Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sufficiency of Scripture

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:29-32

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Reading Game

The Reading Game

Price: $24.95

6 decks of memory playing cards
6 storybooks
Parent/Teacher guide

The Reading Game is a
fast-action memory card game.

It includes a series of six
beautifully illustrated storybooks.

The Cards & Books work
together to make learning to read exciting and enjoyable.

Game sessions are fun-filled with a winner every few seconds.

After completing the first memory card game, the student has thirty words “hardwired” into memory.

The Skunk story, Book One
in the series, is told using
only those thirty words.

On completing the series,
the student has a reading vocabulary of 180 words.

Almost half of them are among the one hundred most commonly used words in the English language.

The Reading Game was created
by “Wordly Wise” author,
Kenneth Hodkinson.

What we liked:
We loved that this was not just reading, but played in the format of a memory game...DD really loved playing the Reading Game and the games went VERY FAST! I think that helps to keep the child's focus on the game, rather than straying off task often. We were able to play several times in each session without it being a strain.

I love the concept behind the Reading Game...using common words, the child having to frequently read them, and when they have mastery, going on to put those skills to work reading the story for the level. By that time, the child really knows the words well.

While there are 30 words in each level (skunk, snake, bear, penguins, unicorn & zebra), you work with only 5 words at a time, making it easier for the child to do the "work" of the game and making each game quick.

Only lowercase letters are used, which I loved because it re-inforces the idea to the child that these are the letters that are used most guy likes to use a mix of upper & lower case letters when he writes them. The exception to the rule here is the word, "I". That is done correctly.

The game is played with the child and a tutor...the Reading Game is suggested for ages 4+. I think that age recommendation is appropriate, but may need to be adjusted according to skill. When I was able, I acted as the tutor, but my older boys were able to jump in quickly if I could not work with DD. I appreciated being able to hand that off as needed without a lot of prep work in teaching my olders 'How-To"

What was a challenge for us:

DD is at the beginning stages of phonics, using the rules he has learned to de-code the words he sees. He has not learned all of the blend sounds yet and struggled with sh, th, wh and words like kind and stripe that we have not covered the rules for. For us, I think this would have given DD more tools to be able to decode more quickly.

DD wanted to move on to the next stage before he had mastered the words. I think it was frustrating for him to stay on skunk stage 3 (just pulled an example out) until he was able to read all the words every time. He wanted to just jump to the next one and into reading the book.

Overall, I think that the Reading Game is a helpful part of what we are using to teach reading in our home. The Reading Game is affordable and it is a fun way to teach reading.

See what my fellow crew mates have to say about the Reading Game here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you and yours a VERY Happy Thanksgiving. May you find many things to be grateful for during the entire holiday season.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Fun via Pinterest

I recently spent a little time on Pinterest and can tell could be a dangerous place to be...if I am not careful with how much time I spend. Lots of fun things to look at, try and create. WOW...
So one thing I found here was a clever decoration idea...something I have never thought of doing before, but decided to copy...
The original post was here

Isn't that a GREAT USE of more cluttered fridge has become a gathering spot for a little of this and that...I should have taken a picture of my fridge before... is my rendition of the indoor Snowman...

it's hard to see the brim of the hat, but it is there....

My thanks to Tami for her wonderful idea!

A couple Cannon Children are more excited about this than the others...

My thanks to Josh & guys are such good sports to humor your Momma... many of you are going to copy this?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sufficiency of Scripture

And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased

Hebrews 13:16

Friday, November 18, 2011

Time Timer

Time Timer

Price: Starts at $30

Ever wonder HOW on earth you can get your child to understand how much TIME there is in 15 minutes? Well, the Time Timer is here to help you make every moment count.

Designed to help students understand, "how much longer," no other teaching aid reinforces the concept of elapsed time like the teacher-tested Time Timer. The disappearing red disk allows students to "see" time without knowing how to "tell" time. The Time Timer is perfect for setting time limits, managing transitions and training students to make better use of available time, making every moment count.

Available in different sizes, as a watch, apps or software, there is a Time Timer product for every need.

