Saturday, October 30, 2010

Terrific Tigers Winner!!

OK, so I STILL don't know how to put the widget in my blog post. But, using the little gadget on their front page I HAVE A WINNER!

Random picked number 11, so congratulations to......


Kendra, I will send you an e-mail, and I will need your address to let Marcy know who won. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Word Filled Wednesday -The King's heart

Hike to Fall Creek 006 by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

PG Key

We were intrigued and excited to find out that PG Key would be one of the products we got to review for The Old Schoolhouse. PG Key is a great idea. It is a parental control that is based on a USB device. That means no monthly fees, just one purchase price! This program is $49.99 and with it you get online support and the program itself, contained on a small USB device.

So what does it do? Well, I received this product thinking that it would be a content filter- it's not. If you are looking for a content filter you will probably not be happy with this. It is more like a nanny- there to watch your kids when you can't. It took me a little while to figure out that the ideas behind this program go far beyond keeping your children from seeing inappropriate
images. There is so much more to worry about online then images. Cyber bullying, predators, inappropriate chat and IM, and the list could go on.

PG Key has several features:
  • Control when your kids are allowed on the computer
  • Control ALL access to the computer by taking the USB device out
  • Stop certain phrases form being searched
  • Block access to certain sites, or to ALL sites except the ones you approve
  • Monitoring and recording of all activity on the monitored accounts
I really like the idea of this. I like the ability to record all activity. (it does not record when there is nothing happening, so you won't have hours of inactivity to search through.) You can re-play the recorded session like a movie, and you will be able to see anything that happened. You can stop, start, fast-forward, rewind and move the slider at the bottom, just like a YouTube video. It will record 60 hours of video!

I can see so many benefits to this, over a simple content filter. First of all, for some kids, if they
know that you are trying to stop them, they will just try to find more creative ways to get around it, just for the challenge. But beyond that, do we want them to simply AVOID any unwanted content, or do we want them thinking about where they SHOULD go and making conscious decisions about it? Knowing that you are always watching, even when you are not really there, will really get kids thinking about what they SHOULD do instead of trying to figure out ways to get around what they should do.

This is also exactly what you need if you are worried about online predators. You will have a recording of all unsafe behavior on your child's part, and you will also have evidence of any inappropriate behavior on someone else's part!

I also like how you will not have to worry about constantly un-blocking safe sites, because they had a flagged word in them. A lot of science, history, and other educational sites are blocked by content filters. That is so frustrating that many parents (us included) have just quit using them.

I think that this would be a wonderful resource for men who are struggling with an addiction. If they are seeking accountability, they can get a PG Key, stick it in and have someone set it up with a password. Now the person they choose to be accountable to will always 'be there', watching.

What DON'T I like about PG Key? Well, I wouldn't say it is quiet as easy to install as they claim. You still have to set up accounts, if you want different children to have different access allowances. You will also have to set up your time allowances, prohibited search phrases, and blocked or allowed websites. The main feature that starts as soon as you plug it in is the recording feature.

I was also disappointed to find that the ONLY site that was blocked was my blog! All of the 'blogger' blogs are blocked automatically, but pictures on Flickr, Google images, and Facebook were all available. I think that this is because PG Key uses Google Safe Search to determine what sites are blocked and allowed.

It is NOT a content filter that uses certain words or phrases to trigger it. Therefore, like I said, if you are wanting a content filter, this is not it. However, if you want to block sites like Flickr or Facebook, you have to block the WHOLE site, not just one account. So it is much better utilized as a monitoring tool, not a filter. It is wonderful for monitering.

You can read more reviews on the TOS Crew website, and when you are done with that head on over to the PG Key website to get a FREE trial!

I received this product free of charge
as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,
for review purposes. I promise to be honest
and fair in my reviews, and I received no
other compensation in exchange for my review.
You can visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog
to read more reviews on this product.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Really Wooly Bible Stories

Really Woolly Bible Stories. Cute. Simple. Perfect for toddlers. This little bible story book is just precious! It has a soft padded cover and board pages, so it will stand up to little fingers and mouths. It has adorable, simple pictures that will definitely apeall to young kiddos, and every picture is accurate for Bible times (not little lambs like I thought it would be.) However, on the facing page are adorable Really Woolly characters doing something that corresponds with the story.

