Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Access Online Writing Program

I received as a gift a one year subscription for 6 students from Vantage Learning to their MY Access!® Home Edition to review.

MY Access!® Home Edition, by Vantage Learning, is an online writing program designed to guide students through the writing process with engaging and interactive writing activities, self-guided instruction and motivating feedback.

Each 12-month subscription to MY Access!® Home Edition includes one parent account and your choice of three or six student accounts.
  • MY Access!® is completely Web-based, so there's no software to load and it's accessible anywhere you have a computer and Internet connection—at home, at school, or at the library.

  • 90 pre-loaded writing topics for three different distinct age groups (8-10, 11-14, and 15-18) encourage students to begin writing immediately.

  • Parents can easily enter their own writing topics to make writing across the curriculum a reality.

  • Self-paced and interactive lessons guide students through the writing process: planning, organizing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.

  • Graphic organizers and other printable resources help students plan successful essays.

  • Essay scoring and individualized feedback is available immediately through a powerful, award-winning artificial intelligence scoring engine

  • Detailed, prescriptive revision plans focus students' revision activities on the key traits of writing: focus, content development, organization, language use, and grammar.

  • Individual progress reports are easy to access and share with others.

  • A writing portfolio enables students to monitor their own progress and easily share their writing with family, friends, or teachers.

  • Dozens of annotated samples of actual student writing help students see the potential in their own writing.

  • A word processor with editing and writing tools including a thesaurus, grammar-checker, spell-checker, and word bank lists help students vary and develop their vocabulary.

I used this with my kids 8-17 , it was very easy to set up our account and get each one of the kids started. They really enjoyed earning the points by doing lessons and aiming for their personal goal. I knew this would be a challenge for my youngest ones as our focus is on reading still so writing is still a beginning endeavor for them, but they did enjoy trying and watching the improvements they made. The older kids could move through this much easier and with less of a struggle. I like that its self paced and that each child could move at their own pace.

That being said we did have some difficulty with the point system as the kids figured out that they could get points for doing work without very much effort. Also my 16 year old worked very hard on one of her first essays for well over 45 minutes and had to leave before she was finished and we could find no way to save her work except to submit it before she was finished. The corrections the children received were too vague for them to be helpful, with comments like "write your sentences correctly" or "run on sentences" leaving them frustrated.

With that being said, I still believe that this is an excellent program, and that it's best use would be as a tool for intermediate writers.

Each 12 month subscription to My Access! Home Edition includes one parent account and your choice of: 3 students at: $99.95
6 students at: $129.95

If you would like to see what other CREW members have to say on their review of this product and others please click here.

Amazing Bible History Timeline

When history and Bible are taught as separate subjects we may not see the interconnectedness of them. After all History is God's story so the two really are inseparable... We study the two subjects together to see God's hand at work in all of history, so when I received the Amazing Bible Timeline to review I was really excited.

"The Amazing Bible Timeline pinpoints the relationships between seemingly unrelated events. Which prophets, kings and wars were linked and how. The ability to view it all at the same time clarifies connections. If you want an in depth knowledge of religion and history you will benefit from having The Amazing Bible Time-line to view and study.

See the Whole Bible At Once!

Using the Amazing Bible Timeline you will easily grasp the timing of the major Bible stories, peoples and events. You can readily see the flow of major events, the timing of the stories in the Bible in relationship to each other as well as other nations.

Jam packed with information!
You have over a thousand references at your fingertips. All the important historical events of the main religions and world cultures are indexed and outlined in one simple to understand format. It's color coded so you can track families, nations and related events easily."

We are studying Ancient history right now and we are loving this timeline, The kids have made some great connections by going and looking at the timeline and being able to see not just what is going on in ancient Egypt, but in other parts of the world at the same time has really enhanced there understanding and enjoyment of history.

The timeline comes with two free downloads, one is a PDF version of the timeline, and the other a neat interactive layered map of the holy land from 1850 BC to 4 BC. This timeline can be found here for $29.97.

If you would like to see what other CREW members have to say please click here

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sue Patrick's Workboxes

Specialized and Structured Teachingsm
Sue Patrick's Workbox SystemSM
An effective teaching system to reduce your organizational time and increase your child's self-control, independence and learning.

Iam so excited to have been chosen to receive this book from Sue Patrick!
I have been browsing through many blogs about this system and thought" that is exactly what I need" This book Workbox System Users Guide explains in detail all about this phenomena that has been on so many homeschooling blogs. Sue explains what exactly the workbox system is, who this system is for and how it works.
The workbox system is actually a physical structure of 12 boxes that you divide your child's work into along with some of those projects, or work we never seem to organize into our daily schedule. This is actually a "physical" schedule your child fallows that has order and allows the child to see his/her progress towards finishing his work goal for the day.

