Friday, May 27, 2011

Apologia, "Read For The Heart", TOS Review

I am writing my final review for the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. This is my second year on the Crew as well as my second year homeschooling. I find it a rather nice coincidence that my final review is of  a book. This is no ordinary book, let me assure you. First, it is a book about books, written by homeschool graduate Sarah Clarkson.  Second, it is a book I have had my eye on for some time now. I am new to homeschooling, but I LOVE reading and by now, you know my motto is "Readers are Leaders". This has got to be the single best resource I have found for our family on this subject!
Let me tell you some more of the details about the book and along the way I will explain how I used the wisdom found in this book in our own homeschool. This softcover book is 384 pages in length and covers various topics such as the authors life as an avid reader and how she was given living books in her own homeschool career. Sarah has a beautiful way of writing and teaching through her words, she does an excellent job of conveying her passion for reading and books through her writing and it is contagious. She even offers parents tips on how to foster an atmosphere of reading inside our own home. 
Sarah Clarkson, in her book "Read For The Heart" ($17.00), provides information on over 1,000 books filtered through a Christian world view. Each individual book includes a review along with cautions regarding any questionable content. She also divides the selection of books by age and topic. She reviews her top picks for Children's Literature, History and Biography, Poetry, Spiritual Reading, Picture books, Music art and Nature. At the end of the book Sarah has included several appendix's; Caldecott Medalists; Newbery Medalists; Historical Fiction etc...
I felt like I had a mentor walking me through a giant library and pulling books off of the shelf for me to take home and use. I did indeed do just that. I read Read For The Heart over a few days time. The book showed up at my door at the perfect time. I was planning our curriculum for next year and the various topics I hope to cover. I selected many of the books she suggested and I now have a list that I take with me to used book sales.  This book is a must have for every homeschooling family. I am also thrilled to have been able to read this book and look forward to reading future books from this author.
My fellow TOS Crew Mates also reviewed this book, so you can check out what they thought.

I was sent this product at no cost to myself in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eagle's Wings Educational Materials, TOS Review

I love science. It is my favorite subject to teach because there are so many ways to teach a lesson that goes beyond the worksheet. I was sent Considering God's Creation, a creative biblical approach to natural science for grades 2-7. The set included a teachers manual and a 270 page workbook along with a CD. The set retails for $29.95. If you have additional students you can purchase additional copies of the student workbook for $13.95. I was sent the set to review and I was so impressed with the material, I ordered two more copies of the workbooks to use with my three daughters. we have been spending sunny spring time afternoons outside doing the lessons together. I have used this as a bible study as well. The kids enjoy it.

The curriculum requires very little preparation on my part, offers clear instructions and is hands on. I also do not need to purchase an expensive lab kit. If additional material is needed, it is household items, such as glue sticks, crayons, scissors, eggs, a flashlight etc.... The curriculum contains enough lessons to allow for one lesson a week for an entire school year. We decided to break it up into two lessons per week and include bible time with it. Each lesson contains games, experiments, poems, songs, arts and crafts projects, notebook pages and of course, Bible references. If you have children that have a natural bend towards science, the curriculum also offers optional resources titled "Digging Deeper" and "Additional Resources Suggestions" at the back of the book. You do not need to purchase the additional resources however to use the curriculum.
I think my favorite part of the lessons so far have been the evolution stumpers.

Very rarely have I found a product that I have reviewed that has become a part of our regular curriculum. Even more rarely have I purchased additional materials to use with a product that I have been sent to review. This product is a keeper! It is exactly what I wanted in a science curriculum and since the curriculum is teaching all about God's Creation; The Universe, The Earth, Non-Living things (Rocks and Minerals), Weather, The Plant Kingdom, The Animal Kingdom, Animal Anatomy & Physiology, and of course Man: Made in Gods Image it fits in perfectly with our course of study. I HIGHLY praise this product and encourage you to check it out! Please don't take my word for it, head on over to the TOS Crew Blog to see what my fellow Crew Mates thought.

