Friday, August 31, 2012

Kids Say

P: Why does it feel like it is sprinkling on my hands?
Me: Because you are leaning on your elbows and your hands are falling asleep.

Loved the description :)

Just do it

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

Because sometimes, it rains tomorrow.

I woke up this morning to the pitter-patter of rain on my window and remembered saying, "Don't worry about the laundry, I'll get it in the morning" before I went to bed. Oops.

Looks like it is getting one final rinse.

Review: Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom is an interactive, online reading program that is for children ages 4-10. It was created by Dr. Marion Blank, who has an impressive 40+ year history in the reading field. It teaches 6 skills that are needed to make successful readers:  sequencing, motor skills, sounds, meaning, grammar, comprehension.

I was extremely excited when Reading Kingdom came up for review because Princess P (age 7) has done another online reading program before and really enjoyed it. P was also super excited to have something all her own to do on the computer. So off we went...

Day 1 she had to take the placement test/skills survey. This was so frustrating for her that she wanted to throw in the towel. Really. :( Parents are not supposed to help the children with this part and it was so hard to watch her struggle. It appeared to be more of a typing test than a reading test. You have the choice of using an online keyboard or your computer keyboard and she had chosen to use the computer keyboard. Big mistake. It took her so long to find the keys (she knew the answers) that she would miss the question. Because of this, it started her at Letter Land, which was really too easy, in my opinion.

I'm so glad we didn't give up here because it definitely got better. I should stop here and point out that you can email them if you feel the level is too easy or hard and they will adjust it, but I wanted to just let it play out and see how it went.  And I'm glad we did. She learned how to type capitals and use punctuation in her sentences during this level. She learned where all the letters were on the keyboard too, which helps her in the next levels (and life, actually ;) ). YAY! Maybe they know what they are doing after all. I need to trust more - lol. She is now doing the normal lessons and enjoying it much more. The lessons are fun and she is able to do it all on her own, which is nice too! She has learned so much more then keyboarding too as she works through the lessons each day. I just asked her what her favorite thing about Reading Kingdom is and she replied, "When we get to practice one word at a time." I like that too - they drill in one word until you can spell it, read it and understand it before moving on to another word.

Even though she logs into her own account and does the lessons on her own, I can log into my account and see where she is at in the program and how she is doing. They also send emails periodically that contain a progress report. When she logs in, she can see this image that shows how far along she is in the level and she gets "stamps" in her reading passport when she earns a certain amount of points (she likes this feedback and will do an additional lesson if she is close to getting that next stamp!). She does one or more lessons each school day. On average, she can complete a lesson in about 15 minutes.

The program is $19.99 a month for one child, additional children in your family are 1/2 price. There is no commitment and you can cancel at anytime. If you pay the whole year in advance, there is a 20% discount, making it $199.99. I love that they have such a passion for this that if the money is truly an issue, you can contact them and they will work with you on the cost. What companies do that? I can't think of any! Also, it is FREE for the first month. What do you have to lose?  Go try it out!

Do I think it is worth that price? Being honest here, if it was free, we would probably only do it a few times and forget about it. Making an investment, you stick with things and make them a priority. I think they have a very good thing here but I'm still not 100% convinced it is worth the cost. I am going to continue P doing this all year and will let you know in the spring. She is enjoying it and I do think it is helping, I am just majorly cheap frugal so it is going to have to produce great results at the end of the year to justify the expense.

Click the banner below to see what other Crew members thought of this site.


Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a one year subscription, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

**update 9/8/12** I was reading other reviews on this product and one mentioned an app called "Rover". I downloaded this and now P can do Reading Kingdom on the iPad!!! YAY! Check it out - it allows you to do flash sites that are educational. Love it!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: Christian Liberty Press: Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers

While I love that churches have gone to more contemporary services and away from singing the 1, 2, and 4th stanza of the same hymns over and over, I still have a desire for my kids to know and understand the powerful words found in old hymns. Big Daddy bought a hymn CD for me a few years ago that I still love to listen to at home. I was excited when Christian Liberty Press graciously sent me an ebook of Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Maker, by Douglas Bond to review. WOW! This book was way more than I was expecting.

In the book, Drew and Annie Willis are American siblings that are "stuck" vacationing in Olney, England while their mother is doing some research. Annie is very easy going and enjoys everything and I kept commenting that Drew reminds me so much of Captain C - lol - everything is annoying to him and his is always bored and grumpy. They wander around the town and meet some interesting people during their visit. The story centers around their time with Mr. Pipes, an older gentleman in the town. As they get to know him, he takes them on many adventures but also teaches them (and us) about British hymn writers and about worship in general.

