Friday, May 27, 2011

Read for the Heart Review

Like most homeschool moms, I am a book fanatic.  At garage sales, the first place I always go is to the table with the books.  I love library sales, and normally come out with several boxes.   My new favorite store is the used bookstore.  (We have a very small town, and this is the first time we have had a used bookstore.)   I ask for bookshelves for Christmas.  Ok, maybe not that last one.  Yet.
But there is one thing I have had trouble with.  How do you know which books are the best?  When you pick up a book at a garage sale, how do you know if it is worth buying?  most of us eventual get a ‘feel’ for good books, just by looking at the cover and flipping through it.  But while I am good at not picking ‘twaddly’ books, I always feel like I may still be missing out on some real treasures because I wasn’t sure of the best ones.
PhotobucketSo I was delighted to get the chance to review Read for the Heart.  This beautiful thick paperback “book-about-books” was wrote by a homeschool graduate, Sarah Clarkson.  Sarah is the oldest daughter of one of my favorite authors of homeschool encouragement books, Sally Clarkson.  This book is published by Apologia, the well-known publisher of the science curriculum by the same name, and a variety of books, including Good Morning, God, which I reviewed earlier.
I was pretty sure that I would enjoy reading about good books, but I was surprised by all of the other information here.  Sarah has several chapters in the front of the books that do not contain book suggestions.  These chapters are about reading in general.  First, teh author includes a lot of her experiences with good books, which is very inspiring and motivating.  She also has a chapter on the loss of literacy in the United States, and ideas for how to begin incorporating more reading time in your family life, especially reading aloud together. 
The book suggestions are organized by type, and include chapters on picture books, classics, fairy tales, history, spiritual reading, and more.  I loved reading every chapter of this book, they were very helpful to me.  I heard of several books and series that I had not read before, including the Landmark series and several in the Fantasy and Fairy Tale chapter.  I also enjoyed reading the Picture Book chapter, because I quite simply love a good picture book.  I am one of those moms who not only enjoys reading to her children, but also can occasionally be found sitting on the floor beside the picture book shelves, reading.  To myself. 
Even if you think that you are such a bibliophile that there’s nothing new to learn, you should take a look through Read for the Heart.  Sure, there are old classics such as Madeline and Charlotte’s web, but there is a lot of hidden treasure, too.  For example, the discussion of the beginnings of Children's literature and the those first great classics, testimony of the power of learning history through good literature, and a very interesting discussion on why fantasy is important for Christian children. 
I highly recommend this book to all parents, homeschooling or not, who care about a quality education and magical childhood.  You can read more reviews for this book at The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog, and visit Apologia to learn more about all of there products. 

