Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lobster Network

LobsterNetwork is a new web application that helps you share your stuff safely and securely. The hope of the creators is that it will help to create community amongst friends and strangers. Besides making it easy to lend and borrow things to/from other people, you can also use it to log and track your own stuff for purely personal use.

Lend it. Borrow it. Trade it. Sell it. Give it away.
All with the click of a button and only with whom you choose.
How LobsterNetwork works:
It's simple. Create a personal library of your stuff.
It's easy. Create friendships with the people you know.
It's fast. Browse your friend’s stuff and request to borrow something.
It's flexible. Approve or reject any request for your stuff.
It's controlled. Decide who sees your stuff. Even create "communities" of friends that only share stuff with each other.
It's helpful. It tracks your stuff on loan and automatically reminds your friends when to return your stuff.
It's secure. Keep a private inventory of your stuff online for insurance purposes. Include pictures too.
It's free. Best of all it's free.

For a video introduction check  it out HERE

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ideal Curriculum

As a part of the TOS Crew I was given an opportunity to review some items from Ideal Curriculum. Ideal Curriculum is a preschool curriculum.  We are just ending our preschool time with our 5 year old twins, so this was timely.

I received the month 1 kit which has a theme of transportation. Each monthly kit contains literacy lessons (letters, sounds, phonological awareness, sight words), science and social studies themes, math lessons and calendar lessons. With each kit you get teacher's manuals (one each for literacy, math, and the science/social studies themes).  Each teachers manual is 20-50 pages long and that is only for one month of lessons.   You also get weekly schedules that have lessons.  Each lesson has direct teaching ideas and "practicing through the day" ideas.  There are also instructions on which workbook pages to do for each lesson. You also receive print and music files.  The print files have the worksheets and any pictures or charts you need to teach. The music files have the songs that go along with the lessons.
I see Ideal Curriculum being a good fit for someone who wants something simple that is all laid out for them. It could be a good starting place for beginning homeschoolers.. All activities are designed for classrooms. Although I was able to use and adapt a few activities for my two  this was not something which fit well with our normal homeschooling philosophy–which tends to be literature rich.
The price is quite high for material at this level, especially if you purchase the print option.
This curriculum is published as month-long all inclusive kits.  Customers may choose from either electronically downloadable or monthly print versions in the following formats: $30 for a monthly unit in download format
$55 for a monthly printed unit
$526 for one year’s curriculum

If you would like to see what my CREW members Thought of this curriculum please click HERE.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sue Gregg

As part of the TOS crew I received Introducing Whole Foods Cooking from Sue Gregg for review.

Here is the information about the book from Sue's website:
Introducing Whole Foods Cooking dispels the myth that healthy whole foods must necessarily be appetite appeal-less. Model recipes start you on a culinary adventure that breaks the barriers to success without resorting to white flour, white sugar, or hydrogenated shortening. Essential nutritional concepts and the 2 Stage Process explained. Serving and Connecting segment shows you how to make Jesus a welcome guest at your table. PowerPoint Demo CD includes group teaching materials and a high school level semester course for Menu Planning and Meal Preparation.

I was/am very excited about this wonderful cook book! First some background...... We have really, really been trying to eat well around here and Mom and Dad have actually really trying to loose some weight, well lots of weight :) BUT the real goal and aim has been to gain health for all of us.  My hope has been to introduce my family to more whole foods, AKA God made foods verses man made! Introducing Whole Foods Cooking is Wonderful....and includes all the health aims we have for our family and great tasting recipes that the family loves.

 The CD is full of colorful Power Point presentations of different techniques and recipes, making them seem both easy and appealing.  It is definitely a worthwhile addition to the book. 

Since this fell in line with our goals we decided to add in a semester of "home-Ec" based around this book. We have had such fun making a new recipe each week, learning about nutrition and God's word ( a Bible study is included to follow along with your studies), menu planning and so much more! Some of our favorite recipes have become  the:
Blender Waffles/Pancakes (the kids beg for this one, yum)
Tuna Bunsteads 
Baked Parmesan Chicken

The fun part has been cooking as a family, and really enjoying healthy food together. The pluses: we have lost weight! ya :) and enjoyed ourselves and the food we are eating in the process.

Introducing  Whole Foods Cooking $17

To see CREW Reviews of this cookbook and others by Sue Gregg click HERE

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lesson Planet

As part of the TOS crew I received a 3 month membership to Lesson Planet for review.

Lesson Planet was designed to help teachers find material that is relevant to what the are teaching quickly and easily ~ providing over 150,000 lesson plans and 75,000 worksheets. It was created by educators as a search engine that is member supported and available to any teacher public, private or homeschool,  to use in lesson planning.
Teachers can find resources in the following ways:
  • Searching by keyword, grade level and overall rating
  • Clicking the Narrow, Related or My Recent Searches keyword options
  • Browsing for reviewed resources by Subject, Calendar or Theme
  • Exploring relevant State Standards, matched to each member’s state
  • Utilizing Advanced Search to narrow by duration, method, technology, and more

 My teaching style is not one of putting together lesson plans from different sources to make a smooth flowing course. So even though Lesson Planet has their material arranged very nicely, it does not fit my needs. Now if you like to use a large variety of sources for your teaching or if you like to do supplemental lessons for special days, then Lesson Planet could be a gold mine. It is very nice that the material has been reviewed and rated so you can have some idea of its value without having to look over it completely yourself.

