Monday, November 28, 2011

Passages GIVEAWAY at the Johns Family

My friends over at The Johns Family are hosting a giveaway along with their review of the book Passages.
Head over and check it out and enter for your chance to own the book.

The Johns Family: Passages Review and GIVEAWAY: From the Publisher: Many Christians feel guilty when they think of reading the Bible. Though they want to love reading Scripture, they rar...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Roman numeral blocks, #homeschool #math success

Recently we shared a  review for Math Mammoth with you. This past week, Cameron was struggling with the larger Roman Numerals and was getting very frustrated, so Mommy stepped in with a break and idea. Let's make a set of blocks especially for Roman Numerals. 

I have a large bag of blank wooden dice I received from a retired teacher and thought this would be a great way to practice writing the Roman Numerals but also give him a chance to make something he can use in his lessons.  Using a black sharpie marker we wrote the various letters that represent the Roman Numerals on the faces of the dice.
Cameron was then able to build the Roman Numeral combinations on his worksheet before he wrote the answers.  He had gotten away from using manipulatives with his math worksheets but was reminded how handy they can be when you are struggling.  He also gained a sense of ownership in the project making them himself.
We have a small plastic lidded dish they store in so he can use them whenever he needs them.
I will be doing reviews of roman numbers often with him and I think he will be using his blocks.

I am so glad that Cameron was able to create something that will help him learn and that we can pass on to his little brother when he starts learning Roman Numerals.
Stay tuned.... We are making a set of creative writing dice and will share that once we get them finished.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Get ready to Read and Play #hsreviews



Are you ready to have some serious fun reading? My boys sure where!

The reading game combines fundamental reading and a action packed game of memory.
PhotobucketThe game includes a set of 6 pen and ink illustrated books in an animal theme along with the 6 matching decks of cards.

The game is set up in bite size activities so that the child or children don't get overwhelmed. When the children finish the entire game they will have 180 vocabulary words solidly ready to read and use.

The game incorporates animals into unusual stories that help make the learning fun and the game time even more fun.


The reading game website sells the game for $24.95 and offers a bulk purchase discount of 15% off with 8 or more games.

Also on the website you will find assessment forms as well as a set of tests to match the books.

Both my boys love memory matching games and this was an instant hit for Nathan.
Cameron wasn't sure at first but after reading the first book and playing one round of the card game he was hooked.  We have been through the whole set at least twice and the boys are asking if they can play it at Thanksgiving dinner with their cousins. They want to teach their cousins to read using the game, which for his Mom is music to my ears as I believe teaching something to someone else is the perfect test of their knowledge.

This game is an affordable program that sets up a good foundation for basic reading and positive interaction between my boys.

The reading game can be found on Facebook 

Check out what the rest of the crew thought of the Reading Game HERE

***We received the above game as a member of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for our honest opinion of the product.****

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday with Hands of a Child #HOAC

***This post was written by In the Hands of A Child and posted here because Unionvale Homeschool loves ln the Hands of a Child and supports this amazing Small Business*****

Our 5th Annual Black Friday Sale is Almost Here!

Are YOU Ready to save upto 45% discounts on Hands of a Child Products!

As always we will be offering a HUGE Black Friday Discount on Hands of a Child Products*

This year we will also be doing an additional discount on all products we offer during Cyber Monday*

and NEW This Year Small Business Saturday

Please join us in celebrating our success and endurance as a small business. On Saturday, November 26th we are offering 1-year Super Memberships for $50.00 (retail $75.00).   Purchase a Super Membership on Small Business Saturday and not only do you save $25.00, but you make a HUGE impact on our business.  Most importantly, a Super Membership at In the Hands of a Child will put laughter and learning into the hands of YOUR child all year long!

But WAIT are you already a Super Member?

Super Members can start saving TODAY, no need to wait until Black Friday to begin saving BIG!

Use the coupon code SuperThanks to get 45% off all Hands of a Child Products*

Use the coupon code SuperFun to save 30% on all non Hands of a Child Products**

Use the coupon code SuperMember to save $25 on your 1 year Super Member renewal

* Excludes Custom Designed Project Packs, already discounted products and Super Memberships
** Quantities are limited, backorders will not be excepted

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Are you ready to Read Live in your #homeschool? #hsreviews


Reading is a big part of home education, at least in our house, so when Read Live was made available to us as members of the Homeschool Crew I was pretty excited to try it out.

