Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Beehive Reader Review from All About Spelling

The Beehive Readers are a new reading series brought to you by the innovative spelling program All About Spelling. TOS Homeschool Crew members received a copy of Beehive Reader 1 for review.

I LOVE books, so this product was delightful to review. My six year old daughter Jessica is learning how to read and she felt like such a big girl when I handed her such a beautiful hard covered "big kid" book. The best part about the book was, she was able to read it, it was created for the early reader. We use another reading program, but the readers that go with it are a bit on the "cheap" looking side. The Beehive Reader is a beautiful hardcover book, and only costs $19.95 to purchase. The readers are part of a new series developed by All About Spelling called All About Reading. A new website for All About Reading is in development and will be available this summer.

Jessica enjoyed the Beehive Reader 1 so much, that I am considering purchasing future books. The reader is 156 pages and filled with 10 short, quality stories and beautiful illustrations.

According to the website www.BeehiveReaders.com
this is what they have to say about their product:

Phonics based, Beehive Reader 1 contains charming, beautifully illustrated stories.
Your beginning reader will delight in finding out what happens when…

…a busy cat lives in a windmill
…a sleepy bear cub takes a nap
…a grumpy duck demands a snack
…a singing bat befriends a lonely king
… a curious boy shrinks from tall to small
… and much more!
Beehive Reader 1 correlates 100% with All About Spelling Level One.

If you order the reader, they will send you information regarding when to use the reader to correlate to the spelling lesson.
The reader can also be used independently of the All About Spelling program.

If you visit the website, you can check out the book and look through select pages. Funny story, tonight I took the Beehive Reader 1 off the shelf in order to write this review and Jessica saw it as she was going to bed and she wanted to take it with her! I had to practically wrestle it from her and promise that she can have it back in the morning.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Math Mammoth Grade 1 Complete Curriculum Review

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent a complete Grade 1 Math Curriculum from a company called Math Mammoth. Maria Miller is the author of the Math Mammoth series. Her philosophy is this: "My aim is to help parents and teachers teach math so our children and students can really understand what is going on. I've strived to explain the concepts so that both the teacher and the student can "get it" by reading the explanations in the books. In essence, the books become practically self-teaching."

Math Mammoth has a wide range of choices for parents who are trying to watch every dollar and yet get a quality math program. I chose to review the Full Curriculum, Light Blue Series for first grade, to use with my daughter, Jessica, who is 6 years old. She is always asking to "do pluses and minuses", so after reading how the curriculum works, I thought she would be a good fit to use to review the curriculum. I was right. The Curriculum came in a pdf format, so I was able to print out the pages that I wanted her to work on and we had math manipulatives at home to use if she needed them. typically while I was working and reading with my preschooler, I would give Jessica a few printed pages to work on. I would read the directions to her, go over the first problem, and let her finish the page on her own. She enjoyed the independence very much and felt very satisfied in her work. I was impressed at how easily she picked up on the concepts.

I think the curriculum is a good fit for children who are very independent learners and who may not require much review, and for parents who are budget minded and don't need a lot of bells and whistles, just a quality math program with excellent supplemental materials.

Math Mammoth is mastery oriented and emphasizes conceptual development in a logical sequence. The complete curriculum covers all topics by grade level. Each grade level includes two parts of a work text (a & b); tests, cumulative reviews, answer keys, and a worksheet maker. Topics for first grade include addition & subtraction within 0- 10, place value with 2 digit numbers, geometry and measuring, reading clocks to the half hour and counting and using coins. You can check out the Math Mammoth website at http://www.mathmammoth.com/
The full Grade 1 Curriculum costs $29.70 and supportive materials cost $14.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Zeezok Publishing Review

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review, I was sent a nice big package from Zeezok Publishing. Yet again, I learned about a fantastic company I didn't know existed.

As I journey down the road of Homeschooling, one of my concerns is "will my children be exposed to the fine arts, specifically music?" I have no idea how to read music or even have any music history classes under my belt to speak of. Zeezok Publishing is a company that publishes musical composer books. They sell complete composer biographies, related study guides and a companion CD. The CD is a nice touch because it plays the music that each composer creates, we all enjoyed listening to this.

