Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hank The Cowdog

Have you ever heard of Hank the cowdog or Drover? Well in this house several years ago they were all we heard about. My older kids found this series of books and couldn't get enough of them. I was pretty excited when we got the package in the mail from Maverick books, AKA Hank the cowdog. I was looking forward to allowing my younger kids the chance to experience life with Hank and Drover.

Hank the cowdog stories are all about life on a cattle ranch in the Texas Panhandle, as seen through the eyes of Hank the cowdog head of ranch security! The ranch animals all have amusing character and the adventures that Hank and his sidekick Drover get into are hilarious.
The book that we read was Hank The Cowdog: The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse, Hank finds himself in some pretty funny situations like getting "dressed up" by the cousins, getting sick on bacon grease and all the while having to deal with "Tuerto" the one eyed horse. Now these stories are all told from Hank's point of view and that's why the stories are funny, as Hank see things from a different angle! As much as we have enjoyed this book and the others in the series, I would recommend a bit of caution for this story. Some of the language is that of a rough around the edges cowboy type character and some of the words used by this character are not what we would allow in our home, phrases such as "you moron" or "dummy" is not language we would encourage with our children. These words can be edited if you find them to be objectionable while you are reading aloud. You would not have that ability when listening to the CD.We also had Tales and Tunes from Hank the Cowdog to review. This is an audio CD that contains excerpts from 10 of the Hank books, plus 9 original songs. They are performed like and old time radio show with sound effects and each character has their own unique voice. Once your kids hear these recordings, they will want YOU to use those voices when you read out loud!
I have to say that these stories are not only fun they are funny. My 12 year old overheard the CD and pointed out the name calling issues (ie: moron, stupid, dummy) immediately. When I read these to my first group of children in our homeschool, they were a bit older and we talked about how this is a story and that we do not talk this way in "real life". This worked well for us and we did not have any issues. I will read aloud to the younger kids, with a bit of editing. Please realize that I don't want to "throw the baby out with the bath-water" These are wonderful stories, and I have used them and I will continue to use them.
The Tales and Tunes Cd will be for the older kids that have learned the ability to filter out the name calling.

Another product we reviewed from the package was the game Tornado.

"It's a race to be the first to get your three "characters" from the start to the finish. But watch out, your opponent is chasing you and they may send you back to the start. And landing on a tornado space can send you flying in any direction!The only safe place is a finish space. And in this fast paced game it's truly, never over until it's over!"
My youngest kids really enjoyed this game, they have played it many times, in fact the game has really cemented the concept of odd and even numbers for them. You can take this game with you as it folds up into a nice compact package with all the pieces stored inside.

The books are available individually as paperbacks for $4.24, or also in hardcover, and in sets. The Tales and Tunes sampler CD is available for only $3.00, and audio-book CDs are available as 2-book sets for $28.99. The Tornado Game is sold for $12.99.

If you would like to read what the other crew members are saying please click here

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Web Design For Kids (...and Curious Grown-ups!)

Web Design For Kids (...and curious grown-ups) is an instructional DVD that will take you step by step through the process of building a web page. You will using Notepad, Internet Explorer and paint. These 3 basic programs are included within Microsoft Windows

Brian Richardson, a middle school computer literacy teacher, guides you through each lesson. He demonstrates each of his verbal instructions on his computer so you can see each of his instructions being carried out. A wonderful plus for us visual learners!

There are 7 lessons that will teach you the basics of HTML code. This is accomplished as you build 3 different web pages.
Some of the topics covered on this DVD are:
basic HTML code
adding pictures
designing backgrounds
making text move across the screen
The DVD also includes a bonus section on file management featuring information on saving and organizing files.

My daughter was very excited to get this one! She was supposed to spend some time working with this program over the course of a few days. When she got started, she was so excited and engrossed with the material that she spent all day working through the lessons and then promptly asked when the next level of the program would be available! The kids all loved learning about the moving text (and all of the topics). I was called over numerous times to see their creations. This is truly great for kids. (Also a great tool for some of us clueless adults who do not have even a faint idea of what HTML is!) :-)

Please click here to view a sample of the DVD

Web Design For Kids sells for $40.00. For a limited time it is on sale for only $19.99 plus shipping!

