Friday, April 29, 2011

Hero of Faith books

My children enjoy reading, but it is challenging to find books on their level about faithful men and women who share our beliefs.  I see value in reading about people of varying faiths and backgrounds, but I especially want to introduce them to others who share our Lutheran faith and heritage.  The new Hero of Faith series  from Concordia Publishing House enables me to do just that. The Hero of Faith series introduces children to important men and women of faith who have made lasting contributions to the Lutheran Church.

Profiled in the series are: C.F.W.Walther, Katharina von Bora, Rosa Young and Johann Sebastian Bach.  Some of these names maybe familiar to you while others are not.

C.F.W.Walther was a young pastor who came to the United States from Germany and would go on to be the first president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and its Seminary as well as pastor of four churches. He did not have an easy life and faced many struggles and heartbreaks personally and professionally.  Yet through it all he remained faithful to His Lord and calling.

Katharina von Bora was the wife of Dr Martin Luther, the German reformer.  It is from him that the Lutheran church took its name, although this was not his desire. The reader learns of her life in the convent as well as Dr Luther's wife and the challenges she faced before and after his death.

Rosa Young was a black woman from Alabama with the great desire for her own education and to educate other black young people.  She was influential in opening and maintaining Lutheran schools, congregations, and a college in Alabama.   She was a pioneer in education, but more importantly in Christian Education.

Johann Sebastian Bach was a famous German musician whose music we still enjoy today.  While he was orphaned at an early age, he used his talents and abilities to serve others and glorify God through music.

Each book is paperback book is  52-59 pages long and includes several chapters detailing the subjects entire life.  Chapters vary in length from 4 to 12 pages. The texts also place each person into the historical context of  their time in an engaging, non dry manner.  A lot of information is shared yet each author keeps it interesting and moving.  Each book also includes a time line of the subjects life and significant world and US events. Two of the books have maps showing locations which are significant to the subject and text. There are many full color pictures throughout all the books.  Not actual photos, but they remind me of detailed water color paintings.

You can find more information about each of these books by visiting Concordia Publishing House's website. The direct link for each book can be obtained by clicking on the highlighted name.

My Thoughts

I have enjoyed reading all four of the books and will definitely encourage both of my children to read them.  My 7 year old could read most of the books on his own, but I have a feeling he would struggle with some of the proper nouns.  For this reason I will need to sit with him when he reads, but he will certainly be interested.  My 10 year old daughter is looking forward to reading them. She was so excited to see them in the bookstore and wanted to purchase them right away.

I am so happy to have these simplified, yet substantial biographies available to share with my children.  With the exception of Bach, there are not many resources available about these people of faith which are at a young persons comprehension level.  Many of the Bach resources do not highlight his faith, rather just his musical accomplishments. While these books are uncomplicated to read the present a lot of information and do so in a way that is respectful of the reader no matter what their age. They teach a lot without boring the reader and causing the book to be set aside.

All of this being said I do wish all the books included maps of locations. Only the Walther and Bach books have maps showing locations from the text. Having a map handy in the same volume makes it so much easier to look up places while reading the book without having to drag out another resource.

The Bach book has vocabulary words highlighted with a glossary at the end. This would have been great for the other books also, especially the von Bora book, as some of the terms particularly relating to the convent maybe new to younger readers.

When you go to the website to read more details about each book you will see a box on the left which says this book is included in the 5th grade level religion curriculum.  Do not be turned off by this if your children are not 5th grade age.  I believe they could easily be read by younger children, particularly if they are strong readers, and enjoyed by older children as well.   They would also make lovely family read alouds.  They do not have to be used with the curriculum materials.  Each book is independent of each other and needs no additional resources to be beneficial.

My husband is employed by Concordia Publishing House. I  received a copy of each of these 4 books to read, share with my children, and use to write this piece.   All of the above opinions are solely my own and I have not been compensated in any other way for this writing.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Homeschool Mothers Journal Weekly Review April 22

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…

Well, lets see what I have been doing. Hmm... I'm not sure.  Yeah, I wrote a couple reviews.  Recovered from making my son's birthday cake.  (Have to post pics yet). Cleaned house. Taught my kiddos.  Tried to get some sleep.
In our homeschool this week…

We've kept busy.  Our main course of study this week has been review products for the TOS crew.  We have a lot of really nice products right now.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Monday we went to the local science museum for my son's Birthday Field Trip.  We take Birthdays off from book work and this year I said I would take them on a field trip of their choice. 

We also went to the library.  Can't miss that!

Daughter had piano lesson.

Thursday evening we went to Maundy Thursday service at our church.  Both of the children had the opportunity to assist with the Stripping of the Altar in remembrance of how Christ had everything stripped from Him as he went forth to die on Friday.

My favorite thing this week was…

Definitely not the storms we had on several different days and twice in the same day.

I think my favorite was the opportunity to just be with my children.  

What’s working/not working for us…

We have gotten out of our routine due to extra things going on the last couple weeks. 

