Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Buying Used Curriculum

One way to save money on buying curriculum is to buy it used. Many homeschool conventions and larger homeschool groups have used curriculum sales. Sometimes you can find listings for homeschool items on Craigslist. Every now and then you can even find curriculum at yard sales. Of course the Internet has several places to find used curriculum such as Ebay, Amazon, and Half.com. There are some things you should be cautious about when buying used curriculum.

  • Know how much the item costs brand new and what you think is a fair price to buy it used. One of my biggest problems buying on Ebay is that people are bidding more for a used item than what you can buy it for new. Either they don't know their prices, or they catch "auction fever" and bid until they win. I am not going to pay the same price for something used that I can buy brand new from the company. I put in my maximum bid and do not o back and check the auction until it is over.

  • Be aware of the condition of the item. If it is something you want to use for more than one child you probably don't want to buy something that is already starting to wear out. It might be better in the long run to spend the extra money and buy new.

  • If you are at a used curriculum sale check it out thoroughly before you buy. At a homeschool convention book sale I bought a handwriting book that was labeled new. I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it since it said it was new but when I got home and looked over my purchase the first 15 pages were torn out. I was NOT happy, but if I would've checked it over better I would have never bought it in the first place.

  • It's never a good deal if it is something you are not going to ever use. Many times I have been at a book sale and found things that were such good deals I couldn't pass them up. More often than not those items sat on a shelf taking up space until I found someone who wanted them or donated them to a book sale.

  • Be aware of what kind of home the books are coming from especially if you have allergies. If it doesn't say from a smoke free pet free home, ask.

  • If you are buying one piece at a time like a Teacher's Guide separate from a Student Guide, make sure they are the same edition or they might not be compatible.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our Final Month (or so) of 2010/2011 School Year

We have about 5 weeks left in our school year. I cannot believe how fast it has gone by! We will be taking a few days off here and there to go visit my parents and go to the lake. Also, if we have a gorgeous Spring day after a couple of rainy days, we are apt to take a day off or at least half a day. We are also in the last month of the 2010/2011 TOS Crew voyage so I have about 8 reviews to write and post before the end of May. I had mentioned in an earlier post that the boys had almost finished their History and Science for the year and I would be looking for something to fill in with. Well, two of the review products we received were Science and Social Studies so that really worked out for us. Chelsea is still plugging along with her curriculum and she should be done at the end of May also. She has discovered that it is harder in High School to work on a 4 day schedule but has done extra work during the week so she can have her Fridays off. Here is what the boys are working on to finish out the year:

Math-Abeka- drills Mad Dog Math (review to come)
Science- Considering God's Creation (review to come)
Social Studies- Social studies All Together (review to come)
Spelling- Wordy Qwerty (review to come)
Bible- we finished Who is God so we are going back to Positive Action for Christ

I need to pick a new read aloud since we finished up Andi's School Days (review to come.) I also am going to get some books on rabbits and do a little unit study since they want to raise some rabbits for 4-H this year.

Chelsea is still working on:
Abeka- Literature, Bible, Spanish, Science
Art- Artistic Pursuits
Math -TenMarks
History-finished for the year
Phys Ed-Go Trybe (review to come)

Lily even has a review product she s working on called Monkisee.

I still am in the process of going through book shelves to see what I want/need to sell to make some money for curriculum and have a space to put it in. I am also looking for and purchasing more chapter books that will appeal to boys. Chelsea loves to read and devours books so we have quite a few chapter books that appeal to girls and some that would appeal to both. But, now that the boys are getting older I am trying to make sure I have books that will appeal to them too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman

I just had the opportunity to read and review Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman. This is a paperback book containing 338 pages plus a reader's guide and retails for $14.99. Allison Pittman is the author of Stealing Home, The Bridegrooms, the Crossroads of Grace Series, and Saturdays with Stella.

Lilly Margolis, a fun loving flapper, has the opportunity to meet the rich widow Betty Ruth Burnside while selling cosmetics door to door. A few days later a dazed and disoriented Lilly twists her ankle and falls into the backyard of the same rich widow. Betty Ruth and her son Cullen decide to take Lilly in until she recovers. The Burnside household is pretty lonely with Betty Ruth slipping a little further into dementia every day and Cullen disillusioned with life and disfigured from the War. Lilly brings some fun, life, and light back into their lives.

