Thursday, July 22, 2010

Totally TOS~ Travel Kits Ebook


Wow... Summer-time is fully upon us, with hot weather, trips to the beach, and pool, visiting family and friends~ all those summertime activities that involve "together time" in the car. It is interesting how many blogs I've been reading in the past few weeks that have focused on the "Trials and tribulations" of taking those road trips with kids in the car. 
Some of the questions I've seen posed over and over:
  • What to do with the kids in general? 
  • How do I keep the toddler quiet and/or happy?
  • Keeping Boredom and/or Bickering at Bay
  • Is there any way to Enjoy rather than just Endure the Journey?
PhotobucketI am happy to report that there is help at hand! The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has come out with an ebook Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others**,  that gives one a wealth of information and ideas on making those travel times pleasant memory makers. There are ideas for shorter trips~ to sibling sporting events or regular orthodontic/ dental/doctor trips, and ideas for longer day trips and even mammoth "Road Trips". 

One emphasis that I especially appreciated was the idea of not only making these for your own family, but using them as the opportunity to bless another family, by creating a travel kit for their circumstances. I have to say that the idea is not new to me, as over 20 years ago a friend and I helped create a gift box for a neighboring family that was taking a month-long road trip with their two young boys. They were visiting a number of cities across the nation in preparation for moving. So we prepared and wrapped a "gift" for each day of the trip... sometimes a shared gift, and sometimes one for each boy.  It was the highlight of many of their days, and helped them to keep the attitudes in the car peaceful and happy.

The Travel Kit e-book takes this concept MUCH further with approximately 90 pages filled with some specific answers to the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How questions of creating something fun, friendly, and functional to keep your family (or someone else's) happily occupied while spending neccessary time in the car. There are ideas that cover the youngest all the way up to Mom and Dad, and even Grandma & Grandpa!
For $12.45 you will receive  chapters  filled with inspiration and ideas (And how to implement them with your own twist) covering:
  • The Basics (2 pgs)
  • The Plan (12 pgs)
  • The Presentation and Distribution (11 pgs)
  • The Package (4 pgs)
  • The Presents (14 pgs)
  • Edible Gifts (2 pgs)
  • More Detail about Books and Stories (10 pgs)
  • More Detail about Games(5 pgs)
  • More Inspiration(3 pgs)
  • Variations on a Theme (4 pgs)
  • Helpful websites for Traveling Families(3 pgs)
  • Bonus Features (12)
Each chapter is filled with great pictures of prepared travel kits in addition to the information, to help get your creative juices flowing~ This is JUST the sort of thing that I love to read and glean from.

I really do have to brag on my two older kids kids for a minute here and say that they are VERY good travelers. Our "Travel Kits" in the past have consisted of books, clipboards, an ample supply of white paper, and a variety of writing utensils, along with our years-old leap-pads, and a variety of music and audio CDs. Believe it or not, that was ALL that they needed to keep them happy for an 8000+ mile road trip a few summers ago (aged 9 and 6). HOWEVER, I have the feeling that #3 is going to be a little more difficult to travel with, so I'm looking forward to trying some of the ideas in this book out with him the next time we'll be in the car for more than a couple of hours.

I will mention that in general this sort of "book" I have a hard time "Cuddling up with" electronically. I really like to hold it in my hands, highlight ideas I like, earmark pages, etc.... However, I did appreciate the ability to load the file on my itouch to peruse while waiting at dance class... I just had to print the pages (economy mode/grayscale and 2 to a page) to actually let my mind "Gel" with the ideas I was reading. Next I will have to let my daughter take a peek, because this sort of thing is right up her alley as well.

There are great "Dual purpose" gift ideas~ like making the container part of the gift! (We tend to do this sort of thing for birthday party favors as well~ like decorating pillowcases, and using them to bring home any other goodies.)

While I didn't have the need to create a kit just now, and most of our friends are "staycationing" as well, I am very happy to have this resource in my back pocket so to speak. I have some thoughts for future trips for my family as well as some gift options for extended family and friends. I'll be sure to post a follow-up with pictures when I complete a project in the future!

