Friday, December 4, 2009

All About Spelling - Levels 1 and 2

We received Level 1 and Level 2 of All about Spelling to review for The Crew. This is absolutely the best program ever for my five-year old!! We tried out Level 1 for him and I was surprised how well he did. The methods used in this program have caused him to absolutely thrive not only in spelling, but in reading as well.

Josiah liked being able to spell words with his letter tiles. The tiles are very durable and perfect for small clumsy hands. He also really liked the reward chart that shows your child's progress through the lessons. We use rewards and stickers a lot with him for chores and behavior, so this was a perfect compliment to our daily homeschooling.

I received Level 2 to review as well, and did try it out with my 8-year old, but it was way too easy for him. However, as soon as Josiah is done with Level 1, we are going to run him through Level 2 of the program to enhance his spelling and reading success even more.

Here's a little bit from the All About Spelling website that tells a bit more about how and why the program works so well:

All About Spelling is an excellent program if you are just beginning to teach your child spelling, or if your child needs remedial help. Here’s why it works:

  • All About Spelling is multi sensory. The lessons involve sight, sound, and touch. Children learn best when they are physically involved in the learning process, so we take advantage of that fact with this hands-on approach to learning and teaching spelling.
  • All About Spelling is logical. Spelling concepts are taught in a logical, understandable order. Each lesson builds upon the previous lesson. The sequence has been carefully tested to produce long-term results. And this is as much a benefit to you as it is to your student—especially if you’ve been struggling with how to teach spelling.
    No gaps. This is something that you can trust with the All About Spelling program: your child won’t be left with gaps or holes in his or her understanding of spelling. If there is a reliable rule that will help your child out, we teach it. If there is a tip that will help your child master a certain spelling pattern, it’s in there. And it’s all presented in a very logical order.
  • The program is mastery-based, not grade-level based, so when students master a specific concept, they move on. If a child needs more practice in a certain area, we allow for that so the child can really master each concept. There’s no sense building on a shaky foundation, because that will cause spelling difficulties down the road when the spelling words get harder. At All About Spelling, we’ve identified the concepts that are most important for your child to master, and we’ve weeded out any busy work.
  • All About Spelling has continual review. As the child learns new material, he or she also constantly reviews previously-taught concepts. We don’t just “teach it and forget it”…we make sure that it really sticks.
  • Finally, the program is clear. This means that children are taught what they need to know in a direct manner. They don’t have to guess or come to their own conclusions about the English language.

If you have a young child like mine that wants to learn spelling but isn't quite reading or writing independently yet, this program is absolutely for you. This program also is perfect for the struggling speller as well!!

The Starter Kit for this program is $26.95. That includes the letter tiles, CD and magnets that will be used for all levels of the program. Level 1 is $29.95 which includes the teacher's manual and one student packet. Additional packets can be purchased for $14.95. The other Levels have kits for $39.95 and additional packets for $19.95.


Friday, November 20, 2009

GyMathtics DVD

In today's world where it's extremely hard to get your children to exercise, it's hard to find something that grabs their interest and gets them excited about working out. We had the incredible opportunity to review GyMathtics by Explormania. The 30 Minute video gets your children pumped up using math concepts to not only make the workout fun, but very educational as well. My five-year old especially liked this video as he likes math and is at the age where television or videos have to be exciting to grab his interest.

The video is $29.95 (free shipping and handling with a current promotion). There is also a second video available.

Find out More About the Video Here

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AVKO - Educational Resource Foundation

AVKO Educational Resource Foundation is a non-profit organization that has been helping parents, teachers and researchers since 1974. The Crew was given a year membership to review all the various resources on this website.

For $25 a year, AVKO basic membership includes the following benefits:

  • Discounts on AVKO printed materials
  • Hundreds of dollars worth of FREE e-books (PDF)
  • The Patterns of English Spelling (All 10 Volumes) with Word Families in Sentence Context
    To Teach a Dyslexic
  • Starting at Square One
  • The Teaching of Reading & Spelling: a Continuum from Kindergarten through College.
  • The Reading Teacher's List of Over 5,500 Basic Spelling Words
  • Access to the Member Only section
  • AVKO Newsletter with freebies, discounts, resources, and promotions
  • Access to Don McCabe's most popular workshop recordings in MP3 format.
  • Supplemental Curriculum Materials including word games, worksheets, activities, and more!
  • Access to Pretests and Placement Tests
  • Access to the Answer Keys for the Unscramblers and Family Reunion exercises of the Engaging Language Kits
  • And More!!

