Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Considering God's Creation by Eagles Wings

Considering God's Creation is an excellent Bible based natural science curriculum for grades 2-6, but can be minimally adapted for upper and lower grades as well.  Perfect for families schooling more than one grade level.  Although this is a wonderful stand alone text, we used it to supplement our existing science program.  The workbook pages were perfect for this.  Designed to be removed and 3-hole-punched and inserted into a binder, they make excellent activities to reinforce the lesson being taught.  Through games, puzzles, cut and paste activities, and research pages, students delve more deeply into the Solar System, the Speed of Light, insects, or whatever the week's lesson is.

Considering God's Creation has 36 lessons which can be covered in 1 year by older grades, or several years for younger grades.  Subjects covered are Creation, The Universe, Rocks and Minerals, Weather, Plants, Animals, Animal Anatomy and Physiology and Human Anatomy and Physiology.  Answers to crossword puzzles and word searches are provided, and additional resources are suggested for more in-depth studies for older students.  Projects call for common materials you likely have on hand, such as a cookie sheet, ice, glass of water, or an egg white.

We used the Weather pages to supplement our Weather study for several weeks.  We became Cloud Detectives, identifying various cloud types, tracking our daily weather on a chart, learning what makes hail (during a timely hail storm) and so on.  My son went on to educate several other people about hail formation.  We are looking forward to continuing to use Considering God's Creation as part of our science curriculum for the next several years.

Considering God's Creation also comes with a CD of original music, directly linked to each chapter, with clever songs to help children remember God's touch in each area of His creation.  Student workbook, Teacher's Manual and music CD come in a package for only $29.95.  Other products are available on the website, for history, math, phonics and more.

See what other Homeschool Crew members had to say about Considering God's Creation.

We received  one set of Considering God's Creation student workbook, teacher's manual and music CD to use and evaluate.  No other compensation was received for this review.                 


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Learn Spelling with Stories - Talking Fingers Word Qwerty


We had so much fun with our first Talking Fingers program, that when we found out we would get to try Talking Fingers Word Qwerty we just couldn't wait.  My son signed in and started "playing", and as I listened and observed, I was very happy with what I was seeing.  The same company that helped him learn proper finger placement on the qwerty keyboard and helped with his reading skills was now helping him learn to spell and write short stories!


Through a variety of interactive games and exercises, Word Qwerty teaches spelling rules and tricks, such as looking for patterns.  Catchy songs help children remember them.  As is explained on the website,  "Wordy Qwerty – Foundations for Reading and Writing Fluency, takes 7-9 year olds through the next steps of reading and writing fluency, and picks up where our award-winning software, the Read, Write & Type Learning System leaves off."

Students learn about spelling rules, word families and "outlaws" (words that don't follow the rules).  Next comes the spelling challenge - students hear a word and have to spell it correctly and put it in the right box.  The program prompts the student if he misspells the word. 


Then students are shown a few sentences, hear them read, and are challenged to write them as they are read back to them.  Parents can sign in and monitor student progress at any time.


Talking Fingers offers a FREE demo download for Word Qwerty.  The pricing for Word Qwerty online Home Edition is as follows:  1 user $25, 2 users $40, 3/$52.50, 4/$60, 5/$71.25.  CD version Home Edition $35; K-4 Reading Bundle which includes Word Qwerty, Read Write Type and other goodies CD version Home Edition $99.

See what other Homeschool Crew Members are saying about Talking Fingers Word Qwerty.

We received a limited license to Word Qwerty online, in order to use and evaluate this product in our homeschool classroom.  No other compensation was received for this review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mad About Mad Dog Math


Mad Dog Math is a fun, downloadable way to have daily math drills.  A great supplement for any regular math program for grades K-5, Mad Dog Math features a friendly golden retriever who fetches math drills for addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.  Students are timed for 2 minutes down to 30 seconds on each level, and earn "club stickers" upon completion.  There is a challenge level that mixes up the fact drills so that children have to work a bit harder and pay more attention.  Progress is tracked for each level and can be reset so students can start over.  Multiple students can use the program by logging in under their own "name".


Initially, we had a lot of fun with this program.  But as the drills grew familiar, my son grew lackadaisical and kept resetting his progress so that he stayed in the 2 minute club and never earned any club stickers.  I knew I had to supervise his usage more carefully then, so as to derive the full benefit from the program.  Still, he likes it way better than his pencil and paper drills, though we don't time those.  In his math book he is working with triple digits and decimal points in addition and subtraction which our trial version of Mad Dog Math does not cover.  The advantage is, that once purchased and downloaded, the program can be used year after year, for multiple students, for drills in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts.  As the program's creators emphasize, a solid foundation in the basics makes math more fun, as well as preparing the student for higher levels of math such as algebra and so on.

The Mad Dog Math download is available for Windows in 32 or 64 bit version, for $19.99/1year, $29.99/2year or $39.99/perpetual license.  The company also offers flash cards, timers and certificates to enhance the program.  A FREE TRIAL of the download is available here.

See what other Homeschool Crew Members are saying about Mad Dog Math.

We received a free trial version of Mad Dog Math to use and evaluate.  No other compensation was received for this review.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Eat More Greens!

ready for lunch

Mrs. D is obsessed with eating greens lately.  Daily large salads were becoming a habit until the sub zero temps hit.  Then it was lightly braised greens on the side of a baked potato, squash or meat.

Greens are great to grow indoors.  They don't need to be pollinated, and there are several varieties that are easily propogated in pots in a sunny window.  Lettuces, collards, beet greens, kale and spinach to name a few of my favorites.  Don't forget the lentil sprouts, wheatgrass and chives.  Garlic also grows well in pots, and don't underestimate the delight of fresh herbs - oregano, rosemary, mint and basil. 

indoor lettuce - just harvested some for lunch

Check out this great video by Leanne at Saving Dinner on how to cook greens.

Many stores have great prices on lots of organic produce now, and our local health food store stocks beautiful seasonal greens.  Of course,  here in Arizona we can get most greens locally within 50 miles or so, year round.

lentil sprouts ready to eat

Simple greens are some of the most economical, healthiest things you can do to improve your diet.  Even cabbage, which is usually a great buy anytime.  Mrs. D enjoys the versatile cabbage year round, red or green, cooked, raw or brined into sauerkraut.  A few slices in a stir fry, or a big hunk steamed and served with butter, salt and pepper are both winners for chilly evening suppers. 

Here is one of my favorite ways to include cooked greens in my menu plan:

Mrs. D's Chow Mein

1 lb. cooked spaghetti noodles
2 cups chopped greens - mix and match cabbage, chives, collards, kale, chard, parsley, etc.
2 cups assorted fresh or frozen veggies, chopped
2 T. olive oil
4 T. soy sauce
pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, to taste
dash turmeric
1 cup or less of water, vegetable or meat broth

Heat oil, add noodles, stir fry 1 minute.  Add assorted veggies, then greens.  Add soy sauce, stir fry 1 minute, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding water or broth until veggies are tender.  Add spices to taste.  Turn off heat, cover 2 min. to allow flavors to blend.  Serve and enjoy!
Eggs or meat can be added for a heavier meal, rice can be substituted for "Fried Rice".  We love to eat this with chopsticks!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Go Trybe


We live a very active lifestyle, caring for our livestock, hauling and stacking hay; growing, harvesting and preserving some of our food; hauling and cutting our firewood, etc.  So I wasn't particularly enthused about trying an online excercise program.  Once we got into it, though, it was actually kind of fun.  My 8 year old son really had a blast!

He started right off creating his avatar, then went to trying out the different workout videos.  When he discovered that he earned points to spend on clothing and accessories for his avatar, he was "off and running".


Go Trybe is a fitness and wellness program for all ages, but focused on children and teens, with an aim to combat childhood obesity.  Children sign in and create their avatar, choose workout videos to complete, learn about nutrition, wellness and motivation and answer questions correctly, and earn points to spend on their avatar.  Favorite workouts can be saved or pre-built workout sessions can be used.  Workouts cover warmups, cardio, strength and flexibility training.

Three tribes address the needs and abilities of different age groups:  ZooDoos - up to 5th grade; Trybe180 - 6th-9th grade; Nextrybe - 10th-12th grade.  Trybers can make and message friends, post bulletins called "shout outs", and earn badges at various point increments.  Trybers with the highest points in each division make Trybal Leader.  The kids fitness blog posts the latest Go Trybe updates, and also provides a link to the trybal store where members can purchase shirts and other gear with the Go Trybe logo. 


For parents and other adults, the blog features tips, recipes and other resources to help encourage a healthier lifestyle.  Go Trybe also hosts forums to address members specific questions or needs.  There is even an opportunity for trybers to participate in Go Trybe video shoots in Tennessee by becoming a Trybe Athlete.

My only disappointment with this program is the immodest dress (so prevalent in our culture, especially in sports).  Parents with concerns, especially for helping their sons to keep their thoughts pure, should definitely make use of the FREE TRIAL, to evaluate whether this is something you want to use with your children, who will be watching it over and over...

To try Go Trybe for one day for FREE, go to the sign up page and enter the promo code GETFIT.  If you want to continue after the FREE TRIAL, the cost is $19.95 a year (regular $39.95).   The kids fitness blog is offering membership for only 99cents a month for a limited time, use promo code KIDSFITNESS.  There is also a discount for AAU members. 

See what other Homeschool Crew Members have to say about Go Trybe.

We received a free limited time membership in Go Trybe in exchange for posting our opinions and experiences with it.  No other compensation was received for this review.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Andi's Fair Surprise


Andi's Fair Surprise, one of the Circle C Beginnings books by Susan K. Marlow, introduces 6 year old Andi and her ranch family to young readers.  Written for ages 6-8, these chapter books take early readers on a rollicking ranch adventure in 1870's California. 

My 7 year old son was into this book before we left the post office with it and finished the first two chapeters by the time we got home.  He could not put it down.  I went to the Andi and Taffy website and downloaded the FREE activity booklet, with mazes, vocabulary, math, writing, history and crafts and printed it out for him.  We used it as a unit study for the next two days.  Then, without prompting, he wrote a short story about the book!  It is so exciting when something clicks!


The Circle C Beginnings books are great "living" books, portraying California ranch life in the 1800's.

Even weeks later, my son still has a renewed appreciation for his "farm life" and enjoying nature.  He frequently looks out the window for his "TV", watching our critters roam and play.  His cowboy make-believe has take on new aspects inspired by Andi's Fair Surprise.  He is teaching himself to throw a lasso, though the goats know they're safe for the time being...  He has finally summoned up the courage to try horseback riding again. 


I can't wait to get the whole set of these books.  I learned with my older sons - when something inspires a boy to read you get it!  Four books are available in the Circle C Beginnings series, with 2 more due out in August.  They can be purchased at Kregel Publications or personalized for your child at Andi and Taffy for only $4.99 each, $9.98 for 2 or $15.96 for all 4, plus shipping.  The FREE activity books and coloring pages can be downloaded at the Andi and Taffy website.

Other crew members reviewed some of the other Circle C Beginnings books as well as this one.  See what other Homeschool Crew Members had to say about this series.

We received one copy of "Andi's Fair Surprise" in paperback for us to evaluate and enjoy.  No other compensation was received for this review.