Friday, May 27, 2011

TOS Crew Apologia - Read for the Heart Review

Read for the Heart
Read for the Heart

Read For The Heart

From their website:
A great book spurs the imagination in childhood, inspires our dreams in adulthood, and nourishes the soul with depictions of life fully and courageously lived. Among the greatest gifts you can bequeath to a child are a love for reading and a passion for books. But how do you sort through the many thousands of books available to your children to find those that are worthwhile? Apologia has the answer. Keeping Read for the Heart close at hand is like having a children's librarian for a best friend! Let Sarah Clarkson be your guide to the best in children's literature for your family. From timeless classics to modern favorites, from picture books to adventure novels to read-aloud favorites, more than 1,000 wonderful stories for young people are recommended within these pages. Now you can make great literature a lasting part of your child's life and education.

I have heard several comments from my homeschooling friends in regards to this book saying that they already have a "reading material reference book, thank you."

How Read for the Heart differs from these other books is that it is written "from a perspective of a young heart, mind and soul shaped by storybooks."  This is Sarah Clarkson's story of her family's "Culture of reading aloud and the way it shaped her memories and aspirations."  Beginning with the great stories of Scripture and the innocent beauty of classic children's books, she read for a heart awake, a strong mind, and a steadfast soul."  In short, reading taught her how to live.

Sarah also shares astounding information on how the different sides of the brain react to reading vs. watching TV along with statistics on the decline of reading.  It's also interesting to see how reading is linked with income, job success, health and how it affects a person's involvement in politics, charity and the arts.

Categories of books include:

*Picture Books
*Golden Age Classics
*Children's Fiction,
*Fairy Tales and Fantasy
*History and Biography
*Spiritual Reading for Children
* Poetry
*Music, art and Nature

Plus Appendices filled with Caldecott and Newbery winners plus much more.

Within each section, each book is broken down into:

* Author
* Date of Original Publication
* Awards
* Illustrator
* General Age Category
* Short Review
* Cautions regarding mature or questionable content (when needed).

I enjoyed reading Sarah's reading history and understand her passion.  I also like her reasoning for choosing almost every genre listed.  For example she explains that the purpose of beginning with picture books is to "whet a child's appetite for the feast that is to come."

My favorite section is this book is  'History and Biographies'.  It is wonderful to pop open this chapter and easily find a selection from the time period you are studying!  We are huge historical fiction fans in this house and these stories have tremendous "staying power".  Clarkson's comment of "Children need to be absorbed by the real drama of history so that they will be able to understand the vast consequences wrought by the actions of a single person" hits the nail on the head!

The section I did not like is 'Fairy Tales and Fantasy'. 

Sarah gives the recommendations that discernment is necessary, age must be taken into consideration, family's worldview and use of symbolism.  She goes to great lengths to defend her views on this topic - but I still do not agree!

Her comment of "The point of great fantasy and fairy tales is to guide us back to the reality of a loving God and His story of redemption"....I want to know where IS Christ in THESE stories????

Though she does give adequate forewarning - many of the selections in this section are down right Pagan!

All in all, this book is a wealth of information when looking for worth-while , character building literature for our children.  My oldest was especially excited to look through the book and make his own reading list!

Click here to see a sample chapter
Click here to see the Table of Contents

Here's what other crew members are saying

I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

TOS Crew Considering God's Creation Science Review

Considering God's Creation
Considering God's Creation

Eagles Wings
Considering God's Creation Science
Teachers' Book, Student Book and Audio CD $29.95
Target grades 2nd-7th, but very flexible.

"When the foundation of our lives is based on the Word of God, it is our privilege and responsibility to integrate that into every subject we teach our children."
Considering God's Creation is an in-depth general science program from a biblical perspective.  Uniquely written for multi-level teaching with a strong emphasis on relating science to the bible.

With over 36 lessons, topics include:  Creation, The Universe, The Earth, Rocks and Minerals, Weather, Plant and Animal Kingdom, Animal Anatomy (which does include a biblical explanation of very basic reproduction.  It's very tame and the authors encourage parents to continue to discuss 'sex education' with their children that is age/maturity level appropriate.)

Written by homeschooling mothers, Mortimer and Smith encourage methods in teaching science from toddlerhood up to graduation and how to apply that to this study as well.