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

I continue to mull over and think about the things I want to focus on this next year.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

"Rain Rain Go Away and Don't come back for several days"
     children's song

We have had so much rain lately I can't help but think otherwise.

I am not feeling very creative this week and I just want to be able to post this.  I have tried several times over the last few days but unfortunately I have not succeeded due to storms and having to turn the computer off.  

The homeschool Mothers Journal is hosted by Sue at The Homeschool Chick.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Food Groups according to Kids

We have been talking about the food groups lately.  First as we did some activities for National Nutrition Month and then more recently with a item we have reviewed.  So this is a topic in the forefront of my kids minds right now. When we were in the car they other day, my 7 year old started naming food groups, but they weren't exactly what we have been talking about.

His List

  • Chocolate
  • Colorful Food
  • Milk and Dairy
  • Things that go crunch
  • Things I DO NOT EAT
 At least he got one right. 

Then I decided to elaborate on his list.  Here is what I came up with:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Chocolate Cheesecake
  • Shaped Chocolate  (i.e. Nuggets, Kisses)
  • Chocolate in any other Form

I know this post is directly contrary to my last post, but I just felt like writing it.  I enjoy chocolate and I know there are many others who do too, so I just had to share.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nutrition 101 New TOS Review

 Nutrition 101: Choose Life
 Growing Healthy

For questions about the product:   

 By Debra Raybern, Sera Johnson, Laura Hopkins, Karen Hopkins

 Nutrition 101: Chose Life is available in several formats
  • Book $99.95   (Hardcover, full cover)
  • CD ROM  $79.95
  • Combination of Book and CD $129.95
Coupon code   TOScrew11   will  give purchasers a 15% discount

Multiple User Licenses are also available to facilitate use of the course in a group setting.

Several other health related books are available.

All are available at their online store.

Join our free live Webinar on Thursday, April 21, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. PDT).  Click here to register.


Nutrition 101 is an Unit Study designed for all ages; children to adult and can be used in a home or group setting.  It is a comprehensive health study as well as it defines and discusses major body systems.  It teaches about the impact nutritional choices have on health and well being. This is a large volume with over 400 pages of valuable information.

 The book is comprised of 6 units and 4 chapters within each unit.  The units are:
  • The Brain and Nervous System
  • The Digestive System
  • The Respiratory, Olfactory, Auditory, and Visual Systems
  • The Skeletal and Muscular Systems
  • The Cardiovascular and Immune Systems
  • The Endocrine System and Emotions

The chapters close with discussion questions, activities and additional resources.   The activities are divided into sections for Elementary and Secondary groups, however the discussion questions are not broken down in this manner.  The additional resources feature website information and activities as well as books and printed resources. Each of these chapters is designed to be completed in a week, with a sample schedule included in the introduction to the book.

Each chapter features a recipe using a "power" food that is especially important for the health of the body system studied in the chapter.  At the end of each unit are several additional recipes. These recipes also focus on the body system, but are not labeled as power recipes. You will find all types of recipes from appetizers to main dishes and desserts.

There are also a number of appendixes which give more information about topics such as buying the healthiest foods, food pyramid and nutritional charts, fiber, protein, types of oils, sugar, and so much more useful information.  The appendixes comprise a book in themselves.

An activity guide is at the end of the book and features "answers" and guides/tips for the end of chapter and recipe activities.

Nutrition 101: Choose Life  is hardcover book with lovely full color pictures and graphics.  A CD version is also available with the same pictures and graphics.

Growing Healthy Homes has a sample of the book available.

The basis for the authors' information and facts are well documented at the end of the volume. 

It is evident how strongly the authors feel about healthy eating from their biographies in the book as well as the story by Sera Johnson detailing her family's journey to healthier food choices.

How we used Nutrition 101

I read aloud the text as we studied the brain, the nervous system, and digestion.  During these read alouds we also discussed the material frequently as it is written in a fairly complex manner.  The sentences are complex and the concepts presented are quite detailed. We also used the discussion questions, however some of them were pretty complex for my 7 and 10 year olds.  Both of my children said they were learning things about their bodies, but I am not sure how much my younger one grasped as evidenced by his answers to the discussion questions. We also incorporated several of the elementary activities.  My children enjoyed outlining themselves and drawing in body parts.

I also supplemented this study with several resources I own. The brain diagrams in Chapter 1 were pretty complex for my just turned 7 year old so I found brain diagrams in a couple other books and we looked at these while using the text from Nutrition 101.  I also had an anatomy coloring book so I gave him corresponding pictures to color. The diagrams of the digestive system were not as complex and overwhelming to him.

The text mentions the digestive system is 30 feet long, so I had my children measure that length.  They discovered that our whole house is only a few feet longer than the digestive system! They were also amazed that something that long fits in our bodies.

We tried the guacamole recipe. Unfortunately, none of us enjoyed it.  Several of the other recipes we have been unable to try as I haven't been able to find the ingredients.  When I asked about several of the recommended oils (used as substitutes for vegetable oil) management at several grocery stores politely laughed.  They had never even heard of them.  We are looking forward to trying several of the fruit salad recipes as the items come into season and become more affordable.

The one thing I would have liked to have more of are comprehension questions geared to younger students.  My 7 year old son had difficulty with a lot of the questions provided.

The text also incorporates many Bible references, but for the most part we skipped over those as many references are not used in their proper Scriptural context.

Read what other TOS crew members had to say here.

Disclaimer:  I received a free electronic copy of this product in order to write this review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner.  All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Resources for Lent

We have the habit of beginning our day with a Bible Story and discussion, but during Lent and Advent I try to do a little more in this area.  During Lent we have been focusing on repentance, our need for a Savior and Jesus' love for us that drove him to the Cross.

This year we have also been working on memorizing a hymn. I chose "Glory Be to Jesus".  We have been working on it verse by verse over the course of the last few weeks.  I have to say that both of my children have done a great job at memorizing it.  My son even sings it to himself throughout the day.  I guess I need to find an Easter hymn to begin memorizing after Easter.

This year our main resource for our Lent devotion has been Celebrate Jesus at Easter. There is a devotion and activity for each day of the week from Ash Wednesday through the first week of Easter. We have not done all of the activities or memorized all the hymns, but have used several on different occasions.
(In the interest of full disclosure I need to mention that my husband works for the publisher of this book.)

Another resource which we will use next week during Holy Week is Mouse Prints The Time of Easter.  This is part of a series of books describing the church year from a Lutheran perspective.  The Time of Easter covers the period of the church year from Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday.  During the week we will also read the Gospel lessons from the Entry into Jerusalem through the Burial of Jesus.

This book for the most part is below the level of my children now, but we all enjoy it so much that I feel we just have to read it.  Many times there is something new to be learned.  Plus I also have it on tape so that we can listen to it and that is a nice change of pace too.

Unfortunately, I think it is out of print and no longer available except from a few private sellers online.

Even though we are nearing the end of Lent I hope you have enjoyed learning about a couple of the books we use.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Week in Review

I missed the Homeschool Mothers Journal link up this week, but still wanted to post a review or our week.  We had quite a busy week. 

Monday we spent most of the day at the local History Museum for their homeschool program.  This months topic was Missouri History.  Some of the activities included Square Dancing, a one man play about the Oregon Trail, a presentation about local brick making and their uses here and an art project of making a memory book.  We all really enjoyed the square dancing and were sad when it was over.  The gentleman who does the one man plays draws the listener in and makes you feel like you  really are part of the event as it is happening. History in this form is so much more exciting than reading about it.

Tuesday afternoon we went to the homeschool class at our library.  As April is National Poetry month we listened to The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein and  the kids wrote their own poems. The librarian had several cute notebooking type pages from which the kids could chose to write their poem on. I really appreciated this class as poetry is something that I just don't care to write.  I guess I just can't write pieces that are short or concise!

Leonardo DaVinci's birthday is April 15th, as is my son's. He quite frequently shares this tidbit with other people.   Since we haven't done much of anything art related lately I decided we would spend some time studying DaVinci.  We did some reading and began a lapbook about his life. We haven't finished the lapbook yet, but hopefully this week and I want to do some other projects related to DaVinci. He was involved in so many different things it shouldn't be too hard to find things to do.  I have several great books from the library to help.

Daughter also had her piano lesson this week.

In addition to all this we did accomplish some academic type work.

I spent a lot of time this week on prep work for various projects as well as making a birthday cake for my son.  I will have to write about and share pictures in a separate post.

It looks like we are going to have another busy week this week. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book Find

One thing I enjoy in my free time is reading, but it can be hard to find a book I really want to read. So many are promising, but may not live up to their billing.  While browsing the online card catalog for my library I came across this title: My American Adventure 50 States 50 Weeks. So since we are studying the states this year I decided to request it and see if it was something that I could read aloud to my kids.  There wasn't much of a description in the card catalog entry so I really didn't know what I was getting. Well, it was a lot more than I even hoped. I thoroughly enjoyed it and had a hard time putting it down.

My American Adventure was written by a young lady, Amy Burritt, who along with her brother was homeschooled. Their parents decided that for one year they would rent out their home, live in a RV and travel around the United States. During their time on the road they visit many historical and tourist sites around the country. Amy also decided that over the course of these travels she would like to meet and interview all 50 governors.  The book chronicles her experiences in trying to set up meetings with governors and the sometimes less than favorable reception from staff members. She also writes about her meetings with the governors and what she found interesting in her interviews. She had several disappointments along the way, but she had a spectacular finish to her project.

Along with the interviews Amy worked on a special keepsake project throughout their travels, but I'm not going to spoil the surprise, you'll just have to read the book to find out about it.

The book is not a recent publication, the Burritts' traveled the US in 1995 and 1996.

