Our Family

Our Family

Monday, January 31, 2011

Homeschooling While Pregnant or With a Newborn

This week's Blog Cruise Topic is Homeschooling While Pregnant or With A Newborn. I guess you could say I have a little bit of experience with this (although not as much as some.) I actually started my first year of Homeschooling in 2005 when my 4th child was only 3 weeks old and we were in the middle of a move that left us living in one location and daddy living in another (but that's another story.) Since then I have had another newborn in the Spring of 2007, 2009, and our next little bundle is due in about 5 weeks! Much of my Homeschooling experience so far has been either pregnant or with a newborn!

Keeping it simple is my biggest and best piece of advice for those who are pregnant or just have had a baby. When I am feeling really bad in the beginning with morning (really all day) sickness or after a baby is born we do just the basics. Instead of doing a lot of hands on projects, unit studies, or field trips we rely on a lot of "book learning" during these time periods. We will use a textbook for Science and History and read through the sections together and do the questions out loud. We read out loud a lot! We will choose a chapter book that is interesting to the children and read a little bit of it every day. Math will pretty much stay the same but I might add in some extra computer time with educational Math or Reading time when I don't have as much time to spend on these subjects. Our Bible curriculum may get set aside and instead we will just read a section out of our Storybook Bible and answer the questions together. Art just doesn't happen during these time periods. That is OK because we make up for it at other times. Even though I may not do an Art project with all of the children together, I do make sure we have plenty of supplies on hand so if they are feeling like creating something special they can go and do it on their own.

I schedule our "breaks" around the time the baby is going to be born and take 1-2 weeks off of school. My last 2 children (and the one that's due in March) have been born close to Easter. Instead of us taking Spring Break when the public schools do, we work up until the baby is born and take our vacation after. The amount of time we take off really depends on how quickly I am feeling back to normal and how much sleep the baby lets me get :).

One other thing I find that is helpful when Homeschooling with a newborn is to try to have a full freezer before the baby is born. It can be a little overwhelming to think of all the things you have to do with a newborn, plus taking care of your family, and having to feed them too. I find that if I have a good supply of easy to make meals or can cook up several meals and freeze them before the baby is born, it takes some of the stress off when the baby arrives.

Much of our Homeschooling is done with the baby right there with us. Newborns spend most of their time eating and sleeping and it is pretty easy to read to the older children with a newborn (and a toddler or two) curled up right with you. That's a great thing about homeschooling it's family friendly and includes everyone!

One other piece of advice I have is you do not have to be Super Woman! Take a day off if you are tired from being up with a newborn all night. Leave the laundry for another day. If it's nice outside and you are having cabin fever, load up the kids and take a "field trip" to your local park. Declare a quiet time every afternoon where your children have to find something quiet to do for an hour so you can take a catnap. Homeschooling can be as flexible as you need it to be so don't forget to take plenty of time to enjoy those newborn snuggles!

Menu Plan Monday

Making a Menu Plan can definitely save you time in the kitchen and money. How do you begin? First, I "shop" my kitchen cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer to see what ingredients I have on hand to get an idea of what I might only need to add one ot two things to to create a meal. Next, I check out our local grocery store ad to see what might be on sale. Then I check my coupons to see if I have any that can be paired with a sale for an even bigger discount. I then create my Menu Plan based off of those things. You can make a weekly, biweekly, or monthly plan depending on what works best for your family. Here is our Menu Plan for this week:

Friday 1/28-pizza (this week it was topped with ham and pineapple yum!)
Saturday 1/29- porkchops in mushrrom sauce, sauteed mushrooms, noodles, applesauce
Sunday 1/30-chicken patties, cottage cheese, peaches
Monday 1/31-broccoli cheese soup, biscuits
Tuesday 2/1-beef stew
Wednesday 2/2-spaghetti and meatballs
Thursday 2/3-chicken enchilada casserole

Go to www.orgjunkie.com to see what others are cooking up this week.

TOS Review: City Creek Press Times Alive


Knowing basic Math facts is a skill every child needs to have in order to be successful in Math. Learning these basic facts does not have to be boring it can be a lot of fun! City Creek Press's Times Alive software makes learning multiplication tables fun and easy.

Some students do well learning their Math facts by basic drilling, but many children find it hard to learn this way and also very boring. Times Alive teaches Multiplication facts( 0-9)as a story using cartoon characters and narration to teach the facts. After each story is told, a catchy song and music video about that fact is sung. Then the student gets to show what they know by answering questions about the multiplication fact. There are interactive games (my children enjoyed the painting games) and quizzes to test how much they remember. Students can stop and start anytime and pick up where they left off the next time they log in. Parents can look at progress reports to see when the lessons were completed and quiz scores.

Times Alive is available for purchase as a CD -Rom or instant download and runs on either a PC or a MAC. The Times Alive CD- Rom is $48.95 and the instant download to your computer is $44.95 for the PC or MAC version. They also have several other Multiplication products here or Addition products here, or you can see the prices of their kits here.

Here is an example of one of Time's Alive's videos:

Downloading and installing Times Alive on the computer was very easy. Once downloaded, all you have to do is log your student in and get started (there is an option to try the program first to get an idea of how it works without saving the progress.) Times Alive is geared for elementary aged students but I have to say that my 3 and 5 year olds love it! Every afternoon when our school day is finished, the children get to have 30 minutes of computer/Wii time. Every day the younger boys have chosen Times Alive! They enjoy the stories, the music videos, and the games that you can paint on the screen. They really are learning the facts too even though they don't entirely know what they mean. The boys run around here saying "Zero is King" and singing "7x7 is 49." They are unable to do the problems on the screen so I have one of the older boys sit with them and they do the multiplication facts after each story and video so everyone is learning something and the big boys (7 and 9) get to help the little boys out. The older boys like using Times Alive and it has been helping Alex (7) to learn his Times Tables.

Christian's favorite game

There are a few things I wish were different. Once you log in, there is no drop down screen or list to show you the user name you logged in with. I think that would be very helpful to have especially if you have more than one child using the program and you don't remember the name you signed in with. I logged in Nick as Nicholas by mistake and was confused when the screen showed he had no progress when he had already completed some of the lessons. When filling in the answers to each Math fact after the story you have to use the mouse to click on every box to put the answer in. My guys kept forgetting and tried to push enter after putting the number in (which I think would be easier) to go to the next box.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

I received a complimentary download of Times Alive in order to write a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Friday, January 28, 2011

TOS Review: Tenmarks

Chelsea (13) is a very independent leaner and does not always want to wait until I can sit down with her and go over her newest Math concept. That has been a little bit of a struggle this year because she is studying Algebra 1 and even though has been pretty strong in Math in the past, Algebra has definitely been a little bit harder for her. When I found out we would be reviewing TenMarks I knew it would be a good fit for her.