What we thought of the Time Timer

We received the 3" Time Timer for the purpose of our review. I really LOVED how my children could SEE the passage of time and know they had to stay on task for that amount of time for this purpose. I personally found it helpful when I was doing a task in my day for only a short time period, say 15 or 20 minutes. It helped me use those shorter time periods more effectively to complete a large task that I might not have the time to be able to do one larger chunk...those large time chunks are hard to find in a busy day!
I loved that my DD, who does not tell time yet, could see how long 5 minutes was and grasp the concept of the passage of time.

What was more of a challenge for us:
When the Time Timer is done with the passage of time, it beeps once...we missed the beep several times. It would have been more helpful for us if there were a series of beeps or if the beep was longer. Also, I would really need to be able to see the benefit of the product to spend $30 for it. Many homeschool families have to be careful with what items they choose to spend money on. There is an app for the Time Timer for $1.99...I think I am going to purchase that for my iPod, so I can have it going for two at one time. Overall, I found the Time Timer to be very helpful in our family.

See what my fellow crew mates had to say about the Time Timer here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Math Mammoth

Math Mammoth
Price: varies between the different options

We got the privilege of Trying Math Mammoth's Light Blue 1st grade book. Navigating through which one to choose was a little confusing to me, but Maria Miller, the author of the books, was EXTREMELY helpful in helping me select which book I thought would be best for DD.

"Math Mammoth offers affordable, yet quality math worktexts and workbooks for grades 1-8, available as both downloads and printed books. These books concentrate on conceptual understanding and are strong in mental math. The directions in the worktexts are written directly to the student, and are often self-teaching, thus requiring little preparation and involvement from the teacher."

We received Math Mammoth 1 A & B, which includes 228 lessons (8 of which are a Kindergarten review)and covers:
addition and subtraction concept and basic facts within 0-10
place value with 2-digit numbers (a.k.a. tens and ones)
some adding and subtracting within 0-100
some geometry and measuring topics
reading clock to the half-hour
counting and using coins (US, Euro, or Canadian)

The Download for the complete set is $34. You can find the printed copy information here . I was a little concerned about having to print the pages off, but it actually became a blessing...if we could not find the page we needed to work on, I could print another off...

Suggested Manipulatives are kept to a minimum for this curriculum, which I appreciate.
A 100-bead abacus (for 1-B; especially in the place value chapter)
An old-fashioned alarm clock or other analog clock where you can turn the minute hand and the hour hand will turn as it is supposed to (for 1-B).
A ruler that measures in inches (for 1-B).
A ruler that measures in centimeters (for 1-B).

So very thankful that there are NO small pieces to lose or step on in the pre-coffee part of the morning.

So, what we thought...

Math Mammoth is almost completely self teaching...DD was able to have a little instruction and then complete the work. It was a little heavy in writing for my young and active boy. I think that just shows his age and is not what I would consider a flaw. I did some of the writing where I thought it was not essential for him to do the writing. Concepts start VERY EASY with lots of pictures and work up to more complex problems within each type of work, addition, subtraction, etc. I really liked that each chapter/subject has a BRIEF introduction and then an index for each concept. I found this helpful when organizing my lesson planning. as well as the pacing suggestions for each grade...helped me see what "normal" might look like if I chose to follow that plan...actually, we stuck pretty close to the suggestions!

When we got our download, it came with a User Guide which had some great helps in it...such as the pacing and FAQs.

If you are considering this curriculum, I would HIGHLY recommend getting the free download of 300 pages...I think that would give a pretty comprehensive overview, and again, Maria is VERY helpful herself!

You can find placement tests here

You can view a sample of the 1st grade books as well...

I think it is a very economical option for math that is well worth looking into.

See what my fellow crew mates had to say about Math Mammoth here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

College Prep Genius

College Prep Genius: The No Brainer Way to SAT Success, 2nd Edition
Textbook, Workbook & DVD set: $99.00

There is no need to spend a fortune on SAT prep. College Prep Genius is a revolutionary program designed to help students master the strategies behind the test and learn how to get the correct answers. This program takes students step by step through each section of the SAT [Critical Reading, Math, Writing,] and gives them a plan for success for each question type.