Considering God's Creation can be used alone to complete a 1-3 year study or with any other science program.  Just select the specific area of study and off you go!  Most of the prep work is already done!

Included in the Teacher's Book is "Basic Teaching Procedure" or guidelines for each lesson.  The lessons are set up to do once a week for a 1 1/2 - 2 hour block of time.  Each lesson features:

Preparation:  Gather items for lesson.

Vocabulary:  Define, spell and use these new words.

Introduction:  Gives overview of lesson and materials - you should read this out loud to your students.

Song/Poem:  Original song or poem which illustrates the concepts (provided on Audio CD).

Bible Reading:  Locate provided scripture references.  Read and discuss verses focusing on seeing God as the Creator in nature.

Notebook:  Concise summary of materials presented in a creative way so that the student can interact with the information and gain a deeper understand of it.

Evolution Stumpers:  Scientific facts that support creation and question evolution.

Review:  This portion of the lesson continues and reinforces learning.  A list of questions is included for discussion.

Digging Deeper:  Ideas for further study, research and discovery.

Plus learning games, experiments and arts and crafts.

Upon looking through the student book, I was delighted to see interesting drawings illustrating a specific scientific subject from a biblical standpoint.

The Teachers Manual is very nicely laid out full of complete information and teaching helps useful to guide children throughout this study.  A suggestion is made to have older students help teach the younger. Hmmmm....I have a student that fits that description!  Could I really turn this over to my 7th grader to teach my 2nd and 4th graders???  Hmmmm....

My oldest eagerly accepted the challenge and choose to teach "Animal Structure" in the Animal Anatomy and Physiology section.

My oldest takes a turn teaching from Considering God's Creation
My oldest takes a turn teaching from Considering God's Creation

After gathering all the supplies, my oldest began by reading the Vocabulary and Introduction sections.  Then he gave each of his students a bible verse (or two) to look up and read at the appropriate time.  

Reading a Bible verse
Reading a Bible verse

Reading a Bible verse

Also included in this particular lesson are:

'Animal Tracks Game' - all pieces necessary for this game are included plus an Animal Tracks booklet to keep track of your answers.

'A Pile of Bones' - Color 6 different arms bones from 6 different animals and match them to the correct animal.  And, cut out skeletons from 7 different animals and match them within the bodies of the correct animals.
Pile of Bones
Pile of Bones

Horn & Antlers - Learn the difference between horns and antlers and show the growth of antlers.

Birds in Flight - Close up information on feathers, unique lungs, bone structure and 'Bird in Flight' booklet.

Locomotion - song and poem help the student focus on footprints of evidence for Creation.  Also included is a place to attach the 'Animal Tracks' and 'Horse in Motion' booklets.

We learned something very interesting regarding birds.  If birds didn't have hollow bones, they would be unable to cool themselves.  My kids deducted on their own that if they couldn't cool themselves, they would burst.  Birds couldn't have evolved from reptiles otherwise we'd have 'bursting birds' all over the place until they 'devleoped' hollow bones....and by that time, they'd likely be extinct!

Amazingly my two younger kids loved being taught by big brother and begged to do more.  I was pleased to see that it was true --- an older child can teach his siblings with this curriculum.

The only thing I did not like was Lesson 6: Rocks and Minerals.  This study lumps together rocks and minerals listing  Talc and Diamond as rocks when they are minerals. Also, there is use of hardness, streak, cleavage, shine/luster, crystal shapes and characteristics in identifying rocks.  These 'tests' are used only in the identification of minerals.

All three kids enjoyed this curriculum.  This isn't your average boring, fill-in the blank textbook.  There's enough variety contained within Considering God's Creation to fit all learning styles.  Aside form Lesson 6, we will continue to use it it the future.

Here's what other crew members are saying

I received these items free of charge in exchange for an honest review

Monday, May 23, 2011

Goal Planning Monday - May 23

Goal Planning Monday

It's time for Goal Planning Monday hosted by Katrina of Mama Manuscripts!

This week is a blur from Wednesday on....before everything went haywire, I did manage to get to some of my goals. 

Finally made a reservation for myself for a beginners sewing class (yeah!).  Finished reviews for: Mad Dog Math, Marvels of Creation: Breathtaking Birds, Story of The Pledge of Allegiance ,  and Word Qwerty!  (Phew!)