TenMarks is an online Math program that helps students refresh and learn Math concepts while working at their own pace. TenMarks was founded by parents who were looking for a better way to help children achieve their highest Math potential and supplement and enrich their classroom learning. It can be used as a stand alone Math Curriculum or as a supplement to a program you are already using. Every child receives a personalized curriculum that will help them to master concepts quickly. TenMarks offers programs from grades 3-10 and is mapped to State standards. Each grade covers over 100 core skills. Each topic contains a video lesson and 3 hints to help you solve a problem.

The TenMarks approach is based on three principles.:

  • Personalized learning makes all the difference.
  • On-demand instruction provides help when you need it.
  • Practice builds confidence and improves achievement

Pricing for TenMarks is as follows and is for each student:

  • $10/month
  • $49/6 months
  • $89/12 months

To see for yourself how TenMarks work go to their Free Trial by clicking here or

View videos on TenMarks by clicking here.

There are many features of the TenMarks program that we really liked. The program assigns the child a number of worksheets and a due date to get them completed. You can change the number of worksheets if your child is struggling or if they move through them very quickly. The parent gets an email notification of the number of worksheets assigned and when they are due. You can see all of the different topics that are going to be assigned to your child and reorder them if you wish, or you can choose topics from a different grade level and add it to your child's album. If your child does not do well on a particular topic, it assigns them do-over worksheets for more practice and does not move them on to the next topic until they show they have mastered that topic. Even after they move on to the next topic, the student can choose to go back and practice on previous topics. They also can see the step by step explanation of questions that they have gotten wrong. Parents can see a detailed report off exactly how the child is doing. The parent also has an option of setting up rewards to motivate your child to complete their work. The student earns game time for completing their worksheets and unlocks new games as they complete more worksheets.

There are a few things that I wish were different. For each topic that the child is working on, there is only one video available to teach that topic. If after watching the video the child does not understand the concept, the only other help they have is to use their hints. But, if they truly don't understand the concept being taught in the video, the hints aren't going to help them understand how to solve the problem. I also thought in the videos that I viewed that the problems that were being taught in the video were much easier than the problems on the worksheet. I would like to see more than one video to help teach the different concepts. Also, although I love the emails letting me know how many worksheets have been assigned and when they are due, there are no email notifications when the tests are assigned and when they are due. It does show up on the parent page when you are looking through what your child has been assigned, but I missed seeing two tests that were assigned so Chelsea had to take them both at the same time and one was due a few weeks before (oops!.) An email notification would help to solve this problem.

Overall, I think it is a great Math program that enables Chelsea to work on her own instead of on my time table. We are planning on continuing to use TenMarks for the rest of the year and finish Algebra 1.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

I received ac omplimentary subscription to TenMarks for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Have I Ever Mentioned.......

How great the flexibility of homeschooling really is? I often have appreciated this in the past when we can take time off for something we want to do or for small vacations at odd times of the year. Also every time we have a baby it comes in handy to have the ability to change our spring break (the last 2 babies plus the one coming up has been due around that time) to coincide with baby's birth. This week I really have appreciated the flexibility homeschooling has allowed when facing something unexpected. Not just in my house either, but a dear friend who homeschools also. I had a lot of plans for this week (homeschooling wise.) Plans to finish up some work on a few subjects and to dive in to a few newer review items we have coming up. When Art went to the doctor Monday morning we thought he was just going to get some antibiotics and come home. The children and I started off our school day as planned. Then when I got a text message saying the infection was more serious then we thought and he had to see a surgeon in the afternoon plans had to change. First, no school for the rest of the day. Next, what was I going to do with the children so I could take my dh to the surgeon where we thought they were going to lance the infection right in the office. Chelsea does great watching over the three little ones, but the two bigger boys ....let's just say they do not have a whole lot of respect for her authority...plus watching that many children is a huge responsibility for someone not quite 14. Luckily I have a dear friend who also appreciates the flexibility of homeschooling and invited the boys to come and play while we went to the doctor. Chelsea stayed home with Lily since it was during her nap time. At the office we found out they could not do the procedure in the office. Instead, we had to go to the hospital the next day where they would put my dh under anesthesia and take care of it there. Another day with no school (for us or my dear friend who said the boys would be more than welcome to come back and play...what would I do without good friends!) Everything went well at the hospital and the patient's recovery has been better than we expected !
Although we did not get as much done as I had planned this week, there's no worries about it. Tomorrow is another day and there is plenty of time to get done the things we need/want to do. That's just another great thing about homeschooling. It allows for flexibility when important things in life come up. Long division can wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

TOS Review: Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids


The Bible is the most important book for children to read, learn, and understand. We put our Bible time first everyday and out of all the "subjects" I teach it is the most important to me. I often wonder though how much they really are reading and understanding, or just repeating back to me what I have told them. I remember being a child and although I knew the Bible, I believed it to be "stories" not factual imformation about real people (something I have tried to correct in my children.) I wonder if children have a hard time with this because it is hard to relate to places and things that they have never seen and words that they don't understand.

LifeWay Christian Stores has the Hollman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids which is a great help in combatting this problem. This hard cover book has 212 pages and is $14.99. It was written for ages 5-10 but I think that age range could be expanded for both older and younger children (I know I enjoyed looking and reading through it and so did my 3 year old.) This Illustrated Bible Dictionary contains 750 essential Bible words with kid friendly definitions, a pronounciation system, and alternative spellings for King James version. There are 500 full color photos, illustrations, and maps. Some other special features include:

  • Different names of God

  • Descriptions of the 12 Apostles

  • 10 Plagues on Egypt

  • Jewish feasts and festivals

  • Names of Jesus

  • Parables of Jesus

  • Different plants, animals, and foods of the Bible

  • Musical Instruments of the Bible

For a look inside the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary For Kids, click here.

Did you know that the Dead Seas' high salt content makes it almost impossible for a person to sink in its waters? Or what exactly a cubit is? After reading through this Bible Dictionary, we know exactly what a cubit is, information about the Dead Sea and many more things we have never known before. The beautiful illustrations, photographs, maps, and loads of information makes it an enjoyable, educational book to read and explore. It is a very sturdy, well bound book that will last through many children searching through its covers. One of my favorite parts of this book was the sections where they showed the different Animals of the Bible, Foods of the Bible, and Instruments of the Bible. I also loved the maps so I could show the children exactly where the places were that I was talking about. We used this book alongside our Bible curriculum loking up things like the descriptions of the twelve apostles and what was meant in our Bible passage when they talked about an altar. I also just made the book available for the children to look at and read (for those who can read) in their spare time and they all have spent time looking over the pictures and asking questions.

