Tuesday, February 28, 2012

All About Reading Level 1! TOS Review!

We had the opportunity to check out the latest Phonics program from All About Learning Press called All About Reading Level 1! All About Learning sent me the Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit, and the All About Reading Level 1 Kit for me to use in order to write this review. I was excited to see this product because we have used and love All About Spelling!

The Level 1 Kit consists of:
 Teachers Manual, that is fully scripted and easy to follow.
Student Workbook, which contains worksheets games, and Fluency Practice.
Phonogram and word cards.
Three Readers:
Run, Bug, Run
The Runt Pig
 Cobweb the Cat.

With the Deluxe Kit you receive a, a tote bag, letter tiles/magnets, reward stickers, the phonogram CD, and the reading card box. You only need to purchase the Deluxe kit once and it can be used for all levels of All About Reading.

Now that you know what is included I will tell you how it works! All About Reading is a multi sensory phonics curriculum that pulls from the Orton-Gillingham method for teaching reading. If you are looking for a complete phonics curriculum that is completely open and go this is it. There is basically no teacher prep needed simply pull out your Dry Erase board assemble the letter tiles, fill you card box, and your ready to go. Each lesson is fully scripted and teachers need only to follow the manual. Level 1 contains 49 lessons and you just simply go through them at the pace appropriate for your student. Each lesson starts out by introducing new phonograms, then moves on to review, building words with the letter tiles(with letters already learned), word card practice, and accompanying worksheets and/or Fluency Practice sheets from the student book. At the end of each lesson they suggest that you read aloud to your student for 20 minutes. Once you get past lesson 4 every few lessons instructs you to have students read from one of the readers. The readers contain story that use words and phonograms already learned. The stories are fun and engaging and the illustrations are cute without giving too much away. There tons of helpful teachers tips throughout. There is also a section in the back of the book that gives you tips for preventing B and D reversals. I found this section very helpful as Sweetpea really struggles with that.
 Level 1 will take your child through 3 letter words, short vowel words, Digraphs like SH, TH, CK, CH, ending/beginning consonant blends, compound words using short vowels, plural words, an intro to long vowels, and many common site words/rule breakers. There are also comprehension questions for the readers. Each level of All About Reading covers these 5 essential reading skills:
Phonological Awareness
Phonics and Decoding

I really love the use of the letter tiles, fluency practice sheets, and the readers.
For us Level 1 is too advanced for buttercup and a bit too easy for Sweetpea. I went ahead and did it with Sweetpea so I could see how it worked. Since it is review for her we would do 1-2 lessons at a time. It really was great review for her and she loved it. I wish I had it last year.

You can find out more info about All About Reading at their website, as well as view samples and pricing. The Level 1 Kit will cost you $107.70(currently $99.95) +SH, and the Deluxe Reading Interactive kit will cost you $48.95 +SH. While your there be sure to check out the other levels of All About Reading available and also their amazing spelling program All About Spelling!

All About Reading Level 1 Kit and the Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit were given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was given.

To see what other crew members thought visit the Homeschool Crew blog!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A first haircut!

Buddy's hair was getting pretty long. We were reluctant to cut it because it feels like with their first haircut they shed off a bit more of their babyness. My husband had heard one too many isn't she cute comments and finally agreed to get out the clippers yesterday. Buddy was so excited about it and sat perfectly still!

Here is the before:
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Now the after:
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He looks so grown up and his beautiful green eyes stand out all the more!

Weekly Wrap up!

It's been forever since I posted a blog about something other than a review. Things have been a bit crazy with school, basketball, and swimming. Buttercup started swim lessons at the beginning of this month and she is starting to relax a bit more in the water. It was tough taking her out to her first class because she clung to me like a little monkey. She is much more tense than the my older two kids were. Buster is playing basketball right now and Sweetpea is swimming until she starts soccer. As far as school goes Buster just finished unit 25 of Bigger Hearts and Sweetpea finished unit 13 of Beyond. I'm starting to look ahead to next year and have already ordered all of our books. Sweetpea has been doing really well with her reading and math!

We had a little Valentines party with my sister and sister an law and their kiddos. The kids had a blast!
  Sweetpea was excited to use her new tea set for a tea party with cousin S and M! Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
 My sister brought over Charlie Brown Valentines!
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We frosted some cupcakes!
 Photobucket Photobucket My sister brought some crafts along too!
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I really need to get back into the swing of things with my weekly wrap ups!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who Am I? Apologia, TOS Review

We have personally enjoyed using Apologia elementary Science for the last few years so I was excited to get the chance to check out some of their other products. We received the full Who Am I? And what am I doing here curriculum for the purpose of this review. "Who Am I?" is the second book in Apologia's Biblical Worldview curriculum series. There are 4 books in all. In this volume the topic is Biblical Self image. The textbook itself is a high quality hard back that is full of colorful images. We also received the complete audio of the book, the Who Am I? coloring book, and the student Notebooking Journal.

The Who Am I textbook contains 8 lessons that are broken down into 15-19 segments. Parents can choose to go through the book at whatever speed works best for them and their students. There is definitely enough in this book to get you through a full year of school, or for older students you could work through it faster if desired. In the introduction of the book a sample schedule is shown that has you spending 3 weeks on each lesson. 
Basically each lesson is broken down into these components:
The Big Idea, which introduces the main theme of the lesson.
What Will You Do, a short segment that explains what exactly students will learn in the lesson.
Short Story, each lesson contains an interesting short story about children/young people that helps illustrate what is being taught. Some of the stories carry through to future lessons.
Think About It, a list of comprehension questions pertaining to the story.
Words You Need To Know, important words to learn that could be turned into vocab words.
Hide It In Your Heart, a list of memory verses.
Integrated Learning, a special section that introduces famous Art, History, Science, and Math topics that pertain to the topics at hand.
What Should I Do, a section to highlight the biblical character traits that children should learn and demonstrate.
Prayer, a prayerful response to what has been learned.
Worldview in Focus, in this section children are introduced to world religions through fictional children around the world.
What's the difference, At the end of each child's story there is a set of questions about how our Christian worldview differs from theirs.
House of Truth, this section continues the illustration introduced in Who Is God, and is continued throughout the entire Worldview series. In Who Am I? the second wall of the structure is introduced.

The Notebooking journal contains worksheets and extra activities to be done in addition to the textbook. Whenever you come to a section titled make a note of it in the textbook you will find a corresponding assignment in the notebook. The notebook is a thick spiral bound notebook containing a variety of worksheets, puzzles, notebooking forms, mini books, copywork, and more. The notebook is printed in color as well.

They also have a coloring book for those students who love to color. The coloring book contains several pictures that pertain to each lesson.

Finally you can also purchase the entire textbook on an audio CD. This comes in handy when you want to have students listen and you don't feel like reading aloud. The audio recording is clear and easy to understand. I found the ladies voice a bit monotone though, but it is done well.
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For the purpose of this review I assigned Buster to the notebook, and Sweetpea to the coloring book. We all enjoyed listening to the first lesson. Even my husband enjoyed listening with us, and was quite impressed with the curriculum over all. The kids especially liked the stories and the section in the first lesson about Superman. I particularly like how much scripture is used throughout the book, and the Worldview in focus sections. This textbook is so jam packed with info that I could never do it justice by explaining it to you.

Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here. Is designed for 6-14 year olds, but I think it would be most useful for the mid to upper range of those ages. My 6 and 8 year old did enjoy it but some segments were a bit tough for Sweetpea to stay attentive to.

You can purchase and view samples of Who Am I? here at Apologia's website!
As far as cost this is the breakdown:
Textbook $39
Audio CD $19
Notebooking Journal $24
Coloring Book $8

Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here, was given to me free of charge from Apologia in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was given.

Be sure to check out the Homeschool Crew blog to see what everyone else thought.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Aleks Math! TOS Review

Our latest product up for review has been ALEKS Math! ALEKS is an online program that helps teach and reinforce your kids math learning.
"Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system. ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained. ALEKS courses are very complete in their topic coverage and ALEKS avoids multiple-choice questions. A student who shows a high level of mastery of an ALEKS course will be successful in the actual course she is taking."

The first thing that your student will do after signing up and choosing their grade level is take a quick assessment test, so the program can adapt to their exact skill level. Since ALEKS is for grades 3rd-12th I signed Buster up to try it. He took the placement test and scored near the end of 3rd grade level. After the assessment students and parents can see a visual Pie chart of what they know and what they still need to learn or practice.
Every time they log in to use the program students can hover over which piece of the pie they want to work on and choose from a list of topics. Each topic is introduced very basically with simple explanations like this. Students are taken through a series of questions. If they understand it already they can answer if they do not they can click on explain and see an example done for them. After they answer several correctly they are taken back to the main screen to choose another topic. Extra practice worksheets can also be generated for some topics.


They also have a section called Quicktables where students can practice their math facts. The first thing they do is take the student through a long series of number typing practice to get them typing fast enough, then you can choose an operation to work on. The fact practice starts out with an assessment that begins easy and then slowly ramps up to harder questions until they can determine the students level. When they say quicktables they mean quick. The answers need to be typed very quickly.

Progress on math facts can be tracked on a grid like this! There are also some fun math facts games that can be played!

ALEKS is meant to be used several times a week as, and covers new teaching and periodic review and assessments.
Parents can track all progress and attendance by logging into their parent account.

Buster enjoyed using ALEKS and did not have any complaints about the program. I found the teaching to be pretty basic and was expecting more in that aspect. There is no audio, and very basic black and white diagrams. All explanations need to be read by the student, and it seemed a very small number of questions were asked per topic. Also it was a bit confusing to figure out how to type in the answers sometimes. If you are interested in trying the program for yourself you can sign up for a free 2 month trial of ALEKS here!

Visit ALEKS for a 2-Month Trial
This is a special offer just for my readers! Normally the free trial is only for 48 hrs.
You can purchase a subscription to ALEKS for $19.95 a month, $99.95 for 6 months, or $179.95 for 1 year. These prices are for one student and can be used on as many of your computers as needed. The do offer family discounts for multiple students.

A free 2 month trial of ALEKS math was given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was given.

To read what other crew members thought visit the Homeschool Crew blog!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Math Rider! TOS Review

Photobucket Once again we have had the chance to review Math Rider, the intelligent math game! Math Rider is a downloadable math facts practice game that covers addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Your children will go on exciting adventure quests to help rescue the princess while mastering their math facts. Math Rider intelligently keeps track of the facts that are mastered and those that need work and adjusts to each individual child's needs. Parents can also view a grid that shows which facts are mastered and which ones still need work. Each ride last for only a few minutes and the quest is complete when all facts for one operation is mastered. along the way new story line is introduced and children are rewarded for their work.
The game is played easily by simply typing in the answer to the facts on each fence to be jumped by the horse, and then your child must push enter before the horse reaches the fence. If the answer is incorrect the horse stops and the real answer is shown and spoken, then the horse continues on. After each ride is completed you and your child can view a map of their quest progress showing them how far they have gone and how far they still have to go. Math facts are worked on one operation at a time.
Out of the many math facts games that we have tried the kids have enjoyed Math Rider the most. The story line and animation is fun and engaging and the rides are a good length for daily practice. Although there is a variety of backgrounds the rides are fairly repetitive but neither Buster or Sweetpea complained about that. 

If you are interested in more info, or trying Math Rider for free be sure to visit their website.You can purchase the complete download of Math Rider regularly for $47 or for $37 if you buy before February 15th, and the program can be used for multiple students at once.

Access to Math Rider was given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was given.

Be sure to head over to the Crew blog to read more reviews about Math Rider.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kinderbach! TOS Review

"Simply Discover Piano"
Kinderbach by Kari Gregor is a complete intro to music and piano for Preschool and Early Elementary children. We were recently given the chance to access their online version in exchange for this review. We had already had the chance to try Kinderbach last fall when I used a free 2 month trial code, so we have been able to go all the way through Level 1 and some of Level 2.
 The program is made up of six levels, each broken into 10 weeks. Each week contains 4 short age appropriate lessons. You can choose to watch one lesson a day or even a few at a time. The lessons vary in length but many are quite short. Many of the lessons are also accompanied by printable worksheets that can be printed right from the lesson page or all at once for each level. The videos explain to the children exactly what to do with the worksheets.
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Each video is fun and engaging for the kids and teaches them a little about music, notes, piano skills, rhythm, beats, loud and soft, high and low, and much more. Kids get the chance to work with a piano or keyboard every few lessons, and they also learn to use rhythm instruments.
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Key placement and notes are taught using cute characters and catchy tunes! Dodi has become a household favorite around here. The kids remember very well where his house is between the two black keys, and they also can find the train station easily.
One improvement I have noticed since we tried it last fall is that you can now enlarge the videos to full screen, which makes viewing much easier. My husband has our old computer hooked up to our TV so we can watch it right on the TV.
All four of my children ages 2,4,6,and 8 enjoy Kinderbach and are learning things from it. My oldest finds some of it a bit babyish but he hasn't really complained.
If Kinderbach interest you at all you can access the first two weeks of Level 1 for free here! They also have some free samples of their worksheets for you to enjoy.
I will say that if you are looking for a full piano course than Kinderbach will probably not meet your expectations. On the other hand if you want a fun intro to music and early piano skills than Kinderbach is perfect for you! Since I have only seen the first two levels I am not sure how far you will get after all 6 levels, but I can imagine your little one will be playing some piano tunes.
Now I will mention one super silly complaint I have about Kinderbach. I wish they would put the login button on the right instead of the left because I'm always clicking on the wrong button.

You can purchase a year of online access to Kinderbach for $95.88(which equals $7.99 a month), or for $19.99 a month! Kinderbach is also available to purchase on DVD, and I believe as an IPAD/Tablet APP soon. Your purchase comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.
Be sure to check their website for discounts and Like them on Facebook for notification of sales and discounts which happen frequently.

Update: Karri just emailed me a discount coupon code for my readers. This code will get you 30% off of all Kinderbach products. Just type in this code TOScrew2012 

Access to Kinderbach Online was given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was given.

Be sure to head over to the Homeschool Crew blog to see what other Crew member are saying!