Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Organizing your digital resource

I don't know about you but I have e-books, coloring pages, catalogs, projects, articles, tons of other resources that are all digital.

When I started this homeschool journey I knew e-books were going to be a huge part of our school. I decided from the beginning that I would try and keep them organized. Well after 2 computer crashes and a laptop dying I  think I have finally come up with a solution that is working for us.  I sync my net-book with my external hard-drive about twice a month and once a month I move files from my desktop to the external hard-drive sorting them into their prospective folders.

I have articles sorted by method (Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Traditional, etc..) I have subject files (art, Bible, math, grammar, history, etc..) and then I have publishers for companies I have a lot of stuff from (Hands of a Child, Simple Schooling, TOS,) I have a folder of photos and a folder for MP3 files from online conferences , etc...  It isn't a perfect system, but so far I've only purchased 3 items I already had.

A couple of things I have learned. 1. Know the policy of the online store you purchase things from. How long do you have to download the item? What if something goes wrong and you lose files?  2. If you get something for free and you enjoy it, make a note so you can support that vendor again. 3. Know the vendor's copyright policy. Can this item be used with a co-op or is it single family only; and PLEASE abide by their guidelines, many of these vendors are homeschool families just like you.

If you like a vendor share a link with friends on Facebook or twitter, many of these companies have Facebook pages where they will share ideas and possibly freebies or deals.

Do you have a tip for storing your digital media for homeschooling? Share a comment or link below.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Homeschool Mega Giveaway Sponsor: Usbourne Books

Durable, fun and an established name, with over 1,400 titles,Usborne Books, has something for everyone and is a name that is trusted.

From the Usborne website,

"In 1973, Peter Usborne decided that educational, non-fiction books would need to change in order to compete with TV and comics. He borrowed some ideas from those two media and hired educational consultants to oversee the writing to make sure that the books would satisfy the child's interest, but also arouse it. Explanatory books which merely explain are doing only half the job; if a book fails to make its subject attractive and interesting to the reader, chances are the explanation will fail. Usborne Books are designed graphically to draw the students in, to make them want to learn the material and to help them retain that knowledge.

The magic of Usborne Books is that they make both reading and learning fun and not a boring or intimidating experience. Peter Usborne set out to break down a child's resistance to reading and learning at home. These books are so well organized that children absorb and recall much of the vast amount of information presented."

One of the many fabulous giveaways that is going on, "Usborne Books" is giving a lucky winner, the chance to win 21 different books from them; A great way for a new homeschooler to start a library or for current homeschoolers, build up their current library. So drop by "Usborne Books", discover all they have to offer!  Don't forget to participate in Molding Minds Homeschool-Mega Homeschool Giveaway and tell your friends about it too!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Before Five in a Row Review: Children's Literature for Homeschool



You can never spend too much time with your children and even better yet you can never teach them too much.  Before Five in a Row takes on both of those ideas in a fun creative way.  Full of fun activities that are tied to children’s books BFIAR is a great book of activities for new homeschoolers as well as seasoned ones. What a great way to instill the joy of learning in your children and make it fun while you are at it. 

Before Five in a Row is filled with 24 mini units based on stories that children love. It is set up for children ages 2-4 but the activities can be adapted to be used with older children.  We had fun with several of the activities and my boys are 6 and almost 9.   I love the idea of teachable moments and this book helps parents see those teachable in everyday activities. 

My boys especially loved that some of their favorite stories are featured in this book: Goodnight Moon, Caps for Sale, Prayers for Children, and Runaway Bunny are books my boys love even as they grow older.  

The book is available to purchase exclusively at Rainbow Resources for a price of $35.00. While it may seem like a lot if you consider that you are getting over 20 units that is a really good price and actually works out to be less than $1.75 per unit study.. You really can't beat that... Most of the books are available to purchase through Rainbow Resources (they actually have a bundle deal of books that includes 19 of the books)  you can also find many of these books at your local library. 

PhotobucketIf you have younger kids and you are looking for a great program for them that will instill a love of books and learning then Before Five in a Row is a great resource. I would also recommend it to preschool teachers as a great tool for groups. 