I asked the children if there was anything they didn't like about the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids, because I could not think of any negatives and wanted to hear their perspective. One of my children had just one thing he didn't like (and it is a very small thing.) On the pages where they have things like Insects, Animals, and Foods of the Bible they are listed under A for Aninmals, I for Insects, and F for Food. But, not every entry on those pages are given it's own seperate entry under its letter. For example Fish is on the Animals of the Bible page under A for Animals and has its own entry under F, but only one other animal on the page (serpent) has its own entry under its own letter. The definition and scriptures references are given on the page under Animals along with an illustration so it is not really nesessary for it to have another heading under the letter. It just didn't make sense to my 9 year old old why it didn't.

To see what other crew mates think click here.

I received a complimentary copy of the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Why even make a menu plan? I make a menu plan for two reasons: to save money, and to eliminate that feeling of," oh no it's almost 5 and I have no idea what's for dinner!" It really does save you money, both when you are grocery shopping (if you make a list and stick to it) and when your panic of not knowing what's for dinner leads you straight to the nearest take-out joint. Before I made a menu plan I pretty much just wandered up and down all the aisles at the grocery store and picked up random items that I thought would make good meals and never even paid attention to how much money I was spending. Also by the end of the week I was running out of things to make and had to return to the store for more stuff to fill in the gaps I had after standing in front of the refrigerator and trying to figure out what to cook. Sitting down and making a menu plan makes my life much easier!

Here's this weeks menu (I already had to change around a couple of things)

Friday 1/21-pizza
Saturday 1/22-steak, bakes potatoes, cauliflower (we didn't eat last week due to a not hungry husband and a 4-H meeting we had waffles instead)
Sunday 1/23- ham steaks, cheddar cheese mashed potatoes, stir fry vegetables
Monday 1/24-burgers, tator tots, peaches
Tuesday 1/25- grilled cheese and soup
Wednesday1/26-cheesy chicken broccoli and rice casserole, biscuits
Thursday 1/27- goulash, bread

To see some other great menus go to http://www.orgjunkie.com/

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Book Review: Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner

Lady in Waiting is written by Susan Meissner the author of Shape of Mercy. It is a 336 page novel published by Waterbrook Press. The book also includes a Reader's Guide with 12 discussion questions for a more in depth study of the book.
Jane Lindsay, an antique dealer who has been happily married for 22 years (or so she thought) is absolutely stunned when her husband packs his bag one day and walks out the door. While she is trying to continue to live her life without knowing if she even has a marriage any more, she finds a very old ring in the spine of a very old Prayer Book. Inside the band is a Latin inscription and a name, Jane. Jane feels an instant connection to the owner of the ring and begins searching out who it could have belonged to. During the search to find more about the mystery ring, she may just be able to find out a little more about herself.

In the 16th century, Lucy Day becomes dressmaker and friend to Lady Jane Grey. Lady Jane Grey is a young, innocent woman whose life seems to be controlled by a political and religious climate that is full of danger. These circumstances in her life threaten to destroy her chance at her one true love and the pursuit of her own interests. Are her choices her own to make?

This is a book about choices. On the surface it may seem like each Jane's lives were determined by other people and the choices they let those others make for them. Throughout the book it becomes clear that each woman had much more influence over their lives than even they imagined and their lives ultimately come down to the choices they themselves make, not ones that others make for them.

A very interesting story about two women with similarities hundreds of years apart. The transition between the two women's stories was very easy to follow along. The story is based on some truths about Lady Jane Grey's real life. The author's descriptions of the time periods and characters made the story very easy to relate to. You find yourself involved in the character's lives and rooting for them even as you are afraid it won't end the way you want it to. A very gripping story from beginning to end.

I received a complimentary copy of Lady in Waiting from Waterbrook Multnomah in order to write a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Friday, January 21, 2011

One of My Greatest Joys In Homeschooling

When I first started homeschooling, I was doing it because I thought it would be the best thing for my children. I thought about all of the changes I was going to have to make and the sacrifices that would go along with it. I never at that time thought about how much I would enjoy it. It is a lot of work and does take a few sacrifices but I really do love it.

One of my greatest joys in homeschooling my children is the opportunity to watch them learn. I love being able to work alongside with them and see the joy and delight on their faces when they are doing something they love to do. I love working with them and seeing the joy on their face when they are doing something they don't like or have a hard time understanding and it finally "clicks" (long division with remainders for instance.) I love when we are working on a topic and they start asking questions that leads us down a different "rabbit trail." I love seeing their creativity as they create their own paper crafts or come up with a new recipe to try. Children are truly amazing little creatures and they are just like little sponges soaking up everything in the world around them. I am so thankful every day that I get to be a part of all of those things.

TOS Review: Speekee

Speekee logo
Speekee is a Spanish language learning course for young children ( approximate ages 2-10.) Speekee was created by specialist linguists and musicians and uses a spiral learning immersion approach to teach. The lessons are spoken completely in Spanish but captioning is available in both Spanish and English. It uses real Spanish children in real Spanish locations and essential words with lots of repetition. The main character is a cute, lovable puppet named Speekee. Speekee makes learning fun using catchy songs and stories and activities that are interesting to children.

Speekee used to be only available on DVD, but they have recently come out with an online version Speekee TV. There are 10 episodes currently available that you can watch straight from your computer. It is also possible to watch it on the Wii if you have WiFi and the Internet Channel on your Wii (note: captioning is not available at this time on the Wii.) The episodes range from about 16 to about 20 minutes each giving you over 150 minutes of learning time. With each episode there are downloadable worsheets to go along with the episode. Since it is taught in a spiral method it is recommended that you watch each episode in order. The titles of the episodes are:
El parque
El cafe
La casa
El zoo
La clase
El mercado
La estacion
La playa
El jardin
La fiesta

A subscription to Speekee TV is $7.50 per month and the first two weeks are free. There is no minimum subscription time. You subcribe securely using Paypal and cancel any time you would like.

My children (1 1/2, 3. 5, 7, 9) loved Speekee the first time they watched it. We watch Speekee TV together every school day after our Bible lesson. The time frame of each video is long enough to teach them but not too long that they get bored. It is very engaging and is featured around places and things that children naturally enjoy. The songs are very catchy and before the end of the first video the children were singing along (quite honestly I find the words to the songs popping into my head several times a day too.) Even the little ones have an understanding of the Spanish words and are using them during the day. Lily (1 1/2) said elephante when she saw a picture of an elephant yesterday, lately every time I ask the boys a question they don't know the answer to I get a "No lo se" for a response, but I also am hearing, "Te quiero" quite a bit. Our favorite episode was El zoo and we have watched that one several times (I had a hard time convincing the little ones we could go on to the next video.) The downloadable worksheets are a good compliment to the lesson and are age appropriate. We have truly enjoyed learning Spanish with Speekee.

