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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Amazing Animals by Design

This is my second year being part of the TOS Crew and I have made a lot of new friends & reviewed some awesome products. Amazing Animals by Design is our newest book to review and it was written by Debra Haagen and she also is a member of the Crew. This is her first book and she wanted to Crew to review it so she could get the word out about her great book.
Amazing Animals by Design is a story about John & Sarah and their trip to the zoo. While there they learn how each animal is designed to be different and how they use their differences to survive. They learn of elephants, giraffes, ostriches, caracals, & even animals that don't have to drink water. Sarah & John realize that all these animals could not have happened by accident & that God had a special design for all living things including themselves.

We received this book in a PDF format and emailed it to our Kindle Fire. This book looks and works great on our Kindle. All three of my girls ages 7, 9, & 11 read this book and we used it as a read aloud. We enjoyed the story line very much and had a good time discussing the Intelligent Design of the animals in the book and other ones we could think of. This 24 page paperback book would make a great gift or addition to any library. Debra has a wonderful idea for her book series!

Debra Haagan is a military wife and home-schooling mother of 4 who lives wherever the Navy sends them. She wrote this book because she wanted to introduce young children to the theory of Intelligent Design. She had seen books about this for older students, but only storybooks about Creation for children. She had noticed that children she came in contact with that were being introduced to Evolution in school would start to believe that Creation storybooks are only stories. When Debra could not find any books to use with her own children and the children at church that taught Creation and Intelligent Design she decided to write her own and hopes there will be more in her series.
Amazing Animals by Design is written for ages Pre-K to 3rd grade can be purchased at Tate Publishing for $8.99/softcover or $7.99/PDF. The official release date is April 3rd and it can then be purchased at bookstores, Amazon and other online retailers. You can also follow Amazing Animals by Design on facebook or keep up with Debra and her book through the books blog.

Sail over to the TOS Crew Blog and read what other members thought about Amazing Animals by Design.
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew I received the PDF book Amazing Animals by Design free of charge in exchange for my review.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Academic Success for all Learners

I think learning to read is the most important thing that a child can learn. Reading can open up so many adventures for a child and allows them to be able to read and understand God's word. If they cannot read well and understand what they are reading they will struggle throughout school and life.

Academic Success For All Learners is a reading program that has more than 40 years of research behind it and they are making a difference in classrooms around the globe. Research has demonstrated this reading material can help improve phonemic awareness, comprehension, and fluency. By using this program you can help your child with their reading ability and build their confidence.

The Reading For All Learners Little Books are geared for K-3 grade or kids who are struggling with reading. The core of the program is 141 little books divided into 8 sets. Each Little Book set is a different color and sells for $30. They cover phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Members of the TOS Crew have been using different levels of Academic Success. We were allowed to take an assessment test to place our student in the appropriate level of books.

PhotobucketPhotobucketI had Alaina (age 7) take the placement test and she was placed in set 5 & set 6 of the Little Book Series. We received set 5 & 6, an Instructor Guidelines book, and a Certificate of Success for both sets. Each set contains 14 little books with 3 or 4 stories in each book. The inside cover of every little book has a Pronunciation Guide of individual letters and combinations. Every story has a list of practice words and new words. Some stories have a review of sounds previously taught in other books. Throughout the stories there are comprehension and thought questions.

I really liked that Alaina could take the placement test because it put her in the program exactly where she needed to be. She loved that the books are colored! She was so excited when we opened the box and she had so many books to read. Since there are only a few stories in each book she can see the progress she has made as her finished pile grows. This has instilled reading confidence in her and I can't wait to award her the certificate for completing level 5.

Sail over to the TOS Crew blog to read reviews on other levels of Academic Success.
As a member of the TOS Crew I received book set 5 & 6 free of charge from Academic Success to use with my daughter in exchange for my review. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Perfect Pet for Peyton Review & Giveaway

We read a lot of books at our house and even though my girls are getting bigger we still enjoy good picture books. Our newest find is A Perfect Pet for Peyton. This beautifully illustrated hardcover book talks about the 5 love languages for kids. Peyton and Penny are twins and they are celebrating their birthday with their friends at the Perfect Pet Pal Emporium. The 5 kids all receive an animal that represents their love language. My girls got the message very easily and we spent some time discussing what our own love languages are & those of some of our friends (including our dog). We also loved finding the hidden bugs throughout the book.  A 5 Love Language Quiz is included in the back to help kids identify their unique love language.

