Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Family Mint Review

Considering the current statistics that the average American Family is actually spending more money than they make each month, and since this country is now in the midst of the current "credit crisis" the Company "Family Mint" could not have come at a better time. The company, Family Mint, found here:
http://www.familymint.com/ offers a free website that parents can use to teach money management and fiscal responsibility to their children.
I was sent the link to Family Mint to review as part of TOS Review Crew. I loved the fact that the site was free, but even better, the site offered actual relevant financial information.
Family mint allows you to set up accounts for each child and you act as the bank using either real or virtual money. You set up goals with your child to help them save for desired things such as a new bike or an investment. As their interests change so may their savings goals. This teaches fiscal responsibility as well as delayed gratification (I may send this link over to Congress). Since the parents act as the "bank" they can approve or deny deposits. The personal information is safe on the site. The site uses "virtual money" and you can choose to set up an envelope system at home to mirror the transactions.
I love this site. A child of any age can begin to benefit from learning money management for a life long skill that is so lacking in our culture.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Math Galaxy Review

I am fairly confident in my first and second grade math skills. I can put counting bears in an AB pattern like no ones business, and I personally think I rock the geo-boards, if I do say so myself. So when I was sent free games and curriculum to download from the company www.mathgalaxy.com I was not too excited to do another math review (but totally excited about free things).

Math Galaxy describes their program as "unlike most math textbooks, which throw a mass of material at the student, Math Galaxy focuses student attention on concepts sequentially and interactively, based upon the ideas behind math manipulatives (such as counting blocks) and connecting new concepts to familiar experiences. Unlike most math software, it goes beyond simple games, low-level operations or rule memorization to link familiar and concrete experiences to higher-level processes. It goes beyond physical math manipulatives by linking each physical operation to its mathematical counterpart at each step, and by allowing manipulations that are difficult to do with physical manipulatives. It stresses concepts that run throughout all of basic math to provide basic understanding rather than memorized rules. Our goal is to provide students a foundation for analytical thinking in the modern world and for higher-level math and science.
The key to learning math is consistency. It is best taken in small doses but done consistently. Even ten minutes or ten problems a day will improve your child's understanding of math if done consistently."

I like all the "big" words they used like "sequentially" and "higher-level processes", the nerd in me was "intrigued". I was impressed with the amount of material the company offers, a child can use the range of materials offered from Kindergarten through 12Th grade, throughout their formal schooling years as a nice supplement. The product that I chose to review was Math Galaxy Whole Numbers Fun and it covers all of whole number operations plus Time, Money, and the sections of Length, Area, Volume, Pictographs, Bar Graphs and Probability appropriate for grades 1 to 4. It also includes the whole number sections of the Word Jumbles, Riddles, and Bridge the Swamp games and the Labyrinth mazes. Price is $29.95 includes Free shipping.

I had a hard time trying to get my daughter to play another math game, so my husband and I sat down to play. I thought the games were fine, perfect for a child struggling with math concepts. If you are looking for action packed and noisy, this is not the math game for you. If you do want quality and repetition, you may want to check it out, the company does offer a 30-day money back guarantee.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Children's Bible Hour Book Review

"Mom, how much is 70 times seven?" my daughter Emily asked me tonight. I quickly did my math, which is about as good as my art skills. "490", I replied. "WOW, that's a lot" she stated. "Yes, Emily, God is gracious and forgiving towards us and he expects us to treat others the same way." I was able to say, "That is why it is so important to show forgiveness to your sisters even when you may not want to."

Our conversation continued for a few minutes longer, as they tend to do at bedtime, when all the problems of the day are expressed and solved. I credit Children's Bible Hour Ministries for the series of Seasons of Faith illustrated picture book series I was sent to review as part of the TOS homeschool Review Crew. We had the pleasure of reading along with four excellent books, "Seventy Times Seven"; "You can't Come in"; "Race with Midnight"; and "Braving the Storm". Each beautifully illustrated book also contains a CD with a recording of Uncle Charlie narrating the story.

Each story contains a wonderful Gospel message and at the end listeners are given the opportunity to ask Jesus to be their Savior. I loved these books. I put the Cd's in while I was preparing dinner and my children followed along with the book. The books cost $10.00 each, are soft covered, and are sized 10 x 8.5. If you order the Seasons of Faith book set from the website http://www.cbhministries.org/ between March 17- April 15, 2010 you can get free standard shipping, just use the code FREESHIPAPR15

Monday, March 15, 2010

Artistic Pursuits Review

One area that I am very intimidated by is teaching my children art. I do not have an artistic or creative bone in my body. In fact, I have drawn pictures with my children and others assume the children drew them because the skill level is that of a four year old. I am laughing while I write this, but I am very serious.

I was excited to learn that as part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I would be sent an art curriculum to review. The company is called Artistic Pursuits and can be found at: www.artisticpursuits.com

The Curriculum comes in three levels:
Preschool: "The way they see it", A book for every parent about the art children make

Grades K- 3:
Book 1: An Introduction to the Visual Arts (Ancient - 1300's)
Book 2: Stories of Artists and their Art (1200- 1800's)
Book 3: Modern Painting and Sculpture (1850's- today)

Grades 4-12:
Book 1 at each grade level covers drawing basics
Book 2 at each grade level covers color theory

I chose to review Grade K-3 Book 1 since I have two children who fit into that age range, and my four year old can follow along. I enjoyed this book very much, my children were interested in learning about the nuances of art and how and artist views their subject and then creates art from it. The book does not require any preparation from me to teach the children. The book is in full color, which is beautiful to look at. It is a great first exposure to art as well as the artists who created them. The book contains 32 projects ranging from drawing, painting, paper craft, clay, printmaking, sculpture etc...

