Friday, March 26, 2010

Homeschool in the Woods - Olde World Style United States & World Maps

While many of my crew mates had heard of Homeschool In the Woods, I was a newcomer to the amazing resources available to homeschoolers through this company. Our family was asked to review the Olde World Style United States & World Maps for the Crew. I am absolutely blown away at the quality and depth of these maps. As many of my readers know, I'm all about printing in black & white to save on color ink, so these maps were absolutely perfect for my family. We have been studying the United States as a whole and next year will be studying each state individually, so these maps will absolutely be instrumental in supplementing our lessons.

I highly recommend these for any homeschool family as I have been looking for something like this for quite some time and now have all of the maps together in one convenient place.

You can order these sets individually in a download from the Homeschool in the Woods website for $18.95 each or you can order them together in a Combo-Pak download for $28.95.

And they are now available CD! Each set on CD is $19.95 or you can get both sets on one CD as a combo for $29.95

These maps were provided to our family as part of the Old Schoolhouse Crew review team. The opinions expressed here are mine, after our family has had a chance to review the materials.

Critical Thinking Co. - Balance Benders

Our family reviewed the Balance Benders book from the Critical Thinking Company. At first I was a little confused by the book, since I'm not exactly a math whiz, but my math savvy husband explained the concept to me and we let our middle guy Jonathan give the book a try. It was a little difficult for him to grasp the concept, but once he did he kind of like the book too. The purpose of the book is to introduce your child to pre-algebraic skills, which is probably why it was a little more difficult for me since algebra was never one of my best subjects.

The Balance Bender book is $9.99.

Find out More Information Here as well as see other books they have to offer!

This book was provided to our family as part of being a member of The Old Schoolhouse review team, the opinions expressed here are ours after we have had a chance to review the book as a family.

Artistic Pursuits - The Elements of Art Composition

Our family reviewed Grades 4-6 Book One - The Elements of Art and Composition by Brenda Ellis for the Old Schoolhouse Crew. My middle guy Jonathan is a budding artist and was absolutely giddy when this book came the mail. He has absolutely love doing the lessons in the book and I have seen a vast improvement in his artistic skills since we have received the book.
The books are $42.95 and the best part about them is each book lists the materials that you will need so that you can have all the right things to do the lessons. Visit the Artistic Pursuits website, where you can find more information on each of these products.
Here are some quick links to each of the grade levels of this series:
This book was provided to our family as part of being a member of the Old Schoolhouse Crew the opinion expressed in this review are mine after reviewing this book with my family.

The Terrestria Chronicles by Ed Dunlop Review

Our family was asked to review two books for in The Terrestria Chronicles series by Ed Dunlop. I have to say if your children like the Chronicles of Narnia, then they are really going to like this series as well. Josiah is an absolute lovable character and the parody of our walk with Christ in this book is very captivating and helps put you into the books. You can see yourself as young Josiah removed from your burdens of sin and guilt by salvation and how it feels to be free from all of that once you become one in the Kingdom of God. I found myself pouring into the book trying to find out what was going to happen to Josiah next.

Here are some summaries of the two books that our family read.

Book One: The Sword, The Ring, The Parchment

In book one, readers are introduced to the Kingdom of Terrestria and its inhabitants, meet Argamor, an evil blacksmith, and Josiah, his slave, and follow Josiah as he is freed from slavery and becomes Prince Josiah, son of King Emmanuel. Readers will be drawn into the Kingdom of Terrestria and into young Josiah's quest to truly understand what it means to be a child of the King. Book one includes a glossary, a castle facts guide, and an ABC guide to salvation.

Book Two: The Quest for Seven Castles

Book two begins one year after Josiah was freed from slavery by King Emmanuel. Josiah has grown considerably during his time at the Castle of Faith. King Emmanuel has decided that it is time for Prince Josiah to go on a quest. His quest will take him to seven different castles: The Castle of Virtue, The Castle of Knowledge, The Castle of Temperance, The Castle of Patience, The Castle of Godliness, The Castle of Brotherly Kindness, and The Castle of Charity. Along the way, Josiah faces many dangers and trials. King Emmanuel has provided everything Josiah needs for the journey. Josiah only needs to use the tools that have been given him...

The Terrestria Chronicles series is available for purchase from the website for $47.99. If you prefer, you can also purchase each book individually for $7.99. I recommend getting the entire series for your family as once you have read one, you will want them all. There is also a spiral bound study guide that is available for $5.99. If the children are active learners like my boys are, they can use the free coloring pages from the website as well.

This review is my opinion after our family has reviewed the books for The Old Schoolhouse Crew.

