Saturday, April 17, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Lesson Planet

Lesson Planet is a paid search engine for teachers. It puts 150,000 lesson plans and 75,000 worksheets at the click of a mouse. Here is a video description of this website.

Using the search engine, I was able to find lesson plans and worksheets for our current topic of study.  There were many different websites suggest from textbook companies to school districts. Lesson plans also came from State council of art, among many other resources. I had 66 choices for my topic: Great Depression. There were also 15 pages of worksheets.  I had already narrowed my choice to ratings of 3+ stars and for grades 3 to 5.

Because I teach nutrition classes to adults, I decided to try to find out what I could find for that. There was 3 pages of links for grades 9 to adult. I found several worksheets that I thought would be helpful such as worksheets on proteins, carbohydrates, and liquid sugar (soda). I also found over 70 worksheets on the food guide pyramid and over 1000 lesson plans.

I really appreciate the ease of use of the website.  You can narrow your search as well as see previous searches right on the page you are on.  My only complaint, and it is really minor, is I wish the pages I went to from this website would open in another window or tab. Sometimes you surf around a site of lesson plans and then decide it does not have what you want and then you have to find your way back to your search result. I know this is easily remedied by right clicking and telling it to "open in another tab."  The other thing is that the content of the lesson plans are from secular sources.  You would expect this, but I thought I would mention it anyway.

Overall I think this site is very useful. I was able to find lots of resources for the topics I am studying. Cost per year is $39.95 a year, which is cheaper then another I looked at in the past. You can also try it out for your self with their free trial.  Just check out their website below:

lesson plans


Thursday, April 15, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Family Mint

Many children are not being taught how to save and manage their money. They don't have motivation to save and quickly spend what they get. This program seeks to instill proper use of money and to manage it so they can learn how not to go into debt when they want something.  They can use an envelope type system so they can put their money into different categories to save.

This program currently is free in its "Alpha" form. This online program sets mom (or whoever is the designee - like dad :-) up as the bank - the keeper of the money.  This is a virtual bank, so no money actually is stored anywhere, except in mom's possession. So no one can hack your "computer" and take your money.

You can set your bank up to accumulate interest and match deposits to certain funds, such as college. I like that you can categorize the money to go to different areas. For example if the child is saving for a new MP3 Player, they can put money directly towards that in the bank. If they want to tithe money, they can have a separate section for that.

Children can access the program to make changes to their accounts which the parents must approve. There are videos demonstrating this once you sign up for the free program. The program is quick and easy to learn and set up.  It should take less then 10 minutes to do so.

To learn more visit THE FAMILY MINT by Clicking HERE.

TOS Crew Review: Graphics Toolbox Software

Graphics Toolbox Software is software used to make computer assisted graphic design.  This program is easier to learn then other programs, but it does take some experience and playing with it to get used to it. They have an excellent 80+ page manual that you can read and follow along with.  It has excellent pictures that explain the program in detail.

This program can be used for many things including enhancing educational projects as well as learning some graphic design using the computer.  Mom may want to use it to make scrapbook pages or enhance web pages. Dad will like that business presentations can also be made with ease.  There is a comparison on the website on how this program compares to MS Word and Power Point.  To see features of this program CLICK HERE.

There are video tutorials on how to do the program using several different project ideas. You can see the variety of sample projects available by CLICKING HERE.  Also, if need be, they do provide personal tutoring for a fee.

What is great about this program is that you can try it out for 30 days and decide for yourself if this is for you or not.  You can download the program by CLICKING HERE.

I think that this program will be a great tool to use for years to come.  I look forward to the projects I can make with it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Seasons of Faith Illustrated Book Series (CBH Ministries)

"The Seasons of Faith illustrated books encourage children to learn about their faith in God. Based on CBH Ministries’ treasure trove of radio scripts, these stories teach core truths of the Bible so that kids can easily apply them to their lives. Each book focuses on a season of faith-developing topics." (Quote from the website.)

My children have just loved this series. I am so glad that there are books available that are wholesome and point them to Christ. This series is from the Season of Faith Illustrated book series from Children's Bible Hour Ministries. This is the ministry that has produced Keys for Kids and Down Gilead Lane. The books include a CD with Uncle Charlie narrating the story. Descriptions of each book in the series can be read by clicking HERE.  Each book clearly teaches the gospel at level that children can understand.

The story "Seventy Times Seven" teaches about forgiving others and how if we don't forgive others, God won't forgive us.

In "You Can't Come In," Adam shares his faith with his new friend Zack and invites him to church. Clear gospel message and excellent description of how sin separates us from God.

"Race With Midnight" Becky shares her faith with her cousin Sarah. Using a horse as an object lesson, Becky shares how we can put our faith and trust in God.