I would have to say that my favorite part would be The Reading Teacher's List of Over 5,500 Basic Spelling Words because of the current spelling curriculum that we use. Most of the other items currently do not work for our family because of age and/or the curriculum that we are currently using, but would most definitely work for other families looking for creative and successful ways of teaching their children.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The Crew was asked to review Tektoma which is a site that teaches kids how to make their own computer games. This is an absolutely outstanding website for anyone that has a child that is remotely interested in computer programing or video game designing. While my oldest child (who is in public school) would have loved this site, my eight-year old who is a more artsy guy did not take interest in it at all. It was a little above his head right now, however when he gets a little older I am thinking it is something we might try in the future.
Tektoma offers you this:
  • Engaging video tutorials for ages 7-17
  • Tutorials of varying skill levels and topics
  • Learn at your own pace in the comfort of your home
  • Natural progression helps develop technical skills
  • Customize your learning experience
  • Low monthly membership fee gives access to all our resources
  • New curriculum available monthly
Price: Just $14.95 per month or $140 per year gets you access to all the tutorials as well as online help via the forums.

Free Membership Opportunities:
• Free 14-day trial
• Earn free membership time by telling your friends


Mathletics -- An absolutely fun way to practice math!

We had the extreme privilege to review Mathletics by 3P Learning for 45 days. My son Jonathan was absolutely thrilled with this website. He said it was so much fun playing the math games and said it was the best math website ever. The website service is only about $2.00 a week in cost and provides a fun math education for children in Kindergarten all the way up to the 8th grade.

Mathletics also has a yearly competition called the American Math Challenge. We just missed the deadline for the American Math Challenge so he was kind of bummed. My oldest had participated in the event before and thought it was so much fun. Children get to compete with other students from all over the world and solve as many math problems as they can.

The annual subscription per student to this service is $59.00 per year. If you have children that love to learn their subjects on the computer, this curriculum and website is perfect for your family.


Our family was provided this free trial as a part of The Old Schoolhouse Crew review team. The opinions are ours after having a chance to try out the service.

American Heritage Foundation

We received a CD from the American Heritage Foundation which had an abundance of history materials for homeschoolers from Kindergarten all the way up to High School. I was absolutely amazed with the content and worksheets on this CD and my boys loved playing with the cutout words to learn the Pledge of Allegiance. We used the elementary version of the curriculum. I took time to also review the middle and highschool versions as well and have to say that I was very impressed. The most impressive part of this that it is FREE!!

Visit The American Heritage Foundation Website Here

ABC Teach - A Homeschool Worksheet Heaven!!

When you are a homeschooler it's sometimes hard to find a worksheet for unit studies or to supplement your children's curriculum. You spend hours searching the internet trying to find that perfect worksheet or diagram to fit the lesson. ABC Teach is the perfect website for moms like me who want a one stop shop to find all the worksheets that we need.

While I have been using the FREE worksheets from the website for years, I had an opportunity to try out a full membership as a part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Crew review team. I was absolutely amazed at how many worksheets and resources were available at my fingertips!!

There are worksheets for every grade level and subject. I even found worksheets for reading books that we were doing this year which was extremely helpful as I was not going to have to sit down and write out my own worksheets. The ABC Tools section is even more helpful as you can use their customized worksheet generators to make your own personalized worksheets.

A yearly membership to this site is $40.00. A big savings from having to buy several workbooks to supplement your child's education.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

ACT, Inc. - College Readiness Standards Packets

We received the EXPLORE and PLAN test packets from ACT Advantage to review as part of The Old Schoolhouse Crew team. We were absolutely thrilled to get these materials.

The EXPLORE program is designed for 8th graders for assessing their academic progress and preparing for the ACT exam. The PLAN program is for students in the 10th grade to also access where they are academically and to have enough time to prepare for college or the workforce. It also helps them to learn very essential test taking skills that are needed for taking the ACT. I participated in a similar program in public school in the 8th grade and was very happy to see that the same materials are available to homeschooling families.

It's so important for students to prepare for college entrance exams and the ACT. The higher the score the more likely that your student will qualify for scholarships and get into the top schools in the country. Starting at the 8th grade gives you and your children plenty of time to fill in the learning gaps and practice for the real ACT exam. It also serves as a very big indicator of where your child stands academically with other students in the same grade.

The EXPLORE for Homeschool packet includes the following items:

  • Testing booklet titled Sample Test Booklet and Answer Sheet
  • Using Your EXPLORE Results brochure—a brief overview of score results and the process
  • College Readiness Standards handbook—a handbook that provides ideas for progress in each subject to prepare students for college or the workforce

Price: $22.95 each

The PLAN for Homeschool packet includes the following items:

  • Testing booklet titled Sample Test Booklet and Answer Sheet
  • Using Your PLAN Results brochure—a brief overview of score results and the process
  • College Readiness Standards handbook—a handbook that provides ideas for progress in each subject to prepare students for college or the workforce

Price: $22.95 each

VISIT THE WEBSITE TODAY to start giving your children the college advantage!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Virginia Soaps & Scents

Our Crew had the opportunity to review the products of an amazing home based family business. The awesome part about this family business is that it was started by a fellow home school family and everyone in the family works together to make this business venture so successful.

