Monday, December 22, 2008

Let's Make a Web Page


Let's Make a Webpage! Well, if you are anything like me that is a scary thought! I am new to the blogging world, so the thought of making my own web page is both exhilarating  and frightening. 

In  Let's Make a Webpage, by Phyllis Wheeler, they are aiming to instruct an 8-12 year old. I have to admit, I was very skeptical.  I mean, if I cannot figure it out, will our children?

Guess what? The answer is yes. With very little parental involvement ( my husband) my children were able to create their own webpage! I couldn't believe it.

I have since gone through and attempted to create a web page for myself. While I am still working on it, can you say you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Actually, you can! And this book does, it just takes me a bit longer than the kiddos!

I have been very impressed on how spot on she has been with the instructions. She has included actual "snap shots" of what you will see on the screen. A BIG plus for me.

If you have any  inclination to learn, or for your children to learn what I think are becoming very necessary computer skills, this book and this company is the answer!

This e-book retails for $29.95, however it is on sale for $19.95 right now.

Please visit for a complete listing of their awesome products!

Happy Computing!!! 


All About Spelling


All About Spelling!

In my house, I have several students who struggle. For this review, I am focused on my student with ADHD and Dyslexia. We have struggled so much with him, or I should say he has struggled.

We had been using a spelling curriculum, that I fully endorsed, let's just say, I was not in the market for a new spelling curriculum when All About Spelling arrived on my doorstep, as part of the products to review for The Homeschool Crew.

However, I vowed to give this curriculum a go! Lets start with their website... visit them here

All About Spelling uses a multi-sensory approach to teaching spelling. And in all honesty, that was one of the things that made me happy from the outset.  My son, had been getting better with spelling using our old curriculum. It opened many a learning door for him. However, what we kept coming up was, why is it spelled that way now, and a different way in such and such word. Or that doesn't make sense.... and that was so very frustrating to him.

Well, with All About Spelling, he is learning the spelling rules! Not just words!  All About Spelling teaches the Orton Gillingham phonograms.  It then teaches the child in short incremental lessons that follow a logical sequence.

For my ADHD / Dyslexia kid, this is key! The program consists of hands on activities: (from the All About Spelling Website)

  • The Flashcards provide a visual and hands-on way to help your student learn and review phonograms, words, and spelling rules.

  • The Spelling Review Box helps you organize the flashcards so you can quickly see which words, phonograms, and spelling rules your student still needs to learn and review. (Flashcards and dividers are included; you supply the 3x5" index card box.)

  • The Segmenting Words activity helps your student identify the individual sounds in a word so that he can spell more easily and accurately.

  • Concept-oriented spelling lists that are grouped by similar phonograms and spelling rules accelerate learning by organizing ideas in the student’s mind and allowing the student to concentrate on and master one or two main concepts before moving on.

  • Key Cards clearly present key ideas, concepts, and spelling rules that help your student thoroughly understand why a word is spelled the way it is and how to apply that knowledge to many other words.

  • The More Words and Dictate Phrases sections reinforce current and previously learned concepts, increase the student’s repertoire of words, and allow the student to apply his knowledge in practical situations.

  • Tips for the teacher anticipate and provide answers to your questions and give you on-the-spot strategies for helping your student overcome stumbling blocks. Worked seamlessly into the lessons, tips are placed right where you need them, when you need them, so you can continue your teaching uninterrupted.

  • The Progress Chart gives your student a visual reminder of how far he has come and motivates him to master the next step.

All aspects of this program are well thought out! And they are easy for me to follow, which makes teaching my struggling and reluctant learner much easier than anticipated!

The program consists of 4 levels. With 2 more levels coming out soon, that will bring the program up all the way through high school. The program uses leveled books, rather than by grade. This is a huge plus for the struggling learner!

Now the pricing.

Levels 1 and 2 are $29.95 for the book and materials packet. You need one materials packet per child. Additional packets can be purchased for $12.95. The letter tiles, which are a required items are $9.95. The magnets for the tiles are $5.95.  They also have made an Audio Phonogram CD, which is $14.95, that is wonderful. It really helped my son to "hear" the sounds clearly!  The tiles and the audio cd are one time purchases, you do not have to buy those again for each level.

Levels 3 and 4 are $39.95 for the book and packets, with extra packets selling for $17.95.

Let me also add that the people of All About Spelling are all about helping you teach your child! When you visit their website, you will find many helpful articles. The articles there are wonderful.

Please visit All About Spelling today and see if this wonderful program will work for your family!

By the way, we have switched our spelling curriculum! Thank you All About Spelling!


As homeschoolers, we already tend to  have a different take on education than mainstream education. Creator of Puppetools, Jeffrey Peyton,  shares our vision for not educating in the same mundane way.

What is Puppetools you ask. It is a subscription based website. Where "The Play Professor", aka, Jeffrey Peyton takes you on a journey of learning through play, using puppets as your medium.

