Monday, October 22, 2012

Samson's Classroom

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Samson's classroom is an engaging set of online games to improve a child's reading ability. There are three sections of games: Sight Words,Spelling and Reading.

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My granddaughter is just learning to read and most of her training has been in phonics so sight words were a new things for her. We used the Sight Words sections as part of her daily schoolwork. There were eight words per list, 7 lists on each level and 5 steps per list. In step one, each word is spelled, used in a sentence and repeated. In step two is called "missing letters." Several letters are displayed at the top of the screen and blank squares for the word at the bottom. The student clicks on the correct letters for each box as the word is spelled for them again. In step three all the words are displayed and the student clicks the correct word as Samson says it and uses it in a sentence. Step four has the entire alphabet displayed. The word is called out and used in a sentence and the student clicks on the correct letters in sequence to spell the word and fill the boxes. In step five the sentence is at the top with a blank for the word. It is also read aloud for the student. There are four treasure boxes displayed below each with a word above them. The student must select the correct word with the correct spelling and the treasure box pops open and displays a jewel. My granddaughter enjoyed this process although it was tough for her. I think she will benefit more from this program next year but if your child is already reading up to their grade level this would be a great program for them.

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The Spelling section was too much for my granddaughter but will also benefit her next year. You can use the program's spelling lists or make your own. This is also a series of similar games to help the student with spelling.

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The Reading section was also beyond my granddaughter's abilities but it is basically reading comprehension. You read a passage and then answer a series of questions about what you read.


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This is an excellent program for beginning readers. My difficulty with it for my granddaughter is just that she seems to have a phobia against reading and has it in her head that she can't do it. Her older sister went through the same thing at that age and one day it just clicked for her and she took off like a house afire. She is reading way beyond her grade level now. So with the little one I just keep drilling and going over things and using excellent programs like this one to keep it before her and pray for that "AHA" moment to come soon!

For home use (1 user) this program is $30 per year. For a family (4 users) it is $50 per year. You would pay more than this for a good spelling curriculum alone. This is such a great way for your student to learn sight words, do spelling and practice reading comprehension that you are getting a whole package for less than another curriculum would cost for just one component of that package.

As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given access to these games free of charge to review. However, I did not receive any compensation. All opinions are my own.

To read what others on the TOS CREW had to say, please click here: TOS CREW





CROSSBOW EDUCATION



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Crossbow Education sent me the Eye Level Reading Rulers 10 pack of colored overlays to review. These are sale priced at $16.95 for a pack of ten. They also sell anti-glare sheets to put over your work. They sell other products to help people learn to read as well. These overlays are used for visual Stress (Irlen Syndrome) and dyslexia. The overlays have a part that just shows one line of text you are reading and the other can show you the paragraph. It is my understanding that for people with Irlen Syndrome, this makes reading go from nearly impossible to much more doable. The company recommends that you try out each overlay until you find the one that works best for the student involved. They recommend the following order to test the colors: pink, celery, sky, magenta, grass, yellow, aqua, purple, orange and jade. They also mention that varying lighting conditions will affect the selection as well.

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I tried these out on my 7 year old granddaughter and could not establish much difference in them as far as her ability to read the text but she preferred the magenta and expressed the opinion that she could read better with it. It is hard to really judge this as she has not been diagnosed with any learning disabilities. I did, however, do extensive reading on this subject and believe that this is a very helpful and necessary product for those with these disabilities. This company is a good resource for the overlays. It is wonderful that something as simple as one of these little overlays could so drastically improve someone's ability to concentrate and read text.

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As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given this product free of charge to review. However, I did not receive any compensation. All opinions are my own.

To read what others on the TOS CREW had to say, please click here: TOS CREW






Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Perfect Word For Every Occasion


This is a wonderful reference book for everybody! There are so many occasions when you don't know exactly what to say in a certain situation but you need to say something. Liz Duckworth tells us what to say and what NOT to say in various situations.