There is a great video at Sue's web page that explains the workbox system... please click here

The author, Sue Patrick is pretty adamant in her book to do things exactly the way she explains it, well with 6 kids in school and 3 kindergartners and 1 preschooler.....12 boxes each mmmm that's 120 boxes AND a place to put them, now our house, nor I could handle that many boxes! BUT I saw the potential and I knew that this system could revolutionize our school day so, I did what homeschoolers are so very good at... I tweaked it to work for us!

The 4 crates on the top shelve are the big kids' workboxes (aka: files)
The plastic shoe boxes will be what the 4 youngest ones will work from.

So far I have the 6 oldest kids using the "workboxes" and I am setting this up for the youngest this week. So how did I get this to work for us? We used a crate for each child then instead of boxes they have 12 hanging files. These files are set up the same way as the boxes and this is working for us. This workbox system has made such a positive difference in our school day, the kids feel like they are accomplishing so much more and they KNOW what it is they have to do. No more "forgetting" some of the assignments, or misplacing what they were supposed to do its all in their crates and files! We are getting so much more work done and that's encouraging to the kids and ME! I have also been able to schedule into their days those things we had just not been able, Lego Technic, art, oh I have so much that I am excited to be able to finally find the "time" to do!!!! Yup to say that this has really helped us is an understatement.
The kids love it,
I love it.

I Do really recommend getting the book to get the best picture of the way this system can work, plus Sue has some wonderful ideas for centers!

Sue Patrick's Workbox System: Users Guide $19

If you would like to see what other CREW members have tosay about Sue Patrick's Workbox System please click HERE

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Virginia Soap and Sents

I received a wonderfully exotic smelling package in the mail from Virginia Soaps & Scents. We eagerly opened the package which contained soaps, shampoo bar and a laundry soap kit to review. Quickly these soaps found homes other than my bathroom:)!!! I had to go search them out in the kids' bathroom.

Virgina Soap & Scents is a homeschooling family owned company located in southeastern Virginia. Their venture began as a homeschool project that turned into a business. Their soaps are all handcrafted olive oil soap, this is REAL soap not detergent. All natural ingredients, no added chemicals. They also use a " generous amount of coconut oil".

I was so excited about the laundry soap kit, I have so wanted to try to make our own laundry soap, but have just never got around to doing that. We were due to get a new bottle of laundry soap so instead I made up this kit, which contained a pre-measured amount of everything needed to make the laundry soap I just added water! The process is easy: melt the pre-measured and grated soap in heated water add the next ingredients add more warm water and stir every so often till cool. I ended up with a pretty pink (yes I do love pink!) gel that I put into a left over ice cream bucket and placed in our laundry room with and old measuring scoop to measure out the gel into the loads. I loved the fresh smell and it cleaned really well! We are sold and we will be transferring to homemade laundry soap!!!

Those soaps I had to try out, were the bed and breakfast sizes of soap bars of: Coconut Lemongrass, Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, and Fresh Orange. Now I would be hard pressed to choose my favorite as they all smell DIVINE, and I loved how my skin felt clean but not dried. After all we do live in a dry climate and if I am honest, age has made my skin dryer! The boys; 12 and 14 loved the Oatmeal, Milk and Honey as it cleared up their faces, and as long as they kept using it their faces stayed clear! This is a wonderful plus for us as I really do not like them using the chemical laden "Nationally advertised and more expensive products."

The other product I received was a Ginger lime Shampoo bar. The shampoo bars are also olive oil based but contain Castor oil which acts as an extra humectant (holds moisture). You just wet your hair and rub this all over and it lathers up. My 17 year old daughter is using this one as she is always looking for something that will make her hair clean and not greasy looking, and this soap does the trick and she loves it!

Viginia Soap & scents has a wonderful line of poducts: Gourmet Soaps, Shaving Soaps for both men and women and Bath and Body stuff that includes lotions, scrubs and powders. They have many scents to choose from including Lavender and Country Clothesline.
They have a Christmas collection out for the Holidays that sounds like it would smell wonderful in my bathroom!

Check out their website HERE to see all they have.

REMEMBER CHRISTMAS......these soaps would make great gifts!!!!!

If you would like to see what other CREW members have to say please click here

Thursday, October 15, 2009



Live out His calling in your life today with persistence, determination,and perseverance.

You can do all things in Christ who gives you strength. Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sarah's Wish

SARAH BOOKS by Jim Baumgardner is a series of 3 books about 19th century Sarah and her friends. I received the first book in this series: SARAH'S WISH to review.

