Tuesday, June 28, 2016

TOS Review ~ NotebookingPages.com

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

The Lifetime Membership from NotebookingPages.com is an excellent way to enhance your students' learning. Our philosophy on homeschooling is rooted in the teachings of Charlotte Mason. This has led us down the road of copywork and notebooking. We have used notebooking for years. I was really happy to receive a lifetime membership to NotebookingPages.com as a review item.

We are very familiar with notebooking; but if you are not, there is a wonderful five day easy start guide to get you going. I thought it was filled with great advice and tips for successfully bringing notebooking into your kids' daily lives.
Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews
I was amazed when I started exploring the website. There are so many pages. There are many notebooking pages on art study, character study (famous people), geography, history, music, science, holidays, language arts and so much more. There are thousands of pages to copy. I could have used all of the ink in my printer the first day! There are 43 notebooking pages just on trees!!
The website covers appropriate pages for kids from kindergarten (ABC pages) to high school students. So if you click on the tab for science, you are given the choice of anatomy, animals, plants, astronomy, nature study and experiments. Then if you click on anatomy, you are given the choice of circulatory and cardiovascular system, digestive system, endocrine system, integumentary system, lymphatic system, muscular system, nervous system, renal system, respiratory system, senses, and skeletal system. If you then click on the digestive system, you may download 15 excellent notebooking pages. The anatomy pages are wonderful. I love how colorful they are. The pages are all high quality and appropriate for middle or high school. I just can't say enough about the volume of pages offered on this website.
Once you download the section or topic that you want to your computer, you can choose to print all of  the pages or just a few of the pages. This way you don't need to waste ink. I also found the table of contents for each section very useful, if you don't want to download a huge amount of things to your computer before you are sure you want to use them.
We printed out the Father's Day notebook pages and the children wrote letters to their father. I appreciated how many choices the children were given. The pages come in preschool paper, wide rule paper, paper with a place for writing and drawing a picture and a blank page with father-themed decorations. My kids picked the page that they wanted to use. They really liked the variety and quality of the pages. Anne really liked the lined pages and the fun clip art on the sides of some of the pages. Dean was glad that some of the pages had a picture window to draw his own art. He likes to draw cartoons.

I also printed out lots of  pages for an anatomy study and many of the holiday pages for the holidays in May, June and July. I love encouraging my kids to write, and this is the perfect way to give them a HUGE variety of high quality notebook pages.

The lifetime membership, which costs $97, could keep your family busy for years to come. You can use it with all of your children from preschool through high school graduation. That is a deal! Click on the banner below to see what other members had to say about this awesome product.

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, June 27, 2016

TOS Review ~ VeritasBible.com

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review
I love just about anything from Veritas Press, so I was very excited to receive a subscription to VeritasBible.com. This is an awesome interactive way to learn the Bible. Veritas Press has three sections complete in their VeritasBible.com. They are Genesis to Joshua, The Gospels and Judges to Kings. There will be two more sections completed soon, Acts to Revelations and Chronicles to Malachi and Job. Each section covers 32 events. 

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

This program is a great learning tool. It is a video with live characters, games, memory songs, fun quizzes and beautiful graphics. The quizzes and games are fun and easy. The students drag and click the answers to the correct questions. If they get an answer wrong, they are allowed to review and try again as many times as they need. Each lesson only takes a few minutes a day. 
Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

My daughter (12) started at the beginning of the Bible with the lessons from Genesis to Joshua. She really liked the entire program. She enjoyed how smoothly the program ran and that they used real people instead of animated characters. (They do use some animated characters, but they are serious, not silly.) My daughter really doesn't like when the characters in some programs are very goofy. She liked that the people and characters in this program are "normal" and "good teachers".  Anne really liked that this program had memory songs. She liked all of the songs. I even heard her humming and singing them quietly a few times. The songs are animated and have a catchy, fast-paced tune. She also appreciated that there were lots of opportunities for review. Although there was lots of information given in each lesson, it wasn't too fast because there was so much review. She looked forward to doing more and usually picked this program when given a choice of what to do during summer lessons. That is a big deal, because my daughter generally prefers lessons on paper rather than online lessons. 
This is an example of one of the interactive reviews.
This picture shows the characters all dressed in period costumes.
I decided to do The Gospels section of the Bible. I found it fun and thorough. I liked the road map that told me where I was in the lessons. I agreed with my daughter that the graphics were great. The program ran smoothly on all of our devices -- a computer, laptop and Kindle. I liked the large variety in which the review items were presented. There were fill-in-the-blank questions, put in correct order questions, as well as drawing lines to the correct answer. With such a large variety of activities, it was impossible to get bored. The lessons were very clear and presented in an exciting way. I felt that the program was speaking directly to me. Really, it was that interactive.

I appreciated that I was able to see the print on any size screen, because the print was large and the graphics didn't get in the way. 

I also liked how easy the program was to use. My daughter was able to go off and do it on her own. She printed off her quiz results so that I was able to keep a record of how she was doing. She will complete the program over the next few months. I will also be using it as part of my teenage son's high school World Religions course. It is in depth enough to use for upper grades. My son (14) has only looked over his sister's shoulder while she is doing the program but told me that he thought it would be a good fit him. He thought that it didn't seem to be too junior and the actors were pretty good. He thought that the questions were challenging enough to make it worthwhile.

This gets a thumbs up from our family. Click on the banner below to see what other members thought about this great new program.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Greek Acting Camp

Dean had another fantastic year at day camp. This year the theme was Ancient Greece. He spent two weeks (60 hours) learning about all things Greek. His favorite parts were playing all of the games, making a sword, climbing ropes, making his helmet and learning stage combat. He is gathering quite a collection of stage weapons from all of his years of camp. (Each year has a different theme, such as last year which was Vikings.)

He now has two metal swords, a battle-axe, a shield and multiple masks. They design their swords on paper and then take their templates to a welder who cuts the swords out of metal. The swords come back the next day and the kids sand the swords down so that they are dull. Then, they cover the handles in leather.

This camp is such a great experience for Dean each year. He learns so much more than stage combat and acting. He learns self control, team work, obedience, craftsmanship, creativity, growing confidence, endurance, compromise and so much more. He gets wonderful opportunities to role model to the younger campers and to spend ample time with one of his main male role models (Giles, the director).

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, June 23, 2016

TOS Review ~ MySchoolYear.com

MySchoolYear.com Review
Recently, I have had the opportunity to track our lesson plans with the program, My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) from MySchoolYear.com. This online program puts all of your lessons plans and important tracking records all in one safe place. No need to worry about tea spilling across your lesson plans anymore (ahem).
I must admit, I am a paper and pencil type of person. I really do like to hold my lesson planner in my hand and scribble notes all over the page. However, I see the value of having everything safely recorded online. MySchoolYear.com is a great alternative to the paper planner. With this program, you can look at and update your records on your computer, smart phone or other device. I found it easy to set up my account and start setting the framework of my lesson plans online. This program is so much more than just record keeping. 
You can track all of the below things for multiple children: 
  • lesson plans
  • grades
  • curriculum 
  • attendance
  • reading logs
  • awards
  • events
  • extracurricular activities (such as camp)
Once you enter what you want to keep track of, the program shows everything in nice graphs.  For instance, in the below picture you can see that my son has 900 hours to complete next school year. He currently has completed 20 hours.

The next graph shows how many extracurricular hours he has completed in June. He completed 60 hours at acting camp in June. I love that the program records extracurricular hours. Now that my son is in high school, it is important to record all of those extras to help with college admissions. 

The next graph shows my daughter's reading log. She is now reading a book every week. This is a great way to keep track of how many she is accomplishing.

You can have emails sent to you with notifications on upcoming lesson plans, events and attendance daily or weekly. I chose to have my emails come weekly, since we are in the middle of summer. You can change that and anything else at any time. It is very easy to edit and there are help buttons and teacher aids every where on the website. 

This program is a very useful tool, especially if you live in a state that requires lots of record keeping. My state only requires end-of-year testing and attendance notification. However, I am the type of person who really needs records and a visual lesson plan laid out to make my days run smoothly and to know that we are on the road to success. I have always kept lesson plans and records of how many hours/days we did school work. I am just one of those planner type people that likes to have a record of every thing. This program will fill the bill for that type of person, even if your state doesn't require so many records. The cost is $40 a year. That is not much more than two lesson planners would cost, which you would need if you have two kids being homeschooled like I do. If you have more children, it would really be a deal.

Check out what other TOS crew members had to say about this program by clicking on the banner below.

Homeschool Record Keeping {MySchoolYear.com Review}

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

TOS Review ~ LearnBop

We received a subscription to LearnBop for Families from LearnBop recently. We received the family plan for two to four students. This is an online math program that has been in the public schools for years and now is being offered to families. It meets all Common Core standards and teaches math concepts from third through twelfth grade. You can purchase access to it by the month or by the year.

LearnBop for Families Review
I tend to shy away from anything that advertises that it is Common Core, especially math. I find that the way Common Core math is being taught is very confusing to most children and adults. Even if you get the answer correct, it is often marked as wrong, because the process in which you got the answer is wrong (according to Common Core). I found this to be true several times with LearnBop. 
LearnBop for Families Review
I started out with my daughter (12) using this program. She received a score of  95% accuracy on end-of-year national testing this year for sixth grade. She is strong in math and generally gets A's on all assignments, using three well-known homeschool curriculums. I placed her in seventh grade and set her free to explore the program. She began struggling within minutes. My husband stepped in to help her and suggested that the grade be adjusted. I lowered the program to sixth grade and she kept calling me, saying she had put in the right answer but it was saying she was wrong. I sat with her and we kept at it, although many of the answers were stated to be wrong because she wasn't "thinking" the way they wanted her to. The final product was correct, but not the way to get to the final product. I lowered it to fifth grade to try to ease up the pressure, since this was only a review item and not meant to be a stressful thing in our homeschool. By now she was embarrassed, frustrated and near tears. I started paying her in chocolate to just try a few more bops (what they call problems). She did have a little bit more success with the fifth grade, as long as we used the hints and concentrated on really understanding what the program wanted in any particular question. There often seems to be multiple correct answers.
My daughter had had enough, so I took over the program. I lowered the program to fourth grade and spent about six hours learning the program. Once I learned Common Core math, I was able to start getting the questions correct. Here is an example of one of the problems. Hint~ the correct answer is not A, which every member of my family and two neighbors thought it should be. The answer is C. You multiply 3 x 10 to get 30 and 3 x 4 to get 12 and then you add 30 plus 12 to get 42.
Since I had my son tested professionally this year by a psychologist who specializes in testing and helping place kids on the correct career path for them, I asked him if it was a disadvantage that my kids were not learning Common Core math like the public school kids. He snorted and said that the colleges do not teach it, and many kids are going through remedial math classes in college to get back on track. With all that said, I am sticking with teaching math the way it has been taught for hundreds of years. LearnBop gets a thumbs down from me.
If you are looking for a program that meets Common Core standards, this is a very easy program to use. I found it to be encouraging and it lets the student know their improvement after each problem. When it says that the answer is incorrect, it leads the student in an encouraging way with step-by-step guidance if she or he is confused. The program includes multiple videos for each unit that teach the concept in several different ways. I think the videos are clear for the lower levels. However, I think that they are too conversational in that the teacher "wonders" aloud how best to figure out a problem instead of clearly and confidently explaining how to solve it. Sometimes the online teacher even corrects herself, which is confusing. I will add that it is easy to track your child's progress with this program.
I would encourage you to read other reviews from TOS review crew members by clicking the banner below.
LearnBop for Families Review
Blessings, Dawn

Friday, June 17, 2016

First Week of Mom and Daughter Summer Camp

Dean is in a two week day camp that started this week. He is gone from 9 to 3. Anne and I have been keeping busy eating naughty food that Dean isn't allowed to eat because of his allergies -- at least that is what it appears we did when I look at my phone pictures. I save up coupons for months to use during this mother/daughter time. Here is what we did:

Monday ~ We went out for breakfast with our buy one get one free waffle coupon. We then went on to the mall and used our JC Penney coupons on some more shorts for Anne. While there, we power walked the mall and wandered around taking selfies. When I looked at the time, we somehow had managed to spend three hours in the mall!

Tuesday ~ We took Tim to a doctor's appointment and then went out to Rocky's Chicken Shack for lunch. They give a nice discount to teachers on Tuesdays.

Wednesday ~ We did lots of tie-dying projects. We made socks, shirts, and a leotard. The leotard came out great!

Thursday ~ We dropped off stuff at two different consignment shops, traded books in at the used bookstore and dropped off three bags at Goodwill. We used a coupon to get shakes at Chick-fil-A. The most exciting thing of the day was finding a pair of jazz shoes for Anne at the consignment shop in like new condition at a fraction of the cost!

Friday ~ We bought Anne's new pointe shoes. This makes pair number three. She also got a new dance bag, foot undeez and new toe pads. Most of the items were on sale and Anne paid almost half the cost with her earnings from working with kids the last few Friday afternoons. We also got free donuts with another coupon at Krispy Kreme. Lastly, we accomplished most of the grocery shopping for the next week and had some downtime at home.

We had a wonderful first week of mom/daughter camp. We have some great plans for next week, too. I hope I get some good pictures of Dean at his camp next week. He is at Greek acting camp. They are learning all about ancient Greece, learning a little bit of the language, making helmets and swords, acting, play fighting and all manner of other fun things. He is having a fantastic time as he does every year. Each year it has a different theme. Last year it was Vikings. I got only a few decent photos of him this week. On the last day the kids go to the camp owners' home to have a party (besides the camp, they also own our beloved dance studio). If the weather is good, they always end the day in the pool. Here are a few pool shots.

Lastly, I just want to send my prayers to all of those who have been affected by the three tragedies that took place in Orlando this week. The stories out of the nightclub shooting have torn me apart.  It really disgusts me how some "Christians" are spewing hate instead of prayers. Have they forgotten the teachings of Jesus (John 13:34 and Matthew 7-29)?  Since I actually have stood right on the beach where that little boy was killed by the alligator, it seems so real to me. And my daughter really liked the singer, Christina Grimmie. So many senseless acts of violence in one place in one week!

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

TOS Review ~ Progeny Press

I had the pleasure of reviewing Great Expectations E-Guide from Progeny Press recently. I love all literature by Charles Dickens so jumped at the chance to get the study guide. I ended up reviewing this item as a teacher and fan of great literature, since my special needs son was not currently up to the task.
Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}
What It Is ~ This is a downloadable study guide that I printed off and put into a three ring binder. At first it looked like a very simple deal with no color and very small print. However, as I read the guide I was impressed with the rich content. This guide starts out with suggestions on how to use the guide, a synopsis of the novel, background information and a quick review about the novel's author. It then goes on to give a wonderful list of ideas to do before reading the novel. I especially liked the idea of researching and doing a presentation of the Newgate prison. The study guide suggests that you read the entire book first for the cohesive literature experience before starting the unit study. I like the idea of reading the entire book first and then referring back to particular chapters if you cannot recall all of the information being analyzed. 
You do need to add your own book, dictionary and Bible
What I Liked ~ I found the questions and vocabulary sections very useful to increasing comprehension. The vocabulary sections for each group of chapters was especially nice. I like the way they ask the student to write their own sentence using different vocabulary words and that there was a variety of styles presented to help the student learn the vocabulary (such as multiple choice or underlining correct definitions). There are also awesome final essay options and project ideas. I really liked the idea of creating an art project that depicted Miss Havisham's room or the banquet room with all of the wedding food still laid out and decayed. What a great project that would be to really help a student visualize the story!

What I Did Not Like ~ There isn't much I didn't like in this Progeny Press study guide. I do wish that the answer key was in a larger type font. I also thought the leading (amount of blank space between lines of print) should be larger throughout. 

Why I Didn't Use It With My Son at this Time ~ I realized quickly that my 7/8th grade special needs son was not up to reading the book with all of the other end-of-year pressures he was under. I want him to love Dickens as much as I do and didn't want to stress him out. So, I adapted my plan. I had him watch our DVD copy of Great Expectations and used parts of the study to stimulate conversations with him. It worked out well and he will be ready to do the complete study guide when he is a bit older. This does not reflect at all on the unit study. It just was bad timing with all that my son was going through during the review period. 

The TOS reviewers were able to review several Progeny Press study guides over several grade levels. You can check out other study guides by clicking on the banner below.
Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}
Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

TOS Reveiw ~ Forbrain - Sound For Life Ltd.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
I was so excited to receive this bone conduction headset from Forbrain - Sound For Life Ltd. to try with my daughter who struggles with reading. This is a very exciting new technology that trains the brain through bone conduction. This product helps improve memory, auditory processing, speech, sensory integration and reading skills (by improving attention). 
Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

How Does It Work? ~ Did you know that we can hear through the bones in our head? Yes, you can with this special headset. Sound waves move through the bones right next to our ears, causing them to vibrate and sending the sound directly to our cochlea vestibule nerve in our inner ear. This acts as a filter to make one's voice be much more clear to one's brain and help a person process the information more clearly, so that he or she can understand it better. By improving one's ability to hear, the person can also improve their concentration, short-term memory and verbal working memory.

How We Used It ~ This product is very easy to use. We simply removed it from the packaging and turned it by on pushing the little button. A little blue light came on and we placed it onto her head, according to the directions. The little headset piece touches the place right below her ear and the mouth piece is adjustable so it fits easily on anyone. My daughter used it primarily during her reading time each day. She read out loud to me or to her "pretend invisible audience" for upwards of 20 minutes. She thought that the sound of her real voice was fun to listen to, and she quickly got used to wearing the headset and hearing her voice through her bones. How cool is that?

What Anne Thinks ~ She thinks she is able to hear her words more clearly and that the headset helps her slow down and speak more clearly. Anne also used the headset to help her memorize lines for the production of The Jungle Book in which she performed last month. She memorized the lines very quickly. Anne does not really notice whether or not it helps her with reading, although she thinks she reads faster now than she could at Christmas. 

I was concerned that the headset might be uncomfortable or too loud. However, Anne does not find this to be true. It fits easily onto her small head and is perfectly comfortable. She controls how loud she hears the sound by changing how loudly she speaks.

What I Think ~ I am very excited about this product. I often find technology hard to use with lots of steps. This is not true for this headset. It is very user friendly and easy to use. I love that multiple people can use it in the family without any adjustments. Just put it on and start talking out loud. It is that simple. I believe it helps Anne speak more clearly when she is wearing it and helps her read out loud more smoothly than without it. She also sounds more confident and fluent. In addition, her reading score rose on end-of-year testing, in comparison with last year. She will continue to use it several times a week.

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
This Summer, I plan to start using this with my son, who has sensory integration and weak auditory listening skills. He has used it a few times already but was overwhelmed with end of year requirements and spring allergies. He will be using it to hopefully improve his sensory issues and listening skills. He likes using it to have a conversation with others better than reading to himself. This works, too. It can be used with a student who is not yet reading or with a student who is being difficult about reading out loud because that is embarrassing!
To see what other reviewers had to say, click on the banner below:
Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
Blessings, Dawn