Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter Performance

My kids have been participating in our homeschool groups choir. Our choir director, Angelique, is just an amazing woman of God who really inspires these kids to give it their all and to give God all the glory.  My kids have really enjoyed being a part of the choir this year.

For Easter, Angelique put together a special program for the kids to perform. She had chorus singing, signing, speaking parts and solo's. They even performed a white glove act to "How He Loves Us".  I took a small snippet of video for this song, but my camera (a still one, not a video camera ;-) ) wasn't picking it up very well. I'm hoping to find a better copy from someone else that was taping. :)

(make sure to turn off the music to the right if you want to watch the videos)

My kids also had a chance to sing a song together. They sang a song that is very dear to them. Not only because of the songs powerful lyrics, which alone makes this song amazing, but they also love this song for private reasons, that I will keep private for them. :)

I apologize for the poor camera quality.  I really need to get a recorder and not just use my aim and shoot camera for videos! LOL 

A friend took some amazing pictures of the kids at dress rehearsal the day before.

The choir practicing

 Practicing for, "How He Loves Us"

Three of my girls make up the person

For the rehearsal, they only had one mic to practice with. 
It was hilarious watching them move the mic around. 

A and R "sharing" the mic

 E's turn

 S. led them all by starting the song.

After the performance!

It was a wonderful evening with all the kids singing their hearts out for the Lord 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Narration fun

R. decided to write a poem today for her narration of George Washington's World, chapter "The Bon Homme Richard".

This 'tis the story of 
John Paul Jones
And his battle. Ay! 
'Twas bad.
Bloodshed was spread,
But his words
Of bravery bore
The men on.
"I have not yet begun
To fight!" he said
And on the battle raged.
Alas! Though John was young,
The good ole ship was aged.
So, she sunk! Ay,
Twas a sad day.
But the British Captain surrendered:
The American's had WON!

TOS Review - Greek 'N' Stuff's Latin's Not So Tough!

As part of the TOS Crew, we had the opportunity to use Latin's Not So Tough! a leveled Latin program written by Karen Mohs and published by Greek 'N' Stuff.  For our review, we received Level 2 (there are 6 levels total), which can be used with a wide variety of ages. Geared for the Mid-elementary student who has completed Level 1, this particular level has enough review built in the beginning, my target children, who have not had Latin prior to this program, did just fine jumping in with this level.

The products we received for review were:

A spiral bound student work book ($18.95).  There are 148 pages, plus flashcards.  The text is divided into 36 Lessons and an Appendix that includes:
  • Latin - English Glossary
  • Engish - Latin Glossary
  • Latin Alphabet
  • Special Sounds
  • Flashcard Tips
 You can see Sample Lessons here, just scroll to the third section for all of Latin's Not So Tough! samples.

 The Answer Key ($4.00), which is a small booklet that contains exactly what the title says, "Answers Only" Answer Key. :)  It is a no frills booklet, with just the answers for the students workbook pages.

(There is also a Full Text Answers Key ($18.95) that includes:
  • Duplication of the workbook with the answers filled in
  • Brief proposal for scheduling the lessons
  • Teacher tips
  • Some English derivatives of the Latin words taught in this level)

 We also received a Pronunciation CD that contains all three levels of Latin's Not So Tough!  The CD is recorded with children reciting the words, which can make it more appealing to younger students.  There is also an index clearly marking what time each lesson begins on the CD and what corresponding pages in the Student's text you are covering.  A nice feature that allows you to easily find where you are in the CD.

 There are bundles available for purchase as well, a "short" set ($36.45) and a "complete" set ($51.40). The bundles include a test booklet, answer key (either the full answer key or the "answers only" key)  and the flashcards on a ring. We didn't receive the bundles, but I can see how these would make the program more complete and easier to use.

Using Classical pronunciation, this program covers, alphabet, diphthong and special consonant review, reading and writing Latin words and fun activities including matching, fill in the blank and puzzles.  There are placement tests located in the FAQ section (scroll down a little to the test links) which you can give your student to see which level is best for them to start in.

