Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kid Scoop - the Reluctant Reader Solution - A Review

I love reading and so it is easy to understand why I love libraries... they are filled with books for reading! My kids both have their own library cards so when we go for a trip to our local library we normally return with more than just one or two books! Recently however I've noticed that the kids have been reading less. So I was very pleased to have been picked for this review of Kid Scoop's Reluctant Reader Solution. This product is aimed at... yes, you guessed it...Reluctant Readers of elementary school age.

This downloadable product includes the following as a packaged deal:
  • 12 Full color issues of the Kid Scoop 20-page Newspaper
  • 365 Kid Scoop Worksheets (these are in black and white)
The Reluctant Reader Solution Package will cost you US$97
Click HERE to learn more about the FULL Reluctant Reader Solution Package that is offered.

The creators of this product is so confident in their product that they offer you a 100% money back guarantee!!

The Newspaper and Worksheets can also be purchased / subscribed to separately.

The Kid Scoop Newspaper is a 20 page full-of-fun product packed with puzzles, activities, web links, book reviews and games all laid out in a bright colorful design. You can view a sample of the Newspaper HERE.

The worksheets come in mini workbooks of 6 pages and include things from Bees and Butterflies to Tom Sawyer and Valentine's Fitness. These individual mini workbooks are available for download at US$2.99

HERE is a free sample of the "Backyard Carnival" worksheets.

What we thought of it:

The Newspaper is colorful and attractive so sparked immediate interest. The varied activities and puzzles kept the kids engaged for a long time and they went back for more! My kids especially LOVED the word searches that were dotted throughout the Newspaper. One of the pages also features a calendar for the month with an activity for each day - I'd like to see if I can do this for each month of the year... well at least for some of the days of each month ;) Another big hit was the "Learn to Draw" section.

My kids LOVED the worksheets. I gave them their own worksheets to work on based on their own interests. I really liked the 'Eagle Eyed Reader' Activities where the kids had to read a passage and 'fix' all the mistakes. It was very good to hear the words... "Mummy, can we do some more please? This is too much fun". Oh, sweet words!!!

It is suggested that you as parent look over the worksheets first and give the kids 2 or 3 questions to find the answer for in the worksheet. Both my kids decided they were 'detectives' and set out looking for the answers immediately!

Apart from these treasures you can also subscribe to a "30-days of Reading Fun" e-mail. You will receive an e-mail every day for 30 days (I know you knew that!) with a reading lesson to do with your kids. It is suggested that you use a newspaper for this. We did not do each day's lesson but we'll get to all of them! One lesson we did was the 'Underwater Poem'. The lesson was to look through the newspaper and find words about the ocean or the beach. Using these words we wrote a poem about the underwater world.

My 71/2 yo's poem F I S H

My 10 yo's poem UNDERWATER
The Website is also full of ideas and links to other educational sites. I encourage you to pack a bag and visit this website to look at what they offer.

We are still very much enjoying this product! 

DISCLAIMER:  As part of the TOS Crew I received a free download of this product for free in exchange for my personal and honest opinion. I did not receive any other compensation.

As with anything the above is my own opinion only. To read what others thought of this product, visit the Crew's website over HERE.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inspiration and Challenge from Paul

It is amazing what insights you glean when you dig a little deeper ... imagine the treasure hunter in search of a something spectacular ... dig, dig, dig in the sand and then not dig deep enough to unearth something marvelous.

So often it is maybe what we do when we read the Word of God. We dig a little, but give up too soon to earth something wonderful ... something life changing.

I was recently asked to write a devotion for an online devotional program called VERTICAL hosted by Chase Oaks Church. In order to write a devotional you need to dig a little deeper... : )

The passage I was given was 1 Thessalonians 1 v. 1-10 which you can read HERE.

Here are my thoughts:

I find this letter to the Thessalonians both inspiring and challenging.

Here are some lessons we can learn from the Thessalonians:

The inspiration:

They were a group of people who opened their hearts to God and let themselves be changed by God.

The challenge:

Are we stuck in our relationship with God? Should we open our hearts anew to what HE wants do in in our lives?

The inspiration:

They allowed other people (Paul, Silas and Timothy) to challenge them and speak truth into their lives.

The challenge:

Do we get defensive when those around us challenge us? Is it time to listen to what we hear and respond accordingly?

The inspiration:

The Thessalonians went out of their way to be welcoming to Paul, Silas and Timothy.

The challenge:

Do we show hospitality to those around us without grumbling?

The inspiration:

They became an example to others of exemplary living. There reputation preceded them!

The challenge:

Is your lifestyle a good example? What is your reputation like?

The inspiration:

They received Paul and co into their homes and lives, listened and heeded their words and acted on it in such a way that they themselves became examples of Christian living. It is a fantastic example of “iron sharpens iron”.

The challenge:

If this passage had to be capsulated into one concept, I would call it community.
Do you allow others to positively affect your life in order for you to positively affect other’s lives?


Friday, February 11, 2011

All PUFFED UP - TOS Review: The Curiosity Files - Puffer Fish

OK kids! Put on your lab coats, get your magnifying glasses, get the bug catcher…and snorkels…..we’re off to meet Professor Ana Lyze!!

The Old Schoolhouse ® created nine (so far) unit studies (downloadable as e-books in pdf format) in this exciting series looking at some of the amazing things we encounter on earth. These unit studies have hands-on activities to do and they are fun. It is called the Curiosity Files!! The name alone already sparks interest.

Professor Ana Lyze (love it!) and her research “spy” team are said to specialize in the “obscure, the weird, and abnormal”. How exciting does that sound? And we’re going along for the ride, or the swim…. This ‘outing’ only costs US$6.95!! Anyone between 8 and 13 years old can come on any of her outings, but she is always happy to make exceptions and include younger or older kids ;)

Ok, so we’re off on our exciting, science investigation and we’re diving into the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean (we’re from NZ) because it’s closer than the Atlantic and Indian Oceans where Tetraodontidae can also be found. There we learn “everything we never wanted to know… yes, that’s right, everything we NEVER wanted to know about Puffer Fish”. The title and headings are fun and clever. …Did you know Puffer Fish don’t “puff up”… they swallow a LOT of water!! A ‘puffed up’ Balloon Fish / Toadie / Bubble Fish etc. do look like a balloon, but it’s more like a WATER BALLOON!!


The kids really enjoyed reading all this information that greeted us as we opened the file. The colourful pictures are an added bonus. After the article that gave us all the ‘unwanted’ information, there was a quiz. My children specially enjoyed answering all the questions!

Then off into cyberspace we went to visit different links that are found in the e-book to glean even more interesting information. Then we went to look for Puffer Fish on youtube and found some clips on preparing Fugu… bet you want to know more about Puffer Fish already!! : )

The printable word search was a favourite with both the kids.

I wanted to make the paper mache’ Puffer, but our daughter came down with Scarlet Fever so we had to put it off, but I’d love to do it next week and I’ll add the pictures to this post – so do check back later again.

Obviously I shouldn’t give everything about Puffer Fish away, so I’ll leave it to you to grab your lab coats and join Professor Ana Lyze on her next excursion…

Just in case you can’t wait for the next boat to take you to the ocean, here is a ‘sneak peek’ at this Fishy business.

Now you may not a “Fishy” kind of person, so here are the other obscure, weird and abnormal things Professor Ana Lyze and her team have ‘spied’ on so far?

They include:

• Blue Diamond
• Dung Beetle
• Red Tide
• Zombie Fire Ants
• Blue-footed Booby
• Cicada Killing Wasp
• Quicksand

As you may have noticed we really enjoyed our science expedition with this clever team.

Each expedition include the following:

• Bible study and Bible memory applications
• Science, math, history and geography investigations
• Literature and suggested book list
• Writing, spelling, vocabulary and copywork activities
• Discussion questions, special projects & experiments
• Art, crafts, drawing and coloring pages
• Lapbook/notebook pages and helpful lapbooking links
• Special needs, hands-on discoveries
• Art, crafts, drawing and coloring pages
• Internet resources, video links and complete answer key

As I said, this ‘outing’ only costed us US$6.95, but if you want to go along and join Proferssor Ana Lyze on all her expeditions, she’s got a special price of only US$46 for all 9 exciting journeys!! Or you can watch it on DVD for US$49.

Some of Professor Ana Lyze’s other ‘lab assistants’ went on some of the other outings and you can read about them HERE.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Charlotte Mason Made Easy - Lesson Two

If you are a home educator you've most likely heard about Charlotte Mason. She was a lovely woman who had amazing ideas about children and their education. Stephanie Walmsley has written a practical course about how to implement Miss Mason's educational philosophy to help us homeschool mums and dads to do it easier. You can read some of Miss Mason's work over HERE. The volumes can be fully read on-line.

