Reviews

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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!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

TOS Review: IXL



We are feverishly working on memorizing math facts here at the Cain house this summer!  It's our mission to have addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts down by the time we start up school again mid-August.  My children seem to be hands-on sight learners so I was thrilled to be chosen to review IXL, an online learning site which COMPLETELY covers all math topics from Pre-k through Algebra.
  Parents can choose which level to start their children on- and for guidance, IXL uses state standards to assess your student's performance.  Parents can then target tough spots thanks to weekly reports generated and sent via email and posted under the "reports" tab on their homepage.
 


 IXL uses many different techniques to address different learning styles to build mastery and confidence.  They also encourage students to learn from their mistakes by providing explanations when problems are answered incorrectly and to move at their own pace through challenges.

  So would you like to know what my kids thought?  We had two schools of thought between my two kids.....
 
  Ben struggled with IXL.  He became very frustrasted when sometimes, after answering a question, the screen would freeze but the time would continue counting the seconds.  Also, he struggled with the very large and verbose category list. He did not want to have to choose something on the list because he said he was very confused by what it said.  He simply wanted to be led to the challenge he needed to complete next.  This led to him becoming frustrated and ultimately shutting down.

  Abby, however, really enjoyed IXL. She is not the competitive type so she did not mind if the timer misbehaved now and then.  She really enjoyed the reward aspect- which comes from the "awards" page where kids can complete challenges to turn over various prizes.

 

I feel this is a great tool to help your children in math.  If you have smaller children, you may want to help them navigate the categories in which they choose their challenges, but otherwise I think they will thoroughly enjoy the program and grow in their skills as a direct result of it.  Memberships are sold to families for $9.95 a month or $79 per year.

To see what other TOS review crewers thought, click here.
Disclaimer:  I was given a 6 month subscription to IXL in exchange for an honest and objectie review.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TOS Review: Creation Illustrated Magazine

I have given up all of my magazine subscriptions.  Whether you can relate or not- or agree or not- I find magazines tend to make me a bit discontent.  Discontent with my size, with my house, it even spills into other areas of my life.  (My addiction to Pinterest rendered my last magazine subscription {Martha Stewart Living} totally redundant! That also made it easier to give it up!)

I recently had the opportunity....blessing....to review Creation Illustrated magazine.



I'm ashamed to say that I had never heard of this publication prior to reviewing it.  When it arrived and I opened the envelope, I literally gasped aloud!  Two words....lovely and refreshing.  The photography is astounding and the writing is purely inspirational!  Take a look at just the covers of this past years magazines:

Winter 2012


Spring 2012


Summer 2011
 

Fall 2011


 You can see how inspiring the photography is- just from the covers alone!  Would you like to peek inside, as well?


That's right- there's a yummy segment on food-complete with recipes!




And who doesn't love a fabulous animal article??!!

I was already totally impressed with this magazine and it's uplifting message, which I had grown so unaccustomed to thru periodical media, of encouragement and confidence in God as our Creator.... then I read about the publishers on their website...

"Creation Illustrated is published quarterly (beginning in Fall 1993) as a private, nonprofit, non-denominationally owned ministry dedicated to the eternal impact of sharing Biblical truth through the blessings of God's creation.
The editors and publishers are a Christian couple, Tom and Jennifer Ish, who homeschooled their daughter, Melissa, and have dedicated their lives to serving God by providing positive choices in reading material for the whole family.


Mission Statement:
Our purpose is to share the wonders of God's creation. By revealing fresh insights of His infinite wisdom, gentle touch, undeniable justice, redeeming love, and flawless design, pure truth shall bring renewed peace. Each part of this publication is offered as a reprieve from the daily rigors of life so that all can look to the future with unbridled gratitude and hope."

You can begin to see why I became excited about my sit downs with a cup of English Breakfast and my magazines!  The sad part??  There's only four delectible issues a year!  Here's the price break-down for a subscription:

Add $5.00/year for Canadian postage
Add $10.00/year for Foreign postage

And here's a list of articles you can expect in each issue:

Creation Up Close feature
  • Creatures Near and Dear to Us feature
  • Lens on Creation
  • Outdoor Adventure feature
  • Creation Day feature: next day in the series
  • Creation Highlights
  • Creation Stewardship
  • Gardens from Eden feature
  • My Walk with God feature
  • Genesis Cuisine recipes
  • Children’s story
  • A Youth Photo Contest
  • Giving Thanks
  • Sharing our Mail
  • Uplifting poetry
  • Instructional Guide
  • Resource Guide

  • Some of the upcoming features for Summer 2012 Edition
    Outdoor Adventure - Family Cycling Trip in British Columbia, Canada
    Creation Up Close - Trees of Righteousness
    Lens on Creation - Least Tern Colony in Biloxi and Gulfport, MS with Bobby Harrison
    Creativity in the Garden - Herb Garden
    Genesis Cuisine - Cherry Recipes
    My Walk with God/Gardening - Big Red: the Horse that Revealed God's Love
    Children's Story - Destined to be a Duck
    Creation Week - Day 7 on the Creation of Rest & Worship
     
    If you would like to receive a free issue before committing to purchase a subscription, find it here.  If you'd like to subscribe online with a credit card, you can save $5 per subscription.
     