Like I said I was excited to try it out. Keeping that in mind, I tried very hard to project that excitement onto Cameron as we started using the system.  The program itself is a great assessment tool and can have mulitple students.  For this review I added both boys but focused on Cameron.

Before I get into our personal experiences with the program and how we will continue to use it, let me share some basic information about Read Live with you.

What is Read Live?  Read Live is the web-based section  of Read Naturally’s fluency intervention program. 

What is the goal of the program?  The main goal of fluency intervention is ,  help the student  read as well as they speak, and  make sense of what they read without stopping to  decode words as they read. 

PhotobucketWhat other areas are impacted by Read Naturally?   Read Natually Live assists in the vocabulary development as well as reading comprehension. 

How much for Read Naturally Live cost? a  subscription costs $149.00

What is included in the subscription? 12 months of access, 6 phonics levels, and 13 sequential curriculum levels oral fluency benchmark passages, teacher training videos online and great technical support

So now that you know the basic information on the program I can tell you about our experiences with the program and my personal thoughts on it. 
I love the concept behind the program and signed up for it thinking it would help my struggling reader. I did an assessment with Cameron and found out he was miserable doing the assessment. We talked about what he didn't like about the program and  what might have helped.  A big thing for him was the topic of the assessment reading was not of interest to him so it made it very hard to read. Keeping that in mind I explained to him everything we read doesn't always interest us and sometimes we need to read something to see where we are and make sure we are at least reading at a level that is appropriate for us.   

After the exchange and ordeal of the assessment I did find him reading a book that I had been trying to get him to read that was an appropriate grade level, so if nothing else the assessment pushed him to look at the books he was suppose to be reading.  

We did go back and do another assessment this past week to see if he was improving or if there was something at that level we needed to work on some more. The good news was from the first assessment to this one there was a marked improvement in reading words per minute and correctly, although the assessment experience itself was not improved. (he still didn't like it) This time though he was able to explain to me that he really doesn't like reading on the computer screen and that he would much rather do any kind of assessments from a book instead of the computer screen. 

I have downloaded the extras available and will be using printouts to do anymore assessments with him. He really is an old fashion kind of kid, while he likes playing some games on the computer, he would much rather learn out of a book or hands on.  Lesson learned for Mom.

On a side note, Nathan my youngest saw us working in the program this last week and asked if he could give it a try. I told him we would give it a try "next week" which for those of you reading this review will end up being Thanksgiving week and beyond. 

Since I have mentioned cost in previous reviews, I will mention it here. In now knowing that Cameron prefers to do testing in book format  I don't think the Read Live subscription is a cost that I can justify for just 1 child if it does work for Nathan.  Although, as a Mom and an lover of all things reading related I love the concept of the program and the interface with the program. 

Check out what the rest of the Crew had to say about this program HERE 
You can find Read Naturally on Facebook

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Math Mammoth Moving into new Homeschool territory



When we found out we would be reviewing Math Mammoth and I began the process of selecting the program for Cameron I wasn't sure what I was going to do. We have been happy with our current program but as we are working on 3rd grade and will be doing the state testing at the end of the year I decided we would work through the 3rd grade Complete program.

Cameron wasn't sure when we started as he is a little behind schedule on his math but he jumped in with both feet and gave it his all.  We started with the addition review and found out that the foundations we had been working on merged perfectly into the Math Mammoth program. We only had one minor difference and we worked through the terminology without too much issue.

I was so happy with the way ordinal numbers were explained and worked through, as a homeschooler it is sometimes hard to explain concepts where a classroom full of students comes in handy, Mrs. Miller did a wonderful job using images of people  (like stick figures)  to explain ordinal numbers and placement.

Cameron really enjoyed learning Roman numerals as well , he thinks it is some kind of secret code, which made it fun to teach.
Since we don't do math everyday in worksheet form , it  will take us the rest of the year to go through the whole program but as a supplement to our current program this is going to be a great combination.