Although the book is cataloged as Adult Non-Fiction, I see no reason that an upper elementary aged child couldn't read it.  There are so few books which portraying homeschooling in a positive manner, let alone written by a homeschooler, so this is definitely a welcome volume.  My 10 year old could certainly handle the reading aspect of the book, but she would find the travel and project so exciting she would want to do something like it.  A project of this magnitude just isn't possible right now, so to avoid putting ideas in her head and give her something to bother me about I'm just not telling her about it. I know, that's mean of me!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Homeschool Mothers Journal Weekly Review April 8

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

.In my life this week…
In between everything else I have done a little reading.  Just for me.
I think spring has finally come. I like things, but not for the allergies it brings with it.

In our homeschool this week…
We have made our way through quite a bit of work this week.  I am surprised at our progress.  
We've enjoyed several new review products with the TOS Crew.
We made math hands on and moving around this week.  We started measurement and explored non standard measures and the length measures.  Only today do the young scholars do writing for math. Next week: area and perimeter  with some ideas for projects.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Actually I think we stayed home much of the week. 
Daughter had piano lesson this week.
Tuesday evening we went to a Victory Party for a friend who was running for a councilperson spot for our town.  He won! Yay! 

My favorite thing this week was… 

The children being able to play outside and we even did some of of measuring math outside.

What’s working/not working for us…
We didn't get a chance to start an artist study.
6 year old son has not been over enthusiastic.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…

I need to sit down with my catalogs and figure out what specific products from several companies I want to use for next year.  I am jealous of other people who have had the opportunity to go to Homeschool Conventions this year because I really would have liked to see some things in person.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Son being silly

Friday, April 8, 2011

Science Weekly New TOS Review

Science Weekly

Science Weekly
CAM Publishing Group, Inc.
attn - Subscriptions
P.O. Box 70638
Chevy Chase, MD 20813-0638

Toll Free: 1.800.4.WEEKLY
Phone: 301.680.8804
Fax: 301.680.9240

$19.95 a year per child if less than 20 subscriptions
$4.95 a year per child for 20 or more subscriptions

A sample is available at the bottom of the Parents page. This sample is about Coral Reefs.Here you can also see a schedule of the topics for the current 2010-2011 academic year.

The order page can be printed to do a mail in order and you can find a sample there as well.

Printable Coloring books are also available on their website. Additionally, you can find several interactive units for Levels A-D or grades 1-4. These are a lot of fun, also.

Science Weekly is a bimonthly student newspaper which focuses on science topics.  Its format is an 11x17 sheet of paper folded in half so there are 4 8X10 sides of information. There are 6 student levels to choose from - Kindergarten to 6th grade. Each level is on the same topic so you can teach the same thing to multiple students at different ages at the same time.  There is a separate paper of teaching notes with general information about the topic and specific details for each level. Science Weekly covers topics in the areas of Life Science, Physical Science, Earth Science and Technology.

It appears that there is a hostess character entitled Science who appears throughout the folder and shares tidbits about the topic.

The subject of the sample issue I received is the Flu. The first page describes what the flu is, how it multiples, spreads and flue symptoms.  It also discusses how the human immune system works and what flu shots do.  There are a number of vocabulary words and these are highlighted in red and some of them also have phonetic pronunciations.

The next page features a fill in the blank exercise using some of the words highlighted on the first page.  There is a word bank to choose from. Next is a math problem with the goal of determining how many students in a class got the flu.

The third page features a science lab activity and directions for writing up a lab report. The back page has a matching  or sequencing activity. The bottom part of the page is for writing a riddle about the flu or practical application of the concepts taught.

The 3rd grade and higher levels feature small boxes throughout the folder with the heading "Did you Know?" In these you find little tidbits of information which add to the subject, but don't really fit into the written text. This description best fits the 3rd, 4th, and 5-6th grade editions.

For the younger levels(pre A and A) the front cover features a large picture with a small box of vocabulary words and 4 lines to read.  Inside you find key words to trace, a math activity focusing on handwashing for 30 seconds, a scince lab, and writing a single sentence or talking about the flu.  The back page has a matching/sequencing activity, and drawing a picture about handwashing or answering questions about having the flu.

The teaching notes are in the same format as the student papers and feature information for all the levels.  First it features general background information about the topic. Then there is specific information for each of the levels.  There are introductory and followup questions for Levels Pre A-B and then specific directions for each of the activities found in the individual level papers.  There is a second set of introductory and follow up questions for Levels C-E.  After these follow specific information for the individual levels.  The teaching notes conclude with an additional resources section of several books and websites.

How We Used Science Weekly

I used Science Weekly with both my son and daughter together.  My daughter used level D which is listed for 4th grade, where she fits age wise.  However, I gave my son who is 6 and 1st grade age level B which is designated for 2nd grade.  I knew from looking at the levels that the 1st grade issue was way below his skill level. 

I combined both levels of introductory questions as they are very similar and let both of them answer them.  I followed the same pattern with the Follow Up questions.  However, we did the follow up questions on a different day as we did not have time to finish all of the material on one day.  I used the questions to refresh their memory on the topic before we did the lab exercise from the higher level.

Both of them read the information on the front page aloud to the other two people and then we discussed it.  They independently did the vocabulary section in their papers.  The math activity in both was designed to determine how many students in a classroom got the flu if one in five were sick.  Since this would have been impossible to do with only two students I gave them a number.  Then they had to draw tally marks for that number and circle one of each set.  This was to show how many got sick.  Then they filled in the blank to show how many out of how many got the flu.

