Tuesday, November 29, 2011

College Prep Genius--TOS Review


We received the VocabCafe books to review from College Prep Genius.  VocabCafĂ© books help students easily learn SAT-level vocabulary words while reading an original, wholesome story. These modern novellas contain no illicit sexual themes and no sorcery! Based on a three-step approach to increasing vocabulary, each book highlights 300 advanced words by using definition, repetition, and reinforcement.  Readers will find the definition of every highlighted word at the bottom of the page -- there's also a word review and appendix.

Our 6th grader is reading at around a 7th grade level and she enjoyed these books.  They're definitely keepers to teach vocabulary to the rest of the bunch in the future.  We can never start too early working towards the SAT, right?  :)


Get all 4 Vocab Cafe series books for the price of 3 books. Order now and you will receive: IM for Murder, Operation High school, Planet Exile & Summer of St Nick for $38.85.



 To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about College Prep Genius, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

**Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Reading Game--TOS Review

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Super awesome resource in this one!  Our family likes anything that has the word 'game' in it though so we were ready for the challenge!  I really enjoyed getting this review, especially for our 6 year old-ALMOST-reader.  She was just as excited to get a review that was just for her...  :)

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Ok- so here's the goods:

The Reading Game is a supplemental learn-to-read program that works along side most standard curriculums.  If you like stats, it also meets the criteria of the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts, Foundational skills, and Reading skills needed for both kindergarten and first graders.  The Reading Game has 6 illustrated storybooks: the Skunk, Snake, Bear, Penguins, Unicorn, and Zebra. Each book comes with a color coded  word matching card game. The memory games are played in six stages for each book, learning five words in each stage.  By the end of your first book your child/student will be able to read 30 words.  Yay!  
"Frequent exposure through play hard-wires these words into long-term memory. The card game requires two players, the student and a tutor.  By transforming rote learning into a fast paced game where there is a winner every few seconds, learning to read becomes fun."
The first story is told using just those thirty words. It tells of a skunk without a stripe who is rejected for being different but finds acceptance among a group of cats and becomes their defender. Each game thereafter adds another thirty words for a reading vocabulary of 180 words by the time the complete series is finished. The multi-sensory teaching approach (through the card game play and the storybooks) works well for retention and FUN for your child/student.

                     


We're not all the way through the game yet but we're working our way to the end! There's nothing better than a child who's having fun learning...

You can score The Reading Game for yourself here, it retails for $24.95.  

To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about The Reading Game, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

**Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Time Timer-- TOS Review

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Make Every Moment Count

What a fun product/review!  This timer is more helpful to our day than I ever imagined.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I first opened the package but now that we've been using the Time Timer, it has proven itself to be invaluable!  
The Time Timer has been around for awhile. It was invented over twenty years ago by Jan Rogers in response to her four-year-old daughter’s need to see the passage of time in order to understand it. The Time Timer is valuable even today in helping a new generation of students, classroom teachers, special educators, and homeschoolers keep track of their time.  Time Timer is different from a regular kitchen timer or wall clock because of its unique construction, you can actually see the time passing as the red disk decreases minute by minute.  And there's NO TICKING!  This is huge for the kiddos in our home because there's no distraction- just a visual account of the minutes passing by.



As you can see above, Time Timer comes in 3 sizes: 3", 8" and 12".  There are so many uses for this timer, some of them include:
  • setting time limits for work or practice sessions
  • keeping track of time during testing
  • keeping track of time during therapy sessions
  • helping students learn to manage their time wisely
  • providing a visual aid for learning about the passage of time
  • helping children monitor their time spent during chores, homework, or play activities
  • and many more practical uses, from timing exercise periods to timing computer use

    Almost any age can use this timer, it is very easy to operate.  I like that our 6 year old can understand and see as time passes during her work time.  I appreciate that she is grasping the concept of time as she sees the red disk disappear.  What an valuable tool!  

    Another super awesome benefit to the Time Timer is that it is also available as a watch, an app for the iPod and iPhone, and there is a software program for your computer.