The rhyming text is what really sets this Bible story book apart. The lyrics are rhythmic, sometimes sing-songy, and really catchy. This is a really fun book to read, and since that is the whole point of a Bible Story book, that's a pretty good thing. I did find that some of the vocabulary a bit of a stretch, even for my brilliant homeschooled toddlers. Scheme? Wed? Defiant? A little above the toddlers' understanding, but it does not really take away from the charm of the book. And do we REALLY expect our two-year-olds to have a true understanding of 'David and Goliath'?

Overall, I thought this book was really sweet and tender, and would be a great bedtime storybook for the littlest children.

I received this product free of charge for review purposes.I promise to be honest and fair in my reviews, and I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. You can visit Book Sneeze to read more reviews on this product.

I review for BookSneeze

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Terrific Tigers Download N Go Review and GIVEAWAY!

What is orange and black and striped all over? Why, tigers, of course! One of God's most beautiful creatures, and, as we have learned, one of the most fascinating as well. We had a great time with this Download N Go. We learned about the 6 sub-species of tigers, where they live, and that they are all critically endangered. (Can you believe I didn't know that? There are only around 4,000 tigers left in the wild!)

Like all of the Download N Gos, Terrific Tigers is a unit study designed to take a week to complete. It is planned out by day, with all the links, video clips, worksheets and everything you need right in the lesson. All you have to do ahead of time is pick out which worksheets and lapbook pieces you want to use, and have them printed out and ready. Did I say lapbook? Yes, the Download N Go units all include lapbook pieces! If you have been wanting to try lapbooking, but don't know where to start, you should think about using a Download N Go. Since all of the planning as already done for you, they are easy for first-timers.

There is a TON of science in Terrific Tigers, including information on habitat, creation, Taxonomy, basic survival, and conservation. But there are other subjects here, too, like in all great unit studies. Geography, history, literature and some math. Writing practice in the form of copywork and creative writing, map skills, and our favorite- drawing! We all really love the drawing frames that the Download N Gos have, and it is one of the only times CJ actually enjoys making art!

CJ's Tiger

DSCN7598 by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

One of the first things you will notice when you buy Terrific Tigers is the video links- lots and lots of them! When you click on a video link, your computer will connect to the internet and open a clip that is embedded in a Download N Go web page. This means that you don't have any of the nasty comments, side-bar ads, or 'other movies like this' recommendations. All you get is the movie clip, and they add such a great element to your study. What better, when you are learning about tigers, then to see the majesty of a great cat for yourself?

There is a big variety of worksheets, games, puzzles, drawing pages, and lapbooking pieces in Terrific Tigers. Families can mix and match to get the best combination for each child, with their different learning styles, ages, and interests. Download N Go units are designed for any children in grades K-4th, but with a little creativity older and younger children can both benefit as well. You can also use these units over and over again, with younger children or just later with the same kids. Add to this the fact that a lot of people stretch these units into 2 weeks (or even more), and you get a really versatile product.

Part of our lapbook and copywork:

DSCN7600 by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

DSCN7599 by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

Read more Terrific Tigers reviews on the Download N Go blog, or you can read all about some of their other titles on the Download N Go website.


The great people at Download N Go are giving a copy of Terrific Tigers to one of you this week! This is a really fun unit, so you will want to be sure and sign up for a chance to win it! This contest will be open until Friday, the 29th at midnight.

To win: All you need to do is leave a comment telling me you want to win! For extra chances to win, you can do any or all of the following: (Remember to leave a separate comment for each option and make sure I can contact you with your e-mail address.)
  • Visit Download N Go and 'follow' them with Google Friend Connect
  • Follow me on Google Friends Connect
  • Follow me on Networked Blogs
  • Post about this giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter
  • Blog about this giveaway (You get two chances for this!)
  • This is a fun one! Let me know which of the big cats is you or your kids' favorite. :)
Remember, if you are a member of the TOS review crew, an employee or independent contractor with The Old Schoolhouse, or a DNG reviewer, you are not eligible for this giveaway!

I received this product free of charge for review purposes.I promise to be honest and fair in my reviews, and I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. You can visit the Download-N-Go blog to read more reviews on this product.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Little Reader Review

Can you teach a baby to read? With BrillKids' Little Reader you can! Little Reader is a computer program developed to use several proven techniques to teach very young babies to read. How? By using fun pictures, bright words, speech, sound effects and video clips. This program can be used with babies as young as 4 months! BrillKids also has an intriguing program for teaching math to babies, and it can even be purchased together with Little Reader in a bundle.

You can purchase Little Reader for $149, including a 12 month curriculum and all the content you will need for it. The Little Reader program takes about 10 minutes a day, and is so very easy to use. It is all planned out for you for the first 12 months, but you can use the program forever. You can make your own lessons after the 12 months are done, or you can use it again for your next baby.

So what do you get when you download the Little Reader program? You will download the main program, along with the 12 months curriculum. You will download all of the content (pictures, sounds, etc.) for those 12 months. You also get access to all of the extra content on the website, some of which is free and some is purchased by way of a point system. You can learn more about this by joining the BrillKids forum.

My thoughts:

I really like this approach. I read about teaching little ones to read a few years ago, but the process seemed so labor intensive and complicated that I never implemented it. Little Reader makes it so easy! You don't have to DO anything, except click on the start button and play with your baby! I was really impressed with the ease of using this program. (However, it is very customizable, and you can add or delete any word, and make your own categories and lessons.)

As a frugal-minded mom, I also appreciated the extra content that can be added, and the fact that Little Reader is a downloadable program that you can install and use for several children. If you are going to be using this with other children later, it really increases the value of the initial purchase price.

Baby Girl's thoughts:

I can't really quote her on too much. :) But I know that she is always excited when she sees the program open. She says "Ready?" when she sees the introductory screen. OK, to be honest, all of the kids enjoy this. When it is time to play with it, they all gather around, and I often wonder how much reading benefit they are getting from it, along with Baby Girl. They are watching all those words flash on the screen, too!

As far as whether she has learned to 'read' with this, I have to say no. She can't read. We have only been using this program for about 6 weeks, so we can't say whether she will learn to read with it. If you want proof that babies CAN learn to read, you need to check out the Little Reader video testimonials. Wow, I LOVE watching these!

But there are a lot of things that Baby Girl has learned. Things I wasn't even expecting. Like what a donkey is. And I am really excited to be starting the 'color' category, which I am sure will teach her all her colors by the time we are through it! I have been working with her on colors, but like everything else with this child, she seems to learn it in her own time and in her own way.

And what CAN I quote Baby Girl on? Every time we are done she sighs, "Aww, man! More!"

My favorite things:

This program has made amazing changes in Baby Girl's talking. She has learned new words, but most importantly, she REPEATS every word that is said, so she is simply getting a lot of practice talking. Everyone has noticed how much more she is talking, and I credit a lot of it to this program. If your little one is not talking, but had no developmental or physical problems, I would HIGHLY recommend this program for a focused, one-on-one talking practice time each day.

The 12 year program introduces over 3000 words in the first year of included curriculum alone. Animals, plants, body parts, action words, and so much more. This is a tremendous vocabulary for a 1-2 year old to have! If your child really LEARNS all of these words in that year, (even if they can't say OR read them) what a help that will be later on!

Labeling words are a really big thing to the littlest kids. You know how they are always asking what things are? Well, with Little Reader they will learn the names of a huge amount of things. Kids really love this, and it is great for forming brain connections. (See how much I have learned from BrillKids?)

My LEAST favorite thing:

I liked Little Reader very much. I do wish that the extra content was based on a point system. You can earn points by talking in the forum and uploading extra content yourself. I feel like with the price of the program, maybe the extra content (Especially that content that is uploaded by other users) should be freely available. We don't all have time to chat on the forum. But I do understand that this point system is what encourages people to upload new content. And there is SOME free content available.

You can read more reviews for this product on the TOS crew blog. There is a ton of information on the BrillKids website, where you can learn the "hows and whys", talk to other people on the forum if you have questions, and even try out Little Reader for 14 days! You should also visit BrillKids' Free download section.

I received this product free of charge
as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,
for review purposes. I promise to be honest
and fair in my reviews, and I received no
other compensation in exchange for my review.
to read more reviews on this product.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce

I have been wanting to share some of my favorite recipies, since I love eating and cooking, so I decided to start sharing some now and then on All the Small Stuff's Tuesday meme.

We had this chicken dish the other day, and I was amazed. It is scrumtious! The whole family loves it, which is saying something, and CJ told me several times that I was the "best cooker in the world!"

I adapted it a bit from the recipe I found, which is pretty normal for me. Enjoy!

Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce

Cook 6 chicken breasts in butter or margarine in a skillet. Meanwhile, mix up:

6 teaspoons honey mustard (or a bit more)
1 1/2 tablespoon milk
sprinkling of parsley, salt and pepper

Remove chicken when done and pour mustard sauce in the skillet. Mix and heat. Stir in 3/4 cup sour cream and serve poured over hot chicken. Yummy yummy yummy.

(You can make pretty good honey mustard if you are out. Mix somewhat equal amounts of- big shocker- honey and mustard. )

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nature Study- Sunflowers

sunflower by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

We have been trying to get our sunflower study finished up while they are still blooming. The kids have really enjoyed this one! We saw lots of butterflies all over the flowers, and talked about how most of the flowers have quit blooming so they have to eat where ever they can.

We looked at wild sunflowers, and then we found a flower head that had grown from birdseed, and brought it inside to look at. We saw the amazing difference between wild sunflower seeds and domesticated seeds. This was also a good chance to talk about annuals and perennials and seed dispersal again.

DSCN7460 by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

DSCN7459 by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Remodeling Hearts and Homes

My wonderful mother- and father-in-law have decided to remodel their home this fall, hoping to be done before Christmas. They started making plans to put in a wood stove, and that quickly spread to replacing the worn carpet in the living and dining rooms, and having the ceiling textured.

Well, if you know anything about remodeling, you know that this means a lot of work.... first, the carpet has to be torn out. The furniture must all be moved and protected, and it has to stay that way until the mudding, sanding and painting is all done on the ceiling. This means couches, chairs, tables, and all of the beautiful decorations have to be stored somewhere, most of them in the middle of the rooms!

My mother-in-law has a beautiful house, and she really enjoys keeping it that way, so this renovation, while needed, will not be fun for her. All of this remodeling and ripping out got me thinking about the work that God does in our hearts when we invite him in.

As He works to make our hearts into a suitable home, He has to do some remodeling. More often then not, it is a big job. There are all sorts of ugly, dirty, broken-down places in our hearts that need to be fixed up, and Jesus is the perfect one for the job! The only one for the job, actually.

When it is time to start ripping out the old carpet, the ways of thinking and acting that are worn and ugly, it is painful. The dusty, bare beams of our selves are there for all to see. Those things that we once kept hidden under layers of varnish and paint are stripped down.

Walls come down, exposing whole rooms that we wanted to be hidden. Jesus leaves nothing untouched. If we are to be truly changed by Him, everything of the old house must be removed, all of the old ways have to go. The dusty rooms and closets that we kept hidden from the world, He comes into, ripping down the walls and letting the Light shine into our deepest secrets and fears.

Remodeling is never an easy job, and when it is a heart that is being transformed, it is especially agonizing. Those times when it seems like you are at your worst, when the things that you have been hiding are coming out- that is when you are being changed. Slowly, when the layers of grime come off and the beams of your heart are laying bare, you discover what God has seen all along.

He is like a master craftsman, who can look at the ugliest home and see not what is on the outside, the dirty walls and bare carpet, but instead He sees what you could be. God does not look at us and see what the world around us sees- the angry words, the ugly frowns and walled- up soul- He looks at us and sees what He made us to be.

Remember in those times when it is the most painful, that God is creating a truly amazing masterpiece- taking a broken-down sinner and making her into a beautiful home for a King. Jesus said His yolk is easy and His burden is light. Rest in Him and He will carry you, and He will make you into the wonderful creation He always wanted you to be.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oliver's Labels Review

I recently got the opportunity to try out Oliver's Labels. These labels are really neat! They are made for todays families on-the-go; playgroups, daycare, grocery shopping, or your homeschool field trips! They have a variety of label types. The most versatile are the Original Labels, which can be used on things like sippy cups. But they also have skinny little Mini Labels, (for pencils and scissors) Shoe Labels, Clothing Labels, and nifty tags for backpacks and the like.

When I received my labels, what I really wanted to find out was if they stick. I wanted to know if they really stay ON through the dishwasher, clothes washer, and most of all, through my kids manhandling them! I figure if they can withstand what my kids dish out, they will work for anybody!

I chose to stick the Original Labels on Baby Girl's sippy
cups, since they would be going through the dishwasher a lot, and they are about the only thing we would be taking a lot of places. I used the Shoe Labels in Baby Girl's shoes, and I put the clothes labels in their nicest coats.

When I first stuck the shoe labels into the shoes, I really didn't think they would stick. I know they are supposed to, but they just don't FEEL very sticky. They have really stayed put! Not even the edges are curling at all. These Shoe Labels are really cute. They are foot shaped, with right and left feet stickers with matching designs, to go inside each shoe.

The Original Labels have done just as well, already going through my dishwasher quite a few times, and even a soaking in the sink. What do I like best about these labels? You can order them with a unique 'tracking
number', which the finder of an item will enter into the wesite so your stuff can be returned to you!

Now, to be perfectly honest, I really couldn't justify buying these labels for myself. Most of our clothing is hand-me-downs, and we really don't go places that often. The worst thing we ever lost was Bop's lovey when she was a toddler. I would have LOVED to have a label then. :)

But if you are a frequent traveler, if you go to homeschool co-ops, games, dance and music practice, and all of the other things that modern 'carschooling' families do, you will love these. I can think of tons of things they would be useful for- music instruments, sports uniforms, lunch boxes, coats, baby bottles, and even expensive stuff like laptops and cameras.

If you have an allergic child, you will find their Allergy
Labels really helpful. Each one has cute but very clear graphics and the words "No Eggs", "No Nuts", etc. I am thinking you could stick a plastic tag on your child's coat zipper... his shoe laces... anywhere it would be seen by possible caretakers.

One neat thing I liked is the options to personalize the labels. You don't HAVE to put your child's name- you can put anything. I chose our family name, so that we could use them on anything, which makes them much more versatile. Add to that the huge number of designs you can pick from, and Oliver's Labels are a really nice, useful product for anyone on-the-go.

I received a sample of Oliver's Labels free in exchange for my review. I am always honest and fair in my reviews and I did not receive any other compensation.

This Product Was a Free Giveaway

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Talking Fingers

Read Write and Type takes the idea that kids learn to type in highschool and turns it on its head. Instead, this company says that children can learn to type as easy as they can learn to write, and enjoy it, too! This program starts at the very beginning, assuming the child knows nothing about reading.

The scene is set in a small town, and the keyboard is pictured as two houses, with each key (or letter
sound) being represented by a storyteller. There are several locations around the screen, that are gradually introduced to the child as they need them. They will learn letter sounds, phonemic awareness, typing, and reading all in a gradual and natural way. Spelling is even taught as they type words like "cheese", "kite", and "Jack".

Read, Write and Type is a game which has a mischievous villain, Vexor the Virus, who stole all the letter sounds. The child must use phonemic awareness, typing skills, and spelling to get each sound back. The game gets harder relatively quickly, adding longer words to be typed and harder words to spell.

See those (kinda) flying fingers!

DSCN7482 by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

Talking Fingers recommends this program be used for ages 6-9, and they offer two purchase options- an online membership, or a CD version. The online membership is for five years- $35 for one user, and $55 for two users. I think the CD version would also be a good deal for most homeschool families, at $79 for the kit and $39 for just the CDs. You can take a product tour here.

I had Bop and CJ both using this for the review, since they are both reading at a grade level ahead. Bop really enjoys it and she asks me to play longer. She is anxiously awaiting the letter 'b', she wants to see who lives in that window! She is moving through it quickly, but she does struggle with finger placement.

CJ has struggled more with it. He really enjoyed it at first, but it does move at a pretty quick pace, and the typing and spelling is getting pretty tough for him. He is two years under the recommended age, so I think he is doing pretty well. I think the only way to make this really work well with a much-younger child, would be to go back and use the practice games available so they move through it much slower. In general I would recommend sticking with the recommended grade ranges.

They love watching each other 'play'.
(Don't you love those snazzy sunglasses? After awhile she took them off because she couldn't see.
maybe that's why they're called SUNglasses. :)

DSCN7479 by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

I have really liked everything about this reading program. I like it's use of games to teach, while still keeping the emphasis on learning. I like how it is centered on learning the letter sounds first. I like how it moves naturally from one level to the next, nearly unnoticed by the child. I think the phonics is very sound, and the method of teaching letter location and finger placement is perfect for small children.

This program does NOT explain phonics rules. For example, Bop is typing many words with silent 'e', blends, and double 'ee'. It does not explain why the silent 'e' and double 'ee' words have long vowels, it just tells them the word, shows them the spelling, and then they type it. It is a very natural way of learning. I prefer that they learn the phonics rules eventually, but I don't think they have to know them before they start reading these more complicated words. She is also learning sight words, and words with double consonants at the end- like 'lick' and 'Sass'. And she has not even got that coveted 'b' sound yet! :)

I am really considering buying the CD version of Read, Write and Type at the end of our review period, I like it that much. And if their spelling program, Wordy Qwerty is anything like it, I may just purchase the bundle!

(This is one of the
story-telling games that
reward all that typing)

You can read more reviews of this product on
or go to Talking Fingers' website here.

You can try Read, Write and Type for yourself,

I received this product free of charge
as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,
for review purposes. I promise to be honest
and fair in my reviews, and I received no
other compensation in exchange for my review.
You can visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog
to read more reviews on this product.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rockin' Robots Download-n-Go Review

Rocking Robots!

Do you need a great unit study for an active little boy? Download n Go Rocking Robots is perfect! It incorporates science, history, geography, and lots of fun writing and art- all while learning about those cool robots!

This unit was just so neat, because CJ really was excited about it! He is only four, but this Download n Go was great for him. They are designed for grades K-4th, and we consider him in kindergarten, but sometime there are grade-level things he just can't do. That is not the case with these unit studies! The first school day after we finished up Rockin' Robots, CJ was begging me to do more.

We all really enjoyed the videos, and CJ especially liked the underwater robots. We got to watch one rescue a fish, and he was in awe! Baby Girl participates in unit studies with us, and by the end of the week she was saying "'bot!" when she saw a picture of a robot.

Do you know which great classical painter made the first humanoid robot? What great shipwreck was discovered by a robot? That we know MORE about mars then we do our own oceans, thanks to a robot? What animal a wall-climbing robot was designed to emulate? What country is designing android robots to do basic household chores? What an android robot even IS?

After you are done with Rocking Robots, you will know this, and so much more- about the planets, the ocean, and most of all, about the great creativity of the human mind. :)

Here they are enjoying some of the fun activites- a color by number-

DSCN7499 by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

And a cut-and-paste pattern game.

DSCN7501 by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

Take a look at some of the other activity and lapbook pages in Rockin' Robots:

Along with fun printables, a really cool lapbook, and exciting movies, Rockin' Robots also has ideas for great hands- on learning! We made a water clock after the pattern of the ancient Egyptions- a bowl (Only ours was a plastic yogurt tub ) with holes for the water to drip through. What does this have to do with robots, you ask? Well, I guess you will just have to buy this delightful unit study and see for yourself!

Our water clock!

DSCN7498 by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

Want to read more reviews about Rockin' Robots? Check out the DNG blog, here. Or you can go the their website to download free samples! (You know you want to!)

I received this product free of charge for review purposes.I promise to be honest and fair in my reviews, and I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. You can visit the Download-N-Go blog to read more reviews on this product.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Digital Frog's Field Trips

What is Digital Frog? "We're passionate creators of natural science software. We’re teachers of dissection and anatomy and ecosystems. We’re savers of frogs and inspirers of learners. We’re believers that you can’t care about a world you don’t understand. We’re Digital Frog International." (Digital Frog Website)

At Digital Frog, you will find several innovative and inspiring educational products, including the digital frog dissection software that gives them their name. But we got to review something different. Virtual Field Trips. While I was not-so-patiently waiting to receive the disk, I developed an image in my head of what this product would be like. I imaginved it would be something like a documentary, where you listen as someone explains what you are seeing, and maybe you even watch as the explore the various ecosystems.

Not exactly! Actually, there is a lot more. A LOT. I still can hardly believe the amount of info that is on this CD. Digital Frog was kind enough to give us all three of their field trips to review; The Digital Field Trip to the Wetlands, The Digital Field Trip to the Desert, and The Digital Field Trip to the Rainforest. This bundle costs $125.00 for a home licence on CD, or buy an individual title for $60.

Each program has several ways to explore, not just the field trip. The field trip feature is a series of stops through a real location, which are shown with a 360deg photo. You can drag the mouse around the area to look around, and there are special plants and animals to discover. If you have trouble finding them, you can just click the link that is in the accompanying text.

A screenshot from the field trip feature on

When you do go visit a animal or plant's featured page, you will find a lot of info- including links to other animals and plants that are connected in the food web. There is an accompanying text, with information on the animals habitat, behavior, eating habits, and more. Most of the animals and plants have several different pictures to click through to get a better idea of how it looks.

A screenshot of the Red-Eyed Tree Frog page on

The Rainforest and Wetland field trips each include an interactive food web game, where you try to find all the connections between the species. The game in the Desert version is a little different; you try to build a desert ecosystem.

A screenshot of the dessert habitat game on

There is more to learn after you are done with your Field Trip, as well. You can go to the map to se all of the different features on the disk, learn more about the habitat through animations and text, or go through the animal and plant features one by one.

So how did this program work for our family? I really enjoyed it. I was at the helm, clicking and exploring, while the kids watched. I read the information to them, and they seemed to like it. I think a lot of it was over their heads, but they had a wonderful time learning about the animals.

After awhile, I let Bop and CJ try it on their own. Even though they could not read the text, they still learned a lot. They liked looking around the 360deg. views in the Field Trip area, but I think their favorite was the animal screens. A lot of the animals and plants have accompanying video clips, which made it pretty enticing for them.

I would say that overall, while these programs are exceptional in their scope and presention, I would
not recommend them JUST for PreK-3rd grade. If you are there to read the text and explain the parts that are above their heads, it would be alright. It is very obvious that this is geared for older elementary children and up. I think we can pretty safely say that there is no other program anywhere that can rivel this one in it's thouroughness and depth of the subjects. If you have older kids this would be a wonderful program for them, that they can explore and play with on their own. It even includes printable workbooks that would really help you see what they are picking up as they 'play'.

You can read more review for the Digital Field Trips on the Old Schoolhouse Crew blog, and you can read more about them at Digital Frog, where you can see a lot of screenshots and fun details before you buy.

I received this product free of charge
as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,
for review purposes. I promise to be honest
and fair in my reviews, and I received no
other compensation in exchange for my review.
to read more reviews on this product.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Love a Good Library Sale!

I got to go to our member's day at our Library Sale yesterday... it was a lot of fun! I didn't find as many treasures as I do sometimes, but I got several good ones.

I was able to find a history encyclopedia which I have been wanting. I have been looking for a good one to use as a 'spine' to plan history unit studies around. I would like to do them chronologically, and this is exactly what I need to give me that final push into it! :)

I also got another LARGE picture encyclopedia on animals, and it is great also. CJ loves these animal books and will sit for hours looking at them.

My favorite purchase is an illustrated version of William J. Bennett's Book of Virtues, Book of Heroes, and Book of America. I LOVE it! I already have The Book of Virtues and Book of America, but this is full of the most beautiful illustrations, perfect for the littler kiddos!

I just LOVE Library book sales, and my favorite finds are those Library cast-offs that are high quality library bound books that last forever!

What are your favorite book sale finds??
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