Category Archives: TOS Review

What On Earth Can I Do? A T.O.S. Review

In our homeschooling family, we have really loved all things from Apologia Educational Ministries, so I was very excited to be given the chance to review for you the fourth volume in their “What We Believe” series, which is designed to aid you as you teach a Biblical world view to your children.

Volume 4 is titled “What On Earth Can I Do?“, and teaches a Biblical worldview of stewardship. We received the entire set in our review package, as listed and pictured below:

The main text “What On Earth Can I Do?” which is a very nice hard bound book, with just under 300 pages, and retails for $39.00

The Notebooking Journal, spiral bound, 236 pages, which retails at $24.00

The Jr. Notebooking Journal, also spiral bound, 184 pages, which retails for $24.00.

and the “What On Earth Can I Do?” Coloring Book, which is softcover, 64 pages, and retails for $8.00.

This curriculum technically has eight lessons within it, but they are broken up into small chunks, so if your family is like mine, you can really take your time with it. The eight lessons are titled with the following:

Your Story Or God’s Story?

Who Put You In Charge?

Will You Be Found Faithful?

Where Is Your Treasure?

Where Does Your Time Go?

Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Why Isn’t It Easy Being Green?

What Will Happen When The Master Returns?

Each of these eight lessons is, as I mentioned above, broken up into several segments. You can either quickly complete each one within a couple of weeks, or you can take your time, allowing yourselves to really dig in deep with questions, discussion, and following rabbit trails.

The first half of the book follows a family during World War 2, and we are really seeing it mostly from the view of the children. At first, I thought it might be too heavy for my children, but it wasn’t. They were very saddened by what was happening in the story, and in the true, historical things we read about, but it did spark really good discussion and questions. For example, in our church, we have close friends who are Messianic Jews, and “Mr. Loquacious” asked me “if L. and E. and Miss S. were alive then, would they have been in danger like that too?” So we discussed what kinds of changes World War 2 made in the world.

The second half of the study follows another set of siblings, this time in Africa. We have not gotten to that part yet, but we look forward to it!

Each lesson contains several important components:

The Big Idea (introduction and brief overview of what has already been learned)
What You Will Do (learning objectives)
Short Story (this is where we read more about the children featured in this section)
Think About It (comprehension questions)
Words You Need To Know (vocabulary words from that lesson)
Hide It In Your Heart (memorization verses)
Integrated Learning (articles related to an element in the short story or tied to the lesson)
What Should I Do? highlights a godly character trait that the child should demonstrate as the right response to what they have learned.)
Prayer (conclude the lesson with a prayer to thank God for the gifts He has given, and all He has done.)
Parables of Jesus (a retelling of a parable of Jesus, imagined from the perspective of one of the characters in the parable, giving cultural details to better help the child understand what is happening.)
Going Deeper (discussion questions to encourage children to think about the parables of Christ and what they may mean for us now)
House Of Truth (Beginning in the first book of this series, the student is given instructions on building a “house of truth”, with one section being built in each book.)

We are very much enjoying “What On Earth Can I Do?”, and really looking forward to completing it. We like very much that it is written to children, and that the stories about the siblings featured are written from their perspective.

While my kids, with their delays, vastly prefer the Jr. Notebooking Journal, I will tell you that the Notebooking Journal is quite nice! For the older child, there is more writing, the puzzles are a bit more difficult, and it does not have the coloring pages that the Jr. Notebooking Journal has. It does have the mini books to make, which are then glued to specific pages to keep.

In the Jr. Notebooking Journal, the puzzles are easier, there is a lot less writing, there are plenty of coloring pages, and it also has the mini books to make and keep.

The coloring book has many of the same coloring pages as the Jr. Notebooking Journal, and would be a wonderful addition to use with the very young child who would then have something related to do while the older ones are reading out loud, and working on the lessons in the curriculum.

What I chose to do was to have “The Batman” take turns reading with me, and we would all discuss the questions in the text. “The Artist” was chosen to work in the Notebooking Journal, “The Puzzler” worked in the Jr. Notebooking Journal, and by his own request, “Mr. Loquacious” worked in the coloring book. He doesn’t like to read or write, even though he can do so.

We will be continuing on with “What On Earth Can I Do”. I am extremely impressed with it. The only “con” for me is the usual one, that the Bible verses are never from the King James Bible, something I find very frustrating, given that it is the one version that you do not have to pay for the right to copy. At the same time, it did give my kids more practice looking up verses, as I prefer them to read them from the King James Version! However, when the Bible verse is a clue to a word in a puzzle, it’s harder for the kids if the puzzle uses a different version. With this one exception, I really love this curriculum, and highly recommend Apologia Educational Ministries!

Check out Apologia on social media:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
Twitter – https://twitter.com/apologiaworld
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125/posts
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/apologia/

To check out what other crewmembers thought of “What On Earth Can I Do?”, please click the graphic below!
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Filed under Apologia, Christian Worldview, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, TOS Review, What On Earth Can I D?, What We Believe

Golden Prairie Press, A T. O. S. Review

Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum, is a curriculum we were given to review, along with 99 other Schoolhouse Review Crew members.

This curriculum is from Golden Prairie Press, the home of “History At It’s Best”, according to their header.

Digital Heroes & Heroines Of The Past: American History Curriculum is a one year package of 30 lessons, and has been designed for children from 1st through the 6th grade levels. It is available for $98.99.