I think we will incorporate this art curriculum into our homeschool next year, and do one lesson per week. The book I reviewed cost $42.95, which I think is a reasonable cost for the caliber of the curriculum. We enjoyed it and I learned alongside the girls. My art work still looks terrible, but I know so much more about how art is created.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Homeschool Library Builder Review

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I went sent information about a homeschool website that is FREE to join (happy Dance!!). Not only is the website free to use, but it is a website created by Gayla Weatherford and Julie Huffman, homeschool moms who love great books. They wanted to help homeschoolers and others who use excellent literature to educate.

I enjoyed using the website and have joined as a member, for free, and will be notified of discounts and sales at the site. The site sells new and gently used books at affordable prices to build your home library. This is neat because I really love books and while I enjoy the local library, I have 4 young children and I can't take the pressure of keeping a library book in pristine condition while it's in my house! I also love to have rows and rows of books, but it can get expensive, that is when you turn to Homeschool Library Builder: www.hslibrarybuilder.com

Homeschool Library Builder also offers a book searching service for an out-of stock book. They have an online forum called "The HSLB Market Place" where members can get the word out about their own new business or service. Members can do this through the website and it will also be posted in the monthly newsletter. HSLB also offers a "spotlight on the season" where they preview and select sites based on the seasons/ time of year. They will provide links to some of their favorite homeschool resources.

HSLB also has heart and raises money for those in need, it is called "Helping Hand". Another advantage to becoming a HSLB member is the "frequent buyer program" where you can earn points from books bought. Every 15 book points = $1.00 for use toward future purchases and the points never expire.

I am happy to have learned about this sight. I use a literature based curriculum and am always watching my budget, so right now I am making a list of all the books that I will need for next year and see what I can purchase through HSLB.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

TOS Schoolhouse Expo May 12- 13, 2010

If you're looking for homeschool encouragement, resources, and fun, check out all that is going on at The Old Schoolhouse! Right now March Madness and Win Big are going on in the Schoolhouse Store. During March Madness, over 240 items are 10 to 40 percent off! Click here to read the details. (Link: http://www.bit.ly/9vn2G9)
Then, if you're customer 139,000, 139,500, or 140,000, you will win over $348 in prizes.
Prizes include:
A 5 year subscription to TOS (U.S. only)
Scripture Sleuth literature series
Guitar lessons on CD, and more!
Hurry, they are just past customer #137,818.
The BIGGEST news of all--The Schoolhouse Expo is coming in May! Pre-register now and save $5!
As homeschool teachers what do you need to learn?
More about teaching multiple grades?
All about different homeschool methods?
Could you use some help with reading, language arts, math, and more?
Are you intimidated by the idea of teaching middle school and high school?
Those dreaded, advanced courses?
Would some encouraging words and motivational Scripture help you on your way?
Get answers when you attend The Schoolhouse Expo, an 3-day, online conference, presented by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse®
Speakers Bureau. Pre-register today for only $19.99 through March 31.You do not want to miss this unbelievable, virtual homeschool convention! PLUS, you'll receive over $300 in free gifts when you register. Get the details and preregister here: http://www.schoolhouseexpo.com/EXPO REGISTRATION INFORMATION:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Graphics Tool Box Review

My husband works swing shift. That means, he leaves for work at noon and returns home around midnight. I fly solo every evening and typically bring my husband his cup of "please wake up soon so I can see you before you have to go back to work" coffee around 8am. One morning, as the poor man barely had his eyes open, I was urging him out of bed, telling him he "HAD TO SEE THIS PRODUCT THAT I HAVE TO REVIEW FOR TOS" (I didn't yell that loud).

I was excited, I was sent Graphics Toolbox http://www.greatsoftwaretools.com/ which was created by a team of software designers with over 20 years of experience in graphics programming. Their plan was to create a program for everyday graphics needs that would be easy to use and understand. The product they created is perfect for a wide range of people - from students to business people. Here are just a few of the ways you can use Graphics-Toolbox:
personalized cards and invitations
science diagrams
photo editing
posters and business flyers
photo cartoons
scrapbook pages
blog headers and buttons

Members of the crew received the licensed version of the program to play with and they have been blogging about the things they’ve created. They even had the opportunity to participate in some online training sessions which are now available at the Graphics-Toolbox website.

After I went to the website and watched the online introductory video, which is worth a look, I was excited. Not just a little excited either but "Christmas Morning Excited". I immediately came up with many ideas and uses for this program. Christmas cards, birthday invitations, scrap booking, school projects etc... One very important project that I am working on, and will be revealing in a month or two, is a new company I will be launching. I have started other companies and could have benefited very much from Graphics Tool Box, especially for the promotional materials, logo, letterhead etc... As the company gets closer to launching, I will share my project with you, but since a name has not been decided, I will hold off sharing.

For families who home school, Graphics Tool Box is a great investment. The price is $149.00, which I think is an incredible price for an amazing software program. Your students will not be the only ones using this program, it will be a family investment. In fact our biggest debate is which computer to permanently put the program on- our family computer with the printer or the laptop where we can play around all we want and send it to be printed later, ahhh decisions decisions. I highly recommend this product, go check out the website and see for yourself. http://www.greatsoftwaretools.com/