Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How Do You Tuck in a Super Hero?

by Rachel Balducci
Baker Publishing Group

Rachel Balducci is the mother of 5 boys.  Her book is an insight to her world of all things boy.  Her delightful stories will make you smile.

She shares stories of crazy stunts her boys have done and also the sweet things they have done.

I can relate a bit.  I do have two boys, but unlike Rachel I have one little girl.  My boys are not as crazy as hers are, but it was a fun book to read.  She makes you feel like you are not alone.

If you have boys or know someone that has boys I recommend reading this delightful book.

Price: $12.99 purchase at Revell

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher to read and review.  I am not compensated in any other way.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Terrestria Chronicles

Terrestria Chronicles, from Ed Dunlop Ministries is about a kingdom of ladies, knights, & dragons.  But what makes this series different is the underlying vein of Christianity throughout these books.  

The first books starts off with Josiah as a slave to the master, Argamor.  Argamor plans on taking over the kingdom and Josiah plans to stop him.  He later becomes free and is taken in by the royal family.

The second book continues with Josiah as he is sent on a journey by the king to castles around the kingdom.  He will learn to trust the king and depend on him.

We were not really thrilled with the story too much.  My boys love dragons and knights etc...  but I really think he authors tried too hard in the allegory with Christianity.

Are you wondering what the other TOS crew members thought about these books (plus the Tales from Terrestria series?)  Go here to find out!

Price: Terrestria Chronicles are available for purchase for $39.99.  If you prefer, you can also purchase each book individually for $7.99. The spiral bound study guide is available for $5.99.
Free coloring pages are found here.  Helpful for read aloud time.

*I was sent these books for free to read and review.  I am not compensated for my review.

The Rose Legacy

Volume 1 in the Diamond of the Rockies Series
by Kristen Heitzmann
Bethany House Publishing

 Carina Maria Degratia is running away from the only life has has ever known to get away from her fiance, who had a fling with her sister.  She buys a home in Crystal, Colorado the "Diamond of the Rockies" the brochure says.  Only everything is not as it seems.  She looses most of her possessions among losing her house.
Two men come into her life but are they all they seem?  Will she be able to stay in Crystal where it is full of dirt, miners, and saloons?  Or will see flee back to the home of her childhood?  Well, you will just have to read it and find out.

I liked this book so much that I went out and got books 2 & 3 so I could finish her story.  That is one thing I did not like~ I really like the main story to end before going on to another volume in a series, but I am hooked with Carina's story and I need to find out how it ends!

 Price: $13.99 to purchase go here.

*I was sent a free copy of the book to read and review from the publisher.  I am no compensated in any other way then the free book is mine to keep.

In Harm's Way

Heroes of Quantico #3
by Irene Hannon
Baker Publishing Group

Although this is the third in the Quantico Series, it could really be a stand alone.  Each of the three books tells the story of a different FBI agent.  I really like this type of series, where the main story ends at the end of the book.

I read the second book in this series a few months ago.  To read that review click here.

Rachel Sutton is at a fast food restaurant where she spies a doll hidden beneath the icy snow.  As soon as she touches it she gets this horrible "vibe" from it. Every time she touches the dolls she gets shaky, sweaty, and her heart races.  After discussing it with her friend, Marta, Marta decides to talk to her husband, a police officer, about it.  As they chat about it at a local restaurant, little do they know that a reporter is eavesdropping on the conversation.  After much thought, she decides to take the doll to the FBI.  

Rachel gives the bag with he doll in it and tells him what happens when she touches it. 

Soon Rachel's life gets crazy.  She is starting to fall for Nick!  Between them will they find out what the significance of the doll is?  Will Rachel survive?
This is definitely a page turner.  I finished it in two days!

Now I need to go back and read the first one.  If you like a little suspense mixed with light romance read this series.

 Price: $14.99

* I received a free copy of this book from the publisher to read and review.  I am not compensated for my review.

All About Reading~What Am I?

 All About Spelling is launching their new reader, What Am I? in April.  Soon, they will have more readers that will correlate with the levels in All About Spelling.  

Earlier this year I reviewed some of their other products.  Here are the links to those reviews:

We were sent What Am I? to read and review.  This one follows the Beehive Reader (it is getting a new title Cobweb the Cat) I reviewed earlier in the year.  This book has longer stories but the same beautiful illustrations as the previous book.