Super Star Speech - Review of Inventor Game

My family loves playing games and is always looking for educational games to help suppliment the boys education. We were so excited when we were asked to review Super Star Games for the Old Schoolhouse Crew. I will be doing seperate blogs for each of the games that we tried in order to give the boys more time to enjoy each game and to see the growth in their memory and retention of facts from each of the games.

The first game we are reviewing is The Inventors Game. This game was outstanding and the best part was that it was simple enough that even my five year old was able to play. I had so much fun with my eight year old playing this game. Rather than doing two piles like the game suggested, we did a huge memory game with the invention (with the inventors name) and the inventors and then tried to match them. It was so fun watching Jonathan get excited when he knew what invention went with an inventor and where it was on the floor. My five year old isn't quite ready for the game since he is just starting to read, but since we used the invention cards with the inventors name, he was able to "match" and remember the matching name.

I highly recommend this game as it is perfect for teaching your children about inventors and their amazing inventions. It also created quite a dialog with each other as we were discussing some of the inventors that were new to us.

The downloads for the games are only $3.50 and do not have a lot of pages for printing. I also like the graphics and that it was very easy to print them in black and white since we do not use our color cartridge.


This game was provided to our family for the purpose of reviewing it for The Old Schoolhouse Review team the opinions are mine after having a chance to review the product with my children.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Graphics Toolbox by Great Software Tools

The Crew was asked to review Graphics Toolbox by Great Software Tools.

When I first opened up the program, I was a bit confused because it wasn't like my current graphic design programs. The tools are not at the top and so it took me awhile to figure out what each graphic on the side was and how to use the tools.

I admit I'm not very good about reading manuals, so I just tried to wing it first off and found out that sometimes it's very important to go through the manual first. We also had the amazing opportunity to have a class with the designers (the tutorials are now on the website for everyone to see). I have to say that it was at that session that I finally started realizing the potential of this program.

While this program will not do everything that my current graphic and photo editing program can, it has features that I absolutely fell in love with. I especially love the frames and ribbon features on this program. As you can see from the two examples I did below, You can make fun edges on your photos like you would with scrapbooking scissors. by making the background the same color as your "frame". This is something I will definitely be using as I get into digital scrapbooking. I also loved the extra large work area and how you could drag elements to your main graphic. Another amazing feature is the capability of changing the colors in your backgrounds and elements with the click of the mouse. Once you get used to the graphics on the side, it's actually a very easy program to use.

There were some things that didn't work for me. I was unable to get the font as large as I wanted as it only let you get up to 72 point. I'm used to being able to make my fonts any size I want and manipulating them a little more so it was a little limiting for me. I also didn't like the history part and the fact that you couldn't undo all the way to the beginning of a project. I had to start he same project over and over and finally decided that what I was trying to do was not going to work for this particular program as what I was trying to do needed to be done in a vector program.

If you are wanting to do digital scrapbooking, fun photography projects and worksheets for your children, this program is perfect for you. It's also perfect for making brochures, business cards and fliers for your home based business. Not only is it easy once you get the hang of all the features, it creates amazing items. I'm definitely going to use it to supplement my digital scrapbooking and business documents as there is no program that I have found out there so far that does the framing that this program can do.

You can purchase a one-user license to this amazing program for only $149.00. Better yet, you can try this program out for 30 days for absolutely free. There are tutorials as well on the website and the designers of this program are incredibly helpful and very willing to answer any questions that you have about how to use the program.

Visit the
Great Software Tools Website to learn more and try out this program today!

I was given a licence to this program in exchange for my honest opinion of this program after I had reviewed it with my family.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pandia Press - R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey - Life

Our family was asked to review R.E.A.L. Science Life Science Curriculum by Pandia Press. Science is one of my boys favorite classes so it was easy to dive in and enjoy this amazing book.

The worksheets and lab sheets are all right in the book and ready to copy and hand out to your children. I really love the labs in this book as they are very easy and cost efficient to do and they help your child to discover their world by exploring it hands on rather than feeding them with the answers. Each lab gives you a list of everything that you need and most of the items are things that you have already on hand at home or can get at any craft store or larger department store like Walmart.

The book comes in a packet like package and you just need to get a three ring binder for storing the pages. This is especially handy for copying and handing out the pages to your children. I have pointed this out with other curriculums, but once again these pages are in black and white so it's very easy to print and you do not have to waste color ribbon or worry about things being blacked out when you photocopy them.

If you are looking for a fun science curriculum that will not break the bank but will educate your children far beyond what you ever imagined, I highly recommend that you look into the R.E.A.L. Science series. There are currently three different options in Level One:

Life (Grade Levels 1-4)
Chemistry (Grade Levels 2-5)
Earth and Space (Grade Levels 1-4)

There will be additional levels available soon for your older students. You can find out more information about this series and their other curriculum by visiting the Pandia Press website.