    Disclaimer: I was given four issues of Creation Illustrated in exchange for an honest and objective review.
     

     

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Lists, Lists, Lists

    Hello.  My name is Marla and I'm addicted to other people's lists.

    (They say admitting you have a problem is the first step to over-coming it.)

    Be it Pinerest, Facebook, or Blogland- I find I have a hard time passing up other people's list!  For example, I just saw a post on FB where a blogger posted her top 10 list for read alouds for boys and WOOSH!  I was gone in a flash!

    books for boys


    Pinterest.... 101 Things to Make for Men...WOOSH!

     Pinned Image

    Martha Stewart......32 Projects to Make For Dad.... WOOSH!



    I'm beginning to grow concerned.

    As I sit here and think, I wonder if I have no original thought in my head at all.  But then it hits me....one word...

    .

    I just want to be creatively inspired.  Don't you?

    Where do you find your creative inspiration?





    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    TOS Review: Mobile Education App- Storybuilder

    I remember, like it was yesterday, being in first grade at Cumberland Heights Elementary School in Bluefield,West Virginia.  I particularly remember being in the "Media Resource Center"...which most folks call the library....with the perky young librarian during "Media Time"...aka Storytime.  She used to have an exercise that she liked to do with us where we all sat in a circle and she would think of the first line to a story.  We would go around the circle adding one sentence to what the person before us added.

    "On a dark and stormy night......"
    "My momma got me a cup of chocolate milk because I am scarred of storms...."
    "And my dog started howling...."

    "BECAUSE THE BOOGIE MAN WAS OUTSIDE MY WINDOW!!!!!"

    "AAAAAGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"

    There is just something about telling stories that I have always enjoyed.  My kids used to ask me to tell them stories in the car to help travel time pass more quickly- I don't think I have ever turned that request down.

    Because of my love of stories, and because we are making story journals and I thought the kids could use some help in broadening their mad story-telling skilz, we jumped on the opportunity to review Mobile Education's app, Storybuilder.

    Mobile Education was begun by a loving father who wanted to develop effective tools for his special needs daughter.  He had three goals in mind:
    1)  Improve paragraph formation
    2)  Improve integration of ideas, and
    3)  Improve higher level abstractions by inference

    The Mobile Ed website lists Storybuilder's features as:
    • Record feature allows students to record narrative in their own voice
    • 3 levels of play
    • Simple and intuitive interface to record narrative
    • Recorded answers are stitched together to create complete narrative
    • 50 distinct story lines to create narratives from
    • Over 500 audio clips of questions to guide narrative
    • Optional question text and answer introduction reinforcement

    So here's the nuts and bolts of it broken down for you...you pay $5.99 at the iTunes store to download the app to your iPhone. (or iPad or 4th generation iTouch) You initiate the app and begin by choosing the settings specific to your child's level of learning.  Level I is all prompted questions with a picture that children are supposed to answer in completesentences.  Once your child has though of the answer to a question, he presses "record" and speaks his answer into the mic.  Your child completes the series of questions and then listens to the story he has completed! Level II allows the answers to the questions to be prompted on the screen...



    Level III simply provides a pictures which the student must, unprompted, make up a story about.

    This came at a perfect time for us because we were taking a road-trip and my kids thought it was a great way to pass the time.  I have to admit that we all got a few chuckles out of some of my 7 year old's responses to some of the questions!  It was a great way to pass time waiting for appointments and meals at restaurants as well.  I don't know about you, but I'd much rather find something like this that my kids will benefit from rather than have them play Bejeweled in the pediatrician's waiting room!

    I definitely think it is well worth the $5.99. Also, Mobile Ed has quite a few other apps available.  While Storybuilder was the winner of Huffington Post's "Best Reader App of 2011, Sentence Builder and Conversation Builder are award winners as well.

    As always, let me know what you think if you give it, or any of Mobile Ed's other apps a shot!  And if you'd like to check out what other reviewers from the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about Mobile Ed's products, check them out here!

    Disclaimer: I was given the Storybuilder app in exchange for a fair, honest, and objective review. 

    Sunday, June 3, 2012

    A Gloriously Lovely (picture heavy) Day at Biltmore

       I must have told Momma no less than one hundred times, "It was such a wonderful day!".  It was amazing, like living "Downton Abbey".  I can't imagine living in such grandeur and opulence.

    Every detail of Biltmore is fine.  Nothing was missed or spared.



    From the gargoyles.....


    to the gardens....


    everything inspired.

    Here's a few tourist shots...



    A few architectural shots




    A few nature shots




    And here's just a few of my favorite shots






    "Taking tea" in the courtyard. (It HAD to be done!)


    There's never a better way to end a re-cap of the BEST day than with a beautiful smiling face...