Thursday, October 29, 2015

Maestro Classics { Peter and the Wolf Review}

Maestro Classics Review
We were recently given the chance to review Peter and the Wolf ( physical CD ) from Maestro Classics
Maestro Classics began when a conductor, Stephen Simon, and an executive director of an orchestra, Bonnie Ward Simon, from the Kennedy Center had a son. Their son favorited books and music over toys. Maestro Classics began in 2004 in Washington, DC.

Maestro Classics Review
Peter and the Wolf is the story of a young boy named Peter who disobeys his grandfather and climbs over the garden wall. After climbing the garden wall Peter encounters a wolf. With the help of his friends-a duck, a cat and a bird- Peter is able to capture the wolf and take it to a zoo.
Included with the CD are:
  • A biography of the composer Sergei Prokofiev
  • The conductor letting you know what to listen for in the music 
  • A new recording with the London Philharmonic Orchestra 
  • A bonus track that has just the music and no narration 
  • A Russian trio playing folk instruments
  • Dance along to the famous Russian folk melody
  • 24 page activity book
Another great feature is after you are done listening to Peter and the Wolf CD, there is a downloadable curriculum to go along with the music CD. The curriculum covers topics such as Math, Language Arts, History, Music, Art, Geography, and Science. 

What we thought:
Monster and I both opened up the Peter and the Wolf CD and checked it out. We started by flipping through the 24 page activity book. We found some fun activities in there such as matching the instrument with each animal that it is in the story. There is also a cute little dot to dot activity and a crack the code activity. Monsters favorite ones though were the word search and the crossword puzzles they included in the book. 

When we first listened to Peter and the Wolf CD I had Monster sit on the couch and listen to whole thing while doing nothing else. I wanted him to focus just on the story and listen to how the instruments made the story. Monster really enjoyed just sitting and listening to the story and the music. He told me it was fun trying to create the pictures in his mind and it was exciting when you could tell what was happening with the sounds of the music. 

After letting him listen to it that way, I then kept the Peter and the Wolf CD in the player and let him listen to it at random. I also would play it when we needed it to be calmer in the house. Monster does well with listening to music also while working. This CD is great for that because the music is fun yet relaxing too. 

Monster has really enjoyed the Peter and the Wolf CD and is already asking for others! 

Right now Maestro Classics has 12 CDs to choose from:
  • Peter and the Wolf
  • The Nutcracker
  • Casey at Bat
  • The Story of Swan Lake
  • Carnival of Animals
  • The Solider's Tale 
  • The Sorcerers Apprentice
  • Merry Pranks of Master Hill
  • The Tortoise and the Hare
  • My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music
  • Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel
  • Juanita La Langosta Espanola
You can buy each CD for $16.98 or you can buy the box set which includes all 12 CDs for $150 ( this is actually a sale price right now!) 

If you would like to find out more about Maestro Classics, please find them on their social media accounts:

Also if you would like to see what others thought of Peter and the Wolf or The Nutcracker, Please click the banner below:

Maestro Classics Review

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Apologia Educational Ministries { Planner Review}

Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner
We were recently given the chance to review The Ultimate Homeschool Planner ( Blue cover) from Apologia Educational Ministries

Apologia Educational Ministries is the #1 publisher of creation based Science and Bible curriculum. Apologia Educational Ministries is a family owned company. Apologia's mission is to help homeschool families learn, live and defend the Christian faith. They have several type of tools to help homeschool families and grades K-12th. 

Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner
The Ultimate Homeschool Planner-Blue Cover contains so many great tools for homeschool parents. 
  • Sturdy cover and back with pockets at each end. 
  • Yearly calendars that start at 2015 and go till 2023
  • User's Guide- explains how to use the planner and tips to make it work well for you. 
  • One Year Planning Grid
  • Student Goal Setter
  • Pre-Planning Guides- resource list for each student
  • Monthly Planner-calendar style with fill in boxes for dates. 
  • Weekly Planner- with spots for small notes, supply list and appointments. There is also an area for you to record memorable moments and evidence of grace. 
  • Records-scores and grades. You can also write in your reading list and field trips/outside activities. 
  • Teaching Tips
  • High School Planning Guide
  • Year in Review
  • Notes-3 pages of pages to take notes through out the year. 
When I received The Ultimate Homeschool Planner-Blue Cover I immediately noticed the great covers. Planners I have used in the past were either card stock type cover that had been laminated  or very flimsy. I noticed how the cover and back were made from what feels like a thin plastic. It is hard to tear and won't easily destroy if a kid accidentally stepped on it! Next I opened The Ultimate Homeschool Panner-Blue Cover up. I sat down and for the first few minutes just went through each page to see what each page offered. I then went back and read through the User Guide. Normally with planners you don't get User Guides. I loved the way everything was set up and explained. It came so easy for me to understand and follow along with. 

After using The Ultimate Homeschool Planner-Blue Cover I have really enjoyed it. I love how easy it is to use and keep track of everything I need to keep track of. One of my favorite parts so far has been the are for memorable moments. I think that is so great that that was included. You always have moments where you want to record them and then something happens and you forget. Having the planner with me and usually on my desk it is within reach to be able to write down moments quickly. Using the One Year Planner Grid helps me to remember important dates that are coming up. I sat down and wrote in the two upcoming months and all important dates and holidays so they are right at my fingers now. I also love the Weekly Planner. That fact that there is a supply list on the side of each one helps me to remember what I need to grab when I am out shopping for the week. I am also loving the Reading List area. That is one area we struggle with ( Reading) so to have a list to be able to write down which books we are reading is great so we know how many we have read or really need to catch up on! 

Some of the sections we have not been able to use yet like the High School Planning Guide. I mean Monster is only 8 right now, but I like that it was included. I enjoy checking those out and find it interesting to know what we will look forward to in the future. Way, way, way future! ;) 

I would recommend The Ultimate Homeschool Planner to any homeschool family looking for a great homeschool planner.  You can get the planner online for $29.00

If you would like to find out more about Apologia Educational Ministries you can find them on their social media accounts:

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Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review
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Fall Sensory Box (older children)

Most of the time I never seen Sensory boxes for older children. They are usually geared more towards the younger ages. Monster enjoys Sensory boxes here and there.

Today while we were at the park I had Monster collect some things that reminded him of Fall. We then stopped by our local Target on the way home and picked up some different gourds.

Here is what our box is filled with it. 

Leaves- all kinds of colors too! I am hoping he will take the lead and maybe sort them out, or even do some leaf rubbings. 

We collect these every year. I was so bummed that this year there was hardly any :( They are huge! 

We found these. There are nuts inside. I am not 100% sure what kind. Maybe pecans? He will open and explore them! 

Paper and colored pencils. My hope with these are he will use the measuring tape to measure them and write in the lengths. He will use the colored pencils to draw and color in each item as well. 

Acorns. You can see the different types and sizes. These are off two different trees. 

We found this green stuff on the trails while we were walking. So we grabbed a little piece. 

Measuring tape to measure/ 

Different gourds! They are so fun in their shapes and sizes! 

I am hoping we can add to our box every time we visit the park and find something new. 

Do you use Sensory Boxes in your homeschooling? If so, please share how you use them! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Enjoying Our TIme

Our weather is FINALLY cooling off here in Texas. So we are doing what any person would do. Enjoying the outdoors!

We have already been to our favorite several times and spend time outdoors when we can. I am so glad our weather is finally cooled off because I was tired of the hot weather. 

Monster is still working hard on his school work. I can't believe how fast this year is going. I feel like i should already be looking at what to do about curriculum come March. Our plan is to be done with schooling in March and maybe start back in May for his next "school" year. We will see though. I have several ideas on what I want to do with his learning style and what is working and what isn't working for us. This will take some time and thoughts on how to keep moving forward for him and help him learn the best possible way for his learning style too. Sounds like a bunch of jabber but I will post about it soon. 

Stay tuned I have two new reviews coming this week! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Brookdale House {Review}

 Brookdale House Review

We were recently given the chance to review Sheldon's New Primary Language Lessons workbook from Brookdale House

Brookdale House publishes educational material for homeschooling families, private schools and public school children. Brookdale House had their first homeschool educational material published in 2006. 

The goal of Brookdale House is to publish educational material for homeschoolers and private school children that are design to teach on multiple levels instead of one level at a time. Every curriculum Brookdale House publishes is designed to make learning easier and more efficient. 

Sheldon's New Primary Language Lessons is a beginners workbook for elementary students to teach the 8 parts of speech and the fundamentals of sentence and paragraph writing. In this updated workbook the children are able to write in their text in the workbook itself. This workbook also follows the more gentler Charlotte Mason style. 

Lesson types included in the workbook are:
  • Copy-work
  • Narration
  • Dictation
  • Punctuation
  • Parts of Speech
  • Sentences
  • Paragraphs
  • Poetry
 Brookdale House Review
What we thought of Sheldon's New Primary Language Lessons:

When we first got the workbook. I spent some time going through the book myself before starting it with Monster. I was worried because this book did not look like something we would normally use for Grammar. Plus some of the things it taught we have already gone over and I was worried about Monster being bored with it. 

When using the book one of the first things I noticed was the pictures we were supposed to be using in our picture studies were small, black and white and some were not very focused. Monster had a hard time seeing some of the things he needed to see in the photos for the questions. Monster and I discussed what we thought of the photos and we both agreed it would make more sense if the photos for each photo study were larger and maybe on a page of their own. We also think that by adding them in color it would help see everything going on in the picture.

One of the things that Monster seemed to really enjoy was filling in the Picture Story activities. He really liked filling in the blanks and then coming back and telling the stories in his own words. 
Another fun part of the book that Monster and I both LOVE is the Copy-work. Monster does really well with copy-work and since he is learning cursive I love that cursive copy-work is included in Sheldon's New Primary Language Lessons

Another plus to me is the Poetry that they include. Monster and I have not done a whole lot of Poetry yet, so I love that it is included in the workbook because I feel like it is a great introduction. Plus the poetry that is in the book is simple and not too hard, making it fun for him and not boring or frustrating. 

One thing I did notice and find a little harder is the fact that there is no separate teacher guide. The teacher teaching spots are located in the child's workbook. I am honestly not a big fan of this. I like my teacher guides in my hands as we go through the lessons. I do not like having to sit over him or directly right next to him. I know that sounds bad, but we like to spread out when we are doing lessons and it is not the easiest to do with this workbook. I just wish they had the teachers guide book as a separate material. 

Overall, I think this book would work for those that like the Charlotte Mason style. That is not our style. However, Monster so far seems to do ok with the book and I plan on continuing the book with him as extra to his already Language Arts that we do. 

You can order Sheldon's New Primary Language Lessons for $19.99 

If you would like to find Brookdale House, you can find them on their social media accounts:

If you would like to see what others thought of this product or other Brookdale House products, click the banner below:
 Brookdale House Review
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Friday, October 16, 2015

Catching Up

Well, where has the last two weeks gone? We went to Houston for the first week of October and then got back and Monster was sick and now I am slowly getting over being sick. It's so fun.... (not)

I feel like I need to catch up with my readers.

While we were in Houston, I braved the traffic ( Houston traffic is worse than Dallas traffic!!) and took the 3 kids all by myself to the Children's Museum of Houston. It was awesome. The Twins and Monster had a blast. I do wish I had left my camera at home and just played along side them, but I wanted to catch their fun on camera for their mom who could not go with us.

The kids had so much fun, as did I! I would suggest that place to anyone who is visiting the Houston area! Great place! 

I also had a blast with them letting them paint outside. Which ended up turing into a paint war. 

Since we got back in town, Monster has been working hard. He got his 3rd grade Math completely done. YAY! Now he will move onto 4th grade Math. 

We have been studying the American Revolution in History. Doing some Science and still working hard in his Language book. Throw in some Spanish and his Reading and he usually has a good two hours worth of work he does daily. Sometimes longer depending on his mood. 

That catches us up without getting into every little detail. :) 

Thursday, October 15, 2015 {Review} Review no 2
We were recently given the chance to review Living Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth DVD from is an online Christian based store that brings you Christian based and family friendly movies in the world at great prices.  They carry movies from children to adult, They have comedy, drama and even TV series and Christmas movies.  Best of all they even have a $5 movie selection! Review no 2
Living Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth is a wonderful exploration of life in the liquid universe that covers more than 70% of our planet. 

This movie was filmed in Canada, Bermuda, Polynesia, Mexico and United States. This documentary celebrates the beauty and brilliance of the biological systems that make life in the oceans possible. Extraordinary cinematography and computer animation open stunning windows of discovery, including:
  • A spectacular tour of a dolphins internal sonar system- a mechanism so powerful and precise, the animals can locate and capture small fish buried in the sand. 

  • The magnetic compass embedded in the head of a sea turtle- a biological wonder that guides these long distance travelers as they journey across thousands of miles of open space. 

  • A Pacific salmon's amazing sense of smell- an elaborate navigational aid that leads the fish back from years in the ocean to the gravel stream bed where it was born. 

  • The power and majestic grace of a humpback whale- a creature whose existence defies the theory of Darwinian evolution. 
Each leg of this cinematic odyssey is highlighted by cutting edge research and compelling evidence for purpose and design. Living Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth is an unforgettable film that challenges scientific materialism with the timeless truth about the origin and complexity of life on Earth. 

Living Waters is the 3rd film in the acclaimed documentary collection: The Design of Life. 

What we thought: 

Monster and I really enjoyed sitting down together and watching this movie. Monster is at a great age where documentary type films are holding his interest. Being able to use a film as an educational tool as well is a major plus in my mind. One of our favorite scenes was watching the sea turtles. Watching them go from sand and find their way to the ocean. Monster and I both thought it was amazing learning how great of a memory they have and that they can eventually find their way back to wear their nest was to lay their own eggs. 

Another favorite was learning about the dolphins. Monster and I both love dolphins so getting to learn more about their internal sonar system was great since Monster is now at the age to actually understand it. 

I would recommend this movie to those looking for a great documentary and family friendly movie. 

If you would like to find more about please check out their social media:

If you would like to see what others thought of this movies and other movies, please click the banner below: Review No 2
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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Progeny Press {Review}

Progeny Press Review
We were recently given the chance to review Sam the Minuteman-Study Guide (e-guide) from Progeny Press

Progeny Press is a Christian based company owned by Michael and Rebecca. They both write most many of the guides, but rely on many authors to write many of the study guides. Progeny Press has over 100 literacy guides for students to use, all with a Christian perspective.
Study guides start with Kindergarten and go through High School age. 

There are different levels of study guides as well:
  • Lower Elementary
  • Upper Elementary
  • Middle School
  • High School
You can also get the study guides the following ways:
  • book form
  • CD 
  • e-guide
Study Guides prices are between $11.99-$21.99

You can also order book to go along with the study guide in their bookstore.

Sam the Minuteman is about a young boy experiencing life at the start of the American Revolution. Sam lives with his Mother and Father in Massachusetts. All the people are unhappy because the British soldiers are wanting to take their weapons and gun powder! Sam must step up at a moments notice to help his Fathers and the others. Sam's best friend is injured in the first encounter and then Same becomes so angry that the next encounter with the British soldiers he is able to help drive them away. 
Progeny Press Review
Sam the Minuteman Study Guide is a tool to help readers comprehend the book they have read and enjoy the literature. The Study Guide contains:
  • Synopsis
  • Background Information
  • About the Author
  • Before you read activities
  • Vocabulary
  • Optional Activities
  • Cause and Effects
  • Word pictures
  • Looking at the story questions
  • Important words to remember
  • After you read activities
  • Additional Resources 
  • Answer Key
Monster and I have been looking at other ideas for History and this came at a great time. I feel like Monster is finally at a great age to start learning about the American Revolution and this is a great product to use to get him interested in the American Revolution. 
I really like that the Study Guide started off with a few different Before you Read Activities. I like this because it gets them interested in what the story is going to be about and what they are going to study. 
One of the first things we did was create a timeline out of the Before you Read Activities. I felt this was very easy for Monster to follow and he was able to create most of it on his own. 
For the Vocabulary we do not have a dictionary which is on the list of recommended items to have with this study guide. We just used google for this. Most of the words are simple and pretty easy to figure out when you read the story. Monster really enjoyed finding the vocabulary words in the story as he read along and was able to understand what they meant and how they were important in the story. 
One of the things I really like about this study guide is how easy it is to use the pages. Monster can do 2-3 pages a day in his study guide which is just enough for him not to get tired of doing it. I also really liked that they included activities that related to the bible in parts of the lesson.
You can find Progeny Press on their social media:
If you would like to see what others thought about this product and other study guides, please click the banner below:
Progeny Press Review
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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reading Kingdom {Review}

Reading Kingdom Review

We were recently given the chance to review Reading Kingdom Online from Reading Kingdom.

Reading Kingdom teaches children ages 4-10 years old to read and write to a 3rd grade level. Before starting the program each child takes an evaluations to determine which level they should start in the program. Reading Kingdom customizes itself to each student meaning the program is sure to work for every child in the age range. Reading Kingdom is the only program to teach all 6 skills required for Reading and Writing success. 

Children as young as 4 can start the program even not knowing how to use a keyboard or a mouse or even if they don't recognize letters yet. 

Reading Kingdom can be used with advanced readers as well to help them move to a 3rd grade reading and writing level quicker. 

If your child is a struggling reader, this program will help them catch up and learn the skills they need to know to a 3rd grade level. 

Reading Kingdom is also the perfect curriculum to use for a student who struggles with ADHD, Dyslexia and other learning disabilities. 

Reading Kingdom offers many resources online as well. They offer:
  • Reading apps
  • Learning tips
  • Videos
  • Great books for kids
  • Worksheets for kids
  • Educational Activities for kids
  • and many more helpful resources

Reading Kingdom can be used as a full Reading curriculum for homeschoolers! 

When we first got the product I had Monster take the placement test to see where he needed to be. I was a little worried since Monster already reads chapter books that this would not be for him, but he tested and it showed that he did need some work. So he started on Level 4 out of 5. 

Monster has found this to be very fun. He even asks to play this "game". When we first started Monster wanted to do several lessons in one day, but as it states it is best to spread the lessons out over the week, I would not let him. He does one lesson 4 times a week. 

Every day that Monster is required to do a lesson I can tell him and he can go online himself and find what he needs to do. Using the program all on his own, he can find the dashboard and click on his name to get started. I like that the program picks right up and does not require several different areas to click on to get to the next lesson. 

Every lesson has bright and colorful pictures or backgrounds. I love that they use the bright colors because I feel like this will keep a child interested. Plus the cute little animations here and there add to the fun of the program. 

One thing I really enjoy about Reading Kingdom as a parent are the reports and progress reports we are able to get and look over. You can log into your account and view a report to see how your child is progressing. Plus, they will send out a progress report and let you know if your child needs any attentions in any area. Since Monster is at that age where he enjoys working on most things independently, this works great as I can still go online and check how he is doing without having to watch over him. 

The only issue we seem to have with the program is the button to go to the next page does not always pop up fast enough. This is usually when he is require to read a passage of sorts. He will read through it and have to sit there and wait for the button to pop up. I think it would be more helpful if the next page button was just already on the pages so he did not have to wait. 

Monster and I have both really enjoyed him using this program and he will continue to use this program until he completes it.

You can try Reading Kingdom Online for free for 30 days!

If you would like to find Reading Kingdom and see if the program is a good fit for your family, please click on the social media tabs below:

If you would like to see what others thought of this program please click the banner below:

Reading Kingdom Review
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
We were recently given the chance to review Elementary Spanish 1: Grades 3-5 from Middlebury Interactive Languages. 
Monster has been asking for about a year now to take a Spanish class. Since we are no longer at our co-op this year and I barely made it through Spanish in High School, reviewing the Elementary Spanish 1: Grades 3-5 came at the perfect time.

Middlebury Interactive Languages was founded in 2010.They offer all students access to several language courses online. 

Elementary Spanish 1: Grades 3-5 from Middlebury Interactive Languages is in introductory course that provides fun with learning. Each lesson starts off with a story and has words that the children will be learning for each one. The stories are based on authentic stories, myths or legends from many Spanish speaking cultures. This course focuses mostly on learning vocabulary words and basic grammar is learned through the stories, games, songs and activities in the lessons. 
 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
With Elementary Spanish 1: Grades 3-5 students become comfortable reading, writing, speaking and listening to Spanish meanings. Since this is a starter class, you don't need any previous classes before this one.
What we think:
Monster has really loved using this program. I think this program came at a perfect time for us too. We were trying to add in new and fun curriculum to add to our day and this was the perfect fit for us. Monster even will ask to do this program before starting other workbook work. 
Some of the main things that I really enjoy about this program are:
  • Colorful pictures- For children I feel like this helps keep them engaged. 
  • Story- I love that they start with a story before learning your words and then you go over the story again and see if you can pick out your new vocabulary words. What a great way to keep children interested and listening! 
  • Record buttons- There are spots where you can record yourself saying the words. They also include the word again if you need to rehear to word. This is one of our favorite features. To be able to hear yourself saying the word really helps to make sure you are understanding the correct way to say the word. 
  • Assessments- at the end of each lesson there are areas to quiz yourself to make sure your are understanding the words you are learning. I love this feature as I can check to make sure he is understand each vocabulary word and their meaning. 

The fact that Monster is actually learning from this program is a great thing of course! We have been visiting family in Houston and he is already telling them how to say certain words he has learned in Spanish! I love that he is excited about a program that is a learning tool! 

Are your children interested in learning another language? This is a great way for them to learn! Plus it is all online!

 You can get this program yearly for:

$119 per semester without a teacher
+$175 per semester with a teacher (total for 1 student comes to $294)
For the program we reviewed 2 semesters comes out to 45 days of content. 

If you would like to check out Middlebury Interactive Languages and what other languages they have to offer K-12, please feel free to click on their social media accounts below:

Please feel free to click the banner below to see what others thought of this program and other languages from Middlebury Interactive Languages: 

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
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Welcome October

Today is October 1st and I can't not believe how quickly this year is going by. Wasn't it just the start of Summer?

This week Monster and I have been in Houston hanging out with family. We are here till Saturday. It has been tons of fun and Monster has gotten in plenty of play time with his two cousins.

Yesterday we went to the Children's Museum of Houston. I was nervous taking 3 kids on my own, but they did fantastic and they loved that place. I would suggest anyone in the area or anyone visiting to check it out!

This morning it was in the low 80's so I sent the kids outside to paint! 

They even had a paint war after this but those pictures are on my big camera and will have to wait! 

Stay tuned. I have a new review coming up by the end of the day today and I have a Fall Activities post coming!