Learning the history of some of the greatest hymns ever (like Amazing Grace or O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing) makes them even more special to sing. I love that the kids learned so much as I read it to them - it was a great time each day for us. None of them ever complained about reading this at all (which is rare!).

As I looked back at each chapter, I was amazed at what we had learned, and that we barely knew we were learning. It is so well written - childhood adventures mixed in with education - that the kids didn't know what hit them. Most chapters ended with sheet music to a few of the songs, which was fun to try to play for the kids. It has been a long time since I've played hymns and I enjoyed playing a little again.

I, personally, really enjoyed learning right along side the kids with this book.  This isn't something that is covered in any of our curriculum so I never would have taught it on my own if it weren't for these books. My suggestion to the publisher would be to make this an audio book too! I googled some of the songs for the kids to hear but it would have been so cool to have audio clips of the songs included in each chapter.

I loved this book and would love to read others in the series. I was sent the ebook for this review, which is normally $8.79, but for future books, I will be buying actual print books since they are only about a dollar more and these are something you are going to want to keep and reread.

Click the banner below to see what other Crew members thought of this book.


Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

Friday, August 17, 2012

No more moles...take 2

Last August, Terrific T had an odd looking mole that we had removed. I blogged about it to bring awareness to moles everywhere and surprisingly I get hits on that post at least once a week from people googling about suspicious looking moles.

T went for his full body scan last week and they found two new moles on his noggin that she wanted off....sooner than later. There are two more that she wanted to watch and recheck in 6 months too.

You can see the scar from his one last year down there too.

Today, we went in and had those two removed. T always surprises me with how well he does on things like this. He jumped up in the chair and let them give him shots in both sides of his head. He squeezed on his Webkinz but didn't make a peep or move at all. I know I wouldn't have been that calm. He had picked out another new Webkinz after his appointment last week that he just got today. Last year's was a raccoon he named "Stitch" and this year is a White Tiger name "Deuce" (2nd stitches, 2 of them this time, and he ended up with 2 stitches in each one). I'll spare you the "after" pictures (You are welcome, KJ) but he was excited to hear that they used blue thread to stitch him up. They said they would use smaller thread than last time, but he would have to take it easier so it didn't pop open....worth it for a smaller scar. He had asked me if they had colors because he thought green would be cool. I didn't think they did so this was a pleasant surprise when we got home and looked at it :) Thank you to all of you that prayed for him. He is a trooper!

Again, I say....if you have suspicious moles, or any moles on your head, palms of your hands or soles of your feet, please get them checked out! A precancerous report is much easier to hear than cancerous - and if they are gone, they can't hurt you. I made Big Daddy an appointment when we left ;)

C took a picture of us as we were leaving. P popped up in the background - lol.

He doesn't look nervous at all!

And a "safe" after picture.

Resting at home.

Sweet story - T has been asking me for days to let him buy a certain new app for his ipod. I keep telling him not yet (he buys things and gets tired of them and I feel like it is a waste of money, so put him off sometimes to see if he still wants it later). C got up this morning and bought it for him but it wouldn't load onto T's ipod. So, C changed the log in screen on his own ipod to look like T's, swapped cases with him, rearranged his icons to look like T's and loaded it on his own for him. I gave T "his" ipod on the way to the doctor this morning and when he logged in, C had left him a sweet note that he is praying for him and to have "fun". T was so excited to have "all these new games!" and it took his mind off everything while he waited. C is so thoughtful sometimes and generous as he spent his own money on the app. T was only slightly disappointed to realize he was playing on his brother's ipod too - lol.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

CC Game :)

I guess all the excitement of back to school wore me flat out, because I laid down to listen to P read to me about 1 and woke up around 3. Oops! I think I needed that.

While I snoozed, T and P created a CC game! I was so surprised as they hadn't even mentioned the idea to me. I love it. T was the mastermind behind the whole thing and let P help him make a couple of the question cards. Pretty clever, if I do say so myself...and I do! They had questions about all of this week's memory work and even some Essentials questions in there!

We even got C to join us in playing, which was great review for him of Cycle 1 memory work. We never finished the game but went through the deck about 5 times. He is going to make up Week 2 cards tomorrow so we can get further. There were too many "move back 5 spaces" or "move to the CC! square" cards to be able to make it all the way to the end with one week's worth of questions. But it was a great idea and we will keep playing each week.