I labeled all homeschool curriculum I had to sell....and out of 3 boxes, I only brought home 1/4 of 1 box that didn't sell.  (Yipee!)

I visited the other Goal Planning Entrants and left comments.

For this week:

1.  Finishing prepping for next year and post our curriculum choices. (A hold over from last week) And pick up our newly laminated American Girl posters from Office Max - this is a little tidbit of the curriculum we'll be using for my daughter next year.

2.  Watch portion sizes more carefully AND transition to a plant based diet.

3.  Get ready for FPEA Convention.

4.  Work on reviews for Considering God's Creation, and Read for the Heart.  (My last two TOS Crew Reviews for this 'cruise year') .

5. Visit & comment on the other goal planning entrants!

6. Do something FUN!  (Life's been too stressful lately!!)

Friday, May 20, 2011

TOS Crew Word Qwerty Review

Wordy Qwerty
Talking Fingers Wordy Qwerty

5 year Online Subscription: $25 and up
Home edition on CD: $35
2nd - 4th grades

Earlier this school year my second grader reviewed Read Write and Type from Talking Fingers with great success.  In fact, the whole family enjoyed this program!   We were very excited to have the opportunity to review Word Qwerty from the same company.

From their website:
Wordy Qwerty – Foundations for Reading and Writing Fluency, takes 7-9 year olds through the next steps of reading and writing fluency, and picks up where our award-winning software, the Read, Write & Type Learning System leaves off.

After successfully completing Read, Write & Type!, most 6-7 year olds are able to write any word they can say. But they may not spell them all correctly, because they need to know a bit more about spelling conventions and about how words are constructed in English. This is where Wordy Qwerty comes in. In 20 consecutive lessons, woven together with fun-to-play games and delightful songs that will stay in their heads (and an audio CD they can play in the car or on their audio CD player).

The overall purpose of Wordy Qwerty: Foundations for Reading and Writing Fluency, is to improve phonological and morphological sensitivity, to develop a deeper understanding of how words are constructed in English, and to provide reading and writing activities with helpful feedback, in order to increase fluency and comprehension in reading and writing. Wordy Qwerty has 20 lessons, with six activities per lesson, that present the following foundations for fluency:
  1. Some sounds can be represented in several different ways.
  2. Most words follow about 20 easy spelling rules.
  3. There are many word families, (words that sound the same, or rhyme). By changing the first letter(s), you can make hundreds of words.
  4. Some words are "outlaws". They don't follow the rules. They must be recognized quickly and automatically.
  5. Writing to dictation develops vocabulary, comprehension and fluency as well as spelling skills.
  6. Reading (and filling in missing words) develops vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency skills.


  1. Silent E
  2. Sounds of C
  3. Sounds of G
  4. J or DGE
  5. W or WH
  6. C or K
  7. CK or K
  8. CKS or X
  9. CH or TCH
  10. LL, SS, FF, ZZ
  11. OI or OY
  12. VE Words
  1. Open Syllables
  2. Double Consonants
  3. Doubling rule
  4. ER, IR, OR, UR, EAR
  5. I Before E
  6. Plurals: Add ES
  7. Plurals: Y to IES
  8. Plurals: F to VES

Midi and Qwerty are two characters that will guide your child through 7 sections of each lesson.  The object is to score points in order to obtain 'spheres' for Midi's music machine.

Patterns - Word Qwerty

Section #1 Patterns: Children generate two lists of words by typing the names of pictures and sorting the words by a given characteristic. They are directed to notice the patterns," or spelling rules, by comparing the two lists. If they can't sound out the words or spell them correctly, the Helping Hands will assist them. Qwerty and Midi talk about the differences between the two lists and derive the 20 spelling rules which then are woven into the lyrics of delightful songs.

Word Qwerty - Karoke
Section #2 Karaoke: Rhymes and songs are memorable and fun. There is a catchy song about each of the 20 spelling rules. Children read the lyrics on the screen and can sing along if they want. Often the lyrics contain examples of the words that reflect the spelling rule. Children are motivated to read the words while the song is playing, or while they are singing it themselves.

