Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TOS Review: New Monic Books

Homeschool Crew
As part of my involvement with the TOS Crew, I was asked to try a new vocabulary book. It’s called Vocabulary Cartoons and it’s made by New Monic Books. This was good news to us because neither our Language Arts nor our Spelling offered vocabulary. We needed vocabulary and this book has fit in perfectly with our homeschool.
New Monic Books offer several different books for vocabulary and spelling and they range in price starting at $12.95.  We reviewed the original Vocabulary Cartoons.  It is priced at $12.95 and they offer a discount for buying in bulk.  It could very easily be used by multiple children because it has about 250 pages and only about 20-25 are consumable. You could simply have them use a separate sheet of paper for those, or make a copy. It is best used with grades 3rd-6th. My son is in 5th and it has worked beautifully for him.
Vocabulary Cartoons offers a simple, fun way to learn new vocabulary without forcing the child to look up and write definitions. The amazing thing is that it seems to be working with my auditory learning child, and he’s doing it on his own, I’m not reading it to him.
Each day he learns a new word and after he’s Vocabulary Cartoons learned 10 words, there’s a little quiz. The way you learn a word is simply by looking at and reading a cartoon. The trick is they use mnemonic’s (nuh MON ic) to teach. This is something we all use when we want to remember something. It means assisting the memory and it’s kind of like word association. Sometimes they use rhyming mnemonics just like we did when we learned this little rhyme: “Columbus sailed the ocean BLUE in fourteen hundred and ninety-TWO.”
Another form of mnemonics they use is called Visual mnemonics and that’s where the cartoons come in. They create little stories to go along with the word association they are trying to create. This is huge because for most of us we don’t forget what we’ve seen and studied with our eyes. So the child will spend about 60 seconds looking at the picture, reading the cartoon, definition and different ways to use it in a sentence and poof, they remember it.
It really worked well with my son. Here’s an example to help you see why it works so well:
Buffoon: One who amuses with jokes and tricks; a bumbling or ridiculous person, a fool.  Sounds like: Baboon
Then there’s this little cartoon of a baboon doing playing tricks on two of his friends. They remember Buffoon and Baboon and then see the cartoon in their head and it all falls into place, they remember! Or at least my son did. Also under the cartoon there are a few sentences using different forms of the word.
They have some sample pages that will give you a good idea of what it’s like. Note: In the book the word is used in three sentences but the samples do not show the word being used in a sentence.
I tried to ask my son each evening what his vocabulary word was and he always knew what it was and what it meant. Then I would ask about some of his older ones and he remembered those too. One thing I did that is probably not necessary, but I felt like my son needed the extra handwriting practice, I had him write the word and definition in his vocabulary notebook.
I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to use the Vocabulary Cartoon’s and we will continue to use it for the remainder of the year.
If you would like to read more about this product, click here.

**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.

Monday, September 27, 2010

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A Day at the Fair

Monster Truck Mania

I am NoT a big fan of the fair but I am a big fan of my family. So when Mark mentioned that he was taking the boys to the fair I at first thought I’d stay home, but knowing Shiloh wouldn’t get to go if I didn’t, I quickly changed my mind. I’m so glad I did. We had a great time. The kids rode a few rides and we walked around, saw a few friends, Petting Zoopetted the animals
Petting Zoo
and of course had  our ear drums blown away by monster trucks!  Shiloh couldn't stand the noise but she enjoyed the trucks The weather was PerFect-O! A lovely evening to spend outdoors  with the family. One of my all time  favorite memories will be Jordan and Josiah riding the “roller coaster,” coaster is a  very appropriate name for this ride;-) and Jordan, all smiles, saying “it’s scary mama” as they went around for their third ‘coast’ down the hill. I LOVED it!!! And so did they!
Monster Trucks
 Monster Trucks   

