Friday, December 17, 2010

Tiny Planets: TOS Crew Review

The Product:
Tiny Planets is a webased fun place for young children. The Tiny Planets online content has won two BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards – Interactive Best Entertainment Website and Best Children’s Interactive.

"Tiny Planets provides award-winning educational entertainment set in space exploration and discovery, inspiring creativity and critical thinking in youth ages 4 to 12.

Tiny Planets features the cosmic adventures of Bing and Bong, two whimsical aliens who travel the Universe of Tiny Planets together on their gadget-loaded plush sofa. With Bing and Bong, children are encouraged to think for themselves, assume social responsibility, take care of our planet and learn about the mysteries of space."

The Tiny Planets website consists of  eight different areas filled with things to explore. In the Tiny Planets Home section you will be centrally located and have access to all areas.

On Tiny Planets TV you can watch any of the Tiny Planets television episodes. This series was co-created with Sesame Workshop and emphasizes science education and early learning goals, such as social and emotional development, language and literacy and more!

My Tiny Planets is a new online community and virtual world that combines social elements and gaming to create an engaging fictional outer-space exploration experience. Children adopt and care for their own planet, solve galactic missions with Bing and Bong and do much, much more.

On Tiny Planets Fun your child can take a few moments to enjoy brainy puzzle games (like fractions, sound
and seek, and symmetry), as well as coloring books and comics.

On Tiny Planets Books you’ll find interactive story books for younger children featuring Bing and Bong, their endearing friends the locals and the flockers, and all the planets in the Universe of Tiny Planets. Read these books with your child, or teach your child to read on her own!

Tiny Planets Learning is the site for parents, homeschoolers, and educators. Here you’ll find lesson plans that include educational activities and science experiments to do at home. Also, you’ll see how every episode in the Tiny Planets television series maps to early learning educational goals. 

There are also Tiny Planets Labs and Tiny Planets Blog to check out as well.
As you can see there is much to been done on the Tiny Planets website!

The McMama Experience:
When reading through the email we recieved at the beginning of this review I was relieved to find that there were a lot of steps taken to insure that our children's time on Tiny Planets would be a safe one.

 For example, this is an ad-free site so when our children search for books to read on Tiny Planets Books or when they are searching for another episode on Tiny Planets TV I didn't have to worry about what crazy ad was going to pop up next. Although our children were able to chat with other players they were not let loose in an open chat forum. Instead they were allowed to communicate using emotioncons and speech bubbles preset with safe phrases so that all communication could be controlled. This might be a bother to older children but for little ones I was totally appreciating the safety!

I think that this site would appeal to kids ranging in ages from 5 to 10 or 11 however the non-readers would need to have everything read to them because there is SO MUCH reading required as there is no speech from any characters. This I think might be one area that they could work on to make it more user friendly to the younger set.

During some of the game time I quickly noticed that it takes a lot of coordination to be able to play the games. Having to work those arrow keys on the keyboard so that your object (in my case a spaceship) went in the right direction was difficult.  Something that I don't think the younger set would be able to do without any frustration. I was having a hard time and I'm an adult, not a "gamer" by any means but pretty "keyboard savvy" if you will. Maybe this is something else that the people behind this website can consider.

Most of what Tiny Planets offers is suppose to be free however (I only found 1 episode and 2 books that actually were) there are certain things that require keys. Keys are sold for the following:

10 keys $1.95
25 keys $3.95
85 keys $9.95
250 keys $25.95
600 keys $49.95

With one book costing 10 keys I can see how this could get pricey quickly so maybe the 600 for $49.95 would be the best deal? BUT know that once you purchase something with your keys it is yours forever!! You do not have to keep purchasing that particular movie that your 5 year old wants to see over and over again! That is great isn't it?!

Okay, so I am kind of mixed about this website. There are features that I love and appreciate (safety) and others that didn't sit so well with me (creating Cadet names was confusing). All in all I think that this is a pretty good website but with the few things that I mentioned above and maybe a more simplistic layout it could be even better.