But Lilly and Cullen are both hiding from a painful past. Together with Betty Ruth, her maid, and their driver embark on a journey that could heal them both. What will Lilly and Cullen find at the journey's end?

I have to admit that I found the story line a little odd and unbelievable. I did enjoy the characters and the author's descriptions of them. As I got into the book I found it very entertaining and enjoyable to read and the characters became believable. I also enjoyed the fact that there was not a predictable outcome. There were some plot twists that were completely unexpected and although it has a happy ending, it may not be the way you expected it to turn out.

I received a complimentary copy of Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman from Waterbrook Mulnomah for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

TOS Review: Nutrition 101 Choose Life!


In 2007 Growing Healthy Homes LLC was established by wives, mothers, researchers, and teachers for the purpose of educating and training families regarding God's plan for health as it is outlined in the Bible. Their product line includes family centered and health infused books/e-books and educational materials for users of pure theraputic grade essential oils. It is their mission to, " honor God by creating and distributing products that educate and empower His children to establish healthy Christ-centered homes." We have had the priviledge to use and review their book Nutrition 101 Choose Life!

Nutrition 101 Choose Life is not just a book telling you which foods you should eat more of and what you should avoid. From the website,"Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is a three-in-one family nutrition and health program for all ages that presents the major body systems, how they function, their common health issues, the benefits of good food and the consequences of bad food. Its 448 pages include into six units: 1.The Brain and Nervous System 2.Digestion and Elimination 3.Respiration and Olfactory 4.Muscular and Skeletal Systems 5.Cardiovascular and Immune Systems 6.Endocrine System and Emotions

To see a sample click here.

The book is biblically based and full of information, recipes, science projects, art projects, hands on activities and more making it a program that can be used by the entire family. It is available as a book for $99.95, on CD Rom for $79.95 or both for $129.95. A multiple user license can be purchased for $35 for use in a co-op setting.

The vendor has generously offered a 15% discount using coupon code TOScrew11.

Each chapter is designed to be completed in a week with all 6 units to be completed in a year. However, it is set up so you are able to spend longer doing activities and research on topics that your family finds more interesting. There are suggestions under "getting started" on how to implement a chapter in a week.

Can I just say wow! Everyone wants to be healthy and make sure their families are healthy too. How and where to begin can be a bit overwhelming and not always easy to implement. This book is full of helpful information about how our bodies are affected by the foods we eat. It definitely has something for everyone. Although there is quite a bit of information it is presented and organized in a way that it can be digested and does not seem over whelming. Some of the text was a little lengthy for my 7 year old so I did have to do a little bit of paraphrasing during our read aloud time. Vocabulary words and definitions are included in the reading. The diagrams and charts that it contains are very well done and colorful. The children really enjoyed the diagrams of the brain. The recipes, projects, and activities that go along with the reading reinforces what you have just read and makes it applicable to real life. There are suggested activities for both elementary and secondary age groups . Have you ever compared the difference between brushing your teeth with your non dominant and dominant hands? There are also discussion questions, links to additional resources and books for further study. The appendices is the back of the book are fantastic and gives you extra reading and information on subjects such as:How To Pick Produce, Cancer, Sugar Alternatives, Milk, Household Toxins, and many more. Nutrition 101 Choose Life! is a resource that can be utilized over and over again for years to come.

To see what other crew members are saying click here.

I received a complimentary copy of Nutrition 101 Choose Life! for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One Week Old Chicks

Our chicks are now one week old. We did have one die on day 2 (no, nobody was trying to help it fly!) leaving us with 14 baby chicks. You can see in the picture that they are starting to grow their wing feathers. It has been much warmer this year than it has been in the last couple of years since we got the chicks a few weeks later. This is a good thing since you don't have to worry about chicks freezing, but the boys do have to raise the heat lamp during the day so they don't get too hot. Lily loves to go out in the morning and help with the chicks. She won't hold them in her hands so they put them in her lap so she can pet them.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

4-H Achievement Banquet

Nick, Chelsea, and Alex before the banquet
Emelia smiling at her daddy as he got her ready to go

