Sunday, March 25, 2012

TOS Review - Action Alert

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Product information:
Action Alert is an Internet Safety Software Program downloadable from their website. It offers web site blocking and filtering, time control options and alerts the parent via e-mail or cell phone when certain key words are typed into a search string. When you receive an alert you have an option of shutting down the computer remotely from your phone or computer. Action Alert can recored up to 60 hours of activity.

Action Alert is available in two versions:

The Free version offers basic protection for one computer.

The Maximum Protection version, which includes Multiple User Protection, Full Social Network Monitoring and is Fully Customizable, retails for US$29.99

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Review Crew I received a free download of the Maximum Protection version of this Internet Protection Software.

Action Alert offers the following:

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Action Alert was voted Winner of Disney's iParenting Award and is endorsed by the Child Safety Network.

Here is a list of FAQs about Action Alert.

How it worked for us:

We installed this software on our home computer on which we do most of our school work, play games and watch movies. This computer runs on Windows 7. I liked the fact that it alerted me via e-mail when certain key words or phrases were entered into a search string, which I did on purpose to see how that feature works. Unfortunately for us, Action Alert seemed to have caused some problems in that since installing the software, the computer has been slow in responding and at times just hanging in the middle of running some programs. At times I've had to try open some programs several times before it would actually run on the computer. I contacted support and they responded within 48 hours. Our problems however continued and as my husband is in IT we've decided to uninstall the program. Uninstalling the program was easy. Since doing so, we've had no more problems on the computer. 

Our problems do not discount that Action Alert could be a very suitable program for you. It might work very well on your home computer. Please visit the Crew Blog to read more reviews on this product and get a broader idea of how this product works. 


Monday, March 19, 2012

TOS Review - Progeny Press (The Cay)

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The Mission of Progeny Press
"To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!"

If you are in search of a good Literature Study Guide, then Progeny Press might be the product you've been after.

Progeny Press is a family-run business providing study guides for excellent literature from a Christian Perspective. It is not to say that the literature they offer these study guides for are only 'Christian' literature, but the guides are written in such a way that the books are viewed from a Christian viewpoint. The guides help to question how the viewpoint in the book relates or compares to a Biblical point of view.  It is evident in the ABOUT US section that Michael and Rebecca are passionate about God, good literature and teaching children to appreciate good literature.

At the time of this writing, Progeny Press offers a selections of 107 study guides to literature for ages K-12. The genres include: American Literature, British Literature, Christian Literature, Historical Literature, Poetry, Shakespeare and World Literature. Choosing a guide is easy as it is broken down in genres as well as grade levels (Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School & High School). 

The Study Guides are available in the following formats:

  1. Printed and bound booklet
  2. CD in .pdf format
  3. Downloadable .pdf as an e-mail attachment 
For this review I received the Study Guide for the book 'The Cay' by Theodore Taylor as a .pdf e-mail attachment.

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Each .pdf Study Guide package includes:


  1. A read-me file with instructions on how to use the interactive study guide
  2. A Study Guide 
  3. Answer Key

The study guide can be printed, or if the student prefers, the answer can be typed directly into the document.

The Study Guide itself includes:

  • Synopsis of the book
  • Bio on the author
  • Background information on the setting for the story
  • Pre-reading activities
  • An in-depth study of the chapters, which are broken down into various sections including:

Vocabulary - what I liked about this section is that it provides space for what you think a word means based on the context of the sentence and only then does the student look it up in the dictionary. This made for good discussion about how we use words and how language has changed over time.

Questions - the questions are open ended and thought provoking. Questions are written in such a way that the student don't just answer from the text, but are encouraged to think outside the pages of the book and find answers from their own beliefs about the world around them.

Digging Deeper - here the student is directed to the Bible as well as being asked to think a bit deeper about certain issues such as fear or discrimination.

Optional Activities - These include research, writing assignments, map work and many more to keep the student very well engaged with the text and assist in further challenging what they think and how it can relate to the world they live in.

At the end of the guide there is a 10 question overview of the book as well as further essay and project suggestions with additional resources. 

These study guides are truly well thought out, in-depth studies and deliver on what the owners of Progeny Press hope to deliver, which is a Literature Study Guide:

Concentrating on:
  • Critical thinking
  • Comprehension
  • Literary analysis
  • Christian application.

Our goal is to teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on scripture for truth and valuesand enjoy themselves while they do it!
(Quoted from the website)

If you are interested to look at some SAMPLES of different Study Guides click HERE.

The How To Use Progeny Press Study Guide page provides a good understanding in how to best implement this product. It is suggested that the student completely reads the literature during the first week and then start the study guide in week two, doing one page per day. This will work out to about 8-10 weeks to complete. 

We requested 'The Cay' from the library after receiving the study guide and the kids and I thoroughly enjoyed doing the study as far as we could. We read a portion of the book and then did the portion of the study guide that corresponded with the chapters we read. This worked well for us as I used this as another read-aloud with my 8 and 11 year olds. The kids wanted to work on some questions individually and some together, so I chose to print off a copy of the required section for each child, although the answers can be typed directly into the document. The children were very disappointed when I wanted to renew the book and it was on hold! I did request it again, so we are all eager to get back into it. 

I've had a look at the other guides available and there are a few I am very interested in purchasing.

The electronic study guides retail for between US$10.99 (Lower Elementary) and US$18.99 (High School).

Visit the Products page to see the amazing selection Progeny Press offers. When you click on an item it gives you a description of the book, which age level it is for, how many pages and section the study guide has and the format in which the guide is available.

Here you will also find the stores available around the world, which include:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • England
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Taiwan

For more information on the owners or the product, please visit Progeny Press today.

You can also visit Rebecca (co-owner of Progeny Press) at her Blog: Ask Rebecca

Disclaimer:
As part of the TOS Review Crew I was given a free downloadable copy of 'The Cay Study Guide'. In exchange for this product, I offer my honest and personal opinion about this product in this review. I did not receive any other compensation. 

As with any review, this is one opinion only. Please visit the Crew's Blog to read other reviews on this product.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My motto is...

http://www.grmi.org/~bdonison/motto.html
My children have both come up with the mottos they want to apply in their lives:

Princess Lulu:
'Be the example people should follow.'

Buddy Boy:
'Treat others the way you want them to treat you.'

I am blessed to be their mummy!

TOS Blog Post - Creek Edge Press

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I like tick boxes. There, I said it!

I was very excited to be chosen to review a set of Ancient World History Task Cards from Creek Edge Press as part of the TOS Review Crew. I received a set of Task Cards and the Instruction Manual for free in exchange for my personal opinion about the product.

Creek Edge Press is a company that provides a simple tool for homeschoolers to facilitate more 'Discovery based, Research Oriented and Independent' learning. The tool is s a set of Task Cards with tick boxes (as you may have gathered by now)! with various tasks for the students to complete using Encyclopedias, other Reference Books, Dictionaries, Maps, various Activities and Field Trips. 

Amy Kate Hilsman is the author of the Task Cards. These Card Sets, which are now available to us all, started as hand written sets for her own children whom she has homeschooled. You can read Amy's story to find out the history behind these Task Cards. 

The Task Cards have been created to support Classical, Charlotte Mason and Montessori educational styles. It is geared at students between grades K- 8. Each Task Card have several tasks to complete. These tasks are written so that students from different age groups can use them. The aim is to set up an environment for the student (even with their help) with the resources needed to complete the tasks before they start. Younger students can get help from the parent, while older student can work more independently.

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Task Card #2 for Geography and Culture
















Each Set of Task Cards include the Task Cards and a booklet which introduces the course to the parent / teacher and a guide which will help you get the most out of the set of Task Cards. (The individual sets vary from US$18 - US$20.)

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Introduction Booklet and Task Cards for Ancient World History




















How we used it:

I first read the Manual. It describes in great detail the best ways in which to use these cards. The manual not only addresses the parent / teacher, but also the student. It also describes a way to best prepare an environment for learning and using these Task Cards. This is not essential, but encouraged. 

As we already use a History Curriculum I decided to use the Task Cards that corresponded with the lessons we were doing. It worked beautifully and added great depth to our learning. The Tasks on the Cards encourages in depth learning and I am excited to see the progress in the kids as we work through the Cards. I am now altering how we are doing our history by adding the Task Cards into our current curriculum. The Tasks are well thought out and I have found that as we read and go through it, it leads to even more ideas. 

Tasks range from Researching, Map work to making Posters and visiting the Museum. 

Some of the tasks (Reading / research) we did together as a family and some of the activities the kids did on their own or worked on together without my assistance. 

What we thought of this product:

We LOVED IT! and will continue to love it for some time yet.


The different subjets covered include: 
  • Science
  • History, Geography & Culture
  • Art (Sold as full set only)
  • Music (Sold as full set only)
  • Grammar Reinforcement
The Product Page here provide basic information about the product as well as the price for the individual sets of Task Cards and full sets. 

If you want to have a look at some of the task cards from the different subjects, you can visit the Gallery Page and find several examples including samples of 

Here is a page of FAQ's that will give you a very good overview of how you can incorporate these cards into your homeschooling.

Here is a great link to book lists and online links to resources for each card set.

Creek Edge Press also boasts a BLOG where you can read about product updates and other news.

As with any product review, my opinion is one of many. So please follow the link HERE to see what the rest of the Crew thought about this product.

Blessings,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

TOS Review - Reading Eggs / Reading Eggspress

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DISCLAIMER:

As part of the TOS Review Crew I recently received a free 2-month subscription to the Reading Eggs Website / online reading programme in exchange for my honest opinion about this product. There was no other compensation.


The views express in this writing is my own except where otherwise stated. As this is one opinion of this product, I encourage you to visit the Crew Blog where you can read more reviews from other crew members to get their view on this product.


WHAT IT READING EGGS?

Reading Eggs is an online world created to assist children on their reading journey. This world which started out as a programme for children aged 4 - 7, grew in popularity and now features Reading Eggspress for 7-13 year olds. 

Reading Eggs was created by educational experts with the aim of encouraging children who are learning to read to gain confidence, have fun and increase their reading skills. The program makes use of online games, reading activities, online books, assessments and other tools to make learning to read fun and exciting. Reading Eggs now has 120 lessons for the young readers.

Reading Eggs / Reading Eggspress retails for:

6 months subscription - AUD$59.95 ($9.99/month)
12 months subscription - AUD$79.95 ($6.67/month)
24 months subscription - AUD$99.00 ($4.12/month)

From the website: * Your second child receives a 50% discount when purchasing the same subscription in the same transaction.

How does it work?

Your first port of call for Reading Eggs (4 - 7 y.o.) is the 'Reading Eggs Placement Test'. This is to assess your child's current reading level; it is audiovisual and has 40 questions. You can choose to do the test if the student has some reading experience or start from scratch at level 1.

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Reading Assessment Question 8
As the kids complete lessons and activities they gain eggs as rewards and progress on their journey. They can track their progress on the map (see below). There are worksheets that can be printed off to reinforce the lessons.


Reading Eggs also has other physical products available to complement the lessons, including flash cards and books.

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Reading Eggs Progress Map
As my children are nearly 9 and 11 they did Reading Eggspress.

I can start here by saying they loved it!

Reading Eggspress has over 200 comprehension lessons available to the student and over 600 e-books available to read in the library. These books are at different reading levels for 7-13 year olds and include topics on sci-fi, plants, animals, ocean, science, earth science, space, fantasy, myth, comedy and art.

When you first log into Reading Eggspress you are greeted by the 'Floating Island'. From here you can choose to visit the library, the comprehension gym, the stadium or your apartment or the mall. The Apartment is where you can create your avatar, admire your trophies and go on a quest, The Mall is where you can spend the golden eggs you earn by completing lessons and activities.

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The Floating Island


The Library



At the library you have a choice of hundreds of books to read. If you cannot complete a book in one sitting then simply bookmark it and continue when you next login. Books can also be rated and 'liked'. Once you've read a book you get quizzed on the book.



The Comprehension Gym



Here you do a 'cycling class' where the student uses assessment, interpretation, reading and comprehension skills to answer the questions.

The student picks a book, then answers questions about the cover, based on what is seen. This is followed by an activity using the dictionary, next they make inferences based on part of the text. A few activities later and the student reads the entire book and answers a quizz based on what they read.

Your progress is saved and the student can see which lesson was completed or which lesson they are still to complete.


The Stadium

Here you get to compete agains another user or the computer. The student is tested on spelling, grammar or  vocabulary. It is a timed activity. The student can see their progress as they 'race' against their opponent as below: Based on their performance the student can go up to the next level.


The students also have TARGETS which earn them rewards if they are completed. This keeps them interested and challenge them to continue. 


The kids absolutely loved Reading Eggspress and would often asked to do another activity even when our 'schoolday' ended.

Parent can view the students' overall progress from the Dashboard.

If you are interested in looking at Reading Eggs / Reading Eggspress you can get a FREE 14-day trial by visiting this page HERE.