Tuesday, February 23, 2010

TOS Crew: Bee Hive Reader

On my first voyage with the Homeschool Crew, I reviewed two products from All About Spelling. One was their Spelling program, you can see that review here. The other product I reviewed was their product called All About Homophones, you can see that review, here.

This year, once again I have been given the opportunity to look over a product by All About Spelling. I was sent a copy of The BeeHive Reader.  This is a beginning reader that is designed to go hand in hand with the Level 1 Spelling program, although it can be used as a stand alone as well.

The book is a high quality, 160 page, hard cover book. Which, I really liked. The illustrations were beautiful. It reminded me of an old fashioned reader. However, the language was current. One of the down sides of using old books to teach reading, is that they use Old English. With the BeeHive Reader, you have the same feeling of an older book, with the quality, the illustrations, the nice hard cover, however the words used are words  that your young reader would be familiar with. Even if they were not using the All About Spelling spelling program. However, the benefit of the reader and the spelling program working together, is that the words are reinforced!

The only downside for me is the price. $19.99 is more than I would be able spend on a reader. However, it is
definitely  a quality product.

Please visit All About Spelling to see their full product line.

As usual, sail on over to the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say!

**I was given a free copy of The BeeHive Reader  in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed in this review, are mine alone.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

TOS Crew: Math Mammoth

This is my second year on the TOS Homeschool Crew. We have benn blessed beyond measure! Last year while on the crew I was given the opportunity to review several Math Mammoth Products. I was thrilled when I was told I would be able to again review their products!

You can read my original review here. This year I received  Light Blue Series Level 4 and 5.

If you are not familiar with Math Mammoth you may wonder what Light Blue Series means. Here is how Math Mammoth describes their workbooks;
BODY,.aolmailheader {font-size:10pt; color:black; font-family:Arial;} a.aolmailheader:link {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:visited {color:magenta; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:active {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:hover {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} * LightBlue Series - a complete curriculum that goes by grade levels.
  See http://www.mathmammoth.com/complete-curriculum.php and also   http://www.mathmammoth.com/complete/placement_tests.php

* Blue Series - shorter worktexts for different topics from
  addition to decimals. See http://www.mathmammoth.com/blue-series.php   These work really well for review, reinforcement, filling in gaps, etc.

The two series above are like regular math books in the fact they contain  both explanations of the concepts and practice problems. The material between the Blue and Light Blue is about the same, just organized differently.

BODY,.aolmailheader {font-size:10pt; color:black; font-family:Arial;} a.aolmailheader:link {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:visited {color:magenta; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:active {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:hover {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} * Golden Series - worksheet collections (or workbooks)
  for grades 3-8. These worksheets contain very variable
  problems in each sheet, and are not script-made.
  See http://www.mathmammoth.com/worksheets/

* Green Series - as above, but by topic, not by grade.
  See http://www.mathmammoth.com/worksheets/green.php

The two series above contain problems only, but very variable problems.

Again, the two series above are duplicates. The difference is in how the material is organized: either into grade-levels or into topics.

Over the years we have done a few different textbook companies for Math. I must tell you that as a teacher and from my children's perspective, we enjoy Math Mammoth.

I had started buying textbooks, for the fact that they were reusable with my five children. However, this method was not conducive to their learning styles. They like workbooks much better. I just had a hard time purchasing and repurchasing the same books over and over.  Math mammoth is the best of both worlds. It comes in the form of an E-book, so you can print out and print out again for subsequent children. I printed out entire books, and put them in a three ring binder. I do not print out the teachers manuals, I just read those on my computer.

Not only for typical children is this a benefit, when you have multiple children, however, if you have any special needs learners, this is extremely helpful. That way if they need to concentrate on something longer, you can print out more worksheets, without having to purchase more books!  I really like this feature!!!

I have also found that my children have been challenged yet, they have been able to grasp the concepts as Math Mammoth has presented them. Some of the same concepts they were struggling to understand with other textbook companies.

When you visit the Math Mammoth Website you will find links to all of her products, both the full curriculum line as well as the supplemental line.

