Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Salem Ridge Press - Where Books Live

My first encounter with Salem Ridge Press was Soldier Fritz, by Emma Leslie (softcover, $10.95, ages 8-adult).  I have to say I was disappointed.  An historical novel set in the sixteenth century, it makes frequent jabs at the Catholic church.  I am a big fan of historical fiction and thus encounter this frequently in my own reading, however, I don't feel it is appropriate for my child to be dealing with at this point in his character formation.  There is plenty of good, wholesome historical fiction on the market, whose authors don't have to stoop to denigrating the lifestyle or religion of others in order to make their point.  Books by Emma Leslie will not be making it into our reading lists or home library. 

That said, Salem Ridge Press has several other excellent titles and authors in its' inventory.

Down the Snow Stairs, by Alice Corkran, came as an e-book.  Thankfully, Apple has finally come up with an app for the Ipod Touch that will allow books to be read in book format, with pictures and everything, rather than the text-only-all-running-together that had previously made the Ipod undesireable to me as an ereader.  Down the Snow Stairs is a delightful journey through "Naughty Children Land" with Kitty, who feels very guilty about her younger brother's illness, and desperately wants to be with him on Christmas Eve.  Kitty learns important lessons about obedience, kindness, honesty and other moral values as she wanders through bogs, broken toys, and badly behaved children.  Finally, on Christmas Day, Kitty is reunited with her beloved Johnnie, who has survived his dreadful fever, and begs to hear all about Kitty's adventures. 

My son tends to get bored with moral stories, but this one really holds his attention.

The little outlaw particularly enjoyed hearing the adventures of Young Robin Hood, by George Manville Fenn, also in ebook form, and yes, also on the Ipod.  We have both these PDFs on the computer, but it's just so very convenient to take them with us and read them on the Ipod.  I still love the feel of a real book, but ereaders can carry a whole lot more of them than my purse can.  After being rescued from a bully by the Merry Men and spending a year in Sherwood Forest learning to hunt, track and shoot a bow and arrow, young Robin is returned to his father and peace and friendship reign once again in the land.  Robin's journey from spoiled young noble to confident, compassionate young man is splendidly told.  His father's joy at knowing his son is not dead as feared, leads him to humble himself and forsake all he owns, if necessary, just to see him again.

Although these two books are a bit above my second grader's reading level, I enjoyed reading them to him.  The PDF format is easy to download and read on the computer, as well most ereaders, and the price is reasonable.  For more information, including other titles, go to Salem Ridge Press, 4263 Salem Drive, Emmaus, PA  18049.

See what other Homeschool Crew members are saying about these books:  Salem Ridge Press - Homeschool Crew

I received one paperback and two ebooks in exchange for my honest use and review of these products.  No other compensation was received for this review.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Making Math Fun - Pyramath Cards

Making Math Fun

We've been having a blast with Pyramath Cards.  My second grade son is working on addition and subtraction right now, and of the several games that can be played with these cards, the one we play over and over is the basic 7 card pyramid.  It goes like this:  lay 7 cards face up, side by side.  Each player works their side of the line to form a pyramid by playing a card on top of pairs of side by side cards in the line, that equal the sum or difference of the 2 side by side cards.  The first person to complete their pyramid wins!  Multiplication and division can also be added into the game for older children.

Pyramath Cards

Pyramath, available from I See Cards for $6.95, comes complete with everything you need to start having lots more fun with math.  The deck of cards, numbered 0-9, instruction booklet detailing various uses and several games, and access to online play.  Another thing I like about the cards is that they each display the numerals in standard, Roman numeral, Arabic and Chinese.  The number words are also written out in English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Chinese.  Languages being another subject I would like to incorporate more into our learning program.

Detail of card with numeral, languages and symbols

Pyramath is designed for grades Kindergarten and up, I can testify that I am having fun with it myself, so I am sure it would be great review and practice for High Schoolers.  However, I See Cards also has 3 other great games available:  Fractazmic, which helps teach and review addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of fractions; Prime Bomb, which covers prime numbers and their operations; and a game for younger children called I See Cards, which introduces basic numbers and words (English and Spanish) with pictures.  Go to I See Cards for more info on these products.

Cards 0 through 9

I put together a "carschool" bag this year, as we are frequently on the go, and the Pyramath cards are right in there with the audio books and the field guides.  We frequently use the game as a warmup for our math lesson, but my son likes to work ahead as much as he can also, so after correcting the day's math work, if we have a few extra moments, we will take out the Pyramath cards for a few games.

For the same price as other educational card games on the market, this one stands alone in bringing new enthusiasm to math teachers and students, at least at the homestead school!  Although you can play for free online at the website, we highly recommend buying the game for one on one play.  It's a barrel of laughs!

Click here to see what the Homeschool Crew Blog has to say about Pyramath.

Disclaimer:  We received the above product free of charge, in return for using it and telling about our experience with it.  No other compensation was received.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Getting Ready For School

Unlike many homeschooling families, we have NOT started our school year yet.  Our books finally arrived last week, and I have been reviewing the lesson plans, looking over the books, and getting supplies together.  My son, on the other hand, got hold of his new books and never looked back.  He has been reading and working through any and all assignments he can do on his own...would that such enthusiasm continued through the rest of the school year!

Here you can see his new desk, which was given to us by a friend who had no use for it.  You can see his new books all in a neat stack.  His drawers are organized too...for the moment;)

Just proof for later in the year that, yes, at one time we COULD actually see the top of the desk!