Friday, May 28, 2010

Classical Legacy Press~ "The Great Latin Adventure"

Classical Legacy Press logo

The last "large" review item for the 2009/2010 TOS Crew Year was The Great Latin Adventure curriculum by Classical Legacy Press. I don't feel like we really had enough time to really dig into the program, but I will give my initial thoughts and feelings.

Before I get to that though, I want to make sure that you are aware of all the information that is available on the Classical Legacy Press website regarding The Great Latin Adventure.

The Great Latin Adventure home page is the base from which you can explore product details pages, frequently asked questions pages,  when to start pages, and there are extensive sample pages for you to check out.

So, what exactly IS The Great Latin Adventure?  This bit from their website is a quick introduction:
The Great Latin Adventure is for Latin beginners in grades 4, 5 or 6. It's easy to teach, exceptionally complete, and absolutely no Latin background is required!
The program features in-depth grammar coverage, lively translation, and an extensive derivative component which is very popular with users.

From "mom's" perspective this is a very interesting program so far.

Apologia, Debra Bell

I'm guessing that we are all familiar with Apologia as the provider of science curriculum, but did you know that Apologia Press offers resources for homeschooling parents? One of them is a book that they have republished, an updated version of Debra Bell's "The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling" $20.00

the Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling
Now, I have to admit, that this resource is new to me, so it's interesting to read it, as someone who is not new to homeschooling..... ;)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kregel Publishing (Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure)

The "extreme bookworm" in our home was pleased that we received another book to review for the TOS Crew. This time it was a paperback "historical western", Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure a Circle C adventure by Susan Marlow, intended for ages 8-12.($7.99)

Here's the description for this book from the website:
When innocent horseplay temporarily lands Andi and her friends in jail, they decide that a trip into the mountains will leave their troubles far behind. Accompanied by big brother Mitch and armed with a map showing old gold diggings, they can't wait to strike it rich. What could be better than two weeks of camping and horseback riding?
But instead of gold they find heaps of trouble -- trouble that leaves Mitch gravely wounded. Andi needs help fast. But who can she trust? And what good is a bag of gold when her beloved brother lies near death in the middle of nowhere?

I immediately handed the book over to my bookworm, and off she went.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lobster Network~ Free "Barter/Borrow/Buy" site

 One of the more unique products the TOS Crew was presented with this year has been the Lobster Network, brain child of TOS  Crew family, the Lussiers. Now, living in New England, Lobster is one of my family's favorite things (especially with a husband of Newfoundland descent), so when I hear Lobster, I think food. If you share that idea, well... hold that thought, and let me send you down another path~ :)
  • Have you ever had something that you have had hanging around your house, waiting for "just the right time" to use it, but wished that you could lend it out in the meantime, so that someone else could be blessed by it? like say.... a lobster pot?... (See, I can't quite get that off my mind! ;) )Or how about that "Charlotte Mason Companion", or the reading program that you figured you'd need in a few years when your "surprise package" is ready to read...???)
  • Have you ever made a purchase that didn't "work out", and wished that you could have "Tried before you bought? Think~ curriculum that just didn't fit, or even the piece of kitchen equipment that you thought you'd be using every day, maybe even every week, but it's only come out 1 time in 2 years!
  • Have you ever SKIPPED making a purchase that might have been the perfect fit for your family, just because you weren't SURE? hmmm.... certain curriculum or manipulatives, or games or....I could go on...
  • Have you ever loaned out a book, clothing, curriculum, etc... and then lost track of WHO you loaned it out to? yup! I still don't know where my Strong's Concordance ended up... thank heaven for online concordances now!
  • Have you ever BORROWED something from someone, but forgotten to get it back to them in a reasonable amount of time?  ummm.. guilty... :\
  • Does your homeschool group have a library, but no one borrows from it, because they don't know what is in it?  for sure!
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might just be interested in the LOBSTER NETWORK. (Oh, and did I mention that it is free?)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cerebellum AP Writing: English Language and Comp. Test Prep

Well! Nothing like being prepared well in advance!  :) Towards the end of the school year the TOS Crew received a variety of "Light Speed" AP Exam Prep DVDs. You will want to be sure to check out the rest of the Crew reviews, to see what they thought about the DVDs that they received.
AP English Language & Comp. Exam PrepI received the Light Speed Writing AP English Language and Composition Exam Preparation DVD. 

Now, keep in mind that I don't have a student of an appropriate age, and when I was in high school I was aware of  the CLEP tests,  (and took) the PSAT and the SAT, but AP courses and tests were not something with which I was familiar.

History of the U.S. AP Exam PrepHaving done a little bit of research, I am now a little more prepared for when my children reach the age of AP exams. As I understand it, students can sign up for AP exams (on a yearly basis, in the spring) for courses in which they feel they are adequately prepared.

One benefit of taking the exams appears to be that colleges may look favorably on those who take the exams, as they are an indication that the student is serious about their studies. In addition, if the student scores well on their exams, many, if not most colleges and universities will award the student credit for those scores(I checked Harvard University, and they give credit for certain tests), and/or place them in higher level courses than normal for first year students, which all boils down to saving a little bit of $ on College tuition. There is also the opportunity to qualify for scholarships and/or awards, based on the outcome of the testing. For more AP Exam info, you may find this link helpful.

Now that I've explored a little bit about what AP exams are, let me tell you a little bit about this test prep DVD set that we received.

U.S. Gov & Politics AP Exam PrepThe DVD is a fast moving video with a variety of engaging and pleasant youths giving tips and pointers to the prospective test-taker. I say fast moving because they take 30 essential topics from the exam and spend a minute on each one. Wow! Talk about cramming!! But I think it is very effective "Cramming", particularly if the DVD is viewed more than once, and a few pieces at a time. Light Speed offers test taking advice (ie: how many minutes to alot for each part of the test, and for each part of the writing process in the composition portion... good stuff!)You can see a sample of the video on the AP Writing product page.

There is an additional CD with a Digital Workbook for extra practice. The workbook reinforces the concepts gone over in the video with an outline and notes on the video, practice questions, games and quizzes. This also increases the effectiveness of the DVD, and while I mentioned "cramming" above, I think it would be reasonable to use the Video and the Digital Workbook as a light "Course" (I wouldn't put it on a transcript... this would be "homework", in my opinion) over a few weeks or even a few months, to prepare for the AP exam.

Cerebellum Corporation and Standard Deviants are offering TOS Crew readers a 20% discount off of ANY product purchased online through the rest of the year with code OSH20 at checkout. Many products (Including the LightSpeed line) are currently on sale for approximately 25% off, AND a code FREE for free shipping on orders over $25 showed up in the checkout area (I tried it, and it appears to stack with the TOS code mentioned above! Excellent!)

This is one of those resources that I didn't know much about, but was very happy to have been exposed to. Again, check out the other TOS Crew reviews, and hopefully this review, coupled with the others will help you to determine where you'd like to spend your homeschool dollars.

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 Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ideal Curriculum Preschool


One of the more recent products the TOS Crew was given to review was the 1st month module of Ideal Curriculum's Monthly Preschool program, "Transportation". If you are just starting out on your homeschool journey, and are looking for a structured "program" to use with your children,  you may be interested in the following information.

Ideal curriculum was written by a team of people dedicated to "Education", and an interest in translating the latest education research into products that can be used by a variety of educators.

Each monthly kit has a "Theme", and is available as an e-product download(Which is the format the TOS Crew received), or as a printed version.  The download version comes as a zip file with a number of folders and files.
  • A "Read This First" pdf that really SHOULD be read(I often skip those... oops!), containing information on how the curriculum is organized, and what pages to print when, and how many to print.
  • A folder that includes 3 Teacher's Manual files(Literature, Math, and Science)
  • A "Read" folder with 4  interactive Book files (Following the Math, Science, and Literature themes) meant to be read on the computer
  • A Folder with those files that I mentioned above for printing. Each one is its own PDF file.
  • A Folder with mp3 music files to use throughout the month, as required.
I personally would prefer the print version, as I found jumping around the different folders and files within the folders to be a little too cumbersome. This could be abated somewhat by printing all the files, but at this time that isn't an economical choice for my household. However, if printing isn't a problem, I would recommend printing and collating all three manuals week-by-week into one cohesive manual, and possibly having it comb bound at an office store.

 So, on to the actual curriculum~

What is it?
  • Ideal curriculum is very formatted and formal, with very in-depth and precise directions for the instructor. There are explanations for the reasons behind each concept and activity, and each week includes goals and assessments for the teacher. 
  • The month is split into weekly segments within the theme. There are those colorful books to be read, activities that cover the gamut from dramatic play to science experiments, phonological awareness to letter shapes, as well as basic counting, ordinal numbering, etc...most within the given theme.  In our Module, "Transportation", the literacy unit seemed less "Themed", and more basic literacy learning. The Math unit used "transportation props" as interest-getters (pictures of bikes and rocketships, and exploring fast and slow, elevators and floor levels, etc...). The science/Oral Language unit seemed to me to follow the theme most closely, with axle and wheel experiments, transportation inspired art projects, and story sequencing to name a few of the activities.
What do I think?
  • This could be very useful for a new homeschooling parent, who is very unsure of their ability, or extremely scheduled, and concerned that they might forget to touch on a particular area of development with their young preschooler. 
  • In my honest opinion, I think it is more directed towards productive daycares and preschools with groups of children~ Some things just work better with a few more children. This could perhaps lend itself to a co-op style setting.
  • My personal style of homeschooling, particularly with a preschooler, is rather free and relaxed.  I very seldom follow a "Theme", although I have thought about it upon occasion. ;) I have had books on my shelves for years that are preschool "themed", and while I have used portions of them, I am not the scheduled sort of person that will follow through with them on a regular basis. If yours is also a more "eclectic" or "relaxed" homeschool family, this product may not be a good fit for you.
  • Also, just a quick note, that at 2+ my littlest isn't quite the right age for this sort of program, so these are my opinions, based on my looking the material over, and only using portions of it with him. In a couple of years it is possible that I could find this much more adaptable to my "schooling" methods for an older preK child. :)
Remember that these are my opinions, based on where my family is now. You can see for yourself, by signing up for a free newsletter that includes specials, coupons, and information on new products, as well as a free two week trial. If I were looking for a very formal preschool program, this is an offer I'd probably accept, as I always appreciate the opportunity to try before I buy. ;)

There are a variety of purchasing options but the basic rate is
Monthly kits: $30 for downloads, and $55 for printed. There are discounts for 3 month purchases as well as a complete 9 month purchase, and individual units may be purchased as well. For the month of  May, Ideal Curriculum is offering TOS Homeschool Crew followers a 10% discount on a first purchase by using the code: welovekids

As always, I hope that this review will help you decide where to best spend your homeschool budget, and what will work for YOUR family. For more TOS Crew opinions on Ideal Curriculum's Preschool program, head on over to the TOS Crew Blog.

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 Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Beeyoutiful Baby Body Lotion

PhotobucketThe TOS Crew once again has received a product that is not DIRECTLY homeschool related, but IS related to teaching our children about healthy living, and living with a more "Natural" and "holistic" outlook.

The crew received a wide variety of products from immune system stimulators to more typical "health and beauty" products like lotions, cleansers, soaps, and hair sprays.  Be sure to visit the CREW page if these are products that interest you, to find out more about each one.

I received the Baby Body Lotion, which is paraben and formaldehyde free, scented with Lavender and Chamomile.

The lotion itself is light and soaks in rather nicely. I thought I would be very happy with the scent, since I am a fan of Lavender, and use Lavender essential oils, and natural lavender products on a regular basis. However,  this (could be a particular batch?) lotion's scent was overpowering to my sensitive nose. There was also a "Tone" that I, personally, didn't care for (Could be the chamomile, I'm not sure. I know I don't like Chamomile Tea, so it could be that Chamomile is the scent my nose objects to....??).

I wanted to get some other opinions, as I am known to have an ultra sensitive nose, so I brought the lotion to our last homeschool support group meeting, and asked the opinions of a number of the moms there. Their reactions:
  • Somewhat overpowering
  • Smells like laundry detergent or cleaner
  • Too strong for a baby
  • Makes my eyes water
  • Nice "Feel", but not a baby scent
  • No one else had the same "tone" reaction, so that must be a quirk of my nose
My thought is that perhaps I had a slightly "off" bottle, or that the recipe could use a little "tweaking" to be more baby-friendly(less strong scent), but that overall, the lotion itself is a very pleasant product.

The Baby Bee Lotion sells for $13 for a 6 oz bottle. If you are a fan of Lavender, you may wish to check it out yourself. (If you're local, just ask me, and I'll gladly let you try a sample! :D )

As always, I hope that this review will help you decide where to best spend your budget.

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 Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



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