I've got the kettle on, ya got a minute to visit?

I'm so happy you dropped by! Stay and visit awhile and please leave me a comment- it's so encouraging to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

TOS Review: Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 1

SUH-NORE!  This is getting so old!

For those of you who know the Cains, you know that this has been "The Summer Of The Math Facts".  We've been working on really getting them memorized while on summer break.  I gotta tell ya, math is so intimidating to me.  And my greatest fear is that the kids will feel my trepidation and take it on themselves.

For this very reason, I am hesitant to review math products.  Once we find something in the math department that works, I just wanna stick with it and not rock the boat.  But occassionally something catches my eye.....

Math Essentials definitely caught my eye. A total math lesson- including review- in 20 minutes a day?  Really?  Not just a fun, cutesy review website game- a real math curriculum!

We had the opportunity to review their product Mastering Essential Math Skills, Book 1.

 This program has 12 chapters which cover:

  • whole numbers
  • fractions
  • decimals
  • percentages
  • integers
  • geometry
  • charts and graphs
  • problem solving
  • ratio and proportions
  • probability and statistics
  • number theory and algebra
  • graphing on number lines and coordinate systems.
The lessons are kept short and concise so that students do not have the opportunity to grow bored.  I popped the dvd in my laptop, Abby started her lesson, and was finished 20 minutes later!  UH-MAZING!  Poor Abby gets bogged down in math....she's my history girl.  I was utterly thrilled when she commented that she really liked this program!

I, personally, don't think it could get a finer endorsement than that!  But WAIT!!!!......

Her Daddy, the chemical engineer, came in and watched her do the math lesson and said "Now that's a great program!  We should get Ben on it!"


This is what Math Essentials has to say about their approach:
The key to this program's success is that every lesson is fun and exciting. Each daily 20 minute session is short, concise and self contained. Students don't have time to get bored or discouraged. Consistent review is built into lessons so students are able to master and reinforce their math skills. Students can see their progress and this helps increase their confidence and build self-esteem.

Book 1 is designed for 4/5 grade and comes with it's corresponding DVD for $33.95.  I think it's very reasonable and will purchase a workbook alone for Ben, which sells for $15.95.  Please go check them out- their sample pages will give you the opportunity to see just how quickly they progress.  By lesson 4 Abby was all caught up with the math she learned last year!  On to new material!  So exciting!

Don't forget, you can always check out what the crew had to say here...
Click to read Crew Reviews

Disclaimer:  I was given Book 1 and the DVD that goes with it from Math Essentials in exchange for an honest and objective review for the TOS Review Crew.

Monday, July 23, 2012

TOS Review: Knowledge Quest

I think it's writen in the stars when you are on a website looking at some history curriculum, trying to decide whether you should buy it or not, then you open your email page and see that you've just received an email to review the SAME product!

Yes, please!

Both of my kids are visual learners.  I have always taught history chronologically with some fabulous classical curriculum, but, for some reason, they just weren't catching the whole time concept.  They understood very well what I was teaching them, but they just couldn't link other events in history with what we had already learned.  This led to me searching for a good timeline.

Knowledge Quest provides so much more than just a blank timeline. You can choose which period to study from Ancient, Medieval, New World, and Modern. (This review is on the Ancient period.) They offer 3 different formats of timelines: book, wall poster, and software.  Also, they offer complete curriculum choices and even mobile apps to keep the historical juices flowing. (Which I plan on downloading for my personal use.  I am a total history junkie!)  Also, for those who love Ann Voskamp- they offer her history/geography curriculum as well!

Timemaps are maps that move through time.  You can choose (again, in the Ancient period) Ancient China, The Rise of Rome, and The Fall of Rome-each are $9.95 or you may purchase the bundle of 3 for $24.  Timemaps include an interactive map that illustrates the movement of key events and also includes an element to ask questions or display information.


