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Wednesday, September 29, 2010


This time as part of the TOS Crew I received a copy of Vocabulary Cartoons Elementary Edition from New Monic Books. When I heard the word mnemonic I didn't even know what it meant & I had never heard of New Monic Books. Once I received the book and read the introduction it made more sence. Mnemonic (nuh MON ik) simply means assist the memory and I am assuming that is why they have the company name New Monic Books. I get it now. Just like the cover of the book says, "Learn a Word a Minute and Never Forget It".

Vocabulary Cartoons is more than a comic book, they use words you already know to help you remember words you do not know. The cartoons use rhyming mnemonics combined with visual mnemonics to create a picture in your mind. For example this cartoon uses "screw eyes" to get you to remember "scrutinize". The picture shows
someone with screw eyes examining something very carefully.

The minute we opened the package my 9 year old couldn't stop reading it. She read all the mnemonics right away, she loves this book. I have been using it with my 8 & 9 year old daughters and this is usually the first thing they want to do for the day. We are learning one new word a day, unless it is one they already know & then we move on to the next one. We haven't made it all the way through the book yet, but it seems to be helping them remember the vocabulary words in a fun way. We will definitely finish this book & will order more in the future.

There is one section in the book that I think is inappropriate for elementary age children, the cartoons contain vampires, ghosts, monsters while the child is in bed & Jason from the Friday the 13th. I plan on very carefully cutting those 10 pages from my book, and as with almost everything we bring into our house I would recommend going through the book first before giving it to your children.

Vocabulary Cartoons contains 210 vocabulary words & 21 review pages. After every 10 mnemonics there is a review page where you match the words to the definitions & sentences to fill in the blank using the new words. The book we received is the elementary edition for grades 3-6, contains 253 pages and sells for $12.95 from New Monic Books.

New Monic Books also have vocabulary books available for younger children & to help with vocabulary before taking the SAT. You can see a complete listing on their website.

You can sail on over to the Homeschool Crew Blog to read what other members of the TOS Crew had to say about Vocabulary Cartoons Elementary Edition from New Monic Books. You can also check out the testimonials on their own website.
As part of the TOS Crew I received Vocabulary Cartoons, free of charge,  to use with my children in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Christmas in August

I had told my girls that they would be receiving some animal figurines to review & they didn't seem very excited, until a few days later we were at our local farm and ranch store and they were very joyously looking over the animals by the check out. I looked over to tell them we needed to go & noticed the sign above read Schleich, I told them that was the company that is sending the animals to review. They were so excited! You would think that it was Christmas. They wanted to go straight home to see if we had received them. Every day after that they eagerly awaited the Fed Ex delivery.

The package finally came & it was just like Christmas at our house. They were so excited to get it open. Of course I made them wait a few more minutes while I took a picture. Schleich company sent us 8 animals. We received a Dartmoor pony, Przewalski's horse, Donkey, Swabian-Hall piglet (eating), Asian elephant calf, Okapi, Gnu, a Gnu calf and a catalog. My girls love playing with animals, so these were very well received. The Playing & Collecting 2010 booklet that Schleich sent with the animals is a small catalog and the girls look through it over and over again. They put a check beside the new ones & the ones they already own. All three of them have a wish list ready for Christmas.

My children love the Schleich products & so do I. As we were searching through our toys to see what other animals we had from them, we noticed that our killer whale that stays in the bathtub is from Schleich. I don't remember when we bought this, but the bottom is dated 2004. I don't know about your bathtub toys, but ours usually end up in the trash after just a short time, but this whale is still in perfect condition and has outlasted all the other tub toys. This has been a favorite of my kids for years.

Schleich figurines are designed for children's hands and are as realistic as possible. When deciding on figures other than animals they place more importance on the educational value then possible sales potential. They focus on the character & message of the figures.

The Schleich line includes: Farm Life, Wild Life, Prehistoric Animals, Knights, American Indians, Smurfs & Bayala. They also have props to use for your play for each category such as trees, huts, airplanes, wagons, etc. The figures vary in price and can be purchased at specialty toy shops, farm & ranch stores, Target, & Toys "R" Us. You can search for a location near you on their website, or shop from a list of online retailers.