Last night was the 4-H Achievement Banquet. I took Chelsea, Nick, Alex and Emeila and Art stayed home with Anthony, Christian, and Lily. This year was a Western Theme (which was a lot easier than last year's formal theme.) They also made some changes in the program this year that took the banquet time from over 3 hours to a little over 2 hours which is much better for the younger children. To get an invitation to the banquet, the children must turn in a journal or if you are brand new to 4-H write a story. A journal is a record of all the work you have completed in your 4-H project areas. The Cloverbud Journal (ages 5-8) is very easy for the children to complete. The older journals are quite involved and take a lot of time and effort to get them done. Besides being a good record of what the children have done, they also earn awards and as they get older can earn scholarships. Nick receiving his award

Alex receiving his award

Both Nick and Alex received Cloverbud Journal Awards this year. In addition to winning a county journal award, Chelsea also won a Diamond Award for her 4-H participation. Points are awarded for every activity you participate in and are added up at the end of the 4-H year. The Diamond Award is the highest of the gem awards. I am very proud of my children for their hard work and accomplishments in 4-H.

Chelsea receiving her awards

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review: The Band That Played On

A few weeks ago as I was flipping through the channels, the movie Titanic was on. It was nearing the end of the movie when the ship was sinking and the band was shown calmly playing music even with the chaos that was going on around them. The movie is very entertaining, but the sad reality is the Titanic sinking was not something that Hollywood made up. It did really happen and next year will be the 100th anniversary of the sinking. The Band That Played On by Steve Turner is the extraordinary story of the 8 musicians that went down with the Titanic. From the publisher, " The never-before told, inspiring stories of the 8 brave musicians who played as the Titanic sank.When Titanic collided with an iceberg on April 14, the eight members of the band had already retired for the evening. Still, they put on overcoats and came out to play in the lounge. When most of the First Class passengers had taken to their lifeboats, the musicians moved to the deck and continued to play as the ship sank. One passenger said: “Many brave things were done that night, but none were more brave than those done by men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea. The music they played served alike as their own immortal requiem and their right to be recalled on the scrolls of undying fame.” But who were they? What journeys brought them to this deck on this icy ocean? Who did they leave behind? Historian and biographer Steve Turner delves into the lives of these brave men, revealing eight unique portraits of bravery."

This book is very well researched and full of factual information about the 8 band members that went down with the Titanic. Steve Turner researched thoroughly each band member and what led them to be on the Titanic. Much information is also included about their families and their backgrounds. There are photographs, letters, and quotes from eye witnesses that tells about how each man lived and their last few moments aboard the ship. Stories of what happened after the sinking to the band members estates and families are also included. Unfortunately, their is quite a bit of information that is not known for sure and is only speculation. The author makes very clear what is speculation and what is fact.

There is so much information, that it can be very hard to keep all the details straight from who was who and what happened where. I did find myself getting a little lost in the middle of the book and was a bit disappointed by some of the information that is not known for sure. Not that that is the author's fault. I believe he presented the information that he had in the best possible way. I did find the story very interesting and am definitely glad that someone decided to tell the story of the "glorious band" that went down with the Titanic.

I received a complimentary copy of The Band That Played On from Thomas Nelson in order to write a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Making Easter Crafts

If you have been reading my blog for a long time, you might remember my "Monday Morning Projects" where we started out every week with a craft or art project. Sadly, I did not continue with that this year for a lot of reasons, but we still do a craft or art project on occasion and I would like to be able to do it again weekly because the kids love it. When my mom was here a few weeks ago, she brought some Easter sun catchers and foam cross crafts for the children to make. Since we did not have a whole lot planned for today and we are visiting the ladies at The Village tomorrow (we usually bring them something) I thought it would be fun to make them today. The children were excited to be making a craft and they even did a fairly good job cleaning up after themselves so it was a big hit.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Baby Chicks!

This is our 4th year raising chickens for 4-H. It really is a great experience for the children taking care of them and watching them grow. The day the baby chicks arrive is always so exciting. Usually, Art picks up the chicks when they come in on his way home from work, but he is still in Chicago (he will be home tonight!) so I loaded up all the children and we went to go get our chicks (after a few other errands while we were in town.

This year we had to order chicks in sets of 25. Two of the boys would like to also do rabbits this year and we still have 15 chickens from last year so we really did not want to do 25 chicks. So we found another 4-Her who only wanted to raise 10 and we kept 15. We got 1 rooster and 14 Brown Bovan Hens. Each child needs to show 3 and we have 4 old enough to show this year so hopefully all the chickens will survive. So far they seem to like their new home pretty well.