I received the download for Timemaps for The Rise of Ancient Rome.  This was perfect because beginning in the Fall our co-op will be covering Ancient Rome and this gave us the opportunity to brush up on what we had learned 2 or 3 years ago when we talked about Rome.  The interactive maps are fabulous and the lesson plans are too!  They gave tons of activity suggestions and really indepth notes on each map.  This made it very easy to be able to ask and answer questions and prepare my mind ahead of sharing the maps with the kiddos.  I'm so excited that we are building timelines because now my children SEE (remember I said they are visual learners?) where things happened in the line of history!

SO ultimately, I love this product!  I'm a little sad that they haven't developed more maps/info for each period, and they don't offer Timemaps for the Modern period at all.  Hopefully there are more resources being developed.

Have you tried this product?  What did you think?  If you do try it, as always, please let me know what you think! And if you'd like to see what the Crew thought...

Click to read Crew Reviews

Disclaimer: I received a download of Timemaps:Ancient History is return for an honest and objective review for the TOS Review Crew.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My stash of goods.......

Cainberly's on the verge of bursting at the seams!  Shelves and shelves of lovely books! Shelves of great curriculum!  What to do with all of this wonderful means of learning??

Well, remember a few weeks ago when I posted "Why I Do What I Do"?  My passion is to help fellow homeschoolers along on their journey.  Sooo....I just want to put this out there......

If you see something that I have reviewed that you would like to borrow- please let me know.  I haven't done any giveaways for this very reason.  I want to be able to share all of these blessings that  have been brought my way!  That's not to say that I will NEVER have a giveaway, mind you!  One may be coming any day now.... ;o)......but I have been intentionally building a supply to share.  Even if you live out of town, let me know- maybe we can work something out!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

TOS Review: Keyboarding for the Christian School

At my children's age, they don't know or understand why it is important to learn to type.  Truthfully, my greatest goal is to have them both writing cursive well before we truly focus on typing skills- but the opportunity to review Keyboarding for the Chrstian School came along and I wanted to give it a shot.

This is in e-book format which was intentional as the developer, Leanne Beitel, believed that it was better for children to learn to type from a hard copy rather than the computer screen.  The lessons are quite simple, starting with two letters and working up to copying scripture by lesson 10!  That is definitely a lovely perk....copying scripture rather than random words or quotes.  There are no bells or whistles with this program, it's a quiet, relatively short lesson that you can print as you go or pull up on your iPad to prop up alongside the keyboard.

I started this with Ben and he found it interesting to begin with.  A few lessons in, he began to grow aggrivated with mistakes and making him understand the reason why certain fingers have certain jobs in typing became more difficult (especially since Momma does not type properly).  In my opinion, this program will be effective for Ben, just at a later time.  We will definitely be revisiting it in a year or so.

Keyboarding for the Christian School is $12.95 for the e-book and you can download the large font edition for no extra charge.  Some great news is that you can receive an extra 20% off if you enter code SUMMER2012 at checkout.

If you'd like to see what other TOS Review Crew members thought....

Click to read Crew Reviews

Disclaimer: I was given this typing e-book in exchange for an honest and objective review.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TOS Review: Apologia's "Who Is My Neighbor?"

Forgive me if this sounds like a commercial for "The Simpsons".....
 BUT............. there nothing they can't do?????

Seriously, it seems that everything I get my hands on from them is a perfect 10!  Encouraging books, science curriculum, children's bible studies, EVERYTHING!  And here they've done it again!

You may remember back in February when we had the opportunity to review Who AM I? from the "What We Believe" series.  This series has four segments which include:
Who Is God? (And can I really know him?)
Who Am I? (And what am I doing here?)
Who Is My Neighbor? (And why does he need me?)
What On Earth Can I Do? (Available later this year)

This time we had the wonderful opportunity to review Who Is My Neighbor?