Speekee is based in Europe and teaches Spain Spanish not Latin American Spanish. I don't think that makes much of a difference but some words, phrases, and pronounciations may be a little different in Latin American Spanish. It is very helpful to watch these videos with your child instead of letting them watch on their own. That way you know what they know and can answer questions, and there are several places in the videos where Speekee expects your child to repeat the phrase that was spoken. Also, as of right now there are only 10 videos and I am not aware if/when more will become available although I would love to see more made.

If you are looking for a fun way to introduce Spanish to young children in your life, I would definitely give Speekee a try!

To see what other crewmates are saying click here.

I received a complimentary subscription to Speekee TV for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review: Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones

Lucy Wiltshire had her heart broken when she trusted in love. Now, her main focus in life is Saving Grace a home she runs for older teen-age girls who are too old to stay in the foster care system but not quite old enough to be out on their own. The girls depend on Lucy and Lucy depends on donations to keep the home open. When her funding is cut by more than half by Sinclair Enterprises and she faces the risk of losing the home Lucy doesn't know what she will do.
Alex Sinclair is a handsome former NFL star and heir to the Sinclair Enterprises. On the surface he appears to have it all except the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. After a picture of him and Lucy is leaked to the press, his numbers started to increase.
Lucy and Alex each has something the other needs. Alex makes Lucy a proposition. If she will pose as his fiancee he will give her the money she needs to keep Saving Grace running. Will Lucy be able to keep up the charade?
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is the first book that I have ever read by Jenny B Jones. It had a good story and was very funny. The author's descriptions were so vivid it was like you were right in the same room with Lucy and Alex. The characters were believable (though a few a little on the extreme side) and wrestled with real life issues. Aside form this being a cute, romantic book, it also has an important message for everyone. The message is about YOU being worthy. No matter what you or anyone else thinks you are a child of God and he loves you. "Tell the devil you are through listening. It's time to tell yourself, I'm good enough. It's time to claim the verse in the Bible that says you are a dearly loved child of God. You are adored. And you deserve love." The other message is one about forgiveness and being able to let go of the past and move forward with your life. It was a wonderful read and a very enjoyable book.
I received a complimentary copy of Save the Date from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Favorite Recipes: Crockpot Chili

I love to make soup because it is one of those meals you can usually add just about anything to and not mess it up. Chili is a great and filling meal (also pretty inexpensive)that we like to have a lot during cooler weather. It also is pretty easy to make especially if you throw it in the crock pot and let it cook itself. Here is the easy and not too spicy Chili recipe that I use.

2 lbs ground beef, turkey, or deer meat browned(I use half deer meet and half ground beef)
1 diced onion sauted
4 cans of beans drained and rinsed(any kind you like I use pinto and light and dark kidney beans)
2 cans of stewed tomatoes undrained
1 large can vegetable juice
1 packet of chili seasoning (I only use half)
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese

Add all ingredients to your crock pot except the cheese. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4. Put into serving bowls and top with cheddar cheese.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

TOS Review: Maestro Classics

When I sat down over the summer and was making plans for the school year, one of the things I knew I wanted to add it that I didn't think I was doing enough of was Music. Teaching Music can be hard to fit in with everything else we have to do in a day, but it is no less important than any of our other subjects. I had not done as good a job as I had originally intended, but our recent review item from Maestro Classics has changed that.

From the website: "Maestro Classics™ is the ambassador of great music for both children and adults, helping them experience the art form in new and exciting ways. " They carry award winning classical music CD's great not only for children but adults of all ages. Each CD is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, narrated by Yadu and conducted by Stephen Simon. Available products are:
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Casey at the Bat
The Tortoise and the Hare
The Story of Swan Lake
Juanita the Spanish Lobster
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Peter and the Wolf

Each CD is $16.98 and includes an activity book or 3 CD's for $45. They also have Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Casey at the Bat available as a gift set including the story book for $24.99.

The activity book has information on the composer, musicians, narrator and executive producer. There were pages on instruments that were used that are not as common. It also has several activities to go along with the music (ours had a crossword, matching, crack the code and mirror writing.)

On the webiste there is a link you can listen to music sample, view awards for each CD, and get answers to activity book activities. There is also a section for Education Materials with articles and lesson plans for Casey at the Bat and Mike Mullligan and His Steam Shovel.


We were very blessed to have the opportunity to review Peter and the Wolf. Peter and the Wolf is a musical story of a boy named Peter who goes into the meadow through the garden gate. Even after his grandfather brings him back and closes the gate, he disobeys his grandfather and goes over the wall in order to try and catch the wolf. With the help of his friends, the cat, the bird, and the duck, Peter will try to catch the wolf and take him to the zoo. There are 8 different tracks on the CD with a total playing time of 68:16.

We listened to the CD for the first time on a cold snowy day. I knew the children would enjoy it, but even I was surprised at how much they enjoyed it. The first time we listened to the introduction where the narrator explains which instrument was which animal, even Lily (1 1/2) was very animated and kept asking, "Who is that?" Anthony (5) was swinging his arms acting like a conductor and Nick and Alex looked over the activity book. Christian was the most surprising to me. He stared wide eyed and listened intently to the music and the story. He has since listened to Peter and the Wolf every day and carries the activity book around with him. He LOVES it! We even have taken it in the van with us to listen to on the way to a doctor's appointment.

One suggestion that I would make is to make it possible to order more than one activity book with each CD so you could have one for each of your children. Since we only had one booklet (and some arguments over who was going to get to do what) I did print an activity sheet and coloring page off of the internet so each of the children would have something to do (except Chelsea who at almost 14 did not want a coloring sheet) while we listened to the music. We also had several discussions about each instrument and looked at pictures so the children would know the difference between the instruments.

A true measure of whether children like something or not comes from whether or not they want to listen to it more than once. All of my children enjoyed this CD and not only wanted to listen to it again, they also have been checking out the website to see which CD they would like to order next. I even got several, "Please mom can't we get another one of these?" We will be ordering another CD from Maestro Classics very soon.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

I received a complimentary copy of Peter and the Wolf for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Breastfeeding, The Right Choice

I really felt like I needed to do a post on breastfeeding. I am not an expert, but I do have 6 children with another on the way in a few weeks and and have spent many years nursing. Everyone wants what is best for their baby. There is no doubt that breastfeeding is absolutely the best food choice for your baby. Why?

1. God can make it better than we can, and there is no formula that supplies the same amount of nutrients as breast milk. It is also easier for babies to digest.
2. There are immunities that your baby needs in your breast milk that you pass on to your baby that your baby can't get from anywhere else.
3. It's Free!!!
4. It's always at the right temperature.
5. It doesn't have to be shaken or stirred.
6. No bottle required. (My 4 youngest have never drank anything from a bottle)
7. If your baby sleeps close by at night, night time feedings are much easier with less interruption in your and your baby's sleep.