What we thought of this program: We LOVED this! It was a VERY independent program to use, loaded with great tips and suggestions for preparing to take the PSAT or SAT test, giving not just great strategies for HOW to take the test, but it also a pretty extensive list of sites to look at for applying for scholarships, a chart of 300 math terms needed to take the test (as well as space for writing an example, checklists, vocabulary help, forms for taking practice tests and more. I think that the $99 price is excellent for all of the help this resource gives.
So, the College Prep Genius SAT Prep Course is broken down into 12 easy to manage lessons, with suggestions for how much time students in different grades should be spending weekly on preparing for the test day...Freshmen spend about 1-2 hours per week, whereas a Senior would spend 6-10 hours a week. I found that there was SO MUCH information that you would like to remember that you might want to use a highlighter while working through it. As you work through the lessons, you learn tips for how to find the correct answer and then you Practice, Practice, Practice and then continue on in the book. By the time you get through all the lessons, you should be taking complete SAT practice tests.

One interesting part of this resource is an appendix in the back of the book called, "My Motivation Test." I think this is a great tool so that your student finds out what motivates them and gives them strategies to keep going. My techy guy tested out to be a dreamer...which is what I would have guessed!

A fabulous resource, that is EXTREMELY HELPFUL, put together by a homeschool mom...I highly recommend College Prep Genius! I will be interested in seeing how my techy guy's scores improve throughout the course of this program!

See what my fellow crew Mates had to say about College Prep Genius here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sufficiency of Scripture

Yield now and be at peace with Him;
Thereby good will come to you.
“Please receive instruction from His mouth
And establish His words in your heart.
“If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored;
If you remove unrighteousness far from your tent,
And place your gold in the dust,
And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks,
Then the Almighty will be your gold
And choice silver to you.
“For then you will delight in the Almighty
And lift up your face to God.

Job 22:21-26

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ooka Island

Ooka Island

The Ooka Island Adventure is a downloadable hero-mission in 3D designed to teach young children how to read fluently and well. The Ooka Island Adventure combines the highly engaging components of a state-of-the-art virtual world with the scientifically proven OokaMethod that builds literacy skills.
Carefully embedded within the Ooka Island Adventure are dozens of interactive instructional activities that captivate the child and motivate them as they learn essential pre-reading, reading, spelling, and writing skills. After completing the Ooka Island Adventure, children will be on their way to reading fluently and well for life.

I must say, WE LOVE OOKA ISLAND...We spent a good deal of the review time dealing with issues with my computer, but once DD was playing, he was LOVING it. He really LOVES his "human" as he calls his avatar and would have liked spending countless time adjusting that, but, thankfully, the game does not allow for, below, I will recount our experiences.

The issues we had getting started:
Being the Techy dork that I am, when this came up for review, I thought...I have over 50% free disk space...I would LOVE to review this item...well, little did I know...Free disk space is NOT memory and there began my problems, but the customer service/IT help on the Ooka team was PHENOMENAL...truly outstanding. They helped me try to troubleshoot the problem and ended up sending me an installation disk, which had some issues of their own, not at all related to this game...again, my technical genius at work...a portable DVD drive solved that problem...I know just enough about computers to be scary! So, you need to have some MEMORY on your computer...the download is about 2 do not need a DVD drive UNLESS you cannot download the program. You do need internet access though, even though you download some to your computer...there you have my totally NON-TECHY explanation...So, moving on...

You progress through the game in a methodical order...advancing as you progress, but getting review as you struggle. As far as I know, you are unable to skip activities to choose where you want to go on the island...while frustrating at times for DD, I think this is a great feature which fosters practice and learning, rather going only to the activities that are enjoyable or easy. You do your "WORK" (or play...however you choose to look at it...) for 20 minutes and then you get 8 minutes of "PLAY". I love this feature as well...kind of an eat your veggies before dessert idea of keeping your child focused as they know play time is coming...which is silly to call it playing, because it really is all play as the activities are FUN and ENJOYABLE for the most part with rewards to skating down a mountain or placing a sticker on a chart along the way.

