Friday, October 29, 2010

One Year Update

One year later....

Last summer, we told God - "we'll move to Conway, AR - if Kris Allen wins American Idol". Well, the boys actually sang in concert with Kris Allen - in Conway, AR (our new home, by the way...) almost exactly one year later!

God works in mysterious ways, doesn't he?!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Student Planner

Hello Again! Here I am with another product to share with you (not being paid, not an employee of The Old Schoolhouse... just having alot of fun with their products!)

This one is for the organizationally-challenged. It's the Primary Student Planner - designed for the K-3 student.

Available online:

Price: $9.95
(Receive an extra special bonus in your Parent Pack-The Curiosity Files™-Puffer Fish-Explorations with Professor Ana Lyze—Expert in Outlandish Oddities-A FUN unit study)

This is a great resource for your planning and record keeping needs. I have been an avid user of the Schoolhouse Planner for several years. This version includes one of my favorite pages - "Beginning and Ending Page" of the school year. We have done this for the past couple of years. It is so fun to see how much your kiddos change over the year.

It's much more than just some calendars and to do lists. They have a complete section "Information Must- Knows" - that alone is a valuable resource to have at your child's fingertips. It features notebooking and journaling pages, Bible reading schedule and Chore charts - just to name a few. There are also plenty of customizable forms to use to overcome organizational challenges, and teach these skills to your children.

Select from a wide variety of forms in this HUGE 203 page resource:

•To-do lists (today, tomorrow, next week . . .)
•Family Tree and Family Rules Forms
•Field Trip Log sheet
•Weekly Planner with a Spelling Words list
•Science lab sheets (use to gather all the supplies and record the experiment too)
•Early elementary book reports (with room for pictures!)
•Chore charts (includes tasks and pictures for primary grades)
•Loaned and borrowed lists (no more lost books, CDs, DVDs . . .)
•Important phone numbers and contacts (never forget a phone number again)
•Dates to remember (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, important events)

Plus . . .

Schedule with monthly and yearly calendars; assignment and due date sheets; or daily, weekly, and quarterly sheets.

Set daily, weekly, monthly, semester, or yearly goals.

Don't know where to start? This planner comes with a handy Parent Pack to help you get started, and inspire you.

Best of all it comes in a convenient Ebook format that you can download and use it over and over again. And, you will only need to print out the pages you use. I love having my own personalized planning system, with only the pages I want and need!

You can see samples online here:

All E-Books published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine come with a 7-day, 100% money-back guarantee!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Buckets-O-Fun - YUCK!
available online at

Another fun product to test (we weren't paid, but we did get to get messy for free!)

Buckets-O-Fun is a 4 year old company that specializes in FUN, MESSY, YUCKY entertainment. Every child's dream.

They sent me the following to try out:

Saucy Yuck (consisitency of you guessed it... applesauce)

Chunky Yuck - kinda like ice cubes from McDonalds


Snowy Yuck - this looks just like snow! This was our personal favorite - as it was snowing back home in Minnesota, but we were enjoying the snow in Arkansas in shorts and flip-flops!

So, what can you do with this stuff? Well, it makes for a fun science experiment demonstrating polymers and chemical reactions.

Additionally, the company sells it in 1 lb. bags for $15-$20 (depending on the type of Yuck you want). That will create 35-60 GALLONS of the yuck when combined with water. They have dozens of fun ideas for you online. We would have loved to whip out the slip and slide and see what this slippery YUCK could do... but, that would have gotten too messy for this mommy!

With Halloween right around the corner, we are contemplating what we could do with the Yuck (why waste such a great thing...right?) And, we are now in the process of seeing what happens as the water evaporates.

I can't keep my hands out this squishy, slimy Yuck. Everytime I walk past it, I just have to touch it!

See what my other reviewers thought at:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

PG Key

PG Key - available online at
cost - $49.99 (of the best money you'll spend on technology!)

I was given this product as part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, and did not recieve payment for my honest opinion.

This is a great, easy-to-use product! Have you been wondering how to tame the "techno-beast" in your home? (Todd Wilson has some ideas for you at Familyman Ministries...)
I know I have struggled with how to put safe limits on our computer time, how to be sure that inappropriate sites haven't been visited (even on accident), and just being able to really "KNOW" what is going on - when I'm not there.

PG Key is the answer! It is a simple device that plugs into your USB port. When it's activated, you are able to view up to 60 hours of computer activity. When it is removed, the computer will no longer operate. It provides the "mom-over-your-shoulder" kind of supervision, even when you aren't there.

I have tried other filtering software in the past, but found that they either slowed my computer to a crawl... or had expensive renewal fees each year. PG Key does neither. One-time purchase is all you need. And, I found absolutely no change in our computer's operating speed.

You also can customize it numerous ways to fit your families needs.

You can set a Time Lock (when your time is up - the computer doesn't operate) No more arguing for "one more minute Mom!"

You can have a Safe Search page, making sure that even innocent searches don't result in not-so-innocent results.

