Tag Archives: special needs

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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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

A Fun Way For My Struggling Readers To Learn: Reading Kingdom . . . A T.O.S. Review

I wasn’t sure how well the online program Reading Kingdom would go over with my twins “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” when it came to us for review, but so far, they are really liking it!

Reading Kingdom is an online subscription program that is individualized to each student, so your child will not be competing with his or her siblings, rather, they will move along at their own pace and ability level.

While it is not as flashy and exciting as other educational games they have used, they are enjoying the process of moving along at their own pace. “Mr. Loquacious”, however, does have a strong competitive streak, and frequently tries to get me to tell him where his twin is in the program, most likely because “The Puzzler”, being more interested in reading, has, on his own, taught himself a lot of reading just by pushing himself and asking for help, even before we began this review. “Mr. Loquacious” would rather just be read to, and often pretends he cannot read.

Here are some of the things your child will see at different points in the Reading Kingdom program:

I really have always liked phonics based reading programs, but have come to agree with Reading Kingdom in believing that more than just phonics are needed. The American English language is not the easiest to learn, considering that so much of it has roots from so very many other languages! Add to that the fact that the phonics “rules” simply don’t always apply, and there are a significant number of words which cannot be “sounded out” using those phonics rules, well, it proves that phonics just isn’t enough for many people.

Reading is a NECESSARY skill, for anything one wants to do in life. Therefore, why not use whatever will help our children get there without the frustration often associated with using a solely phonics based program?

Here is a snippet of information from the Reading Kingdom website about their approach to learning to read:

“It’s because of these problems with phonics and whole language that schools across the nation show only 30% of children reading at a “proficient” level, while a staggering 35%-40%, across all socio-economic backgrounds, are failing to master this crucial skill (Source: US Dept. of Education) and those who are succeeding are taking longer to learn than they need to.”

My husband and I both grew up reading for pleasure. In fact, the first purchase we made together when we were getting married were bookcases, to hold our many books, after which, we also had to go through and cull out all of our duplicates! I mention this only to explain why it is so important to me that my children learn to read, not just foe educational purposes, but also for pure enjoyment.

When we first received our login information from the Reading Kingdom company, I got the boys all set up, and they were chomping at the bit to get going.

When a child first begins the program, there is an assessment phase, which helps the program decide where to place him/her. This program is completely customized to the individual student, beginning with the Skills Survey:

“This customization process begins right at the beginning with the Skills Survey. It assesses each student’s skills in reading and writing, and based on the results, the program places each child at the point that is just right for his or her skill level. This prevents students from becoming bored and wasting time learning something they already know or being frustrated by tasks that they are not yet ready for.”

Interestingly, considering that “The Puzzler” has actually pushed himself to read, while “Mr. Loquacious” has mostly resisted learning, the skills survey actually put “Mr. Loquacious” further along in the program. Upon further investigation, I discovered that this is because “The Puzzler” needed help with keyboarding skills, so the program started him in the “Letter Land” format. “Mr. Loquacious” was also placed in Letter Land, but progressed out of it rather quickly, while “The Puzzler” is at this point, 84% completed with this level. I’m fairly sure it’s mostly because “Mr. Puzzler” is developmentally much younger than his twin, so he isn’t quite as quick when it comes to these skills. “Mr. Loquacious” is currently in “Reading/Writing Level 1, with 14 % completed in this level.

By the way, there is another great thing about this program, the online (and emailed!) reports for me, the parent! You see, the program information states right away that other than helping the student get logged on, the parent/teacher is to stay hands off, and not help in any way, other than technological assistance. I like this aspect, and so do the boys, although at first, “Mr. Loquacious” did not, wanting me to tell him if he had the right answers before he would type them in. 🙂

According to the information from Reading Kingdom, their program is “the only system that teaches the following six skills. When children are taught all six skills, they easily master both reading and writing. By focusing on these skills, Reading Kingdom teaches children 4-10 years of age how to read and write at a third grade level. So teach a child to read today and give the gift that lasts a lifetime.”

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Reading Kingdom offers information on their site to help you decide if your child is ready for this program, with topics such as early readers, accelerated readers, and struggling readers.

To learn more about how Reading Kingdom is fundamentally different from other reading systems available today, you can download this very informative pdf

My twins are enjoying Reading Kingdom very much, and frequently ask to do it. In fact, “Mr. Loquacious” often asks to continue on after his official session is done! This is a win/win for me, since he, especially, doesn’t like to stick with one thing for very long.

If you’d like to check it out, there are tons of sample lessons here, including part one and part 2 of the skills survey. There are also a good number of other resources, including printable worksheets to help re-enforce what your child is learning.

