Thursday, April 29, 2010

TOS Crew: Lesson Planet

Our next stop on the Homeschool Crew voyage, is to another planet.. Lesson Planet that is. As part of the crew, we were givin free access to a member account on Lesson Planet, in exchange for our honest opinion.

So let's start with the basics, what exactly is Lesson Planet.
Lesson Planet is a website that makes it easy for teachers and parents to search over 225,000 online lesson plans and worksheets that have been reviewed and rated by teachers.

With Lesson Planet you have the ability to search both lesson plans and worksheets on any subject, from Art to Science and everything in between.
They also give you options to narrow your search by grade, and teacher ratings.

You can watch a quick one minute tutorial on how to use lesson planet by clicking here.

Judging by the time I spent on Lesson Planet, it appears to have been designed for the classroom teacher. At this stage in my school year, I am not creating a unit study, or planning for the new year at this very moment. So I did not have a project in mind as I searched. So, I first started by searching very general topics, such as; Math, Language, etc.. and then narrowed them down based on the results I would get. I found a few things that were useful.  However, I had to sift through many websites before I found something that would be useful in my homeschool.

Many times, the results were on Company websites, and the lesson plans were to accompany their books, books that I do not own. Or they are from a school district, and the names of the books used were not listed. Within in those, there were at times links to other pages that may have some useful information.  For example, while clicking through the links I was able to find some math worksheets to use for a student in my homeschool group. However, I had been researching for about 15 minutes before I came across something useful.

I also did searches on some specific topics; gardening, the civil war, civil rights, astronomy, etc.. While there were some interesting things along my journey. However, what I found was not always relevant to my homeschool. And each search took a good chunk of my time.

This is not a service, that I think that I would pay for, for our homeschool, however, what is good about Lesson Planet, is they are offering a 10 day free trial. I would recommend that you sign up for the free 10 day trial and check it out for yourself. It very well may be a perfect fit for your homeschool style!  If it is you can become a member for $39.95 per year.

Please visit the crew blog, to see what my crew mates are saying about Lesson Planet.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 Schoolhouse Planner

I wanted to clue you into to one other promotion that The Old Schoolhouse magazine is offering. That is on their 2010 Schoolhouse Planner.
I have used the planner for the last 2 years, and it has been such a blessing! Each year they tweak it and add new forms and new info, so you are not purchasing the same thing over and over. The popular forms are still there from year to year! The planner is chock full of not only planner pages, but homeschool resources, household helps along with those forms.
I have used mine so much this year. I actually printed out 3 different copies of the calendar! And have used it for all of my planning needs this year.
Check out the special they are having right now!

Home and school organization made easy! The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner is available and ready to help you plan your best homeschool year ever. With over 120 forms and 600 pages for home and school, everyone in the family can stay organized. You can even use the pages to make personalized organizers for each child. Plus, they've included recipes and helpful articles from homeschool experts.

If you order before midnight on April 30, you will receive a free gift--E-Book: The 2009 Planner Useful Excerpts--packed full of articles and recipes.

There are so many features, and this link has all of the information and the link to a 40+ page sample! Get organized now and receive the bonus E-Book!

Happy Planning!!!!

FREE Tote Full of Goodies from TOS!!!!

Hey everyone,
I have been a long time fan of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I have been an on going subscriber since 2005! When my TOS magazine arrives in my mailbox, it is almost like Christmas! Smile
The magazine is filled with stories of what other homeschoolers are doing, how to stories, unit studies, and product information. And what is best about it, is that it is an unashamedly Christian magazine! You will find articles that will help you on your Christian walk, as well as, helping you along your homeschool journey.
Another awesome thing about the magazine, is they really are in the 'business' of helping homeschoolers. And their current promotion reflects that! If you subscribe right now, at regular price, you will receive a tote full of goodies!! Read about it below!!!

You can have a free Homeschooling with Heart tote bag. The above link will show you a picture, and give you all the details on how to get yours. You'll also receive some free E-Book resources worth over $70 when you subscribe--shipping is FREE to the U.S. Plus, you'll receive the Spring issue free! Hurry, there are a limited number of bags--when they're gone, they're gone!

The FREE tote is made of poly-canvas with snap closures and shoulder-length handles. It's perfect for the library, a field trip outing, support group meeting, or homeschool convention! Its versatile design makes it the perfect bag to just throw over your shoulder and go!

Click here to get the details!

I hope that those of you who have yet to subscribe will take advantage of this awesome offer!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

TOS Crew: Super Star Speech

As a homeschool group leader, I am often asked about homeschooling children with Special Needs. I was thrilled when I heard that I was selected to review Super Star Speech, by Deborah Lott M.Ed  Speech Language Pathology.

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free copy of Super Star Speech, Speech Therapy made Simple.

This manual is designed to help those children with mild articulation errors in their speech. It is not designed to correct physical problems that may cause speech issues.

As a mom with children who have had professional speech therapy, I can tell you that they would always show the most improvement when we the family, would work with them everyday, in between their speech therapy sessions.
This program builds on that principle. Deborah Lott saw the same results in her practice.

What I really liked is that they had an articulation test within the manual, as well as, the instructions on how to administer the test. And how to score the test.

