Thursday, October 29, 2009

Virginia Soaps & Scents (not curriculum, but homeschool related!) part 1~ Soaps, shampoo bars

Picture64.png image by homeschoolcrew

Well, this was a fun package to receive in the mail as part of the TOS Crew, and it smelled good too! But, where is the connection with homeschooling, you ask? Well, it's fairly simple, and I'm sure very believable to my local readers.... a homeschooling family began with a history lesson, and ended up making and selling soap! This particular family, the Spargurs, hail from Virginia, and most of their 9 children work in the family business.

OK, so what exactly did I receive to review, and what do I think? Part 1 of my review will cover the Bar Soap, and the Shampoo Bar. Come back later for Part 2 to hear about the Laundry Soap Kit!

Soap.... Handcrafted Olive Oil SOAP (not Detergent..... Click HERE for an education in soaps VS detergents) We were sent "Sample 3 scents~ Orange, Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, and Coconut Lemongrass. They all were quite pleasant to the olfactory organs once they were separated in different parts of the house. The Orange went to the kitchen sink, the Oatmeal and Honey to the Bathroom sink, and the Coconut Lemongrass to the shower.

What do I think? Well, I suppose I have to be completely honest here, and let you all know that I just don't think that I'm a "bar soap" kind of girl*~ Give me my foamy pump soap and bath gels any day. HOWEVER, that being said, I'd LOVE to see them come out with a liquid version that I can "foam" at the faucet... after all... These are all-natural soaps, which my current "Gel" variety is not, and I am a fan of knowing exactly what the ingredients are whether a product goes in or on my body....

I must let you know that I do think that these soaps would make lovely gifts for those that ARE "bar soap sorts".... I can think of a few folks in my circle of friends and family that would appreciate these! They are very reasonably priced for gift-giving:
4.5 oz bars are $4.50 each, 3/$12, buy 4 get one free, and buy 10 for $35

Check out the slide-show above to see how gorgeous these soaps are!
  • "Regular" Soaps, that are a far cry from common... These are PRETTY! They belong in your kitchen, guest bath, etc.....
  • Holiday/Christmas Soaps... I say Holiday, because I think that the Pumpkin Spice Bar would be nice for a Thanksgiving hostess gift!
  • Beautiful "Gourmet" soaps... "Black Tie" and "Cookies and Cream" are the type I long to buy and enjoy.... if only I was a bar soap person.... (sigh)
The other item that I am going to review in Part 1 is the Shampoo Bar
I tried a shampoo bar over 15 years ago, and while it was a "novelty", I wouldn't say that I was overly impressed. I seem to remember almost no lather, and very little else, so I was actually interested in how this would compare.

The idea with this shampoo bar is that you run it over your wet hair and lather up! And lather it does! (I understand that coconut oil is great for that!) So... how did it work? Well, I tried it first without conditioner, and my thin, fine hair got all tangled, but my scalp felt GREAT! Next I tried it followed by conditioner, and that seems to work fairly well, although my hair is still a little more "Fly-away" than I like. What I do appreciate is how my scalp feels, and I'm hoping that this will be a good fit for my daughter, and her semi-dry, flaky scalp, although we'll definitely have to use conditioner on her long fine hair as well.

  • If you're interested in trying something new
  • If your scalp is giving you trouble
  • If you're going to be traveling on an airplane
  • If you're going camping (OK, not any time soon here in New England...)
........ this might be something that you'd like to try, and who knows, you may find yourself a new shampoo that doesn't come as a liquid! (BTW, your mileage may vary, based on hair and I'm guessing ph-type... but it could be worth a try... no more icky chemicals and empty shampoo bottles! Who says homeschoolers aren't GREEN!) 5.5 oz bars for $5.50, 2 for $10

Now, due to a few things, like a husband that does the laundry, but doesn't do "kits", and multiple weekends away from home, I have not had a chance to mix up and use the laundry soap, but that is on our agenda for this weekend, so stay tuned for Part 2, the Laundry Soap Kit. (I'm truly pretty excited about this one as well, since I have read a lot about the advantages of making your own laundry soap, from knowing what the ingredients are to savings benefits, I just haven't "Gotten around to it".... but now I have to! Thanks TOS, and Virginia Soaps and Scents!