Reading Kingdom is an online, subscription based program, which can be purchased for $19.99 per month. You can get the entire year at once, for $199.00, and additional students are $9.99 per month or $99.00 for the whole year.

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Furthermore, for those who truly cannot afford it, Reading Kingdom has a scholarship program! To apply, go here.

Other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members are using Reading Kingdom with their children as well . . . to find out what they think of this program, please click below.

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America The Beautiful . . . a T.O.S. Review

Oh my, were the boys and I excited when we opened the box from the Notgrass Company containing the complete American History curriculum we were going to review!

Book after book came out of that box, beginning with two thick hardcover books containing 75 lessons, which are put together in a series of 30 units between the two. “America the Beautiful: Part 1” covers the year 1000 to the year 1877, while “America the Beautiful: Part 2” covers the late 1800s to the present. We also received another large, hard cover book, “We The People: Words From The Makers of American History”, a wonderful collection of excerpts from biographies, articles and pieces of American literature. Next, we found the America the Beautiful Student Workbook, a very nice wire bound book, and the America the Beautiful Lesson Review, also a very nice wire bound book, which we will use in later years when we re-do this curriculum at a time my boys can do more in-depth work. Next out of the box was the book “Maps of America the Beautiful“. This book is full of very nice outline maps to be used in the different lessons. We are liking that we don’t complete a whole map at one sitting, in fact, we go from map to map, depending upon the lesson we are in. Next, we have the “Timeline of America the Beautiful” book, which I just love! I’ve wanted to do some form of timeline work in our home-schooling, but really wanted it to be in a book, and this perfectly fits what I wanted, and what my kids can handle. Last, but not least, I found the “America the Beautiful Answer Key” book, with answers to everything. From the website:

“America the Beautiful by Charlene Notgrass is a one-year American history, geography, and literature course designed for students in grades 5-8. It combines the flexibility and richness of a unit study with the simplicity of a textbook-based approach to history. Daily lessons guide your child chronologically through American history, highlighting key events, people, and places.”

This curriculum is absolutely beautiful, and so very easy to use! I really don’t have to do any teacher prep, other than to make sure we have the materials for the family activity listed for each unit, if we choose to do it. So far, we’ve done just one of them, because the others either didn’t interest us or were a bit overwhelming for our household.

We’ve chosen to work on this as a group, since my boys are at different levels of ability due to ages and varying special needs, and we take from two to four days per lesson. I read the actual lesson out loud, while we all look at the illustrations and photos given (which takes perhaps more time than it’s supposed to, because my boys love to ask questions and discuss what is in the lesson as we go). Then, there is generally a selection to read from “We the People: Words From the Makers of American History”, which is also a read-aloud. After that, we do the various end of lesson activities, which range from “thinking biblically” (for which they each have their own 3-ring binder), to vocabulary (which we often do orally), to a map page, and a page in the Student Workbook. All of this, as I said, usually takes us anywhere from two to four days, but we stretch it like that primarily because I have found that for my boys, the knowledge will stick better that way. The author of this curriculum, Charlene Notgrass, makes a point in the introduction to tell us not to be a slave to the written schedule, but to make it work for us, so that’s precisely what we are doing, and it’s working! Therefore, although this is written as a one year curriculum, we will be stretching it out for as long as it takes to go through it, and then, perhaps go back and do it again, using the “America the Beautiful Lesson Review” Book when the boys are older.

There are ten novels assigned at different times during the course of this curriculum, beginning with Unit 4. They are:

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Units 4-5)

Amos Fortune: Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (Units 6-7)

Brady by Jean Fritz (Units 9-10)

Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen (Units 12-13)

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (Units 14-15)

Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Units 16-17)

All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (Units 19-20)

Blue Willow by Doris Gates (Units 21-22)

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey (Unit 25)

Katy by Mary Evelyn Notgrass (Units 29-30)

The first five books go with “America the Beautiful: Part 1”, with the second five going along with “America the Beautiful: Part 2”. To get us started, I purchased the first three novels, and will get the rest as we get close to needing them. All are easily available at bookstores or your library, with the possible exception of the final book assigned, which was written by the daughter of the author of this curriculum.

I was a little bit nervous about whether or not my boys would (a) enjoy this curriculum, and (b) be able to do the work involved, but they really do like it, and because we are doing it together, and they are taking turns on each map lesson and student workbook lesson, they are handling the work quite well. Of course, if anyone looked at either of those books, they would immediately be able to tell that four different people had written on each and every page! 🙂 Doing the workbook and map book this way makes it much more manageable for my children. We do the timeline book orally together, and then “The Artist”, who has the easiest time with writing things down, actually writes the entry into the space provided.