Situations include variations of grieving (i.e., for spouse, pet, parent, child etc.), gratitude (thank you notes), illness, birthdays, weddings, engagements, encouragement, celebrations (birth, adoption, graduation, promotion, retirements), events and activities, truth and love (asking for or giving forgiveness, confrontation, apology, etc.), and even a chapter about notes in cyberspace.

Here is a tidbit. Birthday: "Another birthday has rolled around, and another reason to celebrate the gifts you bring to the world." That's a nice thing to say. Ms. Duckworth talks about her "Aunt Me-me" (it's all about Me, Me) throughout and that's where she gets her what not to say quotes. Here is one such no-no: "Congratulations! You've been in college for so long, I almost forgot you were there. Now, make your parents proud and start paying off those huge loans. I'm rooting for you!" Reading the what not to say parts is even more fun than using the good suggestions. So even if you don't need to put a note in a card to your friend or relative, just read this book for the sheer entertainment value!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House to review. I did not receive any compensation for completing this review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 15, 2012

WealthQuest for Teens

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WealthQuest for Teens is a course much needed by our teenagers. Many children leave home after high school or college with no clue how to manage money or even take care of their basic needs. The "School of Hard Knocks" is not a pleasant way to learn these skills. On the other hand, this course, WealthQuest for Teens, is a fun way to learn. The videos and the workbook pages encourage kids to make the most of what they have available to them and teaches them how to succeed when they get out in the world on their own.


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With this course you receive the basic seminar with online video and workbook, a downloadable PDF, "eBook for Teens: Basic Seminar QuickStart Guide," a downloadable PDF, "eBook for Parents: Your Teen's Financial Literacy in Today's Economy" and a link to a free program Link to MoneyTrail.net



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The downloadable "eBook for Teens: Basic Seminar Quickstart Guide," contains 30 days worth of workbook pages to fill out in conjunction with the videos. There is also a space next to the video where you can fill in answers to the questions as you view the video.



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The "eBook for Parents" is an overview of the program, section by section, to get the parent / teacher on the same wavelength as the student. It is very helpful and informative and I learned a few things I didn't already know on the subject just reading through this material,such as "62% of parents…give their children a weekly allowance" and "the average amount given is $12." I have always been a bit twitchy about the idea of "allowance" and thought that earning the money was a better plan. But the author says that the allowance aids in the learning process of managing money and in conjunction with it, the teen should take responsiblity for some of the expenses involved in their life as well. In retrospect, this looks like it could be a valuable learning tool.

Screenshot, Module 1:
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Screenshot, Module 4:
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Interactive notebook, example of print option:
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My granddaughter loved this course. It was one of the few assignments of her day that she didn't grumble about. She was always eager to take the next step. The course taught her about income: There are 3 kinds of income 1) Earned Income -- money you make from working, 2)Passive Income -- money you continue to receive after you are no longer working, and 3)Portfolio Income -- money you receive as interest on your investments. She learned about savings and investments and interest. And she learned a system of money management called the "Silo System" whereby every time you receive money you apply it in this way:

1. Future Financial Freedom 10%
2. Heal the World 10%
3. Saving for Big Ticket Items 10%
4. Learning 10%
5. Fun Money 10%
6. Necessities 50%

All the money in No. 1 goes in the bank and is not every spent. No. 2 is your giving and I would just label this "TITHE." No. 3 is to save for items you can't buy right away. No. 4 is to save for college or training courses. No. 5 is fun money and is required to be spent in total each month. No. 6 is your living expense or necessities. My granddaughter liked the idea of dividing the money up and "depositing" it in the different buckets.

Girl using silo system:
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This program also comes with a link to a free service called MoneyTrail where teens can track their income. The account overview tracks: Credit Balance in Savings; Cash Balance, Gift Card Balance, Check Balance, and Net Worth. This is a nice program, but I preferred to teach my granddaughter how to make a spreadsheet and keep track of this information on her own computer the way I do it. It was another learning experience in using Excel.