When we first received this program, my, then, 12 year old grabbed it and started working on it. She wasn't the one I had intended to have use it, but who was I to argue with her enthusiasm. :) She hadn't had Latin before, so this was a fine place for her to start. On completion of the book I asked her what she thought. She said she really liked the program. Her words were, "It's a great introduction to Latin". She liked the short lessons and found the work easy to finish with very little input from me. At another point, my 9 year old also grabbed the book and started working through, on her own, as well. She used a separate piece of paper for her written work. I just quizzed (a very simple and basic quiz as I don't know any Latin! :) ) both of my daughters before writing this review and they both aced all the vocabulary I gave them.

I tend to agree with my daughters, this is a very doable beginning Latin program. For a younger student, there would be more teacher involvement than what I experienced with my oldest. But it still seemed very manageable, even in my crazy busy school days.

In addition to their Latin program, Greek 'N' Stuff carries a Greek language program as well as Bible Studies. They are worth checking out.  I do have to warn you, their website is not the easiest to navigate, so if you don't see what you're looking for at first, keep looking, it's there!

The crew reviewed a variety of products from Greek 'N' Stuff, click here to check out all the reviews, including more reviews on Latin's Not So Tough!.

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A's turn for braces


After -She picked blue bands
Not sure how long she'll be in her braces. E. was in for about 18 months. I think A. is in for a bit more work so might be in longer. Who knows though, their teeth move so fast, she could be all adjusted before she turns 13, like her big sister was. :)  E's new braces pictures are on my old blog. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TOS Review - Growing Healty Homes

For several years I've been thinking about finding a health curriculum for my family. Something that would incorporate nutrition along with the science of the human body. Imagine my delight when I discovered such a combination in Growing Healthy Homes, Nutrition 101:  Choose Life!, program.

Written by homeschooling moms -  Debra Raybern, N.D., M.H., C.N.C., I.C.A.; homeschool mother and researcher Sera Johnson, B.MU; mother and writer/editor Laura Hopkins, B.S.; and mother, grandmother and former Home Economics teacher Karen Hopkins, B.S, Nutrition 101 packs a healthy punch.

The book is a whooping 448 pages long and is divided into 6 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.
The major body systems are presented along with facts on how they function, common health issues and the benefits of healthy food choices vs bad food choices.

This book is biblically based and has over 80 yummy recipes (easy enough for the kids to do on their own!), science and art projects the lessons give sound reasons behind why you should choose healthy food beyond the pat answer of, "Because I said so!"  Kids will learn how food affects their everyday lives from brain function to physical fitness to setting themselves up for serious diseases in the future.  All of this is done in a very accessible, fun format. It's intensive enough that you can give highschool credit for your older students. You gotta like that! :)

You can check out a sample of the book  here.

This video is a great introduction to the program. It's a mixture of why it was developed along with testimonials from kids using the program and their parents. (turn off player on the right first :) )

The price for this program is $99.95 for the book version, $79.95 for the CD-ROM version or a combo pack of the book and CD for $129.95.  Right now you can get a great discount by using this promotional code. Just type in TOScrew11 at check out and you'll receive 15% off your entire order. :)

Also, is hosting a free Nutrition 101: Choose Life! webinar on April 21, 2011
at 3:00 PM-4:30 PM CDT.

You can also check them out on Facebook for more info on their product as well as other great offers and info.

This program is absolutely wonderful in every way. It is easily adapted to a co op setting or simple enough to use with just your own family. The recipes are easy and good!  The format is colorful and extremely informative. The only con that I can see, with a good portion of homeschooling families, who make every dollar stretch, would be the cost. I know I probably would have passed this up without even looking at it, just because of the price. I can assure you, now that I know what's in here, it's worth the price. This is a top notch, high quality health and nutrition class that can be used with a variety of ages, young and old, with a family of one or a large co op. (check out their page on using this in a co-op for licensing fee info and proper use)  You won't be disappointed with what you receive if you decide to purchase the curriculum for your homeschool.

While you're checking out this program, make sure to check out the other products Growing Healthy Homes has to offer. They have a neat looking assortment of products on nutrition, eating raw to name just a few.