If you are teaching in a traditional setting this may very well be revolutionary. As homeschoolers, I believe we have embraced the theory of learning through play. On the website you will find countless patterns for puppets and ideas on how to use them in the classroom. In addition to this, you will find the research and science, in essence, the life's work of Jeffrey Peyton.

Here is the mission statement of Puppetools from their website:

 OUR MISSION is to open the door to sweeping change in education by advancing the principle of play in teaching and learning. The world still looks to America for inventive social, economic, and technological solutions. Once, America's gift to itself --and to the world--was a bold new experiment in political freedom. America's next gift--again for itself and for the world-- can and must be a bold new leap in education. If you believe that the advancement of play both as a practical and theoretical organizing principle represents an innovative path forward, then we welcome your support and participation in our mission.

You may be asking yourself, how will this help our homeschool. If you are a creative person, who already incorporates play and hands on learning, then this website may not be for you. If, however,  you are not creative at all, and you find yourself, strictly the textbook kind of family, then a one year subscription would be worth it for your family. You would have access to forums, articles and videos to help you in your knowledge of learning through play. As well as, the multitude of patterns for puppets.  The price is $20 a year for an individual family. However, where is see puppetools to be the most beneficial would be for Co-ops, Churches, or Private Schools with Homeschooling Programs. There is a special group rate for situations like these. Please visit their website for pricing details.

Now I want to tell you about what transpired with my 9 year old daughter after spending some time on the puppetools website, we had just read the book, "Little Man in the Map" for an earlier review. My daughter and I read the story again, and then my daughter made a puppet of MIM. She made the "Hinge" on her own. And the entire puppet and used it to tell me about the map of the United States.

Check out Puppetools and see if this unique website is a god fit for your family.

Happy Playing!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Trigger Memory Systems

    I will tell you right off the top, I LOVE the products we received from Trigger Memory Systems, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. We received four books from them, Times Tales and then 3 clean n' flip charts..... Zone Cleaning for Kids, Laundry for Kids, and Bedroom Cleaning for Kids.

   I am going to start with talking about Times Tales! I am kicking myself for not ordering this product the first time I saw it and added it to my wish-list!  What is Times Tales you ask? It is a handy book, that id mnemonic-based program.  It has pictures, where the numbers are turned into characters, while still be able to see the numbe in their body, and then with each illustration, there is  a story to go with it. You read the child the story, then they tell it back to you.. and that is how the magic happens inside their wonderful brain God gave them!

I sat down with my 9 year old, who has not mastered her multiplication tables.  We sat down one afternoon, we did just as I described above, then we moved on to the included flashcards. There are two sets. One with the characters. So the 6 and the 3 would look just as they did in the illustrations. When looking at the card, she remembered the story, which also included the answer, and she had  the answer to give me. We were able to quickly move on to the flash cards with regular numbers, no pictures, and she retained all that she had learned. In a 30 minute session, she knew her times tables. WOW!!!! 

Since then she walks around with the flashcards and she tells her self the stories. I see her writing out the times tables down on a pieces of paper, in her spare time! This book is a real gem!!!

Now let me tell you, I have been leery of trying this product, because, you know that old saying, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Well, that was how I was feeling. How can this possibly work??  Please know, that I am not a sales rep for Trigger Memory Systems. This program works!! If you have a child who needs to master their upper times tables this is the product for you! At $29.95 you cannot go wrong!


Now onto the Clean n' Flip Charts. These have been an awesome addition to our household. We are a family that cleans the house together. And with 5 children, the quality of clean is sometimes questionable. Lots of going back, and redoing, which can be very discouraging, to a child who is doing their very best.

That is where the Clean n' Flip Charts come in. It breaks down the chores, into easy bite, size chunks for the child to follow. It is a dry erasable book, so they can use a dry erase marker, to check off what they have done. Or if there are multiple children doing the chores, then you can put their name or initials next to  the chore.

These charts have not only helped my children to remember all the steps to cleaning each room, or each step in the laundry process, it has cut down on the squabbles. It has helped each child be accountable for their own chore! Ingenious!!!!

Okay now for the pricing. They have several options!

You can get the Bedroom Cleaning for $7.95

Then you can add the Zone cleaning to that for $22.95

And then you can add to those the Laundry for kids for $29.95

OR you can purchase 2 Bedroom Cleaning for $12.95.

I would highly recommend all of these charts! THey have helped my kids, who range in age from 9 - 16!

I pray that one or more of these products will find it way into your home so that your family will be as blessed by them as ours have been!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Little Man In the Map


The Little Man In the Map With Clues to Remember All 50 States, by E. Andrew Martonyi and published by Schoolside Press.

This clever little book, is wonderful. The goal of this book is to help your little one, and maybe even you  in remembering and locating all 50 states in our country. It all starts with the Man in the Map. What is that you ask????

Let me explain, this is a picture book, written in verse, which helps with memory! It tells the story of a class learning U.S. Geography. And they begin with the Man In the Middle of the Map. From north to south.. from Minnesota... his very tall hat, all the way down to Louisiana, which are cleverly his boots. And when you connect the states in between you have that Man in the Map or MIM as he is affectionately called.