Word Qwerty - Recycler

Section #3 Recycler: Lots of words that rhyme can be made just by changing the first letter or letters of the word. Some words sound the same, or rhyme, but use a different combination of letters to represent the same sound. In this game, children learn different vowel combinations that can make the long vowel sound. They watch the RECYCLER drum whirl as it changes the first letter(s) of two rhyming words. They learn to quickly distinguish real words from non-words. The non-words are vacuumed away. Players that score less than 90% on the first try are asked to study the list of real words. If any are not familiar, they can click on the word and hear it used in a sentence. Then they are asked to play the game again.

Words Qwerty - Pop-a-Wordzz
Section #4 Pop-a-Wordzz; "Outlaw" words are best memorized by learning to recognize them quickly. In this arcade-type game, children find words in a 4 word phrase as each word appears briefly, along with non-target words, in a cluster of colorful balloons. As children click on the correct balloons, they "pop". The faster they recognize the correct words, the more points they make.

Word Qwerty - write a story
Write Stories
Section #5 Write Stories: In these cleverly illustrated 8-line rhymes, children hear and see the first line, and have to type out the second line after it is dictated. They can see and hear the dictated line as often as they need, but get more points if they remember the sentence and try to spell the words correctly. These little stories are full of words that require using the spelling rule just presented.

Word Qwerty - read stories
Read Stories

Section #6 Read Stories: Here are some short, engaging stories that develop comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency. Every so often, there is a word missing, and children have to choose among three possible words, the word that best fits the meaning of the sentence. These stories also include words that utilize the spelling rule, or the "outlaw" words learned in that lesson.

Section #7 Spelling Test
After the spelling test, your child is rewarded by seeing what Midi is building OR watching a segment from Animuisc performed each time he completes 5 lessons.

Our experience:

Sitting with my 2nd and 4th grader we proceeded through this program.  The 'Patterns" section defined the spelling rule clearly with the 'Karaoke' song backing it up leaving my kids signing the song even after they were down with their lesson.  The 'recycler' was quite a guessing game for my emergent reader - based more on luck.  'Pop-a-Wordzz' was very helpful for my 4th grader stressing words like their, there and they're.  You, your, and you're.  One and won.  The 'Writing Stories' section was extremely long and stressful for both my 2nd grader and challenging for my older student even though both have successfully completed Read, Write and Type. The 'Read Stories' section had words in it that are beyond a 2nd grade level - but just right for my 4th grader.

What's nice about this program is that you can choose the passing level per each student.  This was helpful for my younger student who needed to repeat some of the lessons multiple times.

I wish Word Qwerty had adjustable levels as Read Write and Type does because it's a big spread between what a 2nd grader and 4th grader can spell! (One of the spelling words was 'general'. I've never seen that on a 2nd graders list!)

As with any spelling program, the ultimate test is retention.  After my kids completed a lesson, I would test them with the same set of words the next day.  Sadly, retention was low for both children.

For us, this program was loads of fun, but did not stick.

Try a Free Lesson for yourself!

Here's what other crew members are saying

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

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Story of the Pledge of Allegiance Book Review

The Story of the Pledge of Allegiance
The Story of the Pledge of Allegiance

The Story of the Pledge of Allegiance is a delightful little book full of the history and facts regarding America's Pledge of Allegiance.  Written and brought to the Nation by the trio of Daniel Ford, James Upham and Frances Bellamy it was originally tittled "Salute to the Flag".

Included in this book is fascinating information about the meaning behind the words and changes that took place to the phrasing over time.  Also quotes from Presidents Harrison and Eisenhower regarding the Pledge of Allegiance and how the Bill of Rights pertains it.

In addition there's a section of Questions and Activities in the back of the book.

This would make a nice addition to your Civics or American History studies!

I received this item for free in exchange for an honest review.

Marvels of Creation: Breathtaking Birds Book Review!

"And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind:  and God saw that it was good.  And God blessed them saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the fowl multiply in the earth.  And the evening and the morning were the fifth day"  Genesis 1:20-23
Breathtaking Birds
Breathtaking Birds

"This book is different from most nature books in that it seeks to honor God as Creator and give all glory to Him.  As humans created in the image of God, we should notice and appreciate His work.  Even the world in its cursed state (because of the fall of Adam) can still show beauty, design, and purpose.  From the tiny intricate tail of the hummingbird to the beautiful fan of a peacock's tail, the artistry of the Creator is shown.  We hope you enjoy this work and that you will be amazed at the marvelous design of birds and their God-given ability to survive in their environment.  "For by him were all things created".  Colossians 1:16"
Marvels of Creation: Breathtaking Birds is a wonderfully informative book with beautiful photographs of God's flying creatures written by Buddy Davis and his wife Kay.