To see what others on the TOS Crew thought of Nutrition 101:  Choose Life!, click here.

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.

Friday, April 8, 2011

TOS Review - Science Weekly

We recently had the opportunity to review one of Science Weekly's science packets as part of the TOS Crew. The packet we received was on Fractions. We received 6 levels, Pre-A (Kindergarten) - Level E (Grades 5-6)

Each level is printed in a news letter format with colorful graphics and words. The levels are layed out in a similar fashion, each  containing the following:

  • Introduction to the concept
  • Vocabulary words
  • Lab - some type of hands on project
  • Math - problems include story problems
  • Challenge exercise
  • Bringing it home exercise - something for the student to do at home that reenforces the concept learned
Along with the six levels we also received Teaching Notes, which is designed to help you, the teacher, with the lesson being taught. It gives additional hands-on activities to help extend the lessons for each level as well as the answers to the problems in the student pages.

 The topics covered are varied. Here's a list of topics for this school year:

There are two pricing options for ordering Science Weekly.
  • Classroom rate - 15 issues for $4.95 per student per year (min. order of 20 subscriptions. You can mix levels)
  • Individual rate - 15 issues for $19.95 per student per year (less than 20 subscriptions)
You can check out a sample of their Sports edition by going to the order form and clicking on the PDF sample located at the end of each Level's line.

I had five of my six (the 2 year old got off easy for this review ;) ) use the appropriate level for their age group for this review.
  • My K aged student got help from his big sister and enjoyed the cutting activities and writing his numbers. Whether he got the concept of fractions is still up in the air. I'll continue to work with him using real life opportunities (read - food! haha) for dividing things up and showing how the separate parts make up the whole.
  • My 2nd grader got the bonus prize and did levels A and B. When asked what he thought of them he said, "I loved it!" 
  • My 4th grader worked on level C and struggled the most. She didn't get what they were asking her to do on one part, so I helped her through some of the pages. Her opinion on the pages, "Eh." 
  • My 6th grader worked on level D and found the work to be "ok".
  • My 7th grader worked on level E pages and said she "liked it, sort of."
My opinion?  Maybe it was the topic ~ Fractions, my kids, or a combination of both, but I didn't find these to be all that exciting or engaging. They are basically worksheets with some extra stuff thrown in. I could see these working great in a classroom setting where you need a large number of kids to be working on the same subject at the same time. For our home, we're not big worksheet users, so they amounted to busy work with very little "meat" behind them.  I would like to see if another topic might spark more interest and will probably check out their samples, but for the product we received I would have to say it was not something we would be purchasing on our own.  If your family enjoys worksheets, I'd recommend checking out the free samples before ordering, to make sure this is something you will use and enjoy.

To see what others on the TOS Crew thought of their issues of Science Weekly, click here.

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

TOS Review - Kinderbach

For the past few months my three youngest have been enjoying learning about music through Kinderbach for a review as part of the TOS crew. 

Kinderbach is an online music curriculum for preschoolers and early elementary-aged students (ages 3-7). All that is needed to get started is your computer and a keyboard. From there your child will be taken on an imaginative, musical learning experience. You, as the parent, don't need to know a thing about music to successfully utilize this program. :)

There are several ways to purchase Kinderbach:

  • Online - monthly subscription $19.99 or $95.88 per year. 
  • Day Pass - $5.95 for a single day
  • DVD - prices start at $40.45 for individual DVD's or buy in bulk to save money
The program currently involves 6 levels of 4 lessons per level, a 7th level is in production. Each level is designed to take 10 weeks and includes coloring pages and fun activities to accompany the DVD lessons.  Your child will learn about the different staffs, play simple songs, rhythm notes and their beat value, hand and finger position and staff note reading by pattern.

Check out this video to learn more about this program and what is needed to be successful.  You can also try out the first two weeks for free!

Coloring pages

finger placement

The fun characters your child will be introduced to

We found Kinderbach to be an engaging program, especially for my younger two. I heard my 5 year old singing the songs today while going about his regular life activities.  Through the use of fun characters, catchy songs and hands on activities, my kids have enjoyed learning the basics of music.