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, May 25, 2011

Considering God's Creation Review

Considering God’s Creation is a one-year science program designed especially for homeschoolers.  This is not a public or private-school textbook, modified for home use.  Why is that important?  Well, there are several problems with these books.  First, they have to conform to state and federal standards, which may or may not be very unbiblical in either their teaching or their worldview.  Also, even Christian private school texts are designed for one grade to use at a time, complicating life for mothers of many children.  Finally, a lot of text books-type programs are simply very boring.  Since science is one of the most interesting and vibrant subjects we can learn about, this is truly a shame!  If we want our children to love God’s creation, we need to give them a delight for science. 
How is Considering God’s Creation special?  To start with, this program is very inexpensive.  It can be used by all your children in grades 2-7, and costs only $29.95 and includes the Teacher’s Manual, the Student Book, and a CD.  The Student book is reproducible, but you can also buy addition workbooks for only $13.95.  I think that is cheaper then copying, and that way the materials can stay in a nice book.  My children love to keep their books nice and not have the pages cut out, so that is what we chose to do.  They are sharing the book and when we use this program again later I will just purchase more.  Most of the workbook pages can be used in the book, except for the pages which have cut-outs on them. 
Considering God’s Creation covers a lot of science.  It begins with learning about the days of creation, and then moves through the subjects pretty closely to the order of creation.  The sequence begins with space, then basic earth science, rocks, weather, plants, animals, animal A&P, and the human body.  This is a lot to cover in a teachers manual that only contains 130 pages!  How do they do this?  Well, Considering God’ Creation has a broad scope, but much less depth then some programs.  There is still enough in here to be a very complete curriculum, however.  There is not a lot of fluff here, it is pretty bare-bones.  This is good news for busy homeschooling moms who don’t want to sift through the babble just to get to the good stuff!   A lot of the learning is done in the notebook, too, which is good for retention.Photobucket
Experiments.  These are very easy for mom to set up and use basic materials.  Some of us prefer to stick to reading about science instead of doing it, so the easier and quicker the better!  Easy elementary experiments such as watching celery draw up colored water, filling a bottle with air to show how a fish’s swim bladder works, and using a flashlight to demonstrate why we can’t see starts in the daytime. 
Activities:  One of the simple but helpful activities we did was using people holding hands to explain the pull of gravity.  This was simple and fun, but made the abstract ideas concrete for my young kids.  One of the other activities that stuck out was the idea of using cookie dough to show how fossil imprints form.  There are lots of these activates to really imprint eh basics of science in an easy to understand way. 
Reading:  Each lesson includes a section to be read to the child.  These are always short, typically less then a page, but explain everything so perfectly for the little children.  Examples such as comparing the layers of the earth to the parts of eggs help children comprehend difficult ideas.   Each lesson also has a Bible reading, which encourages deep thinking.  The child is supposed to look up and read the passages for themselves if they are able. 
The notebook/workbook is a delight of it’s own, especially for lapbooking and notebooking families!  It is about twice as think as the Teacher’s book, and is chock full of stuff to do!  There are pop ups, mini books, notebook pages, charts, and more.  There are also games included, and these cut-out pieces should probably be glued onto cardstock to work well.  My favorite part of the program is the “detective” pages.  These are work-sheet type pages that are designed for nature study.  For example, the “Flower Detective” pages have illustrations for different leaf placement, veins, shape, and edges, and flower placement, color, shapes and number of petals.  This could really encourage attention to detail and thoroughness, and is an excellent introduction to the various skills needed for identification.  There are varying numbers of these detective pages included for each subject.  There are 5 “plant detective” pages, and each one has a notebook page with a decorative border for sketching on the facing side.  If you need more you can always copy them. 
The CD is probably my least favorite part of the program, but auditory learners like Bop love it.  The songs include The Water Cycle, The Planets, Bear Fruit, The Nervous System, and Try, Try again.  Some of the melodies are frankly irritating to me but the children seem to really listen to them and enjoy them.   Of course, this curriculum is very complete without the CD if you don’t have a little listener like I do!
There are many ways to use Considering God’s Creation.  You can use it as a one-year curriculum, going through one lesson a week.  You could use the parts as you need them, going into more depth with other books or curriculum.  You could even use the Student book for the foundation of a nature study journal, copying the sheets as you need them.  But my favorite idea for this is to use the program as a spine for a longer study.  The notebook is perfect for extended use, as each child could have their own and go through it as needed.  With the addition of lots of books for each topic, this one science program could last a family many years, maybe even through all of the elementary grades.  That makes the initial investment very cost –effective, when coupled with library books!  This is what I am seriously thinking about doing ourselves.
So what do I like about Considering God’s Creation?  I really appreciate how the ‘cut-out’ pages (flaps, cards for games, minibook pieces, etc) are on their own pages, so there are not cut-up sheets left in the book.  I am still surprised by the amount of info contained in here, everytime I look I see something new.  I just love the detective pages and how much nature study is encouraged.  Nature study is very important to me, but I know a lot of people struggle with how to implement it, and this program could be very helpful to them.  The explanations in the text are perfect for the suggested ages, and they aren’t too long or to short. 

Visit Eagle’s Wings to see sample pages from Considering God’s Creation, and go to The Old Schoolhouse Crew Blog to read more 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.
to read more reviews on this product.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pearson Review

Pearson is a popular supplier of materials to public schools, and have recently been branching out into other educational markets as well.  Members of the review crew were given one of three products:  Social Studies, Math, or Reading, in first and second grade levels.  We received the second grade level of Scott Foresman’s Reading Street, in two large hardback books.  These books are available from Pearson School for $43.47 each. 
My first impression of these books?  They are beautiful hardback books that look like they were made to withstand a classroom and would certainly stand up to a typical homeschooling family!  Each book is divided up into units, 6 in all.  The units are each made up of five selections, in both fiction and nonfiction, and accompanying ideas and activities. 
The stories are a good mix of genres, including fairy tales, folk tales, realistic fiction, and fantasy.  There are a few biographies and plays also.  Each story also includes a ‘paired selection’ and this is a short piece that enhances the story, such a poetry, a nonfiction article, or a demonstration of online research techniques.  The story Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night is accompanied by an expository nonfiction article, Star Pictures in the Sky.  The folk tale Turtle’s Race with Beaver is paired with a diagram, The Secret Life of Ponds.
Before the child begins reading there are some introductory materials to help him out, including a new word/ vocabulary section and then a short paragraph with the new words in it to practice.  The stories in the first book are followed by a few different sections.  They include comprehension questions, information about the author along with other books they wrote, the ‘paired selection’, and a section with writing ideas and helps.  There is also a slightly confusing ‘oral vocabulary’ spread, which contains some bright illustrations and photographs but no text. 
Book two, containing units 4, 5 and 6, employs a slightly different approach.  Each story now begins with a section on comprehension skills, preparing the child with specific techniques,  the vocabulary/new word section now includes a vocabulary strategy for each story, emphasizing how to figure out difficult words.  The ‘paired selections’ in this book are varied, with interesting mediums such as newspaper and magazine articles, interviews,  and e-mails. 
We have really enjoyed these books.  I like the varied subject matter, and the fact that these are real books, not contrived “readers” made up of pre-selected word lists.  I also appreciate the inclusion of so much non-fiction, because a lot of children's early readers are just silly stories and that is all they get used to reading.
Bop has just finished up first grade, and is reading at a first grade or second grade level, depending on what test you use.  She loves looking through these books, because frankly, they are beautiful.  She has struggled a little with the readings, not because they are too hard, but because they are pretty long.  After hearing a little more about how these types of reading books are used in school, I think I understand why.  (Remember, I never set foot in a public school classroom so I don’t know this stuff. )  One of our fellow crew members explained to us that most of the time the children take turns reading the selections, so one child is not responsible for reading the entire story straight through.  I was trading reading with Bop, and I felt a little guilty about it, but now I know that this is how the book was designed.  I am sure that her tolerance for long readings will build up as she gains fluency.  When we read them together without me forcing more on her then she can do in one sitting, she does beautifully.  And she really enjoys reading out of these books, because there is so much variety and interest.

You can read more about the Scott Foresman reading program on the Pearson School website, and don’t forget to read the other reviews at The Old Schoolhouse Review 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.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wordy Qwerty

Last fall our family reviewed a wonderful little program called Read, Write and Type.  This program teaches children to read and type, and now the company behind Read, Write and Type has also created another program, Wordy Qwerty.  Designed for children who have finished Read Write and type, or children ages 7-9, this program attempts to teach spelling through a series of games and songs. 
It is really unlike Read, Write and Type in almost every way, except for the format of the stories.  While Read, Write and Type has the children working to rescue all of the letter sounds, in Wordy Qwerty they are working towards the building of a “music machine”.  They go through a series of games for each spelling rule, and earn ‘spheres’ for the robots to use on the machine.  After learning a rule the children get to watch part of the music machine being built.  Each spelling rule, or pattern, includes the following games:
Photobucket1. The introduction to the pattern, where the children type the word and then sort them.  There is no grading here as far as spelling, so if the child misspells one of these words they are just corrected and then they move on.  The idea is for the child to start recognizing the patterns.
2. The music.  The child hears a jingle about the pattern being learned, and then they get the chance to sing a karaoke version themselves.
3. The Recycler:  This is a machine that recycles words… there is two different spellings for word families, such as '”-ail” and “-ale”, and the machine adds different letters in the beginning to make words.  The child then decided which is the correct spelling, or if they both are, as in “sale” and “sail”.  There are no ‘rules’ to be learned in this section, so the idea is to learn to recognize the correct spelling through repetition. 
Photobucket4. Pop a word game.  This game is full of balloons!  A short 4-word sentence is typed across the bottom of the screen and read to the child, and then it disappears.  The words from the sentence then begin appearing in balloons and the child has to pop the words in the correct order.  the correct words are mixed up with similarly spelled words, to challenge the child to really learn the hard words fluently.
Photobucket5.  Writing Stories.  This is where the resemblance to Read, Write and Type comes out.  A short story will appear and the child will hear it being read.  Then, the bottom of the two lines will disappear and the child is to type it out.  When a wrong letter is typed, the word becomes black and the child has to try again.  After the line is typed correctly a picture will pop up, and then you can continue on to the next page of the story. 
Photobucket6. Read Stories.  This is the last activity for each spelling rule.  There is a story several pages long, with missing words.  The child clicks on a drop-down menu beside each blank in the story to select the correct word.  This requires fluent reading, comprehension, and spelling skills. 
These same games are repeated for each now spelling rule, or pattern.  There are 20 spelling rules all together, from the simple silent ‘e’ to more difficult plural rules and the different spellings for the ‘er’ sound.  As your child progresses through these lessons, they collect more and more spheres and build more of the music machine. 
So how did it work for us?  Well, to be honest, we didn’t get very far through the program.  Bop just turned 6, but she has successfully completed Read Write and Type twice (she wanted to go through it again because she enjoyed it so much) and she is reading at a 1st or 2nd grade level, depending on who you ask.  I thought that she was ready to go ahead with Wordy Qwerty, but we have had some trouble with it.  I think that if we give her a few months she would be flying through it, but right now it’s not that easy.  The spelling rules are easily within her comprehension, but the games themselves are harder.  This is definitely designed for older children then Read Write and Type, as stated.  She enjoys some of the activities, but some of them are tougher.  We have worked together on them, and she is moving steadily on.
As for me, I like this program almost as much as Read, Write and Type.  I think the games are very well-designed and thought out, and they are effective.  There are some parts that are a little frustrating for the children, but for the most part this is a fun and thoughtful way to learn basic spelling rules.  Several of us reviewers did find that the online version that we are reviewing tends to freeze sometimes, but this is a very new program, and for us it did not effect the usability overall.
I think this program could be useful for independent children, who like to work alone, children who are struggling with spelling being ‘boring’, and anyone who wants a fun, easy way to teach spelling without teaching at all!  Wordy Qwerty is available as either a installable program or a online subscription.  A home license can be purchased for $35.00, or you can go with the online subscription which starts at $25.00 for one user, for 5 years.  You can archive your user and then add another one when they are finished, so this is a great option for homeschooling families who will have several users throughout the 5 years. 
Visit Talking Fingers to find out how you can get a free trial of Wordy Qwerty before you buy, and check out all of the other reviews at The Old Schoolhouse review crew’s 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.
You can visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog
to read more reviews on this product.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mad Dog Math review

