glitches for some people in Time4Learning. I was advised to install the Firefox browser, as it seems to be much more compatible with Time4Learning, and once we did that, and started remembering to use Firefox whenever we wanted to log into Time4Learning, it has worked just wonderfully! 🙂

One of the things I like about Time4Learning is that once you’ve gotten set up, you really don’t HAVE to do anything other than let the child get on and learn!

Really, the only things I have needed to do is help “The Batman” with printing out the available resources (such as worksheets, poems that go with the lessons, etc . . .)

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There are other things you can print out though, which I think would be helpful if you live in a state which requires you to keep records of your child’s education.

You can check out the lesson plans, if you need to have them printed out . . .

You can print out and keep detailed reports for your record keeping . . .

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Time$Learning has plenty of tools which are useful to you, the parent . . .

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Time4Learning can be used for home-schooling, summer learning, and after school learning. My son has been using it during the review period, along with a few other things, as his home-school program.

I like that it is accessible at any time, it isn’t a regularly scheduled class, so you can, as I like to do, work in school around your life, instead of having to work in your life around school.

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The lessons are automatically sequenced, with Time4Learning building on what your child is learning as he goes.

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As you can see below, “The Batman” is very intently working through the Time4Learning online program.

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In this shot, “The Batman” is using the story starter. He chose the background scene, the characters, and a selection of words for his word bank, then printed it out to get a page to write a story on. He’s still working on the story, though, so no picture of that yet! 🙂

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We really like Time4Learning! All of my home-schooling friends who have suggested it over the years were right, it really is a good program, especially for kids who need to work at different levels depending upon subject. And that’s another thing, when “The Batman” sees Time4Learning, it doesn’t say “grade 1” or “grade 2”, etc. It just shows as levels, as far as I can see. I think this is a plus, especially with my special needs child who worries over whether others will see what “grade” he is using.

If I were to consider this for all of my kids, it would be too pricy for my budget, but if we can manage it, and it continues to work for “The Batman”, we may consider continuing with it after our six-month subscription runs out.

You can sign up here, and Time4Learning promises that there are no contracts, if it doesn’t work for your child, you may cancel at any time.

Time4Learning is available as a monthly subscription. For the lower grades (pre-K through 8th grade), it will cost $19.95 per month for your first student, and $14.95 per month for each additional pre-k through 8th grade student. If you want to use Time4Learning with older students, it is available for high school at $30.00 per month.

Overall, we are happy with Time4Learning, and we think you should give it a try!

Other crew members also reviewed Time4Learning . . . please, click below to read what they thought of this online learning program!

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Filed under education, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, special needs education, Time4Learning, TOS Review

Because You Are Strong: A Study of Godly Strength For Young Men . . . a T.O.S. review

I received a copy of the book Because You Are Strong: A Study of Godly Strength For Young Men from the company Doorposts, to review.

I received the 104 page, soft-cover book, which is available here for $14.00, but it is currently being offered at the sale price of $12.00. Because You Are Strong is also available here as an e-book for $10.00.

Because You Are Strong is written for boys, age 12 and up, although you can also use it with your daughters. Most of the study questions would be applicable to either a boy or a girl, and where appropriate, there are asterisks which will refer you to alternate questions for girls, which are listed in the back of the book. This would certainly be helpful for the home-schooling family on a budget who would prefer to use just one of the two books offered by Doorposts which were reviewed by crew members. While it does say on the website that it is for ages 12 and up, I want to be sure you know that your older teens will enjoy it, and benefit greatly from it as well. This book really does teach good Bible study skills, many of which are, at this time, beyond my kids, but would be good for any teen (or adult, for that matter!) to learn and to apply.

My boys were looking forward to getting started with this book, once I told them we would mostly do it orally, with “The Artist” doing the writing involved, as he really is the most capable of that.

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Because You Are Strong is meant to teach your son practical Bible study skills. He will learn how to:

• Use a concordance.
• Study the original Greek & Hebrew words used in a passage.
• Perform a character study.
• Study a specific topic in the Bible.
• Understand and use marginal notes in your Bible.
• Study a verse, passage, chapter, or entire book of the Bible.
• Use free Bible study tools on computers and mobile devices.

There are ten studies which focus on men from the Bible such as David, Samson, and other “mighty men of valor”, and they will also learn about the power of God, the service of Jesus, and the wisdom found in Proverbs regarding strength.

Each of the ten studies is divided into daily segments, intended to be from 5 to 20 minutes each, and each study will teach a different method of study. The book Because You Are Strong contains 74 days of study, as well as 40 more suggested studies. The ten studies in Because You Are Strong include:

1. Strength for the Race: Meditating on Hebrews 11-12
2. Strength with no Limits A Topical Study on the Omnipotence of God
3. Strength and Wisdom: A Topical Study in Proverbs
4. Strength and Temptation: A Character Study of Samson
5. Strength to be Valiant: A Word Study on “Valor”
6.Strength in Our Weakness: A Verse Study on 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
7. Strength in the Battle: A Chapter Study of 1 Samuel 17
8. Strength Serving Others: A Study of Jesus’ Actions in the Gospel of Mark
9. Strength and Gray Heads: A Verse Study of Proverbs 20:29
10. Strength in the Faith: A Book Study of 1 John

The following pictures will show you some of the work involved in study #1, “Strength For The Race” . . .

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You can download and view a sample here, and see for yourself what the first study “Strength For The Race” is like.

The Bible verses used are from the KJV and the ESV translations of the Bible. As usual, this is the one area where I wish they had written it differently, and simply used the KJV throughout. We are still able to use this study though, as we simply have our own (KJV) Bibles out while working in this book, and get a lot of good practice looking up every scripture passage for ourselves. Even my little guys, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”, along with my eldest “The Batman” enjoy looking them up, often competing to see who can get to the verse the fastest! 🙂

Here they all are, looking up the verses in their own KJV Bibles . . .

“Mr. Loquacious”

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“The Puzzler”

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“The Batman”

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“The Artist” also spent time looking up the verses, but for some reason I didn’t get that picture! You can see him up higher in this review, writing everybody’s thoughts down in the Because You Are Strong book.

If you work at the pace suggested in this book, you’ll have at least a good years worth of study! In our case, it will last much longer, because we are doing it as a group, and because I do have kids with varying special needs, so we often divide lessons up to take at least two days for every one suggested day. I would much rather have it take twice as long, or sometimes even longer, and have my boys actually get something out of it, than rush through just to meet the designed schedule. That is one of the beauties of home-schooling though, you can work any curriculum to fit your child/children, and you can take whatever time you need. It also gives me the opportunity to find out how any curriculum can be “tweaked” to fit for a special needs family, since “tweaking” is often our only option, especially when dealing with multiple kids who have different special needs! 🙂

Over-all, my boys are enjoying this study. They enjoy looking up, and hearing about the people in the Bible, and *I* like it when they pick up on how something may apply to their own lives while we are reading. We will continue working through the book Because You Are Strong: A Study of Godly Strength For Young Men, but as I said above, we will take it slowly, so as to get as much as possible out of it.

Other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members received either Because You Are Strong (for their boys) or Beauty in the Heart (for their girls) from Doorposts. Please sail on over to read what they thought!

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Filed under Because You Are Strong, Bible Study for kids, Christian faith, Doorposts, education, family, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review