21 days of Prayer for Sons winding down part 1

Well I must apologize. I have been so overwhelmed with the harvest this year that I have completely missed posting Warrior Prayers passages.  I am going to post an overview post and include the 10 verses for each day so that you can continue to pray for our precious sons.

Day 4 Integrity:  What is integrity? That is hard for my boys, especially since they are young.. I really want to teach them that no matter how hard it is or who is around them it is always better to stand up for what is right.  I love how Brooke includes Proverbs 11: 19 “He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life…”  Being steadfast in your faith and strong in your conviction is key and training our boys to realize that peer pressure isn’t right and that standing up for what is right take true convictions.
1 Kings 9:4
Job 27:5
Psalm 101:2
Titus 2:7
Luke 1:27
Daniel 1:8
Philippians 4:11
1Timothy 4: 12
1 Samuel 17
Genesis 12
As you pray these verses for your sons remember to ask God to give them strength as they face these challenges; and don’t be afraid to admit to them that we are not perfect, share your imperfections and failures and ask for forgiveness from not only our sons but the Father above.

Day 5 Avoiding Foolishness
The parable of the 2 types of men, a foolish man and a wise man is the perfect analogy for today’s verses. What type of men are we raising? I pray I am raising wise men rather than foolish. Remind them that foolish choices result in foul consequences.
Titus 3:9
2 Timothy 2:23
Ephesians 5:4
Matthew 7: 26
Ecclesiastes 4:13
Titus 3:3
Proverbs 14:7
Ephesians 5:17
Proverbs 19:1
Ecclesiastes 10:2

As I finish up this post  I keep reminding myself although the official 21 days is nearing the end we should always be praying for our sons, daily they need us and they need their Heavenly Father in their lives.

In him,

Friday, September 16, 2011

Homeschool Mega Giveaway

I am so excited! There has been  a steady inbox and mailbox full of great prizes for this give away.  I am so thrilled to share some really great homeschool products and blogs with you! This giveaway form will show below. Just click on each method of entry, follow the directions and it will automatically enter you no matter which blog you enter from! Be sure to check back on those blogs every few days to read about the great companies who have sponsored this giveaway. With a prize lot of over $1000 in value, there is something for everyone!

I have looked around and while I can't say for sure, I am almost sure that we are about to introduce you to the largest homeschool giveaway ever! Ok, maybe not ever, but it is going to be big! So without further hesitation here is what you have all been waiting for!! Browse through, check out the great products, visit blogs and vendor sites, and enter to win!!

This post is part of a group giveaway hosted by Molding Minds Homeschool please check back during the giveaway for  sponsored posts about the various companies participating. Unionvale Homeschool is excited to participate in this giveaway and will add commentary to the products we are familiar with.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

BigIQKids review: online supplemental learning



Have you tried BigIQkids ?  For the last month we have been working in BigIQkids with both boys.
What is BigIQkids ?  BigIQkids is an online learning environment what rewards kids for finishing their lessons with access to fun games.
That is a very simplified description of the program. There aren't a ton of bells and whistles to this program. It is easy to use , easy to navigate, and fun for the kids. It was also very easy to adapt to each of the boys' level.

PhotobucketFor Nathan, we used the spelling program in the premium account set to the lower level. Each week he would get a new set of words and "Jake" one of the automated voice characters talked Nathan through the word list and various activities in the spelling section. The spelling program was very comprehensive , touching on definitions, pronunciation, and repetition.  During the final quiz if a words was missed the student is asked to pause and write that word down 3 times. The quiz is also set to retest until 100% is achieved.  While we don't use the same method at our classroom setting the computer setting works well for that goal.  The program also sent me an email report of successes and progress.

For Cameron we focused more on the Math section. I was able to adjust the number of problems and the areas we were working on as well as the percentage of various types of problems. In Cameron's case I set the program at 75% addition and 25% multiplication to match our math curriculum.  I also set the number of problems to 16 so he would do 12 addition problems and 5 multiplication problems. This seemed to be a good balance for him as BigIQkids was not a daily activity but 2 or 3 times a week. The math section became a quiz for him which helped us work on his test anxiety issues.   I would have liked to have seen some other math activities for him to work on other than just simple quizzes.  But overall the program was a good supplemental environment for us and gave him the opportunity to earn game coins and play games in a fun educational environment.

