Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Master Clock Review

I only have 2 words for this product: really cool! Master Innovations recently sent me the Master Clock to review. It could not have come at a better time. My 6 year old has been trying to figure out the whole world of clocks and time.

Master Innovations began over 10 years with a simple goal: to make sure every child in school had a Master Ruler. Since then they've moved on to include many more math manipulatives that make learning measurements more hands on and visual.

Our family received the Master Clock to review thanks to Master Innovations and TOS. It's geared toward any age-early learners or the older child who is having issues picking up on the concept of telling time.

For $14.95 you can receive the student workbook and the Master Clock. The clock itself is 4 clock faces in one. There's the basic clock that consists of half and quarter hour markings only; the hours face; the minutes face and finally the seconds face. Each face can be superimposed unto the next. The hands of the clock can be removed and used in any combination. Therefore if the child is just learning hours and minutes, you can take the second hand off. At the top , a digital clock is included. It can be used in many different ways in the learning process. The clock is about the size of a toddler's board book, made of sturdy plastic and packaged in a thick, clear plastic bag that snaps at the top.

The workbook is 100 pages full of useful information. It starts out giving a brief history of time including different types of 'clocks' over the ages. There are several different projects your child can make to go along with this ( a clock from a paper plate, a water clock, a sand clock). The worksheets are so much more than just clock faces to identify. They really go all out to teach your child the concept of time. Which goes first, about how long does this take, just a second, am and pm, etc.

I love that the Master Clock and work book are small and light enough to take everywhere. We take it in the car all the time and recently stuck it in my daughter's back pack on a long flight. The clock is colorful; the workbook is simple to understand with short lessons that aren't overwhelming. My daughter loves 'playing' with the materials and has learned so much.

In fact, we like this product so much that I plan on ordering more Master Innovation products like the Master Ruler, Master Fractions and Master Angle. It's hard to find products that are durable, easy to use, inexpensive and that my child loves and actually learns from. Master Clock is one of those. I highly recommend it.

You can find out what others think of this product at:

*I received the Master Clock for free in exchange for my review. No further compensation was received.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Write Foundation Review

He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. Luke 6:48

At our house, my middle daughter is our 'writer'. She's only 12, but for years she has been writing poems, short stories, etc. She has book after book filled with her words. Therefore when we received the package from The Write Foundation she was super excited. Thank you TOS for allowing us to review this product. We believe that writing is a pillar of a good education.

"The goal of the Write Foundation is for students to become well thought-out and organized writers which will help them be more effective communicators and therefore better prepared for other classes and life."

1. The Writing Process- the fundamental writing skills of brainstorm, outline, rough draft, edit and final copy.
2. Writing Structure-incorporating structured organization in writing.
3. Word Usage-basic grammar and figures of spe
ech used to enhance writing.

"Repetition is the price of knowledge."-Keith Lamb

All levels can be used in a homeschool setting with 1-3 students. They can also be used in a co-op or classroom setting with multiple students. Schedules for both are included in the package.

Age levels are any where from 11-17; it depends greatly o
n your student's maturity, writing experience and interest in writing. Each level can easily be adapted to a 2 year format if needed.

There are 3 levels:
Level 1: Sentence to Paragraph Writing
Level 2: Paragraph Writing
Level 3: Essay Writing

Poetry is taught too for several reasons:
1. for teaching grammar
2. to teach structure
3. to learn to work with different parts and figures of speech to incorporate into paragraphs later
4. just for their enjoyment!

We chose Paragraph Writing which includes the following:

The entire Paragraph Writing Curriculum for teacher and student by Rebecca Celsor includes:

  • Spiral-bound Teacher Instruction Manuals with Lesson Plans (about 160 double-sided pages)

  • 1 set notebook-ready Worksheets (about 200 pages)

  • 1 CD with additional resources

    • Grading System

    • Grading Record Sheets

    • Word Games

    • Checklists

    • Teacher Presentation Sheets

    • Weekly Assignments

    • Extensive Reading list

Prices for the program vary depending on what you feel would work best for child and for you.

Curriculum Package 1: Paragraph Complete Lessons 1-30 $100 + tax/shipping.