The lab experiments in the two levels were different so we completed each one.  Both of the experiments were pretty simple to carry out and used common materials found at home.  (I did have to go hunting for my water spray bottle!)  The spray bottle was used to spray colored water to demonstrate how germs are spread with a sneeze.  The other used coffee filters to explain how viruses can or can't get through and infect a cell.  Thankfully my hubby drinks coffee, so I had filters available.  This experiment directed the student to fill out a lab report.  We did not do this aspect of the lab as my daughter is a reluctant writer and doing something so opened ended as this would have caused a great deal of angst.

The 4th grade level folders matching activity involved putting viruses with distinct borders with the cells that had borders where the virus borders would fit. The goal was to show that specific viruses target specific cells.  Like putting puzzle pieces together. My daughter found this incredibly easy.The final activity was to write a riddle about the flu.  She spent some time thinking about this because she said it was not easy to come up with right away.  I gave her a short time to think, but then moved on to other things.

The back page of the 2nd grade level featured a sequencing activity involving 3 pictures to number in the correct order showing how someone can catch the flu from a sneeze.  Below the pictures is a place to write a title for the story. The concluding activity teaches the student to wash their hands for 30 seconds by singing through the alphabet song twice.

Both of my children really like science and enjoyed Science Weekly.  I would consider purchasing it as a supplement to our Science program, but at a higher level than is suggested for my son as he is capable of handling the information presented in a more in depth manner. As we already do science together I appreciate the different levels of activities, it is one less thing I need to pull together on my own.  The only thing holding me back is the cost;  $40 is not bad for a whole year, but as a supplement it is steep for my budget.

Read what other members of the TOS Crew had to saying about Science weekly at the Crew Blog.

Disclaimer: I received a free issue of Science Weekly to use to write this review.  All opinions expressed here are solely my own.  I did not receive any other compensation.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kinderbach New TOS Review

Online Video Sessions or Lessons by DVD

KinderBach LLC | P.O. Box 181 Le Claire, IA 52753 || 1-563-332-0587

Online:  Monthly $19.99
            Annual    $95.88
            One Day Pass $5.95

DVD:   Beginning at $40.45  per level.   Various Packages are also available

Both of these come with a 30 Day Money Back guarantee

Try a free trial here.
Several coloring pages and a sample song download are also available on KinderBach's homepage.

Many studies have shown that the study of music provides numerous benefits especially to children.  Not only is it a source of enjoyment and relaxation music study can help the brain to learn and retain other information better. Some experts even suggest the earlier music study is begun the more it will benefit the child. Many parents and homeschooling parents realize how important it is for children to study music but often the lack the knowledge to teach their child or the cost is prohibitive. Many parents may also feel it is better to wait until their child is older to begin music lessons to early.

One opportunity to expose young children to music is through KinderBach, a beginning piano course for children ages 2-7. KinderBach operates on the philosophy that the ideal time for a child to begin musical training is between 3 and 6 years of age.

From the website, "Kinderbach students learn to play piano, read notes, learn intervals, rhythm and music patterns".

Sample of Session
The KinderBach program consists of  short sessions, about 3-6 minutes each with 4 sessions for a week. There are a total of 60 sessions in 6 levels. These sessions teach and expose the child to the arrangement of the keyboard, different types of notes and the number of beats they get, how to move up and down the keyboard and different tones and volumes the keys make.  They are also taught finger numbering and what part of their finger to use.  Some technical terms are introduced, but is a child friendly manner.The sessions are a mix of live interaction with the instructor and cartoon type featuring the various characters
of the program.Thus there is a mix of basic technique instruction as well as music theory.

The length of time given to different notes is taught using the idea of standing for half notes and walking for quarter notes or sit down waiting for a whole note. Students practice this using some type of rhythm instrument, whether it is a drum, sticks, or even wooden spoons.  The choice is up to the parent. Stair steps give a visual to explain staying on one note or up for down for moving along the keyboard.

Each note has a character whose name begins with that note.  For example Dodi is for D, Carla is for C,  E is for Edward, Felicity for F and Gracie for G.

Letter Characters

Sample Activity Page
There are activity books which are integral to the use of the program.  The pages are featured in the video sessions and contain activities which are done both at that time and later on to reinforce the concepts introduced.  Some are simple coloring, others are matching, and other ways to reinforce the concepts that are shown in the videos.  There are also a number of song sheets included which are used to teach the child how to follow along on music.  The videos clearly show how the activity pages are to be used.

Activity Book Covers

All of these concepts are reviewed quite frequently.  Generally several different concepts are reviewed over the course of a weeks sessions.

Additional materials of a rhythm instrument, crayons are often needed.  Occasionally scissors and glue are also required.

