Thursday, September 30, 2010


So yesterday (29/09) was my birthday.....and I had THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!!!!!! 

It all started last week with a card from a friend on Thursday, then Saturday night my DH and I and some friends went to see Verdi's 'MacBeth'. Monday I got an early pressie from a dear friend. My DD brought me breakfast in bed yesterday morning and that was followed by a lot of good wishes through phone calls, txts, skype calls, e-mails and messages on fb. The day progress and became even more lovely ... the morning was with my family, I opened plenty DH and DD baked me a MOST DELICIOUS chocolate cake... yum...wonder if there's any left over. I then had coffee with a friend at Albany Mall and she bought me some clothes! Just got home and then I had to get ready to go out to dinner to an Italian Restaurant..... oh man... did I say I HAD THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!!! 

..... now, bring on 40!! he he he....


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TOS Review - I See Cards - PYRAMATH

We all know about the Great Pyramids in Egypt and about Pyramid schemes to make money, but I'll tell you about another type of Pyramid ... It is Great like those of Egypt, and although it doesn't make you money you gain great learning in Math. It is called PYRAMATH.

Here's a definition:

"Pyramath is a one or two player game that uses math skills. The objective of the game is to complete a pyramid using math operations - multiplication, addition, subtraction and division."

This product retails for US$6.95 per deck of cards.

It contains 56 cards and one card explaining the one player game. The one and basic two-player game work on the same premise but in the two-player game each player creates his / her own pyramid from the same row of cards.

So, here is the two-player game illustrated by my two darlings.

The game is started with placing a row of 5-7 cards down on a flat surface (but of course you knew that!).

You then play a single card (from the main deck or your discard pile) on 2 side-by-side cards using addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.

For example:

For the numbers 8, 7 next to each other, you can play any one of the following:

      8 7          8 7          8 7                      
       1              5            6          

So your legal moves are:

8 - 7 = 1
8 + 7 = 15    (you play the units digit / ones in this case)
8 x 7 = 56    (play the units digit)

or for 5, 5 you can play:

      5 5          5 5          5 5
       0             1             5

5 - 5 = 0
5 / 5 = 1
5 x 5 = 25   (play the units digit only)

If you cannot play the card you picked up, you continue to pick up from the deck or your own discard pile until you can play.

And of course you continue until you reach the final 2 side-by-side cards.

Pyramath can also be played online HERE where you can play it against the clock. My kids really enjoy it and I must confess that I'm hooked on it too! And HERE is a blog dedicated to Pyramath with more information, puzzles etc.
That's not all though; 'I See Cards' have 3 other products that you can check out HERE: Prime Bomb (Prime Numbers), FracTazmic (You guessed it... Fractions)  (which you can also play online HERE) and I See Cards (Language learning and Basic Math).

Dr. Ron Eaglin is the mastermind behind these card games. He has created a website wiki for teachers to share how they use Pyramath in their classrooms. It can be found HERE.

The great news is that Dr. Eaglin and his team are working hard at coming up with new products so it's worth keeping and eye on the websites to make sure you know when another exciting game is available.

You can go HERE to download Dr. Ron's "Succeeding in Mathematics with Games" for free. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page. This booklet contains many different games you can play with these cards. It is also available to purchase in hard copy HERE.

Our family enjoys playing this great card game. It travels with us to Piano, Ballet and all kinds of other outings. The kids enjoy taking turns playing against Mummy too. Because it's so much fun they don't mind all the brain work that goes into figuring out which card to play next... and they are getting quicker at working it out.

At times we play the speed game and other times (when we do multiplication for example) we work it out together. This great game has so many different ways you can use it. I am most definitely going to purchase Fractazmic and Prime Bomb. At US$6.95 / deck it is well worth the investment... you do the numbers.

If you think I'm exaggerating, see what my other Crew mates think about this product by going HERE.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free deck of the PYRAMATH card game from 'I See Cards' in exchange for my honest, personal opinion. I did not receive any other compensation.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Music Recital

Three Musicians, Pablo Picasso

In a previous post I said how much I love my homeschool group. Well, on Saturday that fact was again firmly cemented in my heart.

Our group had our yearly music recital on Saturday afternoon (11 Sept). Now, music recitals have a lot to do with music... yah, I know you get that ;) but this was so much more than that....

Imagine the scene ... Big comfortable, inviting lounge. Nine families, mums, dads and kids sitting around, some on chairs, some on the floor. The age range is from as young as one all the way up to 80-ish. The smell of all the home baking brought by everyone wafting from the kitchen ... oh, yes and then there are some instruments around too : )

The atmosphere was great. Friends coming together to spend time with one another and enjoy the gifts God's blessed their children with. We came together and started around 3:30pm... our family had to leave by 8 but most of the families were still there... enjoying each others company. All the kids got on well. The older kids entertained some of the younger ones. Kids playing around ... interacting with one another as well as with the adults. That's one of those things I find great about homeschooling. The kids know how to communicate with people of all ages. 

The kids, who enjoy each other's company, were listening as the others performed their pieces. Applause followed. Some of the kids made a little mistake while playing but there was no ridiculing. Many of the kids performed more than one item and it made me think about what a 'safe' group this is for the kids that after making mistakes they can get up again and do something else. No one 'copped out' of what they set out to do, even though there were a few butterflies in some tummies.

We listened to talented musicians playing piano, trumpet, flute, clarinet, guitar, ukelele and singing. 26 items in total.

One of the ladies in our group taught the kids Ukelele for 6 weeks and they all performed as a group together. What a treat!

I love our homeschool group.... have I mentioned that?  


Friday, September 10, 2010

TOS REVIEW - America's Math Teacher / Math Essentials

2 + 2 =  4.  Easy!

19 - 7 = mmmm  oh, 12!  Easy enough.

7 x 7 = ...... ok, 7 groups of 7.... let's count ...... 7, 14 ....  49. I did it! That was tricky.

If I have 324 apples and I have 9 people wanting apples, how many would each person get? .... huh?

So my little man (7) enjoys math and 'gets' it quickly, ...  my daughter (9) enjoys math but has to work harder at it. I am constantly looking at math programs to see what would make it more interesting, more fun and increase learning ... and which program has that 'oh-I-get-it' factor.

Rick Fisher found that less than 50% of 8th graders are proficient in math. This % drops even further and is as low as 20% in 12th graders.

Why is it that so many of us feel inadequate in math? As a homeschooling mum who by some miracle passed high school math I have always felt less confident in teaching it to my kids. As my kids get older I don't want to get less confident, so whatever math program we use needs to help me as much as them! That way mummy can feel confident in teaching math knowing that the little darlings will learn something! : )

America's Math Teacher (Rick Fisher) has an answer to this problem.

Rick has developed a Math Program that will help students master the basics BEFORE moving on to new concepts, learn new concepts and be confident with eventually taking on Algebra. America's Math Teacher is an online program that you subscribe to. The yearly subscription gives you access to all the resources on the site.

Rick has this program available on two websites:

America's Math Teacher, (An online program) HERE (which my review is based on),
as well as Math Essentials (Books/DVDs) HERE.

Currently there are 4 courses available:

  • Course 1  Basic Math Skills
  • Course 2  Advanced Math Skills
  • Course 3  Pre-Algebra
  • Course 4  Algebra I

America's Math Teacher Website:

There are five main sections on the website:

Learning Centre - here you have access to the different courses available and all videos, worksheets quizes and final exam to each section of each course.
Exercise Centre - PDF files with exercise sheets that corresponds to each section of each course. Each of these section also has a PDF file with answer keys to each worksheet.
Evaluation Centre - Evaluation / Quiz for each section of each course. The idea is that you pass (70%) the quiz before proceeding to the next section of the course. The quizes have a time limit on them. After you complete a quiz you get your results page with your answers, the correct answers and how it compared with others who did the quiz.
Resource Centre - More info on teaching math.
Speed Drills - Here you can practice your addition, subtraction and multiplication on a number wheel against the clock.

This is a new website and Rick and his team are working hard at making it easy to navigate and making sure that everything runs smoothly. With anything you might find something that can be done better or something that you would like to clarify. If you have any questions for their team you can contact them HERE with general questions or click on the 'Contact Us' button on their home page for the option to contact their customer services or sales dept.


Rick's program includes a short video that the kids watch on a specific math concept - as he explains it the kids follow along with him, writing down the problem on a sheet of paper, then the kids proceed and complete the worksheet. The worksheet is divided into 5 parts. These include:

  • Two speed drills (one addition, one multiplication)
  • Four review exercises
  • Two samples of the new material that was introduced and some helpful hints related to this
  • Ten problems related to the new material
  • A word problem

The entire lesson is less than 30min. so kids don't get overloaded or bored. (Except my kids did not want to stop!)

Once you've worked through a section you do the quiz / evaluation to see if you've mastered that part of the course. If you pass then you can move on to the next section. At the end of each course there is a final exam before moving on to the next level.

How it worked for us:

BOTH the kids enjoyed it! There was no problem with, "oh no, not math!" or "this is too hard!", when I called them for math. They LOVED the speed drills - both on the worksheets and on the website.  It was fun for them to see if they could better their own time with each drill.

The kids found the videos great. Rick is easy to follow. His explanations are simple so it's easy to 'get it'.

We have a Wacom tablet at home, so when we did the 4 review problems on the worksheet we all did it together. I would use the tablet and write the problem on there so we could all see it on the screen. I then got the kids to take turns to solve the problem.

The kids would often ask me to come up with more problems for them to solve. It was great to work together on this.

We have found America's Math Teacher very beneficial and enjoyable all at the same time! Not only does it make math simple and easy for the kids, but gives Mum direction as to 'what to do next'. If you can follow directions, then your kids (and you) can learn math with America's Math Teacher.

This is a very comprehensive program which I will recommend to investigate yourself. Click HERE to see an "All Lessons List".

"Try before you buy", by having a look at some of the free resources available HERE

Math programs in general are not cheap and often having more kids there are more than one math program in the home. With America's Math Teacher you have access to the entire program for all your kids for a whole year wrapped up in one subscription.

At the time of this writing the subscription for one year is US$195.00 - This includes access to the entire site and ALL sections of ALL the courses, Evaluations, Speed Drills, Downloadable Worksheets ... everything.

There is also a 30 day trial option available with a coupon. At the moment I'm unsure as to how to obtain a coupon but will post it as soon as I know. 

Click HERE to go the the payment option page. 

Disclaimer:  I was provided with a free 2-month subscription to this program in exchange for my honest, personal opinion on it. I received no other compensation. 

Go HERE to see what my fellow crew members think of this product.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

TOS Review - Time 4 Learning

I recently reviewed this homeschool product from “Time 4 Learning”. You can visit their website by clicking on the image above.

They provided me with an 8-week subscription to their website for review purposes in exchange for my honest, personal opinion. I received no other compensation.

You can also see what my fellow TOS reviewers thought about it HERE.

Come on kids .... it's Time4Learning.

"Hooray!!!   Yesssss."... were two of the common responses I eagerly received. First I thought I was delusional, but no.... it was their voices from their mouths!!  Isn't it great when your homeschooled children react like this to their work?

If their enthusiasm and instant obedience at this request wasn't enough I even heard at times their pleas as they begged me.... : "Mummy, can we go on Time4Learning? PLEEEAAASSSE".  Oh the exhilaration....

You too can experience this!

Time4Learning is an online curriculum that can be used as part of your  homeschool curriculum or use it after school if you have kids in school.

It is aimed at all the kids from grades K - 8.  ... like a all-under-one-roof kinda education mall....

OK, so by now you might have guessed that we did not mind reviewing this program :)

Unfortunately life has been very busy in our home so we haven't had the chance to make use of all the amazing features of this product, BUT the things we've done the kids have loved!!

"What are the features?" you might be asking... Here are a few... but I'll be giving you a nibble only so you can go and see for yourself by clicking HERE!  he he (Cruel chuckle)

  • Online Curriculum for PreK to 8th Grades
  • Access to 3 Grade Levels of Lessons
  • 1,000+ Student-Paced Multimedia Activities
  • Language Arts, Math, Science & Social Studies
  • Interactive, Project-Based Activities
  • Detailed Reporting for
    Easy Record-Keeping
  • Lesson Plans & Teaching Tools for Parents
  • Lessons Correlated to State Standards

There is a Parent Forum HERE, which I unfortunately did not get the chance to use but was hoping to.

My children enjoyed sitting in on the other's sessions. They both really enjoyed the language arts. It is funny, interactive and kept their attention.

My boy said when I asked what he liked about Time4Learning...:"The doing ones instead of the reading ones… the doing ones are much funner".

My daughter said: "I like the way they made it fun. There are a LOT of new stuff to learn".

My son enjoyed the section on the Vikings we did. There were some reading about Vikings, Printables, Questions you needed to answer and the Quiz at the end.  He specially enjoyed the words underlined and in blue - it has a hyperlink to either a definition of the word or how to pronounce it. He would read the section out loud and then click on the word to hear the voice repeating it... he got miles of entertainment out of that one!!

My daughter enjoyed how it gave suggestions for books to go and get from the library and do research on specific topics.

Parents can track the kids progress and even have a look at the next lessons without it affecting the kids work. The kids also have acces to three different grade levels of work. So, if something is too hard at the time, they can do the lower level and of course if they fly through something else, they can go up a level.

Honestly there is so much to say and learn about this product that I cannot do it justice here. Please go and visit the site. There sitemap is HERE so you can have a quick look at all the different sections there are and then you can visit the ones most relevant to you and your child/ren.

You can also visit the Q&A page HERE.

When our subscription came to an end.... well, the disappointment when my kids could not log on!!!

"MUUUUUMMMMM!!!!! I can't get onto Time4Learning!!!!!"..... WHAT???!!!!  (read Mum panicking).

When I told Dad that afternoon (now admittedly with him running his business he's not always aware of exactly what we do in all subjects, but that morning he was standing with our son while he was on Time4Learing and commented on how funny and clever it was) that our subscription came to an end, he responded with, "Is it the one Aaron was doing this morning? Oh no! We should sign up then".

Well, I'm sure my kids will be most disappointed..... NOT!!

We are negotiating about how we will continue.....

At the time of writing this review the subscription costs were $19.95 per month for the first child registered and then $14.95 per month for additional children. This may or may not be in everyone's budget, but I do suggest you check out the website before making a decision based only on price.

Hope you have fun learning about Time4Learning!

Maybe you can even tell me your opinion about it later on : )