Spiral Instruction Manual Lessons 1 – 15 & Lessons 16 – 30

Student Worksheets Full Set Lessons 1 – 30

Paragraph Additional Resources CD

Curriculum Package 2: Paragraph Lessons 1-15 $65 + tax/shipping.

Spiral Instruction Manual Lessons 1 – 15

Student Worksheets Lessons 1 – 15

Paragraph Additional Resources CD

Curriculum Package 3: Paragraph Lessons 16-30 $65 + tax/shipping.

Spiral Instruction Manual Lessons 16 – 30

Student Worksheets Lessons 16 – 30

Paragraph Additional Resources CD

Only 1 addtional item is recommended:
Mind Benders
These are used to help develop the student's organizational processing. They learn to think logically by working puzzles. Most students love Mind Benders. The use of Mind Benders is optional.

Overall The Write Foundation is a very thorough, easily adaptable writing program that in my opinion is a very good product for the price. You can read what other TOS Crew Members thought at:

*For the purpose of this review, I received The Writing Foundation for free. My review is based on my opinion of the product only. No additional compensation was received.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Collectorz.com Review

As an avid reader and homeschool mom, I have tons and tons of books. Unfortunately some are duplicates. It happens to even the best of us! LOL! I see a good deal and suddenly I can't remember a thing. Fortunately for me I got to review Collectorz book collectors for free (thanks to my favorite magazine, TOS). I'm soooo happy! Finally a way to organize all my books!! I'm a happy girl.

Not only can you keep an accurate home inventory of book collections(the whole family's- from the toddler to dad's) with Collectorz.com but these programs assist with insurance records and general home organization.

The programs are perfect for people interested in keeping an accurate list of their belongings and also for those who are a little more serious- wishing to keep detailed records for each item in their collection.

What costs are involved?
*Standard format $24.95

*Pro format $49.95

*Barcode scanners are available from the Collectorz.com website to make entering data faster. Options include a simple scanner for $19.95 or a deluxe laser scanner for $139.95.

Why use Collectorz?

*Large collections of books can be worth a lot of money. Having an accurate way to keep track of them can be beneficial for insurance purposes.

*Having a list like this can help people like me keep from purchasing duplicate copies of books. It also helps you keep up with who you've loaned to.

*Book Collectorz makes keeping up with your book collection easy.

For more reviews on Collectorz, check out: The TOS Crew Blog

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

PG Key Review

PG Key is a unique device that plugs into any USB port on a PC and gives parents the tools they need to manage kids using the Internet. I received this really cool tool to review for free thanks to TOS.

It’ so simple to use. Simply take it from the box, plug it into any USB port and assign it a password. Done!

When PG Key is removed, the computer operation is suspended - this allows parents to control when their child can use the PC. You can also load time on PG Key like a cell phone and limit how many minutes a day the computer is used. When PG Key is in, 10 technologies are engaged, including site blocking and filtered searching. They allow you as a parent to create a safe Internet environment for the child. PG Key automatically records up to 60 hours of computer activity that can be reviewed just like watching a movie - sites visited, chats, e-mails, eveything.
It works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7

There are also no annual fees. Just a one time purchase price of $49.99

10 Tools in one little device:

*Access Control Control computer use by inserting or unplugging PG Key.
*Time Allowance Decide the amount of time the computer can be used daily.
*Content Filtering Eliminate unwanted results from innocent searches.
*Site Blocking Block sites you decide are inappropriate.
*Activity Tracking Review all activity on the PC with a DVD-like interface.
*Activity Notifications Be informed via text message or e-mail of any flagged activity.
*Chat and E-mail Logging See both sides of chat and e-mail conversations.
*Computer Configuration Properly configure all users of the protected PC.
*User Name and Password Logging Keep track of user names and passwords.
*Inappropriate Activity Evidence Use video recording to show obvious or suspected inappropriate activity.

