October 29, 2010

Dust If You Must

A few years ago, dear FIAR mom Celia, shared this poem with me. It came back to mind today as I stared at some dusty places around our house. I'm allergic to dust mites (true) and so dust around the house makes me anxious. Some days I feel guilty if I see too much dust around....well, maybe I'm not being a good housekeeper. I want to serve our family well and want to be a good steward of our home and be a good model to our kids about cleanliness, etc.

But today I was reminded of this poem and I was thankful for those dust bunnies lying around (although they WILL be gone by tonight!). I realized I've been busy with other things....good things.....reading to my kids...playing games with them....teaching them....visiting friends in need...serving our church family...enjoying time with Brad....singing to my Lord...memorizing scripture....

I do want a clean house...but sometimes a dusty house is still a well-loved home.

Dust if You Must
by Patsy Clairmont
Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture or write a letter,
Bake a cake or plant a seed
Ponder the difference between want & need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb
Music to hear and books to read
Friends to cherish and life to lead

Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain
This day will not come round again

Dust if you must, but bear in mind
Old age will come, and it is not kind
And when you go and go you must
You, yourself, will make more dust
And now....I must dust! :)

October 28, 2010

Our Tot is all Smiles...

Can't believe Sarah is just so close to be 2 years old!
She is always ready to smile for the camera these days and says "cheesee" very loud.

Here she is with big brothers, ready for our Friday School "Silly Hat Day".

And here looking pretty in pearls to celebrate mom's birthday last Sunday.

She even stopped drawing to give mom her best smile. :)
I love my sweet toddler!
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October 24, 2010

Terrific Tigers Review (and giveaway!)

Time for another great learning adventures with The Old Schoolhouse and Amanda Bennett's latest resource for homeschooling families...

This past week the kids and I "traveled" around the world from the mountains of Russia to the jungles in India and Africa to learn all about one of the most fascinating wild cats....TIGERS!

Terrific Tigers follows the same format as other Download N Go units we previously enjoyed. An instantly downloadable e-book includes lessons plans for 5 days of hands-on learning for grades K-4th. The learning is both fun and easy to follow for teacher and student.
Each daily plan includes learning objectives that are integrated to a variety of subjects. Spelling, vocabulary, handwriting, cooking, art, drawing, science, applied math and geography, Bible are all "sprinkled" throughout the unit studies.
The lesson plans includes two different ways for your student to record their learning. One is the notebook pages. Beautifully illustrated and well organized pages can be printed for each day and stored on a notebook or binders of your choice.
The other options is to make a lapbook; a series of mini-booklets that will be paste into a portfolio.

Some of my favorite features of these units are...
Direct internet links to informational pages, printouts, images, videos and more. This saves so much time!! We all know what it is like to sit down infront of a computer for ours trying to find a video or a coloring sheet to use at home. DNG has truly done all the work for the teachers.
Another thing I love is the easy format. Everything is laid out clearly and simple for any parent-teacher to use.
The units also include a long list of great family fun activities, as well as a list of recommended books to enhance your learning.
So what about Terrific Tigers....
I found myself loving learning alongside our boys all about these wonderful creatures. I confess that prior to this unit I had no idea tigers were on high risk of being extinct!!
We learned about all 6 main kinds of tigers, their habitats, behavioral traits, physical traits and the way they communicate. We also learned about where to find tigers around the world and the role zoos and zookeepers have on preserving these fierce cats.
My boys were fascinated by their size, speed, teeth and yes even the stripes. We studied all of these in detail and I'm sure our next zoo visit will not be the same.
More about Terrific Tigers...
The price for this unit is $7.95! (such a good deal)
You can purchase Terrific Tigers by visiting The Old Schoolhouse Store.
To learn more about Terrific Tigers and to take a peek inside the unit visit the Download N Go's main site.
To read how other families learned with Terrific Tigers visit the DNG's Blog Tour.
I was given the opportunity to host a giveaway for Terrific Tigers so one follower will get a free copy of this unit!
Here's how....
1. Leave a comment on this email with your name and email for one entry.
2. Blog about this giveaway and come back and leave another comment letting me know for another entry.
3. Share on your Facebook or Twitter page for another entry.
4. Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect for another entry.
Last day to enter is October 31st!! No TOS reviewers can participate.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this unit for the purpose of using at home and writing an honest review. No other compensation was given.

