Archives for August 2014
Cookbooks are so awesome, aren’t they? I was given a copy of Kitchen Confidence by Kelsey Nixon. Many of you may know Kelsey from The Next Food Network Star, and also her cooking show, Kelsey’s Kitchen. Reading Kelsey’s cookbook is like sitting down with a friend to talk food. What could be more fun?! The book gives greatly detailed lists of the essentials that every kitchen needs, including pantry items, equipment, and even cooking techniques. With nearly 100 recipes, you can have something new and delicious every day for 3 months. The book if filled with beautiful, high-quality glossy photos, and every one makes my mouth water. Kelsey is a down-to-earth girl, and her wonderful recipes are simple and easy to make, with quality ingredients. I love her little tidbits that are posted with each and every recipe. This cookbook will make a wonderful addition to any collection. Those who know me well know how much I love cookbooks, and I love having this one for sure. Some o the recipes are Scalloped Sweet Potatoes, Creamed Corn, Vegetable Barley Soup, and lots more. You won’t regret purchasing this book.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. All opinions are my own.
Math is kind of a sore spot with me. I struggled with it in school, and it’s the subject I dread teaching my own kids. I’ve gotten flash cards to help drill math facts, but they end up getting lost. When I heard of UberSmart Math Facts from UberSmart Software, I knew we had to try it out. For just $24.95, up to 8 students can build their Math skills with drilling exercises using dot and flash cards, as well as practicing keyboard typing skills with numbers. UberSmart Math Facts is recommended for grades/ages K-6, but really you can use this with any age that needs to brush up on their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills.
UberSmart Math Facts is a Windows-based downloadable software, which means there is no physical product to keep up with. That is a huge plus for me. I don’t much like having clutter in the house, and this is so easy to keep up with. When it loads, this adorable little gem pops up:
Is that awesome, or what? I love how retro it looks. I know it hasn’t nothing to do with the actual software, but I had to show it off anyway.
Now onto the software. It offers a lot of options, and is pretty easy to use. When you open the program, you can set up profiles for each student using it. Then there are several tabs to choose from depending on what your student needs to do. They are:
The last 2 are for the parent, as the software tracks the accomplishments of the students.
The Learn tab has 2 options: Beginner and Intermediate. The Beginner option only works on addition and subtraction, and uses Dot Cards.The Dot Card option is pretty neat. The dot cards look a lot like dice, only they’re a bit easier to see. The Intermediate option teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and uses Flash Cards. With the Learn tab, your child is simply learning the facts. A problem is shown with cards, and when they click the Show button, the correct answer is given.
There’s also a progress bar at the bottom to see how far you’ve gone in the “lesson.”
The Practice tab is similar to the Learn tab, except that the student has to enter the answer themselves before moving on to the next question. If no answer is entered, the correct answer will be shown after a period of several seconds (I’m thinking it’s about 10 seconds).
The Test tab offers both assessment tests and mastery tests. The assessment test is not timed, but is fairly lengthy. It covers topics such as odd/even numbers, counting forwards and backwards, counting card dots, etc. The mastery test is timed, but you can choose whether or not the Time bar is shown at the bottom or not.
The Compete tab is pretty fun! You get a series of problems on flash cards, and you can “compete” with UberSmart Math Facts around the world to see how you rank among them. This is not a live competition, however. When you enter an incorrect answer, a sound is played to let your know your answer is wrong. When all of the questions are completed, your score and rank are shown. For this, you can also choose which grade level to do (elementary, middle, high, or adult), as well as choosing which user is completing the work.
The photo above is from the Report tab. You can view reports from every student, in every topic. You can choose the student you want to check on, as well as the topic.
I am very happy and impressed with UberSmart Math Facts. It’s so easy and simple to use. We used the program in addition to our regular math. It came in handy for us because Rachelle and Issac have trouble remembering their times tables, and this is a fun easy way to drill them, and it makes for doing independent work easy. All of the cards are easy to read, and it’s perfect for all ages, in my opinion.I think the only thing I’d like to see changed, is to have the ability to minimize the program. As it stands, you can only close the program out completely, and sometimes it would be nice to be able to minimize in order to go back and forth between programs. However, UberSmart Math Facts does load fairly quickly, so that is nice. The kids rarely complained about using the UberSmart Math Facts program. I really like the Learn portion; you can spend as much or as little time as you need, and use it as many times as you want. This is a review program, and isn’t meant to be used on its own as a curriculum. I love it, though, and plan to use it for years to come.
Be sure to click the graphic below to read reviews from my fellow crew Crew Mates. We all received the same product for this review.