This wonderfully imaginative children’s hardcover book by bestselling authors Gary Chapman and Rick Osborne, featuring four-color illustrations (with hidden details!) by Wilson Williams, Jr., will help children learn the importance of love. Based on Gary’s highly successful The 5 Love Languages®, A Perfect Pet for Peyton tells an entertaining and playful story of five children who each, with the help of Mr. Chapman and the unique pets at his special emporium, discover their own personal love language. Children and parents alike will experience firsthand the power of the love languages as they cuddle up and spend precious time together reading this book over and over again.

*Free interactive app with in-book experience COMING SOON to the Apple App Store.

I have one copy of A Perfect Pet for Peyton to giveaway!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

101 Bible Adventures

What book can your children read that contains stories of shipwrecks, plagues, battles, miracles, love, and forgiveness?
The Bible!

There is a lot of action and adventure in the Bible and 101 Bible Adventures the Ultimate Quest For Truth contains 101 of them. These Bible stories are from the New Living Translation and are a high-energy, adventure-filled approach to learning life lessons from Scripture. Each selection explores the Bible while learning about forgiveness, love, and God's plan for our lives.  

Each story has 3 features plus a comic to go with it:
  1. What's Up ~ This section gives you an overview of the story.
  2. Key Verse ~ There is a Bible verse for each story that sum's up it's meaning.
  3. Now What? ~ Is an application section that asks questions that will challenge kids to apply the meaning of the story to their lives.
We have daily devotions every evening at our house and as soon as my kids learn to read they start their own personal devotion first thing in the morning. 101 Bible Adventures is a great book for them to use on their own. By reading the overview and the comic first it helps them to understand what the Bible selection is about. I really like having the Key Verse because it gives us a verse to dwell on throughout the day. The questions included in the application section are great for generating conversations during our family devotions.

101 Bible Adventures the Ultimate Quest For Truth was written by Carolyn Larsen. She is a mother of three and has written more than 40 books for kids and adults. She has sold more than on million Little Girls Bible Storybook products and is the cofounder of the performing group FlashPoints.

Dr. Ken Taylor started Tyndale House Publishers when he paraphrased the Bible to help kids understand God's Word. Tyndale Kids seeks to provide theologically sound, relevant, age-appropriate content that helps kids have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

I received 101 Bible Adventures free of charge from Tyndale Kids in exchange for my review.

Action Alert

The internet can be wonderful thing. We use it for school, research, socializing, and keeping up with love ones far away. As with everything it is not perfect and can be used for bad things that we like to protect our kids from.

Action Alert can help you create a safe place for your children.
Action Alert is a computer software that automatically blocks hundreds of thousands websites known to host unwanted content and you can add any website that you want to block. You can also use the "allowed sites only mode" that you create. It will record 60 hours of computer usage. This includes email, websites, games and even chats while you are online or off.

Action Alert offers the Maximum Protection and a Free Version so you can protect your children right away.

Free Version ~ Includes a web filter for safe searches, website blocking that prevents access to a constantly updated list of websites, and time use controls. They will even send text or e-mail alerts when dangers are detected. Tech support is also included.

Maximum Protection ~ Gives parents more tools to see the details of their child's time online. You can actually watch a slide show of every page that has been accessed on the computer. The Maximum Protection is $29.99 and has a 30 day money back guarantee.

PhotobucketWe use the internet a lot in our home but it is always out in the open and the children are not allowed access if there isn't a parent at home. As with everything we have also taught our children that there are things online that we shouldn't view, read,  or watch. I like that you can automatically shut the computer down from your phone and the recording of screen shots is very accurate. The thing that bothers me about this internet safety is that it only works on the original internet page that it opens. If I open up another tab it doesn't work and most of the time when we are searching for something we have several tabs open at once. I also feel that if your kids are trying to be view things they shouldn't they will probably figure this out. I didn't have any problems downloading this software but since doing so my computer keeps notifying me that my usage is at 98%.  

