Friday, June 27, 2014

Go Science DVD's (States of Matter, Water, Engineering, Design, Flight)

A couple of years ago I reviewed two DVD's from Library and Educational Services' "Go Science Series 1." Littlest has enjoyed watching them, and was very excited to be able to watch some more Go Science Experiments this year. The TOS Review Crew was able to choose 2 Go Science DVDs  from the 7 DVDs in Series 2. We chose to review Volume 5 and Volume 7, as they seemed to have topics that would engage my youngest.

  • Volume 1: Sound, Gravity, Space
  • Volume 2: Life Science, Weather
  • Volume 3: Air
  • Volume 4: Motion, Friction, Electricity, Light
  • Volume 5: States of Matter, Water
  • Volume 6: Chemistry
  • Volume 7: Engineering, Design, Flight
Ben Roy teaches Science at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, but he also engages younger students with science for Bible Clubs, and Vacation Bible School. His science lessons always include the catchphrase "Every Time we learn something about Science, we learn something about our Creator God!" and he often includes a good object lesson, which I appreciate when looking for material when I am asked to fill in for Council Time at AWANA or Sunday School.

Here is an example of Bob Roy's video lesson style: 

Volume 5 included all of the following experiments~ Most could be easily duplicated at home, while others required materials that wouldn't be so easily obtained (The Ice Block Melt comes to mind), or are *not* recommended for home use. My commentaries on the individual experiments will mostly be my "pros" ~ I will address a couple of "cons" at the end. 

  • States of Matter:
      • Ice Cream ~  (This is always a fun experiment, and yummy, too!)
      • Oobleck ~  (*I* like this experiment, but my kids are "Texture challenged" and don't appreciate *goo*) 
      • Density Column ~  (Always a good lesson)
      • Ice Block Melt ~  (This was a cool lesson, with an unexpected outcome!) 
      • Run Through Corn Starch and Water ~  (Another "gooey" experiment~ need lots of corn starch for this one, but it would be fun for a group lesson)
      • Pitcher of Cold Water Put in Hot Water
      • Putting Ice in Water Float or Sink~ (Great point in this lesson)
      • Making Butter ~ (This was the first experiment that my son asked to duplicate at home... it hasn't happened yet, but it will!) 
  • Water:
      • Traveling Water ~ (Tricky experiment, good lesson)
      • Antimagnetic Water ~ (Fascinating experiment) 
      • Pouring Water ~ (Simple experiment with a practical point)
      • Burning Money ~ (Very exciting, but don't try it at home!) 

  • Engineering/Design: All of these experiments were fun to watch~ more intriguing for the slightly older crowd in the age range.
      • How Much Will it Hold(Don't judge by what you see!) 
      • Leaning Tower of Lyra ~  (A classic physics experiment) 
      • Nail Balance (  :) Learn to amaze your friends!) 
      • Trebuchet ~  (Fun to watch this large scale Trebuchet)
      • Centrifuge ~ (Unfortunately, our hot days, which have been few and far between this June, didn't coincide with a time to try this one out, but when they do, we may add our own video to this review~ :) )
      • Walking on Eggs ~ (Not planning to duplicate this experiment, but it was fun to watch)
      • Bed of Nails-Small ~ (Good object lesson here...) 
  • Flight:
      • Rocket Balloons ~ (Learned something we didn't know!) 
      • Vinegar Rocket ~ (Another great object lesson, but do this experiment outside!)
      • Toilet Paper on Paint Roller ~ (*This* is my answer to which way the TP should go on the roll... not really addressed in the experiment, but it relates a little) 
      • Film Canister Rocket ~ (While not always necessary, safety goggles are definitely a good idea for this particular experiment~ which should take place out doors!) 

Leaning Tower of Lyra ~ Center of Gravity
Side note: the recommended ages for these videos are 4-12. I would probably put it closer to the 4-9 age range, as Mr. Roy is a little "over the top" enthusiastic at times, which is great for the little ones, but not as much for the older ones. 