PG Key will automatically send you alerts if words or phrases are used that don't follow the rules that you set up.

And, like I mentioned - you can view up to 60 hours of the computer activity. It's so easy, all you do is click the icon - and watch it like a movie. You can fast forward as well. It shows everying being done on the computer - web browsings, emails, online and offline games, word processing - everything.

My favorite quote on their website: "Simply put - PG Key does NOT replace parenting with technology - It ENABLES parenting with technology".

PG Key offers a Free Trial.
It is available online at Amazon and directly from them at

I highly recommend using this handy little tool for your peace of mind!

See what my other reviewers thought at:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Terrific Tigers

Terrific Tigers - a Download N Go Unit Study by Amanda Bennett

$7.95 per unit

Have you wanted to be a Unit Study-professional-homeschool-mom? Have your children happily following after your every move as you skillfully plan and execute the perfect unit themed study? After you woke from this dream... you realized - you just don't have the time to pull it off?

Hang in there, help is on the way! Amanda Bennett has created the answer to our dilemma - it's called a "Download N Go" unit study, and she has many great, engaging topics to choose from.

The one I was happy to do is called : Terrific Tigers

(by the way, I wasn't paid for my honest opinion...)

A Download N Go study is a one week (5 day) unit study. It's called Download N Go, because that is all you need to it, and go off on the adventure of learning (no trips to the library needed, unless you were there already...)

Terrific Tigers was so much fun! We learned so much about tigers. We learned about a different sub-species of tiger each day. In addition, we covered geography, science, art history and appreciation, math, vocabulary and literature. But, it was so enjoyable, we didn't even realize how much we were learning. Each Day covered a new aspect of tigers, and by the end of our week we had all the pieces to assemble a lapbook to showcase all that we had learned. (The final tiger covered was one of our favorites... you'll have to get this unit to see why!)

The unit is full of video links and web cams. The children and I could not get enough of watching these marvelous creatures. And, best of all - I didn't have to search high and low on the internet to find them! The unit also offers Book Suggestions to go with each day, and an entire page of Family Fun Ideas to keep the learning going (we can hardly wait to make a Tiger Cake).

I have completed several of the Download N Go units, and this was one of our favorites. I can't believe the amount of information presented. Amanda Bennett has put together an amazing learning tool. I highly recommend adding several (or more) of these fun units into your usual school routine... I know it will add a little "spice" to your day!

Lydia was very excited to be my "tester" - and is proudly displaying her "endangered species" - a COMPLETED lapbook! (a major benefit to this unit study - a lapbook with all the pieces ready to go...)

I am so excited about this product - that I have been given the opportunity to GIVE ONE AWAY FREE!!! This is a first for my blog... a giveaway! Please leave a comment, include your email - and if you are chosen in our random drawing on October 29th - I'll send you your very own copy of "Terrific Tigers" for free! (Sorry, no TOG Review Crew or DNG Review Crew, or any other affiliates of The Old Schoolhouse can win...)

See what the other reviewers thought at:

Brill Kids - Little Reader

Time for another review from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. I wasn't paid anything for my honest opinion of this product, much to my poor hubby's dismay!

The Little Reader by Brill Kids
available at

This is a novel program. It's goal is to teach babies to read. Yes, you read it right - infants and toddlers mastering reading. They have several videos that are quite impressive - you can view at their website

Your child is able to view their lessons on the computer in a fun and engaging way. The lessons are easy to use, and customizable (you can put Mom's picture with the word "mom"). The lessons are taught using Flash method, Multisensory Method and Intuitive Phonics. Each time you do the lesson - the computer will change the sequence, always keeping it new. New words and even foreign languages can be easily added to expand the scope of the program.

So, I checked it out... I brought over our 1 1/2 year old and our 3 year old. They both enjoyed seeing the pictures (I'm a little un-sure of them actually learning to read the words...) But, they sat happily through several lessons. The goal is to do 2 lessons per day. The lessons are short, and all you have to do is to push play. Unfortunately, after several days of lessons, the novelty wore off - and our mouse was too much of a distraction... The program does offer "locking" options to turn off some of the "distractions" available at the computer. And, they also have flashcards to use the progam in a "more comfortable" area, i.e. the sofa.

I know plenty of people who swear this method is effective, and in all fairness - I'm sure it can be, if you have the time and discipline to complete the lessons faithfully. My sister-in-law has had alot of success with a similar approach and her 1 year old. But, my 1 1/2 year old is having much more fun taking tupperware out of the cabinet and eating crayons. But, please know - this is NOT DUE TO THIS PROGRAM'S EFFECTIVENESS.... it is due to my personal lack of discipline! Brill Kids is so confident of their success that they offer a guarantee that your child will be able to recognize words after completeing the 12 month system. Additionally, they even offer a free trial - so, try it out for yourself.
The Brill Kids website had a variety of useful information about teaching early reading, and several free downloadable booklets to help you. Also, there are free flashcards you can print for infant visual stimulation, children's ebooks, and activity sheets. Fascinating research. If you like this approach, they also offer Little Math programs as well.