The Schleich Company was founded in 1935 by Friedrich Schleich. Today the company is owned by the European Private-Equity-Investors HgCapital. The production takes place in the company's German headquarters and other foreign country facilities. The figurines are all hand painted and the Master craftsmen spend up to six weeks on the finest details.

We have enjoyed Schleich products for years and will continue to do so in the future. We would highly recommend these figures to anyone of any age.

Stop by the TOS Crew to see what other members have to say about Schleich.

As a member of TOS Crew we received these 8 animals for free in exchange for our honest review of their fine assortment of animal figures.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Salem Ridge Press

I read aloud to my family every night before bed, I have been doing this for 19 years, so we are always looking for good books to read. We were really glad when we were told of the review for Salem Ridge Press. The books we read from this company were Mary Jane, The American Twins of the Revolution & Soldier Fritz and the Enemies He Fought.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8)." This verse taken from the bible is the philosophy of Salem Ridge Press, founded by homeschool graduate Daniel Mills. After reading some old books he wanted to start a publishing company focusing on quality children's books from the 1800 to early 1900's. You can read more about Daniel & the standards for his books.

Daniel takes his job very seriously, he wants to stand behind whatever he reprints & his number one rule for his books "no kissing", he would like to encourage young people to keep themselves pure. Thank You Daniel!

The three books we read all go right along with the company's philosophy. The books captivated my 9, 8 & 5 year old daughters, each time we read they would beg to read "just one more chapter". The content held their attention all the way through the books & we never ran into any foul language or inappropriate behavior.

The first book we read was Mary Jane-Her Visit it was originally published in 1918 and is about the adventures of a little girl who visits her great-grandparents on their farm. This is the first book in the Mary Jane series and can be purchased for $12.95 in paperback and $22.95 in hardcover.

Next we read The American Twins of the Revolution and it was first published in 1926. The twins help to hide money to be taken to General George Washington while the British soldiers try to find them & the money. This book can be purchased in paperback for $12.95 or hardcover for $22.95.

Soldier Fritz and the Enemies He Fought is a story from the reformations and is part of Salem Ridge Press Junior Church History Series. This book was first published in 1871 and is about a boy who wanted to follow in Martin Luther's footsteps to become a soldier for the Lord. This book sells for $10.95 in paperback and $20.95 in hardcover.

I love the stand that Daniel has taken with his company. I would feel very comfortable letting my children read any book republished by Salem Ridge Press. The books can be purchased directly from Salem Ridge Press or they have a listing of other retailers on their website. You can search for books Alphabetically, By Age, By Author, Time Period & Location.

Feel free to stop over at the Homeschool Crew to read other reviews about this company.

As part of the TOS Crew, I received these three books free of charge from Salem Ridge Press for use with my children in exchange for writing this honest review about their company.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


My nine year old daughter loves to play games. She doesn't like to do Math. She was very excited when I told her we were getting a new card game from I See Cards to review. She couldn't wait to open the package when it came in the mail......until she opened it and saw the name PYRAMATH. She said "You didn't tell me it was a math game."

We sat down and played & she loved it! I loved it! Her dad "Mr. I Don't Like Games" even had a good time playing. He even wants his own deck to take when he travels for work. I think he is afraid to get beat by his daughter.

PYRAMATH is a card game from I SEE CARDS. The deck includes 56 playing cards and one instructional card. Printed on each card is the number along with English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Roman and Arabic translations and symbols. In our package we received a flyer with basic instructions for the 2 player game and the booklet Dr. Ron's Succeeding in Mathematics with Games.

The basic 2 player games is played by placing 5 or 7 cards in the center of two people. The first player turns over a card to reveal a number & it is played in between two of the starting cards to eventually form a pyramid. Player one continues until the drawn card cannot be played. Then player two proceeds to make a pyramid on his side using the same 5 or 7 cards dealt at the beginning. The number card that is drawn can be played using math operations. For example if the dealt cards are 3 and 8 side-by-side you can play a 5(8-3+5), 1(8+3=11), or 4(8x3=24). The first person to form a pyramid wins.