"Braving the Storm" Thomas needs to learn how to trust and rely on God during difficult times. Shows a loving relationship between a Grandfather and Grandson. Great analogy of putting our "roots" into Christ.

You can order these directly for CBH Ministries by Clicking Here.
If you order these before Apr. 15th you can get free shipping if you use code: FREESHIPAPR15

TOS Crew: Math Galaxy

I have been really impressed with this product. It seems so simple, but my children enjoy it and are learning from it.  We downloaded a few of their products for this review. My children's favorite has been the Whole Number Fun. They are grades 1, 2, 4, and 9. They say it is challenging but fun! They like to do lots of problems so that they can earn robots (and I believe some other things, but I am not sure what) to give them "lives" to play some of the simple (think Atari) like games. My children love them.  This supplies motivation (complete and get the answers correct) to do the math problems so they get to have fun.

You can see samples on their website of how this all works:

These games lack sound, but that has not been an issue for us. They do look simple, but my children really enjoy the games and doing the math problems. They will play this for hours at a time, if I let them.

These programs are available from early math through algebra.  They seem to have similar formats. These are available for $24.95 including shipping. Also available are PDF format e-books for each series that you can print out.

Lots to preview on the website - go take a look by clicking HERE.

Friday, April 9, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Homeschooling in the Woods - US/World Maps

I just love the thought of "homeschooling in the woods."  Well that is almost what we do here!!!  I downloaded the Old World US and World Maps from Homeschooling in the Woods. They were in WinZip format.  They maps then come in PDF format.  Each map is then available labeled or not labeled . I love the variety of maps available.

The US maps come as individual state maps.  They show all the major waterways in the state and the bordering states.  You can label yourself, or you can print off the blank version of the maps. There are also maps available throughout American history, such as colonial maps, civil war maps, and current political maps.  Homeschooling in the Woods encourages us to use maps as we teach history.

Also included are notebooking pages for each US state.  You are given a page where you can include info on state flower, flag, bird, history, etc.  An answer key for these are included.  Each page includes pictures of the state flag, bird, and state flower are printed on each page. The flag is in color.

The world maps are many as well.  They are broken up into ancient history and modern history. They also come labeled and not labeled, so you can decide what way you want to use the maps. There are 18 ancient history maps and 28 world maps.  Then there are three version of each map. The also include notebooking pages for the world maps.

These maps are great quality and beautiful.  They print out very nice and easy to label by the children. Homeschooling in the Woods always has high quality items that we love!

To find out more or to purchase, CLICK HERE.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Critical Thinking Press - Language Smarts C

Critical Thinking Press is the publisher of a Language Smarts, Level C.  This consumable workbook is a huge book of over 300 pages arranged by its many topics. This book can be used either as a core curriculum or  used as a supplement. The company states it covers all of grade 2 standards for language arts and some 3rd grade topics. What is great is that this also teaching critical thinking and helps prepare students for standardized tests (if you use those.) 

After the introductory chapter covering various topics found in the book, there are sections covering vowels/phonics, rhymes, contractions, compound words, high frequency words, nouns and verbs, nouns or pronouns, word usage, subject/verb agreement, suffixes, prefixes, sequencing, compare and contrast, ordering, subject and predicates, sentences, capitalization and punctuation, friendly letters, inferences and facts, setting, and  more. For a complete list of what is covered CLICK HERE.

The activities include puzzles, creative writing, filling in the blanks, solving secret codes to get the answer, filling in charts, and lots more. What is nice is that the pages are not overloaded with endless problems to solve. The pages are very doable in bite size pieces.The pages are also in great bright colors and the pictures are inviting to children. They look so much like fun!  The website states also, that the licence on this is reproducible. There is also a downloadable answer guide available online.

My children were just a little too young for this workbook (or too old) but I do plan on using it as a supplement next year for two of my children.  It is probably best if the child can read before you attempt this workbook.

To learn more, look at sample pages, or to purchase, CLICK HERE.

Friday, April 2, 2010

TOS Crew Review: All About Reading...What Am I?

All About Reading just came out with a Level 2, Volume 1 reader for their All About Spelling (AAS) program.  Just like their past reader, the beautiful black and white photos are throughout the book. The stories correspond with level 2 of the All About Spelling program.

Stories are fun, mostly animal stories. They also include a robot and elf story and some poems. The stories are interesting, keep the child enjoying reading, and give much needed practice us moms like. When we are done with our reading lesson, we like to curl up in bed or on the couch and have the children practice their reading to me. The stories are just at their level so it helps them to feel more confident with their reading.

This book is part of their new All About Reading Program to be released later this year. This reader can be used stand alone or be used after level 1 of All About Spelling. There will be two readers for each level and each cover decoding, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, etc.

This book is to be released April 1st, 2010.  To find out more visit the All About Spelling website (Click Here.)