If you'd like to read reviews by other TOS Crew members (Some of whom I know have travel plans up their sleeves), and see what they have to say and how they used this ebook filled with great ideas, go to this post on the TOS Crew page, and scroll down to the   "Click here" link below the "Powered by Linky Tools" headline.

Hope you're having a great summer, that this review gives you hope for peaceful travels, and as always, I hope that this review helps you to figure out where your homeschool budget is most wisely spent.
Blessings~

 

 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Monday, July 19, 2010

Totally TOS~ Travel the World~ Geography Module

And we're off!!! For the 2010-2011 TOS Crew Reviews have begun! :)
Travel the WorldThe first product we have been given to review is a Totally TOS product from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, the 2010 June module from the TOS Planner/Module Series**. If the planner modules are new to you, I should explain that they can be purchased to accompany the planner or used one their own. They aren't really restricted to any particular time either, it is just a way to organize these "unit studies" that TOS puts out... 1 for each month of the year, but you can use them whenever they fit into your plans. They are targeted to the elementary ages, with "Expansions" to the topics that make them appropriate for High School use as well.

So... on with the review. Since so many families have vacation at *some* point during the summer, whether they are blessed with international travel, stateside road-trips, or more local "Staycations", it seems to be an opportune time to throw some basic "geography" learning into your bag.

That's where the June module, Travel the World** comes in. For $7.95 you get a geography unit study that covers the basics of "What is Geography?" with information on reading the globe and maps (including terms and coordinates), the continents and oceans. (BTW, did you know that regardless of what the Europeans though back in Columbus' time, the ancients of the Bible appeared to be aware that the earth was circular, if not spherical! You'll find out where, in the introduction to the the unit!)
  • The first 9 pages are informational themselves, but as a bonus they include hyperlinks to a plethora of knowledge on the net, from illustrations and information to videos and games. Although I excell at using search engines, I love the time-saving factor of having the links right at my fingertips!
  • Pages 14-31 are filled with hands-on activities : Word search, crossword puzzle, acrostic puzzle, coloring pages, lapbook components and more. My only disappointment here was that there were only coloring pages for 4 of the 7 continents. My kids (most particularly my 13 year old, interestingly enough) enjoy coloring/drawing when I'm reading to them(She remembers what she heard when she sees the visual that she worked on), so I like to have things that "go-along" with our current topic for them to utilize. It would have been nice to have a complete "set" of continents for that portion of information. ;) 
  • Pages 32-41 include copywork in both mauscript and cursive. I know that there are those that appreciate the inclusion of copywork. This is where I flunk out of Charlotte Mason, because I'm not consistent there, but I'm happy to know it's available for potential use with child #3 when he gets there. ;) 
  • The next 5 pages are "high school expansion" pages with more technical definitions, ideas for activities, challenges, and books to expand on the topic. 
  • There are a couple of pages with recipes, and then the final pages are answer keys for the activity worksheets. 
We definitely appreciated the chance to do a little geography review (Particularly with the 9 year old), and the puzzle pages had some challenging aspects for both of my kids.
All-in-all this was enjoyed by all, and I liked the fact that it was pretty much "pick up and go". Great for a little summer "School" on the side, and a super little "Refresher" course for those that need it. 

As always, I hope that this review helps you to make the best choice for your family and where to spend your homeschool dollars. Check out the TOS Crew Blog for more of my crewmates' opinions as well.
Blessings~
  
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


TOS Crew 2009-2010 Favorite Review items(Before My 1st review for 2010/2011)








 Hello, again~ 

After a little hiatus from TOS Reviews, I decided I needed to get this little post done before jumping in to the 2010/2011 Review year. The TOS Crew voted on their favorite products in a number of categories, and the following is the result. Because my opinion varied on a number of them, I included my family's choices as well. The links for "my choice" lead to my reviews of the items, the links for the "Crew Choice" lead directly to the item website. I hope that this list is a useful "summary" as you continue to gear up for the new school year. 

Blessings~

Favorite Language Arts Product :
My Choice- Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services (EDUDPS)

Crew Choice- Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services (EDUDPS)

Favorite History Product : 
My Choice- Bright Ideas Press  (Mystery of History)
Crew Choice- Bright Ideas Press  (All American History and Mystery of History)
  
Favorite Science Product:
My Choice- mmmm.... couldn't decide... 
Crew Choice- Nature Friend Magazine

Favorite Math Product:
My Choice- ALEKS
Crew Choice- Math Mammoth

Favorite Online Math Product:
My Choice- MathScore
Crew Choice- Mathletics

  
Favorite Handwriting Product:
My Choice- N/A (only reviewed the one)
Crew Choice- Zeezok Publishing (Presidential Penmanship)

Favorite Fine Arts Product (art, music, etc.):
My Choice- Artistic Pursuits (I didn't review it THIS year, but I did last year...still a favorite!)    Crew Choice- Artistic Pursuits

Favorite Pre-school Product:
My Choice- Math Tutor: Young Minds, Numbers and Counting
Crew Choice-Time 4 Learning

Favorite Elementary Product:
My Choice- All About Spelling (All About Reading)
Crew Choice- Critical Thinking

Favorite Upper-Grade Product:
My Choice- Cerebellum/Standard Deviants
Crew Choice-  Professor in a Box

Favorite College Prep Product:
My Choice- Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services (EDUDPS)
Crew Choice- Cerebellum/Standard Deviants


Favorite Special Needs Product:
My Choice- Super Star Speech
Crew Choice- Super Star Speech


Favorite Health and Beauty Product:
My Choice- N/A~
Crew Choice- Virginia Soaps and Scents

Favorite Christian Product:
My Choice- Grapevine Studies
Crew Choice- Grapevine Studies


Best Resource I Didn't Know I Needed: 
My Choice- StudyPod
Crew Choice- StudyPod

Best Homemaking Product:
My Choice- Sense & Sensibility Patterns
Crew Choice-  Sue Gregg Cookbooks

Best Customer Service:
My Choice- Classical Legacy Press
Crew Choice- Great Software Tools

Best Online Resource:
My Choice- ABC Teach
Crew Choice- ABCteach

Best e-product:
My Choice- AVKO
Crew Choice- Growing Healthy Homes:  Nutrition 101

Best Office and Technology Resource:
My Choice- Web Design for Kids (and Curious Grown-Ups)
Crew Choice- Web Design for Kids (and Curious Grown-Ups)

Best Homeschool Resource:
My Choice- Homeschool Library Builder
Crew Choice- Apologia Press: The  Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling

Best Map Resource:
My Choice- Homeschool in the Woods
Crew Choice- Home School in the Woods

Best Book, Novel or Magazine:
My Choice-  Terrestria Chronicles
Crew Choice- Sarah's Books

Best Children's Book
My Choice-  Sarah's Books
Crew Choice- Children’s Bible Hour

Best Hands-On Resource:
My Choice- We R Fun, Life on the Farm Game
Crew Choice- A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks

Most Adaptable Resource:
My Choice-  ABC Teach
Crew Choice- Sue Patrick Workbox System

Most Unique Resource:
My Choice- Lobster Network
Crew Choice-  Lobster Network

Most Family-Oriented Product:
My Choice- Family Mint
Crew Choice- Family Mint

Kid's Choice:
My Kid's Choice- Mathletics
Crew Choice- Maverick Books:  Hank the Cowdog Series

All Around Crew Favorite:
My Choice- Math Tutor: Young Minds, Numbers and Counting
Crew Choice-  All About Spelling (All About Reading)


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What's in the Bible? ~ new DVD series by Phil Vischer~ Review

"Wanderin' in the Desert"  is the 3rd volume of Phil Vischer's (Creator of Veggie Tales) new series What's in the Bible (With Buck Denver). Being great fans of Veggie Tales, we were happy to have the chance to preview this series. 

Just a little background on the series to date. 
The first two DVD's in the series cover some foundations (What IS the Bible?" , "Who WROTE the Bible?" and some Basic Biblical vocabulary, as well as giving kids the "Big picture"  of, well... What's in the Bible! (Genesis and Exodus, to be precise) The Volume that I was sent to actually review was volume 3, which continues on through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy~ to finish out the Pentateuch. The plan is to have 13 DVDs in the series that will walk the younger generation through every book of the Bible, to give them a general overview of the entire Bible. (Each DVD retails for $14.99)


As is true with many things, I saw things I considered both pros and cons ~ You will discover that I am both impressed but also vaguely dissatisfied:

  • I really like the concept of giving kids that big picture~ What each book is really about, not just a snippet about each character. Because I am currently involved in reading precisely this portion of scripture myself, I enjoyed the quick snapshot/overview of these particular books. It seems that Leviticus and Numbers are often difficult to get through, unless you understand the background for "all those rules". 
  • Some of the "characters" are more fun to watch than others. Quite frankly, I find the introductions with "Michael" to be annoying, and not something I want my kids to mimic. The Sunday School Lady has a dry wit, and Ian and Clive are a pretty good team. I really enjoy the way that Phil Vischer, himself, interacts with the other characters through the video. 
  • The music is catchy (after 3 times through the theme song, my 13 year old has been singing it ALL week), as would be expected from Phil Vischer. One Caveat, that goes along with my next  comment below~ I am not thrilled with the theme song introducing the question of "Is it true? Is it reliable?" to young children... At the early ages I don't feel they need to wrestle with questions like that...
  • There is one section specifically, in each episode, that *I*, personally didn't think belonged in this series~ "Tricky Questions with Phil". Now, in and of themselves, I think the "Tricky Questions" are good, and I thought the answers were typically well thought out and presented. However, if I am correct in assuming that these videos are intended for the 4-8(maybe 10?)crowd,  then I felt that the material covered in these questions was a little more "mature" (From a classical education standpoint, not "worldly") than they may be ready for. To clarify~ I do subscribe lightly to the Classical Education idea that the early years should be spent learning and memorizing facts. The middle years (7-9th grade or so) are where this sort of thinking and analyzing are more appropriate, and the later years are more involved in actual debate(or in this case "apologetics")~ So, a worthy concept, just not for the little ones.....
  • A couple of "Technical Details" worth mentioning: the DVDs are close captioned for the hearing impaired... or for extra reading practice.... ;) I like that feature. Each episode is also split into 5 "chapters", enabling you to use just a portion of the episode at a time. 
  • There is an EXCELLENT  bonus feature that explores our miraculous universe against a scientific background~ Very nicely done! :)
To sum up~
  • The Good: The message~  I feel that "What's in the Bible" could be an excellent vehicle for beginning apologetics, viewed chapter by chapter for Jr High aged students(in Sunday school or during home-school) who are "walking through the Bible" to gel certain concepts and facts about each book.
  • The Bad: The "presentation" ~ The dichotomy between some of the message and the presentation for the ages it is appropriate for~ I may yet change my opinion on this, but this is my gut reaction.
Because I really like the content and the concept, I will most likely use these videos, in "Chapter format" with my 13 yo, to serve as introductions and summaries to these books of the Bible. Because most of the content is applicable to all ages, I wish I didn't feel the need to "filter" out the bits that I feel raise questions that I am not ready to broach with my children under the age of 12.

If your family and/or church has a different set of "filters", you may be able to tell from what I've said that this is just what you are looking for. Please visit the What's in the Bible website for more information about this video, as well as others in the series. You can watch a few video clips that will give you a feel for "What's in the Bible". The "Store" also offers individual episodes and video shorts for purchase and download.

Blessings~


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mathscore Special offer for readers of my blog~








Hey, Friends~
The good folks at Mathscore are offering a special discount for readers of MY blog! 
How sweet is that???  
If you'd like to refresh your memory about this program, take a peek at my posts:

If you think you'd like to give Mathscore a try, you can sign up here  for a two week free trial, and purchase use of their program for only $5.95/month for the first child(Normally $14.95/month). 
It gets even better~  this discount is permanent! Don't forget that the 2nd child is $4/month, and each additional child is $3. 
Blessings!








Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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