Mim, then helps your child through the rest of the map, giving a fun little verse about each state to help them remember where the state is located.

Reading this book through a couple of times, coupled with a regular map, your child will have their U.S. Geography commited to memory before you know it!

All of my kids have enjoyed this book. Even my older kids enjoyed and were  not turned away from it, even though it is a picture book. So if you have a child that needs to get this down, this is a great tool.

The book has been honored with the :

Moonbeam Children's Book Award

Independent Book Awards

And was a a finalist for the:

Foreward Magazines Book of the Year and

Next Generation Indies Book Awards

As you can see this is a high quality book, that I would highly reccomend. This would make a wonderful Christmas gift, if you order right away! It is beautifully inllustrated, by Ed Olson.  Couple that with the fun writing of Anrew Martonyi, the children will harldly even notice they are learning at all!

The boook retails for $19.95.  They also have a wall map that reatails for $21.95 or you can get them together for $35.00.

 This has been a favorite in our house, I know it will be a favorite in yours!

Happy Learning!




I hate Math! Ok, so I know hate is a very strong word, but really Math is not my strong point. I mean I can balance my check book. And I can teach my children their math facts, but as they get older this is really my downfall. I have always been thankful that my husband has the Math brain. Just knowing that he can step in and rescue me from teaching math has always set my mind at ease.

However, now I have something else that is my safety net! ( Yes my husband will always be there, too!)  There is the great subscription based website called Aleks . 

What I have loved about this site is that my daughter can do her math independently. This is a huge blessing for me! Here is how it works.

When you set up your child's account you designate the level of math they are in. 3rd grade- Pre Calculus. Once you set up your child's account and they get started, they will asked to take an assesment test. Based on the results of their test they will create a pie chart of yor child's skills, as well as, where your child needs to learn.

As you click through the chart, which is divided up into different skill sets, they will present the next thing that your child needs to learn in that area.

Your child is asked to complete a problem, they can click for an explanation, and then work the problems. Once they display mastery, that skill is then set into their pie chart.

When your child returns they are asked review questions on those skills. To ensure mastery.

My daughter who enjoys math, but does not like to sit down and do "seat work", therefore, Math will always come with a scoop full of complaint.  However, with Aleks, she was actually asking to do math! Wahoo! Anything that helps my child ( or yours!) want to learn, gets a kudos from me!

Not only is she asking to do math, she is actually learning quite a bit. In the "Master Account" you have the ability to change the level you have your child set at, and you will be able to see how they are doing on their math work. It will let you know, what they have mastered and what they still need to learn and what is going to come up next.

The other awesome thing about Aleks, is that allows me to spend time with the other children in my house, while the student using Aleks is working. This is a huge asset. When you have a large family, that is something is priceless.

Whether you struggle in math, or your child struggles or excels, I would highly recommend Aleks.

Now, down to brass tacks, here is the pricing:

$19.95  per student per month

$99.95 per student every six months

$179.95 per student every 12 months

They also offer a free one month trial.  And they have family discounts. Please see their website for more information.  

Have a Happy Homeschooling Day!


Friday, December 5, 2008

Rime to Read


Once again, as a member of the Homeschool Crew, we have been able to use a nifty program! Istarted using it with my daughter. She is a late bloomer reader. She doesn't have disabilities, she just has very little interest. We have been working through other programs, which I will not mention. So she did start this program with basic letter sounds knowledge.

However, it has been great for her to have this reinforcement. One of the pluses with the program is that the books are on the computer. She absolutley loves the computer, so anything that she can do on the computer, is already a bonus!

Another neat thing that theyh ave recently added to the program is that you can click on the color coded words, and the word will be read out loud for the child. Now there have been a few glitches, however, they are working those out as we speak.

They do have an option to print out each book, if you would rather read them on paper. However, I really did not like that option. The books are just so much better on the computer, in my opinion. However, if you are a paper person, you do have that option. Now, what I did do, is I went to the 20th book, and printed out the last page. On that last page there is a grid. And in each box of the grid, it has all the words the child has learned in each of the books. ( one book, for each box of the grid). So I printed it out,  put her name and date on the top, and then as she read each book, she put a ticker on her "Reading Chart".  She has loved that!! I would highly recommened that to anyone using this program!

Now lets get down to brass tacks. What are the costs? You have 2 options. You can by the books, in sets. There are 5 sets of 4 books. Each book set costs $9.99. However, you can purchase all 20 books, for $44.99, which gives you a savings of $4.96. If you are interested in these books, I would recommend purchasing the entire set.

You may be asking yourself, what makes these books different than other beginning reader books. For our family, it was the interactive feature of the program. The stories were cute and my daughter enjoyed them. If you have a brand new reader, I would recommend this handy little resource.

Please visit them at and check it out for yourselves!

Happy Reading!