Monster Trucks
Monster Trucks

Friday, September 24, 2010

TOS Review: Schleich


As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew I have been asked to review some fun products made by Schleich. Most of you have probably heard of Schleich before and seen their product in stores. Recognize the red S? Schleich  We actually already had several of their animal figurines because my 4 year old son loves He seems to want to be alone at the moment playing with small animals like these. This was right up his ally and I am so thankful to be chosen! It has been the easiest review so far. In fact, the hardest part was keeping his personal Schleich animals and the review Schleich animals separate. Most of the review animals we received were wildlife and horses which are exactly what he loves! So in the end we decided it really wasn’t necessary to keep them apart because when it comes to Schleich figurinesthe more the merrier’ is definitely true.:-)
A little about Schleich. This is a company that was founded 75 years ago and is headquartered in Germany.  All of their products are hand crafted by a German master craftsman and each figurine can take up to 6 weeks to be made. Each is individually painted and includes very The Cowboy is not a Schleich product accurate details of each animal, person, or item it represents, so no two are identical. They offer more than 500 different figurines to choose from.
The purpose of Schleich is to encourage creative play in children. The ‘ideal’ age may be for children that are beyond baby toys but not yet reading, but in my family all of my kids enjoy these toys.  However, my four year old definitely enjoys them the most.
Schleich specializes in figurines ranging from animals to fantasy. They have animals from the ocean, Africa, Antarctica, Europe, farm animals, tons of horses, dinosaurs, and dogs, and even small pets such as birds and a dwarf lop (rabbit). And if animals aren’t your thing, how about some knights in shining armor complete with a princess! They also offer American Indians along with all the fixings such as covered wagons and teepees. Maybe you would prefer something a little less ‘real’.  How about something from the fantasy world of Bayala or the cartoon world of Smurfs! Yes they even have the Smurfs!
With this review I received a catalog that organized each of these types of figurines into four sections:
  • World of Nature (wild and farm life)
  • World of History (Prehistoric animals, The World of Knights, and The World of the American Indians)
  • Bayala (Iloris and Arelan)
  • Smurfs
The catalog also offers the scientific name of each animal and in some cases interesting tidbits of info.
As part of this review we received 8 animals:
Przewalskis Horse, Swabian Hall piglet eating, donkey, Dartmoor pony, Asian elephant calf, Okapi, Gnu, Gnu calf. He enjoyed each and every one and will continue to enjoy them for many days to come. Thank you Schleich for allowing us to try out your wonderful products!
For more fun Schleich reviews Click Here
**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TOS Review: I See Cards


Homeschool Crew

I’m reviewing a fun math product with the TOS Crew this week, it’s called PyraMath and it’s made by I See Cards. This company makes several different card games that help kids learn their math facts in fun creative ways. PyraMath is the one I’ll be explaining in this post, but there are three others on their website: FracTazmic, Prime Bomb, and the basic I See Cards.

They have free online games that you can play and if you have the top score for the month you can win a FREE deck of cards. If you’re not lucky enough to win a deck you can buy a deck for $6.95. Not a bad cost when you consider the many different uses. It’s like having four different sets of flash cards in one, only better because the kids will actually enjoy this kind of math drill, whereas my kids despise doing regular flashcard drills.

We loved PyraMath! PhotobucketIt is so versatile that all different ages can play and be challenged at the same time. For example, my 3rd grader can play his 5th grade brother and while he is working with addition/subtraction, his older brother can be working with multiplication/division. So both are practicing the skills they need to work on while playing against each other. It’s like doing 4 different sets of flash cards with two different students ALL at the same time! Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

PyraMath consists of a deck of 56, brightly colored, playing cards that have  numbers in English, Spanish, Roman Numerals, Chinese, Arabic (including multiple dialects), and French. PhotobucketAlso included is an instruction card and instruction booklet offering a variety of games to play including PyraMath Solitaire, and PyraMath WAR. You can also visit the website to watch video’s that explain the different games to play using these cards.

You can probably figure out how this game works just by looking at the name Pyra…as in Pyramid…and Math. You build a pyramid using math facts. In this picture each card is added to the one on it’s left and then the sum is placed between the two on the next line. Sounds confusing when I try to explain it, but it’s really simple when you play it.









Now when we played it looked like a pyramid on both sides because both players build from their own side. It looked something like this:100_1065  100_1071






So to begin with you place 5-7 cards in a row. These are the cards each player will begin playing off of. You then draw a card and if you can add/subtract/multiply/divide any two cards and get that answer you would place the card between the two. For example, if the the row of cards was 5, 2, 8, 1, 4 and you draw a 7, you have a couple of different plays. You could do 5+2 and place it between those cards or you could do 8-1 and place it between those.

The one thing that I thought would be confusing was that when your total was equal to or greater than 10 you would only use the digit in the ones place. So in the example above, if you drew a 6 instead of a 7, you could do 2x8 and place it there (the sum is 16 and you use the 6 because it’s in the ones place).  This sounded super confusing to me, BUT when we played NONE of us had a problem with it. It really works out fine.

So PyraMath cards in a nutshell:

*Multiple learning games that help reinforce addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division

*Cost $6.95

*Good for ages 5 and up (if they’re able to do addition)

*For more information visit the I See Cards website and for more reviews on this product visit the PyraMath post over at the TOS Crew Blog


**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11th will always be a day to remember

September 11th will always be a day toSept 11 remember, for my generation at least. There are some who are younger that seem to be oblivious of what took place that day, the enormity of it, the amount of lives lost, the history that was made because of it. Is it their fault? No, of course it itsn’t. When I was 13 December 7, 1941 was just another date in history. The kids that are 13 today, were only 4 on 9/11.