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    Time Timers are $30.00 for a 3” model, $35.00 for the 8” model, and $40.00 for the 12” model (perfect for classroom and group use). The software is $24.00, while the watch is available for $40.00. Orders placed in the United States and those which total over $50 receive free shipping.

    Check out the Time Timer website and see if this handy tool might help to manage your family's time more effectively…Learning to make every moment count!

    To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Time Timer, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

    **Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Keyboard Town PALS--TOS Review

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Keyboard Town PALS is a typing program that teaches young children to type. This program doesn't used 'timed' tests and approaches learning to type as a game.  When children first begin the program, they are introduced to Sunny:

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Sunny is a helpful friend that guides the child through Keyboard Town.  Older children might find Sunny's character to be fairly 'elementary' but the content of the lessons is solid and very easy to understand.  Sunny explains the middle row of keys to be named as "Hometown," the upper keys to be named "Uptown," and the lower keys to be named "Downtown."  There is a "helper hand" that shows the child where to place their fingers on the keys.



These are the Keyboard Town PALS (this is also an acronym that stands for the Purposeful Associative Learning System)  PALS is the way in which keyboard skills are taught in this program.  The PALS guide the child through the lesson and explain how things work in the  "Downtown, Hometown & Uptown" keyboard rows.  I had our 6, 9 and 11 year old children try out this program.  The younger two found the finger placement a little difficult to maintain on the keys- the 9 year old felt he could improve his 'finger coordination' with a little more practice.  Both younger children understood the lesson easily.  Our 11 year old went through the lesson as well, she found the presentation to be to elementary for her but she grasped the information easily and proceeded through the lesson without any issues at all. 


Parents can purchase the program in either a CD Rom or Web-based package for $30.00 (currently on sale), with English, Spanish, and French versions available.  The Keyboard Town PALS program centers around children who can recognize all the letters of the alphabet. However, the program “Little Hands Can Type” is also available for purchase for younger children.

To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Keyboard town Pals, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

**Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Person I Marry- Bower Books-- TOS Review

Ok, so I've really enjoyed these reviews so far.  They've been fun, helpful, and most have been truly captivating.  But this one stands alone...not only for the reasons mentioned above but because it really pulled at my heartstrings.  Wow.  What an amazing book.  Simple really...but SO powerful.  I'm so glad for this book- I received the e-book to review but I'll be ordering it and keeping it out in plain sight F.O.R.E.V.E.R!  I'm trying to figure out when to read this to our children throughout the year(s)...maybe for each birthday?  This is gold right here- simply gold.  Oh how their little, tender hearts can be prepared for marriage (God's way, not society's way!).  I'm virtually speechless. **Notice I said virtually...LOL.**

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On to the review! Husband and Wife team, Gary and Jan Bower produced The Person I Marry. It is a hardcover 32-page book for all ages.The illustrations are just lovely.  The front cover is indicative of the types of pics you'll see throughout the book.  The Person I Marry coins the phrase "Long before thinking of diamonds and glitter, this book has some things you'll want to consider."  It is written in a sing-song-poetic type format. Young people are reminded just what type of person one should marry – one with a beautiful inside. The message in the book shares qualities which create strong marriages in a way all ages can understand. The book tells the reader,
“The vows I’ll say I mean to keep,So I’ll look hard before I leap.”
I really enjoyed the back page of the book that has a checklist-type area entitled "Things I'll look for in the person I'll marry."

Gary and Jan’s other books include Tessa’s Treasures in the four-book “Thinking of Others’ series, The Jingle in My Pocket in the five-book “Bright Futures” series, Mommy Love and Daddy Love board books, Over Land and Sea about international adoption, and a Michigan Kid series. Illustrations and descriptions of many books can be found at the Bower Books website. Posters with an illustration, character trait, and short poem can also be purchased from Bower Books.

The video below will show you more of this precious, precious book:


The Person I Marry from Bower Books on Vimeo.