PG Key is one of the best products I've seen. It's fast and easy to use yet gives you so much peace of mind. You can read what other crew members thought of it at:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Peleg Chronciles

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings,that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation"
Isaiah 52:7

One thing I've learned with having 3 children is that you can't be too careful about what they put into their minds. I've always told them that what goes in through their minds ends up in their hearts. One particular incident I recall happened a couple of years ago. We were preparing to go on a trip to Europe. One of the first things we think about is having a book or books to read on the long flight. We went in a local (small town) bookstore and asked for advice on books for the girls. They took us to the appropriate section for their ages. First they tried to push the 'vampire' books on us. The girls politely declined, much to my relief. Next was the ever popular 'witch craft' books. Once again the girls said that was something they weren't interested in. Finally a series of books that had been made into a movie was presented. Because the store was about to close and our flight was leaving early the next morning, we purchased these books without reviewing them thoroughly. Much to my dismay, halfway through the book, my daughter brings to my attention not only inappropriate language, but also totally inappropriate content. I was devastated that I had let her put those things into her mind. From that point on, my husband and I decided that every book our children read would be first approved by us or someone close that we trusted. Our children's minds are just too impressionable to allow anything to enter them.

A few weeks ago I received the book "The Peleg Chronicles" by Matthew Christian Harding. TOS asked me to read and review it. The first thing I did was flip to the back cover where I read "No Magic, No Evolution, No Humanism". Immediately I thought this was going to be a good book!

"I wanted to write books of fiction for our youth and adults that
would strengthen these beliefs, and give another platform from
which to excite and exhort our children to believe the Bible
literally - every word. I also desire to give them exciting stories
that help train them in Godly character.

I believe the Peleg Chronicles will give you another venue for
speaking truth into your children's lives. Just look at the
repetitive bombardment of evolution and humanism our families
are exposed to. We can't be neutral in our approach towards
false ideology, or our culture will dictate what is taught by
default. And reading works of fiction are one of the powerful
ways that learning occurs. That's why we must be cautious and
purposeful in choosing what our children are reading"

~Matthew Christian Harding

This 256 page book, priced at $11.95, is written for ages 10 and up. It's classified as Historical Fiction-mine and my oldest daughter's favorite. This early human history weaves a web of entertaining and imaginative heroes who depend on the Lord for help. Faith in God is the core of what the story is about. The characters (dragons, giants, false priests, the death hunt, an under-city of the dwarven brotherhood, and many more) are brought to life by Harding. The story begins in the time period of Peleg ,after the flood of Noah, soon after the tower of Babel dispersion. "Foundlings weaves together the Biblical principles of chivalry, truth, courage, duty, faith and love within the framework of Genesis, and a bold adherence to its historicity." The Peleg Chronicles is a book I proudly read in our home and let my girls read on their own. It's so refreshing to find good literature in today's world that not only is exciting, but glorifies our Lord. I highly recommend Peleg Chronicles and hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

If you'd like to read more reviews on this book visit The Homeschool Crew.

*For the purpose of this review, I received The Peleg Chronicles for free. My review is based on my opinion of the product only. No additional compensation was received.*

Friday, September 24, 2010

Schleich Figurine Review

It's not everyday that I'm as excited as my 6 year old when a package arrives. Today happened to be one of those days. Not only were the two of us pushing each other, but my other 2 girls were 'oohing and ahhing' as we pulled the Schleich figurines from the box. TOS kindly asked me to review these. What a pleasure!

Friedrich Schleich founded the company in 1935. Each figurine is engineered by a German master craftsman who works on the finest details for up to six weeks. Each one is hand painted-therefore they are all unique. Even though I no longer have toddlers around the house, it's important to me that all our toys are safe. All Schleich products are thoroughly tested by in-house experts at the German headquarters in Schwäbisch Gmünd. That means they are durable and safe.

Did I mention that these figurines are absolutely beautiful! They are simply miniatures of the real thing. I guess that's why not only toddlers enjoy them (only the larger pieces that can't cause a choking hazard), but older children and even adults like to collect them. There are so many(over 500) to pick from that boys and girls can find something they like.

Schleich makes a wide range of figurines which are divided into the following categories:

Farm Life

Wild Life

Prehistoric Animals

The World of Knights
The World of American Indians
The World of Fantasy (including Bayala and the Smurfs)

Price range varies depending on the piece-anywhere from around $6.00 up to $50.00+. The Schleich website can help you locate a dealer near you.

"When deciding on licensing products such as comic figurines we pay careful attention to their character and the message they carry. Educational aspects play a more important part than possible sales potential."