This downloadable curriculum will take your student from 1000 AD up to the present day, using two e-books.

The first half of the curriculum is Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 1 e-book, which covers the original people in America and continues on through the administration of President Jackson ( 1829 – 37 ).

You will then continue on with the second half of the curriculum: Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 2 e-book, covering 1837 to the present day.

We also received the following items, which are included in the digital curriculum:

Additional Materials CD (we received this as a collection of pdf files) which can be used as supplemental materials, including timelines, instructions and videos, coloring pages, and much more.

Historical Skits e-book, which contains 19 skits from the time of Columbus to World War 2. Your children can use these to further bring history to life, if they are interested in acting out what they are learning.

Sing Some History CD, which we received as audio files. This contains many of the songs that are referred to in the curriculum, further bringing the history to life while you and your children listen to them.

Listen to Some U.S. History MP3 CD (we received this as a downloadable collection of mp3 files), allowing you and your children to listen to 20 original speeches, poems, sermons, and documents that are mentioned in the book.

What we like:

The format of the curriculum e-books. I enjoy that we are given two different options for each lesson as far as the reading goes, one for younger students who aren’t ready for more lengthy information, and one for the older kids, which goes into more depth. For my kids, we are actually able to (mostly) use the more in-depth portion, as long as we are using this as a read aloud. This is not a problem, since that’s how we do a lot of curriculum, allowing us to do it all together. I enjoy being able to read right from my laptop, so that we only need to print things like coloring pages, etc.

The sound files! We enjoy hearing what we are learning about, whether it is the music or the speeches and such.

We like the Additional Materials CD for things like coloring pages, the extra sound files, and the timelines. Speaking of the timelines, the thing I like the best regarding them is that there are different versions available. You may choose to print out the fully filled in timelines (perfect for some of my kiddos), or the partially filled in (allowing your kids to fill in the rest), or the blank ones, so that your more advanced kids may fill them in from memory or by looking them up.

Here’s the best thing, as far as I am concerned . . . while there are Bible verses throughout for the kids to read and/or memorize, only the reference is given. The verse is not written out in the text (or at least, I haven’t come across any which are as yet), which means no matter what version of the Bible you use (we are a King James only family), you need to get your actual Bible out and LOOK UP THE VERSE FOR YOURSELF! I LIKE that! There is no reason any child who can read cannot learn to look up verses, and too many of us, especially in curriculum, become lazy and just let the text we are learning from do it for us.

What we don’t care for:

Most of the activities are simply things we rarely bother with. We will probably do some of the cooking ones, but I don’t see my kids making paper canoes and such, for example, or a teepee in the house. However, as some of my friends would remind me, that’s mostly because “I” don’t like the mess involved, so, maybe if not for that, my kids WOULD do them. Maybe “I” need to loosen up a little bit on this one, LOL!

All in all, for my kids, I do enjoy this curriculum, and am pleased that it is digital, allowing me to print as many copies of things as needed for my kids. Although it is designed as a 30 week curriculum, I’m quite sure that we will take considerably longer. We very likely didn’t get as far as other reviewers, because with four special needs boys, I do tend to go much slower when it comes to working our way through curriculum. But that’s OK. In MY opinion, it’s one of the beauties of homeschooling, the fact that you do not have to do things in a specific way or time frame. 🙂

To check out Golden Prairie Press on social media, please go to:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoldenPrairiePress

Please always remember always that my opinion is just that, and there are many other crew members reviewing the same product. I encourage you to click the graphic below, and go check out there reviews as well!
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Philippians In 28 Weeks . . .A T.O.S. Review

I have been blessed to have another opportunity to review a product from the Home School Adventure Co..

I received a pdf copy of Philippians In 28 Weeks “Love Him With All Your Mind” with Reflection Journal, written by Stacey Farrell.

This book is available in the ESV or the KJV version. As most of my regular readers have already guessed, I chose the KJV version.

Stacey Farrell has devised a very simple way of learning (memorizing) Philippians, although I made it harder than it needed to be at first, lol!

The ages this book is meant to work for are:

Read aloud and discussion as a family: ages 9-11

family discussion and/or parental/teacher guidance, ages 12 and up

Most high School age students should be able to handle this book on their own.

Philippians In 28 Weeks is available as a complete print edition, in either ESV or KJV, for $28.95. The ESV version is also available as a complete e-book for $14.95, while the ESV Memory Cards e-book is available for $9.95.

Stacey has set out five steps to memorizing the book of Philippians:

1. Read the book of Philippians every day.
2. Record your insights in the journal she provides in the book.
3. Repeat your current week’s verses daily.
4. Review and recite from memory.
5. Retain what you have memorized, by reciting your verses at the start of the week, before beginning a new card.

Stacey has provided a very nice log within the book, so that you can keep yourself accountable for keeping up with your study, along with a very nice set of printable cards which have all of the verses to memorize for each week. They are meant to be printed out with the verses on one side and a picture on the other side, but I would prefer not to use all that ink, so only print out the verse side. Also, I have never really cared for the “what everyone thinks Jesus looks like” picture that is used for either the cover of the book or the cards.

I had intended to do this with my boys, but truly over-estimated what they could handle at this time. This is the time of the year when they are memorizing scripture for several different groups within our church, and they just couldn’t manage anymore without falling apart. Therefore, while I will definitely save this for use with the boys later (perhaps during the summer?), I thought it best to at this time, try to do this one on my own. Even so, it ended up being more difficult than I thought it would, but that is NOT the fault of the book, or the author. I have been battling health issues for several weeks, and just as it seemed to be getting better, and I began working on this, it hit back with a vengeance!

