Today's Wisdom

Friday, March 30, 2012

TOS Review: I See Sam Little Books


If you think that you can't possibly teach your child to read, then I have a product to share with you that will put those thoughts to rest.  

Academic Success for all Learners has created a simple reading tool that is being used in different learning environments all over the world.  The product - Little Books.  

The Little Books program is a sequence of 141 color coded books. There are 8 sets of books from Kindergarten to 3.6 reading level. Each set contains up to 27 books.

I actually started with Set 1 and I have a 3rd grader using those.  This set is for beginning readers but I had noticed some holes in my daughters reading ability so I wanted to go back to the beginning to see where/what she was missing.  I wanted to start easy for her as to not frustrate her anymore.  These were the perfect books for that.  Yes, set 1 was extremely easy for her so we read 5 books a day and I was able to see some of the sounds/words she was having difficulty with.  She quickly breezed through set 1 which I expected and we began set 2.  Here, she had to slow down a bit and I was able to assess what we needed to work on.  

Each book begins with new sounds and words that are going to be introduced in the book.  It also has a review of previous sounds learned.  Each book ends with sounds and words that will be introduced in the next book of the series.  All throughout the book are clues for the parent/teacher that include reminders simply to praise the child for a job well done as well as simple comprehension questions.  When you finish each book, your child can color that number book on a progress chart.  When you complete a set, you can award your child with a certificate of completion.  All forms are included with the books.  The books are simple and not cluttered so the focus is primarily on the reading.  Also, in each book are characters like the one below.  Meet Ann!  

A great tool to get you started is the create your own customized instructor guide and lesson planner. Created just for your learner and ready to download today.  This also includes an assessment so you can easily find out where to begin with your child.  Best of all, it is free!

You can see a free sample of a book and check out other free resources available here.  Each set of books can be purchased here for $30 each.  There are also kits, organizers, and puppets available!  You may also want to browse their other products which include big books, phonemic awareness materials, flashcards, math, spelling, and more.

We loved these books and can't wait to continue with the other sets!  They are great tools to help you and your child be successful in reading!

Here is Sarah with her books and progress chart!

Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of these and other Little Book sets.

**Disclaimer: I received 2 free sets in exchange for my review. The opinions here are my honest and true evaluation!

Monday, March 19, 2012

TOS Review: Progeny Press Guide - The Bronze Bow


This review item came at the perfect time!  My son was just about to begin reading The Bronze Bow and I had been looking for a way to give him more accountability in his reading.

Progeny Press study guides were written by homeschooling parents Michael and Rebecca Gilleland after researching the literature guides available to them and not being able to find anything that combined the guides with  a Christian perspective.  You can read more about the beginnings and their statement of faith here.

From the website..

Progeny Press study guides are designed to help students better understand and enjoy literature by getting them to notice and understand how authors craft their stories and to show them how to think through the themes and ideas introduced in the stories. To properly work through a Progeny Press study guide, students should have easy access to a good dictionary, a thesaurus, a Bible (we use the NIV translation, but that is up to your preference; just be aware of some differences in language), and sometimes a topical Bible or concordance. Supervised access to the Internet can also be helpful at times, as can a good set of encyclopedias.

We received the best selling Progeny Press Study Guide for The Bronze Bow and it was just what I had been looking for.  In the guide, you will find much more than your normal comprehension questions.  It provides easy-to-use, reproducible lessons on literary terms, comprehension and analysis, critical thinking, related scriptural principles, vocabulary, and activities, plus a complete answer key.  It allows your student to really dig into the novel they are reading.

The study guide also includes...

  • notes to the instructor
  • synopsis of the novel
  • about the author
  • background information
  • pre-reading activities

You can see some of these samples in action here.  Progeny Press has study guides available for lower elementary, upper elementary, middle, and high school students.  The Bronze Bow Study guide is recommended for middle school students.  My 8th grader reviewed this study guide and gave these comments...

"I like the fact that it breaks the chapters up and compares Biblical stories/people to what I am reading in the novel.  I wasn't crazy about all the dictionary word look ups."  :)  That is probably a typical statement from a an 8th grade boy!

We were sent a pdf of the digital form sent as an email attachment.  The study guide can be completed by the student directly on the computer which was another thing my son loved.  I also loved that fact so we didn't have so many papers to print out.  He would fill in his answers right on the computer and save them for me to check later.

This study guide is available in 3 formats and can be purchased here...
  • As a printed and bound booklet for $18.99
  • On a CD in .pdf format for $16.99
  • On CD and printed booklet for $23.99
  • As the same .pdf file as an e-mail attachment for $16.99
The book is not included with the study guide.  You will need to purchase that separately.  It is available at the website for $6.95.  

Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of these and other study guides from Progeny Press.

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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

TOS Review: The Art of Argument

I can't help but laugh at that title.  Having studied a little about the classical stages, I am aware of the dialectic stage and know that children just naturally begin to "argue" at that stage.  So, why not teach them how to do it  correctly and hopefully respectfully.  When I speak of arguing here, I am not referring to an emotional squabble but trying to convince one of your point of view by reasoning.  I really don't think that I have ever mastered this concept myself so I am learning as well.  The Art of Argument is perfect for this stage of teaching usually referred to as the middle school ages but anyone without any formal logic teaching could benefit from this course including high school and adults!

The Art of Argument teaches twenty eight of the most important "logical fallacies".  What is a fallacy?  Fallacy comes from the Latin word fallacia, which means deceit, trick, or fraud.  So, a "logical fallacy" is an occurrence of bad or incorrect reasoning.  You have an argument but is it a good argument?

The Student Book is broken down into 3 units:
  • Relevance
    • Ad Fontem Arguments
    • Appeals to Emotion
    • Red Herrings
  • Presumption
    • Fallacies of Presupposition
    • Fallacies of Induction
  • Clarity
    • Fallacies of Clarity

From the website...

Junior high aged students will argue (and sometimes quarrel), but they won't argue well without good training. Young teens are also targeted by advertisers with a vengeance. From billboards to commercials to a walk down the mall, fallacious arguments are everywhere you look. The Art of Argument was designed to teach the argumentative adolescent how to reason with clarity, relevance and purpose at a time when he has a penchant for the "why" and "how". It is designed to equip and sharpen young minds as they live, play, and grow in this highly commercial culture. This course teaches students to recognize and identify twenty-eight informal fallacies, and the eye-catching text includes over sixty slick and clever, “phony advertisements” for items from blue jeans to pick-up trucks, which apply the fallacies to a myriad of real life situations. 

The student book is written directly to the student in a very easy to read style and uses fun, fictitious ads but very relative to what teens see on a daily basis.  The text uses the character, Socrates, who teaches characters Nathan and Tiffany, about each logical fallacy and your student listens in on the teachings.  You can view a sample of the student book here.

The teacher book simply is the student book but with the answers filled in.  Some of the answers, of course, will vary and not be cut or dry.  You can view a sample of the teacher book here.

We also had the opportunity to review the first six fallacies being discussed on DVD.  Since I have no former background in logic or teaching logic, I found this to be an extremely valuable asset to the curriculum.  You can view a sample teaching of the "Straw Man Fallacy" by watching the video below.  (You will need to visit my site if you are viewing this in a reader.)

Yeah, you see what I mean?  This is a great curriculum for adults too!  If you didn't watch - go back now!  Don't argue with me - just do it.  :)  See, I'm still learning how to "argue".

You can purchase the Art of Argument Basic Bundle set which includes the student book, the teacher book, and the DVD set for $88.95.  

You can also purchase each item individually.   The student book sells for $21.95, the teacher book sells for $24.95, and the DVD set sells for $54.95.  There are also additional logic sets available for purchase.  Be sure to check out Classical Academic Press for additional product details.  Another one of our favorite curriculum that they offer is Latin For Children and you can see our review for that here.

Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of these and other Logic Curriculum from Classical Academic Press.

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

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 3/9

In my life this week…

The week started out with me in a blah mood but I tried to focus on my blessings and it ended much better, thank you Lord.  It is so easy to see the negative and not as easy to focus on the positive but just that simple turn around changes everything.  Somehow, your children behave, you finish things you've been putting off, your housework gets done.  It is not magic, it is focus.  

In our homeschool this week...

We only have 4 official weeks of Classical Conversations left and I am looking forward to the break!

We are still reading in Matthew and our country focus is Kenya.  It was really cool that we had family serve as missionaries in Kenya just last year so we pulled out their letter and pictures and it made our study so much more personal.

The mission team in Kenya.
 my brother in law, sister in law, and niece


Back to Saxon for Sarah and Stephen and Teaching Textbooks for Jonathan. 

Jonathan began a new writing curriculum called Write With WORLD and declared it the best writing program ever.  Review coming soon.

We continue studying American History.  We have also incorporated Task Cards to aid in our study.

We have just begun Christian Kids Explore Chemistry and can't wait to explore it further.  A review on that will be coming soon too!

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

We plan to spend the weekend watching the ACC tournament and cheering on the Wolfpack!

My favorite thing this week was…

Watching NC State win twice!!  Go Wolfies!! Have I mentioned we are NC State fans?  :)

Questions/thoughts I have…

What tips do you have for successfully splitting yourself among your children?

Links to share..... 

A recent photo of Faces of History night...

Can you guess who we were?  :)

And now is a great time to impress your kids with this!  :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

TOS Review: American History Task Cards


Recently, we began using these American History Task Cards published by Creek Edge Press in our homeschool.  Until the review came up, I had never even heard of these little treasures.

The American History Task Card set includes 33 cards and an Introduction to the course for the teacher. The cards may be used by students in grades K - 8 and are intended to be used at a pace of about one per week.  I have 3 children in that range and used the cards with all three and we took 2 weeks to complete a card just so we could go at a slower pace.  Topics begin with the First Americans and go up to the Digital Age.


The cards, as shown in the sample below, each come with several tasks listed for your child to complete.  

Tasks cover research, map work, summaries, time line work, biographical figures, literature, copy work and simple projects such as collages designed to reinforce learning. 

Each Task Card Set includes a set of Task Cards and an Introduction to the course for the teacher. The Introduction to the course for the teacher includes instructions for using the cards, instructions for preparing the learning environment, tips to help you thrive with the Task Card Approach, and lists of books and enrichment materials that can be used to complete the tasks. Detailed images of the cards and learning environment samples can be seen here,  There is also a link to the Scope and Sequence for each card which can be found here

Amy Kate Hilsman designed the task cards with the goal of providing a simple tool that pulls together the best of Classical, Charlotte Mason, and Montessori education. You can read more about origin of these cards here.   

For us personally, these cards were a perfect way to expand our current American History studies and memory work.  I love the independence of the task cards but I also love the fact that we can do all the tasks together if we choose too or skip some portions if needed.  They were very easily conformed to fit our homeschool.  The price of each history set is $20 or you can purchase the set for $90.  For us, that is extremely affordable and one less thing for me to do - win/win!

Visit the online store to see all the sets that are available.  Some topics the sets include are geography, science, music, art and more.  

Here is a little of our map work activity in action.  Sarah was tracing, finding and labeling the first 13 states.

Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of these and other Task Card Sets.

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

Saturday, March 3, 2012

K5 Learning Review


We recently had the opportunity to review K5 Learning.  It is an online reading and math enrichment program for children in grades K-5.   They also offer spelling lessons.

Sarah, who is in 3rd grade, was the main user of K5 Leaning in our home.  She started with an assessment which I felt was pretty accurate to her skill level.  I felt that Sarah's assessment was right on where she was grade level.  After the assessment, she was then placed in the level that matched her results.  I also had my son take the assessment who is in 5th grade and the level he was put in was way too low for his skill.  I contacted K5 and they immediately changed his level.  Below is a sample of the assessment detail report for reading.


 Here are a few screen shots of the math lessons.  They are beautiful in color and really fun for kids. The math facts portion was Sarah's least favorite but sometimes you just have to do what you don't like!  For additional practice, there is a section of worksheets available too.



The parent dashboard was really simple to navigate and the place to go to find the detailed reports showing your child's results.

Overall we were really impressed with the lessons of K5.  Sarah has requested to continue her lessons and we are praying over continuing.  We are a busy, on the go family and this has been the perfect fit for us.  She can do it wherever - at grandmas, at the doctor's office, at soccer practice.  I love the convenience factor.  I also love the reports and the constant contact that the company gives.  I felt that they really cared about my child's level of success and went above and beyond to make that known.

From the website...

K5 includes 4 reading and math programs

K5 Reading helps kids become strong readers and develop a love of reading. This award-winning program covers phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary and reading comprehension. 

K5 Math is an award-winning program which builds self confidence and a deep understanding of math concepts. K5 Math covers numbers and operations, geometry, measurement (including time and money), algebraic thinking and data analysis. 

K5 Spelling is an advanced vocabulary program which improves language skills one word at a time. We feature adaptive instruction, automatic word generation, an optimized visual interface, and a 150,000+ word database. 

K5 Math Facts uses adaptive technology to help kids develop instant recall of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Progress on each and every math fact is monitored until mastery is obtained.
The only drawback for us is the price.  $25 per month is steep for our family.  The better option is to pay annually for $199 but coming up with that kind of money up front is tough too.  I do like the fact that for each additional child, they give a discount.

You can try K5 learning out for 14 days for free yourself!  There  is no credit card required, no obligation, and you receive free assessments for your children as well.  So, go here to see if K5 is right for your family!  There is also a detailed video you can watch here.

Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of K5 Learning.

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