You can purchase the download version of the Light Blue Series either in a bundle package or by individual grades.

The downloadable bundle package is $99 for grades 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Or you can purchase the CD version of the same for $104.


You can purchase individual grade levels for $29.70.

Visit Math Mammoth for pricing on all the packages available.

And, as usual, please visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about Math Mammoth!

I was given the products mentioned in this review for free, in exchange for my honest opinion. All views contained within this review are my opinions, and mine alone.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

TOS Crew: ZeeZok

Over the years I have often added 'handwriting' in the mix.  I have printed out pages, and made little books for the kids, and they complete the book. However, it was never long enough to actually make a difference. So I have wanted to have something handy for them to use.

So when I found out that I would be reviewing a handwriting program, I thought, great!!! Exactly what we need.

Now, I really do not have time for a labor intensive program. We have so many needs in our house, that I must say handwriting has slid right to that back burner.

I received Presidential Penmanship Italic Style Complete Program A Supplemental Handwriting Skills Program for First Grade Through Senior High. 

Now, this program is indeed a supplemental program. This is a down side for me. It is intended as practice once the ground work of handwriting has been done.

What we did like was the fact that these were Presidential Quotes. Not just simple one line quotes. Also, included are several Inaugural Addresses, and the Gettysburg Address and the Declaration of Independence.

The big bonus for us, a large family, is that this CD contains 8 levels of handwriting. You can print off what you need for each child, year after year. This makes it a very good investment! Almost no matter the cost.. What is the cost, you ask?  It is $39.99 for the CD that contains all 8 levels.  Even if you only used each level 1 time, that works out to a cost of less than $5 per level. Knowing that I have 5 children... this is an extremely good deal!

While we received the Italic font, they offer several others:

AB Handwriting ( A Beka) BJ Handwriting (Bob Jones) DN Handwriting (D'nealian) HWOT Handwriting (Handwriting Without Tears) and ZB Handwriting (Zaner Bloser)

This is a really neat affordable handwriting resource. Please check out their website to see if it will work for your family.

As always, please check out the crew blog to see what my crew mates thought of this product!

I was sent a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest opinion. The opinions stated in this review are mine and mine alone.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TOS Crew: Apologia The Ultimate Homeschool Guide

For the second year, the crew from The TOS Homeschool Crew have had the
privilege to review products from Apologia. You can read my review from last year by clicking here.

  I received a free copy of The Ultimate Homeschool Guide, by Debra Bell in exchange for my honest opinion.

Now, I had never heard of this book. Several members of the crew had read this book years ago, but this was a brand new book for me! I have been homeschooling my children for 10 years. And have a shelf full of How To Homeschool books, and I have borrowed shelves worth, in addition to that.

I have to tell you , that this book has been an easy read. While I have not completed the entire book, I am well on my way. I have thumbed through the entire book to get a good feel of what is offered.

One thing that I have always said that homeschoolers need, is to surround themselves with quality homeschooling publications. Books and magazines.
I believe, if you do that, when you come up against a struggle, if you have read about different homeschooling methods and philosophies you are able to adapt as needed. Whereas if you do not, you may feel like a failure. Some have given up on homeschooling, when in reality, all they needed was a course correction.

The Ultimate Homeschool Guide had much to offer even me, a homeschooler with some experience under her belt.

Here are some of the areas covered in this helpful book;
   Homeschooling; Is It For You?
   Choosing a Curriculum
   Organization and Planning
   Preventing Burnout
   What to Teach-When and How
   Homeschooling Teens
   Computers in the Homeschool
   Creative Solutions
   Measuring Your Success
As you can see, even the seasoned homeschooler will gain knowledge from The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. If you are a member of a homeschool group, I would also  recommend that you get this book for your group, to loan out to new and prospective homeschoolers.

Apologia is a company that I know and trust, please visit their website, to see all of the resources they have available.

Please visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about this fine product!

Monday, February 15, 2010

TOS Blog Cruise ~ Many Ages ~ Many Stages

  Often times when people see the number of children I have, (5) they have often asked, 'How do you manage teaching all the different grade levels?'  So here is a little peek inside our home.