These readers coordinates with level 2 of All About Spelling, but you can use this fabulous book even if you do not use the All About Spelling curriculum.


The are working on a new program, All About Reading, which will be launched later this year.  This program is a stand alone or will work wonderfully with All About Spelling. 

We think this style of book is so cute, and we love the illustrations.  I do think it is really pricey.  I doubt I would spend this amount for each book in the series.

Price: $19.95

Other TOS crew members also reviewed this book.  Go and see what they thought!

*I was sent a FREE copy of this book to review.  I am not compensated in any way and this review reflects my honest opinion.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Travels of Wiglington & Wenks Virtual World

"Wiglington & Wenks  is a children's story book series by John Bittleston that has been turned into a Virtual World intended to help 7-14 year olds interact with history, geography, landmarks, inventions, nature, wildlife, the environment, and more."

Your child becomes a traveler in this virtual world.  They create a character and travel from place to place running into famous historical figures along the way.

Travelers have the chance to esign an island, dress up in native garb, and learn geography.

My nine year old son, Ben, really enjoyed the concept of this, but we were both a bit disheartened when we played at how difficult it was to know your way around. But, we finally figured it out as we continued to play it.

**I have a few major concerns about this virtual world.  There is no way to tell if the kiddos are interacting with other kids or whether they are adults pretending to be kiddos.  The other is the chat feature.  I am against children "chatting" with others.  I see no need for this in this type of game.  It is a red flag to me.

Another thing I do not like is it is not very educational.  It is more fun with a bit of education "thrown" in.  Your kiddos will also run into evolution topics as well.

Kind of spendy too!  You can always use the free version, but just can not have access to all of the locations.  I find that kind of wrong in a way as the children would never be able to finish the game.

 Price:  You can get access and play the game for free, but to enjoy the entire game (go to more places etc..) there is a cost.  $5.99 per month, with discounts available for longer subscriptions.

Check out what other TOS crew members thought.

*I was given a free membership to this website to review for the TOS crew.  I am not compensated in any way.

Time 4 Learning

Julianna was so excited when she realized that I needed to review a product that was all for her!  She just tuned 5 a few months ago and sometimes wants to do school like her older brothers.  So I was excited to have something for her to use for 15-20 minutes per day.

Time 4 Learning is an online educational program that teaches learning by being fun.  

There are over 40 topics divided over two levels for your child to choose from. Here are some ofthe subjects your child can choose:
  • Numbers
  • Feelings
  • Sports
  • Human Body
  • On the Farm
  • Space
  • Weather
  • Insects
  • Color Mixing
  • Out to Sea
  • Manners
  It was easy for my daughter to navigate, but was very slow at times.  Not sure if it was the website or our internet (although we rarely have issues).

I think this program is kind of expensive, especially for those of us who have several children.  I was quite disappointed that we did not get to try some of the upper levels, as I wondered if those would be good for those who need more practice or to expand their current curriculum.  I also wanted to know if it was a full curriculum and if it would take the palce of other programs or if it was just a helper kind of thing.

What I found on the preschool level is that it was mediocre at best.  In my opinion, there are several other websites and computer CD's which I feel do a better job of helping preschoolers then this program.

However if this is the kind of program you are looking for then I suggest you check them out.

Price:  Time 4 Learning offers access to their pre-K to 8th grade programs on a month-to-month basis. Their prices periodically change, but right now the first child is $19.95 per month and each additional child is $14.95 per month. 

*I received a free month's membership to use and review.  I am not compensated for my review.

Galaxy Education

We have received yet another math program to review.  This time it is Math Galaxy.  As part of the TOS crew we were sent downloadble links to all of their products to use and review.  I had trouble with downloading most of them~not sure if it was my computer or the products~ but we were able to use one.  I worked with the technical people at Math Galaxy and we tried for a few weeks to figure out the issue.
Galaxy Education says,
"Our goal is to provide students a foundation for analytical thinking in the modern world and for higher-level math and science."

They have several different product types to choose from. 

They have:

~a worksheet generator program.