Wow! How many companies would say that? I guess you can tell that I like these cute little guys and so does my daughter. I can see her playing with them for many more years. We've already planned to order some of the characters from Bayala. I have to have some Smurfs too because they bring back memories of my childhood J. Schleich figurines are perfect for almost every age range, interest and imagination. Safe, durable and most of all just pure simple fun.

You can find out what the rest of the Homeschool Crew thought at the blog.

*For the purpose of this review I received free Schleich figurines. My review is based on my opinion of the product only. No additional compensation was received.*

Thursday, September 9, 2010

America's Math Teacher Review

I have to admit that Math is not a favorite subject around our house. When I got the chance to review America's Math Teacher for free from TOS, my children weren't exactly screaming with joy. Fortunately, for me, America's Math Teacher was not painful at all. LOL!

First of all this program is a web-based math curriculum with printable worksheets for $195/year. It covers Basic Math (grade 4) all the way to Algebra. It also meets NCTM (National Council of teachers of Mathematics) standards. The site is divided into:

Learning Center-video tutorials, printed exercises, quizzes and final exams.

Exercise Center-access and download printable exercises and review problems.

Evaluation Center-pre-tests and final exams (also available at the Learning Center)

Resource Center-information, glossaries and games. Our favorite is the speed drill-try to beat your time on whatever level of problems you're currently working.

Your child can initially watch the short video (lessons worked out on a white board), complete the written exercise,then check her answers in the solutions section. At the end of each section she will take a quiz. After each course there is a final exam.

What I like:
  • It's web-based-no books to carry around.
  • Your child can go at her own pace.
  • The videos explain/teach the new concept
  • No grading on the parents part

If you'd like to read more reviews about this product and many more visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

*Thanks to TOS I was able to review America's Math Teacher for free. My review is totally based on my opinion of the product only. No additional compensation was received.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Our little school

Want to take a peek inside our school room:

Unfortunately, we don't have the opportunity to study this way every day. When the weather is as beautiful as it has been lately we just can't resist but to move to our favorite place.
Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) was a British educator who's teachings we closely follow. She believed that children should be outside at least 4-6 hours a day.
"Never," she writes, "be within doors when you can rightly be without."
I agree.

Her hands are busy...

I've mentioned before that one of my goals is to learn to quilt. It's been a slow process for me. At times...very slow. I made this quilt top almost 7 years ago. Our pastor's wife taught a weekly class at our church. Because I had a very fussy infant at the time, I wasn't able to go to the last classes. This was where she showed everyone how to actually 'quilt'. So, I've kept this top tucked away for all these years.

While moving into our new home, I was able to organize all my sewing things. I have much more space and can actually see where everything is. Once again I came across that little log cabin quilt top. I decided that would be my next project. Only one problem-I still didn't know how to quilt it.

I spent tons of time online trying to just decide what pattern to quilt it with. After all the time I spent sewing the top, I surely didn't want to mess it up. Finally I settled on stippling. There's something about the look of stippling that I love, love, love! More experienced quilters will do this freehand, but I had to trace the pattern.

(the fabric on the back is a street map of Paris.)

I'm absolutely thrilled with the finished product. It's not perfect by any means...but it's finished. If you like the fabric, it's from Moda. It's called Paris Flea Market by 3 Sisters. I can check the log cabin quilt off my to-do list. Now...what else do I have to finish?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cake decorating

The girls and I have been doing lots of cooking lately. One of my goals this summer was to finally try all of those recipes I'd been saving. Another thing I've always been curious about is cake decorating. Fortunately for us, we have a dear friend who is an expert at decorating cakes. She came over for a visit one day and surprised us with tiny cakes of our own to decorate. She was so patient instructing us on all the different techniques. Cake Boss makes it look so easy but it's really not! LOL! This is definitely an art!

I don't see us going into the business anytime soon, but we certainly had an enjoyable day. Only one problem...after all that hard work none of us wanted to eat our cakes!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September 1

Even without looking at the calender I could tell it was September. The weather is so much nicer-at least in the early morning and late afternoon. The humidity has dropped (well at the moment it's still 90 %). There's a gently breeze blowing that just pulls you outdoors. Walking in the morning is so nice. Each evening I look forward to sitting on the back porch, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the peace around me.