Sail over to the TOS Crew Blog and read what other members thought of Action Alert.
As a member of the TOS Crew I received the Maximum Protection free of charge in exchange for my review. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Progeny Press Across Five Aprils Review

Every night after our family devotions all the kids (and dad when he is home) lay around the living room while I read aloud. We love to read good historical fiction because we can travel back in time and see how others lived. I try to incorporate the books we read into our school and my girls love learning this way.

We just finished reading Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt. This book is about a young boy who is left to take care of the farm after his brothers went off to fight in the war between the states and his dad suffers a heart attack. We used a Progeny Press Study Guide to go along with our book.
The study guide contains information about the author of the study guide, the author of the book, the peer review panel, a note to the instructor, synopsis, and background information on the book. The worksheet sections of the study guide cover 2 chapters from the book at a time. It is suggested that the guide be completed in 8-10 weeks generally working on one section every week. They suggest that you read the book the first week and then compete one study guide page per day. The sections contain vocabulary words, prereading activities, activities during reading, thought questions, map work, writing assignments, and Internet sources.

I used the study guide with Amber (age 11) & Delaney (age 9). We found a copy of Across Five Aprils at the library for this guide. I wanted to make sure we could get the majority of the study guide completed so I read the book out loud and the girls worked on the lessons. We all enjoyed the book and study guide very much. It shows a little about both sides of the war and inspired several great conversations in our family about finances, work ethic, and that there are 2 sides in every situation. The study guide was very easy to use and detailed.

Mrs. Carol Clark teaches junior high language arts and is the author of the Across Five Aprils Study Guide. She has a passion for helping kids learn, teaching great literature, and encouraging kids to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Progeny Press Across Five Aprils Study Guide is for grades 5-9 can be purchased from their catalog as a booklet for $18.99, a CD for $16.99, E-Mail PDF for $16.99. The Across Five Aprils book can be purchased for $5.99 with a set being $23.99. The study guide contains 64 pages and comes with permission for the individual teacher who made the purchase to reproduce the pages for classroom or home.

The study guides are available in Elementary, Upper Elementary, Junior High, and High School. They can be printed or they are also interactive so you may type the answers directly into the page on your computer.
Progeny Press is a family business operated by Michael & Rebecca Gilleland since 1992. They started their study guides because they could not find literature studies that helped them teach classical cultural literature combined with a Christian perspective. In 1993 they had 18 study guides and today they have 107.

The Crew was offered 6 different study guides. Sail on over to the Crew Blog to read about the other 5.
As a member of the TOS Crew I received a PDF download of the Across Five Aprils Study Guide free of  charge to use with my children in exchange for my review.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Art of Argument

I do not let my kids fight and argue with each other so they were very surprised when they opened our box from Classical Academic Press because inside was The Art of Argument: an Introduction to the Informal Fallacies. One of my girls said "I thought you didn't want us to argue!"

We used Latin For Children from Classical Academic Press last year and we really liked it so when the Crew announced we would be getting The Art of Argument from them this year my girls and I wanted to try it.

The Art of Argument from Classical Academic Press is an Introduction to the Informal Fallacies. It was designed to teach argumentative adolescents how to reason as they grow in our highly commercial society. This curriculum is recommended for junior high & high school students. It includes "phony advertisements" for everyday items to help your students identify the 28 informal fallacies. 
The text features a variety of:
  • Dialogues
  • Worksheets
  • Real-World Applications
  • Phony Advertisements
  • Dialectic Discussion Questions
  • Tests
  • Fun extras such as a humorous skit for students to perform, and the famous short story, Love is a Fallacy by Max Shulman
We received the student book, the teacher edition, and a DVD containing the discussion of the first 6 fallacies. You can view a sample chapter of the 230 page student book and the 286 page Teacher Edition. The new edition student book can be purchased for $21.95 and the Teacher Edition is $24.95. The complete DVD Set is $54.95. All three products can be purchased together for $88.95.