However, I really, really love this system! And especially with the things I’ve been dealing with, Philippians is the perfect book for me to work through, so I will be persevering, and I will finish it. I know now that for me, it WILL take longer than 28 weeks, but even so, it is worth it, because I think having verses from Philippians automatically come to me when I need them will be a wonderful help to me during difficult times. I will continue on, even if I need to maybe take TWO weeks for each one week section. I think Stacey Farrell has come up with yet another winner, and I hope she does many more titles for the Homeschool Adventure Co. 🙂

Please, do check out the Homeschool Adventure Co. on the following social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HomeSchoolAdventureCo

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HomeSchoolAdven

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/HomeSchoolAdven

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/115241518288669984312/+Homeschooladventure/

Instagram: http://instagram.com/HomeSchoolAdven

To read what other Review Crew Members thought of Philippians In 28 Days, along with other products from the Homeschool Adventure Co., please click the graphic below.
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Filed under Bible Study, education, home education, Homeschool Adventure Co, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, Stacy Farrell, TOS Review

Supercharged Science . . . A T.O.S. Review

My children and I were fortunate enough to review the e-Science Premium Membership from Supercharged Science last year, so we were surprised and happy to be given this review again this year! 🙂

Last year, I was so excited about this that I printed out the shopping list for the unit we wanted to work in, without paying attention to the teacher, Aurora Lipper (more about her later), so I would up purchasing supplies for EVERY SINGLE experiment, LOL!

Then, we went through a period of time with varied health problems and surgeries, and after the review period we never finished the unit. 😦 When the boys found out we were doing it again, they BEGGED to do more of the experiments making crystals, and since we basically still had everything (although I did have to buy some sugar and some alum), that was what we did.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about Aurora Lipper, and Supercharged Science, though, before getting into what we did this time around. She attended Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering (with a minor in Mathematics and senior project in Rocket Science) in June 1996. Aurora also, while still in CA, continued her studies in a Master’s program with Edward Air Force Base, later becoming a student pilot, followed by receiving her private pilot license. Aurora Lipper, who is the online teacher at Supercharged Science, is a real rocket scientist, who has a gift for bringing her lessons to a level where even younger kids can understand them, along with no-nothing mom’s in the science department, like me. My kids are special needs kids, with various developmental disabilities, and they are very enthusiastic about this program.

As I told you above, at the request of my four boys, we chose to work more in the “Matter” unit, because they wanted to do more crystals. First, though, we re-watched the video on Unit 3: Matter (Getting Started)
. Then, it was onward and upward!

We did NOT actually begin with crystals, however. We started with an experiment called “The Breaking Point”, in which we learned about tension, compression and elasticity, using a pencil. We learned that wood (such as in a pencil) is very elastic and can bend. We also learned that eventually, there is a “breaking point”, and the pencil will snap. While we looked at the differences in the breaks in the pencil, Aurora explained about tension and compression.

Watching Aurora’s video . . .
2014-04-07 03.25.16

Here, we have the boys taking turns bending the pencil . . .
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And now, “The Batman”, finally breaking it in half!
2014-04-07 03.29.23
They really enjoyed this one. Being boys, they like it when they get to break stuff! 🙂

So, now we were onto the one experiment that all four boys have been DYING to do, Rock Candy crystals. We made a supersaturated solid solution, just like we did when making laundry soap crystals in our previous review, except THIS one was made of water and sugar.

First, we watched Aurora teach us on the video . . .
2014-04-07 03.37.06

And then, we began making our solution.
2014-04-07 03.53.38

Here is “Mr. Loquacious” taking a turn at stirring . . .
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Next up, “The Puzzler” . . .
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Then “The Artist” took a spin . . .
2014-04-07 03.58.46

Followed by “The Batman”.
2014-04-07 03.59.02

After what was a LOT longer time than we expected from what was on the video, we FINALLY got the sugar dissolved! We then divided it into separate glasses, and added food coloring to each one.
2014-04-07 06.06.59

We seeded our skewers with sugar, and then put them into the glasses just the way we had been shown on the video . . .
2014-04-07 06.31.09

And left them to do their work. Sadly, we must have done SOMETHING wrong, because they’ve been sitting a while and there are no crystals yet forming on the skewers. We will try again, though! 🙂

We WERE successful with another crystal experiment, this one involving cleaned out egg-shell halves, water, alum and food coloring.

Here are all of the supplies we used for egg-shell crystals . . .
2014-04-07 06.32.42

Here, the water and alum is being mixed to make another supersaturated solution.
2014-04-07 06.35.37

We set the egg shells, filled with the solution on a plate with an upside down bowl in the center, so they would stay put.
2014-04-07 06.45.01

We then left them to do their work, with me pretty much constantly telling my boys they didn’t need to check them every five minutes! 🙂

Happily, we were successful this time, YAY!
2014-04-10 00.10.48

Aurora said in her video that we can keep making the supersaturated solution with the alum and water, and adding it to the same egg shells, which will eventually give us a simulated geode. My kids are wanting to do this, so we’ll see if there is a bulk food place here where I can buy a larger supply of alum without spending a fortune at the grocery store on it.