The Breakdown:
  1. Safe, safe, safe!!
  2. A bit confusing to navigate at first, but email them! They are helpful.
  3. Younger children (i.e. non-readers and the non-coordinated) will need help with a good bit of this website.
  4. Encourages space exploration and who doesn't love that?!
  5. A wide variety of things to see and do on this website!
Click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates have to say about this!!


**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.**

Lovin' Learnin'

Friday, December 10, 2010

Apologia, Good Morning God: TOS Crew Review

The Product:
Today I bring to you my review on an item from this wonderful company. We have had the  opportunity to review a new book, written by Doug Carmen, President of Apologia Ministries. His new book is entitled Good Morning God. and it retails for $14.00. See a sample chapter here.

This little book isn't just any ordinary book. It is a full week's curriculum wrapped beautifully between the two beautiful covers of a book.

When this book arrived at our house and the box was opened my children demanded that I read it right away. I, being as excited as they, agreed. We read through the book, devouring the beautiful artwork and soaking up it's wonderful message.

After I was done they all "lined up" to take turns spending time with the book. I knew right away that we had a winner in our hands!

The McMama Experience
Can I say that I LOVE this book?! It is not only beautiful but inspires the readers to love God and think about Him in a way that is so easy for kids to understand.

Each four page spread starts with "Good Morning God it's Monday" for example and then goes on to explain a little bit about the young boy's day. (This is so great too cause on one day the little boy colors a picture in their "school room". Yeah, homeschooled! My kids loved that part!) After we read about the day I flipped over to the back of the book to find the Questions and Activities part for that day. There are thought provoking questions to ask, Scripture to read and on some days even a short activity. This beautiful little book can easily make for a very full week's worth of family devotion time or it can be spread out over a two month period so that each day's section can be studied for an entire week.

But whatever schedule you decide to use, this book makes it easy to spend at least 7 full days (Sunday to Sunday) talking with your children about the Lord.

I highly recommned it.

The Breakdown:
This book is geared for the younger set, maybe ages 1 to 8, however I think it's better suited for children a few years older. Those little ones would be lost on the beautiful message but would enjoy the pictures. It can also be read by an older sibling to younger brothers and sisters.

Good Morning, God retails for $14.00.

There is also a coloring book available to purchase for $4.00.

Click on the banner below to read through the many reviews of my fellow Crew Members.


**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.**

Lovin' Learnin'

Monday, December 6, 2010

Seafood Tomato Alfredo

We have been extremely successful at adding more fish to our diet these last few months and I found this recipe to dabble in cooking fish in a different way than the usual baking/frying/steaming that we've been doing.

I got it from and I encourage you to check out that site! I LOVE it!!!

Here's the recipe:

But first, I changed this from 4 servings to leftovers around here...this is the 8 servings list:

Seafood Tomato Alfredo
2 T butter
2 med. onions
2 (10.75 oz.) can Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom w/Roasted Garlic Soup
1 c milk
2 c diced canned tomatoes
2 lbs fresh fish fillet (flounder, haddock or halibut)*we used Tilapia, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 c hot cooked linguine

Heat butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it's tender.

Stir in the soup, milk and tomatoes. Heat to a boil. Add the fish to the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serve over linguine.

There you have it! It's delish!!! And we love it even more the next day!! Add a salad and some rolls and you're good to go!!!

Lovin' Learnin'

Friday, November 26, 2010

This Could Be the Start of a Beautiful BlogRoll~Week 13


We are currently visiting family this week so we will be taking the week off from blogging about HOD but if you have something to blog about feel free to link up as usual!

~Thanks for helping to create a great blogroll!!~

Link up and show us how your week has gone!

If you are a blogger, blog about homeschooling, and a Heart of Dakota user share a link to your blog. It is both fun and useful to see how others are "doing school."

Because I am very visual and love pictures the blogroll will have a thumbnail picture visible so you can give us a sneak peek of your blog world.

When signing up please...

pretty please...

fill out the entry like this:

Your Name @ Your Blog Name (curriculum you're doing)

For example, I am McMama at RubySlippersSchool and this year we will do Beyond Little Hearts and Drawn into the Heart of Reading so my entry will look like this:

There is a character maximum so abbreviate where needed.

Below is the code to grab a button for your sidebar. The button will bring your readers right back to this post so that they can find other HOD users for this year more easily. You can easily navigate back here from your blog as well so it will be easier for you to post every week.

<a href=""><img src=""/></a>

Isn't it cute?!! Thanks again Karen!

If you have questions don't hesitate to ask!
All linkies will be open from 12:01 a.m. every Friday until midnight every Monday so post accordingly! We don't want to miss a thing!

Lovin' Learnin',

Friday, November 19, 2010

KB Teachers: TOS Crew Review

The Company
The item I am reviewing today is actually a worksheet website. The KB Teacher website has a pretty neat assortment of worksheets for a nice age range and their selection grows daily.

The McMama Experience
I feel that this website had a fairly good collection of available worksheets for my younger students (K and 1st) but there was a little less that my 3rd grader could use that weren't too hard or too easy. They did enjoy the holiday worksheets though.
Their special holiday worksheets and the newer Thanksgiving worksheets were nice although pretty general. I used the Fall acrostic poem worksheet for my 3rd grader one day. They had a fair amount of math worksheets available, a little less of language arts for the ages of my children, but I know that they are steadily adding to their site. They did, however, have plenty of Alphabet worksheets available.

My favorite was the handwriting generator sheets. I LOVED being able to add whatever words I desired to the worksheets and appreciated being able to choose between tracer font or regular font. The cursive sheets were pretty good and my children actually liked them more than our regular stuff!

The Breakdown
The site has many worksheets in the areas of Seasonal, English, Math, Science, Biology, and more! For $29.00 a year, or $49.00 for two years – you gain premium access into their site – printable sheets without watermarks. The content changes per the season and KB Teachers is quick to send short informative emails of their updates to keep you engaged in the site.

If you find yourself on a worksheet hunt – give KB Teachers a try! You can print the worksheets with the watermarks (not always desireable) – try a 10 day free trial – or take part of their 30 day money back guarantee!

Click on the banner below to read through the many reviews of my fellow Crew Members.


**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.**

Lovin' Learnin'

Monday, November 15, 2010

Our HOD week in Review - Unit 32

Since we have vacation coming up in a week and a half and we are only two units away from completing our adventure in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory we are trying to squeeze these last two units in before we leave.

It's kind of bittersweet as we have enjoyed this journey so much but we will do our best to enjoy these last few days with Beyond.

In Unit 32 we finished our travels on the trails out west. We met with a brave young girl named Nell who protected her young twin nephews from the all too common bear enconters during this very difficult period in our country's history. We also traveled on the California Trail with young Ken as he went alone to find his father. We followed the excitement of the pioneers as they all scrambled out west to find the gold that they so desperately searched for. We learned along with them that California was added as the 31st state to our great nation and felt the excitement as all of the characters filled with pride over this great event.

We learned a little about bears and the children got to experience how difficult easy task such as picking up a cup would be if our hands were more like the paws of bears.

The girls drew great pictures to go along with this week's poem. I am so glad that I decided to make up these poem sheets because I just know that these will be favorite treasures to look back on in the years to come.

On Friday the girls completed their notebooking page along with a few extra worksheets that I printed off for them.

In Grandmas Attic (The Grandma's Attic Series)
We began reading In Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson at the end of this week and the kids are just loving this book!! This is the last book that we will read as part of Beyond's storytime selections. We chose this book from the Girl Interest Pack of recommended books. I highly recommend this book as a must read for families with girls. The stories are highly interesting and I love how Grandma's stories of her childhood always teach a beautiful lesson in Biblical living.

This week we also read from Psalm 121:1-8. We read that the God who takes care of us never sleeps. He is there, always watching us, caring for us, never becoming weary. We talked about how even as the pioneers struggled in the early days, months and years of our country, God was there; caring for them.

We also created some artwork using the girl's own hands to trace.
Lovin' Learnin'

Corps of Rediscovery: TOS Crew Review

The Product
Today I am reviewing the Cornhusk Doll kit from Corps of Re-Discovery. Corps of Re-Discovery is a company that focuses on bringing to our children some of the treasured toys from my favorite time in our country's history.

Cornhusks dolls were introudced to the early settlers by the Iroquois Indians. They quickly became a favorite toy among Pioneers both old and young alike as the parents had limited materials in which to create toys for their children out of.

This Cornhusk Doll Kit is from the Pioneer and Colonial assortment of toys.

The McMama Experience

I was so excited to be able to review this product as we are studying Pioneers in History right now and because my girls just love, love, love all things from that time era. I opened the package the night before attempting this project so that I could read the directions ahead of time. I wanted to make sure that I understood each step. Although I thought that I did there did happen to be one step (the adding of a small piece of cornhusk to the arm sections) that we were totally lost on. It did not affect the end product though.

The directions stated that it would take an hour to complete the doll and I would have to say that that time frame was right on.

I announced to my girls that we were going to put this doll together and they were very excited! We soaked our cornhusks while we ate lunch and then promptly got busy.

Big Sis helped me the most and at 6, majority of the steps were a little beyond her ability but only because we wanted to make sure that the doll was put together securely.

Here she is waiting to dry.
Like I said above we only had a hard time once but the finished doll was treasured inspite of that skipped step (although I think ours actually turned out better anyway!) :)

I followed the directions exactly and hand sewed the apron for the doll but next time I will consider sewing it on a machine just to speed things up a bit. That step could even be done on a seperate day.

She LOVES this doll!
All in all this was a very easy project and the doll will be treasured forever I am sure!! This is not one of those waste your money projects! The price by the way is super!!
The Breakdown

The Cornhusk Doll Kit comes with all needed cornhusks plus a few extra, plenty of string, a fabric swatch to sew your very own apron and head scarf and directions.

At the time of this review the kit is currently selling for $4.50 down from the original $5.99.

There is also a male Cornhusk Doll Kit available for the boys in your life or as a companion ;) to the girl doll.
Fun, fun, fun!!
Children will practice valuable skills while putting this project together: sewing, folding, tying etc.
Very low cost
Simple directions

Although the drawings that went along with the directions were good I think that actual pictures of the steps would be easier to understand.
Some of the cornhusks did tear but that may not be the fault of the company, just the nature of the materials being worked with.

I will be looking into purchasing more of the items sold at Corps of Re-Discovery as Big Sis has fallen in love with their products!!

Be sure to check out Corps of Re-Discovery on Facebook as they often have special deals for their Facebook followers.

Click on the banner below to see what my other Crew Mates have to say about the various products that they reviewed.


**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.**
Lovin' Learnin'

A surprise Hallelujah Chorus

A friend emailed me the link to this this morning and I thought that it was fabulous! A surprise Hallelujah Chorus in a Macy's department store.

The Opera Company of Philadelphia was instrumental in bringing it together to perform one of the Knight Foundation's "1000 Random Acts of Culture" which they'll be doing over the next three years across the country. Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world's largest pipe organ - the singers burst into song at exactly noon.

I got this embedded video from the Creative Minority Report blog.

Wouldn't you just love to have been there?!! Sent chills up my spine!!

Lovin' Learnin'

Monday, November 8, 2010

And the WINNER IS....

Okay, sorry I'm late to post this...but...the moment that you all have been waiting for (right?!)