There are things that you should know before breastfeeding to make it easier on yourself. Read some books, talk to your doctor, take a breastfeeding class, contact a breastfeeding support group for even more information. Talk to a friend with experience. There are many people out there who can help! Here are some things I think is important to know.

1. Nurse your baby for the first time as soon as possible after their birth. Babies are very alert when they are born and you will have better success with an alert baby. Let the nurse know you want to nurse as soon as possible after the birth and that you made need some help.
2.If you are unsuccessful during the first couple tries, try the football hold (this always works for me) It is just like it sounds. Hold your baby like a football with his feet tucked under your arm toward the bed and line his nose up with your nipple.
3. Nurse your baby every time he is awake during the first few days. This serves many purposes. It will help your milk to come in faster, prevent you from becoming engorged, and help flush out the babies system. My babies usually develop jaundice, and the more they are nursed, it flushes out their liver and helps get rid of the jaundice.
4. Drink lots of water. Not only is it good for you, but it will help to get your milk production to increase.
5. Do not let the nurses give your baby a bottle or a pacifier. Every time your baby has the urge to suck, you should be nursing. If you want your baby to have a pacifier, you can always introduce it in a week or two.
6. Do not let the hospital send you home with formula. Sometimes we get frustrated, and it is very easy to change your mind in a moment of frustration if you have baby formula available.
7. You will not starve your baby. Except for in very extreme cases where there is a specific medical reason why a woman is not producing milk, you were made to be able to nurse your baby. Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand schedule. The more your baby nurses, the more milk your body will produce.

Just remember that your body is made to nurse your baby. You can do it!!! Practice makes perfect for both of you. Newborn babies need to eat every 1 1/2 to 2 hours, so don't think that you don't have enough milk because the baby is hungry all of the time. It is perfectly normal. There are also times when babies go through growth spurts and need to nurse more. This is also normal. Remember to take care of mom too. Your baby is dependent on you just like when he was living inside of you. These things will help with your milk production: gets lots of rest, drink lots of water, eat healthy foods, and keep taking your prenatal vitamins.

A question everyone wants to know is will breastfeeding hurt? In the beginning breastfeeding does hurt. Your baby has very strong jaw muscles (and lets face it our nipples are sensitive.) It usually takes a few days to get used to it, and after that it doesn't hurt any more. This is not just true for first time moms, but every time you begin to nurse a new baby. There are things you can do to ease the tenderness: nurse whenever your baby will nurse (to prevent from being engorged), there are nipple creams that are safe for baby, cold ice packs can help, and Tylenol or Motrin. Also, breastfeeding stimulates uterine contractions in order to help your uterus return back to its normal size. This is a very good thing for you even though it can be uncomfortable at times and can be more painful the more children you have. I have found that Motrin helps with this. Remember this is a small amount of discomfort for a few days and worth the sacrifice to ensure your baby is getting the very best.

Menu Plan Monday

Thursday night I had a meeting so I decided to go grocery shopping a day early. It was the first time I can remember n a VERY long time that I was grocery shopping by myself (usually all of the childen are with me.) It was very quiet that's for sure, but I did miss their help (you know like grabbing stuff off the bottom shelf, sending Chelsea back for something I forgot, and loading the van.) Here's what's cooking up at my house this week.

Friday 1/14- chicken nuggets and fries (we had pizza on Wed for Nick's birthday so no pizza on Friday this week)
Saturday 1/15- beef stroganoff(made with deer meat), peaches, and bread
Sunday 1/16- roasted chicken, baked potatoes, corn
Monday 1/17-tacos
Tuesday 1/18- pork chop parmesean
Wednesday 1/19- grilled cheese and soup
Thursday 1/20- steak, mashed potatoes, cauliflower

Check out some other great menus for this week at http://www.orgjunkie.com/

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Last of Our Snow

The snow we got last Sunday lasted until yesterday! I thought that must be some kind of record. Even on the few days we have had snow in the past, it usually melts within a day or two. This time, we had very cold (well for Arkansas anyway) temperatures with lows in the single digits and the snow stuck around for the whole week. By Thursday, enough had melted that the children could no longer sled down the hill. By Friday, we only had snow in a few places in the backyard. That didn't stop the children from enjoying it until the last minute. This snowman Christian (3 1/2) made all by himself Friday afternoon. I took the picture Saturday morning before our warmer temperatures made him melt completely away. The snowman and all the rest of the snow melted today. I am not very sorry to see it go, but the children will miss playing out in it. The fact that we don't get snow very often makes it that much more special to them and I am sure they will remember this for a long time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Free Phonics Program During the Month of January 2011

The Funnix Reading Program is being offered free for the month of January 2011 for parents, homeschoolers, and educators. It was designed by Siegfried Engelmann the writer of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. The Funnix sequence teaches 2 years worth of reading skills and is usually priced at $249. The entire package of 220 lessons are available for download for free and includes everything you need to teach the program: daily lessons, workbook, and teacher's guide.

Why is it available for free? From the website:

"What is Zig Engelmann's reason for providing this amazing give-away? He indicated, "We've been trying for years to do things that make schools successful, particularly with young kids and lower performers. We figured that we're in a position to offer schools and parents a stimulus package that could be worth a lot for every kid who otherwise would not be accelerated or who would be a reading failure. Why not make the electronic package available to anybody who needs it? It doesn't cost us much to do it, and it could help in a small way to counteract the effects of bankrupt schools and dismal times."

I have not yet begun to use this program, so I cannot give you a personal opinion on it. I read about this program being offered for free and downloaded it yesterday. If you would like to read more information about the program or to download it go to this link.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Week 31 Pregnancy Update!

Even though we still have quite a bit of snow on the ground (well for Arkansas anyway) the roads around where we live were completely clear. So, I decided to go ahead and keep my doctor's appointment instead of rescheduling for later in the week when it is supposed to be even colder. When we got about halfway there, I wished I had rescheduled. The roads were NOT good and still had quite a bit if snow and ice on them. Thankfully we made it to the doctor (and back) safely, but we did decide not to run any of our other errands I was planning on while we were in the big city. On a better note, because of the weather we had no wait time at all in the waiting room and only a few minutes in the examining room waiting for the doctor. I gained 4 pounds making my total weight gain so far 20 pounds. My blood pressure and baby's heart rate were both excellent and she measured perfect for almost 32 weeks. My blood tests came back all normal too and my doctor said as long as I was feeling good and promised to call if I have any problems she would let me wait 3 weeks until my next appointment. Yea!