BTW, while you check out their site, you'll notice that their soap, shampoo, lotion, and body powder are all available unscented.... yes, there is more to be explored beyond soap & scents at Virginia Soap and Scents... (Check out their new Sampler Sets.... These include the size soaps we received for review....perfect for stocking stuffers and bathroom sinks!) Enjoy!


*My objection to bar soaps has to do with that "Squeaky Clean" feeling that others adore, but I seem to abhor... I really, really, really don't like it when my skin squeaks, and that happens with almost EVERY bar soap I've ever used. I also end up feeling like my skin is drier than usual, which has not been the typical reaction of many of my Crew Mates. Please be sure to drop by the TOS CREW. Based on conversations amongst the crew, I'm sure that you will read a majority of rave reviews! (This means I'm in an odd minority, for no reason I can fathom other than that my skin doesn't like solids.... ??? )

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bible Charts and Maps ~ Timeline/Chart

What you see below is a timeline/chart that the TOS Crew received for review from The Amazing Bible Timeline. ($29.97)

It turns a typical timeline on it's ear, and takes it from a traditional linear set-up that is about 1'x12', to a circular set-up that measures 3'x4'. No matter how you slice it, you end up with 12 square feet of history! :)

Bible Timeline

OK, so here's the nitty-gritty~
The original World History Chart was compiled in 1931. The current owners of the copyright updated it in 1975, and again in 2000, with historical dates as recent as 1982(That's about 6000 years of history). Since I don't actually own a linear timeline, I was looking forward to using something that shows all of World History in a clear an cohesive manner.
After a few weeks of use, with our current history and science programs, here is my list of pros and cons:

  • The size could be considered a pro, if you have that much wall space, or a table that would fit it with a vinyl cover to protect it. (BTW, it is fairly heavy-duty, varnished paper)
  • The circular aspect could be helpful for some, given the continuity of certain historical figures and/or eras
  • The huge number of persons and Bible references(over 1000, I believe) listed in a visual manner, to help delineate history across the continents and the ages.
  • The Size could be considered a con, if you don't have the space to display the chart (especially if you have a rambunctious 2 year old! Watch out!)
  • The size of the print.. it is teeny tiny, particularly in the middle. I do understand that the font is something that is going to be adjusted, perhaps both type-set and size.
  • The validity of some of the cited sources for the Americas... many of them appear to be stating as fact what could be considered mere conjecture, and/or they are sources* that I wouldn't include on a "Biblical" timeline. (One author/book recommended for reading is an argument for a pre-Adamic race... I have a hard time with that one as a Christian...)
  • The assumption as fact that the Native North and South Americans are Semitic in heritage, when I have also heard theories that they could as easily be Japhethic.
We will probably continue to utilize the major portions of the chart with which I have no concerns, rolling it out as needed, (Potentially with a magnifying glass....) but I will be sure to discuss with my children the difference between historical fact and theorizing.

Oh, here's a note, if you feel that the Amazing Bible Timeline (ABT) could be beneficial to your family, the Agards are offering with your purchase a free download of the ABT in pdf format. This could be extremely helpful considering the small print on the hard copy. You can enlarge any section of the pdf file to print off for easier use in studies. They are also offering with purchase, a download of a 7 layer pdf "Interactive Map of the Holy Land", which allows the viewer to overlay the boundaries of 6 different time-frames on a base map of the Holy Land... kind of nifty.

*A note that may be of interest to some of my readers.... Bill and Margaret Agard were requested to make an LDS version of the chart with Book of Mormon references and "History", which they did. After that printing in 2000, their original films were accidentally destroyed, so they used the LDS version to recreate the original. There are some references that were missed, and remain on the chart as of the current printing. We have been assured that they are working with the printer to remedy that situation.

As always, reviews from more than one angle can help you make better decisions, so please hop on over the see what the rest of the TOS crew has to say....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sarah Books: Sarah's Wish

Note: New Special offered to TOS Blog Readers.... scroll down!
This might make gift shopping even easier! :)

Sarah's Wish is the first in a series of books (Sarah Books)written by a most congenial grandfather, Jim Baumgardner, for his grandchildren, all of whom were homeschooled by his daughters and daughter-in-law. Mr. Baumgardner strikes me as a friendly gentleman, who enjoys history and good humor as well.

