Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TOS Review - Master Innovations Master Ruler

We recently had the opportunity to review Master Innovations, Master Ruler.  Master Ruler is one of those products where a teacher saw a need and went about creating a solution.  Seeing her students frustrations and confusion when trying to understand the fractional components of measurement, she invented a special ruler that enables any student to be able to clearly see the various fractions, from 1/2 to 1/16 by using a cleverly designed ruler that has overlays for each fraction.  The products logo (pictured above) gives a clear picture of the color coded fractions and their representative lines on the ruler. The color coding and the length of the lines make it very easy to see where each fraction lies and how they correlate to each other. Super easy to see that 1/2 is the same as 2/4, 4/8 and 8/16!

Included in our package we received a Master Ruler with U.S. measurements as well as a Master Ruler with metric measurements (same design only using centimeters, millimeters, etc.), a student workbook (that is reproducible) and a really nice poster to display on the "Marvels of Measures"

I used this ruler with my 11 year old dd who has some struggles with math.  We worked through the student workbook with her measuring and converting.  At first she was befuddled, because it was all new to her but as we worked through the problems and converted from one fraction to another, she began to see the connections and began to work through the conversions on her own with very little trouble.  I love when math becomes fun for my math challenged daughter. :)

Here is the breakdown of the costs for the various products:

Master Ruler (U.S.  or Metric) $9.95 each
Student Workbook  for $15.95
or you can purchase The Master Ruler Starter Set which includes metric, U.S. and a teachers ruler as well as the workbook  for $41.25  (we did not receive the Teachers Ruler as part of our review).

To see videos on how the Master Ruler works, click on the above links of each product. Master Innovations has created many You Tube video's showing how to use their products.

Master Innovations has created other products using the same concept as the Master Ruler for clocks, fractions and angles. Check out their unique approach to helping students actually see these concepts.

To see what others on the TOS crew thought of Master Ruler or to see what they reviewed, we reviewed a variety of products :), 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, November 29, 2010

Moving an old blog

When I first started blogging, several years ago, I was at HSB. I loved the community there and had quite a friend base that I'd visit and was visited by.  Life got busier for me and HSB became too cumbersome to navigate through all the html code (although I did learn a lot! :) ) so I made the switch to Blogger almost 2 years ago!

I'm now, very slowly, moving my old posts from HSB over to this blog. I figured out how to move the pictures with just a few extra steps than normal (which beats redownloading them again) and since I'm such an intensive picture blogger, that's what's taking the extra time.

Now that I figured that out, look out! LOL You'll see my post count climbing but it will all be coming from past years! ;)  If you're so inclined, feel free to look back through the years and see whatcha missed if you didn't "know" me over at HSB. I'll also be posting our current happenings simultaneously so if I seem a little confused at times it's probably because I don't know what year I'm in. :D

Thursday, November 25, 2010


This year we had a wonderfully quiet Thanksgiving with just the eight of us. It was so stress free and peaceful. We were all so thankful for such a beautiful day. The kids played with some neighbors an impromptu game of baseball while we prepared the food and had such a great time. Once that set of neighbors needed to go eat with their family another neighbor girl came over and played in our backyard until it was time for our dinner.

Such a beautiful day all the way around.

 Smoked, brined turkey on the grill

yummy rolls from Wild Flower 

wild mushroom dressing

turkey all carved and ready to go

whipped potatoes paprika

watercress and radicchio and cranberries w/ homemade cranberry vinaigrette dressing

green beans with shallot butter and pecans

harvest squash soup (combo of acorn and butternut squashes) w/ fresh chives and creme fraiche

We were pleasantly full and deeply satisfied as we had so much to be thankful for!

Monday, November 22, 2010

TOS Review - A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers

We were recently given the opportunity to review A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers by Melissa E. Craig and Maggie S. Hogan, published by Bright Ideas Press.  Those familiar with Mystery of History will recognize both Maggie Hogan's name and Bright Ideas Press as they are the same author and publisher of this very popular homeschool history curriculum. :) 

A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers is a beautifully bound soft cover book that retails for $34.95. They also have a CD Rom version that sells for $29.95.  You can purchase the composer study here. While I was going through this study with my kids I thought it would be a fun study for a co op setting. On the page I linked they have information for how to order a co op license for this product, which makes it easy and affordable to implement with a group of kids.

The book is 298 pages long and covers the musical periods starting with music in the Middle Ages through the Contemporary period.  Along with discovering the various periods of music, the student is introduced to several composers who lived and created during those time periods. The recommended age range is for 4th-8th grades and was intended to be a one-year curriculum.