But for those of us how remember, we can neverSept 11 pentagon forget. It was unbelievable to watch and even more unbelievable to realize that all the triage teams and hospitals that were ready to help the injured, were really not needed. There were very few surviors.

Those precious families who said goodbye to their loved ones before heading off to work that morning, and those who weren’t able to say goodbye that morning, will never forget.

The families who had loved ones on the planes, headed on vacation, business trips and the like. They will never forget.

Sept 11,2 As the days passed and the news coverage grew, we learned about many personal stories of lives lost. I still remember details of some that I will never forget. A husband who sent his wife, daughter and sister-in-law off on vacation. A husband whose brand new bride had traveled to NY for a business trip. She had called and left him a message when the planes hit. She didn’t know what it was, and he later found out what it was. He came to NY to look for his lost wife, thinking maybe she made it out. Who can forget all those precious people gathered with signs of lost loved ones, hoping upon hope to have them found. I wonder when they finally gave up hope and realized their loved ones would not be coming home? How sad!

But Praise God, we do have HOPE! His name is JESUS! He is the HOPE of the world! THE ONLY HOPE WE HAVE! One day we’ll be reunited with many of those who died that tragic day, but sadly not all.

Many lost their lives that day, but for those who knew God’s plan to save us thru His Son Jesus, for those who trusted Jesus’ miraculous act on Calvary, their lives on earth ended that day but their eternal joy began. Oh what a day it was for them! They met their Savior face to face! Their tears were wiped away and their faces shone like never before. Thank you JESUS for always being HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS!! 

Golgotha Pictures, Images and Photos

Friday, September 10, 2010

TOS Review: Math Essentials

Homeschool Crew
My current homeschool product up for review is Math Essentials.Math Essential This program was created and is ran by Rick Fisher, a math professor from CA. It is an online program that covers Basic Math 4th grade thru Algebra I (Algebra II coming soon). The cost for a one year family subscription is $195. You can access it anytime and any where, as long as you have internet available. There is also a Free Sample Subscription if you would like to try it before you buy it.
HOW DOES IT WORK: Very simply, there is a short (usually less than 10 min) video lesson that explains the new concept and as Mr. Fisher is explaining it the child is supposed to be working it out on his/her own paper. This was a little difficult because my son and I felt like it was hard to keep up sometimes. He moves along very quickly. I would have to tweak this a bit and have my son WATCH and LISTEN first, and then WORK the problem(s). After the video you have review exercises that you can download and print out. These are worksheets that help the kids practice the new concept they’ve just learned.
Written worksheets
After each section the child will take a quiz and there is a final exam after each course. There is also an evaluation exam to determine where to place your child and a practice exam to help them prepare for the final. The courses (Basic Math, Advanced Math, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra I) are broken into major concepts. For example Basic Math has sections on Whole Numbers, Fractions, Decimals etc. Each concept has multiple lesson videos ranging from as little as 4 videos to 16 videos so the topics are thoroughly covered.
As I mentioned earlier the one ‘gripe’ my family had with the program was that it was hard to keep up. He talked a little too fast for us, but I’m sure in time we would get used to it AND it was very easy to pause or rewind so it’s not really a big enough grip to stop us from using the program. Also the videos are straight and to the point so it wouldn’t be too difficult to watch them a couple of times.
Math is a very important subject and I really like the idea of having a math professional teach my child, so that is a very big plus for Math Essentials.
Another advantage to using Math Essentials are the speed drills. These are super fun and easy. I missed 6x9 but I bet I never will again…there’s just something about seeing it there on the wheel that has engrained it into my memory (Ionline speed drills know, it should’ve already been there but I guess I forgot it in my haste to finish). This is an excellent exercise to help your kids brush up on their math skills before jumping back into school, or to help them learn a new skill.
My personal opinion is that Math Essentials would be a very wise investment for a family with multiple children learning multiple levels of math. The cost is kind of high for just one child, but then again if you’re only homeschooling one child you may be able to invest more.
If you’d like to see what other homeschoolers are saying about this product click here.

**Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received this product free of charge, in exchange for my honest opinion/review. For more honest reviews from real homeschoolers, visit the TOS Crew website.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A little spotlight on one of my own

A guy who works with my husband wrote a neat post about my second oldest son Josiah and I wanted to share it because it so acurately describes him.
Warning: Has an attitude and knows how to use it
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