Challenges: Besides the installation mess that was my fault...the challenges we had were that the game would freeze up a few times during play...which very likely could have been because of my computer and DD's frustration level at times because he couldn't "do his human"...which was most likely due to trying to play our hearts out before review time....again my fault. I really love the approach presented in this game and look forward to walking through it a little more. The one thing I wish was here, and I understand is in the works is a parent feature showing student progress...I am not sure how he is progressing in his reading skills...he is a pre-reader...on the cusp of getting it...that feature would have been a great way to track his strengths and weaknesses.

Ooka Island has a blog as well, which offers more resources/tips, etc to parents/teachers with articles such as Motivational Tools (talks about the positive reinforcement build into the adventure), Ooka Island Activity Pages
...which is SO COOL...I will need to print this for more to come and Guiding At Risk Little Learners. There really is quite a bit of information on the blog and worth checking out.

Check out what my crew mates had to say about the Ooka Island Adventure here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sufficiency of Scripture

I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
O LORD, You know.
I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.

You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.
For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me.

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me;
Make haste, O LORD, to help me.
Let those be ashamed and humiliated together
Who seek my life to destroy it;
Let those be turned back and dishonored
Who delight in my hurt.
Let those be appalled because of their shame
Who say to me, “Aha, aha!”
Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“The LORD be magnified!”
Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.
Psalm 40:9-17

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Person I Marry

The Person I Marry (Bower Books)
Hardcover- $11.99
Gary & Jan Bower

This is a lovely little book created by husband and wife team Gary and Jan Bower. Gary writes about qualities that make for a good spouse in a memorable rhyme while Jan illustrates each page with heartwarming pictures that cause children to link the words with what that point or trait looks like. Many of the subjects in the artwork come from her own family...I love that!

The Person I Marry from Bower Books on Vimeo.

I think the thing I love best about this little book is that it gets families thinking about the true standards for a spouse long before you get to that point. The Book, "The Person I Marry" lends itself very well to conversations about what kinds of things to look for in a spouse and gives lots of character traits and examples. This book is good for both boys and girls. We received a digital copy of the book, so I set my principessa on one side and DD on the other. With a wedding coming up this weekend, I thought this would be a great time to get their minds thinking about their future husband or wife. They both really enjoyed reading the book and loved all of the pictures. We had some small discussions about husbands and wives, using the upcoming bride and groom (J & S) as our examples. I think this would make a WONDERFUL gift for so many different occasions...maybe for a flower girl or ring bearer...I love that this book came at this time, when we have a wedding to look at and talk through what we read.

I think this book could be appreciated by the entire family. I know I am looking forward to getting a copy for my family.

2010 Book of the Year Christian Small Publisher Association, you can read what others say here, Gary and Jan Bower have other books available as well...What Do Heroes Wear? and Mommy Love are just a couple of the titles available. Want to give your book that EXTRA special touch? Get it autographed...just ask at checkout and Gary and Jan are happy to do that. With free shipping on orders over $30, you might just find a few titles you cannot live without.

Check out what my fellow crew mates have to say here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.


First Start Reading and Classical Phonics

Memoria Press
First Start Reading: Phonics, Reading, and Printing
Teacher Guide: $29.95
Student Workbook Set: $21.00
Classical Phonics: $14.95

With lots of children, we have been through LOTS of Phonics/Reading Programs...I was not sure how this would compare/contrast with what I had already used, but I needed something for DD so I was very happy to receive this item.

From the Memoria Press Website: "First Start Reading covers consonants, short vowels, 45 common words, and manuscript printing, accompanied by artist-drawn coloring pictures and drawing pages for every letter. Your child will begin reading in the very first lesson as he progresses through three student books and twenty-five phonetic stories, such as "Hogs and Pigs" and "Jog to the Jet." A Teacher Manual guides you through the program and provides helpful assessments and teaching tips.

Is there really a need for another phonics program? Well, we thought so! The first reading and printing lessons are critical, and although there are many adequate programs out there, we could not find one with the right combination we were looking for–a balanced, age-appropriate approach to phonics and reading and a serious focus on correct pencil grip and letter formation. In addition, many phonics programs today use the ladder approach (consonant vowel blending), which is fine, but we prefer the more traditional (vowel-consonant) approach combined with word families. And one more thing, mastery of the short vowels is the sine qua non of phonics programs, and few programs really give adequate practice in this very important skill."

