Tag Archives: 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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As always, I would love if you joined me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Please go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and enter your email. And if you enjoy “My Journeys”, please, go to our Facebook page and “like” it! I’d sure appreciate it if you did! 🙂

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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 . . .

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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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Amazing Science, Volume 1 . . . A T.O.S. Review

Anyone who knows me well, KNOWS I am simply NOT good at science (right, Charlene? lol!) So, when I saw that this particular review of Amazing Science, Volume 1 would have SIMPLE experiments, explained by the instructor, Jason Gibson, in a way that even *I* could understand (never mind the children), I decided to go for it!

Jason Gibson has earned advanced degrees in Engineering and Physics, has worked as a Rocket Scientist for NASA, and loves teaching Science and Math (don’t even get me going on how much I have always hated Math, lol!).

The product we received for review is, as I said above, Amazing Science, Volume 1, which comes from ScienceandMath.com.

It comes in one DVD case, which holds two separate DVD’s. On those two DVD’s, we found 23 different science experiments to watch, learn about, and actually do, in very little time, as long as we had the needed materials around the house.

For this review, I am going to focus in on the Color Changing Milk experiment, because all of the boys thought it was cool! I heard plenty of “oooohhh’s” even from the one kid (“that would be “The Batman”) who was complaining about watching when he wanted to play a video game, lol!

Here, we see the instructor on our TV screen, talking about one of the experiments, and explaining the science behind it.
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All four boys, watching with definite interest, while Mr. Gibson explains what he is doing, and why.
Amazing Science 003
The Color Changing Milk experiment, which was absolutely the top vote getter for which one to put on this blog post, was a hit. All four boys really loved how it came out! Here are some pictures of the process while getting things ready to go.
This is me, getting things started . . .
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Now, we add the four food colors into the milk.
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We honestly thought it might not work, because the only food coloring we had was the gel kind, and Mr. Gibson was using the liquid sort, however, if you will watch the video below, you’ll see how well it worked!

You can see how much fun they had, right? 🙂

Here is how our plate of milk looked when they had really finished up as much as possible.
Amazing Science 016

At this point, all of the fat in the milk had clung to the dish soap, so the only way to do it again would be to start over with a new batch. So, we have learned how it is that the soap works better than just water when we wash our hands or our dishes, especially if we are trying to wash off something with fat in it.

Here is “Mr. Loquacious”, rinsing the plate off with cold water, but all of the boys loved what he discovered when he dumped the milk into the sink, BEFORE he actually began rinsing it . . .
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Here are some samples provided on the company’s website for the following experiments . . .

“Balloon in a Candle Flame”

“Amazing Magnetic Force” . . .

And if you go to Amazing Science, Volume 1, you will find links to a couple of other samples, as well as the complete DVD chapter index of all that you will get on this set of DVD’s.

Amazing Science, Volume 1 is available as a DVD set for the cost of $ 17.95 (a discount off of the retail price of $24.95), and as a digital download for $14.99. I do think this product is at a very good price point for what you get!

I am supposed to tell you that the intended age range for this product is grades 1 through 3, but let me just tell you, every single one of my boys love it, and so do I. And I am WELL past grade 1 – 3, lol! In fact, there would literally be only one thing that I don’t care for about this package. I wish the company would make a little mini booklet to insert into the DVD case, sort of like the liner notes that you see in music DVD’s, listing the materials needed for each experiment. That would make it much easier to collect the materials needed BEFORE watching the DVD. My kids wanted to do some things for which I really did not have the materials on hand (like copper pipe, a bicycle tire pump, etc), but we did have materials on hand for a few things.

This DVD set would be wonderful for any homeschooling family, but I think it would also be great as a supplement for students who are in public or private school. In short, it’s great for anyone!

I also want to acknowledge my husband Mike, who took all of the pictures, and the video as well, while working on learning to use his new camera. Didn’t he do a great job? 🙂

If you’d like to read what other crewmates thought of Amazing Science, Volume 1 and other products (Mastering 5th Grade Math – Volume 1 – Essentials of Fractions, Algebra 1: Volume 1, & Fractions Thru Algebra Companion Worksheet CD) from ScienceandMath.com, please click the graphic below . . .
ScienceandMath.com Review
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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 another 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 Amazing Science! Volume 1, education, home education, homeschool products, Homeschool Science, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post

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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Filed under encouragement, family, Motivated Moms, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, TOS Post, TOS Review

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” . . .
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And here is a shot of “Mr. Loquacious, also working on his own . . .
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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 . . .
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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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As always, I’d love it if you joined me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email into the “sign me up” button at the top of this blog, and you’ll never miss an update again. And, 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, home education, homeschool products, Homeschool Science Curriculum, homeschooling, Science4Us.com, Special Needs Children, TOS Post, TOS Review

KinderBach Online Piano Lessons For The Very Young . . . A T.O.S. Review

The KinderBach Online Membership with Teacher Corner was not something I initially was planning to review, but ended up doing so anyway, as I thought my two younger boys, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” would get some fun out of it, and add to their beginning music education. My older boys and myself take actual piano lessons, where we go to our piano teacher’s home, but the younger two are simply not ready for that as yet.

KinderBach says that the best time to introduce your children to making music, and the fun that will come from doing so, is between the ages of 3 and 7. As most of you already are aware, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are actually age 12, but they do have some developmental delays, so this program has been fun for them. They especially like the coloring pages that come with the program! 🙂
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There are pages to use for most of the lessons, and you can print them out from within the lesson, such as this one here . . .
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There are also activity books available to print out all at once, if you like.

You can even take KinderBach on the go with you, by using the KinderBach app for Iphone or Ipad!

Even if you don’t yet have a piano or keyboard, KinderBach has printable keyboard sheets which will get your students started for the first few weeks.

KinderBach Online Piano Lessons With Teacher Corner yearly membership will give you access to 6 levels of fun and worthwhile musical education for the 3 – 7-year-old, which also includes (to my delight!) a physical component, as you can see in the photos below . . .
Here we see Frisco doing both “up” and “down” motions for the students to follow
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And here are “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” following along!
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KinderBach is “Child Paced“, making it a very good program for the special needs child or the child with a short attention span, but still is advanced enough for the child in the suggested age range.

To read the curriculum syllabus by level, please look here.

You will receive all web lessons, via your computer, iPad, Android Tablet, Kindle Fire or Nook. You will also have the availability of all of the Teacher Corner materials, plus the ability to download all of the story books, song books, and coloring pages.

At this time, there are over $400 worth of books in the Teacher’s Corner and more will be added soon. With your membership, you never have to pay more for a new edition. Your membership permits you the to download all updates.

The cost for KinderBach Piano Lessons Online With Teacher Corner is very reasonable, for everything you’ll be getting . . .

To check Kinderbach out via various social media, here are some places they can be found:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kinderbach
Facebook for Teachers: http://www.facebook.com/classroomkinderbach
Twitter: @KinderBach
Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/KinderBach/
YouTube: KinderBach Preschool Piano

To sum things up, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” have been enjoying their first Crew Review of this new year, and so have I!

To read what other crew members thought of KinderBach, please click the graphic below:
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As always, I would 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 page and never miss an update again! Also, if you 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 home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, Piano for early education, Special Needs Children

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
, please click the graphic below!
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