The manual also includes blank lesson plan forms, blank games and flash cards. They do not have pre-made lesson plans, as each child will need a tailored plan to meet their specific needs. However, you will have at your fingertips, words lists and instructions on how to teach each sound.  This is invaluable. Often times, parents will know where their child needs help, but does not know how to help them. This manual will help them do that.

What is great about this program, is that Deborah Lott, is a homeschooling mother, and Speech and Language pathologist. She understands what homeschoolers need.

If you have a child who is struggling with articulation errors, or other speech issues, please visit Super Star Speech and see what they have to offer.

Super Star Speech is available in  Spiral Bound for $18.95 and Ring Bound for $22.95. You can also purchase an E-book version for up to 40% off.

Please visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about Super Star Speech!

Monday, April 19, 2010

TOS Crew: Alphabet Beats

The TOS Crew ship is docking at our next port! We are visiting with Alphabet Beats. As a crew mate for the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free copy of Alphabet Beats lower case to use with my family, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Because of our families history of special learning needs, I am quite familiar with the idea, of marrying movement, or song, and hands on activities and visual learning in order to help facilitate learning. And most important retention.

So what exactly is Alphabet Beats? Well, it is a DVD handwriting program.
It is geared for kids ages 2-8, however, I tried this out with 2 of my children. My extremely special needs child and my 10 year old.  Both of them could write, however they both needed help with formation, and they both tend to tend to write only using capitals. 

We sat down and watched the DVD as instructed. I watched along side them. It really is indeed geared for the younger set. When you are watching it, there is lots of reinforcement of letter sounds and letter recognition. The presentation of these letter sounds is not at all 'sing song'. It is very straight forward and distinct. While the Alphabet Beats videos are not designed for special needs kids, the way the program is designed will be very beneficial for your special needs student.

So what is so special about Alphabet Beats. Well, it's all in the song!  Well not just the song. In the Alphabet Betas videos they use;

1) Visual:  Most children are visual learners and tend to retain more when taught visually

2) Auditory/Rhythm: Children like rhymes and rhythm-it's a great way to learn. Most children learn their ABC's for the first time by singing the ABC song!  We always incorporate catchy songs and chants in our videos that children will remember and which will help guide them through motor planning the desired action later.

3) Repetition: Children enjoy and learn through repetition! How many times have you read the same book to them at bedtime?

I can tell you that the little jingles they have come up with really did help with my kids. Both. They sing it to them selves if the forget. Or if I correct their formation, they go back and will use the song to help them along with the correction. Also, you can watch the 'TV Teacher' write the letter correctly as she is singing the jingle. Great reinforcement, as well as, using audio and visual learning styles!  I can tell you that I have seen a marked improvement in both of my children's handwriting since they have started using Alphabet Beats.


If you have a little one just beginning to start handwriting, then this would be an awesome tool to have in your arsenal.

There are 2 DVD's in the Alphabet Beats Family, one for Uppercase and one for Lowercase. Each one is available for $35. What I thought was handy, was the fact that they have workbooks to go with it. 2 workbooks for each level, a beginning and advanced. The beginning books run for $4.49 and the advanced is available for $4.99. You can purchase these items by visiting their website.

My fellow crew mates have posted their thoughts about Alphabet Beats on the crew blog. Sail on over and check out what they have to say!



Monday, April 12, 2010

TOS Crew: All About Spelling Reader: "What Am I?"

Over the last 2 years, I have had the privilege to review several products from the fine people of All About Spelling.  In year one of the crew, I reviewed All About Spelling and All About Homophones. Earlier this year I reviewed Beehive Reader.  And now, they have given be another opportunity to look at one of their items. This is their brand new reader 'What Am I?'. 

The Beehive Reader is Level 1, and 'What Am I?' is a level 2 reader. As I mentioned in my original review of their readers, while they go hand in hand with their spelling program, however, they also can stand alone.

The quality that I loved in the first reader, has carried through to this reader. The illustrations are beautiful, the book is heavy and feels good to hold in your hands.

In the first reader your student is reading very beginning sentences. In the second reader,  the skill level expands. What is really nice is the little stories are actually interesting. Whether you are teaching a little boy or a little girl, they will find the stories in 'What Am I?' engaging! My daughter has really enjoyed reading both books!

As of posting of this review, this reader is not yet available, but should be within the next week or so. Beehive Reader is available for $19.99, I believe the cost will be the same for this one.

Please visit the All About Spelling website for information on all of their fine products.

And as usual, please visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say.

Friday, April 9, 2010

TOS Crew: Tales from Terrestria

Our next stop on our Homeschool Crew Voyage is to the Middle Ages, with  The Tales from Terrestria , by Ed Dunlop.  As part of the crew, I was given 2 free books, in exchange for my honest review. I was sent, 2 books from the series Tales from Terrestria; The Quest for Thunder Mountain and The Isle of Dragons.

The Tales from Terrestria is an allegory that allows you to travel back to the days of noble knights and powerful warlords... daring quests and deadly dragons.. the days of honor and valor and chivalry. 