Zeezok Publishing sent me a complete set of two composers: Stephen Foster and Edward MacDowell. This complete set sells for $35.80 and includes the companion CD, you can order other composer sets such as Bach/ Mozart; Beethoven/ Haydn; Brahms/ Schubert; Handel/ Schumann; Foster/ MacDowell; Chopin (2 books) from the website: www.Zeezok.com

The books are very informative and interesting. They give you an idea of the culture as well as the current events happening during the life of the composer and how their music was influenced by their life experiences. The study guides do a wonderful job of giving the student a time line and a map of the places in the world where the composer lived. Music sheets are also included in each book and as I said earlier, you can listen to the music played on the CD.

These book series are an excellent teaching tool for any homeschool to round out their fine arts and history/ geography programs. The cost is reasonable considering the amount of activities and information contained in each set.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Ultimate Guide To Homeschooling Review

As part of the TOS Review Crew I was sent a book titled "The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling" by Debra Bell. I read the entire book cover to cover and enjoyed it very much. I am new to the homeschool scene and I wish I had this book about two years ago when I began to research homeschooling. The book contains a treasure trove of knowledge, written by an author who is personal and very knowledgeable on all things Homeschool.
I would say that this book is a must have for new homeschoolers as well as veteran homeschool families. Debra Bell walks you through her own homeschooling journey while helping you decide if homeschooling is right for you, how to choose a curriculum, how to prevent burnout, what to teach- when and how, homeschooling teens, using computers in your homeschool, it even includes how to handle toddlers among other challenges in your daily routine and how to measure your success.

My favorite part of the book, and why I think everyone can benefit from owning a copy, is the Resource Guide located at the end of the book. The Resource Guide contains a wealth of information all in one location. I have researched homeschooling every day for two years and I have found many organizations, companies, websites, publications, products, academic contests and competitions contained in the Resource Guide that I had no idea even existed. My husband even thumbed through the book one day after I had put it down. He can't wait for me to finish my review so he can bring it with him to work! The book sells for $20 and is published by Apologia. You can use this link https://apologia.securesites.net/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=12&products_id=142 to go to the website and check out sample pages of the book and see the table of contents as well as order the book. I declare it a MUST HAVE for any homeschooling family.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dollar Homeschool; Rays Arithmetic review

As a member of the TOs Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent a downloadable math curriculum called Rays Arithmetic from a company called Dollar Homeschool. I wasn't excited AT ALL to review ANOTHER math product, so I skeptically opened the math files and was surprised to see so many books. Then I opened the "Rays Primary Arithmetic" book and was a bit confused. the type was old fashioned and the words were not the typical words I am used to see while teaching math to my children. Confusion is not a new feeling for me, so I continued on through the series, scratching my head, but impressed with the scope, and sequence. For the sake of writing a well rounded review, I checked out the website to get a feel for the company as well as the teaching philosophy and see what other products the company offered.

Once I went to www.dollarhomeschool.com all the puzzle pieces fell into place, and then I started drooling. I even woke my husband up to show him the website and what I had learned. I LOVE when a company does more than just offer a good product. Dollar Homeschool has put together the "Eclectic Education Series" (EES) on CD. EES was a complete series of textbooks used in the US almost exclusively from 1865-1915. The Dollar Homeschool website explains how the EES series emphasised patriotism, traditional values, and the bible. A man named John Dewey pushed for "reform" in the public schools, declaring that they should be the "state established church"; and in case you didn't know, John Dewey was a socialist, a humanist and an atheist (all bad words in our home). Eventually Dewey was able to convince people of this and thus began the demise of quality education in the public school system.