Most of the lesson plans are very scripted and not suited for a homeschool environment. I truthfully didn’t find any lessons that would be useful to me without quite a bit of modification.

For teachers or parents interested in this type of search engine, Lesson Planet has a 10 day free trial before committing to a $39.95 per year membership.
While Lesson Planet wasn't a good fit for our family, some of the Crew members did find it helpful. Cklick HERE to check out the review.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Super Star Games

I was given an opportunity to review some Super Star Games as a part of the TOS Crew.  Debbie Lott from Super Star also sells a speech therapy program called Super Star Speech.  If you have a child that is struggling with speech please check out her materials Since I don't have a child that needs speech therapy, I am going to review some of the games that she offers. Each game retails for $3.50. 

Play The Insect Game to learn all about insects or to reinforce your current study of insects. Players  answer questions to earn insect parts, attempting to be the first player to build a complete insect. This game is designed for 2nd to 6th grades.

The object of Covering the Continents is to "settle" more continents than any other player. Covering the Continents includes a game board/ map and game cards that ask questions about each of the seven continents. Players try to be the first to answer three questions about a continent to "settle" it. Fun for ages 6 to 10.

 Players of the Exploring Egypt Game will race to be first to the top of the pyramid by answering the most questions about ancient Egypt. Game question topics cover geography, politics, daily life, and religion of ancient Egypt. The game can be adjusted to accommodate players of different ages and abilities. Designed for 3rd to 8th grade students.

 The Inventors Game will teach your child about 24 famous inventors. Instructions are included for two different games, with variations for difficulty. Children have fun matching inventors to their inventions or playing a timeline game using the dates of different inventions.

 these are just some of the games we tried and loved! These games are a wonderful way to reinforce what your learning, but also just fun for learning. My kids are not studying inventors but have played this game over and over...FUN and LEARNING....whats NOT to love?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The TV teacher: Alphabet Beats

Alphabet Beats is an award winning handwriting program that uses visual, auditory, and a hands on approach to teaching writing the alphabet. There are memorable chants that the children listen to and learn to help them remember how to write the alphabet.

I was sent a free copy of the LOWER CASE  Writing DVD to use and review as part of the TOS crew.

I was a little worried of a DVD for teaching handwriting, so was pleasantly surprised when I put this in and my 5 year old twins and grandchildren 6 and 3 became very excited!

  Each letter chapter is very short, less than 5 minutes. The idea is that after watching a segment, you’ll  practice making the letter on paper.
Ms. Marnie, the TV Teacher, introduces each letter by tracing it with her finger and saying a chant (for instance, little line down, up over and down, n) as a reminder of the correct way to form the letter. The rest of the segment consists of Ms. Marnie writing the letter on paper, while saying the chant and on a chalkboard again while saying the chant, talking about n words like nuts, new /old nickel, nurse (and what a nurse does) net, numbers (she goes over 1-9).   It's a varied mix of stills, video, and activity.
Ms. Marnie has, a “bubbly personality.” All smiles, exaggerated speech and hand movements, intended to keep a young child’s attention. And it works. .  My kids/grandkids were begging to choose a letter and they are writing random "letters" to everyone!!! This program teaches the ball and stick form but I see no problem with a child's ability to transfer into another style latter. We use italic and I will "transfer" them over latter.

Alphabet Beats Upper Case DVD is available for $35.
The Lower Case DVD is available for $35, too. Or buy both for $64.99.
There are also spiral-bound workbooks available for $4.49-4.99 each.
You can view a free demo of the Alphabet Beats Lower Case DVD here.

To see other reviews click HERE

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Time 4 Learning

I have always wanted to try Time 4 learning  So I was really excited when as part of the TOS crew I received a one month membership to their  online preschool program.  My 3 preschoolers were excited that they had a special COMPUTER program for them!

Time 4 Learning is an online PreK - 8th grade curriculum that can be used a supplement to your current curriculum or even as your entire curriculum for language arts, math, science and social studies. The curriculum is tailored to each of your children's educational needs and levels and includes animated lessons, interactive activities, unit assessments, and printable worksheets for reinforcement (and it is ad-free!). Lessons are also correlated to standards in all 50 states.
The preschool curriculum offers two different levels of difficulty and covers 40 different topics including: shapes, numbers, feelings, human body, insects, color mixing, weather and much more.

  Each box is a topic the child can click on.  Inside the topic the child will find a selection of activities to choose from, including:
  • Storybooks
  • Match It game
  • Patterns
  • Find It game
  • Memory Match card game
  • Which is Which? identification game
  • and more

 As the child completes an activity, a check mark appears over the icon.  The child can still play again if desired.
What I liked MOST about Time4Learning Preschool is that the program speaks to the child, explaining how to play and naming all things they scroll over.  They do not need to be able to read independently.  The activities were fun. My kids begged to play all the time!  The PreK 2 level covers similar themes in more depth.

Membership is:    

$19.95 / Month for the First Child

$14.95 / Month for Each Additional Child!

 You can learn more and try free demos from the Time4Learning website
You can see more reviews HERE