We received the following to try out in our home:
in 3 different scents (Oatmeal, Milk and Honey, Coconut Lemongrass, and Fresh Orange )
Ginger Lime scent

Handcrafted Olive Oil Soap
I absolutely loved these soaps!! I had never tried handmade soaps before and so this was a new adventure for our family. The way that the Oatmeal, Milk and Honey bar made my skin feel after using it was absolutely amazing! I also loved the scents of these bars and am hoping to try even more of the different fragrances that they have available. We received the 1.75 ounce Bed and Breakfast sized bars the normal sized bars are 4.5 ounces. They are only $4.50 per bar. They even have a cookies and cream gourmet bar that I would love to try!!

Shampoo Bar
I was so excited about the concept of having shampoo in a bar and was excited to try it. Unfortunately after several tries, it wouldn't work for my hair. I have really fine and often oily hair and it left my hair feeling like it had residue on it. I tried to use it several different ways and just could not get it to work. They do have a shampoo bar for oily hair and I think it would be interesting to try that to see if it worked in my hair. The shampoo bars are 5.5 ounces and are $5.50 each.

Laundry Soap Kit
This was my second favorite item in the trial package that our family received. It was so much fun and because we received the smaller kit, I made it a little differently than recommended. I mixed it up as directed and then poured it into an empty laundry detergent bottle. I then shook it as it cooled and then shook it before each use. I absolutely loved this soap and so no difference in the way it washed our laundry. I also have extreme allergies to certain types of laundry detergent and had no reaction to this product. If you get the larger size kit, I recommend doing what I did and using empty laundry detergent bottles. It was great for storage and I already had my "measuring" cup on the lid saving me time and space in my small laundry room.
I could go on and on about this amazing company and all the products that they have available. Other than the shampoo bar, our family was absolutely impressed with the quality of this product.

Visit the Website

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bright Ideas Press - Mystery of History II

If you ever wanted to find a history curriculum that takes the Bible and Christian history and melds it with historical facts and information, The Mystery of History Series is perfect for you!

Last year we went through The Mystery of History I by Linda Lacour Hobar. This book covered Creation through the Resurrection and my three sons absolutely loved it. We made clay animal creations and learned so much about cultural and Biblical history.

This year as part of The Old Schoolhouse Crew, we had the opportunity to review The Mystery of History II which covers The Early Church up to the Middle Ages. While I loved the first volume, this one was even more exciting for our family as we learned what happened to the Christian world after Jesus was resurrected into Heaven.

In this volume your family will learn about the beginnings of Islam, the Crusades, and the Dark Ages. They will travel the globe learning about the history and culture of various civilizations during this time period.

The nice thing about this particular curriculum is that it works as an individual or group history curriculum. Activities are divided into three different grade levels. At the beginning of each section the students take a Pre-Test to see what they know about the upcoming lesson. It was neat to see what my children have picked up from watching the History Channel and from their previous history classes.

The supplementary section in this particular volume was absolutely outstanding. There were so many activities, worksheets, maps and other materials to enhance the lessons. The one thing I like about this curriculum is how the activities draw the children into the lesson and allow them to take what they have read and explore the lesson even more.

Volume II is currently offered on the Bright Ideas website for $49.95. There are currently three different volumes in this series and there are numerous options for resources and supplemental books and CDs available for purchase as well. I strongly recommend this to any family that would like to explore World History in a fun and exciting manner that will have your children running to the table for History class.

Find more about The Mystery of History Here!!

The Mystery of History was given to our family to review as part of being a member of The Old Schoolhouse Crew. The opinions expressed here are my own after my family has had a chance to review this product together. To get more perspectives of this curriculum, please click on the Crew button at the top left of this blog to see what other members thought.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Bread Machine Rocks!!!

I'm so totally addicted to my new bread machine!! My mom had one and I even borrowed it once but never actually tried to make anything with it. I went to a church fundraiser and found one that was like new so decided to try one more time to see if I would get the bread making maching bug.

Who would have thought this little mechanical box could bring so much happiness in our home. It actually sat on the shelf for a month before I got the courage to pull it out and search the Internet for a recipe. That coupled with the fact that there were some ripened bananas on the counter just screaming to be cooked into banana bread.

I searched the web and found a recipe for chocolate chip banana bread. Poured all the ingredients in...clicked all the special little buttons and watched the glob of ingredients turn into a masterpiece. The bread was such a hit with the family, that I decided to make a few more loaves. I especially liked throwing all the ingredients in before church and coming home to a fresh baked loaf of bread.