This is a wonderful "living" history book that takes place in Ohio in 1858. Sarah whose Father has already died looses her mother to an accident, all in the first chapter. Sarah is now an orphan and she has a secret she shared with her mother, that she promised to tell no one. Sarah needs help and learns to share this secret, which involves her and her mothers part in the underground railway. This story is so well written that my kids kept telling me "read more"! In fact they downloaded the audio and listened to it every opportunity they could! ALL my kids LOVED this book.
The author Jim Baumgardner dedicated this book to his grandchildren and says: " I wrote it for them. I want them to know about history and where we as a people have been. I hope they learn that although the United States allowed the curse of slavery to imprison a race of people in body and mind, yet that same nation finally rose up to defeat those who were intent on keeping the status quo. Sarah’s Wish introduces them to the institution of slavery and sheds some light on those who opposed it. The defeat will come later in the Sarah books. The books have been referred to as Christian fiction. I prefer to describe them as Young Adult fiction written by a Christian author. Sarah’s faith is important to her and she lives by it, but the books do not try to convert the reader to anything. The stories do teach Christian principals of living a good life and treating others as you would have them treat you. I do not ignore the evil in the world and Sarah must confront it at times just as we all do."

I love that this book brings you right into history as if you were there living it, feeling it. To help you learn more about this time period Sara's web has little "tidbits" of information, a section on the underground railroad, a newsletter and excerpts from the books.

These books would make a GREAT Christmas gift...My kids already have them in mind!

Sarah's Wish sells for: $9.99 And includes a code for the audio version, download!

If you would like to see what the other CREW members have to say, please click here.

Do you ever feel like this?

All day some days! this is so funny it made me laugh till I was crying.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where have all the posts gone?

Ok I started this blog with the intention of really posting daily.....really I did! Then life does have a way of just "happening". We have a beautiful new baby grand-daughter in the house, AND we started a new curriculum in school. Not to bad but being in a new house I have had to organize and find how school will work here. All this has just taken time, mostly because I am that person that LOVES organization, but seems that I am forever organizing..well there comes that time when you say lets WORK through this now!!! We are up and running, well maybe walking hehehehe but we are doing and that's whats important! So now if I somewhat "publicly" say I will try to post more often does that mean I will? I will TRY!

Guardian Angel Publishing

Guardian Angels Publishing is a company that publishes both print books and e-books (and their books are also available on CD). They have picture books, early readers, easy readers, storybooks, and chapter books for children ages 0-12. I received 4 books from them to review.

The Sums Of Our Parts: No Bones About It
By: Bill Park
This book about our 206 bones is written in a rhyme to help kids memorize the bones of the body. The rhyme is really 'catchy" and my kids all enjoyed this one. The older kids loved the "factoids" the boxes on the page with bone information, they really learned a lot and the phrase was heard throughout the house "did you know......" for many days.

E-book download: $5.00
E-bookCD: $9.95
print book: $10.95

by: Susan J Berger

This book is a science one also based on information about earthquakes and how they affect us and how to be safe during a quake. There is also information on how to be prepared for an earthquake emergency. My kids loved the information that was both simple and advanced so they all came away learning. They especially loved the project that had them prepare "pockets" for their beds to keep a flashlight, slippers etc, in case of an earthquake.

E-book download $5.00
E-book CD: $9.95
Print Book: $11.95

By: Kim Chatel

In this book Genevieve the shepherdess talks with a pale rainbow in this imaginative story. The pale rainbow is sad and Genevieve knows that if she makes the rainbow happy his colors will be bright again. She does such a good job the rainbow laughs till he cries colored tears onto her sheep!
This is a cute book illustrated with fiber art pictures. At the end of the book is a mini lesson on fiber arts and a project for making felted sheep. My little girls are on the lookout for the materials for this project :)

E-book: $5.00
E-book CD: $9.95
Print Book: $10.95
Book DVD: $9.95

By: Mary Jean Kelso

This book is one of 3 Andy books about a young boy in a wheelchair and his horse Spirit. In this book Andy shows Spirit at the state fair 4H show. He overcomes nerves and a few of the jeers from kids who are not very nice. This is a great book to share with children to show them that others in wheelchairs are the same as they are!
The end of this book has extra information on how the US manages wild horses, and information on 4H clubs.
My little ones had lots of questions about why Andy was in a wheelchair and this book brought about many good discussions.

E-book download: $5.00
E-book CD: $9.95
Print Book: $10.95
DVD Book: Coming Soon! $9.95

A portion of the proceeds from this book are donated to Healing Reins of Bend, OR. , a non-profit organization,
and Horseplay of Fernley, NV.

Guardian Angel Publishing has many more books like these, to check them out at their web site here.