I have been feeling a little anxiety over the last week or so about my labor and delivery. Not because of the actual pain and hard work of labor, but because I am delivering in a different hospital with a different doctor and rules and regulations can be ...well different. So I had some questions for my doctor and was pretty pleased with her responses. While most hospitals and doctors say they are all for natural childbirth, many of their "rules" make it a lot more challenging to achieve and honestly it is easier for the nurse if you are medicated and stuck in bed. She told me I will need to have an IV access in case of a medical emergency but IV fluids were not mandatory. They allow intermittent monitoring of the baby instead of constant monitoring as long as baby's heart rate is stable to allow more freedom of movement during labor. They will even let you move around after your water is broken (something my last hospital wouldn't allow.) She does deliver the baby right onto mamma's abdomen (as long as there are no complications.) An hour or so after birth they will take the baby to the nursery for a bath but daddy and/or mommy and go with the baby. She did say to make sure I make all of my wishes clear to my nurse when I get there which I will do or if I am not in a talking mood my husband will. But, all in all I felt much better about everything after our conversation. Now i just need to find out what they think they are going to do to my baby during the 24 hour hospital stay.

Using A Bread Machine

I commented in a post a few weeks ago that we couldn't have fresh bread because my bread machine had broken. I got some comments and questions about the bread machine and what I use it for, so I thought I would write a post on it.

About 3 years ago I asked my husband to buy me a bread machine for Christmas. At that time Walmart carried a fairly inexpensive, easy to use Sunbeam model for around $35 (I think it is $50 now.) I didn't want him to spend a lot of money on it in case I didn't like it and never used it, or if the bread never turned out. Well, I ended up using that machine at least twice a week (sometimes more) until the bread pan warped and I couldn't use it anymore. To replace the bread pan would have cost $25 plus shipping, but a friend had one for sale she had only used once with the instructions for $25, so I bought hers instead of buying replacement parts for mine.

So, what do I make in the bread machine? The most common things I use the bread machine for is: bread (white and wheat), dough for dinner rolls, dough for cinnamon rolls, and pizza dough. There are also settings for French bread, Quick Breads (like zucchini, banana chocolate chip, or nut bread), Pasta,Super Rapid Breads, and Jam. I can honestly say that the best dough I have ever made has come from the bread machine as opposed to mixing by hand or using my Kitchen-Aid mixer.

How easy is it to use? The bread machine itself is very easy to use. You put in your ingredients, push the button until it gets to the right setting, and press start. The hardest part is measuring and adding the ingredients. When using a bread machine you have to add all of your liquids first, then dry ingredients, adding your yeast last. Bread is not a very forgiving food and the measurements have to be exact or it won't turn out right. I have found that using bread flour when baking bread in a bread machine really makes a difference even though I use regular flour when just making dough. To get the best value on yeast, I buy it at Sam's club (well I have someone that has a membership pick it up for me.) They sell a value pack that is two one pound bags for around $5. Even with as much as I use, it will usually last me almost a year and is much more economical than buying it by the packet.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day!

Today was supposed to be our first day back to school from Christmas break, BUT we got over 6 inches of snow yesterday! Maybe not such a big deal to some people, but here in Arkansas we don't get to see too much of the white stuff so it is a pretty big deal around here. This is the most snow that we have had in the 7 years we have been here. It snowed all day yesterday and a little bit this morning. Christian woke me up saying, "Mommy it's morning and there is still snow on the ground. Can I go outside?" The town basically shut down and even Art got a snow day because his plant was shut down. So after breakfast and morning chores I bundled them up and out they went to throw snowballs, try to build a snowman and sled down the front hill. Luckily we have warm coats and hats for everyone, although we were short on gloves and a few of the children had to wear warm socks on their hands. We did get some school work done after that and after lunch they were back outside again. A little more work in the afternoon while they were warming up and back outside again. They had a great time and there is no telling when it will happen again, although there is still quite a bit of snow on the ground and it is supposed to stay pretty cold this week. I will admit that I have been pretty spoiled. It is hard work getting them all dressed to go out and then getting them undressed when they come in again and doing it over and over again! The boys are already talking about a snowball fight right after breakfast tomorrow!

Menu Plan Monday!

After 3 weeks of not grocery shopping due to stock up for the holidays and going out of town for a few days, this week was a big shopping day! I did take advantage of being at my mom's and stocking up on some dry goods at Aldi since we do not have one here. It would have been a little far to drive without a cooler for any cold stuff though. Anyway, it is cold here this week and we have over 6 inches of snow on the ground today the most we have ever seen since we have lived here! Here is this week's menu:

Friday-pizza (of course)
Sat- BBQ chicken, noodles, green beans
Sun-Burgers (cooked inside due to snow) and french fries (baked)
Mon- grilled cheese and tomato soup (what could be better on a snowy day?)
Tues- Roast, red potatoes, baby carrots
Wed-pizza (Nick's b-day and he gets to chooses what we have for supper)
Thurs-Chili (was supposed to make 2 weeks ago and plans changed so I still had all of the ingredients)

To get some great menu inspiration go to www.orgjunkie.com

TOS Review: Easy Classical

The Classical Method of Education is very popular in homeschooling but it can be difficult to figure out how to make it work in your homeschool. Easy Classical provides a variety of resources for those who wish to teach using the Classical Method. They carry schedules, writing guides, copybooks, and geography curriculum to help make your life easier while you teach. Their schedules break a year's worth of curriculum down into daily assignments that can be adapted to fit different learning styles. The schedules have been framed around the recommendations of Susan Wise Bauer's Book The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. I was provided with the Easy Classical Early Modern History (Explorers to 1820) Schedule to review.

Geared for grades K-6, The Easy Classical Early Modern History Schedule is 106 pages long and contains 36 week long schedules plus 45+ pages of charts, sheets, and helps to enhance your child's learning experience. The Schedule begins with the Explorers and How America Got her Name in week one and ends with Slavery and the Missouri Compromise. Each week is broken down in 5 daily schedules including assignments for: History, Geography, Writing, Projects, and Read Alouds. Each week has review questions (and answers) and quizzes. There are detailed instructions included for how to use this schedule and shopping lists for extra activities. It is also stated in the introduction to the schedule that you should not feel like you have to do everything on the schedule but to instead focus on the work and projects that fit your family and child's learning style the best.

The main books used for the History portion of the reading are: Joy Hakim's History of the US Series, Veritas Press History Cards, H.A. Guerber's History Series, and Story of the World History Volumes. The recommended Read Alouds and free reading to further enhance your studies come from Susan Wise Bauer's recommendations, Veritas Press, or other Classical homeschool sites. The Easy Classical website has a link that shows all of the recommended reading used in the schedule. They have created links for you for the best priced book sellers and a link to the World Cat website which will show you if the book is available at your local library. Click here to link to the book list.