Some Homeschooling Advice and Encouragement

Homeschooling is on the rise. More and more I am hearing of parents who are fed up with the Public School System for one reason or another and are deciding to give homeschooling a try. Six years ago when I started homeschooling, I would still get a lot of ,"You're doing what?" kind of responses from friends, families, people at church, and even strangers. Lately, it seems like I am getting more of, "I know someone who homeschools." kind of responses or even people coming up to me (or even my husband sometimes) to find out where they can find out more information on homeschooling and what they need to do to get started. So for the homeschooler just starting out, or the veteran who just needs to be reminded (like me) here are 3 things that I think it is very important for you to remember. Give you and your child some time especially if pulling them out in the middle of the school year to de-school and adjust to being at home. It can make things a lot harder when you take a burnt out frustrated child and throw a full course load of material at them their first day at home. Give them time to adjust then ease into your schoolwork slowly. Sometimes the best laid plans that look and sound great on paper fail....bigtime. You spend alot of time researching curriculum planning and writing out a schedule. You are so excited to get started working with your child and for one reason or another it fails. The schedule doesn't work and the curriculum is not making sense at all to your child. It happens to all of us and you have not failed. The great thing about homeschooling is that it can be tailored to each individual child. This means a lot is trial and error. You really don't know what will work until you try it out. This is true for me every year. Give your child and yourself a lot of grace while you are figuring ot all out. No one said it was going to be easy. You ever notice that most of the time the right choice is not the easy choice. Homeschooling can be hard. Don't get me wrong, it is the best choice I ever made and I truly enjoy homeschooling my children and getting to watch them learn and grow. We have a lot of fun too. I thank God for every moment I get to be at home with them. That doesn't mean it's easy. Children get cranky, you get cranky, there is always housework that is behind, it takes up a good portion of your time, and every moment is worth it. We only have a few short years with our children to not only prepare them for adulthood but also for eternity and need to make the most of the time we have. The good news is you don't have to go through it alone. Jesus promises to be with us always, to give us everything we need for the things he calls us to do, and that we can do all things through him. Be encouraged that you do not walk alone and don't focus your time on the negative things. Enjoy the time you have. Oh, and keep a secret stash of chocolate just in case ;).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Trip to the Zoo

Kids looking at the apes

A great benefit of being part of a group (like a homeschool group) is that many places you might be interested in going on a field trip to offer group discounts. My children (except for Chelsea) could not ever remember going to the zoo and started asking to go after Chelsea just went to the Little Rock Zoo on a 4-H trip. I checked out the website to see how much admission was and it was $10 for adults and $8 for children 12 months and up, but if you go in a group of 15 or more, it is only $5 per person. What a difference! At the last homeschool meeting I asked if anyone was interested in going and we had enough people to get the group discount so I called and made a group reservation for Friday April 8th.

Otter swimming (photo by Alex)

We had a great time! The weather was a beautiful 85 degrees and sunny. The children were all very excited and well behaved. Poor Christian, he thought after we saw the first exhibit that that was all there was and we would have to go back home. Once he realized there were a lot of different exhibits to see he was quite excited (but too stubborn to ride in the stroller....they are for babies you know.)

Alligator (photo by Alex)

Giant Turtles (photo by Alex)

The reptile house was a big hit in my family and we had to look in every tank to find what was in it so we spent a good amount of time in there. The monkeys were another big favorite of all the children. The otters and the penguins provided quite a bit of good entertainment. Alex took over my camera which was good because it was hard to try to take pictures and count heads at the same time. I never even knew he liked to take pictures but he had a great time doing it and wants his own camera for his next birthday. Unfortunately, my zoom does not work on my camera so some of the pictures did not turn out as good as they could have. We uploaded the pictures to Walmart Photo and made a photo book which will arrive next week.

Alex took this picture of Lily sliding in the play area with her cotton candy

Emelia did so great! I carried her in my brand new Ergo Baby Carrier for about 1 1/2. I took her out to feed and change her and she was pretty sweaty so I put the carrier in the stroller and carried her in my arms so she could catch the breeze. When Chelsea got tired of pushing the stroller we switched and she carried the baby while I pushed the double stroller.