I love the online worksheet generator that came with the ebook and all the little extras that made the program adaptable. There are print outs for various non U.S. currency was a added bonus as I want to include currency as we begin to study neighboring countries as well as world cultures. 

Math Mammoth is a supplemental or a complete Math curriculum that is adaptable for language and country. The website also has wonderful resources including links to Math Mammoth videos, their blog , as well as as series of placement tests.  I love how the website covers so many concerns about switching and placement of a student. 

The complete curriculum graded programs average $34 for the complete downloadable set. 
Some of the main features of the program (from the website)

  • mastery oriented: it concentrates fairly long on one topic, with fairly few topics per grade;
  • focuses on conceptual understanding;
  • uses lots of visual models and exercises based on those;
  • emphasizes mental math and developing number sense;
  • nearly self-teaching since the explanations of concepts are found in the student worktext. Thus this curriculum requires fairly little preparation time from the teacher

There is also a series of supplemental materials by topic as well as by grade level, this is great if you student is struggling in one particular area.  Within the supplementals there is also a program for each state using real life data about each state, this could be a fun activity to include in geography studies as a way to combine the two subjects. The other program that caught my eye in the supplementals,  Making it Real, teaching math using real life scenarios.

When we complete the program we are currently using and need to either purchase the next level or a new program, Math Mammoth is high on my list to consider.  I have happy with the format, like the ebook  format, and loved that Cameron enjoyed learning with the program. 

Don't just take my word for it, check out what other crew members thought of the program HERE

***we were given the Light Blue series, 3rd grade complete curriculum as a member of the Old SchoolHouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for our opinion, all experiences and opinions are our own and no other monetary compensation was received.****

Wordless Wednesday 11/16

Homeschool Co-Op Library Duty for Mommy means Kiddo gets floppy in the pillow cubes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keyboard Town Pals Typing in our #Homeschool #hsreviews


Keyboard Town Pals is an interactive online program to teach basic QWERTY keyboard skills to students ages 6 and up. The program uses puppet style characters and a community keyboard to teach students where the various keys are.  The program is a very relaxes comfortable environment to learn in.

I set up the program for my 6 year old who is our local computer geek in training, he has been using the keyboard for a while and actually we used an old unplugged keyboard to help him learn letter recognition when he was younger.

Nathan and I used the program a couple times to see how he liked it, I had hoped he would work through the whole program but that didn't happen. As a mom of 2 boys I pick my battles and if something is a battle in the classroom I will usually step back and look at what is the battle and decide if it is worth a fight before I require the boys to do something. When it comes to typing and learning to type I decided if the program wasn't working for him but the desire to learn was still there it wasn't worth the fight.  We talked about what he didn't like about the program and came up with some things.
First, he isn't a big puppet fan so having the program based on puppets really didn't fit well with him.
Second, the program while thorough didn't move fast enough for him. (I am actually going to try him on my typing program from when I was a kid)
Finally, and this isn't a negative toward the program but more of a personal thing, he is so use to another subject using street terminology that he kept getting confused and then frustrated.  Keyboard Town Pals uses directionals for key rows: Homekey Street,  Down Town, and Up Town.

I can see this being a wonderful program for kids that interact well with puppet style characters and need the repetitive style learning. While it wasn't a good fit for us, I think some students will benefit from this program. Isn't that the beauty of homeschooling, finding the perfect fit for our children.  There are several resources of interest available on their website as well as articles. The program in a download single user license retails for $30 which is very reasonable. If you look through their shop they carry a variety of add-ons to the program as well.

Check Keyboard Town Pals out on Facebook  and twitter  for more interactions.
 You can also check out what other Crew Members thought of the program HERE


We received a online trial of Keyboard Town Pals as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for our review of the program. All opinions are honest and personal, no other monetary compensation was received. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall into Fashion with Cookie's Kids #LuvCookies #cbias

When we first learned of Cookies Kids I was very excited to check out their boys' lines. Having two boys and clothing them fashionably has been hard lately. One the prices of boys clothes are crazy high and the availability of quality looking is very low.
When I found out we had been selected to try Cookies Kids thanks to our friends at Collective Bias, I was over joyed.
C's birthday was earlier this month and I knew I wanted to get him some new clothes and N needed some fall play clothes as well, so off to the Internet we ventured.