~ riddle ebooks

~computer math programs

Topics include:

•    Whole Numbers Fun, meant for grades 1-4
•    Fractions Fun, meant for grade 5
•    Decimals, Proportions, % Fun, meant for grade 6
•    Word Problems Fun, which covers elementary and middle school math
•    Pre-Algebra Fun, for middle school
•    Algebra Fundamentals, obviously, is for algebra students


Price: $29.95 for each math program and worksheet generators.  $14.95 for each of the riddle ebooks.

To read other TOS crew members reviews click here.

*I was sent free downloads to use and review.  I am not compensated for my review. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pandia Press

Kathleen Desmarais is not only the owner of Pandia Press but also a homeschooling mom of 4.  Pandia Press publishes science and history curriculum in the Classical Education form.

 We were sent one of the History Odyssey books~Level 1 Modern Times. 

When we received it in the mail I was so excited as I was leafing through the pages of the study guide.  It was an entire year's worth of history!

However as I was reading through it I noticed I needed to have several books to use with the curriculum.  I do not own those and was a bit disappointed that I needed to purchase something in order to use the curriculum. I was not familiar with History Odyssey or I might have known I needed some books to go with it.

But I really feel that it is a great guide.  There are activities, reading, writing, and map work.  Level one guides also contain hands on activities with cooking, arts and craft projects, and coloring.  Most of the level 1 guides are written for 1st through 4th grades, but the one we reviewed, Modern Times, is written for 3rd through 6th grades.

 Do you want to see what other TOS crew members thought about Pandia Press?  Click here.

*I was sen a free copy of the book to use and review because of my participation in the TOS crew.  I am not compensated in any way. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Critical Thinking

If you have never heard of The Critical Thinking Co. now is the time to listen up.  We LOVE them!  We have been using their books for several years.  They are not only educational but fun too!

For the TOS crew I was sent Balance Benders to use and to write up this review.

 Balance Benders is written for children in 2nd-4th grades.  It introduces early algebra skills and deductive thinking through puzzles.

When we got this book in the mail Ben (9 years old doing 3rd and 4th grade work) immediately wanted to start on it.  So, of course if he is begging to do school I will happily oblige.  We looked at it together and I explained it just a bit, then let him have at it. He nearly finished the entire book in less then an hour!  Not only that but he only missed one!  Maybe he needs the next book up.  Anyway he loves these kinds of logical puzzles and I love the Critical Thinking Company for producing these kinds of books to help children explore  and learn through fun and engaging books!  

Price:  $9.99

Check out what TOS members got to review and say about The Critical Thinking Company!

*I was sent a free copy of this book to use and review.  I am not required to write a positive review and am not compensated in any way.

Artistic Pursuits

We have been using two of Artistic Pursuits books for a couple of years, so when we were selected to review a book for Artistic pursuits I was very excited!  

The ones we have been using are Grades K-3 books 1 & 2. I decided to get one for the older kids, so I chose to review Grades 4-6 book 1.

I have no artistic talent in my body whatsoever.  I know you do not believe me, but it is true ask anybody that knows me.  Anyway, a couple of  years ago I was on a quest to find  an art program that required minimal knowledge on my part.  I researched Artistic Pursuits and decided to give them a try.
I really like them because I do not have to be an art buff to teach my children about art.  I also do not have to be artistic or creative.  The book comes with everything laid out for you.  You do have to purchase art supplies.  Artistic pursuits even has kits you can purchase to go with each book.

My mom usually does art with Ben once a week since she is very talented and knowledgeable in art stuff (she did not pass on the art gene to me!) So between my mom and I we decided to pick the book on drawing for Ben.  Ben is 9 and loves to do art stuff.

Ben read the first lesson and then tarted on the hands on portion a few days later with grandma.  He can be a perfectionist in his school work  If he does not do it perfectly he gets frustrated.  However with this art program he is learning how to do the art and not just copy what is already there.  So he is able to put hi own spin on it without doing it "wrong"

I HIGHLY recommend this to all homeschoolers!

Price: for the one I reviewed (Grades 4-6 book 1) it is $42.95.
the other books have different prices.  Check all of them out.

Click here to see what other TOS crew members had to say in their blogs.

*I received this free to use and review.  I am not compensated and this review is my own opinion.

The TV Teacher

Alphabet Beats is an award winning handwriting program that uses visual, auditory, and a hands on approach.  There are memorable chants that the children listen to and learn to help them remember how to write the alphabet.

