Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TOS Crew New Monic Vocabulary Cartoons Review

New Monic
Vocabulary Cartoons
3rd-6th grade

Vocabulary Cartoons
New Monic Vocabulary Cartoons
How do you know when a book is a hit? 

In our home, it's when a book continues to disappear and mysteriously resurface on someone's desk or pillow, you know you have a winner!!

After receiving this item in the mail, we immediately sat down to check it out.  My children (grades 2, 4 and 7th) were a bit apprehensive to 'study' vocabulary...but after a few pages, they were all laughing and begging for more.   It's a hoot!  And, because it's so comical, the meanings of the words stick with you.

I read through the first section with my kids.  We took our time and talked about each picture (laughing all the while).  At the end of each section, there's a "quiz" to see what you remember.  My 7th and 4th graders aced it and even my 2nd grader didn't do too shabby either.  In fact, I was very impressed at the amount she remembered. 

This was pure learning enjoyment --- no wonder I had such a hard time keeping track of this book!

We were very pleased with Vocabulary Cartoons.  Reasonably priced, we will be purchasing the books for the upper level in the future.

See below on New Monic's explanation and example. 
From their website:
How It Works

Vocabulary Cartoons Work By Using Mnemonics

Vocabulary Cartoons works on the principle of mnemonics. A mnemonic is a device that helps you remember something by associating what you are trying to remember with something you already know. A mnemonic device could be in many different forms like; rhymes, songs, pictures to name a few. For example, "Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred ninety-two" is a classic mnemonic rhyme which helps you remember when Columbus discovered America.

Following the mnemonic principle of association, Vocabulary Cartoons link together an auditory (rhyming) word association and a visual association in the form of a humorous cartoon. These powerful mnemonics help students retain the meanings of words longer and with less effort than trying to memorize definitions straight out of a dictionary.

In the example below, the new word FATHOM is associated (linked with) the rhyming word FAT THUMB, which in turn is then presented visually as a humorous cartoon. The more outrageous and bizarre the cartoon, the easier it is to remember.

Vocabulary Cartoons

Here's what other crew members are saying.

I received this item free of charge in return for an honest review.

Where Did September Go? The Blessing of Rest.

I would be amiss if I didn't admit that looking over my September's Homeschool calendar didn't give me a major case of the queasies!

I had big, big plans and a pile of schooling to match it set for this month.

HOWEVER - God had other plans for us.

Our family had become accustomed to rising each day, giving glory to the Lord and then rushing head long into our to-do lists pausing only for meals and bedtime.

The beginning of this month was no different.

We did celebrate Labor Day with friends and took the next day off for my oldest's birthday.

And, that's when it happened....

C - R - A - S - H!!!!

Life (or what I thought was life) came to a screeching halt.  During a celebratory birthday brunch at a local restaurant, my husband succumbed to severe shoulder pains, dizziness, nausea....the classic symptoms of a heart attack.

As the ambulance was taking him to the hospital, I was comforted by the words of Jesus.  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:28-30

At that point, all I could do was give Him my burden and rest in Him trusting that hubby would be alright.

At the hospital, hubby had also entered into the Lord's rest.  Too little time had been spent resting and now he was being forced to be still.

Hubby's spiritual life is vibrant and rich with fruit - but even God himself rested on the 7th day.

After spending two days in the hospital being poked and prodded, we were relieved to find out his heart is fine.  In fact, nothing wrong could be found.

We put aside our schedules, and for the remainder of the month, we relaxed, laughed, visited the mountains, celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary, hubby's birthday, enjoyed a visit from my family and the 1st birthday of our baby.

But most of all, we celebrated the rest that Jesus speaks of and the blessings it brings!!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TOS Crew I See Cards - Pyramath Review

Pyramath Cards

K and up

From their website:
Why PyraMath

PyraMath is both easy to learn and to play. PyraMath reinforces basic math, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Fun & learning for all!

Learning through games is definitely our favorite.  PyraMath is a great all-ages card game that helps with math facts, hand eye coordination, speed and language.

Pyramath in Action!
 How to play a basic two player game

The basics of the game are easy.  Deal 7 cards to both players.  Then, lay 5 or 7 cards down face up to begin.  Compare the cards that are touching one another to see if you can use a math function (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) to form an equation and answer.  For example:  In the top row (or starting row) there is a 0 and a 1.  Using 1+0 or 1- 0 you come up with the solution of 1.  So, if you have a 1 in your hand, you would place is over the middle of the 0 and 1.  When multiplying, if the answer is 2-digit, simply use the units place (or ones place) as your answer (8x4=32, so, if you were comparing and 8 and a 4 card, you could place a 2 card over the middle of the 8 and 4).