Another great thing about this product is that a portion of the sales of Web Design For Kids goes to the following charities:

The Smile Train
Ronald McDonald House
Children Miracle Network
Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
The American Foundation For The Blind

See what other TOS Homeschool Crew members are saying about Web Design For Kids here

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quarter Mile Math

We have been reviewing the Quarter Mile Deluxe Edition. This is a creative, online subscription based computer game that makes math drill fun! When kids hear about "drilling math facts" they instantly think boring! Not the case with Quarter Mile. This application is way more than flashcards. The Quarter Mile is easily installed in a few minutes and is quick and easy to learn. The format of this game is a race of either cars or horses.
(For those of us who would want to avoid the idea of horse racing and gambling I quote Christopher of the Quarter Mile) "we know that some families are sensitive to the issue of horse racing. This might be because of the association with gambling. Because of this, horses in the Quarter Mile Math don’t have jockeys and they race on a grassy meadow. (Of course, the likelihood of getting wild horses to run in a straight line in a meadow is very low, but you get the idea!) We refer to them as “riderless horses” and avoid using phrases like “horse race” or “race horse.”
The faster your child answers the problem the faster their car or horse moves. For the first 5 races, you race against "Fast Eddy" who is actually a bit on the slow side, so your child is sure to win right off the bat. From that point on your child races against his or her own best time.
One of the best features of this program is that the game is able to detect even the smallest improvements, this feature provides constant encouragement to your child. Beating their own best score is both the challenge and the motivator that keeps my kids playing over and over again and when you hear your child say, "just one more race Mom" you know they are enjoying the learning process.
The topics in the Quarter Mile go far beyond basic math facts, with skills from kindergarten level to pre-algebra, problem skills in fractions, decimals, percents and estimation. With 70,000 available math problems you kids are not going to out grow this anytime soon.

My kids are really enjoying the learning experience, and I love that they are improving their math skills. A few of the many benefits of Quarter Mile are: Game play builds confidence quickly, and my math challenged kids are having fun while learning. The children are experiencing "winning" with math and they want to play (learn) more, and that makes me happy! :-)

Here are some of the features of this deluxe program: The children can use any of our Internet ready computers, since their scores are recorded on the online Barnum server. There is also a report that you can generate for each child that will show all of their races and times, this allows you to monitor their progress. Up to 12 people can use it, this is great for large families like mine. All this is available for $19.95 per year ( or $2.95 per month)
The standard version is also available. You can see a comparison of the standard version verses the deluxe version here

The web site also has a page just for homeschoolers that will help you set up a family tournament, print out progress charts plus several articles that you can read for additional information.

I recommend The Quarter Mile Math! If you would like to read more reviews of the Quarter Mile please click here

A special offer for crew review readers from the Quarter Mile: $5.00 off of either the Deluxe or standard product with code: 7B7W7
This offer is good till September 30, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sense and Sensibility Review

Sense and Sensibility is a company that sells original vintage patterns by Jennie Chancey. Jennie is a homeschooling mom who has been designing vintage dresses since she was 14.

For my Homeschool Crew I had the privilege of reviewing the Edwardian E-Pattern and E-class bundle . Ok I was a bit nervous about this as sewing brings back some bad memories of my 8th grade home Economics teacher telling me how bad I was at this sewing thing! I have done some sewing since then with more "horror stories" than good ones :) But I really love sewing and these pattern at Sense and Sensibility are beautiful, so I dove in with anticipation as after all this bundle had a class.

First the download of the pattern, it is 25 pieces five across and 5 down. You lay them out on the floor (or large surface). I did have a bit of difficulty in lining these printed pattern pages as the printing does not go to the edge of the page. they must be trimmed and the lines, lined up taping as you go. My perfectionist tendency arose here, but really this is not a problem, the pattern when cut out worked perfectly.

The best part of this bundle for me was the E-class. Jennie talks you through with a power point showing pictures of her sewing. Plus she has videos of some of the trickier things. These videos are awesome! I watched them till I "got it" then so easy to go back to the class and follow along. I was able to finish the apron with no problems and was so excited and happy I made a second and am also working on a 3rd one for my little grand daughter! This class will also teach you how to make your own double fold bias binding so you can natch your binding to the apron material. the instructions are very good, but my girls really wanted to choose a colored binding with the material they had picked out.

The Sense and sensibility patterns are beautiful and the classes are so well done that they took away my fear of sewing. I have a success. My girls love their aprons and already want more than one! I am going to try a dress next!

To order this E-bundle for $24.95 go to Sense and Sensibility here. Enjoy your sewing experience and have a beautiful apron to prove it.

If you would like to see more reviews of Sense and Sensibility visit the Homeschool Crew Reviews here.

