Monday, May 16, 2011

WonderMaps


WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press is our last review of the year. It is an amazing tool that we will be able to use for the rest of our homeschooling years.  You can buy the 350+ customizable, printable maps program in a cd format or download format, both for $49.95.

You can customize both modern and historical maps by using layers.  You can filter through each of the layers based on your needs.  Some of the layers are:
  • Borders (both State and Country)
  • Country and State names
  • Rivers
  • River names
  • Terrain
  • Physical features
  • Color or Black and white
  • Modern overlay on the historical maps (I love this one)
   
 With the modern maps your choices are: The World, Continents, Regions, Nations, US Regions and US States.  You can choose historical maps chronologically or use the maps that are designed to go with Mystery of History Volumes I (1st and 2nd ed.), II, as well as III and All American History I and II.  Another map option is Thematic Maps, which includes: American History, Explorers, Native Americans, World Wars, Biblical Maps, 20th C. Treaties, and Chinese Dynasties. 


There are also a ton of geography resources available in the program's Teacher's Guide.  Much of it was taken or adapted from another Big Ideas Press product, Hands-On Geography.  Another Big Ideas Press product I have reviewed in the past was a favorite of ours, Young Scholar's Guide to Composers


I have really enjoyed incorporating this product into our current history curriculum and I know that it will be a staple in our history from here on out.





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

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

See the Light




See the Light is a video art course we reviewed, taught by a Master Artist, Pat Knepley.  We reviewed the first 4 lessons of the 36 lesson series.  The lessons were created for elementary aged students, but the quality of instruction would be great for middle school, high school or even adults who have little or no artistic training.  Bible passages are also incorporated into each lesson.

Isabel completed the first four lessons with three of her friends and they were all very engaged with the instruction.  All four of the girls learned a lot about the basics of drawing and were quite pleased with their individual art work.  They all would like to continue the entire series next school year.

Only basic supplies were needed for the first four lessons: pencil, eraser and paper.  Other than making sure the supplies were ready, there was no other parent prep needed.

There are several purchasing options available for See the Light.  You can order the entire 36 course DVD set for $99.99 or you can purchase an online subscription for $10 a month.  You can even try out the course for free!  You can request the first DVD for free or watch the first three lessons online.   


Other products available from See the Light are The Crossmaker DVD and The Gift of Love DVD .


*Disclaimer*  This product has been given to me free of charge for the purpose of my review.


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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nutrition 101: Choose Life!



As a family, we really make an effort to try to eat healthy and take care of our bodies.  We try to make better food choices for ourselves, but don't always know exactly why these are better choices.  I was very excited to be able to review Nutrition 101: Choose Life! (priced at $99.95 for the book, $79.95 for the cd-rom, or $129.95 for both) by Growing Healthy Homes.

Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is a fantastic, colorful, 488 page, unit study on the human body, how it works  and it's nutritional needs.  It doesn't just tell you what to eat and what not to eat.  It gives you tons of information about different foods and what each one does to or for your body.  You are then able to make informed choices.  The book includes six units:

  1. The Brain and Nervous System
  2. Digestion and Elimination
  3. Respiration and Olfactory
  4. Muscular and Skeletal Systems
  5. Cardiovascular and Immune Systems
  6. Endocrine System and Emotions

Each unit includes hands-on activities (elementary and secondary) and recipes that include the foods that help that system of the body!  My favorite part of the book is the Appendix, with over 125 pages of various printable lists, charts and recipes. We plan on printing many of the reference pages for daily use in our kitchen.

Click here to see a sample.

Tomorrow (April 21, 2011), Homeschool Blogger is offering a FREE webinar from Nutrition 101: Choose Life!.  To sign up, follow this link to register.    https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/287516654%3E

I am looking forward to both the webinar and to the rest of the unit study. While I thought I was ahead of the game, knowing a lot of the good and bad foods, I realized that I didn't know what the effects good and bad foods have on the body.  What we have covered so far has been extremely fascinating.  Some of it has been over Isabel's head, but she has gotten so much out of it.  Something I would have liked to see, though, is more pronunciation guides.

Other products by Growing Healthy Homes include Gentle Babies: Essential Oils and Natural Remedies... (which is a free download in April) and  The Raw Food Feast: 7 Days Through the Rainbow .

Growing Healthy Homes is offering a 15% discount for blog readers.  Just enter code TOScrew11.