So feeling totally confident in my "bread making" skills, I decided to try a new recipe and picked a chili bread. I tweaked the ingredients a bit and as the bread was mixing, rising and baking the scent filled the air of our home. I think this particular bread is going to be our favorite as it has a bit of spicy taste to it and will be perfect with a little cream cheese spread on a slice.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sue Patrick's Workbox System

The one size fits all statement isn't always true in the home school world. Some families have systems already in place that are highly effective and get the job done. Other families struggle for organization and can't seem to find a way to get everything done in a day.

Our family happens to be one of those families that DOES have a system in place that works for us. I have mentioned before that the way that we home school tends to make my boys more independent in their learning than the traditional style of education. In addition to homeschooling our boys for religious reasons, we have found that our style of homeschooling has fostered a love of learning in our boys. That is something I would never want to compromise.

Sue Patrick's Workbox System is for the families that are struggling to find a way to get their children to finish all their work. It is also for families looking for a way to organize their day to day activities. It is for the families that have an autistic child that are scrambling for ideas on how to create an environment that he/she can thrive in.

One of Sue Patrick's reasoning behind her system is that it will create independent learning. Her program also outlines a structured organized way to get your children through the day very similar to what you would have in a public school. However because of the box system that she recommends and that the children are told which classes to do and in what order, it wasn't going to work for our family from the inception.

She also states that in order for the system to work to its best potential that you have to do things exactly the way that the manual describes them. Homeschoolers like our family hardly ever fully use a curriculum exactly like it was designed by the author. We tend to tweak things to fit our particular child or family. Some of the ideas will be continued to use in our home, however, many of the things like the workboxes will not be used. We also do not have the room nor the finances to set up the desks and workboxes exactly the way that she recommends which also was a stumbling block for our family.

Had my oldest child been home schooled this year, this system would have worked for him. He is one of those children that thrives on structure and complete scheduling. He likes to know exactly what he is supposed to do and in what order. He thrives on it...which is why he is doing well in a public middle school. This system is for a child that needs structure, scheduling and directed organization in order to thrive in his/her education.

My middle child and youngest child, like the flexibility of home school. While we do have a "schedule" and they have a set amount of work that they have to get done each day, they like being able to "mix-it-up" and do their classes in the order that they want to. Having boxes all over the place all the time for us would create more chaos and clutter.

If you have a child that is like my oldest and needs a visual picture of what they need to do and what order, I highly recommend this program for you. It is also highly recommended for families with children with autism as well.

The book for this program is only $19.95. You can also purchase this book with four months of personalized consulting with Sue Patrick for only $119.95.

Sue Patrick's Website is HERE if you would like more information.

The Workbox System manual was given to our family to review as part of being a member of The Old Schoolhouse Crew. The opinions expressed her are my own after my family has had a chance to review this product together. To get more perspectives of this curriculum, please click on the Crew button at the top left of this blog to see what other members thought.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where did fall go?

As I'm driving my oldest son to school today, I am wondering....where did fall go? We have had two snow storms already. One just 13 days ago and again one today. I was also thinking how spoiled I was last year not having to wake up every morning and drive in bad weather.

I'm also bummed because I wanted to get some fall photo shoots in this week! These pictures are from last year because it has been too wet to get any pictures. For those of you who have seen the pictures from last year before, you know how our back yard, drive way and front yard is just filled with leaves this time of year. Well now our driveway not only has a "leaf" storm of leaves 1 inch high (that we hoped to get cleaned up this week)'s now snowing on top of them which will be really interesting when we go to clean the driveway later today!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Amazing Bible World History Timeline

Ever wanted to see a timeline of the earth from time of Adam to the present? You can with the Amazing Bible World History Timeline from Bible Maps and Charts, LLC.

This was sent to our family as part of The Old Schoolhouse Crew review team. My husband I think was the most excited to see this timeline as he is an avid history buff. I love the way that everything is laid out on the chart so that you can visually see our Biblical history. I love the size and colorfulness of the map. Even my five year old was fascinated with this amazing Bible resource.

The map comes to you safely shipped to you for only $29.97 plus $6.00 shipping and handling. We plan to frame ours and display it in our family room. You also get two free digital downloads with the purchase of this map and if you would like to purchase a second one for a friend or for a gift to your church, you can purchase two for $49.97 and still only pay $6.00 for shipping and handling.

Click Here to get your copy of this amazing Bible history reference for your family.

These books were provided at no cost to our family as a part of being a member of the review team for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. The opinions are mine after reviewing the products with my children and husband.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sarah Books - Sarah's Wish

Take a journey into the world of the Underground Railroad with Sarah's Wish. The Author Jim Baumgardner had me absolutely captivated with the story of Sarah and her plight to find a new family as well as talking about a part of the Underground Railroad that had not been in a lot of the historical fiction books that I have read. I had read many books about the southern plantation owners or books that talked about things from the slaves perspective before, but this book shows you a child's perspective of helping to hide slaves on their way to freedom. I can't wait to read the next two books to find out what happens next to little Sarah and the amazing other loveable characters in this series.
Sarah's Wish, is currently on sale for the amazing price of $9.99 and this includes a special autograph from the author for the recipient. What a very special birthday or Christmas gift for the young girl in your life. You can also get all three books in the series for $39.95.