The Dollar Homeschool website is worth a look, even if you are not considering purchasing any curriculum. There is a video on the site found here:http://www.dollarhomeschool.com/Video.html

The EES contains all the textbooks on CD for K-12 including Rays Arithmetic, History, Science, McGuffey's Readers. and Grammar. It also contains teachers books as well as answer keys and tests. The CD, once purchased can be used for all your children, reproducing pages as needed. He also offers a 60 day money back guarantee as well as free shipping. The cost of the CD is $159.00 which is exceptional considering the scope and volume of the information contained in the CD. Needless to say I am impressed and I urge you to check out www.dollarhomeschool.com

Monday, February 8, 2010

Kinderbach Review

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given a three month trial to Kinderbach, Piano for Children. The website can be found here: http://www.kinderbach.com/index.html

Kinderbach is an online piano teaching curriculum for young children. I have a piano and I have no clue how to play it. I do desire for my children to learn how to play, but to be honest, the cost of piano lessons was a bit too high for us right now, so the piano has sat dormant for the past two years. Enter kinderback, and our piano has a new lease on life!

I enjoyed the instructional videos (I learned along with my children) and was impressed with the thoroughness of the lessons. My preschooler up to my eight year old can use it. I think it is a fantastic way to begin piano lessons. One of the big pluses for me was, regardless of how many students I have using the material in my homeschool, the price stayed the same. Also, the program can go at each child's pace, so my oldest may only need to watch each video once to learn the concept where as my four year old may need to view the lesson several times in order to learn it well. Another plus for me was the fact that I don't need to schedule piano lessons and lug my children to lessons or have to have a teacher here. If my children are sick (which is weekly during the winter) I don't have to worry about paying for missed lessons.

The kinderbach curriculum has 6 levels: each level package includes:
1- Activity DVD which provides entertaining keyboard and music instruction.
2- Music Audio CD- has all the same songs included in the activity DVD and children can listen to the proper way the music should be played and then use it to practice along with.
3-Activity Book CD (this contains two books) The first book is the activity book which reinforces the lessons with games etc and the second book is a parent guide.

According to the website, prices range depending on which package you choose to purchase. For example a super starter package is $55.95 and a Bonus Level Package for levels 1-6 is $222.88.
I find the price very reasonable. Plus Kinderbach offers a free online trial (which I would do, so you can get a feel for the program without shelling out any money), as well as a 30 day guarantee. Worth a look!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Facts First Review

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew I was given a 90 day trial to review the website http://www.factsfirst.com/ . The site was created by the by publishers of Saxon-Harcourt (our family happens to use the math program published by them). I was interested to see what the site was like, for several reasons, primarily because we use the saxon math curriculum and I wondered if the site would provide a nice supplement that compliments our daily math lessons.

The website http://www.factsfirst.com/ states that it's purpose is to help children develop fluency in basic math facts using an approach that incorporates placement testing, lessons, reviews and practice on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Once a student completes a unit, the student is rewarded by 5 minutes of arcade games that reinforce the math facts. To begin each child (up to 4 in each household) can create a unique student profile as well as a self portrait. The character the child creates is featured in each lesson. This was a nice touch, it let the children "own" the game and made it more fun because they immediately became invested in it. Another plus for me was the audio help from the game. This was great for my young readers, who were trying to concentrate on the math facts and were able to hear the instructions repeated so they could concentrate on their math skills.

The math lessons are broken down into 5 segments:
1. New Facts
2. Commutative property

New facts are introduced gradually as they work toward mastery (same philosophy as the math curriculum). There are more than 360 activities that allow children to practice the math concepts.
The last section is the "math fact matrix" which provides an overview of your child's performance on individual math facts. The "matrix" uses algorithms to present your child's performance on individual math facts. It is weighted based on speed, frequency, and other indicators of proficiency.

Overall, I enjoyed this product. We have had to review several math games this year for the TOS Review Crew and this is one of my favorites. The game is targeted for children and will hold their attention while reinforcing math skills. The price for a year subscription is $49.99, which may seem high at first glance however, consider that each household license contains four unique student profiles, the price then becomes much more reasonable, especially if you have 4 children who can use the program.

The site does offer free demonstrations, so it is worth a look. You can get a feel for the program before committing money to it.