Today's Wisdom

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - weeks 4-6

In my life this week…

Wow, so much going on!! First up, we took a few days off from school while I had the opportunity to attend our local Women of Faith conference.  This was my 3rd year going and the best yet!!  My sister, who was just recently baptized, attended with me and we laughed and laughed and laughed.  We also cried and cried as story after story touched our hearts and triggered many memories of our own.  If you have the chance to go in your area - don't miss it!!  And Natalie Grant - oh wow, that lady can S-I-N-G!!

In our homeschool this week...

Challenge A - let me just say that missing a week is hard but I am finally coming around to the fact that I am the teacher.  We need to work this around our schedule or it will never work for us.

MFW Bible readings from the book of Matthew.  We have now memorized Matthew 4:4, 4:19, and 4:23 so far.  We are really enjoying MFW!!  This week's country focus was on Mexico.  We, of course, celebrated with Mexican food but that we do that every week, lol.


Everyone is doing well with their Math lessons.  Stephen and Sarah are using Saxon and Jonathan is using Teaching Textbooks.

Learning the states and capitals, the equator, continents and oceans and drawing them all.

Sarah - So far we have studied nouns, verbs, adjectives, and this week we added in adverbs and diagramming.

Stephen - pronouns - definition, case, person, number, gender

Classical Conversations
Week 4


American History - we are using The First Americans by Joy Hakim and really enjoying it!

Skeletal System - oh yeah :)

Here is what our mummified apple results were from the previous lesson....

The apple on the right was places in the mummifying mixture.  The left apple was the control apple.

Also this week - I relaxed!!!  I have been pushing our schooling since I knew we were going on vacation in October.  No one was enjoying that at all.  So, slowly I am learning!!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Next week the kids will be performing at Carowinds and are so excited!!  So that mean LOTS of practices for this week!

My favorite thing this week was…

Letting go!!!!!!!

Questions/thoughts I have…

We're reading…


  • Instructing A Child's Heart
  • Read Alouds:  The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Pedro's Journal (slow going but we love them both)
  • Educating the Whole Hearted Child
  • Beth Moore's Daniel Study

Carry on Mr. Bowditch

Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia

The Matchlock Gun

Links to share..... 

Lots of reviews going on this week too including some of our favorites so far!

Wonder Maps Review

My 8th grade son is learning to draw the continents and label the countries, states, and provinces.  He is also learning some of the features such as mountains and rivers.  Sometimes finding an accurate map with all that information takes many hours of internet research. Many hours that I do not have.

The opportunity came up for me to review WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press courtesy of the fine folks at Timberdoodle.  Oh, oh, oh, seriously this program fell into my lap at just the right time.

WonderMaps includes:
  • 60+ maps of the world
  • 60+ maps of the USA
  • 125 historical maps, including 25 biblical maps
  • The complete map sets from The Mystery of History vols. I–III and All American History vols. I & II
That is over 350 maps!  The best part of all is that you can customize the maps to include whatever you want!  If you want towns and cities included - they can be with one click or if you choose not to include them - again you can with one click.  If you just want to print blackline maps - yep, one click!  Other features include rivers, borders, terrain, and graticules.

Here is a tutorial on how WonderMaps works.

Wondermaps can be purchased for $44.95 and earning you 45 Doodle Dollar Points! For more information on Doodle Dollar points click here.  You can find many other geography helps including puzzles, games, and curriculum here.

As I said previously, this product to our family is priceless.  I love, love, love it!! It is now a permanent part of our homeschool curriculum. I am learning so much about Geography as well!  

Here is Jonathan (8th grade) practicing tracing and drawing South America.

As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of WonderMaps in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

TOS Review: Aletheia Writing Magazine

Aletheia Logo - Blue Border
Aletheia Writing Magazine is published quarterly and focuses on the literary and artistic talents of Christian teens, ages 13-19.  Aletheia is the Greek word for "truth" or "unveiling".

My son, Jonathan, who is 13 was the main person to review this product.  I feel I must tell you that my son does not like to write, draw, or read for that matter.  So, I knew this would be hard for him to review but I thought - who knows - it may just give him a love for one of those things at least!

His first time through, he opened the pages and thumbed through looking at the pictures.  On the inside cover he found this picture of a studio featuring Captain America.  I think that's all it took for him!

Inside the magazine is filled with stories and illustrations written by Christian teens.  I found it so pleasurable to see such talent coming from the Christian teens of today's world.  When the world has such negative things to say about teens, this magazine gives them the opportunity to shine.  What both my son and I loved most was the fact that the pages are not cluttered with ads.

The annual subscription for this magazine is $26 and includes shipping and handling. You will receive 4 quarterly magazines in full color with your subscription.  You can see the spring magazine here to get a feel for the articles and decide if this is right for your family.  Some of the features include book reviews, poems, a writer's challenge, and a featured contributor.

Would our family purchase this normally?  No, this is just not a product that fits our family.  I think it is a great magazine but the cost is more than we could justify paying.

Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of Aletheia Writing Magazine.

**Disclaimer: I received a free product in exchange for my review. The opinions here are my honest and true evaluation!

Monday, September 26, 2011

TOS Review: Guidecraft - Hideaway Country Kitchen

Today's review product is a Hideaway Country Kitchen by Guidecraft.  My daughter was over the moon when I told her I was accepted for this review.  She just turned eight and loves to play mama!  Guidecraft began in 1964 in a small wood shop with just 10 items under their belt.  Today, 46 years later, Guidecraft offers over 850 educational toys and furnishings.  One of those items is the Hideaway Country Kitchen.

For days on end, my daughter waited patiently for that big box to arrive.  Everyday she would ask to check the mail so she could see if a package had been left by the garage door.  Finally, the day came and her kitchen arrived!  To top it all off, her daddy came home early and began the assembly.

It wasn't long before several family members became involved in the process.

Putting the kitchen together was almost as much fun as the finished product!  Special father/daughter bonding time.

My husband, who use to be in the building profession, had nothing but good things to say about the quality of the kitchen as he put it together.  

It included many features such as a realistic clock with movable hands.

It also included knobs that made clicking noises and beautiful sink.



Ta da!  Sarah has not left the side of this kitchen since it came!  Okay, that is an exaggeration but she really loves it.  I put it in the kitchen so every time that I'm cooking she can be there cooking too.

What makes this kitchen unique is it's ability to fold to a depth of only 6".  That makes the kitchen very easy to store.  I must add that this is a feature that we will probably not put in to use.  Sarah would more than likely cry if I packed her kitchen away.  Although, during the holiday time, I can see where it would come in handy to have this feature.



This kitchen can be purchased online at Guidecraft for $200.  There are also many other educational toys and furnishings available at the website.

Would our family purchase this?  The craftsmanship and quality are very good.  Everything is made to look realistic but the price is way above what we would pay.  Then again, the smile on my baby's face each day is priceless. This would be a kitchen that would last.

Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of Guidecraft's Hideaway Kitchen.

**Disclaimer: I received a free product in exchange for my review. The opinions here are my honest and true evaluation!

TOS Review: Tri-Cross Games

Tri-Cross Logo

Ever heard of Tri-Cross  - yeah me neither.  Again, I was allowed the wonderful opportunity to review a totally new product to our homeschool.  Who knew there were so many products out there for homeschoolers!?  Actually Tri-Cross is not only for homeschoolers but kids of all ages and of all schools!  

Tri-Cross by Games for Competitors is becoming known as "the new chess".  It is such a simple game and can be played so quickly that it has instantly become a family favorite.  When I say simple, I don't mean in terms of strategy.  Tri-Cross really keeps you on your toes as you anticipate what move your opponent will make next.  Stephen, the strategist of the family, who is in 5th grade and 10 years old, especially enjoyed this one.  There are many different ways to play the game but we started with the basic one.  The object of the game is to get one of your pieces in the center of the board for 4 turns.  Generally, you can jump pieces according to value.  For instance the 6 can jump the 5, 4, 3, 2, and Tri-Cross.  The Tri-Cross, however, can jump the 6 only.  All other pieces fall into normal number place value.   We all played the game and Sarah who just turned 8 had the most difficult time with it.  With help though, she gradually became better and better.  She also uses the instructions that came with the game right by her side to aid her memory in what can jump what.  The game also came with a travel size version.  We haven't really put that in to action but I can certainly see where it could come in handy!  I plan to pack it next month on the our plane trip to Arizona!

Here is a short video describing the play instructions of Tri-Cross.

Helps develop skills in the following areas:
Logical Thinking
Cause and Effect
Interpreting Outcomes
Abstract Thinking
Memory (In Variations of Play)

Here are a couple of my favorite gamers giving it a try.  See those serious thinking faces :)
Tri-cross is available at the Games for Competitors website and can also be found in stores in about 25 different states.  The game is available in 3 different editions with 3 different prices.

Standard Edition - $24.95

Wood Edition - $35.95
Eco-Edition - $19.95

Would our family purchase this?  Absolutely!  We love games and ones that add in a little math and strategy while still remaining fun are mom's favorite choice!  You can also enter to win a Tri-Cross game here!  Games for Competitors offers many more games to choose from as well.

Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of Tri-Cross.

**Disclaimer: I received a free product in exchange for my review. The opinions here are my honest and true evaluation!

Friday, September 16, 2011

TOS Review: AIMS Solve It - 3rd


This time we had the opportunity to review AIMS Solve It for 3rd grade.  This is another one of those wonderful crew moments.  I have never heard of AIMS before nor have I ever used any of their products.  Sarah and I had a blast with these problem solving strategies. 

AIMS is an acronym for Activities Integrating Math and Science. Their company was founded on the belief that children need to be given hands on activities in order to develop better problem-solving abilities.  

With Solve It, that is just what you receive - a wonderful hands on experience.  These skills not only serve children well in math but in all areas of life.

Included in this book are teacher lessons and a CD where you can print off the pages included in the book.  

Solve It focuses on 9 problem solving strategies which include....

  • using manipulatives
  • writing number sentences
  • drawing out problems
  • guess and check
  • organizing information
  • looking for patterns
  • using logical thinking
  • working backwards
  • wishing for an easier problem

By using the activities included in this book students can become great problem solvers.  Not all strategies are easy and take some thinking but truly build confidence levels when they do figure it out.  At least that is what I found with Sarah.  She is in 3rd grade and these were perfect for her level.  She tends to really get upset if she ever gets an answer wrong.  She will begin to cry immediately.  It breaks my heart and I try to tell her that mistakes are a part of the learning process but she is so hard on herself!  I really found that using these simple strategies began to build a confidence level in her that she needed so much.

Solve It is available online to purchase for $24.95.  You may preview a 24 page sample here.  You will also want to see the other products that they have available including e-books.  A catalog is available upon request as well and you can find free activities for grades K-9 here.

Is this something we would purchase to add to our curriculum? Yes!  The confidence I see already in Sarah is worth every penny!

Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of this AIMS product and others.

**Disclaimer: I received a free product in exchange for my review. The opinions here are my honest and true evaluation!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

TOS Review: Big IQ Kids


This year we are traveling the world in geography. Our main focus, however, is the United States. So, when we were given the opportunity to review Big IQ kids we were thrilled!

Big IQ kids is an award winning online program recommended for grades K-8. They offer both free and premium programs in spelling, vocabulary, math, and US States.

We found all the programs very easy to use. Our main focus was on the premium US States but both Stephen and Sarah used the math and spelling a few times too. Each lesson only takes about 10-15 minutes to complete and the child is not advanced to the next level until they have obtained mastery in the level they are working on. On several occasions, I would receive an email after they finished their daily lesson stating the error that had occurred and a helpful tip to help them the next time.

BigIQkids Programs

Spelling & Vocabulary: Here you will find a word dictionary with over 40,000 words. They have programs pre-loaded with 40 lessons for K-adult appropriate word lists or you can easily enter your own word lists and the program will automatically create a week’s worth of lessons, quizzes and tests around your own lists. The program includes tracking and progress reports.

You can purchase a premium membership to Spelling Jr for $7.99/month or $39.99/annual.

Math: Here you can set up a child's lesson to mirror what they are doing in their current curriculum. For example, if the child is on double digit addition and single digit multiplication, the program can focus on just these two areas.

You can purchase a premium membership for $9.99/month or $49.99/annual.

U.S. States: BigStatesTime is the ultimate tool in learning the state's location, capital, spelling, abbreviations and general state facts. The program allows parents/teachers to add additional facts which will be included in the child's lessons and the program culminates in a “State Mastery Exam” that, if passed with 100% mastery, awards the child a State Master Certificate.

You can only purchase an annual premium membership for US States and the cost is $39.99. A monthly membership in US States is not available.

All of the lessons can be customized to level and liking. Big IQ kids allows the children another avenue for learning and adds in the fun factor. Both Stephen and Sarah really enjoyed this program. After completion of the daily lesson, they each had the opportunity to play a game from the game page so with that kind of reward they were begging for more :).

For a detailed comparison chart of the free versus premium memberships go here.
Here they are enjoying one of their daily lessons.

The Big IQ buddy that you can create when you sign up has a very robotic voice that just loved!

Overall, we really enjoyed Big IQ kids. Is this something we would purchase to add to our curriculum? No, but I could see how it would come in handy for lessons on the go!

Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of Big IQ kids.

**Disclaimer: I received a free membership in exchange for my review. The opinions here are my honest and true evaluation!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - Week 3

My favorite thing this week was…

celebrating Sarah's 8th birthday!!!

In my life this week…

Up until yesterday everything had been going smooth.  Yesterday - everything still went smooth except me.  I suddenly became an emotional wreck.  Everything that we are doing and needing money in almost everything we are doing and I had a break down.  

Praise God for praying family and friends to help pull me through.  Honestly, sometimes I thought to myself - what is wrong with you girl - stop crying....but the tears just kept coming. 

In our homeschool this week...

We enjoyed reading from the book of Matthew and learning about Dwight L. Moody from Hero Tales.

Challenge A - Jonathan is working on Canada this week, researching wildflowers (Virginia Bluebells were his choice), 1st conjugation in Latin, the parable of the talents in Bible Based Writing, and finally made it to multiplication in math.  I'm thinking we might should have went ahead with Algebra 1 instead of pre-algebra.  The review sure seems slow to me!

Stephen and Sarah.....

again - review, review, review - we may need to just skip some!

Learning the states and capitals, the equator, continents and oceans and drawing them all.  I went ahead and downloaded Road Trip USA Geography and History to enhance our state studies.  Starting next week, we will take 2 states a week to learn more.  We are also using Big IQ kids to help supplement our state studies.

Decided to skip grammar this week completely and start it along with spelling next week.

Classical Conversations
Cycle 3 - Week 3 (although we haven't started back yet - the kids were BEGGING to begin so we did ;)

Boston Tea Party, Pedro's Journal

We love our Apologia Anatomy Notebooking Journals!!!!!  We've decided to go with the suggested schedule and do science 2 times a week for now anyway.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Classical Conversations starts Tuesday!  Soccer Practice also starts this week.

Questions/thoughts I have…

Lord please give me the strength!

We're reading…

The Core (again!)
Read Alouds:  The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Pedro's Journal

The Magician's Nephew

The Matchlock Gun

The Courage of Sarah Noble

Our week in pictures.....
Getting ready to do our science experiment.

We will update next week with the results and yes that sign is very necessary around here!

Hurricane Irene clean up.