To see what others on the TOS Crew thought of Kinderbach, click here.

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Learning through life

We took a trip to Jerome this past weekend for a quick lesson on Copper mining in Arizona. The intent was to help gather information for R's science report on Copper.  The results were what we intended and then some.

Visiting the Daisy Mine's, Audrey Shaft and Douglas Museum, ignited a fire in S. He was absolutely fascinated with the whole mining operation. The mine shaft, in particular, got his creative juices flowing and when we came home he wanted to build his own working mine shaft. He had a Kinex rollercoaster that he had put together w/ Mark at Christmas. He came up with the idea of taking apart his roller coaster (to which I gasped as it took hours to build LOL) and use the parts to build a working mine shaft. He figured out the logistics of it all on Saturday evening, drew up some plans and began building the structure itself. On Sunday, he finished the project adding the conveyor belt so the car can move up and down the shaft.

S's. Mine Shaft

I love how he took an idea and made it happen, all by himself! I think his plan is to continue adding paper around the structure so you only have a little bit showing, "above ground", the rest of it going deep into the bowels of the Earth. :)

What inspired S.

Looking down the shaft.
That's a long, long way down! 
1,900' to the bottom, you hit water at 1,500'

TOS Review - Go Go Kabongo

As part of the TOS Crew, we received GoGo Kabongo, an on-line computer game designed for ages 4-7.  GoGo Kabongo is designed for beginning readers to help them develop cognitive skills that are necessary for success in reading.

  • Attention and Focus
  • Memory Skills
  • Processing
  • Planning
  • Visualization
  • Comprehension
 You can learn more about the cognitive approach to reading and how this program incorporates all of this into their computer games here.

To play, you simply sign your child up here. There are three habitats available with three games in each habitat.  Two habitats, Galaxy Gardens and Laughter Lake are currently free while Twister Top has a nominal, one time fee of $4.95.

When your child logs in they are taken to their own tree house where they can make their avatar. There is a combination of goofy images your child can pick to make their "person" unique.

Tree House

From the Tree House your child can either go to the map to enter one of the habitats, create a comic book or they can go to the skate park where they can build their own skate park. They can earn pieces for the skate park and comic book maker through rewards during the games. Each skate park is unique to the pieces earned and your child's imagination. They can easily take apart the park and rebuild it, changing things as they desire.


The Map above shows the three habitats where your child can play. They click on the one they are interested in and they are taken to that world.  While there, they will meet some funny characters.

Each habitat has it's own host. Karl is found in Galaxy Gardens, Mimi is found in Twister Top, Duffy is found in the Tree House, Mz. Teezly is found in Laughter Lake and Ginzo is the host in training.  Each character has a very unique personality.

More about the three habitats (from their website):

Bubbling with fun and adventure, Laughter Lake is home to the charming Mz. Teezly, as well as a slew of other jolly creatures, mini-quests, and surprises. Peek behind a giggling waterfall, or dive right into the learning fun with three skill-building activities!

The three games in Laughter Lake are:

 Going Buggy
Listen to a story, and then recreate the scene! In this activity, children demonstrate basic comprehension. They begin with listening to interesting passages, and then placing images into the scene to create a picture of what they heard. In higher levels, the “stories” shift from simple phrases to longer paragraphs, challenging children to use more advanced comprehension strategies, in order to create the scene. Text appears on screen as the audio plays, encouraging those who can to read along!

Key Skills:
Comprehension, Visualization

Scuba Dude
Explore the depths of Laughter Lake in a cheery submarine while you collect underwater treasures. The child collects the items in the sequence shown while avoiding sea life obstacles such as coral, eels and sharks. As the game progresses, the sequences become even more challenging and more underwater obstacles appear, requiring kids to think and react more quickly.

Key Skills:
Successive Processing, Visual Scanning, Working Memory

Critter Sizer
Size up the animals. As animals skate by, children must react quickly to determine if the animal is big or small depending on their size or the number of syllables in their name. As children advance, the magic lens shimmers, enlarging or shrinking the animals: so the child needs to remember the actual size of the animal. It can be tricky, but it's always lots of fun!