I was sent this product at no expense to myself in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pearson Education, Grade 1 Social Studies, TOS Review

Please don't tell my Charlotte Mason friends, but my homeschool now has a text book. I am only slightly joking. As a  newer homeschooler I got the impression that  "text book" use was something only done in the dark corners of the homeschooling households. I don't typically use textbooks but as a member of TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given "Social Studies, All Together" by Scott Foresman, published by Pearson Education found HERE to review. The student edition costs $43.47.

The Hardcover book covers a wide range of topics such as History, Economics, Science and Technology, Geography, Culture, Citizenship, Government, and National Symbols. So, while I still rely on living books to teach my children about the above mentioned topics, I will use this book as a reference. My husband and I were flipping through the pages of the book when it arrived and were impressed with the glossy photographs. We both said that the book manages to touch on many topics, although briefly. At the end of each lesson, there are review questions to check your student for comprehension. I have used this book quite a few times since it was sent to me.  For example,  we were doing a unit study on Mexico a few weeks back and I looked up in the glossary any possible "Mexican" topics, and we discussed them after reading about them. It allowed us to study a bit more than I had planned and that is always a good thing!

I think it would make a good addition to supplement any homeschool. Don't just take my word for it, check out what my fellow Crew Mates had to say Here

As a member of TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent this product at no cost to myself in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mad Dog Math, TOS Review

As a relatively "new to homeschooling" mom, I have made several observations about my two oldest daughters.  Homeschooling has allowed me to work so closely with them that I can list their strengths and weaknesses, learning styles, likes and dislikes, as if I was talking about myself. My two oldest daughters share a bedroom and the way they maintain their personal space speaks volumes about their unique personalities. My oldest has her bed made every morning, allowing no wrinkles in the sheets. My other daughter might make her bed, if she could find it.......
Imagine an invisible line drawn down the center of the room, one side is neat and orderly, the other side is a mess!
My oldest daughter is very creative. She has an ability to design her own toys or create her own artwork just by using things she finds around the house. My other daughter is very relational and personable, she is every ones friend and is very warm and caring. When we open our home to other families, the children, regardless of age, seek to play and spend time with her.
I am sharing all this with you to say that as different as they are, they do have some things in common, one of them being a strong aversion to math. Neither child is a "math whiz" and they both groan and complain when it comes time for math drills. I understand their frustration, when you are good at something, I think it is easy to enjoy it.  Math is one area where they both could improve and one way of doing that is by practice.
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was able to review a math facts product found HERE called Mad Dog Math.

The program is great and very user friendly. It is math drill software that can  be downloaded; you can choose a one or two year license ($19.99 and $29.99 respectively), or a perpetual license ($39.99) and download the software immediately.

 It requires about 10 minutes per day of use to improve in math skills. Right now my daughter is working on level one. She is given 20 addition problems starting at 0-3 and has the goal of completing them in under two minutes with less then 2 wrong answers. Once she can accomplish that, she is given a "2 minute Club" sticker and will continue to improve her time then moving onto subtraction and eventually doing multiplication and division. each level is to be used over the course of a school year as a supplement to the child's math curriculum.
We both like the program. It is very simple but effective. It isn't flashy with lots of distracting sound effects. It provides immediate feedback for the student so they can see what problems they did not answer correctly. The program was developed by a math teacher/ school administrator and the quality of it shines through. I plan on having my daughter continue the program till our license runs out, and then we will decide if we will purchase the program. I am leaning towards purchasing it because it can also track other children and is good for children in k-5th grade, which is suitable for all my school age children.
Please don't just take my word for it, check out what my fellow crew mates thought of the program HERE

As a member of TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent this product at no cost to myself in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Institute For Excellence in Writing

There are many products offered to us as Homeschool families. Some are nice, but not necessary, some are low quality and really not necessary, some are  great and would go on a "wish list" that every homeschool mom has somewhere. Then every once in a great while, a home school mom stumbles upon an absolute "must have" in her homeschool and the Institute For Excellence In Writing or IEW is that product.