I was sent a free copy of the UPPER CASE Writing DVD to use and review.  I have to be honest, I was not thrilled.  I do not like my children to watch a lot of TV and did not really like the name "TV Teacher."  I do not sit my kids in front of a computer screen or TV screen for them to learn.  So, I did not have my hopes up for this one.

When it came in the mail I put it on and let Julianna, 5yrs, Ben, 9 yrs, and my day care kiddos, Dylan, 4 yrs and Alayna, almost 2yrs,  watch it with me. I was surprised the children enjoyed it so much.


On the menu page you can choose any of the 26 uppercase letters of the alphabet to play.  (They also have a lower case DVD too).  So I let the children randomly choose letters.  They got so excited to choose the letters in their names.  We had to take turns to choose the next letter! 

*(Word of caution! I was extremely disappointed with letter U.  It has the lady that teaches the letters wearing a pair of underpants over her regular pants and then talking about underpants and that she should not be wearing them on the outside of her clothes.  I really thought this was in poor taste.  There are so many other U words to use without an adult wearing and talking about wearing underwear.  We will be skipping that letter.)

The TV Teacher also has workbooks to go along with the DVD you can purchase separately. 

To watch a demo click here.

Price: Each DVD is sold for $35 or if you purchase both it is $64.99.

Other TOS crew members were able to review some of TV Teacher's products check out what they had to say here.

*I received a free DVD to watch, use, and review. My review is my own and I am not compensated for my review.

A Measure of Mercy

Home to Blessing Volume 1
by Lauraine Snelling

Even though A Measure of Mercy is book 1 in the Home to Blessing series, I was confused as to the characters and what their history was to each other.  I looked in the front of the book after I was part way through it to see if the author had written anything else on the town of Blessing.  She has ~ 4 other books!  Well, I guess if I had read those I would not have been so confused.  I do believe saying it is book one is misleading.

I believe the back of the book is a bit misleading.  Astrid and Joshua have never really talked to each other, yet it says they have agreed to write letters back and forth.  I wonder if the person who wrote the back of the book synopsis ever read the book.  The end of the book ends in a cliffhanger.

The book is mainly about Astrid ad her desire to know the will of God concerning her future.  She is not sure if she should become a medical missionary to Africa, go on to more medical training, or home to Blessing.

I was hoping for a little more about Joshua and why he feels he loves Astrid, but of course this could be in the other books.  I also felt the book lacked any depth.  It seemed the author was writing a book without any explaining~ especially if this is book one.  I have never read any of Snelling's other works, but I am not sure I want to because I felt the author assumed the reader knew all about the families in the book and their previous experiences.

*I was sent a free copy of this book from the publisher to read and review.  Other then the free copy I am not compensated in any way.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Family Mint

Do you want to teach your children money management, but do not want them to make mistakes with "real" money?

Family Mint  is a free online website where parents and kids can make deposits or open a savings account.

Kids can set goals for saving their money, learn how to manage their money, request withdrawls and much more!

 Parents can log in and see all of their children's accounts at the same time, make deposits, keep track of allowances for their children, & much more!


There are many opportunities for the children to see where their "money" is going, how they are spending it and how much interest it is earning. 

Paretns can use this as a tool to keep track of real money or just practice money management with virtual money.

We do not give our children allowances, so this program seemed to not be a good fit for us.  However to teach our children about money management this is a good program to help them understand the tracking of their "money."

Check out what other TOS crew members had to say about Family Mint.
*I was asked to review this website program and write a review as part of the TOS crew.  I was not compensated and this review reflects my own opinion.

Great Software Tools

"Graphics Toolbox was created by a team of software designers with over 20 years of experience in graphics programming. Their plan was to create a program for everyday graphics needs that would be easy to use and understand. The product they created is perfect for a wide range of people - from students to business people.  Here are just a few of the ways you can use Graphics-Toolbox:

  • personalized cards and invitations
  • science diagrams
  • photo editing
  • posters and business flyers
  • photo cartoons
  • scrapbook pages
  • blog headers and buttons"
 I thought it was complicated to use, and something I am not sure we would use at this point. 

 It is kind of expensive at $149, but they offer a free 30 day trial period.  Check it out and see if it is something that will be of use to you.

 Check out what other TOS crew members had to say in their reviews.

* I received this for free to use and review.  the opinions expressed in this review are my own and I am not compensated in any way.