Key Skills:
Attention and Focus, Verbal Rehearsal

Rocket into outer space for brain-boosting games that are out of this world! Blast off on missions for Karl — the gloomiest dude in the universe — and explore among the stars for hidden surprises. Each of the three extraordinary planets is home to a challenging learning game; use your smarts to blaze through the levels!

The three games in Galaxy Gardens are:

Robo Bobo
Help Karl finish building his robot friend! Children use their spatial awareness to place pieces according to shape and size to complete each puzzle and advance to the next level. Higher levels present more complicated puzzles with more missing pieces.

Key Skills:
Spatial Awareness, Visual Scanning

Robo Robo in action

Rocket Racer
Race through space on a letter-collecting mission! At the start of each round, a series of letters is introduced along with the letters’ sounds. Then, players blast off on an exciting journey to collect the letters in the right order. In higher levels, players must dodge non-target letters that may look similar. This game is designed to address commonly mistaken letters such as “p” and “q” and “b” and “d”.

Key Skills:
Alphabet Knowledge, Successive Processing, Verbal Rehearsal

Photo Safari
Go on a scavenger-hunt safari! The goal of this game is to find and take photos of different animals without running out of film. Children can earn more film by helping the animals find their lost items. Children have to plan and aim carefully.. Higher levels have more animals and items to find, as well as distracting items to challenge their Working Memory and focus.

Key Skills:
Attention and Focus, Planning

Ride through the wild and dusty mesas of Twister Top on a train bound for adventure! Go on mini-missions for the glorious Mimi Lookatmi and her little brother Tati. Explore the cactus-clad cliffs and uncover three mind challenging games with multiple levels of challenge!

The three games in Twister Top are:

Desert Dash
Hop on Mimi’s motorcycle for a mad dash through the desert! At the start of each round, children hear and memorize a series of letter sounds. Then, they roar off in Mimi’s sidecar, jumping and veering around dangerous obstacles to collect the letters that match those sounds in the proper order. In higher levels, children have to recognize and collect short, commonly used words.

Key Skills:
Phonics, Verbal Rehearsal, Working Memory

Design A Door
Recreate a series of colorful doors! In this game, children must reproduce the pattern they are shown, paying close attention to colors and shapes. In early levels, the patterns are simple enough for children to remember and replace the items step by step. But, in higher levels, children must try other strategies such as creating a picture in their heads.

Key Skills:
Simultaneous Processing , Visualization

Crazy Maze
Roll through a rocky desert maze, avoiding trapdoors and cacti! Weave a letterball strategically through a twisting, turning course (and watch out for twisters!) to form a word at the end of the maze. As your child progresses, they learn to recognize patterns in everything from three to six-letter words, focusing on phonics and consonant blends.

Key Skills:
Phonics, Spatial Awareness

The skills chart below shows all the skills worked on for each game:


I signed my 5 year old up for this review as he fits the criteria of being between the ages of 4-7 and he is a prereader. :)

He loved having something of his very own to review. He found the characters funny and engaging and asked to play everyday. I really appreciated the weekly email updates giving an overview of what he was working on the past week. The emails show the level of each game as well as what that area was focusing on. I appreciated that because, to me, it looked like it was all a game.  :) It was nice to see that there was a point to the games he was playing. 

We did run into some technical glitches which prevented us from being able to continue playing the games. I emailed the problems we were having to their customer support and they responded promptly and were very eager to get the glitches worked out.  Whether the problems we were experiencing were on their end or my end, I'm not exactly sure as others on the TOS Crew who are also reviewing this product have not had the same issues. I appreciated their promptness and willingness to help us. Great customer service goes a long way in my book.

I would recommend this program to those who are interested in a computer based game for your younger kiddo's that has some fun games, easy enough for them to accomplish on their own, but sneaks in some learning along side the fun.

To see what others on the TOS Crew thought of Go Go Kabongo, click here.

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.