The print version of these amazing books are available at Rainbow Resource for $38.50 (retails for $48.00) or as a download directly as a PDF from Pandia Press for $38.99.

This book was provided to our family for review from Pandia Press as part of our Crew membership. The review is my opinion after our family had a chance to review the materials during our daily lessons.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Math Mammoth - Grade 1

Our family reviewed Math Mammoth Grade 1 for the Old Schoolhouse Crew. Although my 5 year old is still in Kindergarten, he is advanced in math and we were looking for something to challenge him. This e-book was perfect for him and we are thankful we had an opportunity to try the books. I especially like the fact that the graphics and pages are simple so it doesn't take a lot of ink to print them out and also that you can print out pages as you need them.

I have mentioned before that the one thing that I do like about e-books that allow you to print one or two pages at a time is that it allows you to budget your ink cartridge cost. It also helps to keep away the clutter around the house and with three boys and two of them homeschooling, e-books help keep down the extra books and paper laying around in baskets and on shelves.

My little boy absolutely loved Math Mammoth and continues to work through the workbook.
The Light Blue Series is $29.70 for the full set or $15.50 to purchase the books separately. You can also purchase supportive materials for only $14.00 which includes answer keys, tests, cumulative reviews, worksheet maker, and Soft-Pak. There is also the option to purchase printed copies which is great for families that do not have access to a printer or who like having books rather than e-books for homeschool materials.

Math Mammoth has FOUR options for workbooks (from the Math Mammoth website):

The Blue Series
Worktexts with both explanations and problems.

Each book is on a particular topic, such as clock, multiplication, or geometry.
Cover topics in grades 1-6.

The Blue Series books contain explanations of the topics and are like a textbook & workbook in the same book. They can thus be used for many situations: for initial teaching, remedial teaching, or for review.

Each book in the Blue Series concentrates on a few topics only, such as addition & subtraction, multiplication, clock, fractions, division, geometry, etc.

Light Blue Series
Covers grades 1-5.
Emphasizes conceptual development in a logical sequence.

Practically self-teaching - only a little teacher involvement needed

Math Mammoth Light Blue books constitute a complete mathematics curriculum for grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Just like the Blue books, they contain explanations of the topics and are like a textbook & workbook in the same book.

The Light Blue series covers all topics for a given grade level. Each grade level includes two parts of a worktext (A and B), tests, cumulative reviews, answer keys, and a worksheet maker.

The Golden Series
For grades 3-8, organized by grade.

Contain problems only

The Golden Series books are worksheet collections by grade-level (from grade 3 through Algebra 1), and provide variable problems in a convenient one-topic per sheet format.

The Golden Series books do not teach the topics, and thus suit best teachers or tutors. They are great for classwork or homework, for general review, reinforcement, or practice material.
The Green Series
For grades 3-7, organized by topic.

Contain problems only

These are worksheet collections by topic, and provide very variable problems in a convenient one-topic per sheet format.

The Green Series books do not teach the topics, and thus suit best teachers or tutors. They are great for classwork or homework, for general review, reinforcement, or practice material.

There are not very many math series that give you these four amazing options to fit your families needs and at the price, you get an amazing curriculum that not only challenges, but creatively teaches your children math concepts.


Family Mint

The Crew was asked to review the Family Mint website and set up a family account. Within a few minutes of setting up our account and playing with the service, I knew that it wasn't going to work for our family right now.

Our family is still recovering financially from my husband's railroad furlough so our boys are not given a weekly allowance. When they are given their own birthday money they manage their money by themselves. Our oldest last year asked to open his own savings account to save for a car. I imagine as the younger two reach their teens, they will want to do the same. If we are able to start giving our boys an allowance, this program would actually be perfect for us to show them how a bank works and how to keep track of their spending. I think however I would let the boys open their own "banks" and manage their own money.

The program basically sets your family up as the bank with each of your children being "patrons" and setting up their own accounts to make deposits and withdrawals. The children can set goals and you can set up interest rates for them. It's a really neat program and I think if you have a really big family where you need to keep track of each child's allowance or if you manage your children's money, this program would be perfect for you.

It's the most creative way that I have seen to teach your children how the banking system works and it keeps track of their available balance the way a bank would do which I thought was really a neat feature. I even tried to "withdraw" more than my balance to see what would happen and just like a personal bank account it told me that I did not have enough funds.

The best part about this service, is that it is free to everyone. I encourage my readers to try it out and see if this program will work for you.

VISIT THE FAMILY MINT and set up your family's account.