Dr. Ray's booklet explains other games to be played with the PYRAMATH cards. He also says that he wants to make math enjoyable for kids & that 60 % of them are "turned off" of math by the 4th grade.

My 9 year old played the game using all the math operations, and really improved her speed as we played, daughter #2 who is 8 played the game only using addition and subtraction, and with my 5 year old we placed any number that came between the dealt cards and lower addition.

PYRAMATH SPEED can be played online. WARNING: If you like number games this can be very addicting! We would play online to see if we could beat each others times. I even won a free deck of cards for being in the August top ten. (Thank You I SEE CARDS!) While we were on their website we also found that they have a speed game for one of their other card games called Fractazmic and we had to try it out. We were hooked the first time we tried it. Right now my 9 year old daughter and I are tied with the highest score of 44 for the month of September. (See if you can beat us!) She wants to play almost every day to see if she get higher. Now she has an obsession with fractions, today during school she wanted to skip to the lessons on fractions in her Math book so she can figure them out faster.

I SEE CARDS offer four card games right now and they are working on other math games. They have PYRAMATH, Fractazmic, Prime Bomb and I See Cards. Each deck can be purchased for $6.95 or they have different bundle prices. There is also a section on their website where teachers can tell how they used these cards in the classroom.

I would recommend these cards for everyone. We loved them and are planning on ordering the other card games also. I was even thinking of ordering some to give as gifts. You can read other Homeschool Crew reviews here.

I received a free deck of PYRAMATH cards from I See Cards for use in my family in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Homeschool Moms & Free Time

The Homeschool Crew also has the opportunity to write for the Homeschool Blog Cruise. This is the first one that I have had the time to participate in.

The question this week is How do you find free time? Is it okay to take time for yourself? If so, how?

It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day activities of a homeschool family that as mothers we can neglect ourselves. I have noticed in my own life that if I take time for myself in the morning the whole day seems to go better. I feel like I more organized & I have more patience with my kids throughout the day and I don't get frustrated when unexpected things happen.

Everyone is different and I think different people need different amounts of free time. I have never really been one to need time away from my family & responsibilities, which is a good thing since my husband is gone about 30 hours at a time for his job. He doesn't have scheduled days off & is always on call. All of our extended family live about 1000 miles from us, so my kids don't even have visits with grandparents or cousins. Any free time I have is early in the morning or late at night.

I try to use the most of the free time that I do have. I love to get up early in the morning before anyone else. I use this quiet time to study my bible and read the paper. The day seems to go so much better when I do this.

I decorate wedding cakes, so I am usually up very late on Friday night, even though I am working I use this time to pray or think and just enjoy the quiet. Unless one of my kids have something to talk about & then they come & sit in the kitchen with me for some one on one time. Now that I don't have any teenagers at home this doesn't happen as often & I miss it.

When my children were younger and I felt like I needed a break or we were having a bad day we would go for a walk. They loved riding in the wagon & there was room for snacks and a few toys. It was very soothing to have that time to just think and get some exercise. Now that we are out of the baby & toddler stage it is easier to carve a few minutes out of the day. They all love to read so anytime during the day I need some time everyone gets a book & has a few minutes of quiet.

Now that my oldest son is married & is living in our town I have actually had a few evenings alone. I'll be honest here, I didn't know what to do by myself. I really enjoy having my husband & kids around. Other than my morning devotion time I would gladly give up any "me time" to be with my family.

You can read other Crew members answers on the Blog Cruise.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

America's Math Teacher

As a member of the TOS Crew we received a free trial of the America's Math Teacher to review. Their math program is new to the online scene and were making many wonderful changes while we were reviewing their product. This program has the ability to be very helpful to homeschool families. One on One teaching for multiple kids at different levels with one price.

Rick Fisher is the teacher for AMT and he has been teaching 5 & 6 grade math since 1971 with 1/2 of his students bypassing the 7th grade math program. He wants to make sure students master the fundamentals in math so that they can go on to higher math levels.