Each chapter has interesting background information about each musical period and composer. At the end of each chapter there are note taking pages for the student to write in while reading the chapter.  I used the composer study with my three older girls, ages 13, 11 and 9. They would write while I read then we would go over the answers together at the end of the chapter. This helped my slower writers who would miss the new information while still trying to answer the question before.

Along with information about various musical periods and composers there are Composer Info-cards. Composer-Info cards can be used as flash cards and other fun game type reviews. You simply copy the printed sheet located in the book, fill in the information of the composer, musical period and place the composers picture in the space provided (pictures of all composers are also provided) on the front and on the back, the information goes into even more detail w/ information about where the composer was born, the dates he lived, three facts you've learned about him, two of his compositions and whether there was evidence that would show whether he was a Christian or not.  There is a cut out map on the back of each card, some with the US and Canada present and the others with a map of Europe. Along with the information, we added a star to where our composer came from on the map as another way of reinforcing their geography skills.

There is also a timeline you can print and utilize to understand the connections of each composer to each other and the time period in history.  Along with the timeline they have also provided, full page  outline maps of Europe and the U.S. with little cameo's of each composer along the borders. With these you are to draw a line from the composer to the country they were born in using the same color coding you used for your timeline. Again, another way to reinforce geography and a visual for understanding where each composer lived that even your youngest student can understand.

Also included are coloring pictures of different composers you can print off and color, a composer resource list which gives you additional book suggestions for each composer, links that can help aid your study of each period and information on how to put all this information together into a fun lapbook. :)

Our favorite part of the composer study was the Listening Suggestions. For each period or composer there are several suggested links for the student to listen to followed by some discussion questions about each piece.  While listening to Vivaldi's Spring, we first read the poem he wrote for this piece (something I learned through this book :) ).  I had my girls close their eyes and listen to the entire piece, just listening and enjoying.  Then, on the second listening, I had them answer specific questions about the piece. For this piece we were picking out the various parts of the poem and seeing if we could find those same things in the music.  We could! We heard birds, wind rustling, a quiet brook, a sudden storm with lightening and thunder, the quieting of the storm and the birds returning, a peaceful meadow and on and on and on. It was such a delightful way to dissect a piece of music and even more fun to watch as the girls discovered each element for themselves.  They wanted to go on and read the other three poems of The Four Seasons and listen to those pieces as well.  We spent a good hour just listening and dissecting each sound in the music. Time well spent in my opinion. :)

We have really enjoyed this study and look forward to learning more about the composers and listening to their music. It has become one of my kids favorite lessons during the week.

To see what others on TOS thought of A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers or to see what they reviewed, we reviewed a variety of products :), 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.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Talent Show

Last Friday evening we hosted a talent show for my older girls God's Girls group. It was so much fun to see all the creative ways our girls have been gifted. We were entertained with piano, flute, violin, clogging, singing, acting and art work.

Since our evenings are so beautiful now we decided to hold the event outside on our back patio.  We rearranged everything so the toys disappeared (now if I could only keep them that way ;) ), the patio was swept free of dust and spiders and the tables were rearranged to accommodate food and drink.  We set up chairs for everyone to sit in, put our propane heaters around the edges, pulled out E.'s keyboard and awaited for all the talent to arrive.

I only have pictures of our set-up. Once everyone got here, I was too busy running the sound system and keeping my two littlest out of the way to take any pictures. haha  In these pictures, just imagine a bunch of talented girls ages 9-13 standing up and performing and you'll feel like you were there with us as well.

We used our windows to hang the art work. There were four girls who had art work to display plus another girl who had photographs that she shared but weren't displayed.

 Audiences view from the way back

 The performers view

  The all important drink and food tables (before the food arrived)

 We had about 40 people come, moms, dads and siblings. It was a fantastic time of fellowship and sharing what wonderful ways we have been blessed by our  Father.

State Fair

A few weeks ago we went to our State Fair.  We went with our homeschool group and took advantage of the school group rate. We hung out with our fellow homeschooling friends and neighbors and had such a fun day!

Right at the entrance they were creating this incredible sand sculpture. It was to depict the 5 C's of Arizona's history (along w/ a few things that don't belong in there!)

Our first stop was the animals and the petting zoo. A, my nature lover really enjoyed checking out all the animals.  