October 22, 2010

Little Reader by Brill Kids (TOS Review)

Brill Kids' ABC Little Reader is a learning software system to teach your baby and young child to read....wait....did you say baby to read?? Yes, this is a proven method that can teach a young baby as early as 6 months to recognize words.
You can see for yourself babies who have learned to read by checking out these amazing video testimonials from their website.
By doing a five minute lesson once or twice a day your baby/child will be reading words in a short time.
The method used on this learning system includes:
  • rapidly flashing words and images on the screen (working the right brain)
  • multi sensory approach (actions words invite child to participate and videos,images and sounds are used)
  • Intuitive Pattern Phonics (where child recognizes repeated word patterns)

Lessons are always changing and growing with your child so he will be exposed to many different voices, sounds and videos of the same word.

The software we received included a one year (two semesters) format that if used in the way it was designed it will expose the child to over 3,000 words.

This video will give you a quick tour of the complete system.

So what did WE think about this program?

Our 21 month old truly enjoyed watching the words and pictures flash on the screen. After a few weeks of using it, she started repeating many of the words on the screen. We have not been as diligent as recommended but will probably continue to use it on and off.

I like the concept behind this program but currently it's not the route I want to take with her. I believe this method can be very effective and can be a huge help for parents who would like to give their kids and early start in reading. Just have not decided I want to start teaching her reading just yet.

The software is also very easy to use and it has a lot of neat features like being fully customizable from videos, voices, pictures and words. The company also offers free add-ons to the program that are available through their website. There's also a forum for parent support and for sharing ideas and experiences with the program.

If this is something that you would like to try with your kids, I recommend you visit their website at Brill Kids and read more about the methodology behind this learning system.

The downloadable version is going to be available through their site very soon but for now you can take a free trial of the software here.

You can purchase the software ABC Little Reader for $149.00 and that includes the software, binders, program guide, schedules, customizable flash cards, storybooks and more.

To read what other families are saying about ABC Little Reader check out the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

Disclaimer: I received this software free of charge for the purpose of trying at home and writing an honest review. No other compensation was received.

October 17, 2010

Our cute kids

Some recent pics of our good looking kids. They are growing too fast!
I'm thankful daily the Lord has allowed me to stay home and enjoy time with them during these early years.

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October 15, 2010

Soli Deo Gloria- Map Skills Unit (TOS Review)

If you are looking for a resource to help your kids have a good geography foundation, I recommend you check out Map Skills by Soli Deo Gloria.
I received a free copy of this unit as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew and I have enjoyed using this resource with the boys for the past few weeks.

The unit is for grades K-third grade and provides a schedule for three weeks of studies. Most activities are hands-on and with a strong Charlotte Mason influence.
The units covers basic map reading skills, supplemental math activities, language arts connections, geography and Bible connections.
The unit also suggest a supplemental workbook to enhance the learning. I purchased one workbook and my boys enjoyed doing some pages but I think it is not necessary...unless your child really loves workbooks. :)
The unit itself has plenty of activities to choose from and all you need is some maps, atlas, globes and a compass that you most likely have at home.
The unit also includes a list of suggested literature to supplement your lessons and four Bible worksheets that applies geography and language arts using the Word of God. I was very impressed with these worksheets.

There are also additional suggestions for older children so the study can be expanded through 6th grade.
The price of the unit is $14.00 and it comes on downloadable e-book format.
To view a sample of this unit and for purchasing visit the Map Skills page on Soli Deo Gloria's website.
Check out the main Soli Deo Gloria page to view samples of other units available.
Also don't forget to visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog to read what other families are saying about Map Skills Unit.
Disclaimer: I received this e-book free of charge for the purpose of using at home and writing an honest review. No other compensation was received.