I mentioned that there are a few cons, slightly nit-picky, but depending on your family, they might be good to know. 
  1. Mr. Roy uses the words "interesting" and "cool" enough that they lose their punch ("Interesting" regularly shows up 3-8 times in the average five minute clip).  I understand that he is speaking to a young audience, so he can't use obscure synonyms, but he might want to work on expanding his vocabulary just a little bit more to make things a little more... fascinating, thought-provoking, clever, ingenious, inventive, amazing ... As the older sibling/parent watching these episodes, the lack of variety in vocabulary became a little wearying... 
  2. Sometimes there was a bit of a stretch between the relation of the experiment to the lesson, but I can live with that. 
All things considered the Go Science Videos are appropriate for their intended audience, and my youngest enjoys them. Indeed, he has turned the title into a chant, similar to those heard at his brother's baseball games... "Go, Science! Go, Science! Go, Science!" 
Again, I need to remember some of these object lesson/experiments for potential use at AWANA if/when I am asked to fill in for council time. :)

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
  • Company: Library and Educational Services
  • Product: Go Science DVDs Volume 5: States of Matter, Water, and Volume 7: Engineering, Design, Flight
  • Ages: 4-12 (Publisher recommended... My personal recommendation is 4-9)
  • Price: $8.97 
  • Note: You must sign up for an account with Library and Educational Services in order to purchase from them, but if you do, I expect you will be pleased~ I have often found some great nuggets for purchase here. 
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.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Of Dragons, Swallows, Vikings and Societies (Middle School Reads)

Have you looked at any Middle school summer reading lists lately? They tend to be filled with story lines that are filled with death, dying and depression... I have been disheartened by the choices my children's friends have been bringing home from their "summer reading lists" for the past 5 or 6 years.

I'm going to put up a quick little list that will actually include a BUNCH of books, because they are mostly the first book in a series~ which should keep your voracious AND reluctant reader busy during the summer months. The vast majority of these are appropriate for/enjoyed by both boys and girls.

I'll start with a series that I am personally just finishing up, but that my children have read the past few years... The Mysterious Benedict Society. This series is about a somewhat misfit group of 2 boys and 2 girls with extraordinary talents, who are asked to go on a dangerous undercover mission in order to save their town (and possibly their country and, indeed, the whole world) from the diabolical "Whisperer."

What a fantastic story with so many interesting plot twists, so many fascinating characters and situations~ Great read!
Next up is one of our perennial favorites, and probably the most lent set of books from my daughter's personal library , The Viking Quest Series. Pictured at right is the first book in the series, which is set largely in Ireland and Norway. These are thrilling adventures with a strong moral/Christian tone, that kept my children anxiously waiting to get to the next book.
Just a note~ the entire Viking Quest Series (Kindle edition) is available for around $15, so if that is one of the ways your kids read, and they aren't clamoring for a physical book to hold in their hands, this is a good option.

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup... Author Eisley Jacobs has written a trilogy (so far~ my kids are rooting for more books, and that is definitely a possibility on the horizon) Dragons Forever, featuring Deglan (boy dragon) and Meia (girl human) who meet, despite the tactics of Lord Edric, who endeavors to keep dragons and humans from ever making contact. We all enjoyed these books (12/13 year old boy, 16/17 year old girl,  and mom), and really think they should be made into movies (especially the 2nd book)~ preferably a faithful rendition~ would be well worth the money to go see them. If you dig a little deeper than the surface story, the themes of character are excellent and provoked much discussion and thought. As with the Viking Quest Series,  Dragons Forever Series, Books 1-3:Kindle edition is a great deal, currently listed for $2.99 for all three books on your Kindle!

The next couple of series are "Classics"

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome isn't really about birds and South American Natives. Instead it tells (with very British Flavour) the adventures of the Walker children, Nancy and Peggy Blackett (the Amazons) and a little catboat (The Swallow) with the stories starting in the 1930's or so. This is the first book in the series and any child who dreams of spending their days on their own, outdoors, exploring and solving mysteries will surely enjoy these books. What a great set of books to read on lazy summer afternoons! :)

The next series is more for the girls~ the The Betsy-Tacy books. These stories are set in the late 1800's-early 1900's and follow the lives of three little girls, Betsy, Tacy, and Tib. They are best friends who live in a small village. We get a glimpse into the lives of children in pre-world war I, very sweet "growing up" books. You *can* purchase them separately, but I think the treasury pictured at right is an excellent deal. It is available on Kindle or in Paperback.

Oh, goodness... I could keep going on, with

But... I'm running out of time... 

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas for Middle School summer reading, and if you choose to shop through my links, I thank you! 

Happy Reading! 

Please visit the TOS Review Crew Carnival for more inspiration
Summer Reading for Middle Grades

Friday, June 20, 2014

Diana Waring and Friends~ Experience History Through Music~ Giveaway

Diana and Friends Giveaway
 To celebrate the release of Experience History Through Music, I am joining members of the Diana Waring Launch Team for an amazing giveaway. My children and I have been listening to songs from or about the Old West, and reading about their histories. We are looking forward to hearing more from the life and times of Laura Ingalls Wilder as well as turning the songbook a little further back in American History as well. Definitely toe-tapping fun! Look for a complete review the week of June 30.

In the meantime, back to the giveaway. Friends of Diana have joined in the celebration and as you can see, someone's homeschool is going to be greatly blessed!  Here's what you could win!

From Diana Waring Presents

american history -- never this funExperience History Through Music - set of 3 books with CDs ($50/set) Diana Waring Presents is about to bring back into print the BEST folk music you have ever heard, combined with the fascinating stories they represent in American history!   The Experience Music Through Historyseries includes: America - Heart of a New Nation, Westward Ho! - Heart of the Old West  and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The musicians are amazing, every instrument is real, lots of great vocalists, and more toe-tapping music than you can imagine! The books tell the stories behind the songs.  Together, they bring American history to life through it's music!!With fascinating history books and toe-tapping folk music CDs, American history has NEVER been this fun!
Encouragement for Homeschool Moms Collection ($25) Every mom needs that word of encouragement from someone who has been there, who has grownup children and can speak with assurance about the journey. Homeschool moms have an extra portion of the journey to navigate, and often wish for an extra voice that will offer direction but without nagging or prodding. Diana Waring has that voice.  

From A Journey Through Learning

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$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the A Journey Through Learning store, applicable toward any digital download purchase.  


From Homeschool Legacy

westward ho I 300x400
Westward Ho! Part I ($19.95) Load up your wagon! Discover the extraordinary times of adventurous frontiersmen and brave pioneers as you travel cross-country along the Erie Canal,  Oregon Trail, and even “remember the Alamo” in Westward Ho Part I. Westward Ho! Part II ($19.95) Continue the exciting saga begun in Westward Ho! Part I as you journey with the forty-niners, ride the rails of the Transcontinental Railroad, experience life on the prairie, and discover the exciting era of cowboys and cattle drives in Westward Ho! Part II.  

From Knowledge Quest Maps

Map Trek: Atlas and Outline Maps of World History ($55) Map Trek is a historical atlas plus outline maps that allow you to teach geography alongside history. This is a resource that any homeschool parent can use with brilliant success, even if you don't remember a thing from your history or geography classes in public school.  


From Home School Adventure Co. 

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Philosophy Adventure™ Digital Download ($39.95) Philosophy Adventure™ is designed to help students 6th-12th grade cultivate and defend a biblical worldview by teaching them how to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately as they explore the history of ideas.  


From Heidi St. John 

(The Busy Mom and Real Life Press)

Firmly Planted Family Devotional Digital Volume 3 ($39) The Firmly Planted Family Series is divided into ten-week studies and is your key to making sense of the Bible—even if you’re learning right along with your children. Each lesson provides a core idea, a simple narrative, memory verses and discussion questions for children of all ages. And the companion student workbook is filled with age-appropriate, full-color, reproducible activities for children of any age!  

From Raising Real Men

Free Registration to Boyhood Boot Camp or Boot Camp 9-12 LIVE webinar series (winner's choice) plus Mom & Dad Special Raising Real Men (Book for Mom to read in the bathroom + AudioBook for Dad to listen to on the commute) ($62-69)

Free Registration for Marriage Retreat Online plus His & Hers Special of My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses (book + audiobook), ($65)  


From Institute for Excellence in Writing


$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the IEW store, applicable toward any purchase.  

From The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

ST-Affiliate-300x300_zpsb38aa8ae ($139) A one year membership to the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Nearly 100 classes for Pre-K to High School, taught by expert teachers, and lots of extras including the Schoolhouse Planners, Schoolhouse Expos, monthly free ebook downloads and more.
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine 2014 Print Book ($15) Be encouraged, enlightened, and educated with the all new 2014 Annual Print Book published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.You’ll get a year’s worth of homeschool support in almost 300 pages in this full color one-of-a-kind print magazine for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers. This is a magazine you’ll refer to again and again.  

From Writing with Sharon Watson

The Power in Your Hands ($53.96) With The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, they’ll learn what they need to know for high school and will be prepared for college writing.
Writing Fiction [in High School] ($35) Are you raising the next C. S. Lewis or Jane Austen? Help your students develop their fiction-writing talents with Writing Fiction [In High School]: Bringing Your Stories to Life.

To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. Residents of the U.S., age 18 and older only. Other Terms and Conditions can be found in the Rafflecopter. a Rafflecopter giveaway


H is for Habit, Helpful (Charlotte Mason Inspiration # 14)

Something to ponder...... 


Linking up~ 

Friday, June 13, 2014

G is for Gratitude (Charlotte Mason Inspiration # 13)

G is for Gratitude

I love the way Charlotte Mason reminds us to be grateful to the Grand Artist, the Almighty Creator, for the smallest to the largest miracles of nature that He created.