Emelia sleeping in her carrier

After about 3 hours we had made it through the zoo and were hot, tired, and hungry (our picnic lunch was in the van) so we decided it was time to head out. Nick was not ready to leave yet because there were 2 things he wanted to see and didn't get to but everyone else was ready to go. I must admit that I was tired and still had a 2 hour drive home. I also am not in as good shape as I should be (trying to use the excuse that I just gave birth a few weeks ago) and my legs are sore. The children asked first thing if we could go back again today but I told them we will have to wait and maybe go back in the fall.

Chelsea, Emelia, Christian, Anthony relaxing in the shade while we were getting ready to go

Friday, April 8, 2011

TOS Review: Science Weekly

By 2025 80% of jobs will require 2 years of math and science after High School. To give your students a good background in science Science Weekly wants you to "put a little science in your week" with a subscription to their publication. From the website, "Science Weekly develops and reinforces students' reading, writing, mathematics and critical thinking skills, all through interactive science content." Science Weekly is a 4 page publication in a newsletter type format that is available in 6 different reading levels for grades K-6. It contains a multidisciplinary presentation with reading, writing, math, and a science lab in every issue. It helps develop critical thinking skills and provides hands on experiences in topic areas kids are interested in. Some examples of previous publications are: The Flu, Composting, Caves ,Poisonous Animals, The Moon, Scuba Diving, and pulleys.There are several issues online in their new interactive format that you can find by clicking here. They also have coloring books that you can download and print out. Find those by clicking here.

The cost of Science Weekly is $19.95 for an individual subscription per student per year for 15 issues. A classroom rate is $4.95 per student per year for 15 issues with a minimum of 20 subscriptions. Teacher Notes and an answer key also come with every issue. You can order by clicking here or by calling 1-800-4-WEEKLY or faxing 1-301-680-9240.

We recieved from Science Weekly The Flu in 6 different reading levels from K-6th grade and the Teacher's Notes. Each colorful issue contains age appropriate reading, vocabulary, lab (adult supervision required), math and writing. The older grades get more complex reading and activities and also fun scientific facts in "Did you know?" boxes.

Front page of Level D

Front page of level Pre-A

Inside pages of Level Pre-A

One of the things I like the most about Science Weekly is that it is available in so many different levels making it easy for families with a range of ages to study one topic. The only preparation needed is to look at the lab and make sure you have the necessary supplies. It doesn't take a lot of time to teach although it is possible that a lab may take some time to develop. The interactive online issues are also colorful and a lot of fun to do. My boys really enjoyed doing the Space issue and learned a lot from it.

It does seem to me that Science Weekly is geared for more of a school type setting. The math questions in our issue dealt with counting the number of students in your class and the rest of the questions were based on that number. Even in our house we really don't have enough students to make a "class" so we really didn't focus a whole lot on the math problems. It would work great in a homeschool group or co-op type setting. The younger levels have very little reading and so there is not a whole lot of background information on the topic. You may want to find additional books or information to read aloud.

To see what other crew members have to say click here

I received 6 levels and Teacher Notes of Science Weekly The Flu for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Favorite Recipes: Pork Chop Casserole

I found a recipe for Pork Chop Casserole on Teacher's Toolbox, a great online tool for those with a subscrition to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. If you have a subscription you should check it out there is a ton of great stuff on there including recipes:). If you don't have a subscription you might think about getting one. It is a great homeschool magazine. I modified the recipe on there a bit to make it suit us a little better.

6 potatoes peeled and thinly sliced
1 can cream of celery soup 1 1/4 cups water
6 slices American Cheese
1 pk thinly sliced boneless pork chops
Shredded Cheddar Cheese Grease a 13x9 baking dish.

Place half of the potatoes in the pan and top with 6 slices of cheese. Add the rest of the potatoes. Place pork chops over top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired. Pour soup and water mixture over top. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for one hour or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and return to oven until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pictures of Our Week

I have not posted very many pictures of the children lately.I meant to get this up Friday and do a weekly wrap up, but I just never got the time. This week is very busy too with several activities that we have going on. Even now, I am nursing Emelia and typing left handed so it takes a bit longer and I make a few more typos. I can't believe it is already April and our school year is winding down. The boys will be finished with their History and Science this week so I will find something new we can do until our school year finishes up in May. So, on to the pictures.

