Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Monic Vocabulary Cartoons

PhotobucketWords~  We love words in our household! I have always been a fan of looking up words in the dictionary, and I am hoping that this love of words and meanings (and correct usage) is passed down to my children as well. To that end, I was delighted to be one of the crew members chosen to review Vocabulary Cartoons: Elementary Edition (Recommended for grades 3-6, $12.95) from the good folk at (You can read some other TOS Crew members' recent reviews of Vocabulary Cartoons SAT Word Power, Book 1 here)

So~ What are Vocabulary Cartoons and why are they different from other vocabulary books? I don't know if you remember or have read my reviews on the Little Man in the Map, or Times Tales, but those products make use of mnemonic devices (which can be phrases, rhymes, pictures or any combination of the above designed to assist or "Bring to mind" a fact or piece of information) to teach geography and Math. Vocabulary Cartoons also uses mnemonic devices, utilizing cartoon pictures, similar sounding words, rhymes, and sentences to introduce 210 vocabulary words to elementary-aged children in 21 lessons. These lessons are complete with matching and fill-in-the-blank quizzes at the end of each lesson. This is a very useful tactic, especially for children who are audio/visual learners, although it can be fun and effective for those who have a more "Traditional" style of learning as well.

Because my kids are VERY prolific readers, I haven't been very regimented about "Vocabulary" per se. Here are the pros that our family found while using this book for the past few weeks
  • Vocabulary Cartoons is just the right speed for making sure that we touch on vocabulary, without making it a "Chore"
  • It provides a fun variation from dry word lists and definitions~ Which means it gets done! :) 
  • Rhyming is always a hit in our household
  • The quizzes fit in quite nicely with our spelling tests at the end of the week
Things that we were less impressed with (The "Cons"):
  • A few words that I didn't feel were entirely age-appropriate (guerrillas, smitten, bilk, impale, sleazy ~ These just don't seem like words I really want my 3rd-6th grader using...I'm not fond of their connotations). These ARE really a SMALL percentage of the lists (You can download a pdf of the entire word list here if you'd like to check it out yourself).
  • One lesson contains a large number of "Ghoulish" illustrations (Frankenstein, Vampires, Ghosts, Monsters).... I'm skipping that one... not our cup o'tea
Because there is an occasional word or picture I'd prefer to omit, I will be using this a little more judiciously. This makes me a little sad, because I really do like the format. If you'd like a glimpse of what these look like, you can download a sample with the above cartoons as well as 8 more here. Please keep in mind that the book also uses each word in 3 different sentences below the cartoon.

All in all, I AM pleased with Vocabulary Cartoons, and think that they may be useful for the kiddos that aren't "list memorizers". :) I hope that this review is useful to you as you choose where to spend your homeschool budget. (For any local friends~ If you'd like to see this in person, zap me an email, and I'll bring it to a meeting~ For everyone~ If you'd like to read a few more opinions, you may do so at 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 Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, September 20, 2010

What do we LOVE to use? (Pre-K, 5th, and Middle School)

This is the first time that I am joining in on the TOS Crew Blog Cruise, where various crewmates take the time to answer a variety of questions on their blogs, one each week. I have often thought of joining in, but time has gotten away from me most times. Others, I didn't have much to say on the topic... (I am BLESSED to be surrounded by supportive family, and neighbors!) However, this week's topic, "What are your favorite resources for the ages and grades that you are teaching?" was something that I figured I might be able to take a stab at.

Currently~ to go "up" in age~
The Pre-K "Littlest"~
As with the other two, we are starting our "learning" with the gentle approach of Before Five In A Row*. I have to say that I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all things FIAR, and Jane and Steve (And Becky!) Lambert. What a sweet heart they have for homeschoolers, their children, their marriages, and all. Be sure to check out the Five In A Row Message Boards!
Preschool Activity in a Bag sets are great~ He likes "Getting out a Game" from his box.
Counting Bears and sorting activities (Along with Busy Bugs Activities* and cards)
Books! (Curious George books are favorites at the moment, and I love to read a variety of ABC books (Here's one of my favorites if you have a child that loves flowers*,  and one of my very favorites for ANY kid is Dr. Seuss's ABC* (Be sure not to get the board book... it leaves stuff out!)
Clipboard with paper and crayons or pencils
Preschool "games" on my itouch

5th Grade Middlest~
Once again~ Five In A Row is my first mention!
Currently, Saxon Math* seems to work well for us, starting in 5th Grade
Still like MathScore (See the banner on the top right of my blog)
Both my kids love their Spelling workbooks (We use Spelling Workout*)... In lieu of a workbook, I'm impressed with Spelling City, and ABC Teach for the options included for making and/or printing up activities.
Lots of books~ current reads are the "Viking Raiders"series (The first book is Raiders from the Sea* ) and the Tintin books (Here's one of the 1st ones I remember reading from my childhood Tintin in Tibet*)

There is a cool website for various "Activities" that I like to utilize every now and again~ FreeRice

8th Grade Oldest~
Video Text Algebra (currently working in  Module "B"*)
Spelling Workout*
Apologia General Science* (With Lapbook additions. There are a few out there, I think...)
Books(Lots of 'em!)~ Currently she's into "Historical" Fantasy, having read all of Brian Jacques' Redwall books, and now getting into The Lord of the Rings Triology. :)

For some "Extras", we loved using "ROAR", a companion Guide to the Chronicles of Narnia.
We're using Neta Jackson's "Hero Tales"*  as our Devotional in the mornings... Like it!