  In essence, our method has not changed very much, since we started homeschooling 10 years ago. We do the bulk of our learning together. My children range in ages from 10-17. You might be thinking how in the world is this possible?

   I must admit, our family is eclectic, when it comes to our method of homeschooling. So, what I have done, is create a model that works for us.

  Through the years, I have heard the experts say that when answering those tough questions your kids ask you, that they only hear what they are ready to hear. So even if you go off on a tangent, and give them way more information than they are ready for, the child still can only process what they are ready for, and essentially will turn off when they have received the information they need.
  That is about how we look at educating our children. We want to challenge them all, as well as meet them where they are. We do that by purchasing curriculum that lends itself to group teaching, as well as using the Unit Study Approach and Charlotte Mason as a guide.

 How? Spelling? Really? We use a program for spelling called Sequential Spelling. We started using this program several years ago. And we have been working steadily through it. It is comprehensive and extensive. My younger one is challenged, and has met that challenge! And my older children are learning words that they need as well. It really is a great program for group teaching, as they do not teach by grade level. Just level 1-7.

  Bible, prior to this year, we would read the bible aloud together, and I would have put together some sort of devotional. As the kids grew, I was adding in teaching them out to study the bible, and how to use bible study materials. (Concordance, Topical Bible, Bible Dictionary) This year, we are using Grapevine Studies, and studying an overview of the New Testament. I am loving it and so are they!

    For several years I used KONOS, which was wonderful. They took bible character traits, and created a study on each one. Which included History, Science, Geography, some creative writing, and much more. I only had to supplement Math and Language Arts. What was great, is that they did the leg work for me, all I had to do was follow along!

  Okay, so what does this look like? Say we are learning about World War II, I would read a book aloud to all of the kids. I would strive for a book that would be above the level of reading as the younger students reading ability. This allowed them to hear vocabulary, they were not yet ready to read. I would also assign reading at the reading level of each student on the same content. You can use the library for this, in order to keep your costs down.

 Then they each would have to give me a 'report'. You might have a 5 year old draw a picture, And perhaps a second grader a picture and a paragraph or two.  And as they children get older, you just meet them at their ability level, and challenge them. Your high school could be writing a research paper on a subject, while your elementary student is simply writing a few paragraphs.

 In science, you can do experiments with all of them. However, the older students may have additional experiments, or research work to do. The younger students are exposed to all of this learning at the same time.

 Why teach in this fashion? Well, for one, it is a great way to maintain family

cohesiveness.  It is one of the aspects homeschooling that I have loved! That our family is not being torn in 5 different directions. We are moving in the same direction!  It also gives mom the ability to spend less time on those topics that are being learned together, and gives her to mental acuity to focus on the math and reading, that will need to be done at their respective grade levels.  For me, one of the most difficult things to do, is switch back and forth at the different grade levels for Math. I am thankful that I do not have to do that for every subject!

 Now when my youngest was a preschooler, she would still be in on what we were doing, though she always had something to  keep her hands busy while we were doing our read alouds. So she would coloring, sorting, building blocks, etc.. while we were reading, and she was able to listen to all that we were doing. I would have coloring sheets and such for her to complete, because she often wanted to do school.

 One of the beauties of homeschooling, is the fact that we can make it fit for our family. We do not have to home educate in cookie cutter form!

Be sure to check out the crew page, to see what others are saying about this topic as well!

Happy Homeschooling!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dollar Homeschool Eclectic Education Series

Most homeschoolers have heard of McGuffey's Readers and Ray's Arithmetic. I am not unique, I too,  have heard about these for years. The difference for me, is that I learned how to read using McGuffey's. No, I wasn't homeschooled, but the small private school we attended used them as our readers!

  McGuffey's and Ray's were written in the 1800's, when I think of them, I always think of Little House on the Prairie, imagining  the one room school house. So when I first heard about Ray's Arithmetic I was also intrigued by them. Wondering, what in the world would these look like.

  McGuffey's use phonics to teach reading, and Ray's focus's on mental math. It is a very interesting way to teach math!