PhotobucketOne area of the program the boys both enjoyed was the BigIQ Buddy. After earning 2 game coins the student can create and personalize their own Buddy to reflect their personality. My boys actually changed up their Buddy a couple of times during the month. They understood it cost them 2 game coins each time but that didn't seem to bother them, it was just something fun for them to do..

PhotobucketWe did use the geography section of the program a couple of times but the boys didn't seem to engage with it as well as the other sections of the programs. I'm not sure if it was because they figured it out rather quickly or what but the boys would rather work on the Math or Spelling than the Geography/ State section. As a Mom I did like the various activities within the State Program but decided it wasn't worth the battle to make the boys do it; definitely one of those choose your battle moments.

Cameron and I talked about the program this afternoon as I was getting ready to write this post and I asked him what were some of your favorite parts of the program. He of course talked about the games section. That lead to questions about the various games and he compared the games to the online gaming community he plays on. That to me speaks tons, if an educational site and it's games can compare to a gaming community then it is a hit.

The price is also a concern for me, one of the best parts of BigIQkids is their free version. The free version is comprehensive and includes Spelling and Math program The premium version includes Spelling junior,  the Buddy, and the Geography sections. The cost of the premium versions are set up for individual or classroom settings and range from $7.99 for a month of premium Spelling Junior to $149.99 for a year of classroom interactive Math.  If you would like to see a price chart or a comparison of the basic versus premium there is a page on BigIQkids that details it out.

You can also connect withBigIQkids on twitter.

**We received a subscription to BigIQkids as a member of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for our review. All opinions are ours and no other monetary compensation was received.***

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Homeschool Mega Giveaway: Christian Liberty Press

Christian Liberty Press is a homeschool curricula publisher that offers full curriculum for grades K-12 as well as supplemental materials.

From the website:

Whether you are a new or seasoned educator, or somewhere in between, we can help you sort through the maze of curriculum choices. It is our aim to minister to you in the great task of educating students in the fear and admonition of Christ. Our site not only outlines curriculum for each grade level but also provides a guide to evaluating the various subjects from a biblical worldview. It is our goal to provide you with the highest possible quality of Christ-centered educational materials at an affordable price. Please take time to discover how our resources can help you.

Christian Liberty Press has offered up a complete set of Studying God's Word books A-H to be part of the Mega Homeschool Giveaway. These books will give your child a firm foundation in Biblical knowledge including history and catechism drills. Please take a moment to visit Christian Liberty Press online and then go enter the giveaway for a chance to win this great prize as well as many others!

**Unionvale Homeschool has not used Christian Liberty Press as a whole but we do have several of their books that we have thoroughly enjoyed. ***

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mega Homeschool Giveaway sponsor Math-U-See

Our first featured sponsor of the Mega Homeschool Giveaway is Math U see!

Math·U·See provides a firm foundation in mathematics for students of all aptitudes. The mastery-based approach allows students to move at their own pace whether they are naturally gifted in mathematics, struggle with mathematical concepts, or have special needs. Teachers are provided with the tools, skills, and training needed to present an explicit, structured, systematic, and cumulative program using multi-sensory teaching techniques.

Math·U·See was written by Steve Demme, a homeschool dad, for the homeschool community. Math·U·See’s unique approach targets each individual student and focuses on their specific needs. Rather than a curriculum designed for a classroom, Math·U·See is designed with the homeschool “tutor” environment in mind.

Math U See offers curriculum from pre-k up through calculus and also offers a course in stewardship.

Enter the Homeschool Mega Giveaway for a chance to win up to $150 worth of course material from Math U See!

Unionvale Homeschool loves Math-U-See we use it as our primary Math program for both boys. We are currently using the Classical Curriculum which is the older publication as we were blessed with a Foundations teacher's guide several years ago and will use it with both the boys until we switch to the new format.  I love the hands on aspects as well as the videos and simple worksheets. I watch the videos and then teach the concept as the boys aren't super excited about the videos but they are both still young. When we switch to the  new format I will have at least Cameron use the DVD as part of his lessons.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Warrior Prayer: Aim for Integrity

The verses in this passage really struck me. I can guide my boys but only through God and his presence can they true be men of God. The images of young men in the  bible are strong vivid images to help guide future generations including our sons. It is our responsibly to turn the light on to those images.