For "Free Play" time, we love Legos, Playmobil, and one of our favorites... Kapla Blocks* or Keva Planks*... Both are great, and keep kids AND mom entertained for hours! These are amazing building blocks!

So, there you have it... These ARE a few of our favorite things! :)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I may receive an "affiliate commission' on any purchases made through links with an * . Thank you for helping to support our "Stay-at-home" one fmaily income.   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, September 8, 2010

Math Tutor DVDs~ Pre Algebra(Vol1) and Texas Instruments TI-84/TI84 Calulator


For the 3rd year in a row TOS Crew members have received DVD's from Jason Gibson's Math Tutor DVD line. I was blessed to receive product all three years. You can read my reviews from year 1 (It's not Rocket Science, People!  which covered the "Basic Word Problems" and "Algebra 2" DVD's), and year 2 (Young Minds ~ Numbers and Counting which is a gorgeous Toddler/Preschooler DVD).

This year I once again received 2 DVD's
Photobucket"The Pre-Algebra Tutor"~($26.99) A 2 DVD set with 5 hours of video instruction which covers 9 topics:
  • Real Numbers
  • The Number Line
  • Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To
  • Absolute Value and Adding Integers
  • Multiplying Integers
  • Dividing Integers
  • Powers and Exponents
  • Order of Operations 

    Photobucket"The Texas Instruments TI-83/TI-84 Calculator" ($26.99)~ a 3 DVD set with 8 hours of video instruction. This one covers 37 topics...YIKES!  I didn't know there was that much to know about a calculator! (Can you tell that I didn't encounter "higher math" that required a scientific calculator??) Because there are so many topics, I'm not going to list them all here. You  can visit the TI 83/84 link above to see everything that is encompassed in this course, as well as a sample video of the first lesson.

    As I have come to expect from Jason Gibson, each topic is treated thoroughly and with much repetition. If you have a student that is struggling in any area of math, I still maintain the opinion that  these videos would be very helpful, even without the sizzle-bang, pop-whiz excitement of some other programs.  My daughter is beyond the pre-algebra stage at this point, but based on her style of learning, these videos could be helpful in small doses. The great thing about a Math Tutor DVD, is that once the student figures the concept out, you can fast forward to the next, and skip all the repetition, but if your student requires repetition, it is calmly and quietly included.

    I presume that once we get to the point where we need to use a graphing calculator, the TI-83/TI84 DVD may be very useful in getting us up to speed, one chunk at a time, as needed.

    One nifty aspect of the TI-83/TI84 video meant I could review it without actually owning a TI-83/TI-84. Jason uses an interactive calculator graphic to go through the various functions of the calculator. This makes it easy to see exactly how to work the keyboard and the functions (and simultaneously eliminates the need to try to read one of those tiny print manuals, which is what I imagine comes with the calculator). It's also handy if you have a child that wants to be able to USE electronics right out of the package... eliminates or reduces that learning curve, if they go through it in advance.However, if you or your child is a "Give me the manual, I want to read it cover-to-cover, and then get right to work" sort, this may not be as helpful for you.

    I'd like to mention one other service offered by Math Tutor DVD, and that is a "Member Subscription" to the Math Tutor DVD Site. If you foresee the need to purchase a number of the Math Tutor DVD's, this could be a good option for you. A Membership to Math Tutor DVD Member's Area gets you instant access to:
    • View all Math Video Courses Online 24/7!
    • Over 170 Hours of Video!
    • Basic Math thru Calculus and Physics!
    • View unreleased lessons not yet on DVD!
    • New material released weekly!
    • Members save 25% on all DVD courses!
    • Download worksheets!
    • Extra worked problems and solutions!
    • Members Only Discussion Forums!
    • Articles, tips and techniques by Jason Gibson!
    • And much more!   
    The cost for a membership is $19.95/ month, $99/6 months (Recurring billing) or $189 for 1 single year of access. This is an interesting option if your student "clicks" with Jason Gibson's teaching style. :)

    I hope that this review was useful to you as you navigate the sometimes tricky waters  homeschooling  math education. For 99 more opinions on these DVDs, please visit the TOS Crew Blog, and see what  other Crew members had to say.


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



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