This book was given to me by the author to review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Review Crew. The opinions expressed in this article are my own after reviewing this book with my husband and children.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Goodnews Express from Passkeys Foundation - Thanks, But No Thanks

We recently reviewed The Good News Express - Thanks, But No Thanks by Tony Salnerno. Your child goes on an adventure with Finney who learns that being thankful is very important when he goes into a land where everyone does not say "thank you". It's a great way to get across the point of being thankful to your children in a fun and creative way.

Just one look at the book and my boys were scrambling to the computer to get the disk in to listen to this book. My eight year old loved the songs and especially liked the fact that he could read along with the book while the CD was playing.

There are four books in this series:

The Birthday Gift - This book emphasizes the importance of giving and sharing.
The Special Wish - This book teaches children to value people more than things.
Thanks, But No Thanks - This book as mentioned above talks about thankfulness.
The Cheerful Grump - This book teaches about having a good attitude.

You can get all four of the books with cd's for $20.00 or an individual book and cd for $7.50.

Visit The Website for More Information

You can also find out what other TOS Crew Members thought of these books by visiting The Old School House Crew Blog. Just click on the button at the top left of the blog to see reviews of this book as well as many other great homeschooling products. This book was provided to my family at no cost as part of my membership of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine review Crew. The opinions expressed in this article are mine after reviewing this product with my children and husband.

Guardian Angel Publishing

We received free e-books to review for Guardian Angel Publishing. I actually am coming to like the concept of e-books especially with our overflow of books throughout our house. I have started organizing my e-books and worksheets by subject on my computer which makes my "computer library" much more organized than the shelves and crates of hard copy books in my home. The Sum of Our Parts: No Bones About It by Bill Kirk, had a lot of facts that were fun for my boys, however the graphics and drawings in this book were not impressive and pretty simplistic.

Stubby's Destiny by Dixie Phillips was my favorite of all the e-books that we reviewed. Follow the story and his dream to carry a king...little does he know that God has a very special plan for him.

Andy and Spirit Go to the Fair by Mary Jean Kelso was an outstanding book teaching children about how even someone in a wheelchair can achieve their dreams. Andy is a lovable character in this book and I loved how he persevered and won the event even through the taunting and laughing of members of the audience.

Hamster Holidays by Cynthia Reeg was a great book that goes through the year and uses color coded words to emphasize nouns and adjectives. I particularly liked this book as sometimes it's hard to fully explain to your child the difference between a noun and an adjective. This visual tool is perfect for a child that is struggling with that particular concept.

Earthquake by Susan Berger was once again a very factual book about earthquakes. While the graphics and illustrations were much better the the book about bones, it was still hard to compete against the other science books in our family library.

The books are very reasonable on this site. You can download a PDF file of a book for $5.00. A CD of a book runs around $9,95 plus shipping. If you are wanting a printed copy of a book, they run around $10.95 plus shipping and handling.

Visit the Guardian Angel Publishing Site!

These books were provided at no cost to our family as a part of being a member of the review team for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. The opinions are mine after reviewing the products with my children and husband.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Journey Through Learning


I never thought I would get into the lapbook craze. All my friends talked about it and lamented about how much fun they were and how their children got so much more out of unit studies. I clung onto my textbook theory and kept doing things the "traditional" way.

Then my mom who is a public school teacher joined a "teacher share group" and started copying all these amazing things for these folder book things and I thought wow these are kind of neat. Then I received an opportunity through The Old Schoolhouse Crew to review Lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning and my eyes were opened to a new world of teaching.

I have a child that is a very strong visual and active learner so these books were perfect for sparking his interest in learning. They came as e-books which for us is very convenient as we do not have a lot of storage in our house.

The first e-book that we reviewed was Parables of A King. This was the boys all time favorite as they love to dive into the Bible and learn more about God's word. I love how the book breaks each parable down into segments and each parable gets it's own "section" in the lapbook.

Autumn is the perfect lapbook for the beginning of the year. As the leaves start to change color and weather starts to change my children start to ask all the "why" questions. This lapbook helps them to understand all the changes of the season.

What boy does not go crazy about crocodiles and snakes!! My oldest was a big huge Crocodile Hunter fan and he was excited about this book that had so many fun and amazing facts about the reptile kingdom.

Amphibians was my favorite lapbook. I love frogs and thought this was a fun study for children of all ages. It brought back memories of my brother and I collecting a bunch of tadpoles in a bucket and watching them change to frogs. There is something about the life cycle of a frog that totally captivates the interest of children.