The hardback version of this book retails for $11.99, go here to order. To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about The Person I Marry by Bower Books, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

**Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Ooka Island Adventure--TOS Review

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Ooka Island Adventure is a 3D hero-mission designed to teach young children how to read. This early literacy program is designed for children ages 3 through 7 and combines the highly engaging components of a state-of-the-art online world with the scientifically proven OokaMethod that builds literacy skills.  With the OokaMethod, children first understand that words are made up of individual sounds they can hear and manipulate. Second, they learn to associate these sounds with letters and blend them together to make words, thus breaking the code that speeds them through the levels of reading development.

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To your budding little reader, Ooka Island Adventure is an attractive online game environment where they navigate through the island, guided by a friendly robot named Zobot. Children encounter a variety of captivating learning activities with appealing names such as Alphabet Mountain, Cave of Sounds or Bubbly Troubly. Through play, little ones learn and practice essential pre-reading, reading and spelling skills. In the Popcorn Library, they start to read books from the very beginning, which can be very motivating. Here are a couple of other funny characters that will accompany them in their quest:

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Players earn currency which can be later used to free elves and buy various items for their avatar, such as clothing, toys, and even music for the juke box. When lesson time is over, children get 8 minutes of Free Play. During this time, they can roam around the island, shop at Misty Mart, play in the Pencil Playground, or even access the instructional activities for more practice.

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I encourage you to explore the Ooka Island website where you will find the Ooka Island books, free tunes and even a blog. With the promo code above, the great values below and the free 14 day trial, you can soon send your little adventurers well on their way to reading fluency!

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To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Ooka Island Adventure, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

**Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Excellence in Literature--TOS Review

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The people over at Everyday Education hit the mark with this one!  What perfect material, especially for our first-born-daughter.  She eats this stuff up...

This material is designed for grades 8-12, but is adaptable for younger grades.  Because our oldest is doing 6-7 grade work (and because she loves reading!), she was able to start this curriculum with no issues at all.  We shortened the assignments some and I was super excited to expose her to some wonderful literature.  And another bonus...this curriculum is also boy-friendly so that even the most reluctant reader(s) and writer(s) are drawn in by the power of the stories!

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The author, Janice Campbell says, "The courses are designed to focus in-depth on selected great authors or literary movements, while exploring the context of their life and works with additional reading and writing. This offers opportunity for writing practice in a number of different styles, as well as the opportunity to grow thoroughly familiar with some of the greatest writers and literary works of all time."

Another cool thing is if your child is an auditory or kinesthetic learner, they may benefit from listening
to unabridged versions of the books. Yay!  Audio book versions (I'm thinking long car rides!) are awesome for our family. 

While the material available in this curriculum is geared towards college prep (even with an optional Honors Track) and satisfies requirements for High School English, I am grateful for its flexibility so that I can introduce our children to classic literature.  The author, Janice Campbell commented that "this curriculum is meant to be a delight, and to spark joy in the discovery of wonderful stories, plays and poems."  She's right!  :)

Check out the author's bio below:
Janice Campbell and her husband Donald homeschooled their four sons from preschool into college. She has been writing and speaking about things that matter for over two decades. Janice is the author of the Excellence in Literature curriculum for grades 8-12, Transcripts Made Easy and Get a Jump Start on College. She is also Director of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE).
Whether teaching high school students to love literature or teaching writers and entrepreneurs how to create multiple streams of income, Janice’s focus is on lighting lamps so that others can more easily find their way. Her website, www.Everyday-Education.com, offers inspiration, resources, and a free e-newsletter.

Info on the program:
~Each volume is available as a print book or e-book (and will soon be presented as online books on the website in 2012).
~Each one-year study guide is $29 and it's $139 for The Complete Curriculum (all 5 levels) in a binder.

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You can read more on their FAQs page here.  There's lots and lots of info and support throughout the entire Everyday Education website, you won't leave with unanswered questions!  To see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Excellence in Literature, visit the Homeschool Crew Blog to read more.

**Disclosure: My review and opinion written in this post is entirely my own. This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew.