Thursday, July 30, 2015

Heirloom Audio Productions {Review}

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review
Monster and I received With Lee In Virginia from Heirloom Audio Productions to review. 
Monster and I try and find interesting things to do for History since we do not have a set curriculum for History. I pull things from different places. When given the chance to review With Lee in Virginia we were very excited. We love audio books and we have already reviewed an audio book from Heirloom Audio Productions before so we were thrilled to try out another! 
What we received:
  • 2-CD Active Listening audio set with over 2 hours of audio to capture your child's imagination. Comes in a trifold case.
  •  Download study guide and discussion starter guide. 30 pages of discussion points, history learning guides and story related Bible study. 
  • A printable copy of a inspirational quote that was found in a letter from Robert E. Lee to his son. 
  • The official With Lee In Virginia MP3 download with the original music. 
  • Unlimited access to the Live The Adventure Letter E-Newsletter. 
  • With Lee In Virginia E-Book with all new colorful graphics.
  • Professionally designed printable posted with cast included. 
All of these are included in the family four pack which can be yours for $99.97

About the story:

With Lee In Virginia follows 15 year old Vincent Wingfield as he fights along side many famous Confederate generals of the past. Including Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Robert E. Lee. General Lee's sense of duty and devotion to God inspires Vincent to take a stand for his country and fellow men. In the end though it may cause cost Vincent his life. 

This audio story has an amazing cast with voices from:
Sean Astin- from The Lord of the Rings
Kirk Cameron-Fireproof
Brian Blessed-Star Wars
Chris Anthony- Adventures in Odyssey
Kelsey Lansdowne- Curious George
Jim Weiss- Greathall Productions
and many more....

With Lee In Virginia is another amazing story from G.A. Henty. 

How we used this:
I allowed Monster to decide when he wanted to listen to this story. He, of course, was thrilled to receive another audio story. We used this as our History. Monster and I would listen to this story several times over the several weeks since we have gotten this. One of the best things is seeing how engaged Monster would become listening to this story. He would listen so intently and you could just see his mind working, creating pictures of the story in his head as he heard the words!

What we thought:

Of course we loved this story! We loved sitting together and listening to the story unfold. One of the great things is this set can be used for the whole family. We were able to use some of the study guide questions and discussion started questions to help us talk about the audio book. Monster I think is still too young for the study guide alone, but doing it as a family works really well for us. 

One thing I did notice about the study guide is there is not much room for writing if we were to print it off and use it that way. I would like to see more room for the students to write out their answers. 

I did notice in the study guide the different types of questions it had. There were Listening Well questions and Thinking Further questions. There were also Defining Words. The Defining Words were great to discuss with Monster when he was wanting to understand what a certain word meant. 

Overall, this is an amazing product and great for any family looking for adventurous audio books! I would highly recommend this to all of my family and friends. 

Heirloom Audio Production company has a few different buying options. You can order:

  • Download MP3 version for $19.97
  • Single Pack for $29.97
  • Family Four Pack for $99.97
Each set comes with free bonuses items! Click HERE to order

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With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Sphero 2.0 {What is it?}

Back in February Monster got Sphero 2.0 for his birthday. I had seen it on social media and did some research on it and thought Monster would really enjoy having one. So we ordered him one.

What is a Sphero you might be asking? Sphero is an app enabled ball that does it all. It can change colors, complete challenges, earn tricks, and is even waterproof ( we have yet to try that one out!). Once charged up, Sphero can drive for 80 minutes. It can reach speeds of 4.5MPH.

Sphero connects to your smart device via blue tooth. We connected Monsters to his ipad that he got for Christmas. His also came with two small ramps for him to do tricks with Sphero on.

We downloaded the app that is just a basic app called Sphero on itunes and recently downloaded a new app that is called Sphero Draw and Drive. There are several other apps you can download to play with your Sphero. There are apps that also allow your child to learn programming. There are also games that allow the whole family to play along. These are called Tabletop games. You can find a list of all the Sphero games HERE

Monster has been playing with his Sphero a lot the last few days. He spent most of his morning out in the hallway of our place, playing with Sphero.

Monster has the Nubby Cover for his Sphero. We just wanted that added protection for his. 

I already have a list going for Christmas presents and these items for his Sphero are on there:
  • Sphero Turbo Cover-$14.99 comes in 3 colors: red, teal and carbon. I think we will be getting the red one! 

  • Sphero Terrain Park- $19.99 with 5 new ways to put the tracks together I know Monster will play with this for awhile. 

  • Sphero Chariot-$19.99- comes in 3 colors: blue, cyber yellow and black. I think for this one we will go with black. You can even add your lego creations to this and drive them around! Monster will love this as it combines two of his favorite things! Sphero and Legos! 
When you order Sphero it comes with your new little friend Sphero, two ramps, a charging station, quick setup guide, power adapter and tons of free games you can download ( see above link for apps). 

There are even lessons you can download, however, for those who might be interested they are aligned with Common Core ( just a heads up!). We have never used any of the lessons, we just use Sphero as a play item for now.

You can order Sphero by clicking HERE.

*this is not a sponsored post. I just wanted to share Sphero with all of you since we love Sphero so far! :) 

Friday, July 24, 2015

July {is it really almost over?}

I feel like July just started and next week is the last week of July.

We have been so busy with school work, summer fun and getting Monster ready for church camp!

This will be his last year to do mini camp. It last 3 days. Next year he will get to go to big camp which last 5 days! Monster is very excited and already counting down the days till next years camp!

Here is a quick update of our busy week.

This past weekend my mom ( Monster's GrannyMa) came up from Houston to visit! Monster was very excited she did! We went shopping, out to eat and took her to one of our new favorite places where we live. Steel City Pops. They have yummy popsicles! My mom also gave me some lessons on sewing this weekend. That was fun and I learned I need more patients for rounding corners while sewing!

For two days Monster was on a drawing fix. Seems like I need more drawing paper now... he found this book that I had from when I used to sell Usborne Books and used it to draw some pictures. It is called How to Draw Animals.

For school this week, Monster completed Fractions in Math. He received platinum level on the overall lessons and scored 100% on his test. I was very pleased as I HATED Fractions in school. ( Really all Math I hated... ) 

For Language he has now completed all 5 lessons in his yellow book and his first assessment. This upcoming week he will be taking his first break ( since we are year round schooling), and after he gets back from camp we will begin with lesson 6. I am very excited to start Lesson 6 as it has us reading chapter books. 

For History we were studying Ancient Egypt and you can read more about that HERE

For Science we have been working on a few Magic School Bus kits. The last one was a bacteria one and it did not work as well so we tossed it out.

I have also started him on writing book reports. He picks 5 books out of his huge stacks of books each week. He can read one a day and write a book report on it. I found a great book report paper HERE for now. Since he has not done book reports before I am starting him off easy. Easier books and reports and then we will work our way up to a more detailed book report.

Other than the basic school stuff, we have also been swimming and hanging out with friends and cousins before they all go back to school!

Next week while Monster is on his break I will be preparing for him and his daddy to go to camp for 3 days! I have a list of things to pack and make sure he has! 

I also have a new review coming up... Stay tuned.... 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

SImplyFun Review

Simply Fun Review

We were recently given the chance to review Expanders from SimplyFun

SimplyFun is a company that wants to make the world better through play. Play is very important for the development of thinking skills, creativity, and strategy. Play also helps families connect with one another. SimplyFun reinforces this through their games they sell. SimplyFun produces interactive and educational games designed for learning. 

SimplyFun carries more than 100 award winning products that meet children, parents and teachers needs. 

Most of SimplyFun's games can be played in 30 minutes or less. That is perfect for any family to engage together.  

SimplyFun carries games for:
  • Toddlers
  • Preschool
  • Early Elementary
  • Upper Elementary
  • Teens
  • Families
A great thing about SimplyFun is they offer a great program to join if your interested. You can become a Playologist Builder! Check HERE for more information on this program. 

Simply Fun Review
We were sent Expanders to review.  

Expanders is for ages 7 and up. 

What you get in the box:
  • 128 Plastic Expander Tokens ( 32 of each color)
  • 2 Circuit Board Fillers
  • 6 Numbered Double-Sided Circuit Boards
  • 1 Mainframe 
  • 1 Expander Token Storage Bag
What will your child will learn while playing Expanders?
  • Your child will learn Reverse Addition, Spatial Reasoning, and Critical Thinking.
You can play with 1-4 players at a time. 

The objective of Expanders is to fill the Mainframe by using your tokens to cover the numbers that connect and add up to their sum. You must find your best location to place the Expander tokens. You can find pairs, fill open spaces, expand numbers and even block your opponent! In order to win the game you must be the first player to fill the Mainframe with all of your Expander tokens! 

One of things I liked about this game is when setting up the Mainframe you can choose a level by choosing if you want to use the numbers 1-8 on one side of the Circuit Board Fillers or on the other sides there are 1-12 for a more difficult challenge. There are also a few different blank Circuit Board Fillers. The blanks ones are used when playing with 2-3 players. When using 4 players you will not need any of the white fillers. I also really liked that you can place the fillers one the board in any order. Giving you a chance to change up the game every time you play! That makes the game a challenge each time. 

It took me reading through the instructions a few different times to make sure that I completely understood the game before we played. Monster and I played several different times together and even included Daddy in a few different games. I really like that this game makes you think. Even though Monster has moved past basic addition and subtraction, this game is great for him to keep practicing them without noticing that he is actually learning. I have noticed that after playing this Monster is starting to be quicker with his answers as well. He is picking up which numbers go together much faster than before. There are 3 different Actions you can play on the board that can be played in a certain order or way. After the 4th turn you can use any of the Actions at any of your turns. 

You can play the game as a single player as well. I have used this a couple of times with Monster. I set the board up and when playing this way you only use the Action 3 to play and you cover the board yourself. You can play your pieces vertical or horizontal. You use all the colors of the tokens and play till you either run out of tokens or can no longer play any tokens anymore. 

Expanders is a game we can continue to use for several more years. One thing I would LOVE to see is them add fillers we could use for multiplication and division. 

You can purchase Expanders for $34.00. Right now you can use the code: SHREVIEW for 15% off your first purchase! Act fast though, code will expire July 31, 2015. 

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Home School in the Woods Publishing Review

Home School in the Woods Review
We were recently given the chance to review Project Passport World History Studies: Ancient Egypt from Home School In The Woods Publishing as a digital download. 
Home School in the Woods Publishing is a family of 6, owned and operating business. They opened their company in 2002 after using a different way to teach History rather than the average student textbook you get in schools. 
Home School in the Woods Review

About Project Passport: 
Project Passport is a new line of World History studies. Project Passport World History: Ancient Egypt has 25 stops along the way as your "travel" through Ancient Egypt. Each stop has guide book text you will use, an itinerary for projects and downloads, and master prints are available for download.  

Project Passport World History: Ancient Egypt also includes a printable passport and luggage while you will create on your first stop and can be used for all Project Passport studies. 

Project Passport World History: Ancient Egypt also allows you to create a Scrapbook of Sights, different foods/drinks from each area of study, a complete lap-book, listen to audio downloads, and you can even create your very own souvenirs to keep with you. 

Some of the other activities that are included are:
  • Creative Writing
  • File Folder Games
  • Creating a newspaper
  • "Sending" postcards from your travels
  • and much, much more! 

How we used this product:
First, there is a whole lot of printing involved. Be prepared. I printed off 21 pages just for the first stop. 
Monster and I used this during our History time. We do not have a planned out curriculum for History this year, so this has been perfect to throw in. 
Monster and I both enjoyed working on this together. One of the first things you do is get your suitcase and passport ready. For younger children or those who do not enjoy cutting, this would be great for the teacher to do ahead of time. There were things I knew would be great for Monster to cut out himself and things I went ahead and did before we started so I did not have to worry about Monster not wanting to cut them out. 
Also, be sure to have all supplies you need for each stop ready ahead of time. There is a list of items you will need, so you can prepare before you begin. 
Each Stop has different activities for you to do. You do not have a time frame to complete the stops. You can do as many stops as you want a day also. Project Passport: Ancient Egypt can be done anywhere between 6-12 weeks depending on how you spread it out. If you want, you can add in other books or lessons about Ancient Egypt if you wish it to go longer. 
One of the things I did to have myself prepared for this was print out the itinerary, the reading material and the travel planner for myself and I put that into a separate folder. Everything else was given to Monster to use and to put together. 

One thing I have noticed in the time that we have been doing this is Monster is like me, hates to be read to in person, while trying to learn something. He also has to have an interest in what he is reading. If he is not interested it takes him FOREVER to read one paragraph. I do wish they had the option to listen to the reading material as an audio download. I think Monster would enjoy that so much better. He loves audio books so I think him listening to the audio would work so much better. 

Speaking of audio, along some stops, they have audio downloads for you to listen to. One of Monsters favorite parts. 

Monster has overall really enjoyed this product so far. I can't convince him to bake anything to try it yet.. ( very, VERY picky eater that boy)but I am keeping my fingers crossed by the end of the whole lesson he at least will try some cantaloupe water! 

I am looking forward to finishing up Ancient Egypt and hopefully moving on to the other Project Passports that Home School in the Woods carries. Right now they also have:
  • The Middle Ages
  • Renaissance and Reformation
They also hope to include soon:

  • Ancient Greece
  • Ancient Rome
These studies can be used for grades 3-8th. They have a:

  • Download version for $33.95 ( Mac and PC compatible) 
  • CD version for $34.95 
You can find out more about Home School In The Woods Publishing by finding them on their social media accounts.

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Home School in the Woods Review
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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Home School Planet Review ( TOSReviewCrew)

Homeschool Planet Review

We were recently given the chance to review the Homeschool Planet from Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Sometimes as homeschool parents we need a way to keep track of all the lessons we do and find curriculum all in one spot. Homeschool Buyers Co-op can help with that.

About Homeschool Buyers Co-op:

Homeschool Buyers Co-op was founded in 2005 by a homeschool family. It is a family owned and operated business. They are the world's largest homeschool buyers club!

The Homeschool Buyers Co-op can help you in many ways:

  • Great Deals: They offer such amazing prices. Most products are between 10-90% off retail prices. If they can not offer the lowest prices, then they don't offer the product! 

  • Great Products: Homeschool Buyers Co-op does not offer every single homeschool product out there. They find the best products out there and offer them to there customers. They also take into consideration what there followers are looking for.

  • Free Resources: As homeschool parents we all love FREE! Homeschool Buyers Co-op offers several free resources online. A free Summer reading program, field trip guide and even homeschool classifies; where you can buy and sell used curriculum. 

  • Smart Points Reward System: This is a program where you buy certain products and they give you points that you can use to earn other products from their site! 
You can join the Homeschool Buyers Co-op for FREE! Another free product for us homeschooling parents! 

One of the things that the Homeschool Buyers Co-op offers is a online planner for homeschool families.  Homeschool Planet is for families who need a way to keep track of lessons and events your family has going on. 

Some of the features include:
  • A calendar view
  • A planner view
  • A resource view
  • Separate logins for each child
  • Daily digest
  • Email and Text reminders
  • Lessons plans
  • Attendance tracking, transcript creation, and grade tracking
  • Shopping list ( you can text to your spouse!) 
  • Mobile version
  • Calendar sharing ( you can share your calendar with your spouse and vise versa!) 
  • Lesson copying
One thing I learned about Homeschool Planet is how simple it is to use. Once you put your children in ( for me it was only the one kiddo!), you click on the calendar, the time you want and put in the classes for each child and what their assignments are. You can choose daily, weekly or even monthly. How simple is that! I did not track Monsters hours or grades because we don't need those. Once Monster gets older ( like Middle School/High School) I could see those being helpful to us. One thing that I have really enjoyed about using this program is that it sends me daily email reminders. I am horrible at remembering to use planners. I have tried paper planners and other online planners and none of them have worked for me. I tend to "forget" I have them. The Homeschool Planet sending me daily reminders helped me to remember to go online and check the planner and put in more activities! Love that! Right now Monster is too young really to understand to go online himself and log in and check what he has to do, but it is great for me to track what we are doing and when!

Homeschool Planet Review
( A sample of what the calendar may look like)

Homeschool Planet Review
( another view) 

Right now you can try Homeschool Planet for 30 days for FREE!! Just click HERE to sign up!

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Homeschool Planet Review
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Full Force Mode (week 4 of year round homeschool)

We are in our 4th week of year round homeschooling. Things have been going great so far.

This week Monster has been flying through Division on and I have been throwing in some extra worksheets from

I am so happy that so far Monster has had no issues with Math. This was never my strong suit in school. Hopefully, Monster got his Math skills from his Dad and his English/Science skills for his Momma! 

Language Arts has been wonderful so far. We are on lesson 4 in the yellow book of Learning Language Arts through Literature. Monster has done fantastic as we have moved along. After next week ( lesson 5) Monster will get a one week vacation and then we will start with Lesson 6 which will then include reading assignments. 

Science we are doing a couple days a week. Last week we made slime/goop whatever you call it. Monster played with it for a short time and then wanted to wash his hands. 

We also made slime that you roll around in your hand till it hardens and it makes a bouncy ball. Well, I think something went wrong cause by the next day it was hard as a rock! 

Monster enjoyed making it though, so that is all that mattered! 

We have been working on Ancient Egypt in History and I will be sharing that with you in a separate post. Be watching for it! 

We have also had some fun P.E time.

Monster is like a fish! He loves to swim and would stay all day if I would let him. 

Stay tuned. More post and new reviews coming very soon! 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CursiveLogic Review ( TOSReview Crew)

We were recently given the chance to review the CursiveLogic Workbook from CursiveLogic.

Cursive is something I feel very strongly about. I feel every child should learn how to write and read in cursive. Most public schools are no longer required to teach cursive. Since we homeschool we are able to choose what we teach and cursive is on my list!

CursiveLogic was originally created by Linda, who is a Harvard graduate, to help one student who just wanted to learn how to sign his name.

CursiveLogic is different from other handwriting methods. CursiveLogic relies on the inherent structure of the cursive alphabet. The CursiveLogic instruction method contains two key methods:

  • Letters Grouped by Shapes: four basic shapes make up the entire alphabet. CursiveLogic teaches all of the similar letters in one lesson. 
  • Letter Strings: CursiveLogic teaches all of the letters that share a common shape in a connected string. This allows the letters to reinforce each other and means the student are writing cursively from the beginning. 
CursiveLogic also uses visual and auditory cues to reinforce the shape patterns. 
  • Color Coding: Each letter string has a theme color that helps the student remember the shape. 
  • Catch Phrases: the use of "verbal task analysis" or saying an action verbally as it is performed. It helps with the muscle memory and helps give students a mnemonic they can return to over and over. 
  •  Real Words: students can write real words at the end of the first lesson. This is a huge motivation for most students. 

CursiveLogic offers a 96 page full color  spiral bound workbook. The workbook includes instruction pages, practice pages, and even  three dry erase pages for extra practice day after day. All for a great price of $29!

 If you sign up for their newsletter they also send out printable practice pages!

CursiveLogic is geared for ages 7 to adults!

We used this three times a week during our Writing time. I would mostly allow Monster to use this at his own pace for extra cursive practice. After going through the instructions which I found very simple and easy to review with Monster, Monster would use the book and he found it very easy to follow along. Each lesson took Monster about 30 minutes to complete. To me that seems like a decent amount of time to work on Writing. We were also given some downloads to print off for extra practice.

I would recommend this product to others who are wanting their children to learn how to write cursive!

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CursiveLogic Review
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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Homeschooling Year Round

We made the decision to homeschool year round for the first time. Monster and I have been going at it for 2 weeks now. Our plan is to go for 5 weeks and then take 1 week off. We will see how it works.

So far he is doing great and it is taking us around 2 hours to get all of the work done.

For Math he is currently using CTCMath. He is working in 3rd grade. He just finished up with times tables and patterns. He will be moving onto division and fractions next. Monster should be done with 3rd grade Math hopefully before Christmas break.

For Language Arts we started our Yellow book from Learning Language Arts through Literature. So far Monster has really enjoyed this. We will start reading books and doing the lessons on them when we get to lesson 6. Right now it seems like review over compound words, suffix, nouns and all the basic things. This usually takes us 20 mins or so to get through. I think once we hit the books it will take us a little longer, but we are ok with that. 

Daddy went to Vegas this week for a convention and brought him back this hat. He loves it. 

For Science, we were working in the Apologia book: Animals of the 6th day. We did one week of it so far and then this week we started an activity that I had gotten and forgotten about. I pulled the Coal lesson out instead and Monster really enjoyed it. You can see some of what we did here

We might go back and forth in Science. I feel like the Apologia books have so much reading in them and words that seem better for older grades. We haven't officially decided yet, but we may be saving the Science book for later and finding other projects to do for now! Great thing about homeschooling, being able to change up curriculum for what works and doesn't work! 

For History this week, we are studying about the United States of America Flag. We are studying the meaning behind the flag, what the colors represent, and why we have the flag. We are also learning the full Star Spangled Banner poem. I got a free unit from SchoolExpress

We also learned how to correctly fold a flag. Using a blanket of course :) 

For Reading, I am allowing Monster free reading time during the summer. We will begin our chapter books in a few weeks during our Language Arts time. 

We have also been getting in some swim time and some art time. So far the first two weeks have been pretty smooth. Lets just hope it stays this way till the end of 3rd grade!