  Overall, I love the idea of using old books to teach my children. So several years ago I purchased the full set of McGuffey's and Ray's.  I have used them both in my homeschool over the years.

   This year as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was given a free copy of the Eclectic Education Series from  Dollar Homeschool, in exchange for my honest review. My impression was that it was going to be basically just Ray's and McGuffey's in PDF format. 

    While that is true, however, it is much much more!  The shear number of books that are included in this package is staggering. In all honesty, if you put to use every single thing that is included you will not need to purchase much of anything else.. if anything at all for most of your homeschooling journey.

   There are a couple things I wanted to point out, first is that several, if not all of these books are available free on the internet. However, you would have to scour the internet to find them, and then you would need to organize them,.. etc. With EES, all of that leg work has been done for you! And if you are anything like me,  even if you want to get the most value for your dollar, this is something that is worth the cost. EES is available for $159, which is a $56 savings if you were to purchase the titles
separately . .

  Click Here to see exactly what you are receiving.

              The set includes 5 cds:

                     Mc Guffey's Readers
            EES Grammar



                   Ray's Arithmetic

As I work through the books offered as part of the Eclectic Education Series, It was hard to know where to begin. Thankfully there is included in the series, is a book, called Manual of Methods. This book really explains the intent of the books included in the EES, and how to use them in your home. It was written in 1800 to go along with these books.

   As, I  read through the  Manual of Methods, I wished that I had access to this book, when I first purchased my hardcover copies of Ray's and McGuffey's.

    What the Manual of Methods offers that I did not previously have, is a guide book to these awesome resources. Telling you how to utilize the books and the lessons. Not only that, there are lessons to the teacher. How to teach reading and writing and arithmetic. How the mind works and how the material should be presented.

   There were several times I was reading this book, thinking.. yes, that's right...... One of those times when I read the quote.."
No matter what textbook is used, it should be used only as a guide, and it's subject matter should be supplemented or cut down, as in the teacher's judgment, necessity requires.' ~ Manual of Methods 1885

    There is wisdom contained in the many volumes included with EES, and if you take the time to dig deep, you will be able to furnish your child/ren with an amazing education using these resources.

   One thing that may or may not need to be mentioned. These books are old, so they are not chalk full of snazzy graphics, and color. They are very simple. However, there is quality within the pages of those books!

   You can use this as a full curriculum or as a supplement, either way it is a great deal. I would not have had the time or patience to locate all of the books included.

   Take some time and peruse the links listed to see if this resource would be beneficial to your family.

   And don't forget to check out the crew blog, to see what my crew mates think!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Grapevine Studies Have a New Website!!

Grapevine Studies will be launching a new website next week. And in honor the new website, they are having a sale that will be going on through the end of February. Please visit their site  by clicking here.

 Earlier this year, as part of the TOS Crew, I was given the opportunity to review one of their products. You can read my review here.

While on the website you can also join their newsletter. Below you will find a copy of their current teacher article!!

Happy Stick Figuring!

What We Can Learn From the Planting of Olive Trees

In 2005, we had the privilege of taking our family on a tour of the land of Israel. One of the first things people notice in Israel is the olive trees.  In Israel, olive trees represent ownership of the land;  if you own the olive tree, you own the land that the olive tree is planted on.  One day on our tour our guide, Yossi, talked about the different philosophies behind planting olive trees in the land of Israel--the Arab perspective and the Jewish perspective.
Yossi explained that the Arabs first take a cutting and place it in a hole dug for the new tree. The shoots are then watered and given the necessary fertilizer to grow. Eventually the tree grows and bears fruit. This is the Arab method of growing an olive tree.
The Jewish method begins the same as the Arab method--with a cutting.  However, that is where the similarities between the two methods end. The Israelis place the little shoot into a soil plug and tend it in a nursery until it is strong enough to be transplanted. While in the nursery, the little sapling is watered, fertilized, and the plant is cared for to ensure it grows strong. In due time, the gardener sees that the plant is ready, and he transplants it into the field.  Eventually it bears fruit.
At this point, Yossi stopped and asked if we had any questions.  We did.  What is the difference between the two trees?  He paused and said, "The quality of the fruit."
The Lord left us the commission to "go and make disciples." As you look at those the Lord has entrusted into your care to disciple, how are you planting your trees? Are you just giving them the bare minimum they will need to grow and bear fruit?  Or are you tenderly nurturing those in your care to oversee their proper growth so that they will be equipped to bear maximum fruit?
How can we ensure that our little plants grow up to be strong disciples and in turn make disciples?