How We Used KinderBach

My 6 year old Son has been wanting to take piano lessons for quite a while, but we just didn't feel he was ready to begin.  The teacher our daughter has also felt it might benefit him to wait a little while also.  So when we learned we would have the chance to review Kinderbach he was ecstatic and couldn't wait to begin.  He quickly watched through the first several weeks of the online program and didn't need to spend much time with it as he was already familiar with the concepts of the sets of 2 and 3 black keys, and high and low sounds.  Since these were essentially review for him his enthusiasm was tempered a bit.

After I explained that he could watch more than one session at a time so he could progress at a faster speed he was excited again. As he progresses he is reviewing the content of those first sessions periodically so I don't think he really missed anything crucial.  He has finished through week 25 of the program and begs to use it everyday. Sometimes he decides on his own that he needs to go back and rewatch a session because he didn't get everything in it.  I am glad he is this enthusiastic and can determine what he needs to study more for himself.

He has used many of the activity pages but not all of them.  I generally ask him if he thinks he needs a particular page especially when it comes to reviewing a topic.  I don't want to burden him with extra paper and crayon work if he knows what is being taught.

He is really loving KinderBach and wants to finish the program.  He is so eager to play the piano and I am seeing him make progress in his musical knowledge and abilities.  Sometimes the review is a bit much for him, but as he is towards the upper end of the recommended age range I understand that.  If he had used KinderBach at a younger age the review would have been good for him.  I also think he has picked up a lot by being in the room during my daughters lessons as well as our discussions at home.

The instructor is very welcoming and personable.  She makes the program exciting and welcoming for the children by her enthusiasm. I also like how she explains step by step how to use the activity sheets to the child. Several of the activity sheets require cutting which may need to be done by an adult for the youngest users.

One concern I have with the program is I have not heard notes referred to by their names or the keys being called by their names.  I have watched some of the sessions further along and have not noticed a transition to this either.  Notes and keys may be named later, but not just in the episodes I watched. I fully expect that in the summer or fall he will begin formal piano lessons and I wonder if not associating the names of the characters with the notes or keys will be a hindrance to him then.

I can recommend KinderBach as being a solid music education program for young children.

Other members of The TOS Crew reviewed KinderBach and you can read what they had to say on the Crew blog.

Disclaimer: I received a free online subscription to review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner.  All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Go Go Kabongo New TOS Review


 Three Habitats
  • Laughter Lake    FREE
  • Twister Top        $4.95
  • Galaxy Garden    $4.95
SPECIAL OFFER:  For a limited time you can get Galaxy Gardens free when you sigh up for Twister Top

 For Ages 4-7

There is also a sister site with programs which address higher level reading skills. This can be found at

GoGoKabongo is an online resource which aids in building prereading skills cleverly disguised as games. Reading involves putting many different skills together in order to decode the letters and words on a page, but active learners often don't have the patience to still still and look at printed resources.  Now GoGo Kabongo has put these important skills in an interactive format online.  Some of the brain Skills Kabongo focuses on are:attention, working focus, several types of processing, planning, visualization, alphabet knowlege and phonics.

GoGoKabongo has a nice chart which shows which skills are addressed in each game that you can find here.

The first place a user goes on Kabongo is the Treehouse.  Here they can design an avatar which is not a human form, but a funny creature.  This is also the place where they can design their own comic book with rewards they earn.

Kabongo features three different habitats with 3 games in each. Each game has 6 levels of play.  The habitats each have a different character host which welcomes the child and gives directions for how to play the games. You can find biographies of them here.

Galaxy Gardens has Robo Bobo, Rocket Racer and Photo Safari.

  • Robo Bobo is a game where the player chooses a piece off the conveyer belt and puts it into the proper place on the picture.  Like an online jigsaw puzzle, but most of the puzzle is already present.

  • Rocket Racer is a race game in which the player steers his robot to the letters which he had been previously shown.  The letters must be found in the same order as they were presented to him.

  • In Photo Safari the user takes a picture of an animal and then finds the item the animal wants.  If the picture is not taken correctly then you lose a picture chance. You must watch closely as after the picture is taken it is briefly shown the player and the item to look for is shown briefly in a speech bubble.  If the item is found correctly then the player receives another picture opportunity.

Laughter Lake  features Going Buggy, Critter Sizer, and Scuba Dude.
  • Going Buggy requires the child to listen to the sentences which are read and put in the pictures which match the sentences.

  • Critter Sizer address the difference between big and small and  makes sure the child can differentiate between the two. 

  • Scuba Dude requires the child to run his submarine to catch the color and letter clam that matches the one he was given in the beginning. 

Twister Top features Desert Dash, Design-a-Door, and Crazy Maze.

  • In Desert Dash the child assists the character to drive through the desert and find the sound they letter sound they heard.  

  • Design-a-Door shows children a space ship door with several designs of the same or different colors for a couple seconds,removes them, and the child then needs to duplicate what they saw.

  • Crazy Maze helps a child took make words.  They are provided with three different beginning letters and the ending and the child needs to guide the letter ball they chose through a lane or simple maze.

    There is also a Parent Center where you can learn what skills your child has been working on as well as what level they are on within each game. You can also find printables of  the characters to color,mazes and dot to dots. An activity center provides ideas for interactive fun between adults and children.

