Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I've been on a bit of a blogging break, as I've been enjoying some out-of-town family this week, but I just wanted to wish you all a Blessed Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We have a winner!!!

The winner of the My Memories Software giveaway is...

Commenter #12...Jody

Congratulations Jody!!  I will be sending you the download information soon.  Have fun scrapping those beautiful babies!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tot School: The One With Two Videos

Kayleigh is 45 months old



This week there was no method to our madness.  I did not have a plan and I would wake up each day and just wing it.  Here’s a look at our hodge podge of a week.

We finished up our Raising Rock Stars unit.  Here she is working on her craft, watching the power point show, and practicing her letter I.

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She knocked her memory verse out of the park and I managed to get it on video.  Soooo cute!

Philippians 4:13

We did some other random activities including a few things from COAH, our Kumon books, and some manipulatives.

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We have a new sensory bucket.  This was also thrown together at the last minute.  Popcorn, silk leaves, acorn/pumpkin “gems”, green & orange pom poms, pumpkin ice tray, and various tongs, spoons, and containers.

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We did a lot of art for our upcoming review.  She really took to finger painting.  Her old sister hated that as a tot but Kayleigh dove right in.

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I also got some video of her at her dance class.

Dance at the Little Gym

Click the buttons at the top of the page for other pre-k fun.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: The One With A Video

 Ahhh, a blessed week without a lot of happenings.  We were able to hit the books full force.  I was happy about that even if Mackenzie wasn't.

This week we were studying New Zealand.  I was this close to going there while we were in Guam but we never made it. Bummer!  My uncle lives there though so we get to see some beautiful pictures.

White Island off the coast of NZ.  How lucky is my uncle? He took took it from a helicopter.
For Mackenzie's Choose Your Own Adventure she is supposed to be making a dessert called Pavlova, named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.  There is some dispute as to whether is was created by the Aussies or the Kiwi's but most formal research gives it to New Zealand.

Unfortunately she hasn't made it yet because it isn't the best season for fresh fruit so we're waiting for our kiwi to ripen so she can make it..

She finished her reader, Red Sands, Blue Sky, a week early so I told her to grab one of the books from winter promise core off the shelf and read that.  She choose Real Kids, Real Change and it was pretty good. (Naturally it was NOT written by WP. lol)   It is about 30 children who faced some extraordinary obstacles and accomplished amazing things.  Mackenzie highly recommends it.  

For our read aloud we started The Puppet Master.  Mackenzie freaked out a bit because "we're not studying Japan right now."  A winter promise flashback it seems. LOL  I told her that we're starting our study on Japan next week.  It's not like WP, who schedules books about Africa while studying Switzerland and then, 20 weeks later, schedules books about Switzerland while studying Africa.  Overlap is fine with me.  Utter nonsense, not so much.  

We finished out last week of Math Mammoth.  You can read my review HERE.  Mackenzie is very glad to be going back to Math-U-See.  I might get 3 minutes with no math complaints next week. Woo-hoo!!!

In science, we finished out study on the digestive system.  We are plugging in language arts as well.  Writing is definitely not her favorite subject but Writing With Skill is helping her improve despite her lack of love for the subject.   Spelling Workout is also working out well for us.  It's nice and simple and gets the job done.

I finally got to see the art project she's been working on since September.  Her instructor hung them up for all of us to admire.  There she is with her coat-of-arms.  I loved what she chose to represent her: ice cream, music notes, artist's paints, cross, peace signs and field hockey sticks.  Last time I asked her about playing field hockey she said no thanks. lol

It was a great day at Young Musicians of Virginia that day.  Not only did I get to see her art, I got to come to her piano class for a little show.  Her she is playing Let's Sing Praise with her teacher.  She LOVES when she gets to play duets.

We ended the week with lunch with our favorite veteran, my honey, and our friends.  Then we let daddy go home and nap while we went to the local children's museum.  Note to self: Never again go to a museum when the public schools are out.  Never again!  What were we thinking? lol

And that was our week. Pop over to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see more homeschool happenings.

Also, if you're interested in trying your hand at digital scrapbooking, check out my giveaway.  A complete edition of My Memories Photo Suite.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Review: Math Mammoth

We were recently given the opportunity to review the Math Mammoth program.  I was pretty excited to try it out.  While we're pretty happy with out math program in general, I always like to see what else is out there.  I have another one who'll be ready for formal math one day and who knows what will work for her.

About Math Mammoth

Math Mammoth offers many different options of worktexts.

    *A full curriculum for grades 1-6 Light Blue Series
    *Worktexts by topic for grades 1-6 Blue Series
    *Worksheets by topic for grades 3-7 Green Series (no instruction)
    *Worksheets by grade for grades 3-8 Golden Series (no instruction)
    *Make It Real Workbooks (teach how math is used in real life) for grades 3-12

From the Creator:

Math Mammoth offers affordable, yet quality math worktexts and workbooks for grades 1-8, available as both downloads and printed books. These books concentrate on conceptual understanding and are strong in mental math. The directions in the worktexts are written directly to the student, and are often self-teaching, thus requiring little preparation and involvement from the teacher.

My aim is to help parents and teachers teach math so our children and students can really understand what is going on. I've striven to explain the concepts so that both the teacher and the student can "get it" by reading the explanations in the books. In essence, the books often become self-teaching for student. The worktext form also requires very little preparation from the teacher.

Our Experience

There were so many choices of texts that it was almost overwhelming.  One of the best things about Math Mammoth is their customer service from the creator, Maria Miller.  She will very patiently discuss with you where your child is at and help you select the materials that are right for your child's needs.  In the end, we decided to go with the Light Blue Series for fifth grade.  I was tempted by some of those Make It Real options but I really wanted to see what the main curriculum was like. So we ditched our regular math and jumped right in.

Our experience was a bit like a roller coaster.  They were a lot of things that I liked about it and other things that were just confusing.  There was no way that my daughter could have worked through the text independently.  Some of the phrasing was confusing and she really needs to know a lot of the "why" behind the method.  That's one of her quirks.

One of the great things about Math Mammoth is the stress they put on mental math.  I think this is so important, especially with the importance given to calculators these days. I liked that they offered a lot of little tricks to help the student master mental math.  I particularly loved the tips for multiplying 9 times a number and 11 times a number.   Very cool!

Another thing that I like about the program is that it stresses mastery.  I am not a huge fan of the spiral approach.  I'm definitely more of a mastery proponent with a lot of review.  Math Mammoth really fits the bill in that area.

As I said before, some of the phrasing in the instruction was a little confusing to my daughter and myself.  I think part of the issue for us was that we jumped in at the fifth grade level.  I have a feeling that if we had started with the program early on that a lot of these instances would have been eliminated.  Other times, I think knowing more about why they were using a certain method would have been helpful in clearing up a few things for me.  (Uh-oh!  I think I just figured out where my daughter inherited that quirk I mentioned earlier.)

The one thing that I really did not like about the program was the answer key.  It just contains the answers.  The final answer.  Without showing how they solved the problem.  As we were confused with some of the instruction, seeing how they solved the problems was necessary for us.  And the layout of the answer key was hard to read.  It wasn't lined up the same way as the worktext so I spent a lot of time searching for where the answer was located.  

Final Thoughts

I do not think that Math Mammoth is the right program for my particular fifth grader.  It is not taught in the way in which she learns best and it often frustrated her.  That being said, I think it's a pretty good program and I wouldn't hesitate to encourage someone to give it a try.  

I learned some pretty good tricks from our 5 weeks using the program and I'm anxious to see what other gems this level has hiding within it's pages.  I think it will be nice to have it on hand to supplement our main math program.  Our main program has a very different scope and sequence then most math programs so Math Mammoth will be nice to refer to when it comes time to fill in some gaps as our standardized testing approaches.  

In the future, I will definitely consider purchasing some of the worktexts on a topic by topic basis as supplements.  And I'm really interested in trying out the Make It Real texts in the near future.  They seem to have a "living math" feel to them and that's something that I'd like to incorporate more of into our schooling.  


Website: Math Mammoth
Grade Levels: 1-12 depending on series
Cost:  $5.00-$39.00

Click on the crew banner to read more reviews of Math Mammoth.  

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Math Mammoth for review purposes as part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: Keyboard Town Pals


We recently were given the opportunity to review an online typing program called Keyboard Town Pals.

Keyboard Town Pals claims to be a better, less stressful method of typing instruction.  It also claims to be able to teach your child to type in under an hour.

From the creators:

Do you remember the stress of typing class?
Keyboard Town PALS is different!

  • Children proceed at their own pace
  • The puppets, humor and music are very entertaining
  • The children easily recall the storyline
  • Children will want to view it again and again
  • No fear of making mistakes
  • No racing against the clock
  • No testing
  • No scoring
  • No anxiety
Our Experience

Basically it teaches your child to type using eight  video lessons.  The child types along with the lesson on a little screen underneath the video.  The lessons "take place" in Keyboard Town, which consists of three "streets": Home Key St., Uptown, and Downtown.   Each letter was represented by a puppet.  For example, A was Amy Home Key St. They repeated the phrase repeatedly to ensure quick memorization.  Then taught Z and Q using additional puppet characters and  phrases,  Amy downtown Zebra or Amy Uptown Quiet.  

I will say the character phrases and the storyline stuck with my daughter.  However, she did not care for the puppets or the videoes at all.  At ten, she found them silly and I think she was a little embarrassed.   They are definitely geared more towards much younger children.  My youngest daughter LOVED the video shows however, at three, she is not ready to learn to type.

In the end, I will say it did teach her where the letters were on the keyboard and which fingers she is to use for each one.  And it taught her quickly.  I'm not sure that I'd say that she learned to type in an hour though.  While she does now know the keys and finger placement, she needs drill to execute.  Because there is no drill or correction, her fingers still hit the wrong keys.  When she took the typing test at the end, she still made quite a few errors and she was taking her time.

Final Thoughts

While I don't feel that my daughter learned to type in an hour, I was very pleased with how quickly she learned the keyboard and correct finger placement.  Whether or not she liked the puppet shows, she did learn  those skills and she learned them quickly.

     *It teaches keyboard and finger placement quickly.
     *It is web-based so you can get on any computer with an internet connection and 
        complete the lessons.
     *You can customize the font color.
     *Available in English, French, and Spanish.

     *It is a little pricey for a program designed to be completed in one hour.
     *The puppet shows are definitely geared toward very young children

The Details

Ages Range: 7 & up
Cost: $39.95 and up

Check out other Crew reviews of Keyboard Town Pals by clicking on the Crew banner below.


Disclaimer: I was given a free trial of this product for review purposes in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Review & Give Away: My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software

Scrap booking has long been a popular creative outlet for many people.  It's such a fun and creative way to preserve precious family memories.  About 11 years ago I found myself wanting to create beautiful books to document my own families special moments.  I bought the books, papers, elements, tools, everything you can think of.  To date, I've yet to complete a traditional scrap book.  Not one.  Ever.  In 11 years.

Why? I guess one reason is that I'm not that creative or skilled.  Another reason is that it's a lot of set up and clean up if you don't have a dedicated scrapping space.  I don't.  I also didn't find it very forgiving if I made a mistake.  It's hard to unstick the glue once you've stuck something on.  This made the expense even greater.

About a year ago I discovered the world of digital scrap booking.  I was intrigued.  I tried it out.  It has a pretty steep learning curve.  But I liked it.  I'll take the learning curve over the mess any day.  Plus, if I made a mistake I could fix it.  I could reuse my supplies as many times as I wanted.  The benefits are tremendous.  After  a lot of tutorials, I've actually completed several books.  A scrap miracle!

Recently I was asked to review a scrapbooking software program called My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software.  They had me at "digital scrapping" so I decided to give it a whirl.

What I discovered was a way to scrap digitally that greatly lowered that dreaded learning curve.  This software is really simple to use.  Creating and customizing your album is no more difficult than dropping and dragging or a couple of clicks.  It was so simple that I might even let my 10 year old try her hand at it.

And while it is pretty simple, it still gave me total control over the design.  It has pre-made templates where all I had to do was drop in my photos and add journaling.  Photo layout templates where I could add the pictures but choose my own background and elements.  Or you could build the entire page from scratch.

The program comes loaded with some great digital scrap supplies already plus they offer tons of other kits for purchase.  I was most excited to see that I could easily use scrap supplies from other sources, as I already own a ton.  It was no harder than any other upload.  The layout to the right was made entirely from a kit that I already owned.

You can also convert their kits into files that are able to be used in other programs, such as photoshop or elements.

You can print the pages from your own printer or upload the pages to an outside printer and have them bound into a book.  I was able to upload mine onto Shutterfly, which is my choose for printing my digital albums.

And making albums isn't all that you can do with this program.  You can take your albums and convert them into movie that you can watch on your dvd player or on  your iPod.  How cool is that?  You can also create an interactive digital album and email it to family and friends.  You can even post it on Facebook with just one click.  You can also create cards, posters, trading cards, and calendars.

My Memories has generously offered to give one of my readers the entire program for FREE.  It's normally $39.97, so score!!!

Mandatory Entry:

1)  Visit the My Memories website and take a look around.  Leave me a comment sharing your favorite kit.

Additional Entries~Leave a comment with each entry

2) Like My Memories on FB.  If you do they'll give you a promo code for money off.  Woot!

3) Follow My Memories on Twitter.!/mymemoriessuite

4) Follow me on twitter and tweet about the give away.!/prncsstefy

5) Follow my blog.

Contest ends November 15.

Tot School: Raising Rock Stars Ii

Kayleigh is 44 months old
Last week Kayleigh wasn’t in a mood for school so I had nothing to report.  This week we moved on to our next Raising Rock Star unit: I.  We didn’t finish the unit this week but that’s not much of a surprise because it’s been taking us two weeks for all of the units so far. 
Our memory verse was Philippians 4: 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  She pretty much has it down but getting her to say for me is always a challenge.  Kayleigh only does what she wants to do when she wants to do it. Story of my life.  Sigh…
She colored her verse.
Cut and taped her verse together.  At first she was a little disappointed by the length but then she was feeling silly so we have a happy picture. lol
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She cut out her vocabulary cards. 
A little pre-writing to get her ready to write I.
She did some inchworm counting from Confessions of a Homeschooler.
Sorting big and little Ii, also from COAH.
Dot painting an ice cream cone.  I’m pretty sure this was from COAH too but it might have been from Making Learning Fun.   The inchworm magnet page was from COAH.
Kayleigh is helping me with an upcoming review so she’s been doing some extra art projects.  Watch for the review for more details.
We had foam blocks, Thanksgiving Little People, and Stacking Pegs in our star boxes.  I have a feeling the Little People will not be leaving the star boxes anytime soon. LOL
Our game for this week was Sequence for Kids.  A wonderful friend gave it to us and it was a big hit.
Click the buttons at the top of the page to see what other tots have been up too. 

Interested in trying your hand at digital scrapping?  Enter to win free digi-scrapping software by clicking the button below.


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