Sarah's Wish was enjoyed by both my 12 year old and myself. It is a gripping tale of the Underground Railway, and as such, does not always tell a "happy" tale. However, the story is told with warmth and humor. Mr. Baumgardner creates some characters that will stay in your mind, which is amazing for such a short book (just a little over 100 pages, which qualifies as "short" in our household...;)).

An added bonus to the stories is the newsletter that Mr. Baumgardner freely sends to subscribers on a monthly basis. He includes historical tidbits and quotations that will not only entertain, but educate... have to love it! :) (Send an email to to order Sarah's Web Newsletter: It comes by email and it's free! Unsubscribe anytime you want. Enter "send newsletter" in the subject line.)

Sarah's Wish($10.99) is followed by Sarah's Promise ($14.99) and Sarah's Escape($21.99), which we look forward to reading at some point in the future! We want to find out what happens! BTW, those prices are "list" prices, but if you purchase directly from the author, you will receive a discount, and you will even get an autographed copy. Shipping is free when you order directly from Sarah Books. And as has been the case with some of our other vendors, Mr. Baumgardner has chosen to donate a portion of his proceeds to a good cause... Carpenter Place...

***** Special Prices being offered to TOS Blog Readers*****
Mr. Baumgardner decided to offer a special deal to TOS Crew Blog Readers after all our reviews were in. Since the discount is better than I've seen elsewhere, I feel that I should certainly offer it to you!
  • Sarah’s Wish – 126 pages $8.50 retail: $10.99 save $2.49(20%ish)
  • Sarah’s Promise – 245 pages $10.50 retail: $14.99 save $4.49(30%ish)
  • Sarah’s Escape – 304 pages $15.50 retail: $21.99 save $6.49(30%ish)
Extra special offer: Purchase all of the items above and add an extra copy of Sarah’s Wish for $4.00. You can give it to a friend. They will think you are great!

Order must be mailed in to access these special prices. Order Form can be accessed HERE.
I do need to make a disclaimer and note that if you take advantage of this special deal, it is possible that I may receive another book for free and/or at a discount myself, but that had no impact on my previously written review. Thank you!
I would recommend these books as great Christmas or other occasion presents for your young bookworm~ either boy or girl.... :)

Check out other Crew Member's thoughts on Sarah's Wish here~


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Guardian Angel Publishing

The TOS Crew received 5 titles from Guardian Angel Publishing's catalog:
The books are all available as:
  • ebooks($5)
  • ebooks on CD, and DVD Videos($9.95 +S&H)
  • Print Books($10.95+ S&H)
For the purposes of review, we were given the ebook version.

From their Academic Wings Section:

And from the Animals and Pets Category:

These books come from a catalog of over 100 books for ages 0-12, from a publishing company whose goal is "to lovingly create fun, affordable and educational eBook computer & print book experiences for preschoolers and primary age children. And to embed positive, loving and worthwhile meaning into these books." (from the Guardian Angel Publications *GAP* mission statement)

You can read a synopsis of most of their titles from the Catalog page of the GAP website, but I'll give you my quick impressions....
Andy and Spirit Go to the Fair is an inspiring little book for your young horse loving child. It follows the story of Andy, a mostly wheelchair-bound young boy. He finds not only freedom and mobility in riding his horse Spirit, but also strength of character, as he performs with Spirit in a 4-H competition. Included in the back of the book are some great links to learn more about wild horse management in the US and 4-H. This books works fine as an ebook.

Hamster Holidays was a little young for my "Schooled" children, but I can see that it could be one of those useful books for the preschool to the 3rd grade crowd or so. It is a "Noun and Adjective" adventure, in which there are delightful illustrations of Hamsters from different "Towns" cavorting through their monthly "holidays". There is a great deal of repetition for the little ones, the NOUNS are printed in BLUE, and the ADJECTIVES are printed in RED throughout the book. There are also monthly calendars included in the illustrations, which will help with beginning calendar skills. After the 13 pages of story, you will find a 6 pages of "study guide" that will help to teach about Nouns and Adjectives, with activities and games. Personally, I feel that the print version of this book would work the best, although it is nice to have the PDF in order to print off some of the activities, which include a crossword puzzle and a word search.
Rainbow Sheep is a little fairytale about a rainbow that was losing it's vibrant color, and how a young shepherdess helped the rainbow "brighten up". What really makes this book for me are the illustrations, which are full color photographs of felted wool pictures. The back of the book contains 4 full pages of felting information and activities, which makes this book ideal for families with a range of ages~ Story for the youngers, and art for the olders. Fine for either ebook or hard copy, I'd say.

Earthquake is a non fiction, factoid-filled book that has enough information in it that your middle-schoolers may actually learn something. Much of the information is in "Bite-size" chunks, so that you can choose what to read to your youngers. The back of this book includes an emergency preparedness list for your kids to help you pull together. I'd prefer to have this book on my bookshelf than in my computer...

Maybe We Are Flamingos is a great little book in the tradition of the Ugly Duckling and perhaps even Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Two little flamingos are worried about why they just don't seem to "Fit in". One of them finally wisely decides to ask their mother, and what follows is a rollicking romp of silliness and fun. This is a great book to tie in to a zoo visit(if your zoo has flamingos) for your preschool/early elementary crowd. A creative, fun read! Another one that I'd prefer to be able to read in the rocking-chair.

I do have to say that unless your pocketbook can't stand it, the print version of these books would be my pick (Although I haven't seen their quality in person, mind you), because "cuddling up around the computer screen" is just never going to beat a hard copy in the lap on the couch/rocking-chair/bed, in my book. :)

If you'd like to see what all they have to offer, you might want to check out a couple of their free items on this page, and see what the rest of the TOS Crew had to say about these books.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nature Friend Magazine

Looking for a "Christian" alternative to Ranger Rick? Enjoy beautiful photography, art instruction and essays? Nature Friend Magazine and Study guide has much to offer!
Nature Friend Magazine

Although my family couldn't afford to subscribe to children's magazines when I was a kid, I have fond memories of checking out my friends' copies of Ranger Rick and Cricket. I liked the cool photos and "kid submissions".

Now that I'm a parent, I'm more discriminating(and, I'm happy to say, so are my kids) about the material that we read. We've been sorely disappointed by gifted subscriptions of Ranger Rick and National Geographic Kids, with their evolutionary biases.

Enter Nature Friend, a publication that has been around since 1983. Although the magazine ownership has changed hands a few times, the commitment to "encourage children to believe in God as their Creator and to seek out, recognize, and appreciate His handiwork." has remained steadfast. The photography is every bit as stunning as any other you might see. The articles will enlighten and inspire your children as they consider God's creation, and there are fun activities in each issue, from a hidden picture search to the "You Can Draw A....." feature, a particular favorite of my 12 year old. There are actually two parts to this feature. Part 1 is the current month's instruction, and Part 2 is the page of reader submissions from past issue's instruction. Both are fun!

My children have greatly enjoyed reading the articles included in the August and September issues that the TOS Crew received to review. My 8 year-old particularly liked that it had so many puzzles to do. I was especially interested in the August articles on Owls (a personal favorite), and the stunning photographs.

You can also purchase an 8 page study guide that reinforces the articles and general information found in the magazine. These were included with the two monthly magazines that we were given, and my children enjoyed checking out the extra crosswords and acrostics. Mom (teacher!) appreciated the fill-in-the-blanks, "Writing lessons", "The Photo Critique"(which is great for the older children, and accompanying adults!), and more.

You may wish to click on one of the links I provided above, and check out some of the many free samples provided on the Nature Magazine Website, so that you can "Try before you buy".

I would highly recommend this for a Christmas or Birthday gift from grandparents, or friends looking for a "Family gift"! The quality of the paper, the photographs, and the content make this entirely "gift-worthy" in my book.

Now.. one reason that I recommend this as a gift subscription, is that it might be considered a little on the pricey side if you are pinching your pennies like we are. A one year subscription is regularly $36 ($3 an issue), or you can order a 2 year subscription for $68 ($2.83 an issue).
The Study guide is an extra $2/issue ($24/year) which would bring it up to $50 even for one year. Here is a link that explains a little more about the study guide, and adding it to a current subscription, if you have one... :)

BONUS: Until November 30th, the Shank's are offering a coupon for $3 off a new subscription. Use code BLOG93 when you subscribe. (It's like getting one month's issue free!)

It's actually a pretty good deal, when looking at it monthly... for the cost of one or two tall lattes you can educate and inspire your children for a whole month.... that's not bad! :) (However, if your budget has cut out those latte's, you might want to show this post to Grandma or Grandpa!)

Nature Friend Magazine also has available Back Issues for $5 each (Free shipping). You can click on each year, and each month for a list of the Table of Contents. So.. if you are studying, say, fossils and petrified wood, you might want to order the July 2006 Back Issue which has an article on the Petrified Forest National Park.

Another option (starting with the 2007 issues) would be to purchase a complete year's subscription,
in a Smyth-sewn bound volumes. These hard-covers have a sewn binding that enables the book to lay open flat at any page, and the 304 pages are bound with beautiful, glossy, laminated covers. These run $66, and I think they would rival any Nature book you could find at Barnes and Noble.

Oh, and a thought for those of you who are blessed with extra monetary resources.... Nature Friend Magazine has a program called Cheer the Children that you may be interested in contributing to. They would like to be able to offer a magazine to every child that has to endure a hospital stay, and you can help by purchasing a "Gift subscription". If this is something that interests you, please click here to read more.

I hope you check them out (and make good use of those free samples... there are a lot of them, and although they can't show you the quality of the paper the magazines are printed on, they DO show the quality of the content!), check out what the other TOS crew members had to say about their free issues, and let me know what YOU think! (Feel free to leave a comment!) :)


*Disclaimer~ This review was made possible by the free gift of two month's of Nature Friend Magazine and Study Guide, for the purpose of review.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

EDUDPS "Write With The Best" Volumes 1 & 2

Last, but certainly not least we come to the writing curriculum that Jill Dixon has put out:
I received the pages only versions "Write With the Best: Volume 1" and "Write With the Best: Volume 2 " to use with my 9 and 12 year olds.

I really like the concept and the format of this curriculum, in that there are included excerpts from classic works of literature, in a variety of genres. They are each read, discussed, analyzed, and finally used as models of writing, from which the student creates their own piece of work in the given genre. Imitation is not only one of the greatest forms of flattery, but one of the best modes of learning.... :)

I also appreciate that these aren't lengthy dissertations on grammar, but a more natural approach to writing. Jill teaches attention to detail, and descriptive writing, with an emphasis on descriptive nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. She keeps her "lessons" fairly short (Which I like), although the units are somewhat predictable in form (which I don't mind, but some may find wearying). She recommends writing on topics that will keep the student's interest (well.... what a concept! "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" gets old after awhile, as does any arbitrary choice of topic on the part of the teacher), but she does so keeping within the genre at hand.

One of the handiest portions of this curriculum, and one that will most certainly continue to be used, is the "How To Write" Guide with a list of steps to follow to develop a certain genre of writing. My 12 year old, in particular was impressed with, and enjoyed using this portion of the curriculum.

There were only two things I felt were confusing :
  • The "Answer keys" to the cited literary passages. The words are presented in alphabetical order rather than in the order they appear, which makes it more difficult than necessary to verify student work. The point is also made that not EVERY noun, verb, adjective, or adverb is listed in the answer key, only "the most descriptive", but that could be considered a little subjective, which was confusing to my children.... I finally figured out that I should just nod my head whenever they came up with one that was not on the list.... ;)
  • The objective to "Find an example of _______ (current genre being studied) by a well known author and use it for further study. I felt this should be an objective detailed for the upper middle-school and/or high school student, rather than being a general objective for all. Of course as students progress through the course they should become more familiar with and recognize specific styles of writing, but to expect it immediately seemed a little presumptuous. There is a list of additional Literary Passages included in the back of the manual for "Reuse" of the curriculum, but I feel that they should be noted as options for the parents to bring up for their younger students to complete these objectives.
I am enjoying hearing my children pick up on and think about and use more descriptive words in their every day conversations as well as in their writing. OK, so my 9 year old is still addicted to words like "Sick" and "Cool", but I think he'll get the hang of it... maybe he'll even rub off on his skateboarding neighborhood buddies! ;) The 12 year old... she's another story! :)

I do think that while "Write with the Best Volume 1" is listed as being for grades 3-12, it is optimal for the middle to high-school years. Jill does give recommendations for expectations for younger students, and I appreciate that. I believe that "Write With The Best" is useful for my "School of Two", and would be a benefit for those who have more and varied ages in their "classes". :)

For those concerned about high-school "Credit hours"... I think that if your student is taking a reasonable amount of time to complete the writing and perfecting objectives, then they should fairly easily hit that average of 40 minutes/day.... Some days will most certainly be lighter than others(ie... reading and "Grammar exercises"), but when they get into writing short stories and fables, and more, some of those days will be much longer than others.... it should all come out in the wash.

Alright, so now I should get down to the nitty gritty and tell you some specifics.

From the Table of Contents:
Volume 1: (3rd-12 grade)
  • Describing an Object from Jules Verne - a Place from Charles Dickens - a Character from Daniel Defoe
  • Dialogue from Kenneth Grahame
  • The Short Story from O. Henry
  • Fables from Aesop
  • Friendly Letters from Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Poetry - Rhyming Verse from William Wordsworth
  • The Ballad or Narrative Poem from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Volume 2 (6th -12th grade)
  • Poetry - Free Verse from Emily Dickinson
  • Business Letters from Helen Keller
  • Persuasive Essays from Thomas Paine
  • Expository Essays from Francis Bacon
  • Literary Critiques from Edgar Allan Poe (That's right! Poe was a superb literary critic at one point.)
  • Newspaper Articles from Ernest Hemingway (Yes, indeed! In his early career, Hemingway was a newspaper article writer.)
  • Speeches from Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • Dramatic Monologues from William Shakespeare
Volume 1
  • $19.95 ebook (Currently on sale for $14.95... 25% off)
  • $22.45 pages only (no Binder)
  • $24.95 3- ring- Binder
Volume 2
  • $24.95 ebook (Currently on sale for $18.65... 25% off)
  • $27.45 pages only (no Binder)
  • $29.95 3- ring- Binder
For more information and insight, don't forget to check out other TOS Crew member reviews!

EDUDPS~ Roots and Fruits: Vocabulary

Next...... Roots and Fruits

We all know (I'm pretty sure this is old news by now... ;) ) that having a handle on the Greek and Latin roots of our English language is a huge help in the ability to comprehend what is being said and written in the world around around us, not to mention useful for scoring well on the aforementioned ACT/PSAT/SAT exams.

Jill Dixon has compiled a list of 1716 vocabulary words in a handy manual that comes complete with a daily lesson plan that address all learning styles, 14 activities to use throughout the program that reinforce the learning of those root words, and a couple of extras~ Words are marked that are appropriate for the youngest learners, including Kindergartners, and the most common words found on the high school/college assessment tests are also highlighted.

Now, the way this is set up could be helpful or confusing, depending on YOUR style of learning/teaching! There is no program of "learn this set of words this week, test of Friday". Rather the teacher (You!) are in charge of what words you address each week. Sometimes this works well for me, because I have a group of words that we are using in a particular section of study, so it makes sense to use them for "Root" Vocabulary. Other times, however, I feel far too "random" in my choices. However.... the proof is in the pudding, and when my kiddos can recall what words we were studying a month later, I am reminded that "it's not about me"..... ;)

There are three ordering options for Roots and Fruits
$14.98 Ebook (Currently on sale for $11.25.... 25% off)
$17.48 Pages only (Three hole punched)
$19.98 Comb Binding (The version I received for review)

Don't forget to check out other TOS Crew member reviews!

EDUDPS "The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers"

Next up.... No anacronym this time.....:)
"The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers"~
This is similar in part to the POC4U, in that it surveys learning styles, but it goes much more in depth, with surveys that cover:
  • Work/Service preferences
  • Personality profiles
  • Preferred Work environment profiles
For each preference there are numerous possible jobs and/or careers listed, with a general listing of pages of occupations, listed alphabetically. There follows a lengthly section that details " Popular careers/College Majors for Homeschoolers", and suggested courses of study for Middle and High School, as well as activities to consider pursuing, and suggestions for people that the student might like to "interview" to further narrow down their choices. (Jill also handily includes a list of interview questions for career possibilities, which I thought was most useful!)

Beyond this, Jill has included a plothora of information on
  • How to go about actually running a homeshool "high school"
  • How to create a course of study and translate that into a transcript
  • How to figure out and count "Credit hours" and "GPA"
  • There are recommendations on how to "test out" of college courses for a relatively minimal fee, when compared to course fees, as well as information on taking the ACT/PSAT/SAT tests
  • Scholarship information and more....
Now, my daughter is only in 7th grade, so this wasn't quite as easy for her to fill out a bunch of the questions, but I think that it is going to be a great tool.
  • For the present, in that it is getting her to start thinking about her interests, and where they may someday lead her
  • For the future, as she becomes more aware of who she is as a person, and where she would like to go as an adult
"The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers" is the sort of thing that many people never even think about until they've changed their major 3 or 4 times, or even beyond. What a jump start you can give your kids, if you start helping them to assess in the middle and/or early high school years!

I appreciated the emphasis on discipling and raising Godly children, regardless of whether they will be following a college/career path, or a technical/career path, or a home/career path. :) I did find that the manual as a whole didn't "Flow" exactly, with high school information following College/Clep information, etc..., but since this is more reference than novel, "Flow" isn't really all that important to me, content is. :)

Oh, and just for the sake of it, I checked around a little and "Career Counseling" goes for anywhere from $125 for an hour (Not including the time that it takes you to fill out assessments/personality tests, etc...) to $220 for 6 hours, and there were some offerings that didn't list a price, so I can just imagine..... considering that, I think that
"The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers" is a very reasonably priced for the resources and information offered!
$39.95 for the softbound version that I received to review and
$34.95 for the ebook

Don't forget to check out other TOS Crew member reviews!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

EDUDPS(POC4U) Learning assessment/Curriculum Guide

The TOS Crew members were blessed with the opportunity to review any of a number of Jill Dixon's Curriculums and Guides. Because I have a MAC, however, I was not able to review the ebook versions, and was given hard copies of the books to review. (Note: EDUDPS is currently offering their ebooks for 25% off their list price) The next 4 reviews will be from products that I received from EDUDPS.

First up, POC4U is a title that is not available in ebook format, but since I had a package of print titles coming, I was asked to review this title as well. :)

So... what does POC4U stand for?
"Person Optimized Curricula For You" ~ That title is still somewhat difficult to figure out, but the basic concept is that each child's education should be optimized for their own person. This is a tool for homeschoolers to figure out their own IEP, if you will... ;)
POC4U includes
  • Surveys for the child to take which will help to pinpoint your child's predominate learning style.
  • Diagnostic surveys that are helpful in determining what grade level your child may be working at in reading/decoding, math computation, and written expression from K through grade 8.
  • Eight points or "hints" in effectively utilizing curricula based on a student's inclinations
The rest of the book is broken down into the 3 learning styles (Auditory, Visual, and Tactile/Kinesthetic), and specifics for each one. This includes:
  • Cues to help recognize a particular learning style
  • General Teaching Techniques for the particular style
  • Specific Teaching Techniques and Curriculum suggestions in each of the following:
  1. Reading
  2. Spelling
  3. Grammar/English
  4. Writing/Composition
  5. Math
  6. History, Science, and Geography
I think that POC4U would be most helpful for those who are just starting their homeschooling journey, whether homeschooling from the beginning, or bringing their children home from public/private schools. I feel that it would also be a helpful tool for those who are feeling frustrated in their homeschooling efforts, as it could illuminate a "Disconnect" between a student's learning style and the current teaching style~ A possibly simple solution may be found between the front and back pages of POC4U, that could ease a seemingly complex and stressful learning environment.

I found it interesting, when my son took the learning style assessment in POC4U, and when my daughter took the assessments in the next item I'll be mentioning "The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers", that they both tested almost identically. While neither one has a strong leaning in any direction, they both rated visual the lowest in their assessments, but even that was in the zone of being a preference.

My final analysis is that POC4U helps me to feel confident that at least my two olders can benefit from any style of curriculum that we choose to use, and that's a good thing. Likewise, if either of them had shown a strong preference and/or dislike for a particular style of learning, I would feel comfortable in taking Jill Dixon's guidance in tailoring my curriculum choices to my children's needs (we have yet to figure out my 2 year old... he may end up with a strong preference, and then I'll be doubly happy to have this guide handy!).
-----> Not bad for the nominal investment of $12.98.

Don't forget to check out other TOS Crew member reviews!



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