If you place a card from your hand, you may go again.  If you are unable to use any cards from your hand, pick one from the draw pile.  Either use it (and then go again) or add it to your hand of cards and your turn is over.

Play progresses until either no more plays can be made (a draw) or one player finishes the pyramid and wins the game.

There are several variations you can play (details are in the instruction booklet and on their website).

My 2nd, 4th and 7th graders all enjoyed this game. We tailored it to their levels.  For my 2nd grader, we utilized addition and subtraction only.  For my 4th grader, we utilized addition, subtraction and multiplication.  For my 7th grader, he ran the full gambit - plus we had a good time doing 'time tests' where we lined up 7 cards and we timed to see how quickly he could make a pyramid.

Each Pyramath card is clearly labeled with English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Roman and French numerical translation and symbols.

In addition, I See Cards also makes Fractazmic, Prime Bomb and I See Cards .

We really enjoy playing with these cards and they are priced very reasonably!  I can see more of I See Cards Products in our future! 

Here's what other crew members had to say.

I received this item free of charge in return for an honest review.

Friday, September 10, 2010

TOS Crew Math Essentials Review

Math Essentials
4th grade-Algebra

Would you like access to your very own math tutor 24/7 from the comfort of your own home?  Mr. Rick Fisher, who holds a B.A. in Mathematics, would like to help you! 

From the website:
Benefits of America's Math Teacher:

Online access anywhere anytime

Access entire library of courses

Provides great addition to classroom learning

Students learn and master exact topics recommended by the National Math Advisory Panel

Excellent for families with children at different levels

Curriculum spans Grade 4 through Algebra, and Algebra II COMING SOON!

Written exercises ensure practice a necessary part of learning

Resource Center with Glossaries, charts, tables, and more.

Students can work at their own pace and repeat lessons when necessary

Students will master the topics necessary for success in college

Excellent for adults as well as children No fluff or side topics: just good solid instruction

I sampled this website with my 4th and 7th grader.  Right off the bat I could see that this would be a great way to brush off those cob-webs after a long break.

You have the option to choose from  Basic Math, Advanced Math, Pre-Algebra or Algebra.  First, pick a video from the category of choice and sit back while America's Favorite Math Teacher explains the concept while walking you through several problems.  Afterwards, you can download the corresponding work sheet for your child.

This would make a great remediation tool or reinforcement of concepts.  For addition helps, there are also math drills to choose from.

There's also good use of review problems throughout the worksheets.  (A definite plus for any math program!)

As for my 4th and 7th grader, they thought Math Essentials was 'ok'.  They already use a multi-sensory program that they are very happy with.

I would recommend this for struggling students who don't already have an 'audio/video' type math curriculum in force.  Multiple students can utilize it.   However, the price may exclude some from being able to afford this program.
Here's what other crew members had to say.

I received a subscription free of charge in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tramatized by Sesame Street?????

Today is my oldest child's birthday.  Twelve years ago he came into the world and into our hearts.  He is a studious child with a good heart and a wacky sense of humor.  We are greatly blessed to have him as our first-born. 

While I was reflecting on his birth, I remembered a funny happening that took place quite a few years ago.  (Well, let me clarify that it wasn't funny at the time....but is now)

When my kids were 7, 4 and 1 1/2 years old I decided it was 'time' to go to see a movie on the big screen.  Since it was summer and the theater was offering free movies, I figured I had nothing to loose.  After choosing "Elmo in Grouchland", we got settled into our seats for this monumental occasion.

I wasn't ready for this diabolical plot.......but,  Elmo's blankie gets stolen.

Uh - Oh !!! I did not see this coming!

Our fun 'big kid' outing had just turned into a total disaster.  Who knew Sesame Street could be so traumatic?

My middle blankie-loving child was hysterically crying.  My littlest blankie-queen's eyes were raining tear buckets.  My oldest non-blankie child was busy heroically trying to calm down his siblings.  After a minute or two, he turns to me and says "Mommy, I just can't stand this anymore...we need to get out of here noooooww!"  I couldn't argue with my 7 year olds' we leave. 

It took awhile, but, we eventually did go back and see another movie.  This was after much promising that Clifford the Big Red Dog would not have his blankie stolen !

I also made it a point from that day forward to read the reviews to all movies we were going to be watching.

You just never know.....

Friday, September 3, 2010

TOS Crew Time4Learning Review

$19.95/month per child
$14.95/month per additional child

Time 4 Learning

From their website:
Time4Learning is a new approach that takes advantage of today's technology. It's a convenient, online home education program that combines learning with fun educational teaching games.

The online language arts and math comprise a comprehensive program for preschool, elementary school, and middle school. Science and social studies programs are provided as a free bonus for most grades.

