Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekly Word-Wisdom

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
James 1:5
Are you lacking wisdom this morning? Then get on your knees and seek the face of the One who gives to all who ask with pure motives. He joys in doing this for us. Don't delay, seek His wisdom today!!

upbraideth-  1. to find fault with or reproach severely; censure: The military tribunal upbraided the soldier   for his cowardice.

2. (of things) to bring reproach on; serve as a reproach to.

Lovin' Learnin'

Friday, October 22, 2010

Giveaway anyone?

So, I have been considering purchasing some new things for our home. I've thought of a few things such as a new rug...

a couple of console tables to store some unsightly but necessary items,

or maybe a plant to add some much needed greenery.

 You know, the basics. ;) (But I'm thinking that some console tables might be the best choice...

Well, although I would like love to find something new for our home I figure that since the holiday season is approaching and it is always best to try to truly live the "it is better to give than to receive" lesson...

...I have opted to hold a giveaway for one of my lucky readers from CSN Stores. Ever heard of 'em? They have some great stuff (just review the pictures above if you don't believe me) and tons of stores!

Anyway one of you will be the winner of a $35 giftcard to one of their many sites. There are tons to choose from so I'm sure that you'll find something you like in one of them. WIth the holidays coming up I know you all have grandparents, spouses, children and friends on your list that you would just love to be able to cross off right? So, take a peek at one of the many CSN Stores and check 'em out!

Entering is easy peasy. Here's the info:

1. Leave a comment telling me what (from one of the CSN Stores) you would love to purchase if you did win. Leave a link so I can see it too!! I might just change my mind about those console tables!! :)

2. Follow my blog.

3. "Like" CSN Stores on Facebook and come back here and let me know!

4. And for 2 extra entries tell a friend about this giveaway. Have them mention your name and/or blog, so that I know who referred them, in their entry.

That's it. Easy huh?
The contest will be open from Friday, Oct. 22 to Monday, Nov. 8 The winner will be announced that evening.

I will be using to pick a winner and will announce here on my blog who the lucky entrant is. Please be sure to leave a way to be contacted if you win as the winner will only have 48 hours to respond...if ya don't I pick another entrant.

So, have fun browsing the many CSN Stores!!!

Lovin' Learnin'

Little Reader by Brill Kids,-TOS Review

TOS Review

The Product:

The Little Reader by Brill Kids. I was given access to the downloadable version of the Little Reader product for this review.

From the Brill Kids website:

What is Little Reader?

Ideal for babies and young children, Little Reader is the most effective learning system for teaching your child to read. At the heart of Little Reader is a revolutionary software system that delivers lessons in ways never before possible, making learning ENGAGING for your child, and EASY for you.

This is one of those "teach your baby to read" programs. Ever try one of those? I hadn't but this program seems to be one of very great quality.

The McMama Experience:

For me this was pretty easy to get started on. I easily downloaded the software and then the curriculum content for both semesters. After that I was ready to go. I know that we were informed that this product was their newest version (2.0) and hadn't been released to the public yet. Because of that there was a possiblity of having some difficulties with some portions. I know that others did experience some problems but I however have not. Downloading on my Windows Vista computer was easy peasy.

When we sat down for our first session I wasn't sure how it would go but I gathered Littlest and Brother (just for fun) and hit play for lesson one. Littlest sat inthralled as words in large print such as eye, head, sit, stand, horse and fish flashed across the screen during the word flash section. Then when the multisensory portion came up she was shown the same bold print words along with a picture and then an animated character or a live shot of an animal.

As the words and pictures are being shown a voice is saying the words for the children to hear. It was no time at all before Littlest began repeating these words. And I do have to say she was doing it rather clearly as well.

The session was quick and very easy to implement. Both children enjoyed it very much although it was without a doubt meant for very young children.

See what a lesson looks like here.

Image is from the Little Reader Deluxe Kit.

The Breakdown:


$149 for 1 semester
$199 for 2 semesters
You also gain access to forums and other downloadable items created by others. I was excited to see some material in Spanish available.

I love how you can personalize it by adding your own photo for words like Mom and Dad (and even a pet if you're so inclined).
I like how you can print out flash cards and the many ways that you can personalize those.
I loved the ease of using the program and the short amount of time each lesson took.
Littlest had fun and learned some new words.

Although I'm sure results may be different for longer usage my Littlest was not reading any of the words herself.
The cost is quite high-it's a terrific product and seems to be a worthy cause but still pricey for me personally. Although considering the cost of some phonics programs I guess it would be very comparable to most of what is offered today.
Compatible only with Windows (Windows XP, Vista, and 7 for both 32 and 64-bit.) That really wasn't a problem for me but I wanted to mention it.

So my opinion is that if you are truly interested in teaching your young baby/toddler to read then go ahead and try the trial version. I have no doubts that you will like this program but I do think though that you will have to like it enough and desire for your baby or toddler to read enough to spend $199 on it. (But again, if you think of the phonics programs that you would be buying at age 5. This may not be too bad of an offer.)

Other Products Available-

Little Math to teach your baby or toddler the fundamentals of arithmetic and the understanding of numerals.

Chinese Curriculum Add-On Pack that will help you teach your young child to recognize thousands of Simplified or Traditional Chinese characters, understand their meanings, and to learn to speak Mandarin.
*You must already have purchased the Little Reader to use this program.

You can also bundle the programs together to save even more $$. Gotta love that! You can find those products and the aboved mentioned ones at the bottom of this page.

Click on the banner to see what other Crew Members have to say about their experience!!


**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'

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our HOD Week in Review-Unit 31

It is so good to get back to our Heart of Dakota work! We enjoyed our Columbus Unit Study but our family is just so in love with all that Carrie Austin has put together for the Beyond manual!

This week we learned a little about what it was like on the Santa Fe Trail. This is the trail that many pioneers took heading west from Independence Missouri. We rode with a fictional young boy named Nick who was traveling with his father. We learned of how hard it was at times on the trail. Can you imagine having to get out and pull your wagon up a steep hill or use it as a boat to cross a river? And not just that but the fear of Indians, animals and getting lost.

We talked a lot about the trust in God that many of these pioneers had to have in God. What a great example they are of not worrying about tomorrow but trusting in the God of today.

Our poem this week was such a fun one entitled Weather, I'll type it for you since it was so catchy I think you'll like it too.

Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather
Whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not.

This poem ended up being another one of our favorites! I gotta get these girls to color their pictures for you! They just aren't the same in black and white!

I uploaded our work to Scribid so that you could see some of what we did.

Various Items for HOD's Beyond Unit 31

We did some map work on the Santa Fe using a printout that I found here. One day for science we learned about mosquitos. We learned that they are bothersome little bugs that can carry some mean diseases. We talked about the three parts of an insect and read a portion of our science text that goes along with Beyond.

I decided (after becoming reaquainted to these little bugs) to take the kids outside and turn over any place that might be perfect for mosquito breeding. Unfortunately we found a number of perfect places.

Because I thought that the girls could handle going a little deeper I printed out these worksheets from Enchanted Learning. I also had the girls reread on their own the portion about mosquitos from the Christian Liberty Nature Reader Book 1.

Since Nick, his father and the other pioneers had chosen to head to Santa Fe we  were given a small glimpse into what that town was like way back then. Of course there was much Spanish influence so one of the scheduled activities was to dance the Mexican hat dance. We had a blast doing our version of it. Check 'em out! I found the music here on Jan Brett's site.

We also completed the notebook page for this unit made by a fellow HOD mom and available on the Yahoo group boards. (You can see that up with the other embeded work from Scribd.)

During Bible time we talked about where God wants our treasures to be. We used the following verse from Luke to remind ourselves that whatever we set our heart on (whatever we value and hold dear) is where our treasures will be. Do we want them to be set on this earth where moth and rust doth corrupt or in Heaven where all things are eternal?

"For where your treasure is there will your heart be also."

I didn't have all the items recommended in the manual for the treasure chest craft (and I was bummed because it sounded so neat...) but I found this treasure chest, printed it out and had the kids decorate it. Then we followed the plans as outlined in the manual and wrote Luke 12:34 on it and dropped it into the treasure chest. After doing this and having the talk with the girls I could see a lightbulb go on inside of them. This simple craft gave them the understanding they needed to realized that just like that paper heart inside of that small treasure chest our hearts will be kept by what we hold dear.

This was a great week for us! We have had fun with Heart of Dakota! Now, click on the button below to see how much fun everyone else had!! Thanks for stopping by...

Lovin' Learnin'

Thankful Thursday

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed.
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost.
Count your many blessings name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Don't we all need to stop and do that...everyday would be good wouldn't it? Well, I feel that I often forget how God has blessed me and I think if I struggle will my children as well? I don't want that! But God knows that and He has worked some things out in our lives so that He could plant an idea in my heart.

Lately it seems like the Lord has showered us with quite a few blessings. The children have been able to see His goodness quite clearly and that has opended the door for a great opportunity.

Because I would love for my children to grow to be people who are thankful for the big blessings as well as the little ones and to acknowledge God's goodness in their lives and remember what He has done for them, my heart pleaded for something to help with this. God, as always, showed me where to start.

(Nothing fancy but effective.)

It's our "Board O'Blessings" or "Bendiciones" (blessings in Spanish). The idea is really quite simple. This is what we do:

Everytime the Lord blesses us we take an index card, write down our blessing and stick it to the board. Then we sing the chorus to the old hymn "Count Your Blessings".

This way we all have visual reminders of how truly rich in Christ we are. It also helps us stay keenly aware of two things:

1. God takes care of His own.
2. We need to be a blessing to others.

This was such a small thing but it has made a difference in our lives already! I'll leave you with the chorus to the hymn that I opened with, Count Your Blessings,

Count your blessings name then one by one.
Count your blessings see what God has done.
Count your blessings. Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings see what God has done.

Thank you Lord for being an awesome God!! I love You!

Lovin' Learnin'

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

30 Day Blog Challenge-Day 2

Day 2 - the meaning behind my blog name.

Honestly I read it from a book! I beat my head over and over again  trying to come up with something cute and creative (cause doesn't it seem like everyone else has such a cute blog name?!) and I couldn't think of anything.

At the time I started the blog I was schooling just the girls so when I saw "Ruby Slippers School" I thought, hmm, that sounds really cute!!

I've liked it very much but now that I'm adding Brother to our school roster I'm gonna have to change it!!! It's enough that he has 3 sisters, he doesn't need to be added to such a girlie blog either huh?!

I've got some ideas rolling around in my mind but will wait to change it until my year with the Crew is up as I don't want to mess things up for the dear ladies in charge over there!!

So, that's the "so not interesting" story of my blog name!

Remember to join in the fun over at Katie's Journey!

Lovin' Learnin'

30 Day Blog Challenge-Day 1

This sounds neat! It's a 30 day blog challenge from Katie at Katie's Journey. I found this over at Debbie's Digest and thought, hmm, might want to check that out! So, here goes!! I'm behind so I'll have to do some extra catchin' up...if you want to join you can find her list here.

Day 1: Intro; 15 interesting  things about you.

I am an (almost) 32 year old Mama of 4. My McPop and I have been married for 10 years. He is my college sweetheart :) and a true "Florida Cracker!!" I am originally from Southern California and believe that it is the most beautiful state in the country, but alas I haven't lived there since I left for college...not counting summers of course!!

Okay, 15 interesting things...yikes-gonna be hard!!

1. I am a born again Christian and have been living my life for God since the age of 14.
2. I love my husband!! I love my children!!
3. I am a Pastor's wife.
4. I speak Spanish.
5. After a year of piano lessons at 17 I continued to learn on my own and now I play for our church services. (Still got a long way to go but the Lord has blessed my efforts!)
6. I love to sew but haven't sewed anything since baby number 3 came along.
7. I recently started in this is day 3! It's going good and I feel great!!
8. I'm not a great cook! Sad but true!!
9. I'm a clutter bug who is desperately trying to change her ways!!!
10. I live in NC near Charlotte.
11. I am left handed!
12. I love to blog but am so inconsistent!
13. Oh, I homeschool!! Most days it's great, others not so much but then comes the time when the Lord rejuvenates you and you love it all over again!!!
14. My life verse is Joshua 1:9 "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage: be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
15. I should be getting my kids up right about now!!!

Okay, I'll have to do another post to get caught up!!! Hope you enjoyed my little intro!! Join in the fun too!!

Lovin' Learnin'

Monday, October 11, 2010

Talking Fingers:TOS Review

The Product:

I am reviewing the Talking Fingers software called Read, Write and Type. This is a program that integrates phonics, spelling and typing at the same time. It is geared toward the K-3rd bunch ages ranging from 6-9.

From their website, "In the RWT!™ program CD (steps 1-7), a mischievous computer villain called Vexor tries to steal the letters and prevent the storytellers from writing down their stories. Two Helping Hands, Lefty and Rightway, help children foil Vexor through 40 exciting levels, building hundreds of animated sentences and stories as they go. Children are rewarded with certificates of advancement after every four letters. In the Spaceship Challenge CD (steps 8-12), Vexor takes children inside his spaceship and challenges them to engaging kill-strengthening games."

There are 12 steps that this program takes the child through to teach them to read, write and type. You can read more about the 12 steps here.

The McMama Experience:

I used this with both Biggest (age 8.5) and Big Sis (age 7). They both have 100% enjoyed this product!! I have also seen a noticable improvement in Biggest's typing since we began this. Case in point, while at the library the other day she went to the computer to search for a book. As I stood there watching her I noticed that she carefully placed her fingers on the home row and then proceeded to type in the words using the proper fingers! I was so surprised and completely impressed!! I'd tried other typing programs before with her but she would complain after a while that they were boring or too hard, but she has never complained with RW&T! I have also never seen these results with any other program!!

This has also been an extra plus for her as she is dysgraphic and has a very hard time with writing. This program gently gets her to write and spell simply by the press of a button. This removes the pressure that writing has always been to her.

The Breakdown:
Pros -
  • Printable progress reports that show whether students are having difficulty at the level of phonemic awareness and phonics or whether their problems lie in Spelling or Reading Comprehension.
  • We can also set a passable percentage for each level so that if a student fails to reach that level the program prompts them to "practice games" to review necessary information. They can then go through the failed level again to try and pass a second time.
  • Spelling, writing and typing are integrated in a fun and effective way!!
  • The kids LOVE it and show improvement in these areas!!
Cons -
  • Honestly I can't really think of any!! :) Honest!
Pricing Information:
Read, Write & Type - Online Edition - 1 user $35.00; 2 users $55.00; 3 users $70.00; 4 users $85.00; 5 users $100.00

CD Version: $79.00 (not compatible with Windows 7 or Mac 10.6)

When looking at the price remember that this product covers three subjects!! It's worth it!!!

I would recommend this to any parent who is looking or a fun, no pressure way of reenforcing what your children are learning with phonics and spelling. This is a wonderful way to add in the imporant skill of typing and it's done in such a way that the children do not realize that learning is going on!!

I would HIGHLY recommend this product to any parent who has a child with a learning disorder. My daughter has thrived with this program because it takes the pressure off of learning very important material and delivers it in a managable, "Hey I you can do this" way!!

Click on the banner to read what other Crew Members have to say about this 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'

Friday, October 8, 2010

Digital Frog, TOS Crew Review

Digital Frog Intl Logo
Have you been wanting to take your children on a field trip to the desert but live in Oregon? Have you felt that a visit to the rainforest would fit in nicely with your science studies but don't even want to think about the cost of plane tickets (or the bugs)? Or maybe at trip to the wetlands would be what your field trip deprived children have been in need of but you just aren't up to it?
Well the guilt can end because Digital Frog International can solve each of those problems with ease.

The Product:

I had never heard of this product before the Crew so I wasn't sure what to except. For this review I was asked to use the following product:
 Digital frog is a natural science product that brings learning to life.
Digifrog Rainforest
From their website,"Since 1995, Digital Frog International has been creating award-winning natural science educational software. From a full, interactive virtual frog dissection and anatomy program to teaching about some of the world's most fascinating ecosystems.
Using a mix of encyclopedic information with learning through discovery and interaction, we strive to make learning science fun and accessible to all students.
These programs are incredible resources for classroom teachers and homeschoolers as well as for anyone with an interest in the natural sciences.
Digifrog Wetlands
The McMama Experience:
My kids LOVED this! They were all gathered around the computer focused on each habitat and species we encountered. Although their ages range from 5 to 8 and a half they all got something out of it. (Although the 5 year old's was almost all amusement).

I loved the interaction this DVD offers. You can learn about the different species of animals, plants and their habitat in great depth. The information flows terrifically from one area of the field trip to another. This easily covers geography, science and vocabulary and you can throw in narration and critical thinking if you ask your children what you learned when your session is over.

For the Rain Forest field trip there were 24 learning posts with tons of links to learn more and that equaled lots of information so we split the session up into two field trips.

I can see this product easily satisfying the need of the science/animal lover in your life!!

The Breakdown:
  • This can be used for students of all ages although what they each "take away" from it will differ greatly.
  • Very interactive.
  • Extremly informative about the animals, the ecosystem and habitats.
  • You get to "visit" areas that you would otherwise not be able to easily travel to. 
  • Not easily naviagtable. The menu system and navigation is more on the difficult side for younger users. Mom and Dad would have to help the younger crowd with getting around the program. (Not too bad for us since we liked doing it with the children but just wanted to mention it.)
  • The price-it is a bit high I know but if you think about all that you get it could be worth it!
Pricing Information:
Home License: $125.00 (licensed for home use only); Family Home Use License for up to 3 computers: $135.00; Lab packs and unlimited site licenses also available just click on the link above to be taken to their pricing information page.
Digifrog Desert
Minimum System Requirements
—G3 300 , MAC OSX 10.3.9 or later, 30 MB MB of available RAM.
—Pentium II with Windows 2000, XP or Vista, 32 MB RAM (64 recommended).

Purchase online here or you can purchase from one of the many US, Canadian or International distributors.

Lovin' Learnin'
**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.**

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Christopher Columbus

Over the weekend I recieved an email from The Old Schoolhouse's Teacher's Toolbox newsletter. Posted, big and in front was a link stating that we could get a FREE unit study/lapbook from In The Hands of A Child.

I was excited about that because I have always heard great things about their products but never tried them. I quickly downloaded my copy and then decided that we would do nothing but that Unit Study and Math for the next two weeks.

Well we started today and the girls loved it!!

I prepped on Sunday by printing out the entire teacher portion of the download so that I could have something tangible. I made divisions on the lesson plans of sorts so that I would know what information we were going to cover on each day.

Then I printed out the pages for our first day.

This study is set up pretty well. The information that you read to the children is gives great detail but gives not so much that the child gets lost in all of the facts.
I also LOVED that there was a book list included with some great titles including Where Do You Think You Are Going Christopher Columbus? by Jean Fritz, If You Were There in 1492 by Barbara Brenner and A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus by David Adler. I chose one of the books for myself to read so that I could get some solid background information and I couldn't put that book down!!! All but a couple I was able to locate at our local library. Yay!!!

 Great selections.

A few things that I like about this product is how they have an easier assignment and a slightly harder one for you to choose from. The difference would be more writing and more information to remember and record for the olders while the youngers have the information already given Mom just needs to choose between tracer letters or bold pre-printed letters. I like that all the clip art for this particular study is in black and white. I honestly hate using so much colored ink on one project. Vocabulary is included and the word choices are great! The book list is great, as previously mentioned and the organized yet not cookie cutter plans. You can use this to fit YOU!!

So, if you are wanting to study about Christopher Columbus (we celebrate his day on the 11th) then check out Teacher's Toolbox today!!!

Oh, and if you hop on over to In the Hands of a Child you will see that they have their Thanksgiving study marked down from $18 to $5 this week only!!

Lovin' Learnin'