You may remember from previous posts of mine (or you may just know me in real life) that we are a music-loving family. The kids are always sitting around listening to music (well, not all day long, but as often as possible), and we always have the radio on when we’re in the car going to town. Rach even has her radio on all night long in her bedroom.(I used to do this when I was a teenager, but can’t stand to do it now. It keeps me awake.)
I love finding new products that I think our family will enjoy, and learning about new vendors. We were given the opportunity to review Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-on Activities to Build Character, Social, and Emotional Skills, as well as 3 sets of songs via download: Friends & Sharing, Happiness & Attitude, and Manners & Character from Happy Kids Songs. The products are geared towards ages 3-8. The cost of the workbook at the time of posting is $12.56, and the song sets are $4.95 for each set of 5 songs. The songs can of course be burned to a CD, added to an MP3 player, or just played from your computer.
Volume 1, Friends & Sharing, includes the following songs: Sailing on the Seven C’s, Everybody Wants to Find a Friend, Sharing Friends, Happy as Happy Can Be, and Together. Volume 5, Happiness & Attitude, includes: Shake it Out and Dance, Who Knows What’s a Kudo?, I Don’t Understand, Be Good to Yourself, and Better Together. Finally, Volume 6, Manners & Character, includes: H-o-n-e-s-t-y, The Magic Word, Quirks, The Golden Rule, and Six Little Kids. A little fun fact for you: Dr. Mac, the composer of the songs, is also the musical director and songwriter for Jay Jay the Jet Plane. Most of the songs are fun and catchy, and really stick in your head. Other songs are a bit more serious, but they still drive the topic home. The songs are secular in nature, but are still very moral. I’m really glad we received the Manners & Character set, because I am working on that a lot with Lucas, and this is something fun and easy to use to help reinforce what he’s learning.
Lucas really enjoyed the songs and the workbook activities that he was able to do. We just played the songs on the computer during the review period. I’ll probably try to add them to the kids’ iPod soon, since they listen to music on it fairly often. The songs are a great tool to use to teach morals, or to help reinforce what you’re already using to teach your children. There are other volumes of songs available to purchase other than the ones we received. I love how easy this is to incorporate into your day.
Be sure to click below and read reviews from my fellow Crew Mates. We all received the same product, and it’s fun to see what others do with something! You can follow along with Happy Kids Songs on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Thanks for stopping by!
Say what?! Yeah, it’s that time again! Carroll Academy started back to school on Monday the 4th. We usually take it easy our first couple of weeks. I made a school schedule for us over the Summer, which is the first time I’ve ever followed a daily schedule for school time. Man, let me tell you what, it’s been phenomenal! I used the Managers of Their Homes scheduling guide to make our daily schedule. We are thriving with our daily schedule. I keep it in plain sight in our dining room, which doubles as our school room.
This was when I had it on the fridge, but now I have all 3 sheets side-by-side. Everyone is flourishing in math, thanks to CTC Math. Lucas has already completed 3 topic sections this week, even doing one topic today (Saturday). That tells me a lot since he’s willing to work on a Saturday. Thankfully today’s topic only had 2 lessons. I’m ready for a break already! We started this week so that we can take a week off of school every 6 weeks, plus our 2 week Christmas break.
Has your family started back to school yet? If so, when? If not, when will you?
For years I’ve had fellow homeschooling friends who taught their children Latin. Frankly, I never understood the point, because to me Latin isn’t a widely used language. Especially in my part of the country. I just wanted to do the basics of school and be done. As the kiddos get older, I find myself wanting them to learn and do more than the basics. So, I figured we’d give Latin a whirl. There are quite a few Latin curriculum choices out there, and I honestly had no idea where to start. When I asked my fellow Crew Mates who had used Latin in their homeschool what curriculum they had chosen and why, I discovered that Roman Roads Media was an upcoming vendor. I was blessed to have a chance to review Visual Latin I. Geared towards grades 4th and up, the DVD sells for $85 at the time of posting. There is also a download version available that is $70 at the time of posting. I received the download version for this review.