Kids like using the computer to learn and to develop their skills. The Time4Learning educational teaching program gives students independence to progress at their own pace.

Parents like that Time4Learning tracks progress and helps students advance along individualized learning paths. Students master the skills and concepts needed for academic success.

Have a child with math and reading skills at different grade levels? No problem, just tell us in the online registration process.

Time4Learning is proven effective, has a low monthly price, and provides a money-back guarantee so you can be sure that it works for your family, Satisfaction Guaranteed!

We had the opportunity to use the program with a 2nd, 4th and 7th grader.

To get started after registering, use their handy Lesson Previewing and Planning sheet to figure out how many activities to do per day for each grade level.  (This is tailored to how many weeks of school you will be doing.)

Next, check out the Forums for technical and homeschooling support and get acquainted with the ins and outs of this program.

Jumping right into a sampling of our trial subscription...

For my advanced 7th grader:

We found that the majority of the 7th grade curriculum was too easy.  So, we moved him up a level.

Since we started our school year in June, he's already a good bit into his Pre-Algebra book.  From the Time4Learning 8th grade level math, the visuals were good, but, the explanation was so-so.  Had he not already known how to do many of these problems (i.e Pythagorean Theory and Graphing),  he would have been lost.

For Language Arts he did various exercises revolving around Fiction (Nancy Drew) and Non-fiction (Dogs).  I like that he had to type out his answers in some of the sections, so it wasn't all multiple choice.  The poetry section challenged him as this is an area of struggle.  I also liked the Latin and Greek root words.

Science was way too easy.  So, we skipped it.

For my kinestetic 2nd grader....

We started at the very beginning of 2nd grade phonics with long vowel sounds.  She loved, loved, loved the phonics activities and games.  It went smoothly until getting to the "Fluency" activity.  The student is given a passage to read as fast as possible and they are supposed to click on the words they don't know how to pronounce.   My daughter was then shown a paragraph with multi syllabic words and phonetic sounds she had not learned yet.  I thought perhaps she had missed them out of her own schooling and went back to T4L's first grade overview to see if they had taught them already.  They had not.  We then proceeded through the activity, clicking on the words she couldn't pronounce and then got to a screen where a graphic showed the 90 wpm 'goal' and her actual wpm which was 7%.  She dissolved into tears.  I don't blame her, this was awful.  The instruction for the current lesson was over long vowel sounds.  Compound words had not been covered and she was supposed to be able to read worlds like 'fire fighter' and the like.  Then after this, the program asked you to do it two more times.  In between readings, the program went through the words she had missed.  It was a train wreck between phonics and sight words.  Absolutely horrible!  Eventually, I was able to get my daughter to continue with the comprehension story that came next.  Ironically, the computer reads it to the user and THIS story was one my daughter could have read aloud without problems!  The only thing that saved the day was the creative writing exercise at the end complete with fun graphics.

For the Language Arts Extension you can pick different topics (spiders, etc).  For her first try, she choose  Hygiene.  It had common sense info followed by activities (it's the same set up for all topics).  After that, a fun story about hygiene.  You can have it read to you or read it on your own and answer comprehension questions.

Math for her was fun.  The graphics and explanation for the money section were good.  The same was true for the two-digit addition section.

Science was the 'normal' text book content that you would see in a school setting for 2nd grade.

For my social/kinestetic 4th grader....

In the math section, he started with expanded notation.  The first part had a good explanation and graphics.  It was helpful in showing where to put numbers and self correcting.  The second part was definitely harder and made him really think.  We did skip the sections on inequalities/rounding to take the test.

For Language Arts the mystery reading selection was Cam Jensen, followed by activities and comprehension questions.  (He would have preferred an actual book)  This selection was too easy for him.

For the poetry section, while  "Willy the Burper" was loading, my son was asked the question, "What do you think of people who burp all the time?"  I understand kids burp, but, do we need to encourage this behavior?  We skipped this non-sense.

Science was also the 'normal' text and context that you'd see in a school setting for a 4th grader.  My son chose invertebrates/vertebrates.  The first part was a silly animated interactive bit.  The second part was textbook like with pictures.  I was pleased to see some hands-on projects pop up.  BUT, without parental oversight, it would be VERY easy to skip over these.

Finishing up was Ancient History for Social Studies.  Again, it was like reading a colorful text.

Though it was fun, my two kinestetic learners did not retain much of the new material they learned. 

While it was not a good fit for our family, I'm glad we had the opportunity to see first hand what this very talked about program was like.  As evident from the forums, this web-based curriculum is a blessing to many families.

Check it out and see for yourself!  Time4Learning offers a free two week trial.

Here's what other crew members had to say.

I received a 30 day subscription free of charge in return for an honest review.