Today, especially, I caught myself daydreaming of fall. Sweaters, soup in the crock pot and pumpkin pie. My favorite thing about fall is our annual trek north. I miss my Canadian friends so much.
Summer on the Gulf Coast can't be beat. I always look forward to it. Right now, fall is on my mind. It's nice to have something to look forward to.

My Access! Home Edition Review

I've always been the type that loved to read and write. In elementary school, I won a couple of different writing contests. In high school I was on the yearbook staff and always in advanced English. It was never work for me but pure enjoyment. When it comes to teaching the technical side of writing…I fail miserably! Therefore I literally jumped for joy when I found out we received a free trial of Vantage Learning's My Access! Home Edition. ( A big 'thank you' to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for allowing me to be a part of the review crew.)

What's included in the writing program? For $99.95 for up to 3 students or $129.95 for up to 6 students you receive:

  • A completely web based writing program for 12 mths

  • Immediate scoring and feedback

  • Editing and writing tools

  • Individual progress reports

  • Self- paced and interactive lessons

  • 96 preloaded writing topics for 3 age groups- (8-10),(11-14) and (15-18)

As a parent I was able to set up student accounts for my girls-assigning individual projects for each. I could also schedule rewards and receive progress reports. Instruction is given in how to write narrative, persuasive and informative essays. The student's writings are assessed by their Focus, Content and Development, Organization, Language Use and Mechanics & Convention. They are then given a score on a scale of Below Proficient, Proficient and Advanced Proficient. There are also activities that the student can complete to help strengthen areas that need improvement.

The My Access! Home Editon website takes a bit of getting used to. With a little practice we were able to find our way around. Also, on their first assignments the girls were slightly confused with the grading and how to correct their mistakes. They quickly got the hang of it. One daughter loved that the website was so bright and fun; the other liked the idea of pretending she was an author and her work was being 'edited' before getting published. I liked knowing that my girls were finally getting a writing course that was concise, engaging and motivating but best of all that had non-subjective grading.

"The ability to write well is one of the most practical and useful skills that we can teach our children." –John Fallon, Vantage Learning

My Access! Home Edition makes it easy for me to incorporate writing into our day by taking away the stress of planning and grading and giving my children something they can enjoy and learn from.

*For the purpose of this review, I received a free membership to My Access! Home Edition. My review is based on my opinion of the product only. No additional compensation was received.*

To read more reviews on this product and others, visit The TOS HomeSchool Review Blog.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Russian Cooking Class

One of the things I love about traveling to different countries, besides meeting the people, is trying a variety of local foods. I love to eat! Recently Emma and I got to try some Russian food right here at home. Our friend who is from Belarus gave us a class in preparing what is one of her favorite foods.

Pelmeni is basically a dumpling that can be filled with several different foods. We put a mixture of ground beef and pork (with onions and seasoning) in ours. Here's the recipe for the dough:

Flour-700 g

Warm water-300g

butter-1 1/2 Tbsp

Combine ingredients and knead well until smooth. Roll out and cut circles (about 3inches in diameter). Place about a Tbsp of the raw meat mixture in the middle. Fold the dough over the meat and seal edges completely with fingers. To make it really pretty you can pinch the 2 ends together to make what I think looks like a tiny bonnet.

Place in boiling water that has been salted for about 8 minutes. Once the pelmeni is removed from the pot you can top with a generous amount of butter. :)

I was surprised at just how delicious this simple recipe is. Add a salad and you've got a very filling meal.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Grace is 12!

It seems like every time I turn around one of my girls is getting older. I miss them all being babies and toddlers but I'm really enjoying this season in our lives too. August is Grace's month. Our middle child who is quiet most of the time, very vocal at other times. :) She has the biggest most giving heart. Best of all she loves the Lord and daily seeks His wisdom. What a joy she is to me and the rest of the family. Happy birthday to my precious G-dog. Love you the world.
( Grace's friend-the pretty brunette on the left, has her birthday just 2 days after Grace's. I made them matching gifts in their favorite colors.)
(my first time to try making Petits Fours.)