We received the K-12 plan for this review, however, you can either subscribe to that at a cost of $57.00 per month, or the K-8 level plan for $37.00 per month.

Do I believe it’s worth the cost? Yes, I do, especially as we would very likely stick with the K-8 plan. Do I feel it is truly affordable? Well, it really is not affordable for us, and I think many homeschoolers would feel the same, sadly. Most homeschoolers live on one income, and have to pinch the pennies very hard. As I said in my previous review, I’d love to see a substantial discount for paying a whole year at once, whenever the family can afford to sign up and do that (like at tax refund time, lol!), or even partial scholarships. Other than that, I can see nothing but positives regarding the e-Science Program from Supercharged Science. We LOVE it!

To follow Supercharged Science on social media, please check out the following:

https://www.facebook.com/superchargedsci
http://www.twitter.com/aurora_lipper
https://www.youtube.com/user/auroram42

https://plus.google.com/u/0/112193545312804826871/posts
http://www.superchargedscience.com/blog/

Other crew members also reviewed the e-Science Premium Membership from Supercharged Science. Please click the graphic below to discover their views!
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As always, I’d just love it if you joined 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 you’ll never miss an update! Also, if you DO enjoy “My Journeys”, please go to our Facebook page and “like” it. I’d sure appreciate it if you did! 🙂

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Filed under Aurora Lipper, e-Science Program, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, Special Needs Children, special needs education, Supercharged Science, TOS Post, TOS Review

Victus Study Skills System . . . A T.O.S. Review

We recently had the opportunity to review the Victus Study Skills System, written by Susan B. Ison, founder of http://www.studyskillssystem.com. The author explains the Latin word victus means “a way of life,” and the goal of the system is to “equip the student for success in Academics and in life.”
We received the Teacher Edition (priced at $40.00) and the Student Workbook, (priced at $20.00)

Both are easy to read and follow, and the appendix comes with worksheets and tools to use throughout the course. This system can be taught to all ages, with more teacher involvement needed for younger students. It is most appropriate for students from 5th to 12th grade. The author gives a good description of the courses aims, goals and objectives. The author’s “Foundational Cornerstones” for the course ask three questions:

1) Where Am I Now?
Lesson One (Study Habits Checklist) is a self-assessment to help determine what the student is doing now. Lesson Two (Learning Strengths) helps assess how the student takes in information (through Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic means) and gives some useful tips on how to help your dominant learning strength or improve a weaker one.

2) Where Do I Want To Be?
Lesson 3 (Mission and Goal Setting) first asks the student to visualize where they were 5 years ago, where they are now, and where they would like to be five and ten years from now. This helps the student visualize long term goals for themselves. They are also introduced to the “SMART” method of goal-setting; the objective must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. The lesson ends with an introduction to a system to help them set priorities for long-term goals.

3) How Do I Get There?
Lessons 4 through 10 get into the specific details and exercises to help the student develop good study habits through Time Management, Organization and Study Environment, a study process with the mnemonic “PQRST” (more on this later), Listening, Note Taking, Test Taking, and a final review.

This is the type of course my husband says he would have loved to have when he was back in school. He says he was a “brainiac” who never had to study that much in high school. When college rolled around, however, he struggled until he learned how to study.

If you run a structured home school and you have a student (or students) struggling with some course materials, then this course might be a welcome addition. In our loosely run, lightly scheduled, eclectic situation, however, we did have some challenges.

My husband has had experience with courses like this in the past through his workplace, so I asked him to take the lead on it. We chose “The Artist” to work with, as we were hoping to help him with his habit of flitting about from project to project and help him prioritize things.

They did quite well with Lessons One through Three. They determined how The Artist best takes in information (Visually, with Auditory and Kinesthetic in a virtual tie for second place), and we are using some of the tips to help the weaker aspects.

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Lessons Four through Ten, however, were a bit difficult. For example, the Time Management chapter was good for people still in “analog,” as my husband calls it. It gives tips like, “Write your schedule in pencil to allow for changes.” We’ve been using Google Calendar on “The Artist’s” tablet for several months now for scheduling daily chores, appointments, etc. with good results. Plus, he is already a good note taker, so he didn’t get a whole lot from the Note Taking lesson. We use a notepad application on his tablet so he can transcribe and organize notes from various study subjects into color-coded pages. We also do not use any kind of curriculum that has examinations, so he totally lost interest in the Test Taking lesson.

We were able to find some wheat among the chaff. Lesson 6, PQRST, outlines a great method of reading for better comprehension and learning. The mnemonic stands for:

Preview – get the high points
Question — to determine which facts to look for
Read – “action” reading, to find answers, note, highlight, etc.
State – read aloud what you’ve just read
Test – a daily review of what you read the previous day

“The Artist” finds learning by reading very easy (just like his father). But his father told him that, as he continues in his education to more advanced subjects, he will hit a brick wall at some point! He told “The Artist,” “There will be subjects that just do not jump off of the page and into your head; you will need to know how to pull that information out of the book by force! Better to learn those methods now instead of waiting until you really need them!” “The Artist” was not happy at first, because the PQRST method takes a little longer than just simply reading the page. But he has now incorporated it into his study routine, and we do believe it will serve him well when we start moving to some more complicated subjects down the road.