WealthQuest for Teens is regularly $50 but can currently be purchased for $39.95. I highly recommend this course. This is a very reasonable price for something of so much pertinence to your teen's future.


"As seen or heard on"(Business Talk Radio Network, Home EDucators Resource Directory, etc):
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For further information, here are some Youtube videos about this course: HERE HERE and HERE



As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given this course free of charge to review. However, I did not receive any compensation. All opinions are my own.

To read what others on the TOS Crew had to say, please click here: TOS CREW

Monday, October 8, 2012

KinderBach

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This KinderBach APP looked like so much fun I couldn't resist asking to review it. My 7-year-old granddaughter loves to play on the iPad so she was excited too. We have had a few glitches and false starts with this very large APP, but they have all ironed out and she has had a lot of fun with it. She has had piano lessons before so she knows her way around a keyboard, but this APP really helped her with the theory side and made it a lot more enjoyable. I can't wait to try it on our toddler who seems to have music in her soul!

There are 30 lessons in all with 4 videos under each and 6 games to play. This is intended to be a whole year's worth of fun! For each lesson there are worksheets to download. Some need to be printed on card stock and cut out and most are to be colored. If you are unable to print from your iPad you can buy downloadable PDFs of these worksheets for a minimal price from the website. You can also buy songbook CDs that go along with this. This would be great for our kids since we do a lot of traveling in our van and they can watch DVDs or listen to CDs to help pass the time. The more saturation they receive of the material, the more they retain.

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Photobucket Throughout the lessons we interact with a whole cast of characters including Frisco (little boy) and Dodi (his donkey) and a bunch of others -- all associated with the keys on the keyboard. Karri Gregor, the teacher, spends time showing the student the keyboard work and in the beginning, she explains all about rhythm instruments which can be made from many common things in your kitchen -- tapping a bowl with a wooden spoon, shaking a container of beans, tapping things together, etc.


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One of the games involves playing music patterns. One of the activities during the lesson is making these pattern cards. In this game, Miss Diddle puts a pattern card on the music rack and demonstrates it on the keyboard and then the student plays it on the keyboard. The game keeps their score compiled so they can see their progress.

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I like the graphics and the videos. I also like the pace of this program. You can have your child do little short segments at a time so they have time to absorb the material or if they are catching on quickly, they can do all 4 segments in a lesson at one sitting. This will also depend on the age of your child. My granddaughter loves the little keyboard right on the iPad so she can play the lesson as she goes. Sometimes she also props it up on the music rack on our piano and plays on the piano. It just depends on where she is and what she wants to do.

I wish we had had this program when my older granddaughter was in pre-school and before she had several years of piano lessons. I think this would have given her a good basis to get started and maybe held her interest for longer. I wish I had this opportunity when I was young but I had the standard piano lessons, theory books and recitals and nothing more. This is a really enjoyable way to get those little ones interested and get them started on the way to playing piano.

The APP I received is the School Version. This is where you purchase the entire program upfront at a cost of $26.99.

KinderBach is offering a special deal to my readers. This coupon code gives 30% off any order - homeschool, classroom, online
or DVDs.

Coupon Code: TOS_crew2012
Expires: 12/31/2012

Also the KinderBach App is on sale This Friday, Oct. 19th, 2012 ONLY. The
app will be discounted over 50%, down to $12.99! No code needed just the
link to the Classroom KinderBach app in the App store: CLICK HERE

As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given this APP free of charge to review. However, I did not receive any compensation. All opinions are my own.

To read what others on the TOS Crew had to say, please click here: TOS CREW

Thursday, October 4, 2012

ZooWhiz

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When you sign in to ZooWhiz you find a map with 4 stations. "Learn & Earn," Milestones, Arcade and Biodome.

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First you create your avatar:

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Milestones is where you check on your progress.

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Learn & Earn is where you spend most of you time. You can choose between Reading, Words and Math. This is where you answer questions and earn points.