If you would like to view samples of the different books in this curriculum, you will find them here. You will find the table of contents and a sample unit from “America the Beautiful: Part 1”, the table of contents, a sample unit and the index from “America the Beautiful: Part 2”, sample pages from “We the People”, sample maps from ” Maps of America the Beautiful”, sample pages from “Timeline of America the Beautiful”, and you may view the “America the Beautiful Answer Key”.

The Notgrass Company also offers a family newsletter, for which you can sign up using your email address here. It is emailed every couple of weeks, and includes “family activity ideas, articles, information about our products, and special offers.”

Here is “The Artist”, copying an entry into the timeline . . .

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“The Batman”, coloring in a section of one of the maps . . .

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“Mr. Loquacious”, also doing map-work . . .

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and “The Puzzler” working with “The Artist” on one of the Student Workbook pages . . .

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One of the end of unit family activities was to make Navajo Flat bread, which we did one evening when my husband had offered to make “breakfast for dinner”. It was very easy, and the boys and I all worked on it together.

This is all that we needed to make a batch of Navajo Flat Bread . . .

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Here are pictures of each of the boys taking a turn at hand mixing the dough . . .

First up, “The Artist”

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“The Batman” . . .

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“The Puzzler” . . .

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and “Mr. Loquacious”!

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Then, I kneaded the dough . . .

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after which we were instructed to let it rest for ten minutes. Then, we divided it into ten balls and began rolling!

“Mr. Loquacious” . . .

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“The Artist” . . .

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“The Batman” . . .

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and “The Puzzler”!

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Here are the boys with all ten circles rolled out . . .

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and finally, a piece of Navajo Flat Bread in the process of being fried!

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The bread was soft, and tasted very good with butter and honey on it. It was a tasty addition to our scrambled eggs with sweet onion and ham!

The “America the Beautiful” curriculum is available to purchase here for $99.95, and includes the following books:

“America the Beautiful: Part 1”
“America the Beautiful: Part 2”
“We The People: Words From the Makers of American History”
“Maps of America the Beautiful”
“Timeline of America the Beautiful”
“America the Beautiful Answer Key”

The “America the Beautiful Student Workbook” is available here for $11.95, and “America the Beautiful Lesson Review” is available here for $9.95.

For the most part, “America the Beautiful” is definitely a hit in our house, and we highly recommend it! The only thing I wish would be different would be to have (especially in the workbook!) Bible verses to be from the KJV. That’s the only Bible my family, and my church uses, so when a workbook page uses a different version, I either have to re-create the page, or go ahead and do it, using it as a lesson in why we believe as we do. I chose to do the latter here, because the only way the rest of the page worked was by using the verse as given.

Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed this and other products from the Notgrass Company. Please cruise on by and see what they thought!

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A Follow Up To An Earlier Post . . .

Today I am updating a post I made a few weeks back . . .

In today’s edition of the ABQJournal, columnist Joline Gutierrez-Krueger published this column.

The third portion of this column is written about a family that we in OUR family hold dear. We have, and would again, trust these parents with the lives of our own children.

We, like them, are raising a child adopted from foster care who, as a result of reactive attachment disorder along with other things, has harmed himself, at least one sibling, and me, his mother, during the first two and a half years he was with us. He is a different child now, but during that time, he repeatedly, if he did not get his way, deliberately harmed himself, while saying he would then go tell others that we had done it. We were lucky in that we had a number of mandatory reporters as part of our circle of family and friends who had witnessed this behavior, or we would have been in the same boat as the Kuckartz family.

They do NOT deserve what is being done to them! They did every single thing asked of them by CYFD. Their children were returned to them long ago. It is my understanding that some CYFD workers involved in the case have even come and apologized for what they put the family through.

They are now stalked and harassed by strangers. They have had horrible things painted on their vehicle while it was in a parking area during errands. They are losing their home as a result of mounting legal bills. And they are facing 18 years of prison, because a DA wants to build a reputation on the backs of people who have taken on children who have serious problems that were created by the true abusers, their birth parents.

I implore you to check out the articles, and facebook.com/seekingjusticenow, and please, help this family. Sign the petition. Pray for their protection from this “prosecutorial vindictiveness”, which is exactly what it is. Stop this DA from continuing to harass and terrorize this family.

I said this in my previous post, and I will say it again . . .

this needs to stop . . . NOW!

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My Review of A+Tutorsoft Interactive MATH

We recently had the opportunity to test drive the A+ Interactive MATH from A+ Tutorsoft.