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about reviewing another math drill program.  We have had several this year, and I was afraid that Bop was simply burnt out on computerized drills, period.  I determined to give Mad Dog Math a fair try, however, and I urged her to do the same.  Mad Dog Math is a completely original math drill program (I know, I didn’t know you could be original about math drills, either, until I saw this.)  that started as a classroom program using worksheets and a timer. 
We received a download of the Mad Dog Math computer version, modeled after the original pencil-and-paper version.  You can get several different licenses for this program, but most home school families will probably want the “perpetual” license for $39.99.  There are also one year ($19.99) and two year ($29.99) licenses available.  This program covers all four operations- addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Addition/subtraction and multiplication/division are drilled together.  This is appropriate for children just learning their addition facts, up through high school age students who jest need to up their speed.   We used this program in Level One, addition and subtraction, so that is what my review will cover.
First, a little background.  We have struggled with Bop learning her facts, and there are so many things that we have tried without success.  She KNOWS all of her addition facts, but she is sometimes painfully slow remembering them.  Since Math U See stresses mastery, I have struggled with this.  They are supposed to know the facts as quickly as they know their own name, so I have been conflicted about whether to go on, or drill endlessly until her speed is up. 
I assumed that this program would be exactly like any other computer drill program, but I was so surprised by it.  The first thing that I noticed is the way the facts are drilled.  Instead of covering a ‘fact family’ at a time, this program just works on a very tiny bite at a time.  For example, the first section to be learned in Level One is the “0-3” section.  I assumed that this would include all of the facts in these families, all the way up to 10+2 and 10+3.   I was wrong!  This “0-3” fact family includes only those problems whose addends AND sums fall between 0-3.  They will start out drilling problems such as 1+1, 3+0, 2+1, etc.  Nothing higher.  Talk about baby steps! 
After that first fact family, the progression is similarly easy.  The next fact families are 1-4, 2-5, 3-6, and then it jumps to 0-6.  Nothing new in this family, just more variety.   This is paced so that the child will pass their drills almost every time.  What a confidence booster!  By introducing only those problems that have sums and addends in that ‘fact family’, the child progresses baby-step by baby-step, but steadily, into mastery.  At the same time, they are also working on the subtraction facts in eh same fact family.
You can see here how the 0-6 fact family only includes those numbers with sums up to 6, and this is level two, which includes inverse operations. 
But that’s not all!  The student’s first goal is to master the two-minute club.  There are 20 question in each fact family to be answered in under two minutes.  After going through all the families up to 12-18, (which includes problems such as 11+6 and 7+7) the child will officially be in the two minute club for all of those fact families.  But they are not done yet… they will start back over at the beginning trying for the one-minute club!  And when they have mastered that, they will start back over going for the 30 second club.  As a mother who never learned the math facts well, this is an amazing thought… to be able to answer 20 problems in 30 seconds.  Wow.  I want to give that gift of speed to my children. 
Really quickly I want to give an overview of the different levels.  I already told you about level one.  Level two is still addition and subtraction, but it progresses quickly for those older children who know the facts but need speed.  The fact families are introduced more quickly- 0-6, 7-9, etc.  Level 3 is multiplication and division, and the challenge level covers all of the operations in different ways… along with some puzzle-type problems.  Of course, we didn’t do much with this part, so you will have to read some of the other reviews to find out more about the upper levels.
PhotobucketTo be completely honest (and I always am)  I love this program.  And Bop loves it.  So is there anything I don’t like?  Well we had an incident with the timer… you can see the numbers counting, and we were fine until Bop noticed them.  She completely froze up like she does whenever she is being timed.  She knew that it was timing her so that she could be in the ‘club’, but it was seeing it that did her in.  I just stuck a little sticker on the screen so she can’t see it and she does fine.  Silly girl.  It would be great if Mad Dog Math would add a “hide timer” option for those with equally timer-phobic children.  However, since that will probably require a lot of revisions, until then I will just use the sticker.  ;)  I would also recommend not starting this with children who don’t know their facts, at least the lower ones, already.  If they do know at least some of them they will move through them pretty quickly, only spending a day or two on most of the families.  That is incredibly encouraging for children!
There are several other ways to buy this program, including the paper version.  It covers addition/subtraction and multiplication/division in two separate levels, so you have to buy them both to get everything that is available in the computer version.  Visit The Old Schoolhouse blog for more reviews of Mad Dog Math and go to the Mad Dog Math website for a free demo version.
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, May 17, 2011