I agree, T, it really does!

P jumped in as I was taking a pic of C reading his question.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review - Vocabulary Spelling City

The mission of Vocabulary SpellingCity is "efficient game-based study of literacy skills using any word list." I believe it lives up to that mission!

I was given a free Premium Membership, which normally cost $29.99 for the year for up to 5 children and we have had a fun time exploring the site. There is something for elementary, middle schoolers and high schoolers and there are so many activities to chose from that we didn't even get to everything yet. The url being "" is deceiving - there is so much more than Spelling on this site! They offer a wide range of activities that cover a variety of subjects - Spelling, Writing, Vocabulary, and even English Grammar. And everything was so fun that the kids were learning without even realizing it.

As a parent/teacher, I like that you can make assignments for each of the kids and they can log in with their own username/password and do their assignments. When I log in to my account, I can put in individual spelling or vocabulary lists and assign tasks for each of them to do with their lists.  I was taking vocabulary words from their other subjects and putting it in lists that they can play games with during the week.

 Everything is taught in fun, engaging ways that the kids all enjoyed. One of C's favorite games is called Sentence Unscramble where they give you a list of words and you have to put them in order to make a sentence. I liked the Sentence Writing Practice section for T as he was getting ready for Essentials. Some of the games were a little frustrating for P however. There is one game where letters fall and you have to catch them in the correct order to spell words. She had a hard time with that one so I finished it for her, and I even had trouble! It would be nice to be able to slow it down for younger kids (or older adults, apparently - haha).

Anytime kids are learning while "playing", it is a huge plus in this mama's book! Another huge plus is that it keeps track of their progress and grades and it is all easily accessible in the parent's site. I can see us using this a lot during the school year and love how personalized you can make it, even between kids.

Click the banner below to see what other Crew members thought of this site.


Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to School!

Today was our first day back to CC this year and it was a great day! We did school off and on all summer but today officially started our 6th year homeschooling and 4th year at CC. Wow!

Here are the kiddos back to school pics. We put our house up for sale a couple of weeks ago and one of the things we will really miss is these pictures! If it sells and we move, we will just start at our new house and the kids will never forget what grade they were in when we moved ;) Click on the pics to see them bigger.

And here are some individuals:

7th grade
4th grade
2nd grade
Growing up so fast!
Someone commented on a facebook picture asking if I bribe my kids to always take good pictures. This might answer that question....They aren't all good...just the ones I show ;)

I sure love these kids and am thankful God chose me to be their Mom!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Review - Math Made Easy ~ Addition

I was given the choice of reviewing addition or multiplication for Math Made Easy and I chose addition for Princess Paige. T was already using a math program this summer so I didn't want to add anything more to his day, or confuse him with throwing another method at him.

Math Made Easy says kids will master addition facts in 6 weeks. It is recommended for kids 1st and 2nd grade, or those in Special Ed or advanced Kindergartners. Princess P can do addition, but I notice her counting instead of just having it mastered so I was excited to try this before she starts 2nd grade this fall.

In this program, they teach +0 and +1 the first day and then take those out of the mix, as well as any facts that are repeated (2+3, 3+2 - only keep one in) and that leaves 36 problems to learn. It breaks them down to 6 a week.

There is a workbook page for each day that takes about 5 minutes, and then flashcards, games, and activities you can use too.

P was so excited when the book arrived that we sat right down and got busy. She did several pages and cut out all the pieces for the week 1 activities.

Because the pages were so short, she never complained about having to do them. They were also not your typical page of facts. I liked that they included coloring, cutting, and flashcards so the kids don't get bored.

The only thing that was frustrating was on one of the games. In this game, you move ahead one space every time you get an answer right, but one spot says "move back 1 space". So they did, then your next move you land right back on the "move back 1 space" spot, move back one, etc. Unless you broke the rules, you would stay right there forever ;) I had T and P doing this together to help him practice too (after spending so much time learning multiplication this summer, he was having a hard time switching back to addition - lol!) and we had to just call the game there so we didn't have to "cheat" - LOL! Maybe all kids aren't as literal as mine ;)

She definitely got faster with her answers during the weeks we used this program and it really only took a few minutes each day. I don't think we ever spent more than 15 minutes on it at a time. The book is $24.95 and there is also one for multiplication that works the same way. It has everything you need to use it successfully: lesson plan, worksheets, games, flashcards, etc.

Click the banner below to see what other Crew members thought of this site.


Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Kids Say" - Sunday morning edition...