Alex working on Reading Kingdom and Lily with the toy laptop because she needed to do her schoolwork too!Nick working on Big IQ Kids while Christian "reads" through one of our books that I am reading aloud that he enjoys (review coming soon.)

Chelsea keeping Emelia occupied while I made supper.

Anthony watching Nick and Alex play chess during "recess."

Emelia is so happy that she figured out how to suck her thumb!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Story About Standardized Testing

I don't have a very good opinion of standardize Testing. I really think it is pointless actually. It is also very sad that basically our Public School System teaches not to educate our children , but to achieve good test scores. Arkansas requires homeschooled students to take the Math and Reading portions of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills every year in grades 3-9. Individual test results are sent to the parents and results of homeschool students as a group (not individual results) are reported to the state. Our homeschool group (which is pretty small) has its own testing site and we test at a local church. When I started homeschooling Chelsea, she had gone to Public School for K-2 so she had taken Iowa Tests before and was used to a fill in the bubble kind of test. Nick has always been homeschooled so he has never taken this kind of test before. Also, Nick does not like to be in unsure situations. He likes to know exactly what will happen and when it's going to happen. Even though it does not really matter to me how the children do on the test I wanted him to be comfortable taking it. So, I ordered a practice test booklet to show him what type of test it was going to be and how to fill in his answers on a separate sheet. Well, I sat down with him a few days ago to work on the practice test and he got very upset because there were questions he didn't know the answers to. I stressed to him that sometimes you might not know the answer and on this test all he had to do was guess and move on. Of course he was not at all happy with the thought of that. He likes to have all the answers. Last night he was a little stressed about the test and again I told him just to do his best, it would be an easy test, and to guess and move on if he didn't know the answer. Parents are not allowed to be in the same room with their children who are taking the test and I had all my little ones so I was in the nursery during the test. When he got finished Nick came over to where I was and told me it was a super easy test.....the questions were like Kindergarten and he knew most of the answers. It was nothing like he expected it to be. So, in my effort to prepare him and try to make him not worry, I actually caused him more worry because the practice test questions were much more difficult than the actual test. Well at least we are done for this year and don't have to worry about it again until next year.

TOS Review: Go Go Kabongo

Go Go Kabongo is an online world of brain boosting games for children ages 4-7 designed to teach the cognitive skills children need to learn in order to be able to read such as attention and focus, memory skills, processing, planning, visualization, and comprehension. View this chart to see all of the skills your child will learn. Kabongo does not teach by right and wrong answers. Instead, they guide children toward better thinking by using an exciting game design. There are 3 different fantastical habitats for children to explore each with three different games and 6 levels to each game.

Galaxy Gardens-Rocket into outer space to explore among the starts and play 3 brain boosting games. Each of the three planets is a home to challenging learning games: Photo Safari, Rocket Racer, and Robo Bobo

Twister Top-Ride through the mesas on a twister top train bound for adventure. While exploring the cactus clad cliffs play 3 mind challenging games:Design A Door, Desert Dash, and Crazy Maze.

Laughter Lake- Bubbling with fun and adventure Laughter Lake is a fun filled habitat where you can play 3 fun learning games:Critter Sizer, Scuba Dude, and Going Buggy.

Children get to make their own fun character by choosing the head, body, and wheels. They also can decorate their treehouse, skate park, and comic book with the rewards they earn by completing the games. Parents receive detailed email reports showing what their child has been working on and what they have completed. There are also several printable activities for your child to enjoy and activities to practice the skills your child has learned.

Your child can start playing Go go Kabongo free with access to all of Laughter Lake's games and activities. You can purchase the two additional habitats for $4.95 each. There is a limited time offer that if you sign up now you will get Galaxy Gardens habitat free.

I used this website with Christian (4) and Anthony (5). I thought it would be great for them to have an age appropriate game to play that would teach them the skills they needed to have before they were learning to read. Their favorite part was making their own characters and collecting the sticker rewards for their comic books. The games are a lot of fun. Anthony and Christian's favorite game was Going Buggy where they hear a story and then recreate it by placing images into a scene. Kabongo is very colorful and engaging for children. The detailed email reports are a great tool for parents to see exactly what learning skills their child is working on.