Chocolate Challenge Download N Go Review

Chocolate ChallengeCreamy. Rich.  Dark, light or white.  Exotic, tasty and a favorite everywhere.  Ice cream, milk, cookies, cake… who can resist the taste of chocolate? 
I knew that we would love this Download N Go, simply because it is yummy if nothing else!  But I was delighted to find all that it had to offer, once we started digging deeper.  This one download contains everything you need for a week or two of tasty learning, including history, science, geography, and even some math and language arts. 
All of the Download N Go studies contain everything that you will need, including links, worksheets, drawing pages, and the day-to-day guides that you follow.  When you do a Download N Go there are no lesson plans or ‘curriculum guides’, just the unit study itself, which you read through and then click on the links that are right there in the text, to go to the websites and videos to learn more.  You will find that using these unit studies is simple for mom, with no prep time needed, and easy to follow for the children, who can just read through each day’s assignment.  The units are each designed for one week, and they are written day-by-day.  You can easily extend them to 2 weeks, however, and there is easily enough material if you want to do that.  Each Download N Go includes lapbook pieces, extensive book lists, links, activities, video clips, and more.
Chocolate Challenge was such a fun study for the kids, and me too!  We got to learn about the history of chocolate, including a great “Chocolatier of the day”, the science of growing and making chocolate, the Brazilian rainforest, and so much more.  We especially enjoyed learning about how chocolate is made, and we got to watch several video clips of the process.  We had taste tests, and I found out that dark-chocolate lovers, like me, are in the minority.  We learned about graphing by taking a poll from our family and friends of their favorite chocolate as well. 
Our favorite parts of Chocolate Challenge was learning about the Amazon rainforest.  We studies the layers of the forest, the importance of the fragile ecosystem, and why diversity is important.  Did you know that only one insect can fertilize cacao trees?  Did you know that one tree only produces enough cacao beans to make 2 lbs of chocolate?  Do you know who were the first peoples to eat chocolate, and that it was far different from our chocolate today?  You will be amazed at everything there is to learn about this yummy treat!
Chocolate Challenge
The pages in Chocolate Challenge are beautiful.  There are drawing pages, with great backgrounds and borders, colorful worksheets, and copywork pages.  And the videos are a treat of their own… creamy melted chocolate running out of giant mixing tubs…. mmmm mmmmm!  We really had a great time with this whole unit, and it didn’t even seem like school.  The kids were asking every morning if we could do Chocolate Challenge- I had to make them wait ‘til after breakfast!
I do have one complaint about this unit, and it is something you will definitely want to take into consideration.  You absolutely cannot do Chocolate Challenge without having chocolate on hand!  Preferable a little dark, milk, and white, and you will need some for each day because, let’s face it, after all of that learning, we all need a pick-me-up.  Especially when the learning smells this good!
You can read more reviews for Chocolate Challenge at Amanda Bennett’s Download N Go blog, and don’t forget about the 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.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

GoTrybe Review

PhotobucketGoTrybe is an online subscription based site bringing better fitness to children.  There are several components to this site including the exercise portion.  There are also nutrition and motivational videos and an avatar based reward system.  This site also has a social aspect which we chose not to participate in due to the ages of our children.  They are not really able to understand and use social sites, so you can read more about this in the other reviews.  We signed up under the ZooDoos level, for little ones up to grade 5.

My favorite part of GoTrybe was the exercise videos.  You can use ready-made routines or design your own.  To design your own workout, you simply click and drag the selected clips into the playlist.  There is space for 1 warm up, 3 cardio, 1 strength training, and 1 flexibility clip, to create a complete workout about 30 minutes long.  You can save your workouts for future sessions.  Our favorite workout was comprised entirely of animal moves.  The kids loved pretending to be various animals as the hopped, galloped, stretched, and crawled around the room. 



  Lets all be elephants!


The exercise videos included with GoTrybe are varied and creative, with suggested ages included. We stuck to the videos for the preschool to 2nd grade ages, and found them challenging and fun, but never too difficult.  Some of the videos for the older elementary ages included a lot of dance type moves which looked like a lot of fun to me but were too difficult for the kids to follow.   After you complete your a workout each day, point are awarded to your account. 

The Nutrition, Motivation, and Wellness portions of GoTrybe are simply short movie clips and quizzes that your child can do each day.  There is only one of each available per day, and your child receives points for each completed daily portion.  These points are used to purchase clothes, accessories and other items like pets, to dress up the child’s avatar. 

PhotobucketThe Nutrition tab encourages making good choices, but it is mainly focused on knowledge.  Each day your child learns one thing about good nutrition.  The quizzes are very short and have one question, such as multiple choice or true-or-false.  Since nutrition information can be very controversial and people have different opinions on the healthiest way to live, this could be a problem for some families; however, I didn’t find anything that was opinionated enough to be very controversial.  For example, today’s lesson was a short paragraph about hydration, and the quiz asked whether or not water should be drunk only when exercising. 

The Motivation section is a little video clip of one of the GoTrybe instructors, and it is just a short segment.  They are typically talking about what they do to stay motivated, or something similar.  Today’s clip was an instructor talking about her passions and goals for fitness.  These clips are of varying value in my opinion.  I find it hard to believe that a child who is not already motivated would find any more motivation from a short clip like this.  Encouragement from parents and good examples seem to be more important as far as motivation goes. 

The Wellness videos contain information about a wide variety of topics that affect overall health, often involving safety.  Today’s clip featured the difference between tornado watches and warnings, but did not cover what to do in the case of an impending tornado.  Again, it seemed to me that this section was of questionable value given the briefness of the information.


So, what did our family ultimately think of GoTrybe?  We really enjoyed the workouts.  It was great to have the ability to pick-and-choose which exercises we would like to do, and the versatility is great.  The kids got a kick out of exercising like animals and vehicles, and the more typical routines were fun too.  The ladies leading the workouts are always accompanied by children which is inspiring to the kids.  They got tired and discouraged at a few points, but I told them that is how they know it is working.  :)  I think this is a great option if you want a video-led exercise program for your children that is customizable.  I wouldn’t really count on getting a lot of good info out of the nutrition, motivation and wellness portions, unless your kids want to do them to get more points for dressing up their avatar.   Of course, there may be a lot of different information for the older grades, so if you are interested in using this with an older child you should definitely read the reviews from those age groups. 

You can get a free trial of GoTrybe, and you will be able to see for yourself all of the features.  There are three levels of GoTrybe, for children from pre-school on up to 12th grade, and a one-year subscription is $19.95.



If you would like to find out more before signing up,

be sure to visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog for lots of 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.

Monday, May 9, 2011

MonkiSee Review


baby's first words dvdMonkiSee is a program for children ages 3 months to 3 years, created to teach the youngest children how to read.  There are several components to the program, including DVDs, flash cards, books, and video flash cards on DVD.  We received the “Baby’s First Words” DVD and a book, “Know Your Monkey”.  

This DVD introduces 40 new words.  The words to be learned are shown on the screen a few times, while the concepts, such as baby, neck, and hands, are explored through puppets, songs, rhymes and more.  The video also includes a parent guide and a slideshow, which features each word on the screen, followed by a picture. The book has a very short and simple story, with the words on one spread without illustrations, and then the main words with pictures repeated on the next spread.  The pictures are photographs of the cute little monkeys Skip and Howie on a paper collage background. 


Know Your Monkey

We have watched this video many times since we received it.  I don’t think we quite made the recommended every-day goal, but we did use it a lot.  We have had mixed reactions from Baby girl, but overall she really enjoyed it.  There were some days when she just wasn’t interested, but most of the time she was happy to sit and watch it.  The next question I am sure you want to ask, is if Baby Girl can read the words.  No, she can’t.  We did not have time to watch to movie every day for four weeks, as was suggested, before this review was due.  However, I would like to go out on a limb here and say that without the accompanying flash cards and other reinforcement, I doubt that she would learn to recognize the words with this DVD alone.  The words are shown relatively infrequently compared to the puppets, pictures, and songs, so I am not sure that the DVD would have enough repetition to soak into the wiggly little brain of my own monkey. 


However, she did enjoy the DVD, and if she was younger or more attentive my story may be different.  My final comments would just have to be that she enjoyed the DVD a lot but it is not for us, as a reading program.  If you want to teach your child to read with this method, I would suggest investing in all of the available materials.  They have a kit with 3 Monki See DVDs, a parent’s guide DVD, 2 video flash cards, 5 sets of physical flash cards, and 2 books, for $139.95 on sale.  You can buy the individual DVDs for $19.95, and they have three titles: First WordsAll About Colors, and All About Shapes.  The paperback books are $9.95 each, and they have two titles: Know Your Monkey, and Monkeys Like the Color…


MonkiseeMonkiseeBe sure to stop by The Old Schoolhouse blog to read more reviews for Monki See!




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.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Curriculum Clean Out Winner!

Ok, because I added this on the last day of the giveaway, I went ahead and gave it an extra week so more people would get a chance to sign up.  I have a winner!  

Congratulations, Sarah!  
I have already sent you an e-mail, so be sure to get back with me and give me your address!

True Random Number Generator  16Powered by RANDOM.ORG

sbswtp said...

This would be perfect for us! What a great giveaway :-)
sarahsherman at hotmail dot com

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Picture Book Challenge- Week One

I feel like I am a bit behind in this, since I am starting in April, not January.  However, I think that I will still be able to reach my goal of 200 books this year, and have fun doing it!  Today I picked two of our favorite picture books to tell you about, and then I will let you know what we read this week.

Big Book of Things to Spot (1001 Things to Spot)One of our favorite books from last week was The Usborne Big Book of Things to Spot.

  This book is a compilation of four books:  1001 Animals to Spot, 1001 Things to Spot on the Farm, 1001 Things to Spot in Town, And 1001 Things to Spot Long Ago.  All three of the kids like this book.  Baby Girl just spends time looking at the pictures, and she will point out the different animals and things when i ask her.  Bop and CJ enjoy hunting for the different things hiding in the pictures.  This book has double spread lay-outs, with a large picture in the middle.  Around the edges are things to ‘spot’, with numbers and simple words for beginning readers.  There may be 7 cows, 10 calves, and 3 dogs to spot on the farm animal pages, along with others. 


While this book isn’t one that you will sit down and read to your child, there is still a lot of educational value here.  First, the pages show different animals in their habitats, different community places and what is going on there, what things looked like in the past, and so on.  Second, this is great for developing visual memory skills and visual discernment, both of which are very important precursors to fluent reading.  Lastly, but most important, this book is simply a lot of fun to sit down with your child and peruse together!  And what is better then sitting on the couch and laughing over a book with your little ones?


512YF0AMH7L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_Another one of the books that we enjoyed was an old book called The Biggest Bear.

  This book was the Caldecott Medal winner for 1952.  This is  a charming story about a boy and a bear.  The little boy was always ashamed because his barn never had a great bear hide hanging on it, like all the other barns in the valley.  One day he decided that he was going to set off and find the biggest bear, so he could have a hide too.  He did find a bear, but it wasn’t the biggest.  he brought the baby bear home and they because great friends.  However, the neighbors didn't really like having a bear in their valley, and they decide that the bear has to go.  What happens to the little boy’s friend?  Well, read the book and find out!  It has a great ending.  The kids all loved this book.



Here are the other picture books that we read this week:

Freight TrainFreight Train Big Book (Mulberry Big Book)

The Snowy DayProduct Details

How do I feel? /Como me siento?How Do I Feel?/Como Me Siento?

Mouse CountMouse Count

Taking a Walk/ Caminando – A Book in Two LanguagesTaking a Walk/ Caminando: A Book in Two Languages/ Un Libro en Dos Lenguas

A House Is a House for MeA House Is a House for Me

The Giving Tree41zuxGyWXFL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

“I Can’t” Said the Ant"I Can't" Said the Ant

The Rain Came DownThe Rain Came Down

PenguinsPenguins (Usborne Beginners)

Then and NowThen and Now (Talkabout Books)

CatsCats (Usborne Beginners, Level 1)

VolcanoesVolcanoes, Level 2: Internet Referenced (Beginners Nature - New Format)

I am sure there were a few more… but I can’t remember them all.  I will try to do better next week.  :)


Countdown:  15 down, 185 left to do!

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