Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Master Ruler

Hello again, another review for the TOS Review crew coming you way! I was sent this product in exchange for my opinion, no compensation...

The Master Ruler is an invention of Master Innovations
You can find them here

Cost: $9.95

The Master Ruler is designed to decrease student frustration with measurement. It really is a neat little tool. A clear plastic ruler, designed with colored overlays for each of the fractions of measurment. It is easy to use and much easier to measure accurately. It is available in Standard and/or Metric. You can purchase it indivdually or as part of a kit including a Workbook to practice skills.

One feature we found extremely useful was the ability to compare equivalent fractions with it. (Don't you love it when God "coordinates" your curriculum with some nifty product you get to test?! I was just struggling through this concept with another one of my "non-math" brained kids...)

I think this video explains how to use it very well...

Master Ruler Video

In addition to the Master Ruler, this company offers other useful innovations like the Master Clock, Master Fractions, Master Angles and the Marvels of Measurement Poster.

I love math products that help me teach the concepts in a new and hands-on way. This one did just that. It also came with a handy Lesson book, and the kiddos are happily measuring everything in sight.

See what my other reviewers thought here

Friday, November 19, 2010

Illuminations by Bright Ideas Press

Illuminations - By Bright Ideas Press

available online here

We were given the opportunity to choose from several exciting programs from Bright Ideas Press for this review (I wasn't paid for my honest opinion). Well, since I LOVE their products, and have purchased almost everything on the list - Illuminations - Year 3 was my choice.

Illuminations is software product that schedules your curriculum for you. It uses the wildy popular (and my personal favorite) history program - Mystery of History by Linda Hobar as a "spine". Then, they add grammar, spelling (several popular programs already scheduled - you pick the one you use...), copywork, vocabulary, writing, literature (both family read alouds and student readers), Bible, Geography, Humanities and Science. And, if that isn't enough - they have extra lists with Supplemental Activities like Audio and Netflix recommendations! The only subject you need to schedule is Math (and everyone knows it would be impossible to pre-schedule a subject like math...arghhh!)

This is exactly the way I would schedule and plan - if I only had the time! I love to pull together various resources and come up with an integrated program that all flows together. But, with 8 kiddos and a home to run - I run out of time and energy to do this. Illuminations is the answer! Best of all, all these pre-planned schedules are fully "tweakable" to your needs. If you don't use a particular resource they have planned, or don't want to cover it, simply type over it (on their handy form) and replace it with your plan! I love it!

The literature guides are great. Each year comes with a literature list, so that you can easily see what books are recommended. You get teacher notes and student sheets for each. And, the Year 3 program included an Ebook to use as well! Well done, easy to understand and super easy to implement. The schedules are seperated into Grades 3-8 and Early Learners. Each Literature guide has a reading schedule, vocabulary, comprehension and discussion questions, and hands-on lessons for that selection. (and the answer key for Mom - just in case, you didn't have time to actually read the book you assigned to your child to read...)

It's easy to see and print, exactly what you want. Just choose a subject, or a week and you can access a pre-planned grid of lessons. Click on anything you want to see to get more information. It is truly a very easy program to master (I hate reading the instruction manual first - and I was able to find my way around with ease...)

Here's a Video that explains it very well.

The cost is $165.00 for a full year plan (year 3) Grades 3-8. High school options are available for an extra $95.00.

This price is for the Illuminations scheduling product only, and not all the resources and books that it uses. Since you customize to your needs, that will cost will vary greatly between families.

If it seems a tad expensive at first, consider how often did you want to... plan to... but never quite do it? I mean, the taking the time to fully plan out your year, pull the resources together, and write it all into a nifty program that lets you print it out? Just the Literature guides alone are worth the cost! (I've been known to assign reading selections that I haven't pre-read... shhhh don't tell the kiddos - but having teacher notes is a lifesaver!) It may be a bargain - when you look at it from that perspective. I thought it was...

See what my other reviewers thought Here

Monday, November 15, 2010


Have I mentioned Shutterfly?