We weren't able to go to church this morning, which is always an odd feeling. Paige has a rash from the Amox she is taking for strep and our house was showing at 9:15, so we had to get Wondermutt out of the house.

So we loaded up, picked up some donuts, and headed to the park. It had rained during the night so it was nice and cool (cool is relative but considering it has been 105ish for a several weeks, it was gorgeous this morning!). We have been so busy the past few weeks and Big Daddy is going to work a ton this next week so it was nice to get to hang out together as a family.

After we played at the park for a while, we just went driving around the park. We were very surprised to see a Mohawk Park Polo Field. Who knew?!? Terrific T says, "Is that where they play Marco Polo?" LOL. The horses were still getting ready so we didn't get to watch them practice but I'm mentally filing that in my brain to come back to sometime.

Then, Princess P was still hungry and wanted some of Big Daddy's monster cinnamon roll. As I handed it back to her she says to the cinnamon roll, "Oh yeah, Come to Papa!" What? Silly girl!

These kids crack me up!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Shadow.

What is the first thing you see in the morning? The last thing you see before going to bed? The thing you see every time you sit down or stand up?

Here's mine:

This is my shadow. She is ALWAYS under my feet (she sitting under my chair right now as I type this) and I always have to look before getting out of bed or off the couch b/c I'll step right on her. She follows me room to room all day, every day and even sleeps under my side of the bed. Big Daddy gets up before me in the morning and she never even opens her eyes. If I get up, even just to pee, she drags herself out from under the bed and follows me into the bathroom.

It's kinda sweet actually.

Today, she was following P around for a while and I snapped some pics. She is so pathetic that if you look at her funny, she drops to the ground. Or...if she thinks you might be thinking about rubbing her belly, she drops and waits....and taps your leg to remind you she is there.

This is one of my favorite poses of hers. Cracks me up that she can sit like this for ever, just waiting for attention. She does this to Big Daddy when he gets home sometimes.

Maybe she is actually part pug and part prairie dog ;)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

(Notso) Wordless Wednesday - Pancakes!

C loves to make breakfast and does it most mornings. He hates cereal! Just ask him about the other two leaving cereal soaking in milk in their bowl on the counter and he will likely start gagging. Today, he ran out of milk while making pancakes so used P's Almond milk in the batter. They ended up SO thick that I joked they were "Quarter-Pounder-Pancakes". One pancake filled me up  :)

Maybe he will own a breakfast only restaurant one day.

Review - Create Better Writers

I'll admit that I was slightly skeptical when I was asked to do a review for Create Better Writers. It is summertime and I didn't think the kids would be all gung-ho about doing some writing. But we dove in with an open mind and had a good time in the process.

We started with the How to Write a Paragraph ebook for our lessons. It is geared more toward a classroom so I was pleased that they also sent a Homeschool Action Plan to help us adapt it for home use. Score! I liked how the program broke everything down in simple steps. It's so simple, even a dog could teach it:

The first few days, we worked on learning what a good paragraph included. Once he got that down, we moved on to "the trick". After teaching this lesson, he wrote a paragraph. Success! Captain C even jumped in and he and Princess P wrote one too. Then they wrote another because it was so fun and easy. This method is so simple and yet keeps them on task (ie...the whole paragraph is about one main idea - woot). It is recommended for grades 3 and up but Princess P was having fun trying it too...with help. C has a strong writing background so was more in it to help the others, which was nice too. He was able to move on to learn how to write a 5 paragraph essay since he had the basic paragraph down.

Terrific T then spent time learning how to improve his paragraph. It took several days of doing these together before he could do it completely on his own. I found it helpful if I suggested ideas after he decided his topic. Otherwise, we were spending way too much time brainstorming and he would get bored before he got to the actual improvements to his writing. I think I should have broken it up into several days - one writing the paragraph and another couple improving it. But I pushed him through in one sitting...not my best idea.

Older kiddos, like C will move very quickly through the first book and be ready to move on.  I like that they give you the basic paragraph book free if you purchase the How to Teach the 5 Paragraph Essay ebook for $17.95. It never hurts to review the basics, even if it is only for a day and then you move on. Since it is free, you have nothing to lose.

On its own, the How to Teach the Paragraph is $7.95, I think it was worth it to get the kids writing this summer. It was a good refresher for Captain C and Terrific T learned a lot about staying organized with his paragraphs. You wouldn't believe the rabbit trails a 9 year old boy can follow in a "paragraph" if not guided ;)

Click the banner below to see what other Crew members thought of this site.


Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.