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We decided to use our son “The Artist” as our Guinea Pig test subject. In addition to being the highest functioning of our 4 special needs kids, he was recently assessed and found to be lacking in math skills. We wanted to see if we could help him catch up, so we chose to review grade 3. Given the options of a CD or online curriculum, we decided on the CD due to various internet challenges we’ve had recently. The Premium Edition that we are using is available at A+ Interactive MATH, and the price is $124.99.

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The CD was easy to install and setup in Windows. The CD is not Mac-compatible, but the company reports good results using Parallels to let your Mac run in a Windows environment. The company’s FAQ’s does mention this use is not supported. You do need an internet connection to activate the software, and we recommend you set up a Parent Profile . . . while you can use the program without this profile, you’ll lose some neat security and student tracking features we’ll go over later.

The program comes with a recommended lesson plan, which you can fill in on the computer and print a copy. I found it easier for me to do both . . . use a blank copy of the lesson plan for the day to day, then enter it into the computer later.

The Lesson Plan recommends taking 2 weeks to go through most chapters. We started out at the recommended pace, but our son wasn’t really being challenged at this point. We decided to step up the pace a little. Starting with Chapter 2, we upped the pace to one chapter per week. We just started Chapter 4 (Multiplication) this week, and he seems to be showing signs of reaching his level . . . we’ll be slowing things down to the recommended two-weeks-per-chapter pace fairly soon.

Please be assured, you do not have to do this fine tuning for your child/children. There is a free placement test available at the web site, so you can evaluate your kids and determine where to start. A+ Interactive MATH is available in Grades 1-6, Pre-Algebra and Algebra.

Each Chapter is separated into sub units. Each sub unit has a Curriculum, an Interactive Lesson and Q&A (which lets you print a Certificate of Achievement) and a Worksheet, and there is a Chapter Exam once your student completes each Chapter. Coming soon in the 3rd and 4th Grade curriculum (and already available in the 1st and 2nd Grade CD’s) are Cumulative Reviews which not only include the most recently worked chapter, but one or two of the previous chapters.

The process we’ve worked out is starting the day with a quick review of the Curriculum. Depending on your child, you may just let them read it on-screen and see if they have any questions before starting on the Q&A. Once he’s printed the Q&A Certificate, he starts the Worksheet, a 10-question reinforcement of the lesson. We then grade the Worksheet before moving to the next sub unit.

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The Premium Version we’re using also allows you to track these results by entering the Q&A, Worksheet and Exam results in a Student Tracking area (if you’ve set up a Parent Profile). This not only helps you determine what your child needs, but I imagine would be incredibly useful if you home school in a state that has mandatory reporting.

For this type of math, and taking into account the student involved, we set a pass/fail level of 80%. On the one Worksheet he scored 60%, we pumped the brakes to see what happened. We reviewed the worksheet with “The Artist”, and determined the problem was not the lack of understanding of the subject matter. It was back in Chapter 1, and he was basically blowing through the problems and not checking his work because he wasn’t feeling challenged.

We did allow him to re-do the worksheet, just to make sure he understood the subject matter (he got 100% on the 2nd try). But, in order to help him in his future focus challenges, he was told the original 60% is what was entered into the Student Tracking. This might seem harsh to some, but he hasn’t failed a single Worksheet since we instituted this policy! This is also what made us decide to quicken the pace of the Lesson Plan.

More on the Parent Profile . . . when you’re signed in as the parent, you have access to the Solutions Guides for the Worksheets and Chapter Exams. Plus, you have the option of setting up some security so the student does not have access to these Solution Guides and Tracking. We do not allow our son access to the Solutions Guides or Tracking. However, if your child works better with minimal assistance and can be trusted not to peek, you do have the option to give them access so they can self-manage their progress.

A+ TutorSoft Interactive MATH is available in either CD or online curriculum. While A+ TutorSoft does provide ability for parents to very easily check and track student work, the CD version does not automatically track the student assignment grades. However, the online edition DOES track all assignments completed online in addition to providing option for the parents to print the assignments and have them grade/track using the tools we provide.

The CD version is designed that way so that parents can be more involved in their student’s homeschool MATH journey and can check/track their work using the tools, which include the parent’s solutions manuals and electronic grade book among others. Parents are NOT expected to have the mastery of MATH in order to grade student’s work. A+ TutorSoft provides all of the tools that make it really easy for any parent to check the student’s work and enter them into our program to track and view various reports.

Overall, this program gives “The Artist” the structure he needs for learning math, and allows the Parent/Teacher to set the pace of the course. We intend to continue on with A+ Interactive MATH in the future.

A+ Tutorsoft is currently offering an AWESOME special promotion to you, my wonderful readers . . . through the end of March, you will receive 50% off your order with the coupon code SPOFFER50!

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Sail on over and read what other crew members thought of this and other grades, as well as the online version of the curriculum!

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