I have to let you know that I have been using them to upload/store/print all my digital photos for the last 4-5 years, and they are great! So easy, so fast, and so much fun.

In addition, I use them for our Holiday cards... get yours here -
They have dozens of fun designs - you add the picture and personalize!

I also create a Family Calendar for Grandma - you can too at -
http://www.shutterfly.com/calendars/desk-calendars (personal tip - make it a birthday present instead of the Christmas gift, and you will save yourself headaches!)

And, many more gift ideas are available -
http://www.shutterfly.com/photo-gifts/photo-mugs (shhh... don't tell Matt - but this may be a stocking stuffer...)

Also, they have a great promotion for Bloggers to get 50 Free Christmas cards, check it out! http://bit.ly/sfly2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Benjamin Franklin

What perfect timing! We were given another fabulous Download N Go Unit Study, by Amanda Bennett to review (didn't get paid...) just as our fabulous Co-op was studying guess who... Benjamin Franklin!

Download N Go Unit studies are 5 day long learning adventures. And, the best part... you just have to Download it and you are ready to GO (no teacher prep needed!). Selah and Lydia can't wait to suprise their history teacher at Co-op this week!

Each unit is regularly $7.95 - but, this Ben Franklin unit is currently on SALE for $6.25 at

Numerous Titles and topics are available to pick from - I promise, you can find something to catch every child's attention.

This unit featured - Ben Franklin (did you know he was one of 17 children! No wonder he is considered so great...)

We learned all about him, and people and places in his life, his accomplishments, lessons we can learn from him and remembrances of him. (did you know he invented swim fins? what would we do without those?!)

The unit is full of interesting links and learning activities. We love the lapbook feature (everything is done for you - all you need is to cut and complete!)

We found plenty of extra book suggestions to add to our study, as well as, Fun Family Ideas. (we are currently making the neatest Ben Franklin puppet ever...)

Make sure to check out what the other reviewers thought by visiting http://homeschoolblogger.com/downloadngo

Friday, November 12, 2010

Corps Of Re-Discovery

Selah LOVED this project. She's been begging to do a "craft" everyday for what feels like the last 10 years (even though she's only 7...)

We were sent an Indian Fringe Pouch Kit to review for our still unpaid position with The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

You can find yours online at
Retail cost: $11.99

This was so easy to do! The kit came with everything you needed, including the pre-punched leather pieces, fringe, needle, and cord. Selah was able to handle sewing it together, all by herself in less than an hour (I know the exact time, because she did it in the van during violin lessons...)

She is very proud of her creation. In fact, she couldn't wait to take it to our homeschool co-op the next day to show her American History teacher. Everyone was quite impressed with her ability, and my "creativity". I almost hated to admit how very easy and convenient it was (and it didn't have any of my "creativity" included)

This Homeschool family owned and operated business offers numerous projects to give your students the "hands on" experiences to go with learning American History. Pioneer and Colonial, Frontier and Indian. Projects ranging from Quill pens to Quilts, leatherworking and even Knife throwing (very glad they didn't send me throwing knives to review - can you imagine the chaos with 8 children?!!) I'm sure you can find a project everyone will enjoy.

With Christmas coming soon, these would make the perfect stocking stuffers!

See what my other reviewers thought at: www.homeschoolblogger.com/reviewcrew

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween

The Royal Family makes an appearance...
The King, Queen, Knights (2), Lady-in-waiting (she hates the title "princess", and wanted to be a witch - but I had to draw the line somewhere!), the Pink Princess, a fire-breathing dragon, and the court Jester (ryhmes with Esther - get it?) made their annual "Reverse Trick-or-Treat" to see Dad at work. I'm sure we decreased productivity at HP while we made our way around (but we try to keep it short :-)
I tried to do a "photo shoot" at home, but my princess was sleepy, the jester was in a foul mood, and the others were trying their best... Pictures with a bunch of kiddos are impossible! I think photographers who specialize in kids/families are worth their weight in gold!! (Tina, where are you when I need you? Do you come to AR?)