Prior to my exposure to IEW, I did not think it was possible to teach someone the art of  writing. I really thought that some people just have a natural way of stringing words together to make a story entertaining and interesting. I figured that as a homeschooling mom, I would cover the basics in writing, styles, etc.. through our language arts curriculum and either my children, with practice,  would become writers, or they wouldn't. I guess looking back now, that is a pretty bleak outlook. As a member of TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent Teaching Writing/ Student Writing Intensive Combo Pack, Level A  it costs $239.00 ( perfect for children working at the Elementary Level). They also sent me a Portable wall ($7.00), which is handy for a quick reference of writing models and word lists.

So, why all the hype? This is a quality program that is very user friendly and walks the teacher through the lessons as well as  clear and understandable instructions for the students. The teacher discs are a wonderful tool to help you begin to implement the program. The instructor, Andrew, is knowledgeable and is a pleasure to watch. Even if you are not yourself a great writer, this program will equip you as the teacher with everything you need to teach your students. The lessons for the student are laid out very nicely. Once I watched the first few discs of Teaching Writing: Structure and Style, we were able to begin. The Student Writing Intensive lessons run about 45-60 minutes long, depending on the session and typically we would watch the Lesson on Monday and use the rest of the week to work on the writing assignment. The writing assignment would directly apply the lesson that was just taught. There is also plenty of opportunity for review and reinforcement.

Each lesson has a chart that lets me know what is to be watched on the student DVD, the viewing time, the handouts for the lesson and the optional handouts if I think more reinforcement is needed. The company also offers online support for teachers, so you always have help when you need it. I LOVE that we can "attend class" with a great instructor without leaving our home,  that I can customize a writing assignment based on our own family experiences and really make the stories our own.

I could go on all day about how valuable this product is, but I think you should head over to their website and watch a few of their video clips about their program. Also, head over to the TOS Blog and see what my fellow Crew Mates thought of this program.

As a member of TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent IEW at no cost to myself in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monki See TOS Review

Everyone loves a monkey, especially children.  As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent a DVD titled Monki See, Baby's First Words, Volume 1. I was also sent a book from the same Company titled "Know your Monkey".  Both products are geared for children ages 0-4 years old.

We read the book first, and my 5 year old, 2 year old and baby enjoyed the colorful pictures and the simple language.  I liked the fact that since this is a "learning how to read" book, that the texts were separated from the pictures. I was able to point to the words while reading out loud.    As I am sure you know by now, my motto is "Readers are Leaders", in my opinion, any time spent reading to your child, is time well spent.

Next we watched the 30 minute DVD, (which costs $19.95). According to the company we are supposed to watch the DVD daily 5 days per week, for a month or so. Optimally, the child should view the video around 20 times or more if they like. We have watched the video about 13 times now, and my 2 year old and 5 year old really enjoy it. I will have to keep you posted  as to our progress as time goes by.  The purpose of the books and the DVDs is to teach your young children how to read and introduce them to the written language at an early age.
According to the company: Babies love the MonkiSee Baby DVDs because they are entertaining and fun to watch. Parents love the MonkiSee Baby DVDs because babies learn so much from watching them. Babies learn necessary preschool skills such as body parts, first words, letters, colors, shapes, numbers and much more. The MonkiSee Baby DVDs expose babies to written and spoken language without any distractions. When language is presented to your baby in this manner, you will quickly discover that your baby can read.

My Opinion: If you are looking for a quality DVD to play while you are busy cooking dinner or need to distract your young children while you are getting other chores done, then this might be what you are looking for. It will never replace quality time engaging and talking to your child.

Monki See also has other DVDs and books available at their website. If you would like to see what my fellow Crew Mates thought of this product click HERE.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent this product at no cost to myself in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

TOS Mothers Day Special Offer

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