Sunday, December 27, 2009


Earlier this year, as part of the crew I reviewed the Discover Career Planning  program from ACT, Advantage
(review here)
they have also provided me with the EXPLORE and PLAN tests to review.

What are EXPLORE and PLAN?  They are tests based on the ACT, but designed for 8-9th graders, EXPLORE, or 10th graders, PLAN. These tests are shorter than the ACT, but will give you information to see how your child is doing in four areas: Math, English,
Reading and Science. There is help in the back of the book for scoring and understanding the test results. These tests were designed to help you get an early indication of how your child will do on the ACT.

These tests are a great way to help your children and you see how they are doing and see were there are any areas of weaknesses.
Sometimes as homeschoolers our children are not as exposed to the "pressures" of testing, nor just the experience of the testing situation these test are a great help in that preparation.
If you are planning on having your child take the ACT. I highly recommend PLAN and EXPLORE.

PLAN and EXPLORE are available from ACT, Advantage for $22.95 each.

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Maestro Classics

Maestro Classics  is the publisher of a series of CDs that put orchestral music together with classic stories. This award-winning classical music series for children and families from Maestro Classics has done an outstanding job of combining music appretiation with great stories.

I received a CD: The Tortoise and the Hare to review as part of the TOS Crew. The CD contains several tracks,  the story with music, information on the story, Aesop, and fables and a discussion of the moral, an explanation as to how the music was chosen to fit the story, and a sing a long song.. There is also colorful activity booklet that comes with the CD with great information on instruments, the orchestra, notes and time signatures,crossword puzzles and more.

I was really impressed with this CD. The narrator was excellent and the music fantastic. My kids listened to the CD willingly enough, but after the explanations were eager to listen again with "new" ears! Though all my kids listened to the CD, my youngest ones 5-10 enjoyed it the most and have in fact listened to the CD many times.

Maestro Classics has several tiles available including:
                                   The Story of Swan Lake
                                   Peter and the Wolf
                                   Juanita, the Spanish lobster
                                   Juanita, la langosta espanola
                                   Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel
                                   Casey at the Bat
                                   The Sorcerers' Apprentice
With new titles to come!

Check out the Maestro Classics website they are having a sale 3 for $45 with free shipping
Regularly $16.98 each

If you would like to see what my CREW mates have to say about Maestro Classics click HERE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Math is my most challenging subject to teach. I group the children together for unit studies in most of our school, but in math each child is on their own level and with 6 kids in school and 3 starting into school that is 7 levels!   We have struggled through several different programs over the years. Most of my kids drag their feet to math lessons.
As a member of the homeschool crew I received a 45 day subscription to Mathletics from 3P Learning for the purpose of reviewing.
Mathletics is a web based math service that allows children to work through age specific lessons that include step by step animated teaching, and live challenges, were the children compete with other children from all over the world. The student accumalates points as they go through the lessons, play games and do live challenges. With the earned points the students get to go shopping for clothing and backgrounds for their character, which they create at the begining set up.
Mathletics also has games that the students unlock as they progress through the lessons, and additional games are available through access to Rainforest Math.

At the Parent Center, parents can view each childs progress, print workbooks at each level and even set it up so that your child must complete certain activities BEFORE having access to everything!

3P Learning states their Mission as "to engage every student everyday with a personalized, responsive and intelligent resource that inspires a delight in math and an innate drive to better results."

The kids moaned at the thought of another math "thing" they would have to do. I spent an afternoon setting up their accounts...the process is very easy I just had 7 to set up! My grandson was watching me and got very excited so he was the first to try it out, I could NOT get him off!  He just wanted to do one more lesson, and that was before I even showed him the games. OK he is 6 and just starting  out he loves school, even math. What did the other children think? This program was a hit with all my kids!!!! Yep ALL
They can spend time doing their lesson on the computer ( they all like being on the computer) and if they are not sure about something in the lesson they click on the ? and an animatted explanation comes up to help them. They each are encouraged as they go through the lessons as their earned points go up. Best of all they have individual lessons that are challenging and captivating and that respond to their individual strengths and weaknesses. If I am busy with another child they can still move forward with math using this program, they do not have to wait for me to introduce the next lesson or wait when a question arises. Yes I did have to stay involved there are always those questions that need a little bit more help or work to understand, but Mathletics has allowed us to keep moving forward at a faster pace for each child as they can log into their lessons and go through them even if I am with another child or otherwise occupied .OK "gulp" do lessons at non school time!!! Yes this did happen, Mathletics gave us this ability and freedom for my children to do their math when they wanted and I would not have been able to "do" a lesson. Best of all they enjoyed working through the lessons so they could play the games. My children were cautious at first about the live challenges, but quickly found them fun. I see that the challenges help them really grasp their learning.

Mathletics is an internet, subscription based product with a price of $59 per student per year. If you know the Human Calculator's favorite number (hint: 9 ) and you enter that when you check out you can purchase a single child subscription for $49.95 per year.

Bottom line for us with 7 and really 9 children wanting this program it is just to much right now, that does NOT mean it is not good this is an EXCELLENT program.

If you are interested in what my CREW mates have to say about Mathletics please click here.

Friday, December 11, 2009


As part of the Homeschool Crew I was given a 3 month membership to TEKTOMA to review.
So what is TEKTOMA?
TEKTOMA is a website that offers video tutorials to teach game programming. These tutorials require a free version of gameMaker software from YoYo Games, that you download for free. Children ages 7-17, (and even us adults), can learn to create computer games using these very friendly and easy to understand video tutorials.
The tutorials will teach varying skill levels from beginner to those with more experience.
The complete game tutorials include:
Racing game
Arcade game
Memory game
Platform game
Fantasy game

My 12 year old son who loves playing computer games, was excited to try this out and make his own game. Once we downloaded the required free resources and watched the tutorial: "How to watch the tutorials" he was ready to go on his own. He decided to create an arcade game which is for all skill levels and 1 hour 37 minutes long. He spent more than this time, working through this as when he was overwhelmed he would walk away, then come back and "see" easily what he was supposed to do. The video tutorials are really very good and each step explained well. Though this child decided playing is much more fun than creating! I have another son wanting to try this now.
I was really impressed that these videos take you through this process of programming a game
and made it very easy to understand with the result being the reward, your own game!

Membership to TEKTOMA is: $14.95 per month or $140 per year

If you are interested to see what other CREW members had to say please click HERE

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Promise

Tonight a friend has lost her beloved husband and my heart is grieving for her and the children. Yes he loved his savior God with all his heart and he is dancing before the Father, but we are left asking WHY? so suddenly, no idea that this morning was the last time they would see each other on this earth. YES they have the HOPE of eternity. I know that this is a fallen world we live in and death is part of that. I know that this makes no sense to a hurting heart....
the Father God used my daughter to bring this song to me...

"This is what it means to be held
how it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
and you survive
this is what it is to be loved and to know
that the promise was when everything fell
we'd be held"

My friend you and your children are held tightly in our loving Fathers arms and I pray that you feel those arms in this overwhelming time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

All About Spelling

I received the starter kit , level 1 and level 2 of All About Spelling for review. Now I should tell you I was very excited because I have heard that this is a really good program, and we were struggling with the one we had, and my children were not exactly pleased with the thought of yet another spelling program. We are all very pleasantly surprised and happy with this awesome program!

I have to say that All About Spelling is working for us, the lessons are scripted so I have to just fallow the book, all the set up of this program is in the beginning before you start. the starter kit contains all you need except a file box, and magnet board (we use a big cookie sheet!). In this kit you get all that you need, yellow phonogram cards, red sound cards, blue key cards and green word cards. These go into a file box and are placed behind the appropriate divider, review, mastered or future lessons. I love how organized this makes my lessons. You also get colored letter tiles that are laminated you just have to cut them out and put a peel and stick magnet piece on the back.
We decided to start at level one with all the kids to catch any gaps and just go through each step as quickly as possible. This served two purposes to get the children used to this new program and catch any gaps they may have.
All About spelling is not just about memorizing lists of words and rules it is learning and understanding. MASTERY.
I really like this approach to spelling and better yet my kids like it and are "getting" spelling.

All About spelling starter kit sells for $26.95, level 1 (teachers manual and one student materials packet) sells for $29.95, level 2 (teachers manual and one student materials packet) sells for $ 39.95.

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