Saturday, March 31, 2012

An Easter Garden!

"38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[e] 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there." John 19:38-42
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 "16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sickness, Lent, and Growth!

It feels like ages since I have posted a blog about our family. For the last nearly 4 weeks we have been dealing with one sickness after another. Not one person was spared their turn and because of this we were only able to complete about 6 days of school in the last 3 weeks. So much more than book lessons have been learned during this time especially by me. Our nightly family devotions around the table and the candles have been so very special that I can't even express in words how meaningful they have been to me.
I have also been learning to reach out and ask others for prayer when I need it. This is something that is very hard for me to do and I have realized for me it is an issue of pride. It is amazing to me how I had planned to go into Lent learning specific things and God has completely redirected me.
Buddy decided it was time for him to move out of the crib and into his big boy bed. He made this decision all on his own and has not given us a fuss once.
Buddy loves I Spy, and Mickey Mouse!
He is growing so much and it is such a blessing to hear his sweet prayers at candle time.

All of the kids have grown weary of being stuck in doors and being sick. We have watched entirely too much TV in the last few weeks but there have been some fun and creative moments as well.
Sweetpea prepares a snack one day when I was couch bound.
The kids created these banners all on their own and decided to put on a Lent/Easter Parade for daddy. They even sang and danced to some of the Hymns we have been learning. I think they are almost ready to join uncle M!
All of them trying to push Buster.
Buddy figuring out what his boots are for!
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He was tentative at first but once I gave him the go ahead he had a blast.
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The kids helped me clean out and wash the car in preparation for my husbands vacation. It was the first nice day we have had in weeks. I had to wash all of them after we were done.

We are hoping to be able to relax this week and have a little fun, and prayerfully everyone will be completely well and ready to get back to studies next week.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Action Alert! TOS Review.

As parents we are always hearing how important it is to protect our children online. Action Alert is a downloadable Internet filtering system for kids that provides 8 safety tools for parents.
Action Alert offers two versions, a free version, and a version for $29.99 that comes with the added benefit of multi user protection, fully customizable, and full social network monitoring.
They way Action Alert works is it allows parents to add specific sites to be blocked to Action Alerts  already continuously updated list of unsafe site, or parents can create a list of specific sites that can only be viewed. Action Alert also notifies parents by email or text of any suspicious activity on the protected computer. Other features include time setting abilities, and the ability to be able to go back and view up to 60 hrs of internet browsing.

Action Alert has received several awards and even an appearance on the Today Show!

For us this product is been a bit difficult to review because we do not allow any of the kids to really surf the web. I did a bit of surfing myself to see how it worked and I was personally not overly impressed. I searched a few fairly innocent words that I knew had the potential to bring up inappropriate content. One such word was Victoria. I was very disappointed in the images that were brought up by Action Alert's Safe search. I also didn't have very good luck with the two websites I put into to be blocked. One of them appeared to be blocked because the page wouldn't load, and the other went right to it even though I had added it to the blocked list. I tried this multiple times. I also tried to use the feature that only allows specific sites and that was super annoying because a password box would pop up constantly even when I was just trying to load my browser. Now some of these problems could be due to my browser or computer but I really felt like Action Alert was very glitchy over all. If you are interested in this product for your family I wouldn't hesitate to give the free version a try and see how it works for you. I would definitely try it out extensively before allowing the kids to use it. Personally I don't feel like any filtering system takes the place of parental supervision online.

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

To read what other families thought of Action Alert visit the Homeschool Crew Blog!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Mark 1:12-15
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.14  Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

 I was inspired to do a daily candle for Lent this year from the blog A Holy Experience! I mentioned to my husband awhile back about making some kind of candle holder for me, but both of us forgot about it until just a few days before Ash Wednesday. We decided to start the Wednesday after and just light one candle a night all the way up to Easter evening.

Each day I add one candle and then in the evening we light them. This has been an extremely special time and the kids love it. Along with the candles we have been reading from, The Jesus Storybook Bible, and learning some Easter Hymns. Closer to Easter we will start Ann's Easter devotional because it is only for 17 days.
We end the candles with prayers!
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Of course the kids enjoy blowing them out as much as lighting them.
 Isaiah 58:6-7
6 “Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed[a] go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?"

A Late Winter Hike!

Last Saturday Buster had 2 basketball games!
Waiting for Buster!
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After the game we did a bit of shopping! The weather was gorgeous so we made a spur of the moment decision to go for a hike!
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Buddy walked the whole way up by himself.
It was a bit muddy but not too bad!
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There was a lot of water!
Throwing rocks in the creek is fun!
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

K5 Learning! TOS Review!

