Saturday, April 30, 2011

Curriculum Clean Out: Teach your Child to Read in 100 easy lessons




I have a copy of this book in very nice condition.  We never used it, because for some reason, I had two.  Read more here.


This is not for sale, this is a giveaway.  The winner will be picked form the comments using  Make sure that your e-mail is in the comment.  Leave me a comment to let me know you want it.  You can do the following for extra entries: 

Follow me with GFC.

Share on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.  (One extra entry for each method.)  Good luck!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Greek N Stuff Review

“Why is your 5-year-old learning Greek?”  Greek Level One Student Workbook
I heard this several times during out time with this review.  I was delighted to explain all of the great reasons behind this program, and I was usually met with interested people. 
Greek N Stuff offers many different products, but we reviewed “Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek!” worktext level one.  This program is intended for the earliest Greek learners, up to the middle elementary grades, when they recommend starting with level 2.  It teaches the Greek alphabet and a few words. 
I used this program with Bop, since it is consumable.  The worktest is made up of handwriting exercises and fun activities, with a set of flashcards in the back.  The activities are all designed to teach the Biblical Greek alphabet, and they are well-thought out.  The child has to work on learning the sounds of the letters, their order, the names of the letters, and recognizing the letters in actual Greek words.  The child is introduced to each letter by writing it several times and learning the names.  The next page contains more writing practice, and teaches the sound of the letter as well.  After that there are several practice pages, where the activates are, and these are for both the letter being leraned and the previous letters.  This is great since you will be working toward mastery.  The flashcards in the back are supposed to eb used everyday, so we copied them onto cardstock so they would be tougher.
We also received a CD with pronunciation of the letters and new words, a reading of the Reader, and the Greek alphabet song.  I found this marginally helpful, since I had no trouble understanding the pronunciation of each letter from the worktext.  If you were getting level two and the Reader it would be more helpful, I am sure.  I appreciate receiving, however, because it is always so much easier to review programs when you can see it all!  Pronunciation of the words is more difficult then the single letters, so it is a very nice tool to have for that.  There is a separate CD for the higher levels.
Bop loved “Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek!”.  She really did, and even though we were doing language two days a week, she asked for it every day.  Seh would get a little discouraged at teh lines and lines of handwriting, but I didn’t have her do them all in one day, so that worked out fine.  She would do a couple of lines a day  and the others would be used for review later on.  She had no trouble catching on to the sounds of the letters, and I was just amazed at how easily she picked it up.  I had to check the backs of the flashcards when we drilled, and she always remembered them better then me. 
I loved it, too.  I loved how the few words taught in the back of the book were a Bible verse.  How neat!  Biblical Greek is something that could be so useful later, so I think havign a fun way to intorduce it is really nice.  I was a fraid that we would have trouble with confusion, since a few of the letters look very simular to English letters, but often have different sounds.  I found that by alerting her to the shape of the letter, comparing it to the English letter with the same sounds, and then showing her where she could get confused, we had no trouble.  And of course, most of the letters are not confusing. I also appreciated the addition of the flashcards, which were very helpfyul to Bop.
I would recommend this program to anyone who desires to teach their children Biblical Greek.  It is fun, simple yet very effective.  I do wish that a little more emphasis was placed on the letter sounds, but since the names sound so much like the sounds, that is not a big problem.  I love that this program is centered around Biblical Greek, and I love that the words learned are straight from the Bible.  A goal of reading the Greek Bible might seem too lofty for your children, but with this program it looks much easier and fun, too.  I would think that this might not be the best program for a Dyslexic child, or one that is having trouble with learning the English letters.  In that case it may be best to focus on reading skills, and then after the child is reading well they can start learning the Greek letters.
You can read more about “Hey Andrew, Teach Me Some Greek!” at the Greek N Stuff website.  They also offer a Reader for the first level which is very tempting.  Check out all of the other TOS reviews for Greek N Stuff (not just this book!) at The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog.

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.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Read aloud update

Okay, I have to be honest.  I didn’t have a single read-aloud this week.  Nothing!  We read some picture books, of course.  And Bop read from her latest reader.  But as far as actual READ-ALOUDS?  Nothing, nope, nada. 

I am so ashamed.



So, next week, I have some goals.  I want to read 5 picture books in the afternoons, and then we will read part of our chapter book if the kids are wanting more.  (and they will be.)  I think I will read Miss Hickory to them.  Ten I want to read about 5 more chapter books to them before bed.  Can I do it?

Don’t forget to head on over to Footprints in the Butter to read more read-aloud challenges for this week, and add your own!

What are your reading goals for next week? 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I am joining the Read To Me Picture Book Challenge

I saw this challenge on another homeschool mom’s blog, and I decided it would be a lot of fun.  We read a ton of picture books in this house, and I will love having a way to share about them!  There are several levels  to pick from, and I decided to go with Harvesting, even though we are starting part way through the year.  For some reason, I never hear about these things when they start, so I am always behind.  Oh, well, considering we normally read 5-10 picture books in one sitting, it shouldn’t be hard.  I will be reviewing some of the books that we have read, and I will keep track of how close we are to reaching our 200 books. 

I will be posting our updates on Tuesday, so keep your eyes peeled!  If you want to join in the fun, you can find all the info over at There’s a Book.  These are the Challenge levels:

  • “Planting” – Read 12 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Watering” – Read 36 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Feeding” – Read 72 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Growing” – Read 120 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Harvesting” – Read 200 picture books with a child during the year.

Read more:

Friday, April 22, 2011

See the Light Art Class Review

See The Light is an art program for children in grades 1-6th,   emphasizing drawing skills.  I have always enjoyed drawing, so I was very interested to see what this DVD series had to offer.  We received the first DVD in the Art Class series, which is a 9 DVD set, perfect for one year’s worth of lessons.  The whole set can be purchased for $99..99, or there is an online option which is $10 a month.  You can get a free sample DVD for yourself on the See The Light website.  These drawing lessons are taught by master artist Pat Knepley. 
Bop was very excited to start the lessons, so I settled her in with a pencil and some paper.  Pat started the first lesson with some introductory information about materials, and then they moved right in to practicing basic pencil holds and strokes.  Bop listened intently, and today she told me that “a #2 pencil is just your regular, everyday pencil”.  She practiced drawing lines and stroked with Pat, and she wanted to go right on to the next lesson.  She really enjoyed the lessons and I think that she would get a lot out of using the whole series.  CJ and Baby Girl listened in while they played, and while they didn’t really follow along, they seemed interested.  Bop has done all of the lessons twice, and she wants more.
So what did the resident artist think?  I enjoyed listening to these DVDs.  Pat has a wonderful voice, and she is an excellent teacher.  She explains things very simply, but she never talks down to the children.  As an artist I initially thought that the first lesson was painfully elementary, and that the concepts were easily understood and didn’t need explanation.  However, as we moved on past the basics and then watched more lessons I could see how well she was building on the foundation of the first lesson.  I also came to appreciate the way Pat introduced the basic concepts (how to hold your pencil, etc.) in such a matter-of-fact way, and then moved on. 
I was afraid that I would not find anything in this set that I couldn’t do myself, but I was wrong.  This is a well-thought out curriculum that teaches drawing in a very complete way.  I only wish that I could have previewed the whole set to get the whole picture of this program.  However, from what I have seem I would not hesitate to buy this series for my children, even though I thought that I could do it all myself.  There are just so many things taught that I would not have thought of, and they build upon each other very well. 
Throughout the lessons Pat gives meaning to the work of artists and depth to the practice the children are doing, by adding in Bible stories and Christian concepts.  This is not done in a contrived manner, but as a beautiful expression of her own faith.  It really feels like she is sitting in the room with you, sharing about her life.  She obviously loves what she does, loves her Lord, and shares that love with the children she is teaching.  I absolutely consider her natural talent for teaching and sharing her love for God and art to be the shining points of this curriculum.  You can get art instruction from a number of places, but this is the only one I have seen that also feels like you have a sister and friend in your living room. 
See the Light also produces a Christmas video called The Gift of Love, and an Easter video, The Cross Maker.  These videos combine stories from the Bible with art lessons and beautiful chalk drawings. 
Magento Commerce

 Visit The Old Schoolhouse Blog for more reviews of this product.  

      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.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Read-Aloud Challenge: Seven Sisters and Two Brothers

We have been doing a lot of reading aloud lately, so I have been wanting to join in the fun happening over at Footprints in the Butter.  She has been having a weekly Read-Aloud Challenge, and I can always use a good challenge. 
Our school year is almost over, so I have decided that we will just be doing the basics and our final Crew reviews for these last few weeks.   We have been using our regular math, science programs from the Crew, and our history, geography, and everything else has been coming from reading aloud.  I am hoping to start using a lot more of a Charlotte Mason-type learning method, and this is a great transition.  So what have we been reading this week?
The Seven Little Sisters Who Live on the Round Ball That Floats in the Air, Illustrated Edition (Yesterday's Classics)
The Seven Little Sisters who live on the Round Ball that Floats in the Air
We have been reading this on our Sony for geography.  The children love it!  We have been reading one chapter a day, and they are always asking for more.  We will definitely be coming back to this one later, to read more slowly and savor it.  It is the stories of seven little girls, found all over the world.  It tells about their culture and their families, and what they do for fun and work.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough as an early elementary read aloud. 
I have just found out that Jane Andrews also wrote a history book, “Ten Boys who lived on the Road from Long Ago to Now”. 
The Wright Brothers (Landmark Books)The Wright Brothers (Landmark Books)
We have enjoyed this book, and it has convinced me that I need to try and collect all of the Landmark Books.  Do you think that will ever happen?  We started this book after reading about the Wright brothers’ interest in kites in one of are last Download N Go units, Kite Capers.  Caiden was especially interested in learning how the brothers used kites to develop the first real airplane, so I dug out this book.  I was very pleasantly surprised to see how much he enjoys it.  He has sometimes has trouble following longer read alouds, even though he always sits still and listens.  I frequently get the feeling that he isn’t really getting much of it.  But he loves this book, understands it, and always asks for more.  We have been reading one chapter a day. 

Here are a few more of the books that we have been enjoying:

The kids have been listening to this on CD from Librivox.
The kids have been listening to this on CD from Librivox. 

Baby's Mother Goose
We have been reading a few of these each day. 

First Thousand Words in Spanish: With Internet-Linked Pronunciation Guide
The little ones enjoy reading through this book and learning new Spanish words.

A House Is a House for Me
We all love this rhyming, silly story about houses. 

The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales (Usbourne Farmyard Tales)
They have listened to this during quiet time several days this week.

Visit Footprints in the Butter to add your own read-aloud challenges this week!

What is a "Living Book"?

I spent yesterday's breakfast and lunch time reading through the newest Charlotte Mason blog carnival, learning all I can about living books.  As I get more interested in a learning lifestyle that is patterned after Charlotte Masons ideas,  I keep wanting more information.  The more I learn, the more I realize that I haven't learned.  The more answers I find, the more questions I have.

So I have really been searching for more information on this method of learning.  I have been silently stalking the information available at Ambleside Online and the AO yahoo groups.  I have been reading everything I can from the different websites and forums that I come across.  But nothing tells the story like parents who have been there, so my favorite source of info and ideas is still all those great homeschool blogs.

So pour yourself a nice cup of tea, get a brownie or a little bit of chocolate, and settle in to get a little "mommy time" while you learn more about this idea of living books.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Growing Healthy Homes Review

It seems strange, when you stop to consider it, that health and anatomy are typically taught as separate subjects.  Why is this?  Our health consciousness is directly influenced by our knowledge of anatomy and the human body.  It would make sense to learn about human anatomy and the nutrition that supports it at the same time, but until now there was not a program developed for this. 
Enter Nutrition 101: Choose Life!  A versatile science curriculum developed by four women and it is designed to bring together the how and the why of good nutrition.  Nutrition 101:Choose Life! can be purchased either as a hardcover book, for $99.95, or a CD copy for $79.95.  I received a digital copy, and after seeing the attractive book, I decided that I wanted it printed.  Several Crew members put this on their eReaders.
Nutrition 101 is a huge book organized around units.  There are 6 units, and each unit has four chapters.  This program is designed to be used for 6 months, one chapter a week, but it is open to the homeschool tweaking that is so typical. You could really use this material in any way that you wanted, but after looking through it I thought that the chapter-a-week method looked the easiest.
Each chapter has a text, to be read to or by the student, a lot of activities and experiments suggested, additional resources, and a ‘power food’ recipe.  The text is pretty deep, with a lot of information and a lot to think about.  However, the chapters are not that pretty short, and the basic concepts are simple.  I re-worded a few of the more complicated thoughts, and the kids did fine.  I was a little worried that the text would be much to difficult for my kindergartener and first grader to understand, but there were only a few small parts that were just over their heads.  The chapters are wrote in a conversational tone, without any talking down to the children.  You can certainly feel the authors’ passion for the subjects.
The various activities are really creative and interesting, and we found that we had to pick and choose or we would have spent way too much time on them.  The discussion questions were nice, but the activities really brought the ideas home.  The activities are divided into sections for elementary and secondary children, and they are what you would consider an idea buffet- there is too much there for anyone to try all of it; rather you can pick and choose.  I thought that the ideas to try and the experiments suggested were very nice.  There is a variety for everyone- from people who love to get their hands dirty to those who normally get all of their science from a book. 
Each chapter has a recipe specifically focused on the body part being studied.  We got to make guacamole in the first chapter, and I was upset to discover, after we were finished, that we had forgotten to take any pictures of the process.  We had been enjoying ourselves so much it never crossed my mind, so you will just have to imagine our fun!  The guacamole was delicious, and we were all happy to know that it was a ‘brain power’ food.  After you make your recipe, there are even more accompanying activities to do in your kitchen, such as reading food labels, learning how to cook safely, and experimenting with fruits and veggies.  We are even trying our hand at growing an avocado, one of the suggested activities in the first chapter. 
 Growing Healthy Homes
At the end of the book there are extensive appendixes, and this part of the book alone would make it a great resource.  They have nutrition charts, health statistics, shopping guides, vitamin and mineral charts, and information about whole grains, healthy fats, household toxins, cancer, spices, and so much more.  Because I don’t want this blog post to turn into a book itself, I am not going to go into that anymore.
I love this curriculum.  It has more information contained in it then any household reference guide I have seen, even though that is not what it is designed to be.  It is thorough, interesting, and accurate.  I love the versatility of the lessons, and it could easily take one year or several, be done one day a week or every day, used in your home or in your co-op.  The children were a little swamped with information the first day I read it to them, but after that I took it slower and they liked it.  They loved shopping with me and cooking together, and they were engaged and interested in the anatomy lessons.  What more could you ask for from a nutrition program? 
You can visit Growing Healthy Homes to learn more about the program and the founders.  You can also go to The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog to read other reviews. 
           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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

“Time with God for Mothers” Review

_225_350_Book.367.cover Are you in need of a little encouragement?  Do the dishes and laundry tend to have priority over the Word of God?  Maybe you need this litter book!  “Time with God for Mothers” is a little devotional book that won’t take you all day to read.  The devotions are short and to the point, and there is a verse or two at the top of each page, so you don’t have to look up the references.  After you read the verses, you will read a short devotional about them.  There are not day markings or anything like that, so you can pick it up whenever you want, read whatever passage fits your needs, and be refreshed and encouraged!

I was surprised at how little this book it, but it has a nice hardback cover.  There are sections for reference in the back, including mother’s prayers in the Bible, and a short topical scripture index on responsibilities, challenges and promises in a mother’s life.  There is also a section for your own notes, which is a nice touch.  The pages are decorated with beads and flowers, and are charming.  I was a little frustrated with the devotions, as they are very ‘short and sweet’.  I have come to expect most of devotional books to be a little on the shallow side, but these are very short also.  However, sometimes I realize that ‘short and sweet’ is just what we need in our daily life, when we may only have a quick moment between rising and our children crying for breakfast, or a second between laundry and snack time, to get a little refreshment and encouragement from the Word.

I received this book free in exchange for my honest review.  I will receive no other compensation.
I review for BookSneeze®

Monday, April 11, 2011

Meet me on Monday

1.  Who would be your dream celebrity date?
I cannot answer this.  I can’t imagine having a date with a celebrity, and there are so few that I even recognize when I see them.  Okay, maybe Matthew McConaughey, I like most of his movies.  I am sure that he isn’t nice though, I can’t imagine that any actors are actually nice.  What about Ken Ham, he would be great to chat with for an evening, does he count?

2.  Do you have any food restrictions?
Nope.  Someone may catch on and start keeping me away from chocolate one of these days, but until then I am good!

3.  How much time do you take to get ready in the morning?
Depends on what morning it is… Sunday is a bigger deal but most days are 5 minutes, if I actually ‘get ready’ at all.  :)  Not much to get ready for when you are always home with ankle biters.

4.  Sausage or bacon?
Sausage, almost every morning.

5.  Do you Google, Bing or Yahoo?
Swagbucks.  :)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Science Weekly Review

We love science.  We go on nature walks and collect treasures (normally rocks and leaves) and we love to pour over science books with lots of pictures.  We like to learn about all of God’s great creation, through books, movies, and as often as possible, our hands and eyes and ears.  So we were all excited to review the Science Weekly papers.   We received one copy of each of the six levels of the paper, along with a teacher’s guide.  Science Weekly is a newspaper-type supplement that comes in your mailbox 15 times a year.  They have versions for grades K-6th, and the price is currently $19.95 per student.  There is also a classroom option that is $4.95 per student, with a minimum of 20 subscriptions. 
So what is Science Weekly all about?  You get a colorful paper with four pages, specifically designed for your grade.  It can cover any of a large variety of topics, ours was fractions.  Some other recent topics include composting and the flu.  My copy has an introduction on the front cover, and then the inside spread has a “weekly lab” and more in-depth information on the topic.  The back page has a challenge and a “bring it home” section with another activity.  The older grades are much deeper and the labs are more extensive.  They also tended to have different sections, and I didn’t see the “bring it home” activity on the upper grades.  Because we only used the lower levels, I will mainly be reviewing them.
Some of the suggested activities in the lower grades include making a fraction with your class (counting who does and doesn’t like apples), making a symmetrical print with paint, and mixing colors.  There are writing and tracing activities in the lower grade levels, and vocabulary activities.    There is also some cutting and gluing, making fractioned parts into a whole.  The older grades have more puzzles, writing, and a lot of reading.  While the older grades seemed to have a lot of information, the lower levels are focused on presenting the concept simply and in an understandable way.  Fractions can be a difficult abstract idea for little ones to grasp, but Science Weekly explained it with a lot of pictures and made it very concrete for them. 
 Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox Extension
The included teacher’s notes are very helpful.  They include a background summary of the concept and then they have teaching tips for each separate level.  I think, from looking over all the papers, that the Teaching Notes could really determine the newspaper’s usefulness, as there are several extra activities and ideas included for the different grades.
There are free samples of Science Weekly on the website, and I highly suggest looking at them if you are considering subscribing.  You can really get a feel for the magazine.  You will want to remember that there are a lot more pages in the interactive version, but the content is probably the same, since the physical copy is larger.  We enjoyed our copies so much that we just have to go try out some of the other topics.  Some of the different subjects aren’t what you would expect from a science paper, but they are excellent at pulling the scientific properties out of the most mundane subject!  When you think about it, fractions and pyramids are both very scientific topics!
I think this paper is a great way to add diversity to your current science program, and they are fun!  You can mix and match grade levels and still take advantage of the reduced rates, so this is another option for homeschool groups.  I think it would be really fun to use these papers as the foundation for a co-op science day.  Everyone could work together, in his or her own level, and there would still be plenty of children to participate in the classroom activities. 
Visit the Old Schoolhouse Crew blog to read more reviews,
or visit the website to learn more about Science Weekly.

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.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Treasures for the Heart

871870_studying Once upon a time, a little girl loved to read.  Books would transport her miles away, into fanciful times and places.  She would feel the dreams and sorrows of countless other children as she sat, curled up on the couch or her bed.  Hours would pass and chores would go un-done.  This little girl had several favorite stories, but at Christmas time there was in particular that she read over and over again.  It was the story of a little girl and her family at Christmas.  Little sugar ducks and beautiful crèches.   Weaving and knitting secret gifts.  Baking and carling.  The little girl was captured by the charm and simplicity of an old-fashioned country Christmas. 

As the little girl got older, she still loved to read the story, but now she did it in the private of her room.  It was a little, you know, childish.  She still loved to poor over the beautiful pictures and she knew the story by heart.  One day, the little girl decided that enough was enough.  The little girl was grown up now, and she was going through her things.  Many of the books were kept, but the old Christmas story had to go.  It was old, and ratty.  The pages were loose and folded, and there was no reason to keep a picture book.  She was probably the only one who really loved it that much, anyway.  So it went on the yard sale table with a $1.00 sticker on it.  She secretly hoped that no one would want to buy an old, ugly book for a whole dollar. 

Years passed, and the little girl had a little girl of her own.  Then a little boy.  She started looking through yard sale boxes and digging through the shelves at the library sales.  She was looking for books for her own little ones.  The collection grew.  Every time she had a chance, she was hunting for the best books.  She started remembering her favorite books from her own childhood.  The Little House on the Prairie.  Madeline.  The Borrowers.  Many of them she still had, so she dug out her old boxes. 

But the Christmas book was gone.  Did she sell it?  Yes, it was really gone.  She looked everywhere, but finally she accepted that it was gone.  Oh, how she wished she could share it’s joy with her own little one’s at Christmas time!  She didn’t even know what it was called.  The story was about a little girl named Becky, and she thought it was called Becky’s Surprise Christmas.  She searched Amazon and E-bay, but there was nothing.  She supposed that no one else had loved the book as much as she had, and she would never find it.

Then one day, she heard some mothers talking about a book called Becky’s Christmas by Tasha Tudor.  Of course, by now the little girl had learned enough about children’s books to know who Tasha Tudor was and she was delighted.  At last she would have her book back!  She quickly went to Amazon and searched for the book-  There it was!   Just like she remembered!   Then, to the little girl’s great dismay she quickly saw that the book was out of print and very expensive.  The grown-up little girl was so sad!  Oh, if only she had listened to her heart!  She would still have her precious book, and she would be able to share it with her little ones. 

Her heart knew that the story was a wonderful treasure, even when her growing-up mind told her it was worthless.  Now the little girl knows that the true value of a book is not in shiny pages or fancy pictures, it is in the heart.  And someday, she will buy another copy of Becky’s Christmas, no matter the cost.  You can’t put a price on the treasures of the heart.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kinderbach Review

For several years I have been looking for a program that will help my little children learn to play the piano.  Most programs are geared toward older children, but I knew that I wanted them to at least get a feel for making and reading music at a young age.  So I was very excited to see that we were going to be reviewing an online program designed to do just that.  Kinderbach is geared for ages 2-7, so I thought it would be perfect for us.  It is essentially a series of video clips, with accompanying activities and printable.  The subscription price is $19.99 monthly, or the much cheaper yearly version which is $95.88.  There are four lessons for each week, and most lessons have a worksheet or coloring page of some kind to go along with it.  There is also a DVD option available, and levels 1-3 start at $112.75.
PhotobucketKinderbach starts out teaching the basics.  Rhythm, with spoons, clapping, or whatever you feel like using is taught during the first 12 weeks and beyond.  A few simple music terms are introduced and practiced, and everything moves at a very slow pace.  The very beginnings of key identification is covered, using fun stories.  Instead of using stickers or similar devices to identify the keys, the child learns the name of each key for himself, using it’s location in connection with the black keys.  For example, the two black keys are the home of the little donkey named Dodo.  Dodo’s house is very small, so he can’t play in it.  Instead, he comes out of his house to play on the white key in front of it, and that key is called “d”.  It is an ingenious and child-friendly way to introduce the piano keys and music theory. 
The children all enjoyed using Kinderbach, but they liked the stories the best.  They all had differing levels of comprehension, but I think the age range is pretty appropriate.  Baby Girl is two, and I really don’t think that she is getting that much out of it, but she does enjoy the rhythm instruments!  Bop is at the upper end of the age range, and she thinks the lessons are a little boring, but she enjoys the music.  CJ likes the rhythm and music, but doesn’t enjoy the coloring so much.  They have all struggled some with the lack of piano playing and the very slow pace.  It seems to cover everything but actual keyboard instruction during the first weeks, as it builds a foundation.  (We are working around week 12.)  We have learned a little about the quarter and half notes, the piano and forte symbols, ‘stepping up’ notes, a tiny bit of key identification, and quite a bit of rhythm. 
I am a little puzzled about the structure of the program, as the lessons seem pretty randomly designed to me.  I am sure that it is an organized spiral method, but my brain is just not set up for that approach.  It seems like it could be better organized to fit into the child’s natural desire to actually start playing music, since weeks pass with only a few notes ever being played.  I was also a little surprised by how short each lesson was.  We easily fit a whole week’s worth of lessons into one session, thought we didn’t do music each day.  The lessons themselves are about 5 minutes long, and if you did one a day it could take months before your child was actually learning the keys of the piano in preparation to play music.  This could be either a good feature, or a frustrating one, depending on your child’s age and ability.
Overall, we enjoyed Kinderbach, and the kids learned some music theory and rhythm in the last few weeks.  There is a lot of neat things about this method, not the least of which is the child-friendly approach to learning difficult abstract ideas.  We had to tailor it a bit to make it fit for our family, but every homeschool mom I know is already an expert at that!
Visit The Old Schoolhouse blog to read more reviews on Kinderbach.
Go to the Kinderbach website for a free trial and a lot more information. 
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.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Go Go Kabongo Review

When I first saw this program, the only thing I could think was, “ what a funny name!”  And now that we have played Go Go Kabongo for the last several weeks, I still think it is a funny name, and a pretty funny program, but it has a very serious mission.  Preparing kids for reading.  I, however, was frankly skeptical.  There were silly creatures everywhere, with funny faces and voices.  The games seemed a little juvenile, at first.  And I knew my kids didn’t get a lot of the jokes. 
As we used the games more and I covertly observed the ‘fun’ from another room, I gained a new appreciation for them.  There really is a lot of learning hiding under the goofy aliens and animals.  Here is a link to what Go Go Kabongo is teaching through these games.  Some of the thinking skills that I noticed right away include patterning, visual memory skills (essential for learning to read fluently), and comprehension during a progressively more difficult story.  The website could be a bit confusing at first, so let me tell you a bit more about it.  
PhotobucketThere are three “habitats”, or worlds, in Go GO Kabongo-  Laughter lake, Galaxy Gardens, and Twister Top.  These three worlds show up on your child’s map when they sign into the site.  Each world has three games in it, and each game has several 
levels.  The child doesn't notice the levels, the game just gets progressively harder.  The program automatically sends periodic e-mails to the parent to let them know what games the child is and is not playing, what level they are on, and what skills they are developing.  There are no ads or anything else in the child’s section of
the site, just the games.  There are also no social-type activities, so it is completely safe.  You can learn more about the individual games here.  
So how did this work for us?  CJ loves this program.  I don’t think that there are any of the games that he dislikes, though some are easier then others for him.  Bop is not so impressed, she says the games are too easy.  I keep encouraging her to persevere, however, because I am pretty sure there will come a point where some of these games challenge her.  There is really nothing she dislikes about it, I think she just finds it unchallenging at this point.  I like the program for the most part, but there are several irritating parts.  I don’t like the silly jokes.  There isn’t anything wrong with them, I just find them annoyingly stupid.  Some of the creatures look a little creepy to me, but the kids haven’t noticed.  
PhotobucketAll in all, Go Go Kabongo seems like a very useful program to develop skills that will be useful, not just for reading, but also for math and every part of life that requires critical thinking.  The first habitat is free, so the best way to find out if it is right for your children is to have them try it!  Let them spend some time playing Laughter Lake and see if you don’t agree with me- they are learning more then it seems!  Right now you can also get the second habitat free, Galaxy Gardens.  This seems to be a limited time offer, but there is no definite date for it.  The last habitat, Twister Top, is only $4.95!  This is not a subscription service, they compare it more to the price of an app.  You pay them once, and you will have unlimited access to the games!  These games are geared for children ages 4-7, and judging by my 4 and 6 year olds, I would say that seems right.  There are also free activates and printable in the parents section.  

Read more reviews for GO GO Kabongo at the

 Old Schoolhouse Crew Blog.

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.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Amanda Bennett!


In celebration of her birthday, Amanda is giving a gift to you!  For this weekend only, you can get any of the following titles for $5. 



Kite Capers


Patriotic Holidays


Mother's Day


And if your order totals $30 or more, she has a completely free gift for you!  This study is usually only part of the larger packages and is never available singly. 

Birthday Bonanza

Friday, April 1, 2011

Expedition Israel

DNGExpeditionIsraelCoverNGSM A lot of Christians wish that they could visit the places that Jesus walked.  It would be powerful to see the red sea, walk down the dusty streets in the ruins of the ancient cities, and feel the dry wind brush your face.  Now you can give your children a taste of that experience without leaving your home!  We have spent the last two weeks exploring Israel with what is possibly our favorite Download N Go. 

Expedition Israel is, in many ways, very similar to the other Download N Go unit studies we have done.  It has lots of learning incorporated into the theme, covering all of the content subjects well.  There are multiple learning avenues to appeal to the different characters in your bunch, such as video clips, reading, coloring, drawing, and experiments.  You can even have your crafty kids use the included lapbooking pieces to make their very own work of art.  There is copywork, science, geography, and history. 

So what is different about Expedition Israel?  There is just something special about sitting down with your children and watching a video of the very same olive grove that Jesus walked in.  And then you find out that not only is it the very same grove, they are the same trees.   Now go on to learn about olives, how they are harvested, and how olive oil is made.  That gives you a taste for just one small section of the journey.  The study has a geographical place of the day, with an accompanying Bible story.  There is a Biblical hero for each day, and and animal and food for each day.  And of course, each day also has a special theme of it’s own. 

Day 1: Where on Earth Is Israel?

Day 2: Some of the Special Places in Israel

Day 3: A Bit of History

Day 4: Cool Things to Know About Israel

Day 5: Fun and Games in Israel

What a line-up!  We spent two weeks on this unit study, and I am so glad.  Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in our school day to cover everything in these comprehensive studies, and I didn’t want to miss anything in Expedition Israel.  We learned so much, but this unit study was about so much more the learning.  It was an experience.  We really felt like we were able to envision what the land is like, and what it was like in the times of the Bible heroes that we learned about. 




The kids getting ready to try the Dead Sea experiment.  They were very excited!



I can think of several ways to use this study, beyond the typical unit-study approach.  It would be a wonderful 5-week Sunday School program, using the suggested books to supplement the learning instead of internet sites.  You could use each day for one week of home devotions with Daddy, doing just a bit with breakfast in the morning.  The animal of the day on Wednesday, and the Hero of the day on Thursday or some such arrangement. 

EasterPromiseSM Anyway you look at it, Expedition Israel is well worth $7.95, and it would be a wonderful companion to the the newly-released Easter Promise Download n Go, for your children in grades K-4th.  Older siblings could easily tag along, and probably learn something too!

Be sure to stop by the Download N Go blog to read more reviews for Expedition Israel, and go to Amanda Bennett’s Unit Studies for your free samples. 
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.


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