Yesterday was a homeschool park day at a local wooded, riverside park. After everyone else went home, we went for a walk on the trails through the woods, and on paths along the river. Imagine my surprise and delight when I spied a lovely spotted Pink Lady Slipper Orchid. I have never in all my years been privileged to see one in person, in the wild. Truly, "Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty." I was so happy that my daughter had her ipod and was able to take the pictures above.

I am reminded of Ann Voskamp's  One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, which is really all about gratitude to the One who gives us every good gift (James 1:17)

What hidden delights have you discovered lately? I'd love to hear what you've seen that inspires you to gratitude.


Ben and Me

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

"F" is For Friendship (Charlotte Mason Inspiration #12)

It is so much easier to get along with others when one no longer expects perfection from others (while simultaneously ignoring one's own imperfections). Unfortunately, in today's world, relationships seem to be more "disposable" than ever~ so count yourself blessed if you and your children have found true, loyal friendships

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Learning Wrap-ups Full Online Family Subscription Learning Palette

If you've been homeschooling for very long,  chances are good you may have heard of Learning Wrap-ups. If you haven't, you should check out the TOS Review Crew link at the end of this review, to find find out what other Crew Member thought of the physical product Learning Wrap-ups and Learning Palettes that they received for review.

In  case you haven't really heard of them, Learning Wrap-ups and Learning Palettes are self-checking "Fact-practice" tools, that make learning and reinforcing facts more fun that basic flashcard style or worksheet style drills, and are a great option for the highly kinesthetic child. We have owned and used Learning Wrap-ups AND Learning Palettes for a number of years in our home, so I was curious about the new online product by Learning Wrap-ups,

The best way to describe how works is to show you this video:

As we already own the physical version of the Learning Palette, my son was somewhat familiar with the concept of the online version, and he was intrigued with the idea of using the computer.

Here is our take on the online version of the Learning Palette.

  • The colorful discs cannot be misplaced!
  • Doesn’t take up any space in your house or on your bookshelf.
  • The program times how long it takes to complete each card, so your student can try to improve their speed. For some of the Reading cards, it would take my son a while to figure out *all the words, so his initial times were in the 5-7 minute range. Once he had read all the words on the card one time through he would improve his time, ending up more in the 1-3 minute range, which made him much happier.
  • The program also keeps track of which cards have been completed, which is a handy feature only available with an online version~ otherwise we have to rely on memory as to which cards have been finished.
  • The ability to have all 35 math titles and 20 reading titles at your fingertips, especially for families with multi-ages. 

  • I personally missed the “Tactile” feel of the real discs (however, I didn't miss the potential of losing them, as mentioned above).
  • Techie issues:
    •  Sometimes my son found it a little difficult to drag and drop the discs precisely where he wanted them, but I think that was more a function of using a laptop with a touchpad, than anything else. However, we aren’t set up for “mouse use” so we go with what we have.
    • While it is “possible” to use it with the iPad, we were not terribly successful with using it on my iPad~ the discs weren’t recognized as being in place, so quickly decided that the iPad wasn't the best option for us.
    • Sometimes the text for the reports on the screen of my laptop would be all scrunched together, so that it was hard to read.  
Other notes:

Because the screen on my laptop is smaller than the physical Learning Palette,  I was a little dismayed at the size of the print for some of the activity cards. However,  I finally realized that there is a “magnifying glass” which can be used to zoom in on a specific area of the card (especially handy when working with the money cards). Problem Solved! 
We found the Math cards to be the most useful for my son, as the structure of the Reading cards didn't totally follow his current progress, and some of them were harder for him to read on his own. However, that being said, as mentioned before, with the online version of the Learning Palette we are able to access every card and unit, so it was easy to hop around and find the cards that are the correct level for him to work with. 

In this picture of the "Rhyming Words" cards, you can see from the lower left counter-clockwise that they go from just matching pictures of words that rhyme (easier for a non-reader) to matching a word with a rhyming picture (must be able to read simple long vowels) to matching two rhyming words (with some more difficult phonograms, and no picture clues). Generally speaking, I wouldn't use these as a "curriculum" per se, but as a tool to reinforce what is being learned each week. 

If you want to try out you can try out the Free Demo that lets you access a limited number of specific cards, and you can visit Learning Wrap-Ups on Facebook and Twitter

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
  • Company: Learning Wrap-ups 
  • Product: Full Online Family Subscription 
  • Ages: K-5th grade
  • Price: $60 for up to 5 users (Coupon code HOMESCHOOL will take off 20%) 
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.


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