The winner of the CSN Stores $35 giveaway is:

 Comment #4: Heidi from Chatter, Clatter and Things that Matter

Congrats Heidi!!!

And thanks to all who entered! I wish I had something for all of you!!!

Heidi please contact me within 48 hours so that you can claim your prize!! And the rest of you stop by her blog, it's great!!

And a big thanks to Alexandra for allowing me to hold this giveaway! If anyone is interested in hosting a CSN Stores giveaway of their own contact Alexandra! She is super helpful and will point you in the right direction on getting your own giveaway up and running.

Lovin' Learnin'

Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Collector Pro:TOS Review

The Product

Book Collector Pro is a book database software that allows you to catalog each book that you own. You can catalog your books on PC, Mac or online. The software will automatically upload book details & cover art, just enter titles or scan ISBN barcodes.


A snippet from the website:

Book Collector : Downloadable software for PC or Mac

•Create and manage a personal book database on your own PC or Mac
Book Collector is downloadable software. Browse your collection while offline.
•Fast and full featured desktop software
 View collection stats, print lists, manage loans, export to XML, CSV, HTML, and more...
•Catalog your digital book files automatically, just scan your hard-disk
Link audio book and eBook files to your book entries

Book Collector
The McMama Experience
Although I wasn't sure how needful this product would be for me this has been a neat tool to have. I was impressed with how easy it was to insert each book’s information into this program. Although the program is designed to also be used with a book scanner (which would have been so neat to use! all I had to do was insert the ISBN number and then the program would search for my book’s information. It probably took me a little longer than those who had a scanner but it wasn’t a problem as the program searches pretty quickly.
Once all info. was found I would then go and create folders for each genre and file the books that way.
This would be useful to have if you are like me and own TONS of books! It was neat for me to be able to see all of my books sectioned by genre into a pie chart  or a bar graph and it would be so helpful for insurance purposes as well.
I really like how you can view your book collection by publisher, publication year, author even language for those of us who have books in other languages and many more.
You can easily keep track of books that you’ve loaned out by filing them in the Loaned To folder. This is an awesome tool for such a forgetful person as myself!
I honestly haven't been able to take advantage of the many wonderful features to this software as I am kinda slow to learn when it comes to things like this but I am sold on the benefits of owning this type of software. (One small step towards organization one giant leap for my kind!!) :)

Statistics showing all genres

Go here to see screen shots and features.

The Breakdown
Very easy to use.
Helps organize an otherwise “disastrously disorganized” area of our lives my life.

Some older books were lacking in information. (Although I personally had very few of these problems.)

Book Collector Pro sells for $49.95
Check out their prices for their many other collectors products and scanners available from their website.

Click on the banner to see what my other Crewmates have to say about this very nifty software program.


**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.**
Lovin' Learnin'

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our HOD week in Review

We homeschool on a schedule of 9 weeks on 2 weeks of so currently we are in the first part of our 2 week break. This week I just wanted to write a short post about the wonderful emerging book selections in the Beyond manual.

Big Sis who is almost 7 and in the first grade has thoroughly enjoyed the books this year.

So far she has read Animal Adventures and The Bears on Hemlock Mountain. Last year she enjoyed many such as Amelia Bedila, the CLP Nature Reader, Josephina Story Quilt, Prairie School and Wagon Wheels just to name a few.

These emerging readers have won a spot in her heart as wel as my own. I'm so thankful for the obvious time and thought that went into putting this list of readers together.

For an extra activity to go along with Animal Adventures I had Big Sis finish off the book with the Character Mask activity from the Book Projects to send home level 2/3.

I really like that book and am glad to have it!

Here is a picture of her activity:

Here is the finished project of Biggest's that I mentioned here. Scroll down to the bottom to read the little blurb on DITHOR.

All in all the stories that we are introduced to with HOD have been the highlight of this program! What a blessing this has been to us!!

Click on the button below to check out how other HODies have done this past week!!

Lovin' Learnin'