The Desert is a really fun lapbook that explores the fascinating world of deserts. Explore the animals and people of the deserts. I loved the Camel section!! My brother was stationed in Iraq twice and shared all kinds of facts about camels that were fun to add to the unit.

The amazing thing about these books is that takes learning to a whole new level. Rather than just reading a book (as I have normally done with my boys), you take an active learning approach. It also gives your child the opportunity to share what they have learned with Grandma and Grandpa as well.

You can instantly download these books from the website for only $13.00. If you want a CD they are $14.00. Do not have a printer? You can get the printed version for $21.00. I know this family will definitely be getting more of these amazing books!

Visit the Journey Through Learning Website!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Car and Tractor Bootie Pattern is Finally Available for Sale!!

By popular request from crocheters around the world, I am now offering my tractor and car baby bootie pattern in PDF format. I designed these in 2005 and have been making these booties for 4 years now.

This pattern will allow you to make my famous tractor and car baby booties in two different sizes 0-6 months and 6-9 months.

Visit My Etsy Store For Your Copy of the Pattern

Nature's Friend Magazine

Nature Friend

Nature's Friend is the perfect magazine for any Christian or home school family. Through amazing photography, graphics and stories, this periodical gives you a Christian perspective to all the wonders of God's amazing creation.

My children have learned about owls, woodpeckers and swamps. There is a drawing challenge each month and your child can send in submissions of their photography, drawings and poetry to the magazine for publication.

We have been receiving Nature's Friend for a couple of years so we were excited to have the opportunity to review a new feature to the magazine. Nature's Friend is now offering a new Study Guide with the magazine.

This supplement has more articles, activities and more for your children. This Study Guide is perfect for families that like to do unit studies or for checking your child's reading comprehension. There is a special feature to enhance creative writing. Children can also submit their photographs and learn new photography tips from professional photographers.

The best part about the Study Guide is that if you add it to your subscription, it's already placed in the center of the magazine!! I especially like that as you do not have to figure out a way how to keep the two together when storing them.

A subscription to the magazine is only $36.00 a year. You can add the Study Guide for only $2.00 per issue (or $24.00 per year).

Visit the Nature's Friend Website

Growing Healthy Homes

I am one of those people that when I hear the words "nutrition" or "healthy", I initially want to run for the hills as I'm afraid it means that I will have to eliminate my beloved coffee and Pepsi from my diet. I want to work on improving my health and exercising more, but sometimes I just get wrapped up in life and forget about the importance of keeping my body healthy for my children and for myself.

Nutrition 101: Choose Life was a wake up call for my family. Due to my husband's railroad schedule and our church and children's activities, we have gotten quite lazy in the healthy food part of our diet. This manual helps busy families like ours see that a healthy lifestyle is not as time consuming or hard as it seems.

This book has fun activities, amazing illustrations, and awesome recipes to help healthy habits in your family to become an exciting adventure. I especially liked the way that the book broke down the parts of the body and how things like carbohydrates and fats affect your various body systems. My children absolutely LOVE science and so being able to see colorful illustrations of their "insides" especially intrigued them.

Growing Healthy Homes offers this book in two different formats, CD rom (for $79.95) or book format (for $99,95). It's a great investment into your family's healthy future and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Visit the Healthy Homes Website!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Have you ever had pinched nerves in your neck from studying all night? Do you absolutely hate bending your head down to read at the table? Studypod is the solution!! We had an opportunity to review this amazing product and I have to say that I'm really impressed.

The first benefit of this product is the storage. It folds together like a book which makes it excellent for storing on a bookshelf or in a backpack. It also has storage pockets inside for a cell phone or i-Pod.

My family absolutely loved this product. It is the perfect gift for any student whether in public school or home schooled. As I mentioned it easily folds together to fit in a backpack, so an older student in public school or college can take it out and set it up for proper reading posture while studying in study hall or in the library.

The Studypod is only $19,95 and the website. If you purchase two you can get them for $16.95 each.

Visit the Website

Friday, September 11, 2009

College Prep Genius

We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to review College Prep Genius. This set comes with a manual, DVD set and a workbook for your aspiring college student. As one who has taken the SAT and PSAT, I know how hard it is to take these tests without properly preparing.

College Prep Genius walks you through every aspect of taking the SAT. It teaches you how to prepare for the test. It breaks apart the test into sections and teaches you the art of taking the SAT. Using the manual, workbook and DVDs, your child will soar through the test.

Why learn how to take the SAT? Many colleges require a minimum score for entry into their institution. Not only that, a high score puts your child in line for some of the top scholarships. You could possibly qualify for FREE tuition. Preparing for a college entry exam is something that all students should do. Many people believe that the SAT is an intelligence test, however that is not entirely the case. The SAT primarly focuses on a the ability of logic and critical thinking.