Usually our shops take us to a local store but since we aren't in New York City, this shop took us to the amazing and fun Internet store Cookies Kids.  The website is super easy to navigate and there are lots of deals including an amazing clearance section and fun gifts with purchase available.  You can sign up to receive updates from the website where they will send you coupon codes and more gift with purchase type things. 

We searched through the site for dress clothes as C loves to dress up for church and other family functions. I have to say their prices were amazing as was the selection of dress clothes for boys.  Of course with 2 boys I also searched the play clothes and sets sections where I found the Monster Jam Monster truck set for Nathan and then the tops section where I found the Ninja tag-less shirt for Cameron.

I also found Cameron a pair of thermal pajamas and Nathan an awesome Green Lantern layered shirt.  
In the more basics department I picked up a pack of socks since no matter how hard I try I can never find a pair of socks for these two boys. We went with basic white and got a 6 pack so each of them got 3 pairs of socks.

Ordering was easy and shipping was reasonable, although if you get their coupons via email they send coupon codes on occasion for free shipping at certain price points. Since this was our first order with them, I decided not to increase the order for free shipping.. 

It did take a little longer than I had hoped to receive the order but I think part of that was weather related as the East Coast got hit with a fall snow storm. 
Here is a little video I put together of the reveal. I didn't get a chance to video the boys opening the box as they tore into it before I could get the camera turned on.
You can also check out our mini fashion show and park play date featuring Cookies kids HERE

Be sure to check out on Facebook and Twitter for more coupon codes and fun discussions related to raising and clothing your kids. 

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias  All experiences and opinions are that of the author.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"The Person I Marry" Beautiful Book from Bower Books


This beautifully illustrated book by husband and wife team  Gary and Jan Bower introduces children to the idea of waiting and praying for the perfect mate. This book also reinforces strong moral character traits that young children understand as well as ideas that sometimes young adults need gentle reminders in .

PhotobucketWhen we found out we were to review this book for the Homeschool Crew I immediately knew I wanted to share the story with my creative writing class of 3rd graders for several reasons. First in simple words the story moves through all the wonderful parts of a relationship, second, the poetry element is clear and reads beautifully, third and most importantly was the fact that most of the kids in the class including my boys were to attend a wedding in October.  I picked the class session the week of the wedding in hopes that the Bride to be could attend if even for just the one class. She was able to make it and as I read the book the kids could relate to the story through not only the beautiful color illustrations but also that fact that the Bride to be was right there with us enjoying the story as well.  (it also helped that the Bride to be was a blond and the Groom to be a darker haired young man)

We reviewed a digital copy and enjoyed reading it on my net-book. A storybook that is so sweet sometimes doesn't sit well with my boys (they are boys' boys) but this book they actually listened to me read.

I would highly recommend this book as a gift book as well as a wonderful storybook for families. The strong Christian values in this book make it a perfect book for young families wanting to talk to their children about purity, honor, love, and relationships. I love that the authors gathered bits of "wisdom" from their own children to include in the book. This book is a true treasure.

Check out what the rest of my crew mates thought of the book HERE

***We received a digital copy of this book in exchange for our opinion and honest review****

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lesson Plans for the week of November 7th #homeschool #lessonplans

So I decided to share my lesson plans for the week.

Scripture for the week:  Proverbs 12: 17, 28
Math: we are trying a new program for supplemental work (I will post our review next week)
Science: Rockets (he received a fun science kit for his birthday and wants to do it this week)
Reading: Mouse and the Motorcycle (Reading with Daddy)
History: Civil War (he only gets 1 day of History this week, we are spreading it out so he doesn't get obsessed with it)
Art: New program we are introducing including a little Art History

Scripture: Genesis 1: 1, 31
Math: Math-U-See Introduction to Math Lesson 24 and 25
Science : Rockets with brother
Reading: not sure yet, we are going to pick a new program to try this week
Art:  Program with brother

We also have Cameron's youth group field trip for Operation Christmas Child on Tuesday, Homeschool Co-Op on Wednesday , and an full evening of activities Thursday including our monthly Gleaner's meeting.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ooka Island online phonics and reading activities #hsreviews


Nathan and I were asked to review Ooka Island and online reading and phonics gaming environment.


 Ooka Island is an Early Reading program with games and books in a fun online environment where the child is the hero on a mission to rescue letters and sounds. The activities earn the children currency that can be used to buy things for their avatar character, things like clothing , toys , and music for the jute box.

The game itself is installed on your computer through a large downloaded file and a high speed internet connection which means as long as you have  the space available on your computer and a high speed connection to download and run it.

I asked Nathan to give me his honest opinion of the program and since he is a little geek in training (I mean that in the nicest way honest) I figured he would give it to us straight.

PhotobucketNathan's thoughts on Ooka Island:  the sound cave games and the alphabet mountain games were fun , the robot is kinda cool, and the cake game was neat;  the program repeats a lot and doesn't move on as fast as he thinks it should, each of the storybooks gets read at least twice and that wasn't exciting.  Another thing, the sticker rewards are cool, better than the currency rewards according to Nathan.

Mommy's thoughts on Ooka Island:  The 2 gig file size was an issue for us even with our high speed internet it took about 2 hours to download, although once downloaded completely the install and set up was smooth.   We ran into some issues with our character not updating when he tried to change clothes and features, but that wasn't a huge issue as Nathan didn't pay much attention to the character mostly the games.. We  both liked the music that was used and the reinforcement activities (the same sounds were used in the various games through out the session).

PhotobucketSome people have asked if I would buy a whole year of the program, honestly I'm not sure if I would allocate $99.00 of our homeschool budget to the program since it is basically phonics and reading only, but that is mostly because I don't have the budget for a single subject costing more than  about $45 a year. Now, before you get to bothered by the above remark , it is based on the fact that with 2 boys and a short shoestring budget I have to find ways to stretch every homeschool dollar and even find programs that don't seem all that educational and make sure they have an educational benefit. That being said, if I had the budget and Nathan was a little younger I would find a way to at least get a 6 month subscription.



Check out what other members of the crew said about Ooka Island HERE

***I received a subscription to Ookas Island as a member of The Old SchoolHouse Crew in exchange for our honest opinion, I have tried to provide our honest of opinion of the product. No other monetary compensation was received. All opinions are that of the author and 6 year old son.****

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review: Excellence in Literature #hsreviews


I will start off by saying this course is way above my boys' heads but I did not review this with them in mind. I actually reviewed it with my high school co-op students in mind.
I have to admit I love literature. I managed to fill my schedule in college with as many literature classes as I could possibly handle then added a few more just for fun, so I looked at
Excellence in Literature :: English I: Introduction to Literature with a college prep attitude.  I also see the flexibility of this program as a huge plus. While overall writing is a key element along with the reading of great literature, a group of students can easily hold discussions of the pieces rather than just writing essays about each piece. 

Excellence in Literature is available in both print and e-book format.  
Book 1 is available for $29 (plus S/H $4.95) in print or  $27.00 in e-book format.  

PhotobucketThe book is 132 pages and is packed full of information to guide students through not only the literature but the historical context of the pieces and the art of writing and discussing the literature. There is also an honors element added to the book with additional works to read and discuss. 

Another great tool when planning lessons with in this program is the fact that many of these classics are available as downloads (e-books and audio books).  While I was going through the lessons I read some excerpts to my boys as I love reading classic literature to my boys while they play. 

The selections work into many homeschool methods but fit very well into the Charlotte Mason style of learning.  You can also read the author's blog , were she has a variety of articles to help with Excellence in Literature as well as homeschooling in general. 

 Another great tool is the Excellence in Literature Facebook Page with discussions about various works as well as the program it self. 
One last bonus, Check out the publisher's home page for bonus features and their newsletter sign up

 Check out what the rest of the TOS Crew thinks of this awesome program HERE

***I received an e-book copy of this book as part of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew in exchange for my opinion of the book****