    How we used GoGoKabongo

    My 6 year old is within the target range for this product and he tried it out twice, but overall he was not interested in it.  He generally loves all computer games and anything he can do on the computer so I was very surprised by this. I think this was probably because he is reading at a solid 3rd grade level and the games were below his skill level.  He might have been more willing to play if it wasn't so slow in loading between habitats and games within each habitat.  The games play well, there isn't any lag in them once they start, but waiting for them takes a long time.

    So that I could really see what GoGo Kabongo is all about I spent some time playing myself.  I played through each of the games to learn what they are.  The games are well thought out and put together.  They address critical prereading and logic skills in a fun manner.  Each game or activity is short; the child only has to do something once or twice before they are rewarded with a virtual sticker for their comic book, skatepark pieces, or objects for their tree house. Most of the games are slow enough paced so a child who is not familiar with using a mouse could easily play them.  It seemed to me that as the skills are built some of the games do speed up the pace.

    A couple downsides I ran into are that it is very slow loading and sometimes the prizes, stickers, are not visible, just a big black square.  When I played Desert Dash I found it hard to hear some of the spoken letters I was to hunt for over the music. These would probably be very discouraging to a child.

    The background music also became overwhelming to me after a while.  I can do several things at once, including having the TV on in the background and am not usually bothered in this way.  When my son played GoGoKabongo or other computer activities it doesn't seem to bother him, so this is likely not an issue for everyone or all children.  But I do feel it is something to be aware of. 

    I wish I had known about GoGoKabongo several years ago.  Playing these activities would have helped my son with things such as sequencing, letter identification, memory and following directions. He was not one who took direction easily; he much preferred to try something himself and figure out what to do on his own.  Several of the games might have helped him develop the skill of listening and following directives better.

    Other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew also used and reviewed GoGoKabongo.  To read what they had to say you can go here to the crew blog.

    Disclaimer: I was given a free trial of GoGoKabongo in order to write this review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner.  All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    The Ultimate Blog Party

    The Party has started and I am late.  As a mom I don't get the opportunity to go to many parties, but wherever I go I definitely don't like to be late.  I think I would rather be a little early and then just hang  out in my car until.  But this party, The Ultimate Blog Party hosted by Janice and Susan at 5 Minutes for Mom is going on for 8 days.  I guess I am not too late in the scheme of things.

    Ultimate Blog Party 2011

    I am Martha and the title of my blog is a play on my name and homeschooling.  My family and I live in the Midwest, near the population center of the United States, according to the latest census data.  I homeschool 2 children; my daughter is 10 and my son is 6- he will be 7 later this month. 

    On my blog I write about our homeschooling adventures and activities as well as product reviews for the Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Homeschool Crew.  I started blogging last summer in preparation for reviewing for them last year.  So I am still trying to learn. out the fine art of blogging. This has also been the first time I have formally reviewed products.  Even though there was a steep learning curve in the beginning I have had a great time blogging and reviewing this year.  

    Sometimes I will also write about general activities or events.  I am also talking part in a Spring Reading challenge.  You can find a couple posts about that under the subject Mom's books in the side.

    We are kind of eclectic in our homeschooling methods, but trying to move towards a more Classical Method.  At first, I was intimidated by the thought of a Classical model, but as my children have gotten older I have been slowly move some of our subjects towards this method.   At the same time we also do some interest studies or modified unit studies. I will have to explain what I mean in another post.  

    I would love to have more followers and share what we are doing with more people as well as learn from other bloggers and moms.  

    Welcome, look around and enjoy.


    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Homeschool Mothers Journal Weekly Review April 1

    The Homeschool Mother's Journal

    In my life this week...

    I spent some time on a project for me.  I have dabbled with beading jewelry for almost 2 years and have supplies for several projects, but haven't completed anything since last summer.  So off and on during the week I have been working on a necklace.  Not done yet, but almost.
    I've also started reading one of my Spring Book Challenge books, How the States Got Their Shapes.  It's not a hard read, goes quickly and is kinda fun.  The states are discussed in alphabetical order and I am done with the A's.

    In our homeschool this week...
    Down to our next to last week of our Chemistry/Periodic Table unit for science.
    Continued our state study with Delaware.
    Enjoying our Latin study and Headventureland, on line resource for much fun Latin.

    Places we're going and people we're seeing...
    Sunday we went to the Family concert at the Symphony thanks to a friend.  We heard Saint-Saen's Carnival of the Animals.  It was a fantastic time.
    Daughter had piano lesson this week.

    My favorite thing this week was...
    The Symphony!  No question!
    Other than that, just staying home more days and making progress on the home and school front.

    It was not the 4 inches of snow we got last Saturday!!!

    What's working/not working for us...
    My 6 year old is going through a rough time.  Doesn't seem to want to do much except Latin and an online music program I am reviewing.
    I have reached the month of panic, will we be able to accomplish everything I want to this year and how much longer until we get all our required hours in?

    Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

    I am trying to figure out a way to help my little guy not stress so much. 
    I am mulling next years plans over in my head.  Might help if I actually took the time to sit down and write things out.  In pencil, of course.  Maybe making things concrete would help.  :)

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

    I am going to share two links:  They are both about the concert we saw:

    This one is supposed to have samples of the music.  I can't try it out as my children are having a camp out about 3 feet from where I am typing.  Don't want to wake them!

    This is info about the arrangement.

    Have a good Week.

    ZGuide to the Movies Johnny Tremain New TOS review

    ZGuide to the Movie
    Zeezok Publishing

    Johnny Tremain

    $12.99 Instant Download
    $12.99 CD

    $15.98  DVD

    Recommended age levels of Junior High thru High School

    Zeezok has zguides to the movies available for many other movies.  They also sell the corresponding movies.

    Recently we used and reviewed a movie guide from Zeezok Publishing. We were given the opportunity to choose which guide we would like to use.  As we have been studying American History and this one is designed for Middle School I felt this would be a good choice for us. The copy I received was a downloadable ebook.

    The movie guide begins with an overview of the time period and setting and then summarizes the movie. The guide is designed to be used over the course of a week after watching the movie.  Each day has two activities, of varying length and complexity. Many of the activities are of a question and answer form and are two to three pages in length. There is also a public speaking exercise, 2 coloring pages, a crossword puzzle and a maze. Additionally there are questions intended to be used in family discussion as well as in thinking about world view beliefs. Some of the activities require additional research to find the answers.

    A major character in the movie is James Otis.  One of the activities focuses on analyzing one of his written works, defining vocabulary words from the text and answering several questions. Other topics studied are the Boston Tea Party, the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and Apprenticeships.  The introduction of the Declaration of Independence is also studied.

    There are a number of skills addressed in this movie guide and it gives the parent a succinct way of measuring comprehension and understanding of the movie.  Each of the questions and activities(except coloring and maze) are given a point value to assist in making grade determinations.  There is also an answer key at the end of the ebook. All together there are 36 pages in the study guide.

    How We Used the Movie Guide

    I was excited to receive this as we have been studying the American Revolution and started reading the book Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. The movie guide questions in the first activity are good for reviewing the facts of the movie. Most of these deal with facts presented in the movie, although is is questionable whether some of the things presented in the movie are factual.  The movie is not produced by Zeezok. I liked having this resource to make watching the movie more educational. 

    Both my 6 and 9 (now 10) year old watched the movie and were able to answer the questions in the first activity.  I was surprised at all the details my 6 year old picked up and was able to recall and share.   However, he became weary of the subject after the first page of questions.  My daughter also did a good job in answering the questions.

    The movie guide was a good resource to have in order to check comprehension and understanding of what was viewed in the movie. We watched the movie and began answering the first activities questions in one sitting. This was not the best planning on my part so, in using this again I would probably watch a portion of the movie and use the corresponding questions in two sessions as there is a lot of material in the first activity.

    They both completed the maze, but did not use the coloring page as neither is overly interested in coloring  predrawn pictures.

    The questions in the daily activities are mainly basic fact recall (knowledge, comprehension)and then in the last activity and the family discussion questions there are a mix of application, analysis, and synthesis.   We answered most of the questions throughout the guide orally as neither of my children really care to write. This way they are more fully able to express their knowledge and thoughts without the chore of writing.

    I was surprised by the directions on many of the activities for further research.  The directions instruct to use the internet or print resources, but there are no links or recommended print resources.  I feel that giving a student free reign to research on the internet will be an opportunity to goof off or not find credible references. My 4th grader is not independent in online research yet. Without any suggestions for print resources it will require preparation to find sources. My library branch does not have many resources and requests for resources have not come in yet.  Some of the questions in these activities are able to be answered without further research especially after studying the events and time period.

    I also feel several of the Worldview questions are pretty leading in the way they are worded.  One of them assumes it is wrong to work on the sabbath and that is the reason Johnny was hurt. Another gives the impression we can know God's will and reason behind an event sometimes, but not always.

    Another question states that the colonists follow the idea of "prefer principle to profit". It then asks how this applies to us in the twenty first century.  I question if this really is the way people think or if it is practical to apply this today.  I am not sure it is even applicable to all the colonists.

    The public speaking activity utilizes Patrick Henry's "Give me Liberty or Give Me Death" speech. We read this and talked about it rather than using it to teach public speaking for my children.  An additional activity is the memorization of the beginning of the Declaration of Independence. While there is historical value in that, the main reasons the colonists waged the Revolutionary War are found in the body of the Declaration.  It would seem that these would be of a greater educational value to know and understand those. We worked on memorizing the selection, but it was too large for the time of this review.  It is something that will be continued.

    I appreciated having this movie guide as it made watching the movie a much more interactive and educational experience, however it was something which I did need to tweak to fill our needs and situation. We will continue to finish several of the activities as our American Revolution study continues.

    Read what other crew members had to say here.

    Disclaimer:  I received a downloaded copy of this movie guide in order to review it.  I have not been compensated in any other way.  All opinions expressed are totally my own.