  A. w/ her new friend, the llama

Having fun at the Fair kids? :)

R. couldn't stay in the animal section as the hay was making her asthma flare up. So while Mark took A and K through the remaining displays, I stayed with R. and the other kids who just weren't interested in seeing anymore animals.  The expression on their faces lined up against this wall were just great I had to snap their picture.

Watching my girls take off into the sky
 A. about ready to be eaten by a T-Rex

Coming out of the "Fun" House. They discovered it wasn't so fun and a waste of their tickets. Good lesson for the fair!
I think this pretty much sums up the fair:
Two huge lemonades - Check
chocolate ice cream smeared face - Check
  dazed expression - Check.
A successful day at the fair accomplished. :)
 The happy fair goers as we head on home.
It was a fun, fun, fun day. My friend loves to go on the rides as well so she convinced me to go on all of them with her.  What fun! Just like being a teenager again, almost. ;)


Recently we traveled down to Kartchner Caverns to check out this incredible cave. S. had been studying about caves with his science co op so we decided to take a trip down there to make it come more alive for the boys. Unfortunately only one other boy was able to make it but it turned into a fun trip for the rest of my family to join in on instead. They all got to use the tickets that the other families weren't using!

S and I joined our friend (and neighbor :) ) for the ride down there while Mark took the rest of our kiddo's in our van. It was a fun time riding down and back giving the boys a chance to talk and play as well as a rare chance for my sweet friend and I to talk w/o a lot of interruptions. She has four kids, I have six. Uninterrupted spent just being able to talk is rare indeed! :)

It was a beautiful day for visiting. The grounds outside the visitors center were beautiful.  We enjoyed spending time looking at the various plants and trees before going into the center.

There is a museum inside the visitors center that shows the history of Kartchner's Caverns as well as information on caves in general, the different types of caves, what you find in caves, etc.  The history of Kartchner Caverns is quite interesting. It was discovered by two college kids who were looking for caves in the area.  When they realized what they had discovered they kept it a secret for many years knowing that if it had been made public knowledge, the caves would have been destroyed. They finally contacted the land owners where the cave was located and they agreed that something special needed to be done with this cave to bring it to the public but preserving the pristine condition of the cave. More time went by with the caves remaining a secret until the Kartchner family (the owners of the land) contacted the state and the plans for a State Park began.  Can you imagine keeping something like this a secret for 20 years???  Amazing but well worth the difficulty of keeping something like this a secret for so long.

 S and J in front of a stalagmite in the museum

E., my wanna be spelunker

Me with R and A

The cave is in absolute pristine condition. They are very strict about not touching anything and not bringing anything into the cave that might drop or brush against the walls. As a result, I don't have any pictures of inside the cave but you can find many here on the google image search.

Such a fun outing with friends and what a wonderful opportunity to see more of God's amazing world!

Monday, November 15, 2010

TOS Review - Corps of Re-Discovery - Patchwork Quilt Craft

We were recently given the Patchwork Quilt Craft from Corps of Re-Discovery to assemble for a review for TOS.  When I learned I was going to be on this particular review, I was very excited to share this with my nine year old daughter who is just beginning to sew.  She was equally excited when the materials came. :)

In our package we received  58 squares of precut fabric, a solid piece of fabric for the backing, batting, thread and yarn for tying off the piece in the end as well as step by step directions on how to piece, sew and finish the quilt.  All you need to provide is a sewing needle, a yarn needle and your creative spirit.

our fabric was a mixture of three different types of darker fabric as well as solid off white squares

I gave the project to my daughter and together we read through the instructions. She pieced together her quilt, trying to come up with a design. 
Laying out the quilt squares

Final design

She's new to sewing so I walked her through step by step. It didn't take long before I was able to completely walk away and let her complete the sewing on her own.  There is a lot of ironing when working with all these squares, which I did continue to help her with! :)
My take on this product? It's awesome! The quality is top notch, the directions were easy and clear enough that a non-sewing nine year old and her (non sewing) mother could easily piece the quilt together and the best part of all, we both learned a new skill, while working together. That alone is priceless.

The Patchwork Quilt Kit retails for $14.99 but is on sale right now for $11.99.  

Corps of Re-Discovery has quite a few fun, inexpensive kits.  How about an Arrow Kit from their American Indian line or a Quill Feather Pen Kit from their Pioneer and Colonial line (which is where the Patchwork Quilt can be found).  They have quite a few kits to choose from that will be sure to put a smile on your young discoverer. Make sure to check them out. They'd make great Christmas presents!

To see what others on TOS reviewed, there was a mixture of kits sent out :), 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.