Friday, December 17, 2010

TOS Review - Tiny Planets Website




You might remember the 'Tiny Planets' television episodes with Bing and Bong. Floating around in space on their fancy white couch / sofa, they visited different planets helping out where they could. Bing and Bong now also have their own website.

The creators fo this site suggests that it is appropriate for ages 4 - 12.


What the site offers:

Tiny Planets TV episodes
Tiny Planets Books to read online
Online Games

and more...

Your first port of call is to visit the PARENT's SITE over HERE for lots of detailed information on each page.
  
You will find some lesson plans HERE for preschoolers. My kids are older so we did not use this.

There are also some science experiments for older kids (which is Tinyplanets blog). You can find it HERE.

One area of the site requires LOG-IN. This is the My Tiny Planets area where you register as a 'Cadet' and are able to create your own planet. My Tiny Planets (MTP) where 'Cadets' can create and look after their own planets. Here they can make and meet new friends. A safe social network type page. The Cadet get some missions to do and they gain stars. I don't like social networking sites for kids, but on this site kids choose from predesigned greetings and questions without being able to type in their own messages. You fly around space and can upgrade you space craft and clean up space by shooting at the rubbish.

To register you click on "Create a Cadet" in the top right-hand side of the page. It then gives you a black window with green writing and a Cadet Name. If you don't like the name you click on the "Try Again" button until you are happy with the name it offers you. You then decide on a password. You HAVE REMEMBER THESE else you won't be able to log in. It's important to write it down somewhere - because you don't get asked for an e-mail address (to make it really safe for the kids), you don't get a confirmation letter with Log-in details for the cadets. Parents sign up for their own Parent Account where you can add & delete cadets, change passwords and purchase KEYS.

Most of the site is free, but there are some Books, TV episodes and upgrades to space crafts (under MTP), which require you to purchase KEYS to unlock it. KEYS can be purchased once you are logged in.

At the time of writing this review, the cost of KEYS were from NZ$2.77 for 10 keys to NZ$70.82 for 600 keys.

Although the site suggests it is appropriate for ages 4 - 12, I'm not sure that the older kids would necessarily enjoy it. My children are 7 and 10 and although they initially enjoyed playing on Tiny Planets they seemed to have lost interest in most of the games fairly quickly. The part they did enjoyed for longer was My Tiny Planets.

My son (7) found some of the games very frustrating, either cause it only had a couple of levels which just repeated or it was too tricky for him to navigate. Games he enjoyed included Tic Tac Toe, and the Building Game  (3 levels).

I am sure that younger kids would enjoy the site with leaning activities, books, tv episodes and games. The graphics are fun and some of the games do require problem-solving skills.

DISCLAIMER:  As part of the TOS Crew I was asked to review this website in exchange for my honest opinion. Although access to most of the website is free, I was provided with free access to all the information for review purposes. I received no other compensation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: I am one of several people who reviewed this website so what you read here is only one opinion. See what my fellow crew mates think of this website, by going HERE to read their reviews.

Monday, December 13, 2010

TOS Review - ALEKS (Math)


ALEKS - "Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course." 


FIRST IMPRESSIONS (OF THE WEBSITE)


I get really frustrated when I look for something on a website and can't find it easily ... or not at all. Well, this was NOT the case with the ALEKS website. It seemed that there is an answer (or video) for every question I could possibly have about ALEKS. I haven't looked at it all, but wish I spent a bit more time 'learning' about the 'how to's' only cause my kids could have maybe gotten even more out of this program! 


FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE PROGRAM


"This could be good". But it wasn't .... it was sooo much better!!!


OVERVIEW OF ALEKS


You can watch a 2min. video HERE to learn more. 

HERE is an overview of ALEKS.

HOW do you use ALEKS?

Ok, so for those of you who haven't watched the video or read the review by visiting the links ... the way ALEKS works is this:

First there is an assessment of approximately 25-30 questions based on the level that you sign up for.



Based on the assessment the student is told which topics they have mastered and which topics need to be mastered. This is visually shown on a pie-chart. The chart is divided into two areas: a dark area which indicates the mastered topics and a lighter area which indicates the topics that need to be learned. As the student masters new topics the dark area of the pie-chart gets bigger. This is a great incentive for the student!