Featuring 30 species of birds from the Arctic Tern to the Wood Duck, your child will learn the basics of each:

*  Common Name
*  Scientific Name
*  Weight
*  Length
*  Life Span
*  Special Design Feature
*  "Did You Know" Feature

In addition, they will discover other fascinating facts, such as which bird:

-  has monocular AND binocular vision
-  is the largest of all aquatic birds
-  is mentioned 11 times in the Bible
-  can swim under water but is not a penguin
-  wraps its' long tongue along the back of its' skull inserting it into its' right nostril when not in use (!)
-  was kept during WWI to give warning of approaching airplanes that were too far away to be heard or seen by humans.

Also part of the book are sections on Intelligent Design which refute evolutionists claims that reptiles turned into birds.  Focusing on Archaeopteryx and using scientific evidence, Davis makes these valid points of its' brain being like that of flying birds with a Visual Cortex and a large Cerebellum.  The Wishbone (Furcula) was robust which is a design of a flying bird.  There's also further refute of evolutionist claims that scales evolved into feathers.

At the end of this book there's a very useful basic anatomy section which has drawing of skeletons, types of bird feet and beaks with their purposes.

I read through this book with my 7th, 4th and 2nd graders.  While my younger child loved the pictures, my older children liked learning about the Creationist proof of God's handiwork.  I even learned a thing or two!

I whole heartedly recommend this book as a great addition to your Creation Science studies!

I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TOS Crew Mad Dog Math Review

Mad Dog Math - Math Facts Drills
Mad Dog Math - Math Facts Drills
Mad Dog Math
Mad Dog Math Downloadable Software
Starting at $19.99

Mad Dog Math - at Home is a student-tested, Windows PC application that provides an at-home  practice experience that is just like the classroom Mad Dog Math drills. It fully supports the Kinder, First Grade, Second Grade, and Third Grade and up Mad Dog Math programs with:
  1. All four math operations (+, -, x, and ÷)
  2. The same Mad Dog Math family groups
  3. The same 2-minute through 20-second timing levels used by the programs
Plus, the software application will track the progress of multiple students through all levels, and allow them to earn Student Club Stickers as they successfully pass each family group at each timing level. This is an indispensable learning tool for helping your child or students master math facts and be prepared for the next day’s drill. Without this foundation of math facts securely embedded in a child’s memory, he cannot move on to higher levels of math, and stumbles, at best. Give your child or students the tools necessary to excel in math.

To find out more about this program and how it works, please check out this informational video!

It is recommended that each family use the software 5 times a week for at least 10 minutes at a time.  Once children pass one math family,they can move on to the next.  Continual drill and daily repetition will solidify the facts into a child's mind.

Choose from the following levels:

*Level 1 is addition/subtraction families from 0-3 up to 12-18.

*Level 2 is addition families from 0-6 up to 0-18 with missing addend and 0-6 up to 0-18 for subtraction families.

*Level 3 is multiplication families from 0 to 12 and division families from 2 to 12.

*Challenge Level contains two fun games:  Mutt Math and Kennel Trouble.  In Mutt Math your student chooses the number range and then they drill through a variety of math facts containing all operations.   Kennel Trouble is almost like a magic square fill-in, but, the instructions are a variable such as:  "add then multiply by 9" . 

My 2nd and 4th grader had the opportunity to try out Mad Dog Math.  Using the program 5 days a week for aproximately 10 minutes each child drilled their math facts.

My 2nd grader choose Level 1 and my 4th grader choose Level 3 and Challenge.  

They enjoyed the timed challenges and climibing their way through each level.  Though they have used similar drills in the past, the specialized levels of missing addends and challenge equations are what set Mad Dog Math apart from the rest. 

Check out a Free Trial of Mad Dog Math for yourself!

Here's what other crew members are saying.

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

Monday, May 16, 2011

Goal Planning Monday - May 16

Goal Planning Monday

It's time for Goal Planning Monday hosted by Katrina of Mama Manuscripts!
So - this past week was my first week back on the GPM train.  Here's how I did....I'm still finishing up planning our next year.  I would have been finished and organized ready to post our up and coming curriculum....BUT in shuffling homeschool 'stuff', I also had to shuffle furniture and toys trying to get everything to fit. 