October 12, 2010

DownloadNGo's Rocking Robots

As part of the DNG's review team I received a free copy of one of their latest unit studies Rocking Robots. Once again, as with previous units we've tried at home, we were not disappointed. This unit is full of learning and also full of fun.
Download N Go's is a new one week hands-on unit studies curriculum from The Old Schoolhouse and Amanda Bennett for the K-4th grade students.
All the units follow a teacher friendly format that includes everything you need for a thorough study of each topic: book lists, videos, Internet links, worksheets and lapbooking printouts, beautiful images and illustrations and much more.
The lessons are divided in 5 daily objectives. For the Rocking Robots unit the five main topics are:
Day 1 What is a Robot?
Day 2 The History of Robots?
Day 3 Peoples and Places of Robots
Day 4 Science Secrets of Robots
Day 5 Goodies and Gadgets of Robots
The students explore a variety of topics within each objectives including famous robots, the story of robotics, different places that robots go from space to the bottom of the ocean, their similarities and differences to humans and how robots help humans with daily and boring tasks.
Geography, science, writing, spelling, history and other topics are included on the daily lessons.

One of the highlights for our boys was the 'robot of the day'. They "met" some amazing robots from the past and present. The videos links on this unit are excellent and some are hilarious to watch, like the robots playing soccer or cooking breakfast.
We used most of the lapbook components for our week's study including writing a list of places robots go and learning the main parts of a robot.

The unit also covers how robots are made and the parts of a robot modeled after the human body.

The unit also includes fun worksheets like dot to dot, number coloring, puzzles and designing their own robots.

The price for this rocking unit on e-book format is only $7.95!!!
Ready to start your own Rocking Robots Adventure??

Check out the Download N Go website for more information about this unit and to take a peek inside.

To purchase Rocking Robots visit the Old Schoolhouse Store.

And to read and see what how other families enjoyed their Rocking Robots unit study go to the Download N Go blog.

Disclaimer: I received a free e-book format copy of this unit for the purpose of trying at home and writing an honest review. No other compensation was given.

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October 11, 2010

Read, Write & Type (TOS Review)

This next resource I'm about to share with you all as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew it's definitely one of my favorites so far.
Read, Write & Type (by Talking Fingers) is a computer based learning system that incorporates reading, phonics, spelling AND typing, all in one highly visually engaging and multi sensory program.
The students are seeing, hearing and saying and typing sounds, words and sentences with the help of "Storytellers" (letters) and two "Helping Hands".
The program begins by introducing the Storytellers and Helping Hands, as well as "Vexor" , a computer virus that steals the letters to prevent them from writing their stories.
The student's job is help rescue all the letters back by doing reading, writing and typing exercises. The helping hands provide immediate support and help throughout the program, guiding the student to learn letters sounds, blends, etc. and of course, learning how to position their hands on the keyboard.
There are 10 levels on the program that can be completed as fast or slow pace as needed or desired. The recommended time for daily practice is 30 minutes.
After learning to recognize and type a few letters, the students begin to write simple words and sentences, and quickly progress to read and write simple stories.
As the level continues, the student gets to send emails, write their own stories and get extra practice on typing skills.
The parent also has access to progress chart where you can see what your child is learning and where they need more review.
The system is available both in CD and online formats. The student needs no previous reading instruction before using the program. The age recommended is 6-9. It works well for beginners as their first reading-writing instruction but also works just as well for older students that need review in those areas.
You can read more about this program here.
Click here if you want to access a demo for you or your kids online.
For purchasing information click here.
Prices vary depending on type of license you are purchasing. One year online version license for one user is $35. I think that's a fair price for what your kids will learn. If you purchase the CD version, the price is $79 (includes program CD, plus extra challenge CD, activity book, laminated keypad, stickers and access to online storybooks).
I received a one year access to the online version. This program was a instant hit with my boys! It worked well with both of their ages (5 and 7).
For Caleb (7) it provided a great way to review phonics, develop more spelling skills (he really needs it!) and strengthen his fingers with typing.
Notice how nice and relaxed his hands and arms are on this picture (and please ignore the messy counter!). This programs has taught him how to correctly position his hands at the keyboard, anchoring correctly and practicing to type without looking at the keypad.
On the student reports, he has definitely improve both spelling and phonetic pattern recognition with this program.
Noah (5) is just beginning to read so he is working his way through the it at a slower pace but still loving it. He is a hands-on learner so he really enjoys the typing part of it. In this picture he is doing one of the review games.
One thing I would like to note is that even when kids can do this program completely on their own, it was designed for the parent-teacher to interact with the student while in use. I suggest parents monitor from time to time the positioning of the hands on the keyboard as well. It takes practice and effort to maintain the correct position (remember when you first learned piano?).

