Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Sugar Creek Gang (Adventurous Audio Books)

Back when my father was a youngster, family entertainment included gathering around the radio to hear dramatized versions of all kinds of stories (With mysteries tending to be the favored genre, from what I've heard). Today the radio tends to be all music or all news/talk (with only the occasional children's/ family programming). Don't these children look sweet? Love their rapt attention!
Today we can approximate the general atmosphere by taking advantage of "Radio Dramatizations" like in "the good old days" by gathering around the cd player or computer (Or listening in the car, but I don't advise that unless you're on a long trip~ stopping mid-track or mid-story might cause a  ruckus) ! :) I recently received a series of these dramatized stories on CD.

Beloved Books has been involved with the manufacture and distribution of Moody Press' Sugar Creek Gang series in audio format since 1998. The TOS Review Crew received Volume 1 of the Sugar Creek Gang Audio books on CD.

Each disc contains 2 stories, and they are each about 2 hours long. The entire collection comprises 6 volumes, 36 stories, and over 70 hours of old-time Christian radio "Adventure Time" listening.

The stories on Volume 1:
The Swamp Robber (Click on the link to be taken to a download of this 1st, complete story for free)
The Killer Bear
The Winter Rescue
The Lost Campers
Chicago Adventure
The Secret Hideout

Our thoughts~
We listened to the first story together (mom, 5 yr old boy, 12 yr old boy, 15 yr old girl), and there were a variety of opinions and reactions.

Eldest~ (Con/Pro?) Felt that the story was a little too intense and perhaps not appropriate for her littlest brother to be listening to. She was concerned about the presentation of the reality of late 30's early 40's drunkenness (very straightforward "This is the way it is" with very little softening. No sheltering in these stories).  This could be considered a positive or a negative, depending on your viewpoint, so worth mentioning.

Middlest~ (Pro!) LOVED the stories~ wanted to listen to them constantly, and was prompted to ask for some good literature that would be similar in scope to read (with themes of fishing, and  adventure, and general boy clubbishness. I'll take suggestions in the comments!) He was highly engaged in the story! He said it put him in mind of stories that would go well with "The American Boy's Handy Book" :)

Youngest~ (Mostly Pro) well... he liked listening, but was a little nervous at times (he's less sensitive than my other two at that age, so that's helpful.... as the youngest). 

Mom~ (Pro)  pleased to find something that sparks Middlest's interest that is wholesome (With the exception of the characters who are in obvious need of redemption), adventurous, and not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. The need for the Gospel, and a respect for the Word of God, redemption and obedience are themes that run throughout the stories more than once. Appreciated the nature themes and poetry woven throughout. LOVE the exercise in using imaginations to picture the kids and the setting. *I* definitely had pictures in my head because of the descriptive language used throughout the stories!

Mom~ (Con) I have also tended NOT to address certain issues (like swearing, and others' drunkeness etc...) unless necessary, so I do tend to agree with Eldest, and might raise my recommendation for suggested age range to  8-12 (Although this could vary greatly, depending on the child), as the way some things are presented may not be quite as "Gentle" as I might want for a younger listener.

Some generic observations(neither pro nor con)~
The descriptions of church and services will be foreign to many children who live in today's urban areas and/or attend more modern "Seeker" churches~ But children growing up in the "heartland" and/or attending more conservative and/or dare I say it old-fashioned churches will be more likely to relate. Some of the phraseology is definitely more old-fashioned.

These will be used in our house mostly for Middlest's listening pleasure, with occasional "Family gathered around the Computer/CD Player" evening. They will also be a "Make sure they're packed" item for any cross-country trips we take in the next 7 or 8 years! :)

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Readers of my blog can use the coupon ACORNS-20 to receive 20% off their entire order! Enjoy! 
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool and/or gift budget.:) (Think Christmas?)
Blessings~
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Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew 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, October 29, 2012

Samson's Classroom





Youngest is getting into the swing of this learning-to-read proposition, especially with all of the tools that we have been blessed with as part of the TOS Crew. The most recent offering is a membership to Samson's Classroom, an online reading comprehension and spelling program for grades K-5. Samson is a friendly dog who accompanies and cheers on your child as he/she progresses through the levels and games.

There are three different "packages" included with Samson's Classroom. I'm going to focus mostly on the first package (Sight Words) and a little on Spelling, but will have to send you to read other TOS Reviews for "Hands on" information on the Reading Package, as that one was a little too difficult for my 5 year old at this point (Click on the banner at the end of this post for those reviews).

Sight Words~helps new readers to learn and drill the 224 most commonly used words in the English language. There are 4 levels with 7 lists, 8 words in each list. Each list has 5 "Steps" to help your child learn the words. (Note~ I did not notice any phonics involved in teaching these words, some of which could be sounded out and not taught as strictly sight words, but we fairly naturally include phonics in most of our reading activities, so I didn't miss it that much here.)

Step One introduces each word by saying the word (ie: "can,") spelling the word "c-a-n," and then using the word in a sentence "I can do that." 
This is the main"learning" step, and we went back to this step numerous times within each list to review the words that were giving youngest a little trouble. Even when he was playing Spelling Games he would go back to review the words from the list.

Step Two "Build Words" requires the student to click on the correct letters, in the correct order, that are scrambled within the letters across the top of the screen (the letters aren't necessarily listed"in order, and there are sometimes duplicates). A bit of help is included for this step, as the requested word is again spoken and spelled out loud, and spoken one more time for your child. If they have the word down pat, they can click on the letters at any time, but if they need to hear it again, there is a "megaphone" in the lower left that can be clicked to repeat the word.

Step 3 "Identify Words" has all of the words listed. When a word is spoken, the child must click on the correct box, which then is taken away from the grouping on the screen. This step is a nice, slightly more "relaxing" drill, which certainly promoted a feeling of "success"  and a desire to continue.


Step 4 "Spell Words" includes the entire alphabet, as you can see. The word is spoken and used in a sentence, but there are no longer any "hints"~ the child must spell the word themselves. This step was one Youngest was often stuck on, as he wouldn't accept anything less than a perfect score, so the moment he got a letter wrong, he would return to the main menu and start over (and if he had too much trouble, I would guide him back to step 1, to review the words).


Step 5 "Missing Words" has the sentence that has been used all the way through for each word, with that word missing. The correct word must be selected from the four treasure chests. Sometimes there are miss-spellings, so this can be a little bit tricky, but success is a good clue that your child is really getting it! :) 

I should mention here that we engaged Samson's Classrooms on my laptop as well as on my iPad, using the Rover app, which allows flash content from educational sites only. This was "convenient", although I think that the program worked best on the computer. 

Spelling with Samson is the next Package. There are lists loaded that correspond to the sight word lists, and many, many more (5000!) that are included in the pre-loaded "Knowledge Wand" lists for everyone to use. But that's not all~ you are able to create your own lists to use. If your words are already in the Samson's Classroom database, you're good to go, if not then you can request that they be added (however, this may take awhile). So~ on to the spelling games~ 
The first activity shows your list. If a word is clicked, this page opens up with the word (which is spoken), and a sentence to use the word in (which can be read to your child). There is also the option to have the word spelled out loud. 


In the next activity "Missing Letters", Samson is doing a little (?) Kung Fu(?) (at any rate, he is chopping or breaking up blocks. For the screen, the narrator says "big. We have a big back yard" and the child must then click on the missing letters at the bottom. If the answer is correct Samson breaks (or chops with a sword) the block. This game is my favorite. :) 

The third activity "Spelling Scramble" was rather frustrating for us, and neither Youngest nor I were able to get the hang of it, so we tended to just skip it. Samson is supposed to avoid a spider and run around collecting letters, but I just couldn't figure out how to maneuver him on the board. Something that I'm sure will be getting tweaked. 

The fourth activity "Crunch Time" has Samson hopping from iceberg to iceberg. Each word on the list must be spelled correctly before Wally the Walrus crunches the iceberg to bits (if you have a child who thrives on a challenge, this should be good, if they hate being timed... not so much).  We did find this one to be too difficult to play on the iPad, and only recommend using a computer to play this game.


Reading with Samson
Like I said, this package was far beyond my Youngest's needs, so we didn't really utilize it. The first story in Level 1 was 4 paragraphs long, with fairly complex words, so far beyond my 5 year old's scope at this point in time. You can get a feel for this package from this screen shot~ definitely something to aspire to, and I do recommend checking out some other reviews, if you are interested in how the Reading package works out in a real-life situation. 

I have to be honest and say that the first while that we used Samson's Classroom, Youngest was NOT happy with it (I think I've discovered that he shares a perfectionist streak with my Eldest!) because he wasn't able to have a perfect score for every word right away. He was also a little freaked out about the timer, because he's not fond of being timed. However, interestingly enough, once I was able to access it on my iPad, he lost most of his negativity, and was willing to try. I did mention that he would go back some steps over again until it was perfect, didn't I? Now that we've been engaged with the program for awhile, I have noticed that it no longer matters which medium he uses (Laptop or iPad). He's willing and content to go through a Step without requiring extra encouragement from me! :) Hurrah!

"Reports" are available to chart progress. I found them to be a little incomplete, because they only seemed to account for the days that each step was completed. However, since I'm not overly caught up in "Assessment" for Kindergarten, and not using this to track "Attendance," this didn't affect me at all. 

Finally, some extra resources can be found from the parent/administrator page that include downloads for a variety of games (Under "lesson plans"... I kind of expected something different there, but games are good! :D), as well as a number of coordinating worksheets that can be printed and used for extra reinforcement. 

I expect that youngest will attain his "black belt" in sight words at some point this school year, thanks to the dolch lists, learning, and practice on Samson's Classroom.


Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
  • Company: Samson's Classroom
  • Product: Sight Words, Spelling with Samson, and Reading with Samson learning games (PC and MAC compatible, as the programs are web-based, and not loaded to your computer software).
  • Ages: K-5th grade
  • Price: $30/year for 1 student, $50/year for up to 4 students.
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Blessings~
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Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew 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, October 22, 2012

THE AMISH FAMILY COOKBOOK


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (October 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Tina Eicher was born and married in the Amish faith, surrounded by a mother and sisters who were great Amish cooks. At fellowship meals and family gatherings, Tina’s dishes receive high praise and usually return empty. She and her husband, Jerry Eicher, author of several bestselling Amish fiction titles, are the parents of four children and live in Virginia.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


From bestselling author Jerry Eicher (more than 350,000 books sold) and his wife, Tina, comes this warm and inviting peek into an Amish kitchen, complete with recipes, Amish proverbs, and a dash of Amish humor. Readers will laugh, pray, and eat robustly with The Amish Family Cookbook at their side.



Product Details:
List Price: $ 14.99
Spiral-bound: 272 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (October 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943773
ISBN-13: 978-0736943772



AND NOW...A FEW RECIPES FOR YOU TO TRY (CLICK ON PICTURES TO SEE THEM LARGER):








~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
How fun~ I love cookbooks! I love to read them and get ideas for my own cooking, I don't necessarily *always* follow recipes.

I found some interesting more "traditional" Amish recipes in this book, but was VERY surprised by the number of "Mexican" inspired recipes as well as BBQ sandwiches, Chipotle BBQ sauce, "wrap" recipes, grilling rubs. There were many more culturally diverse recipes than I would expect from an Amish cookbook (I expected more "German style recipes). I was also taken aback by the number of recipes that relied on pudding and cake mixes, Bisquick, and other "prepared" food items (like refrigerated biscuit rolls).

That being said, there are a number of recipes that I plan to try (just probably not so many of the "Prepared food" ingredient recipes, as I prefer to be more of a "From scratch" sort of cook). Now that the colder weather is here, and we seem to be on a "Healthy" upsweep, cooking and baking are starting to take place again. :)

Blessings~
Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of FIRST Wild Card Reviews. 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."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Big Truths for Little Kids (book review)

Big Truths for Little Kids
Q: Who made you?
A: God.

Q: What else did God make?
A: God made all things.

Q: Why did God make you and all things?
A: For His glory.

Q: How can you glorify God?
A: By loving Him and doing what He commands.

Q: Why are you to glorify God?
A: Because He made me and takes care of me.
For the past few months I've been using a book I received from Crossway Books with my Littlest, Big Truths for Little Kids.

It is a combination storybook and beginning Catechism for the preschool/early elementary set. Each chapter begins with a series of questions and answers like those I listed above (For those who didn't grow up in a tradition that uses the name ~ catechism: a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians), followed by a chapter in the story of "The Catechism Kids," Cassie and Caleb and their friends.

The story was definitely the "Hook" that caught my son's attention, with plot lines that incorporated Biblical truth and character. He was always very interested in hearing more about the "kids" and their friends.  I chose to have him "answer" all of the questions up to the current chapter before we would read the next one. This incorporated a fair amount of review, and I'm relatively certain that he is pretty solid on the earlier questions and answers.

A little bit about the catechism Q&A, just in case you aren't familiar (I wasn't, although I have since realized that we have been involved with a variety of programs that included a catechism, they just didn't name it such).

The questions and answers are based on the Westminster Catechism, which is a Reform, Calvinist Theology fairly widely followed by most Presbyterian and many Congregational and Baptist churches.

The questions and answers are fairly general, systematic, and fairly easy to memorize. My one complaint with this particular book is that there is no listing of scripture to back up the answers to the questions. I find that even a five year old looks for corroborating evidence when presented with a question whose answer includes "Because the Bible tells me so." He wants to know WHERE in the Bible that specific answer is found. I realize that many of the answers can be found in numerous passages, but I would have appreciated the work of looking them up to have been done for me, for the ease of having the answers at my fingertips.

That being said, I think this is a fine, gentle introduction to basic Theological truths, that would be useful in any home or church library.

If you would like to get a good feel for the book, the product page at Crossway includes a great preview (Click on "Google Preview" under the book graphic) that includes many of the pages in the book.

Retail price for Big Truths for Little Kids is $17.99.

Blessings~

Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the Crossway Homeschool Book 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."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

River of Mercy (Book Review)


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


BJ Hoff’s bestselling historical novels continue to cross the boundaries of religion, language, and culture to capture a worldwide reading audience. Her books include Song of Erin and American Anthem and such popular series as The Riverhaven Years, The Mountain Song Legacy, and The Emerald Ballad. Hoff’s stories, although set in the past, are always relevant to the present. Whether her characters move about in small country towns or metropolitan areas, reside in Amish settlements or in coal company houses, she creates communities where people can form relationships, raise families, pursue their faith, and experience the mountains and valleys of life. BJ and her husband make their home in Ohio.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


In this third book in the Riverhaven Years trilogy young Gideon Kanagy faces a challenge and an unexpected romance. Meanwhile, Gideon’s sister, Rachel, and the "outsider" Jeremiah Gant add to the drama with their own dilemma and its repercussions for the entire Riverhaven community.





Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736924205
ISBN-13: 978-0736924207



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


 Prologue 

Too Many Long Nights

I feel like one who treads alone
Some banquet hall, deserted.

Thomas Moore

Amish settlement near Riverhaven, Ohio

November 1856

Rachel Brenneman had always liked to walk by the river at twilight.


There had been a time during the People’s early years at Riverhaven when she gave no thought to walking alone, day or night. After she and Eli were married, the two of them liked to stroll along the bank of the Ohio in the evening, discussing their day, planning the workweek, dreaming of the future. After Eli’s death, however, Rachel no longer went out alone after dark, although sometimes she and her ten-year-old sister, Fannie, took a picnic lunch in the early afternoon and sat watching the fine big boats and smaller vessels that traveled the great Ohio to unknown places.

Now though, venturing away from the community no longer felt safe, even in the middle of the day. In truth, there was nowhere that felt safe, not after the deadly attack on Phoebe Esch and the other troubles recently visited upon the People. At night, especially, Rachel stayed inside, sitting alone in her bedroom with the window scarcely open in deference to the weather, which had recently turned cold.

November was a lonely month. Rachel still loved to listen to the river from insider her home, but the nighttime sounds—the distant lapping of the water, the blast from a boat’s horn, the night creatures in communion with one another—never failed to set off a stirring of remembrance and an ache in her heart. Yet she couldn’t resist sitting there night after night, watching and listening, trying not to let her memories struggle to the surface of her thoughts, trying not to let new hope ignite the ashes of her dreams…

Trying not to think of Jeremiah.

But how could she not think of him? How did a woman love a man, even if their love was forbidden, and not see his face in her mind or hear his voice in her ear or remember the imprint of his smile upon her thoughts?

Common sense seemed to tell her it should be easy to put the man out of her head. They couldn’t be alone with each other. They couldn’t even pass the time of day unless they were in the company of others. If they happened to meet by accident, they were expected to separate as quickly as possible.

Yet even with all the rules and restrictions that kept them apart, Jeremiah Gant was still a part of her life. He flowed through her heart and traced the current of her days as surely and completely as the Ohio flowed through the valley, winding its way through the land, coursing through the days and lives of Rachel and the other Plain people.

Lately, there had been talk of leaving. Two years and more of unrest and harassment and threats— even death—had begun to wear on the Riverhaven Amish. It was rumored that talks were taking place among the church leaders, discussions of whether to remain in this once-peaceful valley that had become home to the entire community or to consider moving on.

There was no thought of fighting back, of seeking out the unknown adversaries and taking a stand against them. Even if the People could identify their tormenters, they would not confront them. The Amish were a people of nonresistance. They would not fight, not even to protect their own lives. It wasn’t their way. To strike out at another individual under any circumstances was strictly against the Ordnung, the unwritten but strict code that guided how they were to live.

The only person Rachel had ever known to defy the rule against fighting, even in self-defense, was Eli, her deceased husband. He’d gone against the Amish way when he defended Rachel against those who ambushed them on another November night, now four years gone. He had fought with desperation and all his strength, only to die at the hands of their attackers while allowing Rachel to escape.

She knew it was a grievous sin to have such a thought, but many had been the time she wished she could have died alongside Eli that terrible night rather than live through the grief-hollowed, barren days that followed his death. She had been totally devoted to Eli. Their marriage had been good, for they had been close friends as well as husband and wife. Rachel had thought she could never love another man after losing Eli.

And then Jeremiah Gant had come to Riverhaven, turning her life around, enabling her to love again— only to have that love forbidden. Even though Jeremiah had made it known he would willingly convert to the Amish faith, Bishop Graber refused to grant permission, once again leaving Rachel with a lost love and a broken heart.

Perhaps it would be better if they were to leave Riverhaven…leave the fear and the dread and the pain-filled memories behind.

Leave Jeremiah…

The thought stabbed her heart. Could she really face never seeing him again? Never again hear him say her name in that soft and special way he had of making it as tender as a touch? Never again see the smile that was meant for her alone?

In truth, it wasn’t only Jeremiah she would miss if they were to leave this fertile Ohio valley. She loved the land, the gentle hills, the singing river. She had come here when she was still a child, come from another place that had never truly been home to her. Here in Riverhaven though, she had felt welcome and accepted. At peace. At home.

At least for a time. It was almost as if she had become a part of the land itself. Even the thought of leaving made her sad beyond telling.

She sighed, knowing she should stir and make ready for bed, even though she felt far too restless for sleep. Would this be another of too many nights when her thoughts tormented her, circling like birds of prey, evoking an uneasiness and anxiety that would give her no peace?

Finally she stood, securing the window to ward off the cold, even though she sensed that the chill snaking through her had little to do with the night air. All too familiar with this icy wind of loneliness, she knew there was no warmth that could ease its punishing sting.

My 2 cents~

Although I had not read the 1st two books, I was able to enjoy reading this final book in the Riverhaven series. There were a number of characters that I enjoyed getting to know, and I particularly enjoyed the secondary Underground Railroad storyline (Having had ancestors who lived in Ohio during that time frame). The "mystery" that I am sure was a thread through the previous two books was resolved in this book, adding a bit of suspense to the story as well.

As with life, this story included love, sorrow, suspense, mercy, grace, stubborness, and selflessness~ a narrative of human character. Oh, and just in case you have an ereader; Today through Oct. 22 you can download the first two books of The Riverhaven Years (Rachel's Secret and Where Grace Abides) for $2.99 each! Nice way to get the backstory fairly inexpensively ~ :)
Blessings~
Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free. 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, October 15, 2012

Kinderbach~ Special code for my readers! (And sale on Friday)

Hello friends~

I just received this special code from Kinderbach for my readers: This coupon code gives 30% off any order - homeschool, classroom, online or DVDs.

Coupon Code:  TOS_crew2012
Expires: 12/31/2012

Also the KinderBach App is on sale This Friday, Oct. 19th, 2012 ONLY.  The app will be discounted over 50%, down to $12.99! No code needed just the link to the Classroom KinderBach app in the App store: https://itunes.apple.com/app/classroom-kinderbach-school/id534998629?mt=8


So check out the review I posted today!
Blessings~
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Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew 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, October 14, 2012

Kinderbach on the Ipad???


As part of the TOS Review Crew I've had opportunity to review Kinderbach a number of times, in 2009, 2010, and this past spring 2012 (Click on the dates to read my reviews). Kinderbach is an  introduction to piano playing, timing, rhythm, notations, etc~ for the early elementary crowd, via the use of videos and printable activities.  So... can there possibly be anything new for me to say about Kinderbach?

Yes, indeed~  Kinderbach's new app for the iPad is now available. Because my Littlest is frequently found using apps on my iPad, I was pleased to check the Kinderbach app out.
  • One major benefit that I see in our household, is that the iPad screen incorporates a "working keyboard", as you can see in this picture. The keyboard can be played at any point, and is obviously just as portable as the iPad. :) That means that once each lesson video is downloaded, the lesson can be accessed anywhere, without benefit of a connection, and without the need of a physical piano or keyboard. Although nothing can take the place of playing on real keys, this is a pretty decent alternative for those who don't have easy access to a piano, or have only a small keyboard for use. 
  • I also like the fact that the keyboard is right there, in front of you, so that there is no looking up to the screen, then down to the keys for early learners.
There are a couple of potential "Cons" to note~
  • If you don't have a compatible air-printer, then you will be unable to print the pages that go along with each lesson from the student activity book. The student activity books are available for a separate fee ($1.99 each or all 3 for $5.95) via a link in the app (Check out the ? on any lesson page in the app~ it will bring you to a "FAQ" page, and the link to purchase the Student book pdf's is under the "How do I print the lesson pages" question). However, hopefully your printer is more up-to-date than mine, and this won't be an issue for you (Thankfully it wasn't an issue for me either, as I had the student activity books downloaded from my previous reviews). Littlest certainly enjoyed having his pictures to color this time around. He is definitely in the right target age for this music curriculum.
  • If your children are used  to a variety of other apps that ask them to do something (Say, color something in), then usually they can do that right on the screen. At this point, the Kinderbach app does not have that capability, and just like the online or DVD lessons, those aforementioned student activity pages are to be printed, and colored in while watching the lesson. This may be a little disconcerting to kids who are used to full iPad interactivity.
  • I wish there was a way to mark each lesson as having been watched, as sometimes we forget what lesson we're on, AND that way I could see if Boyo decides to go skipping ahead. Not a big deal, but would be helpful.
The app includes some mini-games for each level. Unfortunately there was some unforeseen coding confusion (Thanks to an Apple update), so the more advanced game for the level my boyo is on wasn't working. However, the developers were on it, and a fix should be done this week. Youngest is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to finally try the game out!

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
  • Company: Kinderbach
  • Product: Kinderbach iPad App (levels 1, 2, &3)
  • Ages:3-7 years old
  • Price:Free 2 lesson trial~ "School edition" reviewed costs $26.99
All in all, this is a nice way for Littlest to take control of his music time (Because he certainly knows his way around the iPad). I do need to make sure that I have the appropriate pages from the student book printed up, and I tend to participate with him during the musical games, but in general he can go play a video/lesson any time he wants.
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say about the ipad app, and the online lessons, which were also being reviewed. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Blessings~
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Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew 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, October 8, 2012

Don't We Feel BeeYoutiful! (Mineral Makeup Review)


I am a fan of many things natural, and NOT a fan of wearing most makeups (in part because they aren't natural....). I had heard of mineral makeup for a few years, but never got around to trying it (because, quite frankly, I don't tend to wear makeup much these days). However, I have been curious about mineral makeup in general, and was grateful for the opportunity to try it out, as part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. The possibility of trying out makeup with a list of ingredients I could easily identify~ novel concept!  :D I was also interested in how my daughter would fare with it. She's not a makeup wearer either, but as a competitive Irish Step-dancer, at some point, makeup will become a little more necessary, so this seemed like a good time to try it out on her. :)


We received items similar to those in the photo above~ A Foundation Brush, Foundation (I chose Isabella),  and eye color (I chose Apricot Shimmer~ which I also used as a blush and Lip Color), a multi-purpose brush, and a small ziplock baggie with a sample of another eye color (I chose Harvest Oak). 

On of the fun things about this review (Since I'm not much of a makeup wearer...) was choosing the colors to request. After perusing the Foundation/Skin color chart, we were sent three of the tiny sample baggies of foundation to help us choose the correct shade for our skin. I had a girls' night out with a friend, and I appreciated her help in choosing the foundation color, as well as the 2 eye colors (There are 48 shades to  choose from, so help in narrowing it down was a good thing in my case!). The gold shimmer was certainly a temping option~ how fun.

However, because I tend to go au'natural, I wanted to choose shades that would be very earthy and natural looking for me. Apricot Shimmer seemed a to be a good multi-purpose choice for eye/lip/cheek color, and the Harvest Oak was a rich, darker shade for "eye-liner" purposes. 

BeeYoutiful Skin has a series of videos on their site that show how to apply mineral makeup, if this is something with which you are not familiar. I found the instruction to be very useful, as I felt I was a bit of a novice in this arena. ;) The powders are all 100% finely ground minerals with no fillers, so the amount necessary to "cover" is pretty tiny compared to traditional foundations.

Here is a before/after picture of me :
What I liked:  
  • Lightweight
  • Smooths out skin tones
  • Color choices
  • "Shimmer" in eye/lip/cheek colors
  • Very "Natural" appearance~ not heavy caked-on look.
What I didn't care for
  • Seemed to accentuate puffiness under eyes
  • Accentuated large pores on my face (Can't see that in the pictures, really, but I noticed)
  • The feeling that I was wasting minerals when applying to my face and a fine dust would come of the brush (Even after tapping it a bit)
and a before/after picture of my eldest:

Her thoughts: 
  • "I don't like makeup! Any Makeup! Do we have to do this?"   
  • "Do you have to take pictures?" 
  • She did mention a little tingly sensation on one cheek after applying the foundation powder, so she may have a sensitivity to one of the minerals, but there was no rash or breakout. She also refused to keep the makeup on, and rinsed it off as soon as we were done with the photos. Funny girl! :)
My thoughts:
  • I'm pleased that she's not into makeup in general, but upon occasion, when called for, I think that the mineral makeup is very light and natural, and creates a lovely polished look~ don't you agree?
  • I'm happy to have an alternative to the makeups of my youth for my daughter. She's not terribly interested in wearing it at the moment, and that's just fine, but if she ever changes her mind, it's nice to know that this is out there for her.
Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Product:
This mineral make-up is pure, 100% minerals with no fillers, and it is even gluten-free.
  • Ages: Teens and moms... ;)
While we (or rather, *I* ) had fun playing around with the mineral makeup, as did some other TOS Review Crew members, there were a number of Crew members who received either a skin care package or a more "Health/skin care" package. Please consider clicking the banner below to read more about their experiences.  As always, I hope that you enjoyed this review~ it was a fun one for me to bring to you! :)
Blessings~
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Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew 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."

Friday, October 5, 2012

What do you know about Salt? (Box of Ideas)






 Now, here is a really nifty item that the TOS Review Crew was sent~ a box of ideas! In a world where we are often told to "think outside the box," I am really appreciating all the thought that has gone "into" this particular box! But what exactly am I talking about?

Box of IDEAs is a company dedicated to creating delightful interactive learning modules centered around random subject areas.

Some of the boxes include more typical homeschooling topics: WWII Homefront, WWII Pearl Harbor, WWII Innovations, Civil War Overview, and Light and Optics. Some of the more random topics would be Eleven, Salt, Laundry and Quilting. There are many other "Boxes" being planned~ check the website! .


Various TOS Review Crew members received World War Two: Pearl Harbor in either PDF or Printed, or Salt in PDF or Printed. I received the print/physical version of SALT. What a neat box of ideas! My box came with 10 large ziplock bags, each one containing everything needed to explore a module in the Salt Box of Ideas.

Some of the modules were perfect for a quick introduction to the topic of Salt (And why on earth we'd even want to study it), and others involve a little more time (freezing various solutions for instance). I loved that there was enough information included in each module to create a thirst for more knowledge about the subject.

This is an enrichment study that can take a minimal amount of time, but there are options for digging much deeper. In addition to the information included in each module there are links to various websites for further research and suggestions for activities to extend the learning. Each module also contains a "portfolio sheet" for your child to fill out, and there is a quiz and SAT-style essay (for the older students) included for when you've completed the entire box. Oh, and I have to mention that I love the easy packaging in the ziploc bags~ so portable ~ easy to grab one to bring along on a trip to the park, the library, or to visit family ~ there are enough games included that your children just might educate your parents! :D

We spent one evening learning about the "Language" of salt~ discovering how many phrases, place names and words originate with the word for salt in a variety of languages. The activity included in this module included a set of 24 cards~ to be placed face up (one set had a larger border, so that we could differentiate between the word or phrase and the definition of that word ). The task, then was to try to match them up. If they were correctly matched the type of salt pictured and the border color on the back of the card will be the same. We were all somewhat amazed at the variety of words related to salt that were traced back to Roman Soldiers!

One of the activities that we are waiting to do is related to the building of the Great Wall of China. I am intrigued by this one.... I have no idea what salt has to do with that, other than perhaps helping to fund it? I'm waiting to discover that with my children and another family that we hope are interested in the topic as well. :)

There are a number of geography related modules, as well as health and nutrition activities(Menu planning anyone? The physical version of this kit included a laminated menu planning chart complete with dry-erase marker~ you can see it in the top middle of this photo).

I am impressed with the "grab it and go" aspect of these enrichment activities. I've seen the phrase used many times, but few succeed in implementing it quite as well as .

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say, particularly if you are interested in the differences between the PDF version and the Physical Product version. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Blessings~
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Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew 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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