I have a 2nd degree ankle sprain - so, no exercising for now.  I'm also privy to wearing a stabilizer for at the very least 2 weeks.  It's more uncomfortable that the injury --- think 'girdle for your ankle'.  (pictures to come)

I still have to call about sewing classes., but I did visit the other GPM entrants!

I did finish my review for Institute For Excellence in Writing (IEW) which was TOUGH!!!!

For this week:

1.  Finishing prepping for next year and post our curriculum choices.

2.  Watch portion sizes more carefully.

3.  Call for more information on sewing classes for myself.

4.  Work on review for Mad Dog Math and get them posted this week.  Continue working on Work Qwerty, Read for the Heart and Eagle's Wings.

5. Visit & comment on the other goal planning entrants!

6.  Label all curriculum I plan to sell for curriculum sale.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

TOS Blog Cruise - The ONE resource I reviewed this year that blessed my family's socks off!

TOS Blog Cruise

During this past year, the TOS Review Crew has been doing Blog Cruises with topics that change every 6 weeks.  This is the last Cruise until the fall, and I'm very happy to finally get in on one!

This Cruise's topic is to :  "Please share your favorite homeschool experience in relation to your participation in the Crew this year! "

In other words, what item did you review that blessed your socks off!!!

That a tough question!  After much consideration and consulting with my 3 school-aged consultants we've narrowed it down to one item....and that would be:

Nutrition 101
Nutrition 101: Choose Life from Growing Healthy Homes

Though some of the other items were more 'fun', this curriculum benefitted the WHOLE family mentally, physically and spiritually.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal - May 9th

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

I'm jumping on The Homeschool Mother's Journal meme hosted by Sue of the Homeschool Chick.

In my life this week…

We've taken a bit of a hiatus from this blog hop due to just not accomplishing a whole lot and having lots of down time.

In our homeschool this week…

We've finished our 2010-2011 school year three weeks ago.  I'm working on starting school June 1st.  I'm taking my homeschool mentor's advice "when you have more than one option, choose the fun one".   More on this soon :-)

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Tonight is a Graduation celebration pizza party hosted by our co-op.  Tomorrow I'm finally going to have my foot looked at to see if it's sprained or fractured --- and then we will go from there!

My favorite thing this week was…

Celebrating Mother's Day just relaxing with my family & recuperating from a sinus/ear infection.  It was nice & low-keyed and peaceful!!!

What’s working/not working for us…
There's peace in the neighborhood again - that's a blessing!!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

I'm excited for our coming school year!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

This our challenge - homeschooling with a toddler!

homeschooling with a toddler!

Goal Planning Monday - May 9th

Goal Planning Monday

It's time for goal planning Monday hosted by Katrina of Mama Manuscripts!

I hope all you Moms had a great Mother's Day!!!

It's been awhile since I posted goals --- partly because it's been a period of downtime and rest and partly because I haven't been accomplishing too much!

So, here's my goals:

1.  We've finished our school year about 3 weeks ago.  I've been preparing to start our next school year June 1st -- and, taking the advice of my mentor homeschooling mom, I'm "choosing the fun way".  More on that soon!

2.  I'm going to get my foot officially checked out tomorrow, so, afterwards I'll be able to make appropriate fitness goals.  As it stands now, I've been off sugar and white flours.

3.  Box up more stuff to go to storage so we have more room in our tiny house.

4.  Schedule sewing classes for myself.

5.  Work on remaining TOS reviews.  (IEW is due this week).  I've completed:  Building Blocks in Life Science (great for highschool/adult), Andi's Scary School Days (wholesome reading for 6-9 year olds), and Monkisee (early reading).

6. Visit & comment on the other goal planning entrants!

TOS Crew Monkisee Review!

"MonkiSee is a unique video series designed to teach babies as young as 3 months old how to read. Your child will be introduced to Howie and Skip, brother Howler monkeys from the jungles of Belize. Throughout this playful series, Howie is teaching his baby brother, Skip, how to read. Your baby will be reading along with Skip before too long. Guaranteed to delight babies everywhere. Created by a mother of 6 playful children, this series is full of fun!"