The books are geared for ages 10 and up. In our family, we decided to use them as read alouds, that way I could hear the story, as well as the children, for purpose of the review. The books would be great for quiet reading or for read alouds.

My children do not read allegories on a regular basis. They have read one other notable allegory, so they are familiar with them. As we read the story through, we decided to read The Isle of Dragon's first, each day when we concluded we would discuss what they thought the story was talking about.
They each were able to find the
parallels to their Christianity.

The story was engaging and kept their interest. This definitely would fall into extra curricular reading. However, you could feel confident that what you are handing your children was a quality story, with Christian undertones throughout.

On the last page, there is an 'Author's Note', which drives the point of the story home, in very clear terms.

If you are looking for quality extra reading for your child/ren, then take a look at Tales from Terrestria and the Terrestria Chronicles. I am sure you will not be disappointed.

You can purchase both by visiting here.  You can purchase each tale for $7.99 each, or all three for $19.99.

When you visit the website you will find a wealth of information. Including coloring sheets and study guides for the Chronicles.

Please visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates are saying!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

TOS Crew: Wigglington & Wenks

The next stop on our  Homeschool Crew Voyage is out of this world! No really, it is not of this world, it is in a virtual world! We will be visiting Wigglington and Wenks.  As members of the crew, we were given one month free membership upgrade to Wigglington and Wenks.

I must admit, we are not a gaming, or virtual world type of family. So we do not have a lot of experience with other games. So I cannot look at this through any other lens, than that of a mom trying something out for the very first time.

I set up an account for my 10 year old daughter. And we worked through the 'world' together. The premise is simple, your child is a virtual explorer, traveling the world finding historical characters who have forgotten who they are. The child then needs to find a list of items ( think scavenger hunt) to help them remember who they are. Along the way, they will play fun games, travel to other countries and learn a little bit about those countries while they are at it.


While traveling the world your child will collect many different objects. Some are historical, some are just for fun!

This is a virtual world, so your child is not in this world all alone. There are other players that are logged in at the same time. Which enables the children to interact with each other.

While playing games your child earns Rollars that they can use to buy costumes and islands, etc..

Now, I don't allow a ton of time for my children to spend on computer gaming, etc... So, in all honesty, my daughter did not spend hours and hours playing this. But over the month that we played it, she did spend several hours on it over many days.

She did enjoy it. And asked to have a turn to get on the computer to play it. So that should tell you that it is engaging.

However, there are a few cons, that I would want to know up front, if I were reading a review.

The chat feature makes me nervous. Now, my daughter was not exposed to anything questionable, and in fact only one time did someone want to 'chat' with her. I just wish there was a little bit more control in the chat arena. Perhaps options, in a parent section, whether you will allow your child to participate or not. That way there is the option to use that feature if it is something you are comfortable with. Or you can turn it off, if you are not.

The only other item that I would want to mention, is that this is indeed a secular company. So if you are trying to shelter your child from certain worldviews, you need to know that they would be exposed to them here. You could use this as a time to start conversation. But that would be up to you.

Now, as I mentioned at the top of this review, we received a one month free membership upgrade.

You can experience the basics of Wigglington and Wenks for free. Which would be my suggestion, try it out for free and if it seems to fit for your family, then you may want to purchase the upgrade. You can read all about the differences in memberships by clicking here.   The price of the membership per player is $5.99 per month. However they do offer discounts for 3, 6 and 12 month memberships. You can read about that here.

And you can learn all about this virtual world by clicking here.

For us, this is a luxury that we could not afford to maintain, even if my children LOVED it! She did enjoy her time visiting this virtual world. And anytime we spend on it in the future, would be using the free account, with parent supervision.

Please take a moment to see what my crew mates have to say about this interesting world, by visiting our crew blog

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

GIVEAWAY!!! Professional Pink Flat Iron

My daughter has very curly hair. However, she loves to wear her hair straight. So being the good mother that I am, I purchased a flat iron for her. Little did I know that the kind found in the drugstore was not going to be strong enough for her hair! Not until I took her to my friend, who is a hair dresser, did I learn that she needs one of those fancy expensive flat irons that cost way more money than I could ever afford!

Today, I learned that my dear friend from the TOS Homeschool Crew, Mrs. White, is hosting a giveaway for a Professional Pink Flat Iron. I must tell you, my daughter is praying that we win! Otherwise she has no hope of getting this any time soon!

Would you like to enter to try to win this for your family? All  you need to do is visit The Legacy of the Home and enter for yourself!

Friday, April 2, 2010

TOS Crew: Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking Co. has long been a company that I have loved. They have such wonderful resources available, not only for homeschoolers, but to anyone who wants to help their children excel.

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was sent Balance Benders Beginning, for grades 2-6.

Balance Benders is filled with Logic and Algebraic Reasoning Puzzles.  I used this book with one of my children, who fell right into the age range listed on the book.

During our review period, they were able to finish the entire book. The book was fun and interesting and even challenging! And at the end, they had a better understanding of the concepts presented.

Balance Benders is available for $9.99. Please visit Critical Thinking Co. to see this and many other products available.

And us usual.. please visit the crew blog and see what my crew mates are saying about The Critical Thinking Co.