Now, to the bottom line:

At the beginning, we thought we would not get much from this course. We don’t test, so we have no way to measure whether or not the course is effective for us. And several of the lessons just simply did not apply to our circumstances. However, as mentioned above, this system was helpful in that “The Artist” HAS been able to incorporate some of the methods into his way of learning. While I personally would probably not spend $60.00 on the Victus Study Skills System, as written above, I can certainly see where it could be of immense help to a homeschool student in a structured program, or even a student in public or private school.

Check out Victus Study Skills System on the social media listed below:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VictusStudySkillsSystem
Twitter: @VictusStudy

To see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought of the Victus Study Skills System, please click the graphic below:
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Spelling You See, A T.O.S. Review

Having been given the opportunity to review with my younger two boys (our twins, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”) an advance pdf copy of a very newly published program, Spelling You See, and knowing that it was coming from the publishers of Math-U-See, a program I have heard nothing but good about, I really wanted to give it a go with both boys.

They are both (finally) coming along nicely with their reading, especially given that when we adopted them four years ago at the age of 8, they couldn’t spell (or read!) much beyond their own names, but having seen phonics programs fail with them, I thought this just might be a good change.

I was given Spelling You See: Wild Tales (Level C) to use with my boys.

I will be completely honest here, and tell you that I was not SURE that this program would work, or even that they would like it at all. My father taught me to read before I ever began school, and he used phonics, even though I don’t believe he called it that, or even knew that was what it was. So, when I began homeschooling, I did what I call “school in a box”, from a big name company, with a very strong phonics spelling program. Guess what? It had worked for me, but not so much with my kiddos.

Before choosing the level I would want to review, I went to Spelling You See to check out their “Readiness Guides“. I did find that both boys easily read the material for Level C, but when asked to write the same material, missed quite a lot, therefore I chose Level C for them.

One of the BEST things about this program, one that means an awful lot to my boys, is that it is not set up by grade levels, rather by skill/developmental level. We have tried things in the past that were marked actual grade level, and they balked mightily about it, because before we adopted them, they were supposedly “in the 3rd grade at their public school”, and didn’t want books that said they were “in kindergarten or first grade”.

We have been really enjoying the way this program is set up, it is perfect for boys with very short attention spans (which I freely admit describes my boys, LOL!).

Here is how this program does NOT work . . . there are no spelling lists, no tests, etc. In Level C, for example, we begin with nursery rhymes, which I happen to think is great, as they are part of our heritage. By lesson 8, they will have moved on to short stories involving different animals.

Each week begins with learning which letter groups to look for to mark while “chunking”, which is what Spelling You See calls marking letters that come in small groups, such as special sounds made by vowels, or consonant blends. After practicing the “chunking” on that week’s nursery rhyme or story, the student then goes to the second page to do copy work, and doing the same exact chunking on their written work. The second day, the two workbook pages are a repeat of the first day. Then, we come to day three, which is in part a repeat of the first day, but the copy work is different in that a different portion of the rhyme or story is being copied each day. Day four, the student will read and chunk the passage, but then he or she will draw or write his or her own story. Spelling You See calls this “no rules” day. On the final day of the week, the rhyme or story is read, the chunking completed, and then your student(s) will write it while you dictate it. You are supposed to use a timer for ten minutes, and stop when it goes off, even if they haven’t finished writing. The goal is to be learning to spell, not to be fast ( I’ll admit, that one is tough for “Mr. Loquacious”, who always wants to “win”).

Here we are during the first week (the only time they didn’t balk at pictures), reading the passage while clapping each syllable . . .
2014-03-28 00.53.07

Here is “Mr. Loquacious, following the “chunking” instructions for the specific vowel sounds called for. That particular week, they were to mark them with the color yellow. Each different “chunking” group is coded with a different color.
2014-03-28 00.55.25

Here is “The Puzzler”, doing HIS chunking . . .
2014-03-28 00.55.39

This program is certainly living up to what I have always heard of the company that produced it. BOTH of my twins enjoy it, and have asked more than once if they can do more than one day at once. The only thing they didn’t care for (and really, the only one who cared was “Mr. Loquacious), was that on the copy work pages they are not given the three lines with the dotted line in the middle. In fact, a direct quote from him was “Mom, they forgot a line on the paper”, LOL!

By now, I’m sure you’d like me to let you know what you will receive (and what it will cost) should you choose to purchase this program . . .

Wild Tales Student Pack (2 student workbooks, covering 36 lessons between them, along with a pack of erasable colored pencils) – $30.00

Wild Tales Instructor’s Manual – $14.00

Do I feel this program is worth the cost? Yes, I do. My twins are seeing “patterns” in words, which I believe will aid in their improved spelling. American English is not the easiest language to learn how to spell, as we all know, and I think this is going to help them. Are we going to continue to use this, now that our review period is over? Yes, we are. As I said before, even my boys are happy with it, which I think is a GOOD thing!

Want to try before you buy? download a sample and check it out for yourself. 🙂

To find out even more about Spelling You See, please check them out on the following social media:

Facebook

Twitter

To read what other Review Crew members thought of this and other levels of Spelling You See, please click on the graphic below!
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Mango Languages For Homeschoolers, A T.O.S. Review

My regular readers are very aware of my seemingly never ending quest to actually learn Spanish with my kids, so when, as a Schoolhouse Review Crew member I was given an opportunity to test drive something new from Mango Languages, I really wanted to give it a try.