 Formatted exactly the same, this study obviously focuses on biblical servanthood.  The book contains eight main lessons which include:
Lesson 1: Does Anyone Really Need Me?
Lesson 2: How Can I Make A Difference?
Lesson 3: Who Is My Neighbor?
Lesson 4: Why Did God Make Families?
Lesson 5: What Can I Do For My Country?
Lesson 6: Why Can't We All Just Get Along?
Lesson 7: Who Is God's Family?
Lesson 8: Why Does The Church Need Me?

Also available from Apologia is the full color notebooking journal to accompany the hardcover book.  It's chock full of questions, activities, mini books, puzzles, and copywork to help retain information covered in the lessons.  Speaking of which, the lessons are FABULOUS!!  They are full of biographical and biblical examples, stories, and applicable thought provoking questions.  Most lessons take about two weeks to complete- some a little more, some a little less.  If you'd like to, check out a sample lesson here.

My kids LOVE these biblical Christian worldview studies!  We make a hot tea and a snack, settle in the livingroom with our notebooking journals and begin our lesson.  I read while the kids either work in the journals or color from the corresponding coloring book.  It is a great bonding time for us and I look forward to moving on to the other books in the series.
Who Is My Neighbor? Coloring Book
This series is available from Apologia's website.  The lesson book retails for $39 while the notebooking journal is $24 and the coloring book is $8.  I find them to be very worthwhile and the children respond to the daily lessons with great conversation and thought. 

Ahhh....don't ya just love Apologia?!  If you'd like to see what my crewmates thought...

Click to read Crew Reviews

Disclaimer:  I was given this Apologia series in exchange for an honest and objective review.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

TOSReview: Professor B

We were recently given the opportunity to review another online math resource called Professor B.  It is a parent-led core curriculum for Pre-K through 7th grade.  Professor B aims to teach math in a flowing, story-like manner in an attempt to help students absorb the information more quickly and thoroughly. 

As mentioned, Professor B is a parent-led online curriculum.  You sit with your student, narrating each lesson while progressing through a series of slides.  "Professor B", the bee, is actually a silent tudor for your student- ensuring parental participation in the child's learning process.  This program truly brags up its making master teachers out of it's subscribers...all they have to do is be able to read!

I highly recommend that you head over here to check out their learning levels (scope & sequence) and subscription information.  You can purchase up to three levels for a year: Level I=$20, Level I & II=$35, Level I, II, & III=$45or you can call and order a 30 day free trial.

We logged onto the website and proceeded to the Table of Contents.  From there, rather than start at the beginning, we chose our weak spots and worked on them first.  There are also PDF "worksheets"to accompany the lessons.  At this point I must be completely honest- Ben did not enjoy this program.  I think perhaps it didn't stimulate him enough.  While the graphics and audio seemed fairly lo-tech, the table of contents was very over-whelming and confusing.  Also, it would have been great to have some way to show which lessons the student had completed but it did not.  Our greatest issue, which seemed to stop Ben in his tracks, was that the program actually uses finger-counting.  Ben was intentionally never taught finger counting and I did not feel it right to make him do it for a review.  If you have no issue with finger counting (which I really don't, I just never wanted it to be a habit with him) this may just be the program for you!

Professor B is certainly thorough in the material that it covers and at a somewhat reasonable price.  Pop on over to their website and give it a look! Or, if you'd like to hear what my crewmates had to say about their experience with Professor B....

Click to read Crew Reviews

Disclaimer:  I was given a free subscription to Professor B in exchange for an honest and objective review.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why I Do What I Do......

Ha!  Just reading that title makes me laugh!  Like I can narrow down what I do! Here's a partial list of what I "Do":
Operation Christmas Child (year-round)
Teacher at home
Teacher at co-op
Teacher at church
Construction worker
Errand runner
Chief financier
Curriculum reviewer
Travel agent

You see how that title could be very loaded?  I'm sure you have a very similar list yourself!  Well take heart, I'm only covering one of these today! Curriculum reviewer.