Mark 16:28 gives us clues:

    -Teach them to love and obey God and His Word.
    -Pray for them.
    -Equip them to teach and disciple others.
Grapevine Studies exists to help provide tools for teachers and parents to use in discipling others and helping them grow and bear fruit wherever they are planted.  May God bless you as you tend the young trees in your nursery.

Serving Him with Stick Figures,
Grapevine Studies

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Free Grammar Lessons for Middle School and High School

We have been loving this resource! My kids hop on and work through several lessons a day! It has been a real blessing! Check it out!!

English Grammar 101 may be used free of charge for individual study and home schooling. Students are  able to complete the lessons, have them scored and print them out for their records!  This has been a real time saver in our home!


Here is what the creator has to say about her program....

Welcome to English Grammar 101. This is an instructional series that I originally designed for students, middle school through high school. I am now offering these materials on the Internet for students or anyone interested in improving his or her knowledge of the English language.

Over a period of years, I have developed a learning method that I believe to be new and revolutionary in teaching the structure of languages. Using the interactive capabilities of the computer, this new method provides for the efficient teaching of complex concepts in language and provides for students to interact with the materials and receive immediate feedback of responses. Students learn language concepts and experience the language at the same time. The materials establish a tutorial relationship with the student allowing the student to work at his or her own pace. Each exercise is an instructional sequence and is completely self correcting with a numerical score provided. Pre-tests and final Post-tests are provided as well as a means for teacher monitoring. Essentially, with this new method, the computer has become a powerful teaching and learning tool.

This grammar series may be utilized as an adjunct text within the regular classroom or as a text within alternative educational settings. A student may repeat a volume as often as desired for reinforcement. The object of the series is "learning" and not just completing the material.

I would encourage each student to do his/her best. Don't be discouraged when errors are made. Errors are an important part of learning and an important part of life. Remember that each exercise is an instructional sequence and not a test. Repeat the exercise or volume as many times as you like.


If you are looking for grammar curriculum, why not give this a try.. after all.. it's free!!!


Kelly Moore Bag Give Away

I love contests and freebies!!! Check out the Kelly Moore Site to see if you win a Kelly Moore Bag!! I have entered.. will you??


What I have Learned While Homeschooling!

While working on a mom’s night presentation for our homeschool group, some
things came to mind, that I wanted to share with you. These are those lessons I have learned from being a mom, a homeschooling mom of children with special needs.  Even if you do nto have a child with special needs, I think you might pull something from this as well!

You know, I can remember back to when I was a brand new mother. And we had our first child, a perfect little boy. A few months later we were told that he was having seizures. From that moment our world was changed.. and it has never been the same.

Our homeschooling journey has been defined by the learning disabilities and health struggles in our family. There has been no room in our home for comparing to others. Looking at other children to see how our child
is doing, if they are at the same skill level etc..

In some ways this is so very freeing. Because, you realize in short order that each and every one of us are created uniquely by our Creator. We all know this, for sure, but it is a totally different thing when you work with your child who is struggling to read or to write his name, or maybe even, to simply to sit in a chair.

In homeschooling, we often times get so caught up in what the world is doing, what the world is expecting, that we forget that we are raising these children up to glorify the Lord.

Recently, I was having a conversation with a mom about labels. There are some families that have the thought that labels are a bad thing and should be
avoided at all costs. While I understand their thinking, I do not agree with them. I agree, you do not want your child to become their label, you also do not want them to use the label as a crutch.

