Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Artistic Pursuits TOS Review

As a former preschool teacher and mom to 2 pre-school aged children, I was ecstatic when I was sent the Artistic Pursuits preschool art curriculum titled "The Way They SEE It" (A book for every parent about the art children make). You can check out the book HERE and see the other great products this company produces.

This spiral bound book is 73 pages and offers 29 art projects. The book is divided into three Sections:
Section One: The Nature of Children's Artistic Development
Section Two: Use real world examples to point out Artistic Ideas
Section Three: First Skills

I LOVE this book and for $42.95, I think it is money well spent! The book offers recipes for art material such as finger paints, and play-dough. I found that I had most other materials necessary to use this book on hand, such as crayons, water colors, markers, paint, finger paint, paper and clay. This book is perfect for children ages 3,4 & 5, however, my seven year old enjoyed the lessons as well. I really enjoyed the parent discussion that teaches us parents the process and methods to help us understand our children's art better.

This book requires no previous knowledge of art concepts (good thing because I have NONE!) and no rigid schedule needs to be followed. These projects can be used whenever you are looking for an engaging activity to do with your children.

One of the first lessons that we did together was called "Discover Art Project" we studied a beautiful flower picture and I discussed the details found in it, then we used our water colors to make our own bouquet of flowers. The little kids loved it and so did I, we spent a nice time together talking and being creative.  I can't wait to continue on through this book, especially as spring and summer approaches and we can head outside to use God's creation to create beautiful art.

The TOS Homeschool Review Crew reviewed several different age levels of these books, so check out THEIR SITE to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brill Kids Aesop's Fables TOS Review

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to review Little Reader by Brill Kids. They have recently come out with another product titled Brill Kids Aespo's Fables. The books are "specially designed to teach your young child to read." These books are beautiful and glossy, they cost $37.50 per set, and come in the following titles:

•The Lion and the Mouse

•The Fox and the Grapes

•The Boy Who Cried Wolf

•The Turtle and the Rabbit

•The Fox and the Crow

My  five year old and two year old love reading with me so they loved these stories. Each book has a flap on the right side of the book and each book has the text on the left side with the picture on the right. As you read the story, cover the picture and have the children study the words as you read them outloud. After you have read the text, then uncover the picture and explain, with the help of the picture, the text again.

The company also offers these stories in digital format to be played back using the Little Reader Software.

These books, combined with the Brill Kids Little Reader computer program will have children recognizing words and sounding out new ones, all steps to reading fluently. As I have said in previous posts, readers are leaders, and any time spent reading to a child is time well invested. Check out what my fellow TOS Crew Mates thought of this product HERE

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given this product for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Reading Kingdom TOS Review

My seven year old daughter is reading chapter books but as a newbie to the homeschool scene, I was reluctant to put our phonics program away. She is in "first grade" and phonics should go up to the end of 2nd grade, right?  Oh boy, do I have a lot to learn about teaching to their skill and not the curriculum. Ok, I am sure that is a typical newbie mistake right?

Well as January was looming and the joy and festivities of the Christmas season were now just a memory, it was time to get back to the table and back to school. I was loath to continue on with phonics, as was my daughter. She was reading the words before she even coded them and we would then go on to code the words because I was afraid she would miss a reading "rule".  Talk about laboring in vain.

As a member of TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given a free subscription to an online reading program called "Reading Kingdom". The program was created by literacy expert Dr. Marion Blank.

As you can see above, Reading Kindgdom teaches many more skills then just phonics. It seemed to be exactly what we were looking for. Since the program is geared to children ages 4-10 and will teach Letter Sounds, Reading, Spelling and Typing up to a third grade level, I sigend my two duaghters up, ages 7 and 5. The program suggests a school-age student use the program 4-5 days a week and preschoolers use the program 3 times per week. Depending on the skill level, the program takes 12-15 months to complete and each session usually takes about 10-15 minutes to do.

My daughters both started with the keyboard and mouse training, this gets them familiar with the keyboard and using the mouse. Both girls were able to finish quickly (within 1 week). Next they were given a skills survey which then analyzes the child's preformance and will give more practice to areas that need it. Obviously my 7 year old is farther ahead in the program then my 5 year old.

My seven year old has been going through level one of  the "Introduction to Reading and Writing"  which includes practice seeing sequences and recognizing letters. My 5 year old has just begun level one.  There are 5 levels in this section. At the end of this program, my children will have read 36 books.
I am sent progress reports to my email and can check on them at any time. Parents/ teachers are asked not to "help" so that the program assess the skill level of each student.

We LOVE this program. I have officially packed up my phonics curriculum for both children. I have noticed improvement in reading with my 7 year old and much less frustration from both of us since we don't have to dredge through phonics. She can read real books and spell the words and get feedback right away. We will continue till the program is finished and I will know for certain her reading level.

My 5 year old is a bit frustrated with the program. If she does not pay close attention to the session and she makes one mistake, it will have her do the entire problem over again. Also, if she takes too long to click on certain keys, it will tell her she is to "try again" or "watch" then try again. The length of each session is just right. She usually has a 10 minute session and by the end she is "done" for the day with it. Hopefully the issues with the program will be tweaked by the programmers.

Subscriptions to Reading Kingdom are $19.99/month with no monthly minimum, or $199.99 if you purchase a 12 month subscription. If you have multiple children using the program, the cost per each additional child in your family is $9.99/month
I think this price is fantastic, considering the cost of preschool is $180/ month where I live. I also like the use of the computer. I have a newborn baby as well as a 2 year old, so independent learning is very high on my list right now.

I plan on using Reading Kingdom with my other children as they reach the appropiate age to use it. If you want to see what my other crew mates have to say about this program head on over to the TOS Blog.

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