To see what other CREW members have to say please click here

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Natures Friend Magazine

Nature's Friend Magazine is a "children's magazine the whole family, including grandparents, can enjoy." This so true! First, my kids all loved this magazine and I am a mom and grandma, I love this magazine. :)

Nature's Friend provided me with 2 free copies of their magazine to write this review, August and September.
These are full color magazines that explore the wonders of God's creation and does it, with breath taking photographs and wonderfully informative articles. "
Since the doctrine of Divine Creation is foundational in Scripture, our children must be able to stand on it securely to withstand the undermining influences from our culture. Nature Friend has chosen not to be controversial or militantly confrontational about creation vs. evolution. "Our policy has been to simply stand on the truth of God's Word and to present it as enjoyable fact while learning about the creatures God has created." Nature Friend recognizes that God has planned for man to be wise stewards over His creation, and that He alone is to be worshipped, not His creation."

Every month you get invisibles these are an "I spy" type of pictures to find some hidden objects, my 5 year old twins loved this and were happy to sit and find every last object. Articles on animals in our awesome nature along with some of the most beautiful photographs I have seen, science activities, creation close-ups, and a monthly drawing lesson my girls tried their artistic hand at several times, enjoying getting better at the lesson each time. there is so much in this magazine that each month's issue was still being looked over when the next one came in the mail.

I really enjoyed the Study Guide with activities like crossword puzzles, fill in the blanks, a how to take a photograph guide, and a study in nature, a lesson in writing. this is an "extra" to add into your subscription, but one I feel really helped me make this magazine a total learning experience.

Natures Friend Magazine sells a one year subscription for $36
the study guide is an additional $2/ issue
Between now and November 30, 2009 you can get $3 off a new subscription with this code: BLOG93

This would make a wonderful Christmas gift that will last all year long!!!

If you would like to see what others on the CREW have to say please clich here.

College Prep Genius

About a month ago, I posted about this program College Prep Genius the post is here.
A real quick overview, this is a very rigorous program to study for the PSAT/ACT tests.
Initially this program was overwhelming with all the information it has. That does not mean its a bad course , its NOT, but if you take it one step at a time it does get clearer. This course would be an excellent choice for those students looking to get high PSAT/ACT scores in order to receive scholarships to colleges. We are not that audience and found this course to be a bit to rigorous for us. Though we found lots of really good information. I will be keeping this one for my younger ones if they should choose to go to college.
If you are in the audience of wanting to get the highest possible scores on your child's PSAT/ACT test so that they can get into the college of their choice and receive scholarships then I HIGHLY recommend this program. Though I do recommend an early start (freshman or Sophomore year) in this study to get the most out of this program, though I am sure any amount of hard work in this program would help.

Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services

I was given 4 products to review from Educational Prescriptive Services.
1. Roots and Fruits
2. Write With The Best Volume 1
3. Write With The Best Volume 2
4. The Complete Career, College, and High School guide For Homeschoolers

Roots and Fruits:
This is a vocabulary curriculum for K-12, where you learn latin and greek roots. This is the most comprehensive program I have seen with 673 roots and 1,716 vocabulary words to go along with the roots.
The program is easy to teach. Your students will learn 2 (or more for the older kids) roots and their vocabulary words a week, by finding the definitions and writing sentences. Activities and games help to reinforce the learning.
you can look at samples here
Roots and fruits is available as an E-book download or in print form for $14.98-19.98
The E-book is on sale right now for $11.25

Write With The Best Volumes 1 & 2:

This is a creative writing program that uses great literary works as a model to teach the basics in writing. How better to teach writing than to study great writers that have stood the test of time. Some of the authors you will study are Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, and William Wadsworth.
Write With The Best does interweave some grammar within the context of writing, and covers topics such as writing a descriptive paragraph, dialogue, writing a short story, writing a fable and more.
Daily lessons are written to be done 5 times a week with about 45 minutes per lesson. The objective is not to rush through this program but to gain mastery in each skill before moving on to the next genre. This is a family centered program so everyone is on the same lesson but you grade and expectations are based on their abilities
Once volume 1 has been finished you move onto volume 2, which has more advanced instructions. To see a sample please click here
Volume 1 $ 14.95 on sale right now
Volume 2 $ 18.65 on sale right now

The Complete Career, College and High School guide For Homeschoolers

This is a guide that will help get your kids ready for a career. Their are 4 assessments to help you and your child figure out what type of career your child would best fit into. This guide is easy to use and loaded with so much information. I really appreciated the way that the material was broken down into easy to follow steps.
Some of the topics covered are:
ACT/SAT Preparation
high School planning
Jobs in most demand
Exploring career choices
To see a sample please click here

This guide sells for E-book $26.20 on sale right now
Soft cover book $39.95