Category Archives: TOS Post

French Essentials . . . A T.O.S. Review

When I was offered the chance to review French Essentials in our homeschooling environment, I thought about it for a little while first. My kids and I have been trying really hard to learn another language, but I thought it would be fun to take a break and see how we would do with French.

For this review, we received the Full Access Online Program, which has given me everything they have to offer. You can purchase the Full Access Online Program for $149.95, which will give you every one of the modules (there are four so far, with module five on the way), for a total of over 90 lessons and an entire year to get them all downloaded to your own computer! This is a savings of over 57%, as opposed to purchasing one module at a time for the cost of $69.95. Also, with the single modules, you get only 90 days to get all of the lessons and workbook materials downloaded to your computer.

From the French Essentials Home page:

“French Essentials is a complete, downloadable French curriculum with online features that include culture, fun exercises, lesson tests & more.
Designed by experienced French teachers specifically for home learners, it is clear and easy to use and does not require previous knowledge of French. The well designed lessons teach French in an easy to follow, gradual, step-by-step method with video & audio instruction that allows students to interact with the language in a fun and engaging way.”

French Essentials takes your homeschooler through all four language acquisition skills:

reading
writing
listening comprehension
speaking

They use a multi-sensorial approach, beginning with audio. We were able to read the lessons, then click on various characters, letters and words in order to hear the correct pronunciation. These sound files are embedded right in the pdf that we downloaded for each lesson.

Also embedded in the pdf lessons were little videos of a French-speaking teacher giving us time to “watch, listen and repeat”.

We also were able to download the workbook and workbook answer key for each module, which give us the opportunity to practice our reading and writing with the printable exercises, which are there to help us to reinforce speaking and comprehension as we learn to correctly understand the grammar and sentence structures in the French language.

In addition, included in the package for registered users are the following components:

Online quizzes, learning activities and French Culture. The online quizzes include things like online flash cards, listening comprehension & spelling, 2 challenging games (Scatter & Space race) and a test section that gives parents 4 different evaluation options.

The authors of this program are a married couple who are teachers living in St-Rรฉdempteur, Quรฉbec, a suburb of Quebec City with their two children, who both attend school in French and are homeschooled in English. They are so passionate about French culture and the French language!

In their own words, here is how they began this endeavor:

“We began as a small tutoring service which came about through requests for tutoring from friends in the homeschool community. This eventually led to the development of a DVD French curriculum for home use. In August 2010, in order to make it more affordable and accessible, French Essentials was converted from top to bottom into a new downloadable format and http://www.frenchessentials.com was launched.”

If your child (or you, for that matter!) have had any exposure to the French language, there is a placement test you can use here in order to find out where you need to begin. WE began at the very beginning, of course, lol!

Here is what you’ll see when you log in after purchasing . . .

You can also go to the online exercises . . .

Or to the section on French culture!

If you go here, you can see a sample lesson from module one, and here is a sample of one of the videos, also from module one . . .

For more information about how the program works, what you can expect, and several sample lessons and videos from later modules, you can go here

What I like about the French Essentials Full Access Online Program is that as I said above, it has allowed me to download everything to my computer. I like that the sound and video files are actually embedded right into the downloaded lessons, enabling us to read it, hear it, see it, and say it.

What I didn’t like was that for some reason I couldn’t do either the sound files or the videos on the laptop computers my boys use for homeschooling, so we had to crowd around my desktop (which is newer) for our lessons. I had no problem at all on my desktop when I was prompted to install needed programs in order to use the sound files and videos, but on the laptops, I got nowhere.

While my kids were able to follow the read it, listen to it, view the video, and then repeat what was being said, at this time the worksheets are proving to be too much for them. But as I’ve said before, I often need to tweak homeschool curriculum to accommodate their various special needs, and it is my hope that a little later on, they’ll be able to handle them. ๐Ÿ™‚ Right now, though, I’m hearing an awful lot of “French is too hard, Mom!” ๐Ÿ™‚

I believe this is an excellent program, especially for the home learner. In fact, even though this one turned out to be a bit too much for my kids, it isn’t too much for me, and I think I will continue on with it myself to see how much *I* can learn! ๐Ÿ™‚

To read all about what my fellow Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of French Essentials, 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 Through Life”. Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and enter your email information. And please, if you enjoy “My Journeys Through Life”, go here and “like” our Facebook page. Never miss another update! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Filed under education, Foreign language homeschooling, French Essentials Full Access Online Program, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Language Arts, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Post, TOS Review

Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics . . . A T.O.S. Review

If you are looking for a hands on, Charlotte Mason Style Homeschool Science Curriculum with a definite Christian world view, you will certainly find it in Exploring Creation With Chemistry And Physics, written by Jeanie Fulbright and published by Apologia. This curriculum is written for children anywhere from kindergarten through grade six, and is perfect, in my opinion, for working together as a group, even in a multi-age group.

As reviewers, we were allowed to select any two of the notebooking journals which go along with the text book. Because I had hopes that at least one of my kids (“The Artist”) would be able to use the Regular Notebooking Journal, I asked for it . . .

Along with a copy of the Junior Notebooking Journal.

Because of a mistake in shipping, I actually received two of the Junior Notebooking Journals. Apologia was kind enough to replace the missing journals for those of us who received the wrong ones, and ESPECIALLY kind enough to allow us to keep the wrong ones! In the meanwhile, I was able to acquire two more Junior Notebooking Journals from other reviewers. ๐Ÿ™‚ As it happened, this turned out to be a real blessing, because although “The Artist” probably CAN handle the regular Notebooking Journal, he definitely preferred the Jr. one.

The Notebooking Journals are very similar, but the Junior Notebooking Journal actually has a lot more in it for someone who likes art, and the Regular Notebooking Journal has significantly more writing to do, something “The Artist” gets balky about if he has to do it with handwriting as opposed to using the computer.

One of the best things about the Apologia is that when we use it as a read-aloud (and we do!), the text is very easy to understand, and there are plenty of good quality color pictures to go along with the text.

Spread throughout each chapter (Lesson) are boxes with the heading “Try This!”. It may be a small experiment, a game, or something else, but it always goes right along with what is being taught in that section. Some of the “Try This!” sections we have done are:

The 20 Questions Game, which teaches the skill of being able to describe the properties of matter.

Figuring out the volume of a small rock using the method discovered by Archimedes . . .

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during which we discovered that this small rock from our yard came in at about 50 cubic centimeters.

We began learning about density using two eggs, two glasses of warm water, and one half cup of salt . . .

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We learned more about mass, volume and density by seeing whether different objects would sink or float in a bowl of water . . .

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And we also did one other “Try This” to learn about buoyancy. The idea was to build a foil boat, put it into our “ocean” of warm salt water . . .
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then begin adding pennies (pirate treasure) to see how many it took to make the boat sink . . .
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In case you were wondering, it took 56 pennies!

In the main text-book “Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics“, there are 14 lessons. The breakdown of the lesson plans are in the Notebooking Journal and the Junior Notebooking Journal, with the suggested pace of two days per week, doing one lesson per week. As usual, we are slowing this down quite a bit, in order that all of my children can really get as much as possible out of this curriculum. I think that’s one of the best things about homeschooling, the fact that we can go at our own pace, tweaking here and there as needed to accommodate the various special needs my kids have.

There are also a multitude of lapbook style things in both of the Notebooking Journals for the student to cut out, fill in, and then glue to the appropriate page of their notebook. We are just getting ready to begin one of them, in fact!

There are vocabulary activities, such as crossword puzzles, word find puzzles, match-up sheets, vocabulary puzzle pieces, etc, and, should you need them, the answers are all in the back of the Notebooking Journal!

Here are just a couple of pictures from our Notebooking Journals:

From the Junior Notebooking Journal, you can see that my kids are not carbon copies of one another when it comes to coloring!
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Here is the one picture I managed to get of “The Artist” beginning a crossword puzzle in the regular Notebooking Journal, before going back to the Junior Notebooking Journal, which he very much prefers! ๐Ÿ™‚
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Apologia is a good fit for my family, and we will continue to use it, but with one small adjustment in addition to slowing the pace down quite a bit. The only other change I will make is that when they have a copywork page with a Bible verse, I will be having them use our King James Bible, rather than the version used in the curriculum. As my regular readers are aware, that is my one pet peeve with Christian homeschool curriculum, it is mostly written using other versions these days. I would love it if this were offered with the option of being published using the King James Version for those of us who will use no other version of the Bible. In the meantime, I guess I will just continue to adjust for that by typing the verses out from the King James Bible and then adhering them to the Notebooking Journal over the other version.

The Textbook “Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics” by Jeanie Fulbright can be found here at the cost of $39.00.

The “Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal for Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics” can be found here for $24.00.

The “Junior Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal for Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics” is available here for $24.00.

My children and I are very much enjoying this Homeschool Science Curriculum, and I hope you will, too!

To find out what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of “Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics“, 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”! Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and enter your email information. Also, if you enjoy “My Journeys”, please, go here and “Like” our Facebook page. Never miss an update again! ๐Ÿ™‚

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If You Were Me and Lived In . . . A T.O.S. Review

We were sent four cute little books from Carol P. Roman with Away We Go Media to review in our homeschool.

We received:

If You Were Me and Lived In . . . South Korea . . .

If You Were Me And Lived In . . . France . . .

If You Were Me And Lived In . . . Mexico

and . . .

“If You Were Me And Lived In . . . Norway . . .”

The author was also kind enough to gift us with an inflatable globe, a couple of pencils with international flags printed on them, and a play passport set, all of which my boys thought were very cool, most especially the globe. ๐Ÿ™‚

These books are the beginning of a series of books that can be used to introduce other countries and cultures to younger children. They are intended for children ranging from Pre-K through age 8, but my kids enjoyed them as well.

They range in price from $8.99 to $10.79 in the paperback editions, which is what we received, or $.99 to $1.99 in Kindle format, which some of the other Review Crew Members received.

Each of these books follows the same basic formula. It is a short book, approximately 25 to 30 pages long, exploring the culture of a different country.

At the very beginning, we get a picture of the country featured in the book, which has a star marking the capital. Then, we go right into the little story with a boy and girl pointing to their country on a globe. This is followed up by talking briefly about the capital city, and a picture of a scene from that city. Next, there is a picture of the boy and girl in a scene relating to where they are, and talking about three different names you might have if you are a boy, and three names that would be popular for a girl in that country. Next, along with a cute picture of the children doing something with their parents, we learn what you would call your mom and your dad in that language! From there, we next see the children in a place of business, and we discover what their money is called, what they might be buying there, and what the business would be called in their language. In the different books, we learn about a popular sport, a favorite vacation place, a holiday, special things they might eat, and their school. All of these things use words in the language of the country the book is covering.

At the end of the book is a page with a glossary of all of the foreign language words. This is perhaps the one thing I would change, I would have preferred to have the translations perhaps within parentheses right next to the actual words, that way, we would not have needed to go back and forth every time we came upon a word in a different language. ๐Ÿ™‚

we did do our best though, to try to guess what the words meant, and occasionally, we were actually successful!

I think these books are nicely done, and very cute. As it turned out, they were a bit young for my older kids, but my twins like them, and I’ve seen them reading them again. And, the bonus is that all of the boys were looking for, and finding the different countries on the globe and on a map we have from a previous review. ๐Ÿ™‚

To read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of these books, 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 Through Life”! Just enter your email information into the “sign me up!” button at the top right of the blog, and please, also go here and “like” our Facebook page!

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Filed under Away We Go Media, education, family, Foreign language homeschooling, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, Language Arts, Learn to Read, read-alouds, Reading, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Post, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

Homeschooling? Want to “Try Before You Buy?”

I am coming to the end of my very first year as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew team, and I have loved every second of it! It has been very interesting, being allowed to thoroughly test out all kinds of educational things with my children, as well as a few things that we were given to review that were just for us moms! My boys, “The Batman”, “The Artist”, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” have enjoyed this past year as well (mostly, anyway!), and have been able to give a good deal of their own input as to what was good, or not so good, about different products. Even my husband got into the act a couple of times, like when we reviewed a math program with “The Artist” which they both liked enough that my husband had me go ahead and purchase the rest of the grades we would need!

Why am I telling you this now? Well, I’m SO glad you asked that question!

The Schoolhouse Review Crew will be taking applications for the 2014 Review year from October 24 – November 8!

Are you a homeschool blogger?
Are you a curriculum junkie?
Do you enjoy writing reviews?


Then you might be perfect for the Crew! 



Some requirements for being a part of the Crew include the following: 

  • First of all you must be a homeschool mom or dad. You donโ€™t have to homeschool all of your children, but you must homeschool at least one. 
  • You must be willing to use the review products for about six weeks in your homeschool, before writing your review. Review periods have deadlines and requirements for the reviews. You must be willing to follow these requirements. No, that doesnโ€™t mean you must write a positive review. But it does mean that there are certain elements that are required. And the deadlines are firm. If you are often late for deadlines, the Crew is probably not for you. 
  • You must have a blog on which to publish your reviews, and be sure you have an active blog with a following. By active blog, I mean that you should be blogging regularly, at least weekly, about your family and homeschool (in addition to your reviews). Your blog should have followers โ€” RSS feed or email subscribers, as well as in social media. The Crew does not accept brand new bloggers who just set up their blogs for the purposes of applying to the team. 
  • Are you using social media to promote your blog? Activity on at least one social media platform is a requirement to serve on the Crew. Which one is up to you โ€” Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google Plus are the options. You will need to be willing to promote your reviews there and post a widget or plug-in publicly on your blog, indicating how many followers you have in social media. 
  • You must be willing to check into the Crew’s Review Management forum. This is where information is disseminated to the team. The leadership does everything possible to make things easy for us, outside of writing the actual review, but you need to be willing to participate by checking in almost daily. 
  • Sample reviews are helpful. If youโ€™ve never written a review on your blog, go ahead and write one for curriculum you are currently using in your homeschool. This will help the leaders see how you approach writing reviews. 

Why should you want to be a part?

Our Crew of over 250 review bloggers has been serving the homeschool community for more than 5 years. As a respected review team, we take this job very seriously and will insist you do as well. The leadership provides an incredible amount of assistance to help us be the best bloggers, homeschool parents, and of course, reviewers we can be. They provide a mentoring program for new members, a social media networking group, many blog and social media tutorials, and lots of incredible opportunities for our team, including blog carnivals, the opportunity to guest post on the Crew blog, and the blessing of some incredible friendships.

Click here to read about how being on the Crew has specifically blessed ten different families, including mine! You will see each of our perspectives on being a crew member, and perhaps something that one of us has said will strike a chord for you! After reading what we have to say, consider applying to join us, I think it’s a huge blessing, and maybe it will be for you, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

How can you apply? 
After making sure you meet all of the requirements, if you believe you would to an asset to the Schoolhouse Review Crew and wish to join us, please click over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to apply.

Come be a part of The Old Schoolhouse family!

I hope to see you join us for the 2014 year with the Crew!

As always, I would love it if you joined me on all of “my Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email information into the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and please, go “like” my Facebook fan page, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

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