However, by having a label you will be able to have resources on how to help them overcome their struggle. For example, my son has dyslexia. By reading about dyslexia, first I was able to ascertain, whether or not he really did have dyslexia, or if he was simply delayed. Second, I was able to locate the
resources that helped him to overcome his reading struggles. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!

Here is one way to think of labels. When you are sick do you just guess at what is wrong with you, and then give yourself the cure that you think you need?

Or do you go to the doctor, or health practitioner of your choice? Perhaps do blood work, or take an X- ray? Then you know how to handle what is truly
going on within your body. The same rings true with your child! Learning what ‘label’ may be attached to a learning struggle can help you help your child
achieve all that the Lord has planned for him!

Also, figuring out what is going on with your child does not necessarily mean taking them into the local school district. You can do much of the research
yourself, at the library, the book store or on the internet and the other families in your local homeschool group. If you do feel you need outside
help, you can then determine if you need to try to get help from the district, or if you can acquire private help, perhaps through your insurance.

Now, how can this help you with your child, who does not have any learning disabilities? I think that it is helpful when home educating our children to think outside the box. Okay, that is such a cliché, I just really do not know how else to describe it without using another cliché, like, sometimes you will need to take the ‘unbeaten path’!

So, what do I mean by this? What I mean is that as homeschoolers we have the ability to change gears if something does not work. We do not have to wait for the school board to approve new curriculum. We can look at a situation,  if our child is not flourishing with this curriculum, analyze what is going on.

Does he need something more interactive, hands on? Do I need something that does the teaching for me? In order for him to understand it better. Does he simply need to take breaks between math problems, or does he need to do his heavy work (whatever is difficult for him) early in the day, or late in the afternoon? Does he need to run a lap before he sits down to read?

Sometimes when homeschoolers, especially new homeschoolers, hit a
brick wall with their kids, they feel they have failed, that homeschooling is not working. Often times, if we step back and look at what is going on, simply
changing curriculum, or method, or schedule is all that is needed for that
child to thrive! Don’t throw in the towel! Remember what it says in
Galatians 6:9 "And Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season
we shall reap if we faint not." Keep the faith, God enables those He calls!

It has also helped me to realize that the scope and sequences of the world, are arbitrary! Yes, you can use them as a guide, especially if you have no idea
what to teach. However, if you take a a look at several, from different states,
and different curriculum publishers, you will soon find that they each do it a little different. There are some things that you must teach in order, as they build on each other. 

However, many things can be taught when your child is either ready, or if they have the interest. When a child learns about something while they have an interest in that subject, the child is more likely to retain it long term! This is also a great reminder for us as teacher to keep our subject matter interesting! Interest led learning is a great way to go! If your child has a love for something, like animals, or aviation, or railroads, incorporate as much learning as you can about that subject. You will never regret
it! And neither will they!

While homeschooling we want to help our child have academic excellence, however, we want to remember what the bible says, ‘For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ Mark 8:36. We want our children to do well  academically in order to live out the purpose God has for their lives, and to glorify Him, not simply to be man-pleasers.

Friends, don’t throw in the towel! Look outside the box, find that unbeaten path, and you just mind find the answers that will help your family accomplish all that God has for you!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Year 3 TOS Homeschool Crew Try-Outs About to Set Sail!!

Have you been reading the reviews written by me and my fellow crew mates over the last 2 years, thinking.. 'How can I get in on that?' Here is your chance!!

TOS Homeschool Crew is about to set sail on it's 3rd year! And it's beginning NOW!!!

Please visit here to read about what is expected of a crew member! And to learn how to begin this process!

I have to tell you that I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the TOS Homeschool Crew! As most homeschoolers who have homeschooled for a handful or more years, (in our case 10 years) you really do have a homeschoolng profile. Methods or styles that you avoid, and ones you seem to navigate towards. Being a part of the crew, has allowed me to use products I would have never tried out on my own! And sometimes I am very surprised, that I LOVE it!!!