I noticed one of my boys just using one finger to type because he had memorized the keyboard, so when he uses this program I stay near him. :)

Overall, I think this program is EXCELLENT!

To read what other crew members think about Read, Write & Type don't forget to visit the Homeschool Crew Blog.

Disclaimer: I received this product free of charge for the purpose of trying at home and writing an honest review. No other compensation was given.
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October 06, 2010

Lanschool Technologies- TOS Review

Computer softwares and online programs can be a great tool to aid homeschool families with their children's education. But managing and monitoring your child's Internet use can be a challenge, especially for families with multiple children. But now with LanSchool Technologies software you have a wonderful tool available that will help the time your student's spend using the computer more efficient.

This award winning software comes with a teacher's license that is installed on the teacher's computer or main computer in the home or classroom, and a student's license for multiple computers.

Once installed on both the teacher's and student's computer, this software links the computers allowing the teacher to have full access to what the student is working on.

Here are some of the practical features LanSchool offers:

  • Show thumbprint or full screen shots of the student's computer.

  • Blank, block, shut down or remotely operate the student's screen.

  • Chat, send message, videos and more to the student's computer.

  • Block Internet use, specific sites or limit applications or printing options.

  • Send and receive files to other computers.

  • Take snapshots of the student's screens to save on your computer.

These features can help remove distractions, increase accountability and allow the teacher to assist more than one student at at time.

When I received this software I honestly did not know how we were going to use it at home. Our boys are still young and their computer use is very limited at their age. I could see families with older children benefiting more from this.

Shortly after receiving this software, our boys started using another software for learning to type. Well, that was it! Now with LanSchool I'm able to track their progress and see what they are working on at the same time. I can also send hints their way while they are practicing and can remotely access their screen if they clicked on the wrong place or got stuck.

It has definitely been a great tool for us. I can't imagine what it can do for parents who have older children (I'm thinking tweens and teens) and for those who use the computer as part of their daily school work.

For more information and to order your down loadable license visit

You can watch a guided tours, learn more about a specific feature and even sign up for a 30 day free trial.

Check out also this page for demo videos for their teacher's assistant console that run on the ipad.

The price for one permanent home license is $99. This price also includes 3 years of technical support and upgrades. The software can be used on Windows, Mac and Thinline.

For pricing information for multiple license go here.

And to read what other TOS crew members think about LanSchool

Disclaimer: I received this product for the purpose of trying at home and writing an honest review. I received no other compensation for it.

October 03, 2010

Tot School -Busy Time with Connect Four

This week I did not do good with keeping the camera with me but one activity Sarah enjoyed was playing with her brother's Connect Four.
One afternoon she kept trying to take the pieces while the boys were playing so after they were done I sat her in the couch with the game to see what she would do.
She filled up one row with the chips and then moved on to the next row...

After that she got creative and dropped them in through different slots. From time to time she would point and call "Mama, see". She was so happy with this activity. Notice how she only used one yellow (I thought that was cute).

She was so busy playing she, of course, had no idea that her little fingers and eyes were getting a good workout. I love her concentrated look on this picture.

After 15 minutes she got tired of playing with the chips so she switched to the box. It was fun to watch her be creative and do a little bit of problem solving all on her own. Our Tot is growing!
For more great Tot School fun don't forget to visit 1+1+1=1
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