Up until now, Mango Languages has been available to be used in businesses, schools (K – 12), and in many libraries (though not OUR library system, I checked). But Mango Languages is now introducing Mango Homeschool Edition, which is very exciting news!

Now, I want to tell you right up front that when I say we are test driving it, I mean that. Mango Homeschool Edition is currently a beta version. However, there is still a great deal available to the subscribing family!

I have permission to share the following directly from the vendor:

“What is currently available on the site:

Over 60 different languages
Progress Assessments
Built-in journals, discussions and wikis
Collaborative learning spaces
eNote messaging/chat rooms
Access to embedded/downloadable content
Support from other community members
Calendars to schedule meetings or study groups

Over the next several months, we’ll be introducing other exciting features like:
Enhanced Tracking and Progress Monitoring – including seat time (for students and parents)
Goals and Personal Lesson Plans (both stand-alone and tied into Mango courses)
Resume and Portfolio Builder”

Did you notice that bit about 60 different languages? Let me tell you, this is the very best thing about the Mango Homeschool Edition. When you sign up for your subscription, you are not limited to one language. You may choose, one, or several, or you may do one, decide it is not for you, and change to another! I LOVE that! 🙂

I will be pleased to see better tracking methods however, allowing me to see exactly where the boys are in their progress, along with being able to set goals and lesson plans.

During our review period, we were given a one year subscription to Mango Homeschool Edition for five students (which included one for me as the homeschool mom/teacher). To be honest, once we got our log in information and went to get started, I decided that during the review period I would concentrate solely on “The Artist” for this review. In retrospect though, I think the others probably could have handled it, considering that there were only certain portions of the program I was willing to let him use, so I’ll likely be adding the others in, and maybe even letting them choose what languages they want to try (in addition to Spanish).

We (meaning I) chose Latin American Spanish. It was a little bit confusing getting set up, but then after watching the little videos that are provided, and doing what they said, I got everyone’s accounts set up (that way, when I decide to put the other boys in, we are already set up!).

For the portions we actually used, navigation was quite simple, “The Artist” would just log in to his account, and then into his “Space”. Here he is during one of the lessons . . .

2014-03-10 23.27.14

Whatever language you choose, it will include things such as native speakers giving you audio lessons and pronunciation help, a voice comparison tool (but you need a microphone for this, which we did not have available), which is completely optional, you can do the lessons without it. Not only will you be learning the language, but you will be receiving information about the culture, the customs and the etiquette of the land of your chosen language. There are also grammar and conversational aspects as part of your lessons.

Each unit is referred to as a “Journey”, and is fairly simple to understand, done in flash card style. I do like that. Below is a quick video I snuck while “The Artist” was working in an early on lesson . . .

After that, he wouldn’t let me anywhere near if I had the camera, can you believe it???

Also available on the Mango Homeschool Edition is the “community” aspect of the program. We did not use this portion. It involves online chatting in forums and “eNotes”, a private messaging section. My husband and I are very wary about this sort of thing for our kids, and even though I know that at Mango Homeschool Edition they are working very hard to make certain this is safe for kids, the fact is that this program is being touted as perfect for kids and adults. I just don’t want to take the chance with my kids.

OK, now the bottom line . . .

The cost for Mango Homeschool Edition is as follows:

1 subscription is $18/month or $125/year total
2 subscriptions are $28/month or $175 /year total
3 subscriptions are $38/month or $225/year total
4 subscriptions are $48/month or $275/year total
5 subscriptions are $58/month or $325/year total

Anything over 6 subscriptions is a special group rate that will depend on the number in the group.

The above is the introductory pricing, and is accurate at the time of this posting.

MY bottom line? I probably would not purchase this for our homeschool. I have four children, with special needs, and a lot of what is available on this program is just not going to be useful for them. I would HIGHLY recommend it to someone preparing to travel, however, as I think it would give them enough conversational (whatever their choice of language) to get around.

I AM going to let them all sign up for Pirate (yes, that IS an available language, LOL!), because my older boys have an activity coming up with the teen group in our church which includes pirates and such. They are thinking it will be a blast! 🙂

Here is where you’ll find Mango Languages on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MangoLanguages
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mangolanguages/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MangoLanguages

To find out how other Schoolhouse Review Crew members felt about Mango Homeschool Edition, please click 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 and enter your email into the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and never miss an update again! Also, if you DO enjoy “My Journeys Through Life”, please go to our Facebook page and “like” it. I’d sure appreciate it if you did! 🙂

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Filed under education, Foreign language homeschooling, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Mango Homeschool Edition, Mango Languages, TOS Post, TOS Review

Motivated Moms . . . T. O. S. Review

We moms are all super organized, right? Especially those of us who are homeschooling, stay-at-home moms (why DO they call it that, anyway, we are hardly EVER home!), right? Well, maybe YOU are, but me? Not so much. So, when I was given the chance to review the Motivated Moms chore planner, I jumped at it.

There are a variety of Motivated Moms Ebooks and I chose the 2014 Motivated Moms Chore Planner with Scheduled Bible Reading {Color}

Right off the bat I will let you know that I am a definite list maker, so I thought this might just be perfect for me. I mean, the list is already made for me, and even has those handy-dandy little check off boxes, right?

However, there are a LOT of things listed that are just not now (or ever will be) part of my routine on the specified days, and for some things, just never, at any time, like watering indoor (or outdoor, for that matter) plants. Plants don’t even try at my house, they know coming in that they are on death row, lol!