K5 Learning is an online program that helps kids in grades K-5th practice and re-enforce their math and language arts skills. The topics they cover are Math, Math facts, Reading, Phonics, Spelling, and Vocabulary. All learning is done through interactive games with full color and audio. When you first sign your child up they are given a basic placement test for Math and Reading and then the games are customized to their abilities. I was able to sign up both Buster and Sweetpea for this product. I assigned Buster to 3rd grade but he assessed in at 4th grade overall, and for Sweetpea I signed her up as 1st grade but she tested in at 2nd grade level. The test is a bit long and Sweetpea was getting a little frustrated with it. I was able to encourage her to stick it out though and she got it done.
At any time parents can log in a view reports of their children's progress, lessons completed, percentages earned, and time spent. Buster enjoyed the Math and Reading sections and even learned a few new things. Sweetpea did fine with the program but she always wanted to stop before the lessons were complete. They felt a bit long for younger learners.
In the math facts section kids get to make their own personalized character before they begin, which Sweetpea thought was the best part. Math facts are taught in a story format and then drilled. The drill seems to be pretty fast and the lessons were very long for Sweetpea. They were just fine for Buster though. I have been told by the makers of K5 that you can adjust the drill speeds if needed.
I found the spelling to be very basic but parents can change the spelling words to line up with their children's spelling curriculum.
If K5 Learning interests you, be sure to visit their website! You can take a video tour, try sample lessons, take a free assessment, and sign up for a free 14 day trial. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

 Subscriptions are $25 a month for the first child and $15 for each additional, or $199 for a year for the first child and $129 for each additional.

Access to K5 Learning was given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was given.

Be sure to check the Homeschool Crew Blog to find out what everyone else thought!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reading Eggs! TOS Review!

Reading Eggs is a fun online interactive phonics/reading program. The program is designed for 4-7 year olds, and now they have Reading Eggspress for 7-13 year olds. The Reading Eggs program contains 100 fun lessons that teach reading through phonics and by sight. Your child will be introduced to fun characters, games, stories, and built in rewards! The game is easy for children to navigate and if they can control a mouse they are good to go!
"The Stepping Stones Reading lessons are the core of the Reading Eggs learn-to-read program. Each lesson builds on the previous one to build skills in the five key areas needed to become a good reader: phonemic awareness and phonics, sight words, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. The lessons are presented in three broad levels with 40 lessons in each level.

Level 1 Starting Out for absolute beginners, lesson 1-40.

Level 2 Beginning to Read for emerging readers, lessons 41-80.

Level 3 Building confidence for early readers, lessons 81-120."
Each lesson within the 4 levels is an appropriate length for the target age. The lessons start out very gently and easily and build slowly from there. The website says that you can have your child take a placement test, so they will start at the appropriate level, but the only test I could locate was in the Reading Eggspress area. This placement test seemed too hard for Sweetpea but the beginning lessons of Reading Eggs were very easy for her. She absolutely loved the games though so I just had her start at the beginning and she was able to make it to lesson 20. We have yet to get to a level that was a challenge to her, but it was a good review. 
As your child moves through the Reading Eggs map they earn golden eggs which can be spent in the shop on things for their house and characters. They can also have fun in the playroom, arcade, house, etc. located on the side of the screen. The side screen extras are slowly unlocked as children complete lessons. 
I really appreciate how reading eggs used actual phonics in their lessons along with common sight words!

I signed Sweetpea up for this review so she played only in the Reading Eggs area but I did take a peak around the Reading Eggspress area as well. 
Reading Eggspress is for kids already reading that want or need extra practice in comprehension and fluency. The floating island is made up of 4 areas; Gym, Mall, Stadium, and Library. In the Gym a a quick placement test is given. The Mall is a place to spend rewards. In the stadium kids can play games to learn about grammar, vocabulary, usage, and spelling. In the Library kids can choose from a large variety of ebooks in either fiction or nonfiction topics.

Parents can log into their account at any time and check on the progress of their children.

You can purchase a subscription to Reading Eggs, and Reading Eggspress for either; $9.95 a month, $49.95 for 6 months, or $75.00 for 1 year. If you subscribe two students at a time the second is half off. Reading Eggs also offers a free trial, so if the program interests you go and check it out today!

A 3 month subscription to Reading Eggs was given to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was given.

To read what other crew members though go to the Homeschool Crew blog!