Amber (age 11) and Delaney (age 9) have both been enjoying this course. They are having so much fun finding fallacies in magazines, around town, and even in conversations. Amber made the comment, "She is going to say a fallacy....I just know it!" when her sister started talking.
The revised Art of Argument includes:
  • Improved chapter and unit organization for greater ease of use
  • Fallacy explanations rewritten for clarity
  • Many added and updated examples
  • Ten new and revised advertisement illustrations
The Teacher's Edition includes:
  • Entire student text
  • Answers to all exercises & tests
 My girls are having a lot of fun with this curriculum and they haven't had any trouble with the work even though they are below the recommended grade level. We have been working on this together. I will read the text out loud (this works great since the complete student text is included) and then we went over any definitions and discussed the questions. My girls really like the dialogues between Socrates, Nate, and Tiffany because they really help with the understanding of the fallacies. When we came across one we would each take a character and read our part. They absolutely love finding the fallacies in the phony advertisements! Lastly we would watch the DVD. My girls didn't really like the DVD but we watched it any way to see if they students and teachers had anything to discuss that we missed. I like the DVD because it lets you in on the student/teacher discussions and they were done in a fun relaxed setting.

Classical Academic Press specializes in Latin and Logic to equip and engage both students and teachers. They also carry Bible, Poetry, other Languages, and Educational Resources. Every product is created with 4 important attributes.
  1. Classical: A rich, traditional subject that acquaints students with the best that has been thought and said, and that provides students with a set of master skills they will use throughout life.
  2. Creative: An engaging design, along with enjoyable online support in the form of games, stories, animations, audio, and e-readers, all contributing to a remarkable student experience.
  3. Relevant: Books and media that clearly connect to student interest, curiosity, and need, and that enable students to effectively write, think, debate, and argue.
  4. Easy to Use: Student books with clear instructions, incremental teaching, and regular review complemented by detailed teacher editions, instructional DVDs, and generous online support.

Sail over to the TOS Crew Blog and read what others had to say about The Art of Argument.
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received the Art of Argument free of charge from Classical Academic Press to use in my homeschool in exchange for my review.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Creek Edge Press


Amber is a very self motivated child, when she sets her mind on something she has to finish it!! She also loves History and will make sure the rest of us have all the details of what she has been learning. That is one reason I knew she would love the Task Cards from Creek Edge Press.

Creek Edge Press offers a variety of Task Cards in History, Geography, Culture, Science, Art, and Music. The Task Cards are nonconsumable and can be used for any grade or multiple grades at a time.

The Crew was offered a choice of 10 different sets to choose from. I chose the Early Modern World Task Cards for K-8 grade because Amber (age 10) has had a thing for George Washington lately. They start at $18.00 a set and the Early Modern World Task Cards are $20.00. We received 34 cards and a 21 page book that is an introduction to the course and serves as a teacher's manual.
The teacher's manual explains how the teacher and the student should approach the tasks along with a section on how to prepare your learning environment. There is a list of Core Books that can be used with this course and recommended book lists for K-3, 4-8, and all ages. The last section gives a Card by Card list so the teacher can prepare the necessary maps, books, or other resources for each Task Card. There is an asterisk by each task that the child may need help from the parent.
The Task Cards are designed in a way to engage the student with the material. The focus is on investigation and the experience of discovery. The cards contain research, summaries, posters, maps, definitions, further reading and much more.

Creek Edge Press was launched in the spring of 2011 by Amy Kate Hilsman. She is a homeschool mom and started making task cards for her daughter when she was entering first grade. Her goal was to provide materials that bridge the Montessori-Classical-Charlotte Mason spectrum and bring these philosophies to life. Amy started filling orders for her task cards in 2006 by word of mouth and they are now being used in 32 states and 9 countries.

I used the Early Modern World Task Cards with Amber (age 10) & Delaney (age 9). I let the girls go through the Tasks Cards and choose one they wanted to work on first. Amber chose card #22a & b and talked Delaney into working on the same ones. These 2 cards cover The American Nation and The American Constitution. (Amber only picked this one because it has George Washington on it). They labeled maps, made a flag, wrote summaries about the Articles of Confederation, Constitutional Convention, and the Bill of Rights. The girls didn't have any trouble finding the information they were looking for and we found plenty of books to read.