There ARE a lot of things that are part of our family’s routine, they are just not listed when we actually do them, so I am still trying to work out the best way to use this planner in our home. During this review period, I actually was dealing with some unexpected medical issues, so we really didn’t manage to make this planner work as well as I think it can for us.

I really like that I can simply print out one page at a time and it gives us the whole week at a glance, including daily Bible reading. I like that in the left column, we have a list of daily chores, even though some of them I have to cross right off, as they do not fit our family, for example, “feed pets”, because we do not have (nor do I want to have) pets.

I like that in the column on the right is a day by day list of chores that you can do in small amounts of time. If you don’t get it done, it will be there again during a future week.

I don’t like that it is not more customizable. For example, we don’t do chores on Sunday. Not ANY chores. Even dinner for after morning church service is done in the slow cooker, and I (generally) try to get that set up the night before if possible, so the crock can just come out of the fridge, be put into the base, and plugged in. Sundays are very busy for us, so my husband and I really like to try to get in a short nap before needing to be back to our church in the afternoon.

I like to make my shopping list as we notice we are low on something, adding it to the list right then. If I wait to make the list until a scheduled day, I WILL forget something. My husband takes care of paying/filing bills every other week, so having it scheduled on Tuesday, for example, just doesn’t work for us.

There ARE a lot of upsides to this though, in that there are things listed that we rarely think about. I mean, I honestly do not know when the last time the bathroom light fixtures were cleaned, for example, but it’s listed in my planner, and then it will come around again in a few weeks.

I like that there are spots on the list called “pamper yourself”, and “spend time on craft or hobby”.

I think with some “tweaking”, I could probably make this work for my family, but I am not sure if I can wean myself from my current system of writing a list of tasks and crossing them off as they get done. I am the type of person who, if I see (and do) a task that isn’t on the list, I write it down after doing it just so I can cross it off!

Bottom line, if you need or want the accountability of a chore planner, this may be the one for you. I do like it, I just need to tweak it some to make it fit with our family’s schedule.

The ebooks are available in a large variety of choices for $8.00. As I said above, the one I chose allows me to just print one page at a time, each week, and put it on the fridge, however, you may also choose to print the entire planner and put it into a book, and there are some versions which work with smaller binders, as well.

One 100 crew members reviewed various forms of the Motivated Moms planner, including a version available as an iOS App. To read about what they all thought of their time with this planner, please click the graphic below!
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As always, I would just love it if you joined me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just go and enter your email into the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and never miss an update again! Also, if you DO enjoy “My Journeys Through Life”, please, do go to our Facebook page and “like” it. I’d sure appreciate it if you did! 🙂

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Science4Us.com . . . a T.O.S. Review

Many of you are aware that our boys really, really enjoy things that are, in their words, “science-y”. You may NOT be aware though, that I am NOT a “science-y” type person, so this topic has always been sort of a “learn it as it comes up” kind of thing. Well, being given the chance to review an online science curriculum called Science4Us.com Online Subscription turned out to be something of a God-send!

Science4Us.com offers a FULL online science curriculum for your K-2 students. However, don’t let that grade range limit you at all. It can also be used as review for older students. MY kids are having a great time with it!

Here is a video of “Mr. Loquacious”, talking just a little bit about the program . . .

As you can see, he tends to lose his “Mr. Loquacious” title when being put on a video, LOL!

I feel that this curriculum is very good for either the homeschool parent who wants to set up lessons for their children (or is required to do so by their state), or for the homeschool parent like me, who is more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” type. I do not use a lesson planner, I have never lived in a state which required me to keep records of any kind, which is the way I, personally, feel homeschooling ought to be. We do a lot of “interest led” homeschooling, and believe me, the Science4Us.com Online Subscription works BEAUTIFULLY for our homeschooling method!

Lest you think it won’t be for you though, because you prefer (or are required) to keep records, have lesson plans, etc, this curriculum works for you, too! The Science4Us.com Online Subscription gives you, the parent and/or teacher, well done lesson plans, already prepared for you! The program is set up to allow you to check on your child’s progress, and see what and how they are doing. You have the capability to set specific assignments for your children, and can even set it up with start dates and end dates, or just set the assignment up to end when they have completed it.

MY kids like that when they log in, everything they have already completed now has a gold star on it, and they know to go to the next thing. They also enjoy the animated lessons, the games, and surprisingly, they like taking the “evaluates”, or quizzes at the end of each topic they do. 🙂

The Science4Us.com Online Subscription is EXTREMELY easy to navigate! Even my boys, once I showed them how to log on with their individual memberships, were able to move around with great ease, needing only to ask for help the very first time they were on. That says a lot to a homeschool mom like me who has special needs kids, and almost always has to tweak whatever we are using to work with my children. 🙂

Here is an example of what your child will see after he or she logs in . . .

At that point, they may either choose one of the books at the top right, which my kids did to begin, and then thereafter, they chose from the “recent activity” box, going to the next circle without a star.

Here is “The Puzzler”, who, by the way, asks multiple times a day if he can “do the science thing” . . .
2014-02-26 02.43.24

And here is a shot of “Mr. Loquacious, also working on his own . . .
2014-02-12 03.14.22

Your subscription will include a good overview of the following main topics: Science Inquiry, Earth/Space Science, Life Science, and Physical Science, as well as numerous subtopics. I do feel it’s important for me to mention that the Earth History topic does come from an evolutionary viewpoint, and because of that, it was the one limit I put on my kids. We did not use that portion of the curriculum. I allowed them each to choose their main overview topic, and required that they stick with that one until finishing the unit, but other than that, they were free to work on their own, at their own pace.

