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.