Sample Introduction Pages

Sample History Schedule Pages

Sample Lesson Pages

Notebook Version $35.95 (comes in a 1" 3 ring binder.)
Digital Version $29.95

Since I do not have any of the resources needed to complete this schedule at this time, the only thing I can comment of is what I think of the schedule itself. The best part is of course that all of hte work has been done for you! The schedule is well laid out and easy to follow and understand. There is a list of icons for mapping exercises, history summaries, history songs, and reading narrations in the introduction that appear in the daily schedules to help remind you of the tasks you need to complete. A shopping list for the next week is included on each schedule to remind you of the extras you will need to complete your projects. Comprehension questions and answers are listed at the bottom of the schedule for the teacher and also on a separate page for the student. There are also several pages of step by step detailed drawings in the back of the schedule for your child to follow. The book choices themselves look wonderful and I am familiar with and have read a few of them.

There are a few things to consider about this schedule. It is a five day a week schedule and does not contain an option for a 4 day a week schedule. A lot of parent involvement is necessary working one on one with the child or children and reading aloud (not that that is a bad thing, just worth mentioning.) The Monday schedule seems to be a very heavy reading day which may be a challenge for some having a heavy day right at the beginning of the week.

To see what other crewmates are saying click here.

I received a complimentary Early Modern History Schedule for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book Review: Precious Moments Storybook Bible

I have to start out this review admitting that I am a bit biased on this one. I love Precious Moments and have been collecting them for years! All of the children now have collections also and we have taken a field trip to the Precious Moments Museum. It was very easy for me to choose this Storybook Bible for a review, because I was pretty sure I was going to love it and it would be an easy review to write.

The Precious Moments Storybook Bible by Sam Butcher is a hardcover book with a padded front cover and is 179 pages long. It was definitely written with the younger child in mind. These shortened Bible Stories each have a beautiful pastel colored illustration to help make the story come alive to go along with it. The text is based on the International Children's Bible translation. This Storybook Bible has large print and is easy to read to young children and also for beginning readers to read on their own. Topics in Table of Contents include: Favorite Bible Classics (ex.Creation, Garden of Eden, Jesus is Killed on the Cross) , Words of Praise and Wisdom (ex.The Lord is My Shepherd, Wise Words of Solomon, Telling the Truth), More Stories of Faith (ex. Daniel, Jonah, Jesus Heals and Teaches), and Songs and Prayers (ex.Jesus Loves Me, Amazing Grace). There also is a section in the front for your child's: Family Tree, Church Record, and Favorite Things. In the back of the book is a section for you to write in a Prayer from Someone Who Loves Me and My Own Bedtime Prayer.

We love the Precious Moments Storybook Bible. This beautiful engaging book will be something that your children, grandchildren, or other special child in your life will want to read and you will want to read to them. They will enjoy the illustrations and stories and all the while will be soaking up important Bible truths that will be hidden in their hearts. A beautiful keepsake book that can be passed down to future generations. "The Precious Moments Storybook Bible is a beautiful way to introduce your young ones to a personal relationship with God, and a precious reminder of God's faithfulness that you can lovingly pass down to future generations."

I received a complimentary copy of the Precious Moments Storybook Bible from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Friday, January 7, 2011

TOS Review: See-N-Read

What is a See-N-Read reading tool? See-n-Read Reading tools helps readers read faster, increase their understanding, and fluency. It makes it easier for readers to concentrate and keep their focus on where they are reading on the page by filtering out distractions such as other words on the page or pictures. The clear reading window shows one line of text while the transparant finish around the window allows the reader to see what's coming and move to the next line without interupting their flow of reading. I received 3 different See-N-Read reading tools to use and review.


Original See-N-Read- Has a clear solid read bar. Available in two sizes Book Size (5 1/2 x 3) pricing starts out at $2.99 for one and Document Size ( 8 1/2 x 3) $3.49 for one. To see the complete price list for the original See-N-Read click here.

The original See-N-Read would be most beneficial for people who skip words or lines while reading or have trouble focusing their eyes. It is also great for people for have trouble concentrating while reading or have large amounts of material to read that requires a alot of concentration. In our house it worked great for my struggling reader who is very easily distracted and his eyes wander around the page. It helped him to stay focused on what he was supposed to be reading. For my very advanced fast reader though, she said that it slowed her down so she is much happier reading without it.

Memory Mark- Instead of a clear solid read bar, the bar has been cut out to allow for writing notes, underlining, or highlighting without moving the tool off the page so the reader does not lose their place in the text. Also available in two sizes Book Size (5 1/2 x 3) $2.99 for one and Document Size (8 1/2 x 3 ) $3.49 for one. Here is the pricing list for odering more than one.

Memory Mark is a great little tool for anyone that needs to do write notes, underline, or highlight their work. It is great for workbooks, textbooks, documents, contracts, or grade books. Personally, I thought that Memory mark made a great Bible Study Tool!

eSee-N-Read- Electronic reading and instructional tool for your PC that has all the benefits of the original See-N-Read plus the ability to:

  • Resize window to any size
  • Click and move functionality

  • Horizontal or vertical mode

  • Maximum, minimum, or Restore mode

  • Non glare transparent window

  • Self-paced tutorial

  • You can open as many at a time as needed

  • Works with any PC and has been used on interactive white boards and PC driven projection devices

One download of eSee-N-Read is $29.99. Click here for multiple download pricing. You can also click here for a free 7 day trial.

We have been using a history program for the boys that is on computer CD. There are several pages of text that I have to read aloud every week. We used the eSee-N-Read for reading this text. Not only did it help the boys to know where I was in the reading, but it helped me to keep my place while I was reading and if I happened to get interrupted or distracted by one of the other children (not that that would ever happen.)

Overall, I was very impressed with all of the See-N-Read tools. They are very sturdy and the color they chose makes them not at all distracting. I love the Memory Mark and wish I had had something like that when I was in college! The eSee-N-Read was very helpful in keeping my place reading text on the computer. I could also see how it would be useful for data entry. Go to http://www.see-n-read.com/ to find out more about this line of products.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

I received these complimentary products in order to write a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Home Again!