When the student is introduced to a new topic they get a question to answer, they have an option to answer the question or to press the "Explain" button and learn how to solve the problem. If they answer the question incorrectly they are asked to try again or they could get it 'explained'. The program requires the student to answer a specific amount of questions correctly before it will be added the the pie-chart as "Mastered".



There is also an area called "QuickTables" which is an area where the children can practice their math facts. We unfortunately did not spend a lot of time here so did not get the full benefit of this. More information about QuickTables can be found HERE

When you sign in next you are taken to a REVIEW page to answer some more questions on topics previously added to your pie-chart to make sure that you have truly mastered them.

WHAT DID WE THINK?

The assessment was very detailed (and in my opinion brilliant) but it did feel a bit lengthy for the kids as they asked me 'how many more questions'. In saying that my youngest is only 7. I explained to them that it needs to be a decent assessment so that the program assesses where they are and exactly what they need to learn and they were happy with that.

I signed myself up as a student as well, and spent some time on this program ... realizing how much I need to relearn!! :(

The kids spent approximately 20 - 40 min. / day on this program 3-4 days a week for a month. Neither of them complained about it being 'too long' or 'boring' or "I don't want to do that right now". They both were thrilled with their achievements. Everyday! The pie-chart is a great incentive for the kids. They just LOVED watching the pie get bigger on a daily basis as they achieved / mastered new topics.

I like the review of the last work done!

I can HIGHLY RECOMMEND this program to anyone and everyone!!

My daughter in particular takes a bit longer to grasp certain math concepts, but with ALEKS I have seen her confidence increase in a short space of time.

The BOTTOM LINE

So how do you get access to ALEKS?

In short, you subscribe.

Each subscription comes with a student account and a parent (master) account. As the parent you get weekly reports e-mailed to you.


When you subscribe, two ALEKS accounts are created:
  • Student Account: This is the account students will use to access the ALEKS Student Module which will serve as an interactive tutor.
  • Master Account: With this account, you can monitor student progress through automated reports, assign quizzes, manage student accounts, and much more.

Information on what and how you can manage your child's learning can be found HERE

So how much does this cost? ... and is it worth the money?


At the time of writing this review, subscriptions to ALEKS are:
  • $19.95 per student, per month, or (NZ$26.20)
  • $99.95 every 6 months, or (NZ$131.20)
  • $179.95 every 12 months. (NZ$236.20
Information on their Family Discount is available HERE.

There is a FREE TRIAL HERE

In my opinion the benefit of this excellent program is WELL WORTH THE MONEY you will spend on it. I will be signing up for ALEKS for both of my kids when my free subscription officially runs out.
    SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

    For ALL system requirements on PC and MAC for all their courses go HERE. You will find a DETAILED description of what you need to run any course.


    DISCLAIMER:  As part of the TOS Crew I was given a one-month free subscription to the website to use the product for review purposes and give my honest opinion about it. I did not receive any other compensation.

    You can also see what my fellow Crewmates think about this product by going HERE.



    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    TOS Review - KB Teacher



    I’m an avid internet user. One of the things I enjoy is to find websites with worksheets I can use for our homeschool.

    I was very happy then that as part of the TOS Crew I recently received a generous 2 year subscription to KB TEACHERS website in exchange for my honest opinion about this website and the products they offer. I did not receive any other compensation for my review.

    So WHAT is KB TEACHERS?
    KB Teachers is an online tool for parents and teachers, providing them with teaching materials including printable worksheets, information sheets and workbooks. You can find out more about them and their kids' site (kbears.com) HERE.

    Which topics do these worksheets / workbooks cover?
    You will find 1,000s of printable pages on this website covering a wide range of topics including:

    Seasonal worksheets (at the time of writing this review it was THANKSGIVING), English (from alphabet to Conjunctions), Math, Science, Biology, Social Studies and more.

    There are over 10,000 printable pages available on this website!

    What I thought of it:

    When I first looked at the website I thought it might be too ‘young’ for my 7 and 10 year-old children but after a little while it was evident that I was mistaken.

