Friday, September 24, 2010

Schleich Animal Figurines

Another Crew review!  This one was greatly anticipated by my kids.  I let them know, as soon as I found out, that we would be reviewing Schleich animal figurines.  They own a few pieces from Schleich's World of Knights collection and were excited to see what we were going to get.

When our friendly Fed-Ex guy arrived with the box, the kids stood waiting like it was Christmas! The two of them sat down on the living room floor and stayed there for a few hours.  In the box with the animals, there was a collectors brochure.  The brochure was just about as fun for them as the animals themselves.

The first order of business was to go through the brochure and properly identify each and every animal.  They included: Dartmoor Pony, Asian elephant calf, Przewalski's horse, Gnu, Gnu calf, Swabian-Hall piglet, eating, Okapi, and a Donkey.  Isabel, an avid horse lover, was so happy to have the pony, horse and even donkey to add to her ever growing horse population.  Logan was excited to find the Mongolian war horse, Przewalski's horse, among the bunch.

All of Schleich's figurines are beautifully made with great attention to detail.  They are wonderful just to look at.  After watching Isabel engaged in hours of imaginative play, I was sold.  She has created a farm, complete with a horse jumping arena.  Next, she had some sort of African safari going on (at least I am assuming that is what Barbie's car was doing among the animals).  The Asian animals didn't get a lot of time in their natural habitat, so it was decided it would be more fun to have all the animals together in a zoo.

Schleich's website has a Playground that has printable painting templates, wallpapers for your desktop, and interactive games that are fun to play around with.   

The Schleich figures vary in price starting at about $4 and up.  You can buy them in select stores and many online retailers.  There is a store locator on the website.

Isabel would love every single horse and accessory in the brochure and Logan thinks it would be cool to add to his World of Knights collection (for display on his shelf, of course).

*Disclaimer* I received these products free of charge for the purpose of reviewing them.  All opinions within this review are my own.

Friday, September 10, 2010

America's Math Tutor

Our new vendor to review is America's Math Tutor  developed by Rick Fisher, a math instructor in California.  This program is an online collection of math courses that offers 4 different course levels. 

    • Basic Math skills, designed for 4th and 5th graders
    • Advanced Math Skill, designed for middle schoolers
    • Pre-Algebra
    • Algebra

This online program is put together in 4 parts; Learning Centers, Exercise Center, Evaluation Center, and Resource Center.

The Learning Center is the video portion of the course with easy to understand, step by step video tutorials on how to work through the math problems in the course you are working in.  There is a different video for each concept that is being taught.

The Exercise Center is full of printable worksheets for all courses that correspond with the math concept you are working with, for all courses. The worksheets are laid out in manageable pieces, rather than one long boring sheet of math problems.  I also love the circular 'speed drills' on the worksheets. 

The Evaluation Center is where you will find all of your pre-tests, section quizzes, and the final course exam.

The Resource Center is full of useful tools, such as a glossary, various tables (multiplication, square root, etc.), math symbols, and plans to add math games.

On the website there are online timed Speed Drills.  You can choose from addition, subtraction, or multiplication.  These are great practice tools, and the student can have fun trying to beat their previous times.

Here is a free sample of the video lessons and worksheets for you to try out.

The price for the entire course for one year is $195.  With that year subscription you have access to all 4 courses.

I really like the idea of this program.  It didn't seem to be helpful for my kids, but I had a high schooler try out the Algebra and she found watching the step by step problems a helpful supplement to the math program she is currently using.

*Disclaimer* I have received this product free of charge for the purpose of this review.


Monday, September 6, 2010

I LOVE Living in the Country!

I am not sure if we will ever get tired of being 'out in the country'.  It has been so wonderful to have all this open space!  We all enjoy spending time outside (sometimes when it was over 100°). 

Earlier this week, while Todd was out mowing, I was pulling weeds and getting rid of some unwanted ground cover.  The kids helped us for a short time, then  thought it would be fun to play in the sprinklers with their Wellies on.  I LOVE that they can enjoy just being kids.

Logan's first time to mow

Izzie kindly dumping the water out of her Wellies before going into the house.


Spiders and Lizards and Tree Frogs, Oh My!

My adventurous children love, love, love to look for bugs, lizards, and frogs.  They are happy to be outside 'creepy crawly' watching for hours on end.  Here are some pictures of some of their observations.

At their Grandma's house in Washington State they found :

Western Skink

Here are some of their finds in Texas:

Gecko (A bit out of focus)
We have a tons of these all around outside and sometimes inside! 

Green Tree Frog
This one has been named 'Leaf' by Isabel.  Leaf is on our dining room window most days, then off to play at night. 

Here is a really small one that we see out on the back porch, occasionally.


Green Lynx Spider (gross!)
Ok, I DO NOT like spiders, at all!!  But, I had to take a photo of this unique (to me) spider. 

Green Anole
We have many Green Anoles around our home.  Many of them we see regularly, so they all have names.  This is one of the babies.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Access! Writing Program

Essay writing is something that I would really like to work on with my kids.  It is essential that they are comfortable with essay writing when it comes time for SATs and college applications.  So, I was very happy that the next Homeschool Crew vendor I was asked to review was My Access Writing Program. 

This is an online program that is priced at $99.95 for up to 3 students, or $129.95 for up to 6 students.  The program is designed for ages 8 -18, with 3 different levels within. The way it is set up, the parent and each child have their own account.  The children log on to their account and choose from a variety of writing prompts.  You can assign a specific prompt or give them the choice of several or all.  Each prompt has a description of what they are writing about, what details need to be addressed, and what the writing style is.

Here is an example of one of the prompts :
"Writing Topic Ages 11-14
Favorite Hobby

Most of us have hobbies or activities that we enjoy. For example, some people play sports; some read books or comics; and others collect things such as coins, stamps, or cards. What is your favorite hobby? What do you enjoy about it?

Write an essay for kids your age who are looking for a new hobby. In your essay, describe your favorite hobby or activity and discuss what makes it enjoyable to you. Remember to make sure your readers have enough details about your hobby so they can understand it completely. "

Once they select a prompt, they begin a course on how to write an essay correctly.  The kids start by joining the Daily Access News Team.  They go through 'training' and learn about the writing process.  There are also a lot of pre-writing tools you can print them out to help in their essay planning.

Once their essay is complete it is submitted for scoring.  The program scores the writing on a number of categories.  They get an overall proficiency rating, as well as a proficiency score in each of the different categories.

Logan (12) went through the News Team training fairly quickly, wanting to finish this new writing program as fast as possible.  He rushed through  wrote his story and submitted it only to find himself just above proficiency.  This is the part of the program I think is interesting and extremely helpful.  Once he viewed the overall and the specific rating, he was able to begin the revision.  In the revision process, there is "My Tutor".  The "My Tutor" evaluates all of the specific categories and breaks them down into specific goals that Logan needs to address in the original essay.  Once he has revised it, he re-submits it to get a new score.

In your parent account, you will see the 'progress' of each child.  You are able to view the overall proficiency score, and see the more detailed score in each category.  You will not, however, be able to see the specific goals that need to be addressed in the revision process.

I have only used this with Logan, but I am looking forward to Isabel (10) incorporating it into her Language Arts.  It requires no preparation on my part, so it is very easy to add it into our regular lesson plans.

*Disclaimer* I have received this product free of charge for the purpose of this review.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...