There are many strategies to taking a test like the SAT and College Prep Genius uses the 4 DVD set, manual, and workbook to teach them all to you. I have seen many college preparatory materials before, but this one totally blew me away. I could not believe how thoroughly this program goes through the different aspects of the exam.

This program normally costs $115.85, however you can now get this program for only $79 which is 30% off the retail price. When you consider the fact that by excelling at the SAT test your child could possibly obtain the top scholarships, this program is an extremely wise investment into your child's future!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Awesome Video!!

This song and video is so awesome and powerful! The video is a dramatic representation of the opening of the seven seals as described in the book of Revelation. God's word and love is amazing!! No matter what trials or hardships you may be going through, no matter how many people want to tear you down because of who you are and where you have been, the Holy Spirit is there to guide you direct you and walk you through the incredibly difficult and trying things in your life.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quarter Mile Math - We Are Racing Our Way to Math Success!!

We have found an amazing math program that is perfect for all three of my boys. Quarter Mile Math is a computer based math program for grades K-9. The students get to choose between horses or cars that race each other. As your child solves the problem his car or horse progresses down the track. The faster he solves the problem the faster they move.

This program covers:
  • Numbers and Letters (keyboarding instruction...which I absolutely love!)
  • Whole Numbers
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Percents
  • Estimation
  • Integers
  • Equations
  • and so much more....

There two major options for this program. The first is the Deluxe version which is only $2.95 per month for your entire family. $2.95 per family per month, $19.95 per family for one year (save $15.45 over one year) and $34.95 per family for two years (save $35.85 over two years). That is less that a math textbook!! This version, has all 323 topics in their entire product line which contains over 70,000 problems. The student's progress is tracked with a screen that shows all the topics which your child has practiced as well as the number of races they have completed, and their scores for each topic.

This version allows your children to participate in real-time tournaments with other people in your family. Children can play with their cousins or friends in other states!! This version does require an Internet connection, but your children are never actually on the web. You can download this program directly from the website and order a backup CD if you so choose.

The other option for families is the Standard program. These disks are $39.95 to $89.95 depending on the grades that you select. This is perfect for families like ours where we have multiple computers and two of them that do not have Internet connection. You can install the program on all your computers, but you need the disk to play the game so only one student can play at a time.

My little one absolutely loves this program. He is very competitive and was loving that he could "beat" the other cars by hitting the correct numbers on the screen. This program is perfect for him as he likes loud noises and activity and this program definitely kept his interest. I also notice a lot of improvement in his keyboarding skills as he has continued to play the game.

My middle child Jonathan loved this program as well as he liked the fact that it was a game and not just online problems. He still likes workbooks better, but wanted to play this game because it was so much fun.

My oldest son Brandon has the computer with the Internet connection so he reviewed the Deluxe version. I really liked the progress chart with this program and how quickly it tracks their scores. The other perk for him is being able to play tournaments with other family members.

I really like this program. It is very easy to install and add new players. It also captures a child's attention with the racing and the fun sounds. My only wish for programs like these is that they would progressively move children through the lessons. My boys often will play the same activity over and over rather than keep moving on to harder subjects. They tend to do that will all computer learning games so it wasn't just unique to this particular program. I will say however, that it was really easy to move from topic to topic on this program and we will be using this throughout our children's home eduction!!

For my readers, Quarter Mile Math is offering $5.00 either the Standard or Deluxe versions. The code for this discount is 7M7Z7. There is a place for this on the order form! This offer is good until September 30th.

Visit The Website to Get Started Today!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tractor Baby Bootie Design Challenge!!

So I've made my tractor bootie design in red, pink, blue, green, lime-green, and orange. This month I had two interesting design challenges. One was to make the booties to match a beloved family tractor and the second one was to make a camoflauge tractor. I have to say it was so much fun doing them in a different color!! You can get these booties in my Etsy Store. If you do not see the size or color that you want, please contact me through Etsy or at

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Jungle Room Needs a Haircut!!!

For those of you who have seen pictures or have visited our "Jungle Room" you will be surprised to see how much the fig tree has overtaken the room this summer. We have been so busy with the kiddos and other things in our lives, that I haven't kept the tree trimmed down to size like I have in the past. The room seriously looks like a jungle room this summer.

View looking at the deck stairs to the "river" basin. Notice how you can't even see the stairs? This tree has decided to even climb the steps.

My son sitting on the steps to show how big the leaves are. I hoped to get more pictures of the other boys before I trim the trees, but he was the only one available so I made him be my model!

The orange tree to the left has tripled in size since we first moved into this house. In the spring when it blooms, our whole house smells like orange blossoms. For some reason this year, we did not get any fruit from the tree.

Here is a picture to show how tall the tree has gotten in such a short time! The branches have completely reached the ceiling after being completely trimmed down in May.