More information about this program can be found here

Things I loved about this program:
I love the simple look of the pages...I love that the Teacher's guide allows for a student to make comments on the picture before the lesson gets started...that often has been a thing that my young students have focused on...and I am often so "into" the lesson, that I try to plow forward...that step...often took two minutes or less...allowed DD to say all he wanted to say about the pictures and then we could go on. A very small point in the program, but helpful to us. I love that the lessons emphasize good pronunciation, proper pencil hold and letter formation, but without the tiresome repetition of doing the letters over and over and over and over. Very hard for young children. I really liked that the student work was limited to two pages. I like and agree with the foundation of how phonics is taught in this program...word families as opposed to consonant blends. I like that this program is less expensive than many of the other ones I have purchased.

Something I found difficult was the Classical Phonics Book. Perhaps my little guy just isn't there yet, but it seemed overwhelming to open the book up to an entire page of word lists...I think this would be for a little bit older student or a more advanced reader. We are just at the beginning stages of reading. I don't think this is a unnecessary item or bad...I just think we are not quite ready for it yet, which is the beauty of homeschooling. We can add it in when we are ready.

I really liked this program...I liked how easy it was to pick up and use. I like that it emphasized doing things correctly without tiring out little hands. I really liked the simple drawings. I hope you like it too!

See what my Crew Mates had to say about First Start Reading/Classical Phonics here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Excellence in Literature-Introduction to Literature

Introduction to Literature (English 1)
Janice Campbell
Print book- $29 plus $4.95 priority shipping, 132 pgs
Ebook- $27

"Introduction to Literature is a college-preparatory literature and composition course. Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama, have been selected for literary quality, and for their place in the historical development of literature. Context readings provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.
Students will gain an understanding of the development of literature and will practice the skills of close literary analysis through essays, approach papers, and other evaluative writing."
Objectives and literature selections can be reviewed here

The author has a great article on why she selected the literary pieces she did on her blog

Introduction to Literature is broken down into 9 units and each unit has suggestions for weekly breakdowns, leaving the application of the work, largely, up to the student. I love that there is a focus text that really is the anchor of the unit, but that other pieces of literature are given to give the student a better feel for the particular period being covered or the background of the author, giving the student a greater understanding of the focus text. There is some fabulous material in the beginning of the book breaking the main periods of literature into categories, explaining the basic worldview of that period and giving an example of work. I found this very helpful for both myself and my high school son. This course is a college prep course that supplies an English credit, but can do double duty as an honors text if you student would like to take an AP or CLEP test at the end of studying the material. Extra literary pieces and assignments are given for those who would like to have this count as an Honors or AP class.

What I loved:
I LOVE that this was written by a homeschool mom of 4 boys…I appreciate her being “One of Us “and really knowing the unique challenges homeschool parents face in teaching their children and creating a product that helps us be able to offer this course to our children. I really love the thought that went into the writing of this textbook. There are many helps for the student both in the front of the text and in the back where models for papers are, as well as some examples. This is very student directed and self teaching, which is fabulous when you are teaching many children. The pieces of literature have substance and purpose for being in the text and I loved reading about that in the blog piece written by the author. The books selected to be read are easy to find and many of the context pieces are found online for FREE which is ALWAYS a wonderful blessing. For each unit, Janice Campbell gives the students a little bit of direction with the “Something to think about…” and “Be sure to notice…” sections in the introduction to the literary piece for the unit. There is also some information that I found helpful in evaluating my student’s writing.

Something to note in the E-book version-
I really don’t have anything I did not like about this textbook, but there was one small challenge to some…and that was the links to the contextual resources. You will need to copy and paste the link, rather than just click on it. It was not an issue for me as I had a heads up that the “links” were not working…one of my crew mates discovered that they needed to be pasted into a browser. Every link I pasted worked fine.

I think this is an excellent product and would recommend it to someone looking for a high school/college prep level literature course. There are 5 titles available in this series of Curriculum. You can review those here and see the summary of literature pieces covered in all the books here

See what my crew mates had to say about Excellence in Literature Introduction to Literature here

Disclaimer: I received this item for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation. All the opinions expressed are my own.