This math program has 4 courses:
  • Course 1 - Basic Math Skills
  • Course 2 - Advanced Math Skills
  • Course 3 - Pre-Algebra Concepts
  • Course 4 - Algebra
You can view the list of subjects taught in each level on the websites About America's Math Teacher.

It is easy to use:
  • You work along with the Math Teacher Video lesson
  • Complete the written exercise
  • Take the quiz
  • Take the final Exam for each course

  • To start with you can have your child take an evaluation exam to see what skill level the student is at. When we took the test there were a few issues with the grading aspect, but AMT was just up and running and are working through the glitches.

    The videos are basically just one on one instruction. There isn't any fluff in them, no time wasted on graphics and going from each concept taught.
If you would like to see a sample of what AMT has to offer you can check out some printed sheets and videos. You can also contact your area sales representative to get a coupon code for a 30 day free trial.
The worksheets have helpful hints pertaining to the lesson and a speed drill section, or you can do random speed drills in addition, subtraction and multiplication from the website. My 9 year old daughter had fun doing them online because they randomally highlight the fact that should be answered next. You can visit the speed drills and see how well you do.

The American Math Teacher is $195 for a year subscription. That gives you unlimited access to the website for all of your children in 4th grade to Algebra. I think this is a very good price for what they offer. If you have multiple children in these math levels this program could be beneficial to your family. We are seriously thinking of using this program in the years to come.

You can read other TOS Homeschool Crew member reviews at homeschoolblogger.
As a member of TOS Crew we received 60 day free trial to America's Math Teacher in exchange for my honest review of their product.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Time 4 Learning

I love Time 4 Learning! I wanted it to last longer. I asked my mom if I could go first one day and she said the review was over and I told her I wish it lasted longer
. -Amber, age 9

  • Do your kids love to be on the computer?
  • Do they need some fun school activities?
  • Do they need a little review of their school work during the summer?

Then Time 4 Learning could be for you!

Time 4 Learning is an online curriculum containing Learn to Read programs, Language Arts, Math, Science, & Social Studies. Every subject contains student paced interactive lessons with detailed record keeping for grades K-8.
I had the opportunity to use this program with my 3 daughters, ages 9, 8 & 5. It was very easy for them to get logged in and know exactly where they left off the time before. Two of my children enjoyed Time 4 Learning, but my other child just didn't seem interested. She isn't really into video games or sitting in front of the computer for very long so this would not be a good curriculum choice for her.

If you are not sure what grade level your child would be in for each subject that's not a problem, when you register you can select the grade level for each child, and when they log in my K had access to K and 1st grade my other girls had access to their current grade plus the grade above and below that. For example my 5 year old was signed up for K which was good for her math, but she already knows a lot of her sounds, so she could do 1st grade for the reading portion.

As the teacher you can assign different lessons or the child can work through the lessons as they are given. The entire lesson plans can be viewed here. If there is an area your child needs to work on you can find the activity number on the lesson plan and enter it into the activity finder & it will take you to the activities for that topic. The Lesson Planning Worksheet can help you determine how many lessons your child should do per day.

You can go to the progress reports to see just how your student is doing. You can generate your own reports by subject or by days, weeks, and months. The status portion is color coded so you can know at a glance if your child has above a 70% on their assignments. Once you are on the report you can click on the grade to view the test or quiz.

On the Parent Login you can print your child's reports, visit the forum to connect with other parents and search for other families in your area using Time 4 Learning.

There is also a getting started guide to answer all questions you may have about using the program.
At the time we used the curriculum it was $19.95 a month for the first child and $14.95 for each additional child. If you would like to try a free demo you may do so here.

Even though children can learn while being entertained, I would not want my child to use Time 4 Learning as their entire curriculum. As a homeschooling family we enjoy having our kids at home and learning together as a family. I would not want one of my children on the computer for long periods of time or spending the whole day taking turns on the computer to get out school work finished.

I think Time 4 Learning would be a good choice for:
  • children who need fun activities to reinforce their school work.
  • families who want to learn in a fun way during summer months.
  • a reward at the end of the semester.
  • homeschool families with a new baby.

As a member of TOS Crew, I received one month free access for my 3 homeschooling daughters in exchange for my honest review.
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