Our personal homeschool journey has been made more interesting, more adventurous and most of all, more successful, because of the time I have spent on the crew! Outside of our family, I have really enjoyed having access to these products, and then being able to share them with our homeschool group!
I have always loved the idea of homeschoolers helping homeschoolers! That is the crew at it's best! And what's great is there are over 100 reviewers. So I may love it, and someone else may not, or vice versa. Either way, we will explain why we feel that way, and the homeschool parent at home, can begin to figure out, from a real homeschool parent if this is something that will work for their family!

Please note, this is work! You have deadlines to keep and guidelines to follow! However, the work is well worth the opportunity to try out these products! 

If this sounds like something you would like to try.. please click here and begin your voyage with the crew!!! You won't be sorry!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Math Tutor DVD

This is my second year as a crew mate on The TOS Homeschool Crew. On my first voyage with the crew, I had the privilege of reviewing Math Tutor DVD.com (you can read that review here) and once again I have been given the opportunity to review a product by Math Tutor DVD.com.
I was sent a a free copy of Young Minds Numbers and Counting to review. Now, I have been a fan of Mathtutordvd.com since before I was a member of the crew, so I was thrilled to hear that we would have another opportunity to look at one of their products.

Most of DVD's are of Jason Gibson teaching math concepts in front of a white board. As you can see from the photo above this DVD is nothing of the sort.

This DVD is designed for the preschooler. It blends beautiful classical music pieces, with stunning photography and adds in counting up to the number 10. There is repetition of counting, which helps to reinforce what they are learning.

There are also bonus features on the DVD. Dot-to-Dot which shows an incomplete photo and then dots. The child visually follows along while the photo is completed, which is yet another way to reinforce their counting skills up to 10. Also in that section you will find a puzzle section. In this section, they divide the screen in several sections using puzzle shapes, as they count each section is 'removed' to reveal the picture below.

My kids are all much too old for this product, however, I really enjoyed watching it through. I liked that fact that there was beautiful classical music throughout the entire DVD. There are countless studies that link listening to classical music with improving math abilities. Here the two are married beautifully.

If you have a preschooler, this would be one DVD you wouldn't mind watching over and over.... and over!

You can order you copy of Young Mind Numbers and Counting for $19.99.

If you are saying to yourself, that's great, but I no loner have a preschooler! Well, I would encourage you to visit MathTutorDVD.com. Where their tagline is Math Help, Algebra Help, Calculus Help, Physics Help and everything in between!   I have been using MathTutorDVD.com for several years in my home. Since math is not my strong point, these DVD's have helped me teach my children when I get stuck! We pop in the DVD and away we go. He explains the concepts, and works through many practice problems. MathTutorDVD.com has been invaluable in our home. Please check them out to see if they will benefit yours!

Please visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates  have to say about this awesome product!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Great Eight

Olympic Gold Medal figure skater Scott Hamilton shares his eight secrets to finding happiness in the face of a life filled with challenges, difficulties, and career-canceling odds.
With never-been-told, behind-the-scenes stories from the skating world, personal challenges including testicular cancer and a brain tumor, as well as divine miracles, Olympic Gold Medal figure skater Scott Hamilton shares the secrets to his lifelong journey to find the silver (and gold) lining in the clouds of life. His life principles, fashioned into eight secrets that begin with the rote of learning to skate the figure 8, are the keys. Scott says, "Skating taught me how to be happy. I have always kept these eight as my own private, personal secrets that I practiced daily with repetition, focus, and discipline. Now I want to share them with the world."
The Great Eight, is a book meant to inspire the reader. As I made my way through the book, I was amazed by the adversity that Scott Hamilton has endured since he was a small child, in the form if health issues. 
As a mother with children who have had to struggle through health challenges, it is wonderful to hear stories of successful adults, who have to persevere, and who have excelled! 
I am thankful to have taken the time to read The Great Eight, and thankful that Scott Hamilton shared his experiences with the world.  Those experiences are bound to help a struggling young person, or not so young person, as they travel down what ever trial they may happen upon. 
You can purchase your copy and book retailers near you. 
**I was given a free copy of The Great Eight as a member of the Book Sneeze program, in exchange for my honest opinion. All views expressed here are my own, and do not constitute a guarantee of service. **

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Help Haiti While Growing Your Homeschool Library!!!