Why do I review curriculum?  At first you might think "Because you get lots of great free stuff!" and you'd be right to some extent. I receive lots of wonderful material that I could not otherwise afford and it is a huge blessing to me and my children. However, when you look at my calendar and see how many reviews I have this month and next month- you'd begin to see a different picture.  Reviewing is a LOT of hard work.  I have children who DO NOT LIKE CHANGE, so presenting all of these different programs takes some major orchestrating and preparation.  And while my kids are themselves working through the various products, I have to be listening for comments of theirs, as well as developing thoughts of my own.  Reviewing is wonderful, but it is not all visits from the UPS man and free Apologia.

So why do I do it? 

I do it because, one time, five years ago, I was utterly terrified.  I had a kindergartener, a 2 year old, and a chemical engineer for a husband.  (Understand what I'm sayin'? I mean that last part- about the uber intelligent husband?)  I was scratching and digging and clinging on to anyone I knew who I thought may have a clue to this homeschooling thing.  (Still do, too!)  I attended public what do you mean kids can have multiple ways to learn?  Why are there so many options?  We all had the same thing in class- the same books- the same grading system-----and NO COMPUTERS!  It all just seemed so very, very foreign.  I do this because every year, there is a new cycle of five-years-ago-me out there......

And I want to help.

So please forgive me if you come to my website and say, "Good grief!  She hasn't posted a personal review in a month!" Or if you go to Facebook and see yet another link to my blog with "TOS Review:..." in the subject line.  I'm just trying to get some good, useable information out there to that momma who is trying to do right by her babies on a shoestring budget in a homeschooling world inundated with new products!

 July and August are going to be big reviewing months....and I've gotta get back to work!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

You just never know....

This thought first crept into my mind after Daddy passed away.  I remember sitting in the pew at church.  I looked over at the person sitting next to me, whom I did not know, and thought "They have no clue that my heart has just been ripped out and that I've lost myfather AND my faith.  They have no idea that the world has just lost a jewel and I don't see how I'll ever recover from it.  They have no idea."
You just never know.......what the people around you everyday are going through.

That guy that takes my antennae off and scrubs my windshield before I go through the carwash- what's he dealing with?

That librarian- the sweet one with cute hair and great cardigans, is she struggling?

The pastor...

Your neighbor....

The clerk at the grocery store.

The Publix.  Her line is empty and I'm ready to check out.  I pull out of the line I'm in and head her way 6 lines over.  As I get closer I see her eyes- lovely, sparkling, always sunshiny eyes that I recognize!  It's Terry!  My favorite checker-outer!

Terry's hair is gone.

What is there isn't the shiny, nicely-styled hair I remember Terry having.  It's stark white and sparse.  Terry's beautiful face is a little rounder, and maybe a little ashy. But she still has that lovely smile.

I see my favorite bagger is packing for her too!  A sweet boy that loves Jesus.  He's never told me that, but I can tell.  I tell him how much I appreciate his smile and I say to Terry, "Don't you think one good smile can change your whole day?  Doesn't he have the BEST smile?"  She nods and says, "Yes, he really does!"

Terry's finished ringing me up.  I pay.  Without giving it a second thought, because I know and hate the answer so passionately, I ask Terry, "Would it be too presumptuous of me to ask if you've been ill?"

Still smiling, Terry responds "Yes, it's breast cancer."  I hate it even more.

"May I pray for you?"


I understand that most people walk off at this point in the story.  That's obviously what Terry expected.  Between cooking the spahetti noodles and setting the table, I'll try to remember to pray for her.  Maybe in the shower when I have a few "nothing" minutes, I'll throw up a quick prayer for her.

But this is not what I feel God telling me to do.  I grab her hand.  There are people waiting in line behind me...

"Lord, your will be done.  Give her strength to fight, refreshing and renewal.  Most of all, please Lord, draw her close to you.  Amen."

She's teary and says "Thank you".

Three times.

You just never know.....