There are a few things I think could be improved on. It is a beta version so there have been a few technical problems such as games freezing and not loading at times, and server errors when we get to rewards page that we have encountered that I am sure will be corrected. The site takes a long time to load. Then each time you enter a habitat you have to wait again for it to load which can be very hard for impatient small children. I am very put off by the way the characters talk. For an educational website, I don't think the characters should be talking in slang and also at times the characters sound rude to me. For example in the treehouse the character says, "Hey, hello what are you waiting for?" when you don't click on something right away. Another of the characters says, "That wasn't very clever dearie." when you get something wrong. I couldn't find any way to skip the instructions if you had already played the game before. Even though Christian and Anthony liked the Going Buggy game, I found that it was very hard to understand exactly what images you were supposed to place. In Desert Dash, it is hard for the boys to hear the sound that they want you to click on the letter for.

To see what other crew members had to say click here.

I received complimentary access to Go Go Kabongo for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Friday, April 1, 2011

TOS Review: Z Guide to the Movies The Adventures of Robin Hood

Photobucket Zeezok Publishing believes, "It is better to build children than to repair men." They work to provide quality literature and educational books for teaching the next generation. They have products in categories such as American Government, Character Building, Curriculum, Great Musician Series, Presidential Series, and Z Guide to the Movies. We had the opportunity to use and review one of their new products Z Guide to the Movies.

Z Guides are a great way to incorporate media into your history/social studies curriculum. There are several Z Guides available for different movies in different time periods in history. Choices include: 12 Angry Men, A Man for All Seasons, A Tale of Two Cities, Amazing Grace, Ben Hur, Cromwell, Driving Miss Daisy, Father Goose, Flyboys, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Inherit the Wind, Jason and the Argonauts, Johnny Tremain, Kit Kittredge, Knights of the Round Table, Les Miserables, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, My Side of the Mountain, One Night With the King, Scarlet Pimpernel, Sergeant York, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas, The Count of Monte Crisco, The Hiding Place and the Red Badge of Courage. You can purchase Z Guides in two formats either as an e book or on CD for $12.99. Those not showing an e book version will be coming soon. Most of the Z Guides available are for High School age children with a couple being geared for elementary/middle school. The guides do not come with the DVD. Many of the DVD's can be purchased on the http://www.zeezok.com/ site and also many can be found on http://www.netflix.com/ if you have a membership.

We chose the movie The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938 Warner Home Video. The 32 page Z Guide is written for High Schoolers and the topics covered are:Middle ages, Medieval English History, Ethnic Conflict, Chivalry, and Civil Disobedience. The guide contains a topic overview, movie synopsis, and 10 learning activities split into a 5 day schedule based on this famous film. Some of the activities are: Movie Review Questions, Research Questions on Prince John and Richard the Lion Hearted, Are you Norman or Saxon Research Activity, More about the Feudal System Research Activity, Take the Oath Activity, Target Practice Activity to practice your skills at something you enjoy, Robin Hood Word Search, Feast for your Enemies Activity to improve your relationship with an "enemy", Worldview Activity to evaluate your beliefs, and the Filmmaker's Art Activity to probe the director's mind. The Guide also has a list of questions for family discission and an answer key.

We really enjoyed watching the movie The Adventure's of Robin Hood. It is even better to view it not just as a great movie but to use it as a learning experience. One of the first questions Chelsea asked was what was the difference between a Norman and a Saxon as it is mentioned several times in the movies. The next day she had an opportunity to find out as she woked on the research questions from the activity, "Are You a Norman or a Saxon?" The questions on all of the research activities give the student a thorough understanding of the topic being discussed. Chelsea is now an expert on Normans and Saxons, the fuedal system, Prince John and Richard the Lion-hearted. The worldview questions are also very well done and make for great family discussion questions.

One thing that Chelsea did mention is that she wished there were more hands on activities included. Her idea was that it would have been better with some arts and crafts ideas, or some time period appropriate recipe ideas. She thought that adding those things in would make this study even better. I also hope that they come out with more for younger age students so we could have the whole family involved.

To see what other crew members had to say click here.

I received a complimentary copy of The Adventures of Robin Hood Z Guide to the Movies for the purpose of writing a fair annd honest review. I recieved no other compensation.