As you can see from the limbs on the deck...I have started the "haircut" process. One of the hardest parts about trimming this tree is that it "bleeds" this itchy sap when the branches are cut so you have to cut quickly and from bottom to top to avoid a head and arms covered in sap. I also wear a shirt with sleeves which when the room averages 100 to 110 degrees in the summer is not a fun task!! ...I will post update pictures when I get this all done.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


We recently reviewed the ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces Math program with my older two boys. ALEKS offers online courses in a variety of subjects for grades K-12, higher education and continuing education. While most of the courses are math related, there are also business, behavioral science, and higher education science programs available.

While it took awhile to get the program to work with all of our Internet security software, once the program was started it was very easy to get the boys started on their math lessons. You first start out with an evaluation for each child to see where their strengths and weaknesses are.

Once that is done, there is a pie chart that outlines the different lessons and where your child needs to improve or practice. I particularly like this part as sometimes I tend to drill my children in areas that they have already mastered. This program helps to to focus on the areas that your child needs improvement.

My boys stated that liked playing games more than just doing problems on the computer. Jonathan, my 3rd grader said that he likes workbooks and manipulatives much better. He is my more creative and hands on guy so I wasn't surprised that sitting at a computer was not fun for him. My oldest is more of a computer guru and I think that if he had the choice over math on the computer or on a workbook, he would definitely choose this program.

A subscription to ALEKS for an individual student is $19.95 per month. You can also save by subscribing for 6 months for $99.95 or a year for only $179.95. ALEKS gives you a month to try out their program for FREE!

Visit Their Website for More Information!

Web Design for Kids (...And Curious Grownups)

I was so excited to get this DVD in the mail as I had beeen talking about teach the boys basic HTML so that they could design their own websites. In addition to my clothing design, I also dabble in web and graphic design so this DVD was absolutely perfect for our family. Sometimes because Java Script and HTML language comes easy to me it's hard to describe to someone how to do their own website without just grabbing the mouse and doing it myself.

The thing that I liked most about this program was that it took the process of making a basic website and broke it down piece by piece and slowly went through the process of building your own site. Brian Richardson, a middle-school computer literacy teacher, incorporated screen shots which helps visual learners to see exactly what was going on as Mr. Richardson was describing the process of creating a website.

If you have a computer lab like we do, I would suggest that you get a small DVD player and play it at the same time that your children are sitting at their computers. If you have active learners like I do, it's the best way for them to see for themselves the process.

Currently for a limited time on their website, they have the DVD for only $19.99 which is 50% off their retail price.

Visit Their Website for More Information!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

We Have Fallen In Love With A Dog!!!

Who would have thought that a simple book about a dog on the ranch would bring so much fun and joy into our home. My boys fell in love with Hank and all of his wild and crazy antics.

Hank the Cowdog is a children's book series written by John R. Erickson. Erickson began his literary career in 1967 while working on ranches in Texas an Oklahoma. Hank and Drover are the actual names of dogs that he worked with while working as a cowboy, farmhand and ranch manager. In 1982 he quit his ranching career and launched his publishing company Maverick Books.

His stories definitely reflect the atmosphere and fun that happens on any farm or ranch. It brought back a lot of memories for me of my grandfather's farm and all the fun times that my brother and I had. Farm or ranching life is never boring and Erickson's books reflect a lifestyle that many children never have an opportunity to experience.

The boys absolutely loved the book The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse and how even after he was in so much trouble after accidentally tripping Sally May, he ended up being the hero in the end. They especially loved how a cat named Pete is incorporated into the story. Some of the things that Pete did reminded the boys of our cat Sophia. I had boys rushing to get ready for bed so that they could hear the next chapter of this fun and exciting story. These books sell for $4.95 on the Hank the Cowdog Website.

Hank #8

We also reviewed the Tornado Race and Chase game which is very similar to the childhood game Sorry. My five-year old absolutely loved this game and wanted me to play with him every day.

The only trouble that a younger child might have with this game, is the spinner. To fix this, all we did was add a die to the game and allowed players to either roll the die or spin. This worked out very well for younger players.

This game fold up into its own box which makes it absolutely perfect for taking on trips. I hope to take this with us the next time we go on vacation to entertain my boys who often whine that they have nothing to do. It also comes with a cassette tape which has an audio recording of The Case of the Swirling Tornado. This game can be purchased on the website for $12.99. I highly recommend it if you travel a lot or have children that love to play board games.

Tornado game

The last item we reviewed was a fun CD "Tales and Tunes from Hank the Cowdog". It had Story excerpts from 10 of the books and 9 original songs. Our favorite song was a song called "It's Not Smart to Show Your Hiney to a Bear". This CD is perfect for playing on long trips or when your children need time to settle down between classes and is available on the website for $3.00.

Visit the Hank the Cowdog Website today and play games, meet the author and shop the store for games, cds, books and so much more.