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You can spend the points playing games in the Arcade or you can go to the Biodome and spend them buying animals for your zoo. The animals can be real animals, extinct animals or mythical creatures. Once you buy the animal you will learn a lot of interesting information about it. You can only see this information if you have a Premium account. If you don't have a Premium account there are only a limited number of animals that you can buy. Many of the animals are for Premium accounts only but even the ones you can buy if you don't have a Premium account still have restricted access to the information. A full one year Premium subscription normally is $59.95, however they are currently offering it for $14.95. What a great time to take advantage of this great offer!

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Okay, back to the "bread and butter" of this activity. In Learn & Earn there are three sections: Reading, Words and Math. My older granddaughter (age 13) has enjoyed these activities. There is a mixture of comprehension, grammar, punctuation etc. here and various kinds of math operations. She has taken ZooWhiz and run with it. On the other hand, our 7 year old who is a struggling reader has not had much success. In one section it actually talked to her and gave her instructions so she could manage, but in the other two sections the instructions were there but were not read out loud so she had no idea what to do. Since we needed her to be able to manage this on her own, it did not work for her. I am unsure why the instructions are read aloud on one section but not on the other two. My requirement for these types of activities is for the student to be able to operate it with minimum input from me. If I have to be there the entire time, I might as well be teaching something else from a textbook. I want this to be a learning experience but fun too and there are many wonderful products out there that provide that with little or no supervision from the teacher / parent. I like these types of activities because I am teaching a 7 year old and a 13 year old so they don't do much together. I can have one working on something like this while I am working with the other and then switch off. They are continuing to develop ZooWhiz and make improvements so there are some great things to come. I am hopeful that they will address this issue for the lower levels.

My older granddaughter is extremely interested in animals and wants to work with animals in her adult life. She is even a member of the Zoo Crew during the summers at our local zoo. She loved the idea that this was all about animals. There is a commercial zoo game for the computer that she owns and loves. It allows you to build your zoo and maintain it. I think something like that would enhance this game. As far as I can tell the Arcade part is not really related to the rest and is pretty standard computer game fare. Having said that, I still think this is a great game for kids that can already read and very enjoyable. It provides learning in an interesting way. My older granddaughter has definitely been enriched by the experience. It is well worth the price of Premium membership.

To read what others on the TOS Crew had to say, please click here: TOS CREW

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was given this membership free of charge to review. However, I did not receive any compensation. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Go Boldly to Carry Out Your Commission

‎"Oh my brothers and sisters in Christ, if sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies; and if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay, and not madly to destroy themselves. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for." Charles Spurgeon, 1861

I am no longer afraid of offending or upsetting anyone. I personally will be offended and upset if my loved ones or your loved ones end up in Hell because someone was afraid to tell them about Jesus. I don't just believe in Him, I am in constant relationship with Him, I talk to Him, I love Him with all I have and I want that same thing for my loved ones and yours. So if you are offended by this, don't read it. But just know that I am praying fervently that you will read it and heed it.

Jesus is longing for a relationship with you. That is what He created you for. All you have to do is believe in Him and step out in faith and He will lead you to the next step. You don't have to get all "churchy." You don't have to be perfect. You just have to allow Him into your heart. He will do the rest. He will change you "want to," and you will find out that a lot of things you see out there as "religious" or "church stuff" is just peoples' traditions, not anything God is expecting from you. The more time you spend with Him, the more you will find out what He really wants from you and what it is really about.

So just ask Him: "Jesus, please come into my heart. Show me what is real and what you want from me and help me to avoid those things that will be detrimental to my relationship with You and encounter and embrace those things that will enhance our relationship. I don't know much about this, but I'm trusting You for the outcome."

Then consult the owner's manual (the Holy Bible) not the advice of your friends or neighbors. Go to the SOURCE.

It's a scary world out there and it is crashing quickly to a conclusion. Jesus can take the scary out of it and keep you on the right path. Pray without ceasing.