We have had a wonderful Christmas "vacation!" Most of it was spent at home enjoying our time together as a family since Art had several days off for the Christmas holiday. Last Friday the children and I drove up to my parents house to see them since they were in North Carolina with my brother and his family for Christmas. The five days we were there went by very quickly as usual but we were very productive while we were visiting. I thought it would be fun to go to Joanne Fabrics and buy some material and patterns to make pajama bottoms for the children since everything was on sale. so for most of Sunday, Monday, and part of Tuesday we were very busy sewing. We made Minnie Mouse bottoms for Lily, Cars for Christian, Rudolph for Anthony, Camouflage for Alex (shirt and pants) and Green Bay Packers for Nick (shirt and pants.) Chelsea made her own pajama shirt and pants and they turned out great! Hopefully will be able to post some pictures but I didn't have my camera with me and can't get pictures off my phone to the computer.
We also celebrated Nick's birthday while we were there even though it is not until next week and took the children to Chuck-E-Cheese where they of course had a wonderful time. Christian used to be a very cheap child to take there because he was happy just sitting in the cars and he didn't spend any tokens. Now that he's 3 1/2 he has figured out how to play the games and it was really cute to watch him carrying around his cup of tokens and collecting his tickets. Lily of course copied her older siblings and knew just what to do with her money. Chelsea, Nick, Alex and Anthony had fun checking out the new games since they had expanded and moved to a new building since the last time we were there.
After driving 4 hours home and the children unloaded the van for me, I decided it was time to put the Christmas decorations away and try to get the house back to "normal." It only took a couple of hours with Chelsea's help and we got it all down before Art came home from work. We were all glad to be back at home with daddy again.
Today we had to go grocery shopping. It has been several weeks since we have all gone shopping and I had to do quite a bit of correcting and reminding in the store about behavior. It's amazing how being out of the routine for awhile can make the younger children forget how they are supposed to behave, but all in all it wasn't a bad shopping trip even though I spent more than I would have liked that's what happens when you don't shop for 3 weeks. After shopping my husband and children took me out to lunch at my favorite restaurant for my birthday today (even though they thought we should go back to Chuck-E-Cheese.)
Starting Monday we will get back on track and back into our school routine. We have several things planned and I have several reviews that will be posted (I think I had 14 from the last week in December until the last week in January.) I am looking forward to getting back to our school year!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

TOS Review: Math Facts Now

To help your child get a good strong foundation in Mathematics it is very important that they learn their basic Math Facts. Looking for a way other than traditional flash cards to help your child remember addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts? You might want to check out Math Facts Now 2.0. From the website: "Math Facts NOW!" is a simple yet very effective program that will identify weak areas in your child's knowledge of the times tables and basic facts of math, and drill in those specific areas, automatically giving increased drills in those areas." Math Facts now does not use cartoon characters or other things that can distracting to your child but instead uses time tested principles to aid in memorization of and speed of recall of basic math facts. This is not a comprehensive Math Program but acts as a supplement to any program you might be using. The program can be used by as many children as you need and is geared for children in grades K-6.

Math Facts Now 2.0 is available for immediate download to your computer for $15.95 or available on CD Rom for $15.95 plus $3.95 shipping and handling. This product will run on Windows 2000, XP ,ME, Vista, and Windows 7. 4.5 Mb of free hard drive space is required. Some of the features of this program are:

  • You decide how many problems to give in a specific lesson

  • You decide which numbers to drill

  • You decide how long your child can take to solve their problems

  • You decide how many times your child has to repeat problems they got wrong or took too long to solve

  • You have the ability to enter a reward for the lessons your child completes with no errors

  • You can print out a list of your child's weak areas

  • The program remembers which problems your child has had difficulty with and gives those back to the child with more frequency

For a free online trial or to download a free trial to your computer click here.

I have never been a big fan of flash cards, but I know memorization of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division is so important for a strong foundation in Math. If children struggle with basic math facts, they are going to struggle with Math throughout their education. Math Facts Now is an easy way to help your child memorize or reinforce their basic Math Facts. My children enjoy typing on the computer much more than writing in a workbook so there was no complaining involved when they were asked to use this program. The program is very simple and easy to download and use. The set-up is easy for parents and the children can get right to work without any help from the parent. In only minutes a day, your child can begin either learning or increasing their efficiency and speed in working through their Math facts. Parents can view and print a detailed report showing exactly how your child did on their lesson and the average amount of time it took them to complete each problem. A great feature is the ability of the program to "remember" the problems your child gets wrong and retests them on those more often than others. This program is a definite keeper for my family to do "brush up" work on our basic Math facts.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

I received a complimentary download of Math Facts Now 2.0 for the purpose of writing a fair and honest reveiw. I received no other compensation.

Monday, January 3, 2011

TOS Review: Positive Action For Christ

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension
I have never used a formal Bible Study Curriculum with my children before. We were recently given an opportunity to use and review Positive Action for Christ's 1st Grade Bible Curriculum, Enjoying God's Gifts. They carry Bible Curriculum from Kindergarten all the way to adult. Included with our review materials was:

Elementary Scope and Sequence -shows a week by week description of every topic covered in grades K-6 (which you can download or request for free),

Teacher's Manual and Binder- includes teaching strategies, background information, quizzes and tests ( for Grades 2-6) and other supplemental material $33.95

Full Color Student's Manual with activities, lessons, and age appropriate Bible study questions $12.95 (discounted to $10.95 if you purchase 5 or more)

Optional add ons to the program are:

Teacher's Manual on CD $19.95

Hymn and Chorus CD #1 $9.95

Sing and Be Happy Chorus Book (grades 1-6) $15.95

Hymn Histories (grades 1-6) $35.00

The mission of Positive Action For Christ is to help other believers magnify the majesty of God through curricula that encourages a knowledge of Him and His Word. "If we train our children to have Bible knowledge without instilling a true passion and love for the Lord in their hearts, we have failed." Through their curriculum, Positive Action for Christ desires to have students find knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in the word of God for themselves beginning at a very young age.

I have been using this curriculum for our Bible Time with all of the boys (9,7,5,3) with Lily (1) listening in too. There are many things we love about this curriculum. First of all, the box that it all arrived in was packaged better than anything I have ever seen. To me, that started it off showing how much pride they have in their product and they want to ensure it arrives to the customer in excellent condition. Even though it is written with a group setting in mind, it can easily be adapted to your homeschool with a variety of ages and includes a teaching schedule for 5,4,or 3 days a week. There is no "dumbing down" or "watering down" in this curriculum. It is not using Bible stories, but instead coming straight from the scriptures with very age appropriate activities, questions, and discussions. It does not promote just scripture memorization but also teaches the vocabulary words needed to understand the Scriptures. The children love doing the activities that are in the workbook. Each lesson also includes Character Trait Lessons and Activities to teach the deeper heart issues that go along with the Scripture they are learning and to help allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives. We have had our best and most thoughtful Bible discussions since we hace started using this curriculum and it's been wonderful to see their knowledge growing.

There are two things I would change about the program to make it work better for me. I would like to see a workbook page where the child writes the memory verse out. I know that it is easy enough to do on your own, but if it were included in the workbook it wouldn't seem like extra work to the child and would help in memorizing the verses. In the Teacher's Manual the Teaching Strategy is listed after the Bible Story so often I am in the middle of the lesson before I realize I never read it or have forgotten something I wanted to do with it. I wish this would be at the very beginning of the lesson so it would be the first thing the "teacher" reads.

To see what other crew members are saying about Enjoying God's Gifts and other products from Positive Action For Christ click here.

I received a complimentary 1st Grade Teacher's Manual and Student workbook for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.