Baby's First Words DVD
Baby's First Words DVD
Baby's First Words DVD
3 months - 3 years
Expose your baby to written language, poetry, puppet shows, animals, children and much more with this fun and interactive video. Baby's First Words teaches your baby to read 40 words! They will learn to read and identify their body parts and other familiar words. Concepts are taught using puppets, children, animals, poetry and more. Set to lively music, including original music, your baby will truly enjoy learning to read. Baby's First Words is an entertaining way to teach your baby to read. This 30 minute video is full of fun! Your baby will be begging to watch it again and again. Features a 40 word slide show, used to review the words being taught. Contains valuable Parent Guide to help you get started.

Know Your Monkey
Know Your Monkey
Know Your Monkey
0-3 years

Know Your Monkey is "A See and Say Story".  Babies enjoy reading along as Howie and Skip learn to identify their body parts.  This interactive, easy to read book is designed to teach babies to read while they are being read to.  Written for ages 0-3 years old.

Know Your Monkey familiarizes babies with their body parts while teaching them to rhyme, recognize and read 29 words with easy to point to text.  This book features colorful illustrations of the lovable and playful characters, Howie and Skip.

See and Say Stories keep the text and the illustrations separate, which encourages early reading while parents read to their child.

Our experience:  After watching the Parent Guide section on the DVD, I took special note that this video should be played daily about 5 days a week for a month or so.  Optimally the child should view the video around 20 times or more and that through 'intuative phonics' my baby should be able to start reading the 40 words introduced on this DVD.  The author suggests viewing the video in the morning, the slide show (also on the DVD) in the afternoon and reading the book before bed. 

Afterwards, my 18 month old and I sat down to watch Baby's First Words which is approximately 30 minutes long.  Holding him in my lap and pointing to the body parts as they were displayed on the DVD, he sat for about the first 5 minutes.  Then we tried sitting together on the couch, which didn't go over well.  I kept the DVD going, trying to coax him to watch it.  He wasn't interested.  After dinner we tried the slide show which he seemed to like more than the actual video.  And then, for bedtime, the story --- which he really liked.  For being a VERY busy toddler, he loves to be cuddled and read to.

We continued this pattern for a week with the same results.  He just is not interested in the TV.  He'd rather roam freely or cuddle and be read to.  So, I'd have to say this program was not a good fit for us.

Here's what other crew members are saying

I received these items free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 6, 2011

TOS Crew Andi's Scary School Days from Circle C Beginnings Review!

Circle C Beginnings Andi's Scary School Days
Circle C Beginnings
Andi's Scary School Days

Circle C Beginnings
Andi's Scary School Days
Ages 6-8
$15.96/4 book set

In the Circle C Beginnings series, you will meet young Andi Carter, who is eager to grow up and experience the exciting Wild West of the late 1800's.  Fun pictures and Andi's curiosity will keep you turning the pages!

Rules, rules, rules!  There are so many rules in school that 5 year old Andi can barely stand it!  On her first day she's already had her recess postponed and a dead fly thrown at her by Cory, a fellow classmate.  In retaliation, she climbs a tree and refuses to come down.

The next day isn't much better.  She's wrongly accused of bringing a lizard to class and made to stand in the corner.  She goes to release 'the creature' outside the one room schoolhouse and never comes back!  She makes her way into town searching for her brother and winds up meeting Cory's father.

Eventually Andi learns that the teacher, Miss Hall, isn't so bad and more importantly her attitude and actions are brought to the light of Christ.

My 7 year old daughter really enjoyed this story and the pictures.  With every book from this series there are FREE coloring pages ,  activity packs and puzzles that can be downloaded from their website.  Lapbooks are also available to purchase as well.

My daughter and I recommend this series which contains:
* Andi's Pony Trouble
*Andi's Indian Summer
*Andi's Fair Surprise
* Andi's Scary School Days

Here's what other crew members are saying.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Building Blocks in Life Science Book Review

Building Blocks in Life Science
Building Blocks in Life Science
Building Blocks in Life Science is a dynamic educational resource that teaches high school level Life Science from a Biblical perspective. 

"Introduction to the Creation Foundation Series:  War of the Worldviews.