In the book, Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas They Need it Most  on of the study guide questions  for today really made me think  " In this chapter, Brooke says, “...what's in the heart eventually comes out. I know that if their knees are ever to bend to Jesus as Savior, their hearts must bend first. And that's God's business.” Have you given much thought to what God expects of you as a parent, versus the things that are really His job? Make a list ..of things that you know are your job, and compare it with a list of things that God says are His job."

Take a moment on ponder that list before you pray these verses for sons.
1 Kings 9:4
Job 27:5
Psalm 101:2
Titus 2:7
Luke 1:27
Daniel 1:8
Philippians 4:11
1 Timothy 4:12
1 Samuel 17
Genesis 12

Again, I pray for not only my sons but sons of my friend Dustin Hughes  as he battles cancer  and baby Nathaniel as he battles Leukemia at the young age of 6 weeks. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: Time4Learning


This is the second time Unionvale students have reviewed Time4Learning and this time we got so much more out of it.  We do most of our school time either outside in nature or around the dinning room table so the boys were excited to try out computer learning again.

Time4Learning is an online full curriculum for PreK-middle school. We tried a little of the 1st grade stuff with Nathan but decided we would really focus on the 3rd grade stuff with Cameron.

What is Time4Learning?  Time4Learning is an online , interactive learning environment with curriculum that can stand alone or be used as a complete program beginning with Pre-K and running through 8th grade.  Course work is grade level appropriate and makes learning even the dry subject fun.

How much does it cost?  Time4Learningis a subscription based service that is $19.95 a month for the first child and $14.95 for each additional child.

Is Time4Learning just for Homeschoolers?  No, actually just the opposite. Time4Learning is great for homeschoolers but it is also great in a classroom or after-school setting, and is also a great home tool for students that need some extra help or extra challenge.

As a homeschool mom I love when my boys get excited about something educational. This was the case with Cameron and the Time4Learning 3rd grade Language Arts section.  The characters in the program were funny, colorful, and engaging.  The parts of speech are a hard area to teach.   Since the program is online we were able to log on with the laptop or desktop. We even had the option of logging on at Grandma's house which makes it flexible for us.

PhotobucketI liked the fact that I could see if he had completed the lessons in a group or not.  If he was having a day that he was struggling with reading the characters offered the option of reading the paragraph to him. This was a huge help for him (he is a reluctant reader, he just doesn't get that excited about reading ).  Another thing that really caught his attention was the variety in the fonts. All the fonts were clear, but with the variety he had to focus on what was going on.

We did try the math a couple times and had fun with the money section.  We also tried some of the 3 column addition and found he did really well , an area he had been struggling with.

For us, the cost is a little prohibitive but we are seriously considering a subscription to Time4Learning, even for a couple months to continue the positive energy Cameron seems to have gained from using the program.  I do like the fact that all subjects are available and it is set up to work at your own pace. We don't have to do all the subject every day, in fact the parental controls allowed me to set up timers to establish his work time and "playground" time.

The playground is available after the set time has been spent on lessons. In the playground there are video games, puzzles, and activities. The playground also has websites the kids can visit.  You can follow Time4Learning on Facebook and Twitter  as a great way to connect with others who have tried the program as well.  One last thing, there is a great parents' community within Time4Learning and lots of parent tools available.

Overall , for the month we had access to Time4Learning we gained a lot of knowledge and had a lot of fun.

We received one month of access to Time4Learning for both boys as part of The Old SchoolHouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for our review of their program. All opinions are our own and no other monetary compensation was received.

Hot Wheels Nitro Speeder s Review and Giveaway

When I received the email asking if we would be interested in reviewing the new Hot Wheels Nitro Speeders I thought what a fun Hot Wheels car for Nathan.