*Disclaimer* This product has been given to me free of charge for the purpose of my review.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Latin Alive

We have been reviewing Latin Alive Book One bundle by Classic Academic Press for several weeks now.  Latin Alive is a Latin language program designed to be used by Middle and High school students.  The Latin Alive Book One Bundle, priced at $139.95, includes Latin Alive One, Latin Alive One Teacher Edition and Latin Alive One DVD/CD.
The Latin Alive program has been very easy to use and learn from with no prior study of Latin.  Logan (13) is the one using the program and was only familiar with Latin roots from his Language Arts program, to aid in his English vocabulary.  This program has been very user friendly for me, the parent, as well.  

You can buy the book itself for $24.95, but I definitely recommend the use of the DVD.  The DVD is basically a Latin class taught by one of the program's creators, Karen Moore.  She goes through the chapters, exercises and answers with the viewers.  It is great to hear how the pronunciations are suppose to sound and hear explanations and comparisons to English grammar.


Several things about this program really held Logan's interest.  One is learning about the Latin on United States and State seals and why some of the symbols are included in them.  Another thing is the Chapter Reading and Culture Corner, which include stories and facts about Roman Culture.  He has always enjoyed Roman culture, history and mythology, so it makes it relevant to his interests.

For the parent, there are a lot of helpful teaching tools.  There are online games that kids can play, to reinforce their new vocabulary.  There are tons of pdfs, charts, correction sheets and an mp3 on the Free Resources page.  One of the greatest tools available, is a yahoo group you can join and ask any questions you have, that can be answered by other parents or the program creator, Karen Moore.

Other products that are available from Classical Academic Press are Latin For Children and Song School Latin  both have also been reviewed by The Homeschool Crew.

*Disclaimer* This product has been given to me free of charge for the purpose of my review.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

The Homeschool Mother's JournalIn my life this week... This week was really cold.  We had rolling blackouts and realized how cold our 115 year old house can get, even if the power is only out for 30 minutes!  The kids were hoping for snow, but all we got was some freezing rain.

In our homeschool this week... We took a break from formal work this week.  After the freezing rain, the kids went outside and explored outside.  They (Logan) knocked down the icicles from the walkway roof and were fascinated with the ice covered plants.  

Places we're going and people we're seeing... All of our activities were canceled for the week, so we stayed home and relaxed.

My favorite thing this week was...Warming up when the electricity would come back on.

What's working/not working for us...As we did no formal work this week, the week was filled with exploring, imaginative play, tv and video games.  It all worked.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have... I am just thinking about getting this week planned.  I am hoping our next review, Latin Alive, arrives so we can dig in.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share... I really want to make this Monkey Bread Recipe this week, using the dinner roll recipe I love!


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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup and Quick 30 Minute Rolls



Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 T Butter                                                                     
1 can drained, rinsed black beans
2 T Flour                                                                       
1 can diced tomatoes
6 c Water                                                                    
1 can corn
2 T Better than Bullion- Chicken                                     
1 cup cooked chicken
2 t Chili Powder                                                            
4 corn tortillas, torn
1 t Dried Minced Onion
1 t Double Concentrated Tomato Paste
1/2 t Minced Garlic
1/4 t Paprika
1/8 t Celery Seed
1/8 (or dash) Cayenne Pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Mix butter and flour on low-med to make a roux. Add water, bullion and all the spices.  When the soup comes to a low boil, add the rest of ingredients.  We topped ours with a little grated cheese!





Quick 30 Minute Rolls
This recipe is from one of my favorite blogs, Deals to Meals.  I halved her recipe.
1 1/2 c  Hot Water
1/3 c    Oil
1 3/4 T Yeast
1/4 c    Sugar
3/4 T    Salt
1   Egg
4 + c Flour

Mix first four ingredients and let rest for 15 minutes.  Wisk in egg and salt.  Gently stir in 4 cups of flour.  At this point, I put my dough hook in my Kitchen Aid, set it to 2 speed, then added about 1/2 c flour.   Shape dough into dinner rolls and place on a greased cookie sheet (I lined my cookie sheet with parchment paper). After shaped, let rest for 10 minutes. For rolls, bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees until golden brown. Take out of the oven and brush tops with butter.

This is the best roll recipe I have ever made!  Yum!  

Please forgive my poor food photography! 
 