The Little Reader program sells for $149 for the Basic and a Deluxe version is available for $399.

What's included the Basic system?

Little Reader software installation disc
2 Content discs with 12-month, ready-made curriculum
Lifetime usage of the learning system
2 BrillKids Presentation Binders
40 Customizable Flap Cards
20 Customizable Flash Cards
160 sheets of word and picture prints:
Content Printouts for 8 core categories
5 Little Reader Storybooks
2 Weekly Lesson Planners, one for each semester
10 Sheets of Sticker Labels for playing the labeling game
"Everything you need to know about teaching your baby to Read" booklet
Teaching with Little Reader" booklet
BrillKids Loyalty Points

See what my other reviewers thought of it at

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rocking Robots

Guess what?! I have another unpaid job - my wonderful husband couldn't be prouder...
I am very excited to be joining the Download and Go unit study review team.

For my first review - Rocking Robots.

Download and Go units are week long unit studies created by Amanda Bennett. They are available at and

At an affordable $7.95 per unit,you can add as many as you wish. (Here's an "insider tip" - they frequently offer specials, and you can get discounts by purchasing the bundles).

Here's how our homeschool uses these fabulous studies. Do you ever have a week that everyone seems to be having educational ADD - no ability to focus, on anything? Well, we have them here. So, I use them to add a little variation to our routine - usually enough to get them to come out of hiding and get interested in learning again.

I also love to use them to complement something we are already studying. We will take the week long schedule and do 1 day per week for the course of a month. They also make a great "delight driven" subjects - show your child the list of topics offered (believe me - they have many to choose from!) and see what sparks an interest and let them work on it for the month.

Now that I told you a little about these gems... I'd love to share Rocking Robots, the unit we were given in exchange for our honest opinion. (still not getting paid, but we are having alot of fun!)

Rocking Robots will introduce you to all kinds of things about robots. From the history of them, the people who have created them, the science they possess. This unit is absolutely filled with really cool video clips! And, you have everything you need to make a really neat lapbook to showcase what you learned.

We were introduced to geography, history, vocabulary, anatomy, astronomy, and just plain fun! Each day we got to meet "Robot of the Day" - the personal family favorites were the violin and piano playing robots (especially for practice time around here!) The kiddos had opportunities to design their own robots. My favorite family creation - a robot to brush their teeth at night! (and they do dog teeth too?)

In addition to the Daily schedule, each unit offers Book suggestions and Family Fun Ideas to go with the unit. I knew I was saving those shoeboxes for the perfect craft - they make a great robot body!

If you always dreamed of being a "Unit Study" mom, but found that you were too tired to pull it all together - these are for you! There is really zero prep time needed - you can just "Download and Go". You and your students will be off and learning before you can say "where's the library card?"

Read what the other reveiwers thought at:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Talking Fingers

My next review - Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers

This is a revolutionary way to teach Reading, Writing and Typing. It combines a multi-sensory approach with hearing, seeing and touching.

I tested this (we weren't paid - just got to use the program for free!) with my 9 year son. Very quickly, the sounds of "computer time" were reaching the ears of younger students who began to crowd around to see what he was getting to do...
So, while he was my "offical tester" - the 7 yr old, 6 yr old, 4 yr old and 3 yr old all sat and watched him "test" with rapt attention.

The animations are well done, and the story lines are engaging. It took about an hour to do a "unit" of 4 letters and sounds. A certificate is printable after each unit, if you want to use it to reward progess. I really liked that the computer automatically kept track of his progress - starting wherever he left off, and that it notes areas needing more attention and redirects the student back to those areas.

My tester was a little old for the phonics instruction - but it was very nice to combine the phonics with the typing instruction - which this was his first. He liked the animated characters and the games to go with them. And since, he's a more sensory learner - his retention was improved. One note of parental "caution" - if you want them to have correct finger placement, you need to watch over their shoulders from time to time. (the computer can't tell you if they're using the correct hand placement - even though it teaches the correct hand placement...)

The website offers tons of advice and testimonials. Check them out at


55 sound games with more than 200 word pictures
118 typing challenges with more than 200 words and phrases
40 animated stories with more than 600 words
40 Power Fountain games with 3 difficulty levels and 1,000 words
84 writing samples from real children around the world

Spaceship Challenge CD ROM
9 Phoneme Awareness Challenges with more than 90 items
9 Reading Comprehension Challenges with more than 90 items
9 Spelling Challenges with more than 90 items
Reports of individual or class progress
40 printable RWT™ stories
120 clip art pictures and Read, Write & Type Learning System™ characters to illustrate original stories

Activity Book with one lesson per page, and bonus play activities to do with your child
18 level-appropriate Stories (available on our web site) that provide a reward and extra practice with the sounds and words they are learning.
The Laminated Keyboard for practicing dictated words in the car or at home
2 sets of stickers

Check out what my other reviewers thought at