Wednesday, December 30, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Maestro Classics

We had the opportunity to receive and review The Tortoise and the Hare.  This is a wonderful story from Aesop's fables set to classical music performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra. 

This approximately 54 minute CD was able to easily draw the attention of my children. The narrator clearly tells the story of "The Hare" and how he likes to brag about how fast he is. A marathon is set up so that the Hare can compete against the other animals in the forest.  The problem is, is that none of the animals want to compete against him, as he is not very well liked.  Finally the Tortoise steps up and offers to race the Hare. In the background and at appropriate times throughout the story you hear the orchestra and its various instruments.

In addition to the orchestra version of the story, the actual short story from Aesop's fables is shared on the CD.  Then there is the song "Pretzel Vendor of Paris" with information about the song. There is also information behind the story and how they chose the music for the Tortoise and the Hare. You can here a sample of the this CD by clicking HERE.

Included with the CD is a booklet which has information on the importance of listening to music together with your child. Also includes info on the orchestra and colored pictures of the instruments used in the orchestra. There there are some puzzles and information on hares and tortoises.

Overall an excellent CD, enjoyable by all ages, but especially children under 10 years.  There are several other CD's available from this company which sound wonderful as well.  You can here samples at the website.

For more information about this CD or others from Maestro Classics..Click HERE.

TOS Crew: Act Advantage

ACT Advantage is an educational tool and assessment for ACT test preparation. It is a parent administered test available at two levels: Explore - for 8/9th graders and Plan - for 10/11th graders. The subjects tested are Math, Reading, English, and Science. 

At each level the student can be tested to see how they compare to other students at the same grade level as well as their strengths and weaknesses in preparation for college and future testing.

Each test booklet has student complete work directly in the booklet.  There is space for them to work the problems out directly with the problem.  This is great as you don't have to search for the problem on scratch paper should they get a problem wrong.  There is a removable test sheet and the answers are included in the test booklet.

The test are easy to administer with clear direction to the student and parent. There are booklets to help you assess your child's results as well as an excellent 36 page booklet, College Readiness Standards, with suggestions on how to meet the standard.  Suggestions depend on the skill needed. An example would be to "experiment with different writing styles" or "solve multi-step arithmetic problems."

This is excellent preparation for college bound students to assess where they are and what skills they need to score well on college entrance exams. The "Ideas for Progress" included in the College Readiness Standard booklet are useful for any high school student.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

TOS Crew Review: Tektoma

Tektoma is an online tutorials with videos to help children learn programing and make their own games. After downloading free software available elsewhere on the Internet, Tektoma provides step by step detailed videos on how to make your own video games.  Children as young as 7 are said to be able to benefit from Tektoma.  We had our nine year old work with his 18 year old brother.  Both with no experience in programming.  They worked on a simple racing game, following the directions. I don't believe my 9 year old would have been able to do without my older son there to help him along the way. The guide says it takes approx. 2 hours to make the race car. After several hours working on it, my son did give up.  He had a hard time following along even with help. Maybe someone with more motivation would do better with it. They do offer a free trial so you can figure out for yourself if this is something that will work for you.

Tektoma currently only works with Windows XP and Vista.  Mac version coming soon.  You also need broadband Internet connection.  Discussion boards are also available to ask questions if need be.  These forums are monitored by Tektoma and questions are often answered by them.

To find out more info about Tektoma please Click Here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

TOS Crew: Professor in a Box - Financial Accounting

Professor in a Box - Financial Accounting, taught and produced by Michael Licata, is an accounting curriculum specifically produced for homeschooled students. Licata, who holds a PhD and is a college professor, wanted to make available to homeschoolers a vigorous college level accounting course, that students with average high school (basic algebra) math ability would be able to take and understand.  Completion of this course would adequately prepare a student to take the accounting Clep test for college credit.

Everything you need is provided in the box.  The program needs to be viewed on a PC with CD-ROM and you need Adobe to open the PDF files on the Cd's. There is one instructor CD and three student CDs. There are three suggested paths this course can take, depending on how quickly you need to do it.  Suggestions are given for completing this course in 9 (3 lessons a week), 14, and 28 weeks.

The lesson structure is fairly simple: watch the lecture, do the homework problems (takes a approx. 2 hours to complete spread out over a few days,) check work, and work on exams if necessary.

The lessons are in flash player which is most PCs carry.  You listen to Professor Licata while the screen's flash automatically.  You have the ability to also print screens as desired.

The lessons we listened to were very informative. My son and I learned a lot from the lessons we completed. There is more to accounting then just math problems. Accounting is necessary for anyone entering any business field or thinking of the starting their own business. 

There is no additional textbook, so all the info is in the flash video. There is a printable list of key terms and you can print out the problems and and solutions if you want to for each lesson.  Spread sheets are also available for free in Excel, on the Professor in a Box website, that accompany the lessons.

These course is vigorous as the author states, however, even with a basic math background, I was easily able to understand the program and found it very helpful.

You can view a sample lesson by clicking here:
You can learn more about Professor in a Box by Clicking Here.