This Creation Foundation Series gives young people ANSWERS -- answers from science and answers from Scripture -- ANSWERS that show how SCIENCE and the BIBLE fit together to give answers we all need for all of life!

According to the evolutionist's worldview, each life form, including each human life, is the result of time, chance and millions of years of struggle and death -- what Darwin called the "war of nature".  It must be depressing for students to hear over and over again that they are just products of time and chance caught up in a grim and ceaseless "struggle for survival" that ends for them (and the whole universe!) only when death finally wins.

The bible has a much happier ending:  life wins, new life in Christ!  According to the biblical creationist's worldview, God created living things with plan and purpose, all working together in harmony.  "Darwin's war" is real enough today, but it brought struggle, death, disease, decline, and disaster (Noah's Flood) into the world only after man's sin and selfishness ruined God's perfect creation.  Christ's sacrificial love conquered sin and death, and His return brings new life -- rich, abundant, and eternal.

When young people know what they believe and WHY THEY BELIEVE IT, they can stand firm on their own faith, even defend it to scoffers, and encourage all with reasons for hope in Christ and new life in Him (1 Peter 3:15)."
Teachers and students will find clear biological answers proving science and Scripture fit together to honor the Creator. This dynamic educational resource helps young people not only learn science from a biblical perspective, but also helps them know how to defend their faith in the process.
The three units and nineteen chapters:
  • Covers in-depth topics such as genes and Genesis, the roll of natural selection, embryonic development, as well as DNA and the magnificent origins of life
  • Powerfully refutes the evolutionary worldview that life simply evolved by chance over millions of years--Provides exceptional insights and clarity to patterns of order in living things, including the promise of healing and new birth in Christ
  • Offers a fill-in-the-blank or short answer study page at the end of each chapter so students may test their comprehension (Building Inspection Sections)
  • Helps students know how to defend their faith scientifically
Author Gary Parker is a former evolutionist. He has an Ed.D in biology, and has lectured widely for both the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis. Currently, Gary continues to lecture, conduct science labs, and field trips for young people.

I'll humble myself and admit that upon picking up this book and looking through it I know I was in over my head!  This is an in depth, challenging read covering such topics as:  blood types, genetic drift, macro/micro evolution, mutations, and chemical evolution with excellent illustrations and scripture throughout.

I love how Parker takes the very "meat" of biology and evolutionary thinking and blasts the light of the Word of God upon it.  This is a fantastic tool to help cement origins of life from a biblical stand by backing up real examples with scripture for any high school student/adult or as a witnessing tool for those unsaved masterminds in your life. 

Though lacking in experiments, this book would also be useful read alongside other high school science curriculum especially those from a secular standpoint.

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

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Do You Suffer From Comparisonitis?

COMPARISONITIS:  the act of comparing oneself or one's gifts to another deemed as superior.

Do you suffer from comparisonitis?

I know I do --- at least I did the past couple of weeks.

It all began innocently enough by participating in a blog hop.  PLEASE NOTE - I'm not saying there's anything wrong with blog hops at all.  However, my focus wasn't "Wow!  Look at this Mom's blog and how she's using her gifts in her ministry to her family".  It was "Wow, look at this Mom and how eloquent she speaks....the trips she takes...the stuff she has...the pizazz of her blog...the perfectly dressed, coordinated and clean pictures of her children...."  I was using the measure of grace and gifting bestowed upon those other Moms and measuring it against myself.

Do you know what I found?  I fell short.  Do you know what it got me?  Nowhere!  The one thing it did do was to hinder the God given gifts and calling/purpose of the ministry God has chosen for me in this season.

Fortunately, God brought me back to reality when a fellow homeschooling Mom asked me a simple question about spelling curriculum.  "S-N-A-P"  Yes!!  I was back in my element !

It was a good reminder of what God has gifted and called me to in this season and where my heart's desire lies.

So, while you'll probably never see pictures of my children color coordinated and perfectly groomed or read a long soliloquy in perfect English I will guarantee the original purpose of this blog.  To encourage homeschoolers the way I know how:  by giving them a glance into our 'school' and to share my opinion of homeschool products that I am blessed to review.  Short and sweet, to the point, what you see is what you get, down to earth....this is me sharing my heart with you.

No need for comparisons!

Romans 12:2-4 (New King James Version)

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,

Ephesians 4:7 (New King James Version)

7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift