Friday, November 19, 2010

KBTeacher New TOS Review


Premium Memberships: $29 for a year with a month free trial
$49 for two years

There are many free worksheets available, but premium membership grants access to more features, watermark free pages, and answer keys.

KBTeachers is an online worksheet and activity resource. They have worksheets and activities for Math, English, Science, Social Studies, arts and crafts, and clip art images. Their material is very substantive, yet fun. There is not a lot of fluff here.

The features we liked were the Webquests and pictures which can be used for numerous purposes. The Webquests are short explorations on fun topics and feature 3-5 website links to explore and several questions to answer based on the information found on the websites visited. There are quests for many days of the month based on holidays or an event from that day in history. There are also biographical webquests. Not only do the questions ask for basic recall of material, many of the concluding questions encourage the student to do something concrete.For example, the Veteran's Day quest asked the student what they would do to honor veterans. My daughter decided she would call her grandfather. This resulted in a nice conversation where she learned some things about him and other family members she might not have learned otherwise. Basically, these questions employ some skills found in higher level thinking.However, some of the links are out of date. I was able to find some sites with information the quest includes by doing a web search, but I was not always successful. Also, clicking some of the webquest topics takes you to an ad for the site, not the quest.

I also like the seasonal letter square files. I have printed several sheets of the complete fall alphabet letters, cut them out, and covered with clear plastic to use for hands on spelling practice. I have not decided if I will do the same for the letters for the other seasons.

I have also printed several pages of pictures that we have/ will use to make stickers with my sticker machine. For Veterans Day they had a nice sheet of patriotic pics of variously shaped flag designs. The Thanksgiving turkeys are also adorable. I am thinking of printing some for place cards for thanksgiving dinner.

They keep the website content fresh and new, posting new resources for different seasons and holidays. However, in order to do this older materials are taken off the site. We didn't take the opportunity to explore all of the webquests we would have liked to in October and are now unable to as they have been removed.

The clip art images on the site are unique, the site says they are not licensed from other clip art sites. They are many different images to choose from and are available in black in white and color. These are free to Premium members with permission given to use in various ways, including blogs and non commercial websites (this information from the KBTeachers website). There are examples shown, but it is not clear to me if these examples are free to all site visitors or just samples of what is available to members. Someone more computer savvy than I maybe able to use these pictures even if they are not intended as such.

We don't seem to be doing as much paper and pencil work lately so I have not printed a lot of the worksheets, but they look exciting and attention grabbing. Many were also too easy for my children. I have used the math worksheet generators to make practice sheets for facts which are different from my drill resources. Instead of printing them I have I just had my children do them orally from the screen.

There is an abundance of History and Science resources, many with grade level labels for upper elementary and above. However, I question the accuracy of some of those levels as my 9 year old was able to complete them without mistakes. I also found this leveling issues with the Grammar activities.

I also found the titling of topics to be confusing. The worksheet generator for multiplication is called 'Multiplication Makers' and for division 'division practice' and similar differences for addition and subtraction. I understand wanting to be different and avoid repetition, but it was confusing at first. The terms 'workbook' and 'worksheet' seem to be used in a similar manner for the Social Studies and Science categories.

They also welcome feedback from their users and provide a form for that purpose. I had one occasion to ask for a specific type of material. While they didn't have what I was looking for, they responded to my inquiry in a matter of minutes with suggestions of items to look at and said they would look into developing what I was looking for.

I think this would be a good resource for a family with children of varying ages as there is no limit to how many worksheets can be generated or printed and it could eliminate purchasing several different books. The science and social studies could be used with library books on the aame topics. I have enjoyed KBTeachers so far and it is a site that I will make use of for my children.

Read what other crew members have to say on the Crews' Blog.

Disclaimer: I have received a free subscription to this site for the purpose of reviewing it and sharing my opinion about its product. I have not received any other compensation for it and all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Coin Pouch Kit by Corps of ReDiscovery New TOS Review

Coin Pouch Kit
Corps of Rediscovery

www.Corps Of

5329 N Lakewood Drive
Springfield, MO 65803
417 833 6905

Prices range from $3.99 for an individual kit to $72 for a set of several related kits.
The Coin Pouch kit is currently on sale for $4.99.

One of the things many homeschoolers do which set them apart from traditional schools is lots of hands on projects. While this is fun and a change from book work for the students and Mom(or Dad) it can often challenge Mom too. Not only does she have to find a project which goes with the study, but then she also has to assemble all the supplies. I have to admit it, while my children love hands on projects I often don't feel like assembling all the supplies. So we often don't do as many things as they would like. Another frequent challenge is finding a project that appeals to boys and isn't too girly. Cost can also be a big factor in doing some projects.

A solution to this dilemma is Corps of Rediscovery, a business owned and operated by a homeschooling family. Their specialty is American History books and craft kits. They state all their craft kits are made in the USA. They have resources for studying Indians, Frontiersmen, Pioneers and Colonial time periods as well as leather working supplies. Lewis and Clark resources can also be found at Corps of ReDiscovery. The products include practical items from these periods as well as recreational items. They offer package sets of several different crafts for the same theme period as well as the crafts kits individually. If you want to experience several items from the same time period it is possible to save money by purchasing the set. Maybe you can even be lucky enough to have each child would choose a different project in the set!

Corps of ReDiscovery is a great solution to the problem of hands on activities for early American History.

When you visit their website make sure to sign up for their newsletter. I received the current issue within minutes of signing up and it even included a notice of special sale prices with the coupon code included in the newsletter.