Hanna and Isabel in their Edwardian Aprons. I used the contrasting

Monday, August 17, 2009

Grapevine Studies

Old Testament Basics
A program designed for multiple age groups
By: Grapevine Studies

I have chosen TOG as our main curriculum, but I wanted to have a bible time program that I would be able to use with all of my children at once. This can be a bit of a challenge when you have a house full of children ranging from the ages of 5 to 17! My answer came via a crew review, and my Godsend called Grapevine Studies. As their website says: "A bible study that engages the intellect, while stimulating the imagination!"
This is an amazingly easy to teach curriculum that uses stick figures. All of my kids find this simple and enjoyable. (even the older kids!)
I am currently using The old Testament basics, which utilizes the teaching method of catechism.
Questions & Answers to learn the facts of the Old Testament. Each lesson begins with a question, then a bible verse reading and finally the drawing of stick figures on our whiteboard to illustrate the answer. The first few lessons the kids just watched and followed along as I used the stick figures to "write out" the answers. Now the children have begun using the stick figures themselves and they are naturally embellishing them, to help them to remember the questions and the answers. The girls find their stick figures are rendered with dresses and long hair, and when the boys step up, their representations are rich with background information and details. The littlest ones color in everything! The best thing about this program is they are getting it! They are learning the material and they know it and own it.
All of the questions in the Old Testament Basics center on biblical facts, not doctrinal issues. The Old Testament Basics contains 225 questions for students and the Teacher's guide contains both the the questions and answers complete with stick figure drawings. It is great fun and we are really enjoying it! The cost of this program is $24.95.
For an additional $15.95 there is a Student Workbook that contains: The Bible verses, questions and even a place for your students to draw out their answers.

Biblical Feasts and Holy Days
13 Lessons

The Biblical Feasts and Holy Days
study is a great way to explore the original 7 Levitical feasts, the Sabbath & Purim. I love the study of the feasts. We are really learning and gaining a better understanding of these original biblical holy days. This is one of the best resources I have seen to learn more about the Feasts and Holy days.
The Teacher's book is available for $19.95 and the Student book costs $11.95

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Homeschool Lounge Open House

Hi, Thanks for stopping by to read my THL open house 2009! My name is Cynthia I am a mother of 13 children and Grandmother of 2 with another grandchild to join us soon!
I just discovered the Homeschool lounge! It's a fun place to connect with other homeschooling mom's. This month they are having an open house so I am joining in the fun!
We call our school Ark Covenant Academy because our home is the ark that our children can run to from the trials of the world. Not that our home is perfect or overly peaceful or even free of trials, But we do love each other. Of course "the ark" is quite full when every one is home too, as there are19 of us! Our home is still full even with our oldest children out on their own.
This year for school the twins and my grandson (all who are 5 years old) will be joining in the mix this year! This means I will be teaching and learning with 9 children, both a blessing and a challenge. We are using a classical/Charlotte Mason approach and lean toward the eclectic. But this year we have chosen Tapestry of Grace volume 1 as our core curriculum.
I am really excited and have been planning up a storm and putting together our student notebooks. I love using lapbooks and notebooking pages to get our learning into the hands-on mode. The children are responding to the lessons and I find they retain the information easier, and enjoy the learning process using this method, because its FUN.
This year I really want to have a special time of encouragement with my daughters and spend some time going through some of the books I have collected over the years. Here are a few that I recommend and will be using:The Women God Designed, Raising Maidens of Virtue, Before You Meet Prince Charming and Beautiful Girlhood .I really want my girls to know that being a strong women of God is truly a blessing and a path worthy of following .I am amazed at the number of books that I have gathered together over these last few years. Life is busy in this household and sometimes "girltime" takes the back burner, Soooooo this year I am making time for just being together with my girls and learning about Godly womanhood, modesty and courtship with purpose!
I have not forgotten my little men either. We will be using Boyhood and Beyond with them. God desires strong Godly servant leaders in our boys.
We will also be using various curriculum that I review for the homeschool crew. We are blessed with a wonderful of curriculum to review this year, and we are all so excited! Please bookmark this blog and check it out from time to time so you can see how we are doing and pick up what I hope will be some valuable insights on all of the wonderful curriculum we will be experiencing!
I am still very busy with planning and organizing but we will be starting school next week. My ideas, schedules and plans do not always mesh with the reality of life! So I have to remind myself to stay flexible and make adjustments, after all, we are all "works in progress!"

The Home school Lounge has some awesome prizes for the open house. My choices are:
#1 Rainbow Resource $50 gift certificate
#2 Currclick $50 gift certificate
#3 Families with a Purpose $25 gift certificate