Last year,  I introduced you to a neat new company called Homeschool Library Builder. This is a wonderful resource for homeschoolers, or really anyone who is educating with literature.

At HSLB you will find both new and gently books and affordable prices. And to top that off if you become a member you get some extra perks, including ways on earning  credit towards future purchases!

I love the fact that this business is run by 2 homeschool mom's. What you will find throughout the site, is their special attention to find ways to help the homeschool family. If you click on their About Homeschooling button, you will find helpful info for the family, as well as, for your family.

Please visit my original review
here, to learn more about what Homeschool Library Builder has to offer.

If you act RIGHT NOW they have two awesome specials going this month. With one of them you can help out Haiti and help yourself all at the same time!

First, for the entire month you can save 20% off everything in the store.  That alone is an great discount, considering their already low prices! However, they are also giving you an opportunity to save an additional 15%. They are asking their customers to  make a donation of any amount to the Heartline Ministries, serving  Haiti.  If you do ,you will then receive an online coupon for an additional 15%, good  for Super Bowl Sunday only. That's a total of 35% savings!

Please visit Homeschool Library Builder this weekend and help others while helping your family.

I have written this review as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have  not received and compensation in the form of product or payment, however what I have written is an honest opinion of HSLB.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ok, So I am Going to Homeschool Now What??

If you are a new homeschooler you probably  have thought this at one time or another. Or as you plug away through your year, you might be thinking this is not working, now what?

Often times as new homeschoolers, when we start we start with what we know about. If we have a friend using a certain curriculum or program, we try it. If it worked for them it will work for us, right? Not necessarily!

Once you have decide to homeschool, or once you realize that you need to change what you are doing, there are several resources you can use to help you design your own curriculum. What does that mean?

Basically you can either pay someone else to design your curriculum for you, this would be Abeka, Bob Jones, Rod and Staff, Sonlight, My Father's World, etc... these curriculum companies give you the opportunity to purchase all your curriculum in a box. Which is where the term boxed curriculum. Many, many families have great success with purchasing and using boxed curriculum.

However, sometimes the cost can be pretty hefty, especially if you have a large family. Or you may have some special learning needs in your family, and this may require you to design your own curriculum. So where do you start?

There are several resources that I have used to design our homeschool curriculum. The first book I would recommend would be; Home Learning Year by Year,
How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School by Rebecca Rupp.
This book has been invaluable to me in the developing a curriculum for my homeschool.  You can either use it to design your curriculum, or you can use it to make sure what you have designed has not left major gaps.
Another great book is, What Your Child Needs to Know When, According to the State, According to the Bible, by Robin Sampson. In this book you will find not only great information aon biblical standards versus worldly ones, you will also find checklists with room for 5 children, to ensure your children are on track. This is good for grade K-8.

You might be saying, that those are great, but you really do not have the budget to spend on books right now. There are also a couple of great resources online that can help guide you on your homeschool journey.

One of those is World Book Encyclopedia Scope and Sequence. On this site you will find a typical course study from preschool all the way up to high school. It is not curriculum, but it will point you in the direction of where you need to go.

Another great website is Old Fashioned Education.
The creator of this website, created this curriculum for her children. She created it from Kindergarten -11th grade. She was a mother of 2 active boys with little to no budget for homeschooling. You can use her website to show you how to create lesson plans, or you can use the ones she created. You can follow exactly what she supplies or you can use it as a spring board or as supplement.
On Old Fashioned Education, you will find a full curriculum. Just about everything you need is there, for free. In the form of free resources on the internet (such as free e-books from the people of Answer in Genesis) , or books that have lost their copyright, so they are available for free. So these books are old.  We have utilized this website many times throughout our homeschooling.
There are many resources available on the site, to help you get started.

If you find your self homeschooling and really have no clue where to start, in addition, to the resources listed here, you can also peruse the big curriculum companies ( listed above) and see what they teach in what grade and that will help you choose how to construct your lessons.

My prayer is that one or more of these resources wil be a blessing to you and  your homeschool.

Happy Homeschooling!