How I Used A Corps of ReDiscovery Product

I received a Coin Pouch kit to try out. The kit included everything we needed except a pair of scissors. There was a front and back piece of leather with pre punched holes and preset snap, lacing, and easy to understand instructions. The leather is thick and sturdy.

I was very impressed with the kit. The holes were very cleanly cut and matched up perfectly and easily. I didn't have to jiggle the pieces around to get the holes to match up. The amount of lacing was also very generous, we had plenty left over.

While my daughter wanted to do this as it was a sewing project, I decided to let my 6 year old son put it together. He loved it! After helping him get the first several stitches in so that the pieces didn't slide around he was able to lace the project together. The only help he needed was to make sure the lacing didn't get twisted and he didn't pull it too tightly. As the ends of the lacing are squared, I nipped the "sewing" end into a point to make it easier for him to work with. This made lacing so much easier. Overall, he was able to complete the kit in about 45 minutes. Then I finished it by inserting the end of the lacing into previous stitches as the directions stated.

I loved having all the materials together in one kit for him to do
this. It sure simplified the process of a craft for him. This coin
pouch kit is masculine, but would also be appropriate for girls. I anticipate this coin pouch will stand up to a lot of use. If other products offered by Corps of ReDiscovery are of the same quality I would highly recommend their product line as a fun complement to studies of Early American History.

The Finished Product

Crew Members reviewed different products from the Corps of ReDiscovery so be sure to check out what others say here.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary coin pouch kit to put together to use to write this review. I have not been compensated in any other way for this review. All opinions expressed in this piece are strictly my own.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Collectorz New TOS Review

Book Collectorz

Collectorz also has programs to catalog music, movies, comics, games,photos, and MP3's.

Collector Standard $29.95
Collector Pro $49.95
Collector Connect $19.95 one year online subscription

Apps for Iphones and Androids of some of the cataloging programs $9.99
(Not all programs have both apps yet. The website says there are
more apps coming in the future.)

Collector Connect $19.95 a year Offers the ability to share a collection online

Scanners are also available ranging in price from $19.95- $139.95

Additionally, there is a free trial available for cataloging up to 100 books.

Package deals are available on the site.

One of the great things about homeschooling is that it is not the same for any two families. While many families may share similar traits and use the same curriculum it is almost impossible to find two families that are exactly alike. However, one trait that many homeschooling families share is the size of their book collection. The books are likely different, but there are generally a lot in their homes. The books may not all be cataloged and neatly shelved in one room, but instead scattered around the house. Thus the opportunity to forget exactly what one owns is great. Setting up a system of organization is a great idea, but is very intimidating. Either you have to find a program and hope it has the features you want or set up your own database. The latter being especially time consuming before you even think about adding books.

Now I would like to share with you a solution: Collectorz Book Collection program. Book Collectors is a downloadable computer program (for WINDOWS or MAC) designed to help catalog a home library. Collectors Connect is an additional option available for an additional fee which enables the user to publish and share a book collection online.

With Book Collectors you have all the pertinent information about a book at your fingertips. In addition to Title and Author, information for publisher, date, number of pages, type of book, genre and subject are all present. Additional screens also have space to record notes about the text itself. A filled in book entry rivals the record of many booksellers and library card catalogs.

The are several methods for entering books:
  • Automatically Enter the book title and authors name and select the proper option from the choices or enter the ISBN number and the correct information for that specific book is filled in or use a queue method.
  • Manually The same fields present in the Edit book screen for automatic entry are present, but the user has the freedom to decide which to fill out and how much information to enter.
  • Scanning It is also possible to scan the barcodes of books to input information.
The benefits to using Book Collector are numerous. You can easily check to see if you have a particular title (particularly handy if own a mobile device for which there is an app that allows you search your collection), see if you have loaned it out and to whom, and search for books that fit a specific criteria. It is also a comprehensive way to make a list of holdings for insurance purchases.

How I Used Book Collector

I really like this program. I used the automatic options to input books by typing in the ISBN number. It did seem slow, but looking at what I put in and the time spent doing so, I was able to add quite a few in a short amount of time. It seems like I have only begun to input books, but I have several hundred so far, yet there are book cases to go. I knew I had books, but don't have any idea how many. I haven't even begun to put in many of my crafting or fiction titles,and I 'm not even thinking about my husbands massive collection either!

One feature I have found so handy while inputting books was the pop up letting me know
it was already in my collection . This has been great as I have had to start and stop
several times. The program is also very easy to use to sort books by various criteria.
Although I have not entered data for all the criteria for all my books.

However, I did find that several books from a smaller religious publisher were not in the database. Also cover pictures for several other books by the same publisher were not available. I also had other books where cover photos were not available some older, but age was not a defining criteria for this. There were also several other subject/genre categories I would have appreciated having.

The user manual is clear, easy to understand and very comprehensive. The information is presented succinctly. Most of the "pages " have a screen shot of the screen that applies to the directions being shared. This is a great way to make the directions concrete and hopefully
easier to use on the data screens.

I do not care for the website too much. There is a lot of valuable information on it, but with numerous neon green buttons that all jump out at me, it is hard to focus on other information.

Overall, I think this is very helpful and I would not hesitate to recommend it. This would be especially great for a family or individual who is just putting together a personal library. At that time the task of entering the entering books would not be as daunting as it is for someone with book shelves full (not to mention stacks lying around too)! I look forward to using the specific search feature as I plan several new units.

Read what other Crew Members have to say here .

Disclaimer: I have received a free downloadable Collectorz Book organizing program to use for the purpose of this review. I have not recived any other form of compensation. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.