If it is important to you to use a “standards based” curriculum, Science4Us.com Online Subscription states that it falls within that. This is not something that matters to me, but I know that some of my readers do feel it is important.

I feel that the price for what you will be receiving is excellent! There are Over 350 Online Lessons, Hands-On Activities and Worksheets, it is web-based, and there will be availability to use it on the iPad in 2014. For those to whom it matters, this curriculum does correlate to state and national standards. In addition to science, Science4Us.com Online Subscription also helps build math and language skills. Here is a picture I took while “Mr. Puzzler” was working on something that added in language arts . . .
2014-02-26 02.43.35
Finally, if you need or want it, there is automated Reporting for Homeschool Portfolios.

All of this comes to you for the very reasonable price of $7.95 per month, per child.

So far, we are really enjoying our time with the Science4Us.com Online Subscription, and I feel confident in recommending it to you!

To find Science4Us.com on various social media, check out the following:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Science4UsSays
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/science4us/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Science4Us
G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/112259351657747584252/

To find out what my crewmates thought of the Science4Us.com Online Subscription, please click the graphic below!
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Filed under education, home education, homeschool products, Homeschool Science Curriculum, homeschooling, Science4Us.com, Special Needs Children, TOS Post, TOS Review

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume one: Nothing That Eats . . . A T.O.S Review

Well, and isn’t that a mouthful of a title, LOL! However, the title of this book was precisely what intrigued me enough to want to read it when it was offered for review to those of us who are members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, so I was very happy to be chosen as one of the reviewers!

I am going to admit to you, my readers, right here and now, that I have been totally dragging my feet when it came to writing up this review. You see, getting it written up would mean getting it posted and linked to the crew blog, and I really, really don’t want to. Why? Because, this is my very last review product from the crew for the year 2013, and while I HAVE applied to remain on the crew for the year 2014, I am truly going to miss doing this in the interim! I will be writing a post about my time on the crew very soon. 🙂 But, I digress . . .

Back to “At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats“, written and published by Franklin Sanders from At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, which is quite a read! As I said, the title alone made me want to check it out!

This is a BIG book, coming in at 379 pages. It is not a novel, and I knew this from the description, but rather a collection of letters written by Franklin Sanders . . .

which were then published in his monthly newsletter, The Moneychanger over a period of 17 years.

In this, the first of three volumes to be published, Mr. Sanders tells us, in a series of letters about, well, his life, and that of his family. We read about their several moves closer and closer to being where they can live off the land, and how, when they get there, his wife’s consistant admonishments that they bring home “nothing that eats” end up being quite useless, as he and the children do, in fact, keep adding to the collection of farm animals and pets.

The family winds up in a place called Dogwood Mudhole, Tennessee, which, as I discovered in the book, is a real place, not just the name of their farm, which is what I had thought before reading the book. It all began with the desire of Franklin and his wife Susan’s desire to “go back to the land” when the Y2K scare was looming. I happen to be part of the generation that remembers when that non-event happened, and how my own mother was so worried about it that she filled her tub and all the sinks with water just in case all of the utilities went dead at midnight on December 31, 1999. Of course, that did not happen, but I guess I understand the concern a lot of people had, after all, we had never lived through the changing from one century to another before!

As I said before, this book is a collection of letters, written and published in Franklin Sanders newsletter The Moneychanger, so it really is more of a picture of the life of himself and his family written as it happened, rather than as a recollection or memoir would be.

I got a very interesting (and different!) picture of southern history, as Franklin Sanders is very much a history buff when it comes to the Confederacy. For myself, as the adoptive mother of biracial children, the enthusiasm for the Confederacy made me uncomfortable.

Franklin Sanders is unabashedly Christian, and makes no bones about it, however, his troubles with the IRS and jail time as a result, bothered me. As a Christian, I believe the Lord says we must obey the laws, unless the laws DEFINITELY go against God’s laws. I’m not so sure that the issue of whether or not one must collect tax when selling gold or silver should be considered to go against God’s laws. I think Mr. Sanders is right when he says that the constitution declares gold and silver to be money, and therefore you should not have to collect taxes when exchanging money (gold or silver) for money (paper), however, I think that by God’s law, he would have showed a better testimony to follow the law and then protest it afterwards.

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats” is a very good read, if you are not expecting something to read like a novel. It doesn’t. One of the things I actually enjoy about it is that because of the way it is written, as a series of letters written as they happened, this is a book that you can pick up and read whenever you have a free moment or two. I do like having books like that around, as frequently, my reading time comes in unexpected little patches of time these days! 🙂

There is even a “no-risk” guarantee offered on the website:

No Risk Guarantee

If you don’t laugh, cry, gasp, hug your spouse or jump up and down, we’ll refund your money and you can keep the book to use as a door stop.”

I thought the guarantee was just hilarious, myself, having never read one quite like it!

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats” is available here. The oversized paperback costs $22.95, and is also available in pdf, Kindle and ePUB versions for $ 16.95.

To read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members thought of the book “At Home In
Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats
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Filed under At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats, Christian faith, Franklin Sanders, Schoolhouse Review Crew Membership, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, TOS Post, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013