You can never go wrong with Mattel Hot Wheels.  This amazingly small car comes with its own charging station that doubles as the controller and a carrying case.  The case/ controller takes AA batteries that did not come with the toy. Once charged up the Nitro Speeder takes off. We were all amazed at how fast the little car goes, spinning in circles and moving so quickly it can easily disappear and reappear. Nathan was excited by the idea of a fast micro RC car, however the quick circles were a little much for him. He really likes to control the RC cars more. He does like playing with this Hot Wheel in the shop where Daddy works on cars.
This Mom loves the compact toy for those trips where they boys need something small to play with and the fact that it doesn't take a wall charger is great.. The whole toy is smaller than a book and can fit in a backpack.  The car itself is pretty small so this toy is really recommended for ages 4+.

I tried taking video of the little racer but my poor camera couldn't keep up with it, it really is that fast.

One lucky reader will win a Hot Wheels Nitro Speeder toy in the giveaway below. Giveaway ends 9/13/11 and winner will be notified by noon PST on 9/14/2011

**we received a Hot Wheels Nitro Speeder from MomSelect in exchange for our honest opinion of the toy, no other monetary compensation was received and all opinions are ours.***

Civilize This , Civilize What??? a Review


When I received this fun card game I wasn't sure if they boys (6 and 8) were going to be able to play. I was happy to find that the questions have 2 levels and the game is fairly adaptable.

The questions cover Ancient Civilizations, Medieval Civilizations, and Modern Civilizations in to age categories. The questions in the easier category are worth 3 points while the harder questions are worth 7 points.  There is also a set of Wize Alec cards that cover a variety of fun task style activities to earn points.

When we played with Cameron some of the easy questions were too hard for him so I gave him multiple choice answers. I will definitely kept this game as we move back into Ancient history next year and refresh our memories.

Civilize This from Griddly Games Inc. is available at a variety of retailers as well as online retailers like Amazon. With a $14.99 price tag this is a great game for road trips, family game time, as well as homeschool groups.  The case that holds the die and the cards is sturdy and has a magnetic closure keeping the cards in their place nicely. The box itself is small enough to keep in a backpack for road trips and such.

I also enjoyed the fact that the questions covered a variety of civilizations and cultures without a bias toward one. Both boys were very successful in the Medieval category as we had several unit over the past year that fell into this category.  This card pack can also be added the Wise Alec Family trivia game as an expansion set or be used as a stand alone game for added value. Since we are on a tight budget like some many families I love the added value factor of the game.

I receive a copy of the above game as part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for our honest review of the game. All opinions within this review are ours along, no additional monetary compensation was received.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Obediance: 21 Days of Prayer for Sons

Romans 16:19

King James Version (KJV)
 19For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.

Obediance is such a struggle for so many children. I know my boys have a hard time following the "rules" and even worse struggle with the idea that Mom and Dad have rules but then God has rules too... So much for them to take in . 

Today's focus on obedience goes beyond just our boys. We are to teach them, but are we obeying God's rules ourselves; or are we falling into the "Don't do as I do, but do as I say" mentality?  I know I struggle with this myself. As I pray over my boys the verses for today I am reminded myself to obey. We are to teach our children the way that they shall go. Teach by example even older children learn by watching their parents and grandparents. Be honest with them even when we mess up.

Tonight's verses are:
Jeremiah 42:6
Ephesians 6:1
Hebrews 12:17
Acts 5:29
Deuteronomy 30:2
Deuteronomy 13:4
Jeremiah 26:13
John 15:10 
John 14:15
Romans 16:19

I use to look up verses online. I also recommend picking a color to highlight verses in your Bible , and make a note in the back cover to remind yourself what the colored markings were for. (ex. 21Days4Sons fall 2011, written in the color you picked )
If you haven't gotten a copy of Warrior Prayers yet, I highly recommend it.  You can print it off and make notes and work through the study questions each day as you journey through this time. I will continue to list the verses as a reference as we pray for sons. 

I have included a link to purchase the book on Amazon , this link is an affiliate link and purchases from this link result in a small commission paid to me from Amazon. 

Keeping up with an active 8 year old.

Cameron and I participated in a social insight study on Collective Bias this past weekend.
Just wanted to share the final project with everyone.