I am a total Latin newbie (I am not counting the little bit of Latin I sang in the choir when I was a practicing Catholic, because I had no clue what I was singing), so I wanted to start from the beginning. Visual Latin I includes 30 lessons, plus accompanying worksheets for each lesson, along with worksheet answers. Each lesson is taught by Dwane Thomas, who struggled with grammar in school, and had a hard time excelling in it until he learned Latin and other languages. He’s a pretty fun teacher, so that makes the lessons a bit lighthearted and fun. Listen to Dwane as he explains why you should learn Latin:
Lessons are broken down into 3 sections: Part A. Grammar-explains the concept for each lesson, Part B. Sentences-uses a chalkboard to show the concept, and Part C. Reading-apply the concept you’ve learned, along with vocabulary. The reading portion actually comes from a reader book that was made just for this course. It starts off on an easy note, and ends with portions of the New Testament. The nice thing is that since this isn’t an in-person course, you can go as fast or slow as you want, and you can watch the lesson as many times as it takes. The worksheets are also broken down by each section listed above, and are a nice bonus to reiterate the video lessons. Each lesson has between 3-11 accompanying worksheets. The goal of the lessons is not just for you to be able to read in Latin, but to understand what the concept of the language is, just as if you were learning any other language. Each video is fairly short, being generally less than 10 minutes, and each lesson is 3 videos, once of each section. Since we received the download version, I needed to download each lesson separately, which was fairly time-consuming. We aren’t lucky enough to have cable internet (we have DSL), so I only did a few at a time so as not to bog down my internet too much (the kids do that enough with their gaming).
My initial intention for Visual Latin for the review was to try it out with the 2 oldest (13 and 11), and of course myself. I think because of the time frame (Summer break) the kids were not interested at all, and getting them to watch the videos was way more difficult. Since I knew that I wanted to learn Latin as well, I just watched and did the lessons myself. Admittedly, I am a slow learner. I always have been for as long as I can remember. I knew that it would take me more time than most people to go through the lessons. I am a kinesthetic learner, so I have to learn by doing, not just reading or listening. It also usually takes me a while to comprehend a new concept. You could, in theory, do 1 lesson per week, alternating watching videos with completing worksheets. It took me a couple of weeks to do each lesson, because I really needed to extra time. I definitely like having the worksheets; they’re a quick way to review what’s covered in the video lessons, and the answer sheets are so handy to have. I like to do them several times to be sure I’m getting each concept that’s taught. It’s like testing and grading myself whenever I want!
I have really enjoyed my time using Visual Latin I. The video lessons are fun and engaging, and since they’re short, they aren’t overwhelming at all. Since we have started school back this week, the kids have shown interest in the program, so we’ll be incorporating Visual Latin I into our school day for sure. I love that we can take as much time as we need, and there’s no pressure to complete the work in a certain time frame. The kids like to learn different languages so that they can go around talking in their “secret language.” Issac hasn’t been working on a language for a while, so I will most likely work with him as a team effort. The lessons are fun so I don’t mind redoing the ones I’ve completed. Learning a new language makes me feel good about myself, and it’s nice to give my brain a workout sometimes (you know, besides the kids driving me crazy?).
FYI: Roman Roads Media has updated the resources for Visual Latin I to include a Teacher’s Guide with Scope and Sequence, to help you make the most out of the program., as well as lesson quizzes.
Be sure to click the graphic below to read reviews from my fellow Crew Mates. There was a variety of products from Roman Roads Media that were used for this review. Thanks for stopping by!
I’m always on the lookout for products that make my homeschooling job an easier task. Let’s face it, we homeschool mamas do a lot of printing. A lot, y’all. We start school back on the 4th, and I was getting anxious just thinking about all the printing that I’ll need to start doing. My inkjet printer was running fairly low on ink, so of course I started shopping around for ink. Then, like magic, or maybe just mommy brain, a memory popped into my head: laser printer. I should get a laser printer. I have several friends who use them and rave about them. So, I started looking for an AIO laser printer. I don’t really need a fax since we don’t have home phone service, but I wanted copying and scanning options. I also needed something that I could use wirelessly, since we primarily use laptops, tablets, and smartphones at home. I stumbled on this bad boy.
It’s a decent price, has a copier and scanner, and can be used wirelessly via wired LAN (that means that I can hook it up to our wireless router, and use it from any computer on our network). This.printer.is.so.awesome. The price was double what I’d pay for inkjet ink, but the toner is supposed to last way longer than inkjet ink. It even has this cool tray thing on top that I can place a sheet of paper in to copy, and it kind of sucks it in and copies it onto a new sheet. This printer and lightning fast, too! I mean, compared to my old printer especially. The only downside is that it’s not compatible with my Windows RT tablet. Boohiss. I print from it a lot, so that is a big inconvenience. However, there is an app on the iTunes app store that I downloaded that allows me to print from my phone. This isn’t an AirPrint printer, so you’ll need the separate app.
So, a printer is one of my most important homeschooling tools. Tell me what your most valuable (or at least one) is!