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Monday, January 31, 2011

Times Alive



Times Alive by City Creek Press is a computer program to help kids remember their times tables.  The program was based off the company's book Times Tables the Fun Way.  The cost of the CD Rom program is $48.95, for instant download it is $44.95.



Times Alive teaches kids times tables from zero to the nine. This program utilizes several different approaches to help learn the multiplication facts. For each multiplication lesson, a storyteller tells a story about the numbers in the lesson to help the student learn the concept and your child can read along as well.  There is a music video with a catchy tune that is using the same story and numbers.  There are also interactive games and activities, plus quizzes.



You are able to view progress reports that show what lessons have been completed, quiz results and the time it took to complete the quizzes.  Kids will have a difficult time forgetting their times tables after they go through the lessons.  Logan was sure this program would not help him with his memorization.  He will never forget that to drive a 4 x 4 you have to be 16.  


*Disclaimer* I received this product free of charge in exchange for my review.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Ten Marks


 
I think that our review of Ten Marks has been Isabel's favorite review so far!  Ten Marks is an online math program.  They offer personalized curriculum from 3rd grade to highschool for $10 per month.

If you are unsure what grade level your child is working at, you can set up an assessment and have them placed.  Once you have your chosen curriculum for each child, you can customize it by adding work from grades above and below the current level.  Once they get started they are assigned worksheets.  For each problem, they can answer, watch an instructional video or get helpful hints.  If their understanding of the covered concept is good, they can move on to the next skill.  If not, they work on additional problems until they are able to grasp the concept.

Isabel loves it for several reasons.  The first is that she can work at her own pace.  She can see when worksheets are due (she really likes having due dates). I set up rewards for her that she can see each time she is logged on.  This gives her extra motivation because she really enjoys working to receive her reward.  There are also fun math games that kids can 'unlock' by doing a certain number of worksheets.  This is the perfect program for the way she works and learns. She is always asking if she can work on her Ten Marks! 

Click here for a free trial!

*Disclaimer* I received this product free of charge in exchange for this review.







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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Illustrated Bible Dictionary For Kids



Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids sold by Lifeway Christian Stores is the next review on our list.  This 212 page Hardback book is sold for $14.99 and is geared toward children ages 5-10 (although my 13 year old enjoyed it as well). Click HERE to view pdf sample pages.

In this very colorful Illustrated Bible Dictionary, there are many helpful features that kids can reference if they need help while reading the Bible.  Most of the entries reference where that entry can be found in the Bible along with pronunciation.  Here are some of the other features:
  • Reconstructions show how towns and buildings may have looked during Biblical times.
  • Illustrated Charts provide children with information (visual and written) on the Bible animals, insects, plants, etc.
  • Definitions of people in Bible stories as well as key concepts.
  • Colorful detailed maps.
We really liked this book a lot.  One of our favorite pages was a table of weights and measurements from Bible times.  We now know that one Handbreadth is equivalent to 3 inches, or 8 centimeters.  

This does not need to be used only as a Bible reference, we had a lot of fun just sitting down and reading through the book itself.

Some other products that are sold by Lifeway Christian Stores are Hands on Geography and Art of Drawing Horses.

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


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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Virtual Nerd



Virtual Nerd. What a great service! It is a virtual tutor for Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Beginning Physics.   The cost is $49 per month, with other payment options available.  To get a really good idea of what Virtual Nerd is, there is a 2 minute introductory video.

The target audience for this site is 7-12th grade. The site offers more than 1,000 tutorial videos explaining different math or science concepts.  Each video is so well  organized and the 'tutor' is very clear and easy to understand.  The best part is their Dynamic Whiteboard, which allows you to see step by step, what the tutor is going over.  If a step or process stumps you, you can click on that step or process for further instruction.  I have never seen math explained so well before.  


In Spring 2011, they will be adding a tool to allow students to do practice problems, take quizzes and receive feedback in return.  They are also planning on expanding their subjects to include more Physics, Chemistry, Pre-Calculus and Calculus in the 2011-2012 school year with Biology to follow.


This is a service that I definitely plan on using for my kids as they enter High School in a few years.  I don't have to know the answers to their questions, I just have to know where to find those answers.  If there are concepts that you are having difficulty explaining to your child, you should really check this out.  You can try it for $5 for 24 hours or free for 2 hours HERE.


*Disclaimer* I received this product free of charge in exchange for my review.


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