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All opinions within the slide show are our own

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

21 days of Prayer for Sons: Heart Change at Unvl HS

Tonight I want to encourage you to select a time to pray for your sons, grandsons, or sons you are lifting to the Lord.  In the book Warrior Prayers Brooke lists 10 verses for day 1.  Pondering those verses, I was convicted to change my own heart. Through these verses I am finding that I am sometimes as hardhearted as I see my boys.

There was a note in the leader's guide for Moms whose sons are grown or Grandmothers, aunts, etc.  Write a note once a day and send it to the son you are praying for, let them know you are praying for them. That inspired me, I am going to save these posts and print them for my boys as a reminder later in their lives.

On a unrelated note , I just have to thank my wonderful husband... The picture to the left is my Warrior Prayer Leader's Guide and book in a old Franklin Covey binder I had... Mike helped me drill holes using the drill press as I don't have a hole punch. We created a template so I can reuse a couple other binders I have in storage. God has blessed me with a man who is like minded in creating and re-purposing things.

Please continue to share your thoughts and comments each day as we journey together. Was there a particular verse that stood out to you today?

 I am so thankful for this group of women.  Brooke blessed me with each one of you. I hope we can grow in grace as we lift our sons to him.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Welcome to 21 Days of Prayer for sons at Unvl HS

I'm so grateful that you have joined my group on this wonderful journey. As we pray for sons I pray that we are parents will also grow in grace and love.
If you are new to 21 days of Prayer for Sons   Brooke McGlothin has written a wonderful book Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas They Need it Most that takes you as a parent on a journey to praying the Word for our sons.   Together over the next 3 weeks I will share personal experiences as well as prayers for not only my 2 sons but, 3 sons of a dear friend who is battling brain cancer (I will share his story in another post), and the young grandson of a homeschool friend of ours who was recently diagnosed with Leukemia (he is only 5 weeks old.)

I know the power of prayer is an amazing thing. While I don't pray out loud or in public often I know that the power of a praying mother is sometimes the strongest prayers.  I often think of Mary and the prayers she must have prayed for her son even in his final hours on earth. What an amazing position we are in as mothers, to bring our boys closer to the throne of God through our prayers.

Tonight I pray for my sons as well as the others I mentioned but I also pray for you as a Mom of boys that you may grow on this journey.

Please feel free to leave a message below and follow the blog so we can journey together.


“The fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:17.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Flea Circus, crazy for cats and dogs


RnR Games Flea Circus
Just as school was beginning for us the boys received a fun surprise in the mail. Flea Circus from R & R Games.  At first I wasn't sure how they would play as competition games sometimes get ugly around here.  It was a hit as soon as we started. We played it one on one with the boys, where I would play opposite one boy a couple times, then we brought both boys together to play and and they loved it. We even played it one evening with  some friends.
What is Flea Circus? It is a fast paced card game where each player lays down a  carefully selected card and collects spectators (cats or dogs). When the game is over the player with the most spectators wins. Sounds simple but it actually can get pretty crazy. My boys really started to plan out their plays a little using some strategy as well as observation skills.
The box is small and can actually fit into out school bag for outings.

Since Cameron tends to be a hands on visual learner this game was perfect for him. We practiced math skills as well as observation, logic, and strategy skills while we played. I love when a game is teaching and they are having fun but don't realize they are learning while doing it.
Nathan has been working on his skip counting by 2 facts so we practiced those as we counted out points up (Dog spectators are worth 2 points each).
This game is neither Christian or Secular in focus, as a Christian family with non-Christian friends that play with the boys I was happy to have a non-violence focused game that even the non-Christian kids could play and have fun with.
The game is rated "not recommended for children under 3 due to choking hazards". I think a child that has a basic understanding of numbers 1-4 could have fun playing. This is an awesome family friendly game. Even my husband enjoyed playing with us.

The game is priced at $15.95 and is available from R&R Games  where you will find other great looking family friendly games.  I'm already making a wish list of possible Christmas gifts for the boys as well as cousins.

I received 1 Flea Circus game as a member of the The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for our opinion of the game. No monetary compensation was given and all opinions are ours alone.