This course 'Charlotte Mason Made Easy' is a 12-week course that I'm doing.  You can click on the banner at the top to be directed to the site.

I did Lesson One and made my timetable which I've started implementing this week (as our 'school year' has only just begun). I am very pleased with my timetable and will keep you up to date with how it's going.

Lesson two is all about IDEAS.

An idea in this lesson is defined as: "anything which captivates our minds and causes us to think".

It further talks about the fact that ideas can be good or bad and either way it produces new ideas. Just think of 'bunny trails' -  how one idea leads into another. Our habits start out with a thought (an idea) which leads to action. A repeated action produces a habit - good or bad. Great ideas will produce great habits. Even our confidence and view of the world are wrapped in 'ideas' about ourselves and the world around us.

It is therefore so important for us to fill our children's beautiful minds with good... no, with great ideas!

Happy teaching.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TOS Review - City Creek 'Times Alive Software'

TIMES ALIVE SOFTWARE - Times Tables the Fun Way

Times Tables the Fun Way almost sound like a contradiction in terms doesn't it.

Do you remember learning your Times Tables the ‘Parrot Fashion’? I’m sure many of us do. I remember being drilled by my sister; sitting anxiously wondering if I’m going to get the next one correct or not. I did not like it … obviously I did not enjoy it. Yes, it did the job as I know my Times Tables, but there are one or two that I still need to ‘think’ about before I can offer an answer.

This downloadable software offers a different perspective on learning Times Tables. My first thoughts were – ‘can you make learning Times Tables fun’? Well, we will see.

I received a free download of ‘TIMES ALIVE SOFTWARE’ as part of the TOS Review Crew. I did not receive any other compensation … except that I now have an easy way to remember that 7x8=56 : )
I downloaded and installed this software onto our home PC. The process was easy enough and I did not experience any technical difficulties.

Your next step is to sign up your kids. Log-in is case sensitive so you need to remember if you used first names only, capital etc.

My very first impression was to be dubious about the program. The first thing you hear is a monotonous computer voice saying this program is intended only for kids who want to have fun… great concept, but the computer voice turned me off.

Considering too that we in NZ just had our summer break (which only ended today!) I wondered how the kids would enjoy this program… sun and surf vs math….mmm, need I say more? : )
BUT the review needed to be done so we needed to do math … in between sun and surf : )

The first thing your child gets to do is a Times Tables test that goes onto the progress sheet. This test can be cleared and redone. It can also be printed out as a blank test so they can practice ‘off screen’.

First comes the zeros. If you did not know this before, Elvis is no longer the king, but ZERO is KING!… no not Elvis, ZERO is King!

Ok, so before you think I’ve lost the plot … this is they way the program works…

Each fact gets introduced to the child by means of a story. Zero is King so everything wants to be like Zero, so 0x8=0, 0x5=0 etc…. anything times 0 is still 0, because Zero is King!

Not only is there a story, but also animation to go with the story. After the story the child gets the opportunity to practice that fact. Next up is a song (again with animation) about the story and fact you are learning. After a couple of lessons your child gets the opportunity to color a picture based on one of the stories as a fun activity.

"Progress reports summarize date lesson completed, quiz scores, and time elapsed.
Students may stop anywhere and resume where they left off. The program remembers".

What we thought of it:

The kids are having FUN, FUN, FUN with the stories… not only are they having FUN they remembering the facts!!! Oh did I mention they are having FUN?!!

We took a week’s break with having friends visiting every day and took it up again today … they still remembered the facts we learned two weeks ago!!

I must admit that I’m pleasantly surprised by this program. My daughter specially is a visual learner and this program caters to visual and auditory learners beautifully!!

The one thing we all agree on is that at times the songs are a bit much for us and sometime it goes on a bit long, but in saying that…. My daughter was humming a tune this morning and I said to her…”Honey you are humming 6x6!!” It was funny because we agreed that although we find the songs a tad much, it works!!

The Times Alive Software retails for US$44.95 and is for anyone who needs to learn or brush up on their Times Tables.

But hey, check out this link HERE to have a look at a video clip about this amazing program. You can also go HERE to view another sample of one of the songs on the CD-ROM.

They have several different products apart from this downloadable software including student workbooks and clue cards amongst others.

System Requirements

Windows PC
Windows 98 SE, 
Windows ME, 
Windows 2000, 
Windows XP, 
Windows Vista

As always this review is my personal opinion after having used the product. Why not see what my fellow crew mates think of this too by visiting this link HERE.
Happy reading : )