    As I mentioned it covers a wide range of different topics and also covers a wide age range. There are worksheets available for pre-schoolers such as the Alphabet worksheets that include a single, large letter with a graphic on the page HERE, all the way through to the worksheets on Social Studies for grades 8 and over on topics such as World War 1 and Post War Europe over HERE.

    At the time we received this subscription we were studying the rainforest. I was pleasantly surprised to find several worksheets and supplemental documents on the rainforest under the Weather and Climate section of the website.

    My son just loves dinosaurs and again we were not disappointed! If you have a dino-fan visit this page HERE.

    The worksheets can be printed straight from the website using there PRINT button or clicking on File / Print OR if you are planning a unit study on say…mmmm…. yes, DINOSAURS! And you don’t want to print all the pages straight away, you can click on FILE / PRINT and save it to your computer as a PDF-file by clicking on (you guessed it), PDF.

    The great thing about KB Teachers is that they are constantly adding new worksheets to their website and at the time of writing this review they are hard at work at doing a major upgrade to their website. I am looking forward to seeing the end result.

    Another EXCELLENT feature of this website is that you can create different math and writing pages with their Worksheet Generators. Often websites might have for example Math Fact Worksheets, but often there is not a large number of different worksheets. With KB Teachers you can generate a new page with a new set of numbers in seconds by clicking on the “Click her to generate a new set of numbers’ button! Have a look at it HERE.

    The same can be done with handwriting worksheets over HERE.

    As a subscribed member of KB Teachers you also receive a weekly e-update of their new worksheets available with direct links to the particular pages. Have a look at their news letter HERE.

    As members of the crew we were given a password from the creators of KB Teachers. The password wasn’t easy to remember and after we e-mailed them they came up with a solution within less than 48 hours! Customer service is great and their aim is to have an answer to your query in 24 – 48 hours. They even make a bold statement in saying that if they don’t have what you are looking for, they will find a solution for that too, even if they have to create it!

    HERE are some added benefits of membership.

    So how much does all this cost?

    To gain the most benefit from this site you’ll need to subscribe.

    A KB TEACHERS subscription is in my opinion VERY REASONABLE at US$29 per year, or US$49 for two years.

    If you are cautious about signing up you can preview the ENTIRE site for free and make use of some of their free worksheets.

    You can also sign up HERE for a 10 day FREE TRIAL.

    If you are happy with the trial and feel ready to subscribe you can sign up for a 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE! So there is no way you can lose!!

    I encourage you to go and have a good look at the site for yourself.

    But mine is but one opinion. Why not check out what the rest of the TOS Crew think about this website by going HERE.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    TOS Review - Collectorz



    I LOVE books. Several months ago, I read this quote by Anna Quindlen: "I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves." It is definitely a quote that speaks to me : )  I think most homeschoolers think that way.


    Now the thing about having a lot of books is that one can well, lose track of said books. Questions such as: "Do I have that book?", "Who did I lend that book to?", "Did I READ that book yet?", " etc are some that might pop up if you have a lot of books. So what to do ....


    Collectorz.com has an answer to this problem. 


    Collectorz.com provide downloadable software you can install on your Windows Based PC or on your Mac or even your i-phone to help you catalog all those lovely books you have. Not only can you catalog your books, but you can add your own personal notes to it. Did you read it, loan it, sold it, borrow it, etc, etc. 


    The way to catalog is easy; you either type in the name of the author and title OR ISBN number and Book Collector will download the book title, author, publication data, synopsis of the book, cover art and other information about the book. You also have an option to SCAN the ISBN number without having to type it in if you have a scanner. This can also be bought through Collectorz.com. After scanning and downloading all the info on the books, you can add your own personal opinions to the info page and even rate the book. After this you can export it all to HTML, text, i-phone or ipod-touch. 


    Collectorz keep on working on adding to their software and keep you in the loop via update e-mails. 


    Currently Book Collector has two editions: 



         Book Collector Standard edition @ US$29.95
         Book Collector Pro edition @ US$49.95

    This is how the two versions compare: (based on link from Collectorz.com website)

    Book Collector Standard vs Pro feature comparison

    Standard

    $29.95

    Pro

    $49.95
    Catalog your book collection by typing ISBNs, author & title or by scanning ISBN barcodes.checkcheck
    Full access to the Collectorz.com online book database for downloading book data and cover images.checkcheck
    Full support for CueCat, Opticon C37 and Opticon OPN-2001 barcode scanners.checkcheck
    Add and Edit Books, then browse, sort and group your books in List or Image View.checkcheck
    Use the Quick Search box to find books in your database.checkcheck
    Print book lists, with any column selection or sort order.checkcheck
    Add multiple books in batch using the Queue Mode of the Add Books Automatically screen.checkcheck
    Modify your book entries in batch, using the Edit Multiple Books feature.checkcheck
    Export data to the CLZ Books mobile apps (for iPhone). check
    Publish your data to your Book Collector Connect account. check
    Integrated Loan Manager: keep track of who borrowed your books. check
    Graphical Statistics of your data. check
    Filter screen : create advanced search filters. check
    Extra User Defined Fields, plus rename any other field to your own liking. check
    Print Customized Lists and Details Pages using XSL Templates. check
    Export book lists and detail pages in HTML format, for uploading to your own website. check
    Export book data to XML and Text (CSV) formats (for use in Excel and other software). check


    Here are the system requirements for installing the pro-version.



    Pro edition

    WindowsVersion 7.0.2 (Sep 09, 2010)
    for Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000
    Mac OS XVersion 3.4.1 (Nov 10, 2009)
    for Mac 10.4.9 or higher





    This is what it will look like on your screen:






    Link specific for Book Collector: http://www.collectorz.com/book/


    You can enter your e-mail and Try Before You Buy. (I always appreciate this option from a company!).


    Collectorz.com does not just have this database software for books, but also for Music, Movies, Games, MP3's and more. Do go and check out their website and start cataloging : )


    See what other TOS crew members think of this product HERE.


    DISCLAIMER:  I received a free installation for my Mac as part of the TOS crew in exchange for my honest opinion of this product. I received no other compensation.









    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    2010-2011 Secondary Schoolhouse Planner




    The Old Schoolhouse Store (c) has their new student planners out!! They are amazing.

    The Student planners retails at US$9.95

    I'm always on the lookout for that something to make life easier, more organised, less chaotic.... you get the picture. I received a copy of the planner a couple of weeks ago to review and needless to say I really like it.

    So what's so amazing about this planner?

    The planner came with a student pack as well as a parent pack.

    The parent pack gives some advice on how to manage things around the house a bit easier, such as using sticky notes, creating stations or work boxes for specific subjects and my favourite idea is the 'pre-flight' checklist in the car - creating a checklist for ballet / piano... Check that you've got all the items in the car / bag BEFORE you pull off.  My daughter and I are making one for ballet as she has two different classes on one day.

    The other part of the parent pack is "Sowing Servant Hearts".

    Now to the student calendar.... over 200 pages of it!

    Sounds scary? It does not need to be : )  The calendar is great in that you only print out the pages you need or want to use.

    There are numerous lists and forms to help you with time management, planning and basic information.

    The planner begins with an article on time management and one on writing. The time management article has step by step ideas in helping you and your student to plan well for the day. I'm going to get my daughter to tweak hers as I reorganise my plans too : )

    The Planner has monthly Calendars from September '10 untill August 2011.

    Some of the planner can be filled out on file and then printed out.

    The forms is what we are finding really great. The weekly planning schedule gets done when I do mine for the following week. Although Lydia has kept close to my schedule I want to give her a little bit of flexibility and allow her to decide when she wants to do her subjects for the next week. We'll see how she goes.

    I like the End-of-Year Evaluation Form in the calendar and will definitely use this at the end of this term (term 4 in NZ). I think that I'll give this to both the kids and I'll fill one out too. We can then compare notes and plan better for next year.

    Other forms include reading, video and field trip logs. Nature journals, Lined pages for writing practice and many, many more. It has a place for writing down personal goals, family rules and important contact information.

    The Calendar also contains lists of the Miracles, Parables and Time-line of Jesus, Writing prompts, Good books to read and basic Info on the 8 planets; PLUS a table to help with measurement conversions, which is helpful when living in NZ and using US recipes. ; )

    We've enjoyed using this calendar so far and has so much more to get out of it.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    To foster or to foster - significant experiences

    A few years ago Blayne and I attended a training course at Open Home Foundation. We were going to be foster parents. 

    To foster means:

    1. to promote the growth or development of
    2. to bring up (a child, etc.); rear
    3. to cherish (a plan, hope, etc.) in one's mind

    Over the last few years we've had 4 foster kids living in our home at various times for various lengths. We fall in love with these kids and continue to pray for them when they leave. We've also had plenty family living with us : )


    So at the moment our house is quite full and we don't have extra room for more foster kids ... so how do we then continue on our 'foster journey'? God had the answer : ) 


    A couple of months ago OHF sent an e-mail asking if there were families who could spend some time away from their own homes to be respite foster parents in a family home. This home exists mainly for sibling groups who wait for a more permanent placement. We decided to e-mail and say that we can do ti for a few days...


    It's been a week now since we've come home from the foster house and we have still so much to process.


    When asked how our week was the answer is complex and long:


    "It was exhausting and busy, heart-wrenching and completely out of our comfort zones, it was phenomenal and amazing, it was a relying-on-God-on-a-whole-new-level-living-under-His-grace-alone experience...it was utterly one of the most significant experiences of our lives!"


    So many questions and thoughts run through your mind during these times of interacting with children who are so desperate for love and acceptance. Children who are so desperate in need of being told that they are ok, that they matter. It is easy for anger to grip your heart and mind and to wish all sorts of plagues on those who SHOULD be the ones to love, hold and encourage these precious treasures of God. It is heart-wrenching to think of the things they've had to endure in their short lives. 


    Why is not a question worth asking because it is one without an answer. 


    How is a better question: 


    How can we be involved?
    How do we love these kids while we are with them?
    How do we keep our own sanity?  ; )
    How do we honour God in this?
    How do we put 'us' aside and focus on others?
    How do we stay true to our own families and be involved in others' lives? 


    There are many more 'How' questions, but these questions have answers if we take the time to reflect on them.


    So what was it like?


    Scary
    I like knowing what I'm getting myself into before I get myself into it, but with these things you just don't know. We had to be in the house on Sunday. Friday prior I received a phone call to say there will be 6 kids in the house, ages 1 - 14. We have 2 under 10!  Lord, help please!


    Teenagers 'scare' me. Maybe it's because we don't have teenagers yet, but it is not my natural gifting dealing with these special blessings. But God is good and His grace abound and I fell in love with two amazing kids. Blayne was AMAZING with the teens.


    Cooking for an army:
    I had to learn to cook for a crowd! ... or so it felt : )  I am used to cook for my family of 5. To prepare 3 square meals plus snacks a day for about 10 people was ... well, out of my comfort zone. Luckily we had help during the day we managed to do it without starving anyone!


    Crowd control:
    Cooking is one thing, but 'controlling' everyone DURING a meal .... well.... it was an experience we can add to the CV... and it will gain us brownie points I'm sure : )


    Sleep:
    HUH? yawn....


    Help:
    Most days we had two amazing support workers to help out where needed. These women are amazing and without them we would have most likely fallen over completely!! Thank you ladies!!


    Night time chats:
    At night we tried to spend some time with the older kids. Blayne initiated it. It started out slowly, but by the end of the week it was something I looked forward to and enjoyed. It is amazing how people respond and change when you treat them with respect and dignity!  


    Tears and Fears for their tomorrow:
    It is difficult to find placement for children who cannot live with their own families - 
    even if it's only one child...


    WHY?
    Lack of resources
    Lack of space
    Lack of interest
    ... amongst others I'm sure


    If it is hard to find a placement for one child, it is most difficult to find placements for sibling groups!


    During our time in the house their was a sibling group of 3 kids and one of 2 kids. Where will these kids go? Who will open their homes to them? Will they need to be split up because there is no-one who will take all the siblings? 


    This rabbit hole is deep and at times it makes me want to scream!
    I want to scream because I can't fix it.
    I want to scream because I don't know how it is that parents can do this to their own kids!
    I want to scream because separating these siblings is wrong! 
    I want to scream because there are many more kids who will come into this house and who will need somewhere else to live.
    I want to scream because some placements fail and these kids go from one home to another and each time their grip on hope slips a little bit more.
    I want to scream because many people don't care or choose to ignore it.
    I can go on and on because negativity spirals down and fast.


    AAAGGGGHGHHHHH!!!!!!!!


    Starfish (read HOPE):
    Screaming all the time wont change the situation of course. 
    Here is a story that coupled with our faith in God keeps me from screaming [too often]. 

    The Starfish Story

    Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

    One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

    As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

    He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

    The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

    "I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

    To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

    Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

    At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one.
    "


    It is our hope and believe that somehow the little bit that we do makes a difference to 'one starfish'.




    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    TOS Review - Soli Deo Gloria



    Last term we did a Jonah study which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. It was an inductive study done in a very fun way. When we headed towards the end of the study I was wondering what we'll do next. It was during that very week that I was given my next TOS Review to do... Soli Deo Gloria's Pre-Inductive Study in Psalms. I love the heading for the manual ... 


    Young Hearts Longing For God


    Isn't this what we all want for our children?


    This 30-lesson study of the Psalms is aimed at students between the 4th and 8th grade, however it can be 'tweaked' for younger students (which us home educators are good at). 


    My mother lives with us and spent most of the holidays with my daughter (nearly 10), so I thought it would be a great opportunity for them to do this together while the rest of our family was looking after a foster home.


    So what do you do with this study?


    Every day for a week you read the Psalm that is being studied (one Psalm per week). The first Psalm being studied is Psalm 8. The NIV Translation is used for this study. After reading the Psalm you can choose some of the questions / activities to do or you can do them all at the end of the week. I think doing a couple each day keeps it interesting and opens it up for discusion. At the end of the study the student is asked to do a journal entry in a personal journal to reflect on the week's study. 


    The basic layout of each page (which contains the Psalm to be studied and the activities) is the same and looks like this:






    This is my daughter's journal entry after doing Psalm 8 (Published with her permission):




    My daughter enjoyed the variety of activities that went with the Psalm. 


    I like that it is flexible and that you can spend a short period of time (for those with short attention span) or a longer time on the questions / activities. This way it doesn't become a chore, but something the kids look forward to doing in the morning. By dividing the questions up over the week it also lends itself to the chance for deeper discussion or even doing something creative around the Psalm. Younger children could draw a picture instead of writing a journal entry in their personal journals.


    I am looking forward to continue this study with both my children. (Nearly 10 & 7).


    Soli Deo Gloria (Meaning: "Glory to God alone") offers various products other than Bible studies. 


    Other products include studies on Map Skills, World War II and The Human Body: God's Amazing Design amongst others. Products can be purchased in Print form or as downloadable pdf files.


    You can find these on their Products page which is available HERE. They even offer some free resources over HERE.


    You can read HERE what other TOS Crew mates think about this product.


    DISCLAIMER: I have received a free downloadable pdf copy of this product for review purposes in exchange for my honest opinion. I did not receive any other compensation.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    I've been tagged.

    My fellow TOS CrewMate, Marie from 'Our Best Daze' has tagged me in a fun meme. You are given 8 questions to answer and then you need to come up with 8 new questions to tag 8 others.

    OK, here goes:

    Here are the eight questions from Marie: (check out her answers HERE)

    1. How did you decide to Homeschool? My neighbors homeschooled their kids and I marveled at their maturity, respect, confidence and love for learning. When it was time to enroll our first into school the school zones were changed and we could not get our daughter in our school of choice ... God slowly stirred a desire to homeschool in my heart and it snowballed from there.

    2. What is something about you most people would be surprised to know? I used to be VERY SHY!!! Really!! No, Really!!!

    3. What is your favorite praise and worship song? 'Oh to see the dawn' (aslo known as 'The Power of the Cross) by Stuart Townend.

    4. If you had no children and homeschooling wasn’t necessary, what would your dream job be? As I said I used to be very shy, so my desire for public speaking (!!) is a God thing. I would be a full time preacher.

    5. What book(s) are you currently reading? The Chronicle of Narnia and, Where Lions Roar at Night (written by Rosie Boom) admittedly I'm reading it to the kids ... Books I'm trying to read are" Growing great Girls" and 7 habits of highly effective people....

    6. How has Jesus changed you? He's still working on me regarding patience, but He has increased my confidence and trust in Him. He has softened my heart... like from stone to jelly ....

    7. How would you like to be remembered by your children? As someone who was 'real'. Hypocrisy and 'fake' are two things that really tick me, so I hope I will never be called any of those. I'd like to be remembered as someone who served God wholly, kept my word, respected life, honoured and served my family and opened my heart and home to others. I want to be remembered a fun mummy :)

    8. How will your children likely remember you? I think I lack in the 'fun' department, but for the most part I think my kids will remember me as someone who loved God and loved people (even though she was a bit grumpy some time); someone who messed up some time but could admit that and apologized. Most assuredly they'd remember me as someone who LOVED chocolate. ;)

    OK, so now I'm going to tag the next 8 people....

    Now, I've tagged you because I've enjoyed reading your blogs. Please don't feel you have to take part in this if you don't want to. It's supposed to be a fun thing. If you do, please comment on this post with a link to your own.

    Our Best Daze
    Doxazo Prep
    Tumbleweed News
    Sister Tipster
    The Steward's Steno
    Clothesline Musings
    Footprints in the Butter
    Families Again

    with the following questions....(with my own answers)...

    1. Which is your favorite psalm? Ps 139


    2. What do you want God to say to you at the end of your life? 'Well done, good and faithful servant'.

    3. What would you like God NOT to ask of you? 'It used to be 'Go to the mission field'... now I'm not so sure. Although I think taking my kids to a 3rd world country would still be hard to do. Specially if it is really cold!!


    4. Do you have an 'alter ego'? Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica.


    5. Is there a movie that you would watch over and over again? and of course if yes, what is it? Sad to say I have several.... Dead Poet Society, Pride and Prejudice (BBC version), Prince of Egypt and now Avatar....


    6. Who would you love to have met before they died? Anne Sullivan (Helen Keller's tutor).


    7. What is your favorite thing to do by yourself? OK, so I now this is maybe a myth for most of us, but IF I had time by myself, I like to listen to worship music and write in my journal.


    8. What is a favorite quote of yours? Helen Keller ~ "Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much".

    Blessings,



    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    TOS Review – DigitalFrog International



    As part of 'The Old Schoolhouse' Crew we get some of the most amazing products to review. We receive these products for free in exchange for using and reviewing it, providing them with our honest opinion about it. 


    When I saw Digital Frog I thought that being in NZ I wouldn't get a copy of it as it is a physical product rather than software or an e-book. I was thrilled though to spot my name on the list of crew members who were chosen to review this product and the very kind ladies at Digital Frog International shipped the DVD all the way from Canada! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

    So you might think that Digital Frog sounds very much like a virtual pet and honestly how educational can that be???  BUT .... here in their own words is an explanation of WHAT DIGITAL FROG is... (drumroll please)...

    What is Digital Frog anyway? We’re passionate creators of natural science software. We’re teachers of dissection and anatomy and ecosystems. We’re savers of frogs and inspirers of learners. We’re believers that you can’t care about a world you don’t understand. We’re Digital Frog International.”

    As it is holiday time in NZ and our family is spending half of it looking after an emergency foster home with 6 busy kids we've unfortunately not been able to use this product to its full extent, HOWEVER, I am VERY keen to get back into it and continue where we've left off.

    The Package:

    I received one DVD / CD ROM with 3 digital field trips on it. This can be accessed from the disk or installed onto a Windows as well as Mac operating system.


    The field trips are:

    The Rainforest
    The Wetlands
    The Desert

    Digital Field Trip.... no need to pack.... (unless you WANT TO), you don't need an umbrella... or mosquito repellant (now that I can live with!)
    You can purchase these field trips separately or as an all-in-one product. (See pricing later on).

    How wet did we get?

    Because of time and the amount of information on the DVD we chose to focus on the Rainforest (and it seems we barely scratched the surface.....well, so to speak because you don't really want to scratch the surface else the disk wont work....)

    Our opinion:

    D I G I T A L F R O G 

    Definitions a-plenty : Nearly every word you will read is well defined. Not only that, but some words even have a sound bite icon and you can hear how it’s pronounced.  

    I G I T A L F R O G 

    Informative: There is an abundant amount of information on each section. As you go through the field trip you find posts with various information about the plant and animal life in that region. Different concepts are explained in further detail. Animals are discussed in regard to life cycle, habitat, size, food source and where they are found. We have created mind maps around the animals we’ve encountered. Not only do you get what is on the field trip, but when you go into the file you will also find a pdf file with worksheets related to the specific field trip.
    You can download a Printable topic summary of the topics that are being discussed in the field trips by following the following link:

    D I G I T A L F R O G 

    Graphics galore: The graphics on the CD are amazing. There are various pictures of the same animals from different angles. Different types of rainforests are explained with animation to go with it.

    D I G I T A L F R O G 

    Interesting! The information is all given in such a way that it’s not boring and neither does it ‘talk down’ to the child. Older kids would be able to read it by themselves, but even younger kids (early elementary) would enjoy this when Mum reads it to them. I found it amazing and enjoyed every minute of it.

    D I G I T A L F R O G 

    Time… flies when you’re having fun. It’s easy for an hour and a bit to fly by when we’ve gone through the next part of the rainforest. It is advisable to take it slow as there is so much amazing information in it.

    D I G I T A L F R O G 

    Affordable – These field trips can be bought separately at US$60 for a home license or all three at US$125. I think that for the amount of information that is available, the price is not steep. See the full price list for all the products.

    D I G I T A L F R O G


    Links page: The website has links to various resources related to the field trip series:

    D I G I T A L F R O G 

    Frogger Club, Frog Blog and FaceBook: you can join the Frogger club for free and get things like extra worksheet, crosswords and video clips. The club is still 'new' so I'm sure that this will expand. Apart from the club, you can follow the FROG blog HERE, Facebook HERE.

    D I G I T A L F R O G 

    RAINFOREST (Wetlands, Deserts) is the region we focussed on (it was a unanimous decision) and as I mentioned before we all love it! We will camp in the rainforest for a while yet before moving on to the Desert and Wetland areas. I'm sure it will keep us busy for a while. 

    D I G I T A L F R O G 

    Outstanding video footage. Yes, there are definitions, yes there are animated graphics, yes there are amazing photographs and yes, there are even video clips! 

    D I G I T A L F R O G 

    Great product! Honestly, do yourself a favor and have a look at the downloadable demo - the 'try-before-you-buy' option! I love when this choice is given...to me it says that they are so certain of the quality of their product that they are happy to make a portion available, knowing people will love it. The demo is available by following this link:
    http://www.digitalfrog.com/demo/index.html


    System requirements:

    Windows
         Macintosh
    • Windows 2000, XP, Windows 7 or Vista (32 bit) (some features may not work in the 64 bit version of Vista) 
    • 32 MB of RAM (64 or more recommended)
    • 75 MB of hard drive space for QuickTime
    • Mac OSX 10.3.9 or later
    • 30 MB of available RAM
    Other products:

    Science Matrix: Cell Structure & Function (All about Cell Biology)
    Digital Frog v2.5 (Digital Frog Dissecting)




    How to Contact the Frog Ladies:

    Digital Frog International, Inc.Trillium Place, 7377 Calfass Road, RR#2
    Puslinch, Ontario, Canada N0B 2J0
    Phone: (519) 766-1097 Fax: (519) 767-9994
    Email: celia@digitalfrog.com or tracie@digitalfrog.com


    I always tell my kids that they should not just believe anything they read... As this is my personal opinion of this product, it will probably be good to see what others think about it. You can view what my fellow Crew Mates think about this product by going HERE:




    DISCLAIMER: I have received a free DVD/CD Rom of this product for review purposes in exchange for my honest opinion. I did not receive any other compensation.