Amber loves the Task Cards!! She thrives on the hunt for information; gathering books, encyclopedias and searching the library. She gathered her materials and spread them all over the floor so she could get to them all. She was very fascinated with the little boxes listed before each new task and she put a little "A" beside each one after it was completed. It also helped keep her focused on what she was learning because she loves Encyclopedias and can spend hours hopping from subject to subject.

Delaney has a love/hate relationship with the Task Cards. She really likes to write so she loves all the summaries listed on the cards but she doesn't like gathering all her resources. Once Amber had them all out she enjoyed working through her list of tasks.

I like that the Task Cards use real books and they got my girls involved in finding the information needed. This method of learning would be very easy to adapt to multiple grade levels at once. I didn't need to buy any additional resources for the Core Books listed in the Teacher's Manual. We own a set of encyclopedias, a good Atlas & a good Dictionary. Most of the recommended books are available at our library.

Amy Hilsman let the Crew review several different sets of Task Cards. Sail over to the TOS Crew Blog to learn about other card sets.
As a member of the TOS Crew I received one set of Early Modern World Task Cards from Creek Edge Press to use with my children in exchange for my review.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

K5 Learning

K5 Learning is an online supplemental program for kids K-5th grade in reading and math. Their intent is for kids to build study skills by working independently in Math and Reading. After an online assessment the child will work independently at their own pace through 3,000 interactive and simple lessons and activities. The lessons are automatically chosen based on the child's assessment and progress reports are provided for parents.

Each student will have their own login with the parent having access to all student information in their own page. Reports for each child can be viewed in the parental access. You can see what grade level of work the child is working at in reading and math and how much time they have spent in each. You can also visit the Lesson Library to view or assign the lessons by grade or subject for your child.

K5 Learning was founded by parents who wanted learning tools for their kids to use at home. It is now used by thousands of students from hundreds of schools.

The K5 program includes:
  • free online assessments of each child’s math and reading skills,
  • award-winning, curricula based reading and math content,
  • over 3,000 online multimedia activities, personalized for each child based on his or her assessment,
  • a highly structured environment which allows the student to proceed through the lessons in a logical fashion at his own pace,
  • ease of use which allows even 4 or 5 year olds to work independently,
  • attention to child safety with no external links, advertisements, chat or similar,
  • comprehensive reporting to parents,
  • 24/7 availability and no downloads

 K5 Math Facts records every response your child makes it even includes how fast they answer the question. This helps determine what they need to practice more on. The Matrix displays the student's progress on each math fact. Mastery is achieved when the matrix is green.

The K5 Reading has over 1,500 tutorials and activities. It covers phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Each lesson gives an interactive tutorial, practice segments, and a quiz. They usually last about 5 minutes allowing for a short study time.


K5 Spelling has a 150,000 word database and offers immediate feedback on each word spelled. If they spell the word correctly they will receive applause and if it is incorrect they will receive hints on how to correct the mistake. They always spell the word correctly before moving on.
Parents can assign any lesson from the K5 Reading, K5 Math & Spelling at any time. They can also access reports online which includes progress reports, quiz results, spelling words learned and progress made on each math fact.

K5 is available on a subscription basis for $25/month or $199/year with substantial discounts for siblings. Each subscription includes a free math and reading assessment and unlimited use of each of K5’s four programs, K5 Reading, K5 Math, K5 Spelling and K5 Math Facts. A 14 day free trial is available.

Alaina just turned 7 and has been using K5. She likes to spend time on the computer and really enjoys working on K5. I like that I know she is working on lessons that are right at her ability regardless of her age or grade. My older girls took the online assessment and it tells you if they test out of a subject by exempting them from the lessons. This program would work great for busy families or families where both parents work.
Sail over to the TOS Crew blog and read what other members thought of K5 Learning.
As a member of the TOS Crew I received a subscription to K5 Learning free of charge in exchange for my review.
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