Friday, April 30, 2010

Sue Gregg Cookbooks

Unlike many homeschoolers, before I received one of her books, I had never heard of Sue Gregg and her healthy cookbooks. Luckily, I was given the opportunity to review Introducing Whole Foods Cooking. First of all, I wouldn't really consider Whole Foods Cooking to be a cookbook. To me, it's a teaching manual on how to change your eating lifestyle, and change your recipes to keep your family healthy.

Here's what's in the book.

Nutrition Basics including extensive info on on the nutritional value of of whole grains, nuts & seeds, fruits & veggies, oils, animal products, beverages and seasonings. Ms. Gregg also includes allergy information and coordinating Scripture.

Recipes and Menus which includes 26 whole foods recipes, suggested menus and nutritional charts.

Serving and Connecting
I've never seen a section like this in a cookbook. The ideas of how to pray at your table, how to bring Jesus to your meals and include songs, beauty and books are relatively new to me. I found the info in this section fascinating.

The Next Steps section discusses actually enjoying your food, and teaching your family unique ways to help you improve your recipes. She explains many ways to nutritionally improve current favorite recipes.

Menus for Weight Management offers Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner menus using the recipes from the book.

Food to Faith is a short Bible study.

The book also comes with a PowerPoint CD with great step-by-step photographed instructions.
Introducing Whole Foods Cooking has certainly taught me many things about food I did not know. I decided not to go all out and radically change our whole eating lifestyle, but to make small food changes a little bit at a time. In my city, there are specialty stores that sell some of the ingredients listed in the recipes. However, they are not all affordable. Also, my family must have small, unnoticeable changes when it comes to their food.

When we made the Blender Pancakes, we used the same old blender we've had for years, and our trusty skillet. My family did not enjoy my choice of brown rice as an ingredient. I hope to try the recipe several more times with different grains. I'm not advocating lying to my family, but they'll do much better when I don't tell them exactly what I'm making. Is it so bad if they don't know it's good for them? The Parmesan Chicken Nuggets were simple, and were a huge hit. We love tacos, so the Taco Chip O'le was yummy. Unfortunately, I have a very choosy eater. So I simply could not serve most of the recipes that contained an obvious fruit or vegetable.

Overall, I really enjoyed Introducing Whole Foods Cooking. But I wish that I'd had it before I had children, so that I might have started off on the right foot!

If you'd like to read what others thought about Sue Gregg's cookbooks, you can click on the picture below.

This product was given to me free of charge in exchange for my review. The opinions are expressly my own, and I did not receive compensation.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lesson Planet

Lesson Planet, a "search engine for teachers," allows educators to search "over 225,000+ ... online lesson plans and worksheets." Your searches can be narrowed down by keyword, grade level, overall rating, subject, theme and state standards.

I have used Lesson Planet over the last few weeks to search for various plans and printables, with topics including Easter, the water cycle, endangered species and natural resources. Although Lesson Planet brought up many different websites for me to choose from, I still found myself searching for appropriate plans and worksheets for us. I found that I had to pick a little from this one, a bit from that one, to make it fit exactly what I needed. I think it's nice to be able to search by grade level, but I quickly learned that wouldn't work for me. What your typical public school educator thinks is on point for a third grader doesn't always work for my "third grader." By leaving all the search filters open, I had much better success.
If you're a public school teacher, this site might be very helpful. If you're a homeschooler, it's great to be able to pull up lessons that fit your state's "standards" so you can steer clear!

You can try Lesson Planet for free for 10 days. If you'd like to subscribe, the cost is $39.95 a year. For me, I'd rather search the net and put together exactly what I want for free! If you'd care to read what other reviewers had to say, click the pic below.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Super Star Speech

"The Super Star Speech materials have been designed by a speech-language-pathologist to assist parents in helping their children achieve developmentally appropriate speech and to provide some of the necessary resources to do speech therapy at home. The focus of these books is the correction of articulation (speech sound) errors." That said, feel free to click the link and check out Ms. Lott's website. She has lots of info on her Speech program.

Ms. Deborah Lott also offers Super Star Games for homeschooling enrichment and those are what I reviewed. These well thought out games are perfect additions to Science, Geography and History unit studies.

The Inventors Game was probably our favorite, as it gave us a jumping off point for a small unit study about inventors. We were able to use the famous people and their inventions to come up with a list of library books we needed to read. After printing and mounting on card stock, we cut out all the inventor, invention, and date cards (24 of each). We played a memory game, cards were placed face down on the table and turned over to find a match. We were somewhat successful (at least with the ones we already knew), but learned that we need to study inventors a bit more!

Silly Snail is a parts of speech game, that has been perfect for my third grader in his grammar studies. Road to Revolution is an American Revolution board/dice game that we mounted on a file folder to play. It's the perfect time of year for the Insects and Climb the Vine games, where you'll learn all about insect parts and plants.

We also reviewed Colony Quest (a fun game about the 13 original American colonies), Covering the Continents (a fact-filled geography game), Explorers of the World (a matching and timeline game, and fantastic supplement to a study of explorers), Exploring Egypt, Planets, Moon and Stars (a quiz game with great graphics) and All About Animals (we learned even more new things!).

Although I have primarily played these games with Butterbean (8), Middleman (5) loves games and most of them can be adapted for his age.

The enrichment games contain everything you need to print out and play. You may need to add a die, or a file folder. You'll need to cut out your cards once you've printed them on card stock. And for us, some of them, we've chosen to color in, as we printed them in black and white (cheaper!).

Super Star Games are available to download at Currclick for $3.50 each. I think they're a steal! Thank you so much Ms. Lott for allowing me this opportunity! We have loved your games, and I'm thankful all I had to do was cut and paste!

If you'd like to read what other reviewers thought about Super Star Speech or Super Star Games, click the banner below.

I wrote this review in exchange for free copies of Super Star Games. The opinions are my own, and I was not compensated.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alphabet Beats

Alphabet Beats "are fun, educational videos that teach children how to write the alphabet quickly and easily...using a multi-sensory approach of visual demonstrations and rhythmic chants." Ok, so I was more than a little skeptical when, in the intro to Alphabet Beats, the ladies said my child would "love Ms. Marnie." I am about to admit, that, in fact, Babyman (2) did love Ms. Marnie! Middleman (5), who this review was intended for, was not as thrilled with the "teacher," but he did enjoy Alphabet Beats. Butterbean (8) had to be excused from the room, because of his compulsion to be a typical eight year old boy!Middleman wasn't aware that you're supposed to watch one 5 minute letter segment at a time, and he wanted to watch the whole thing in one fail swoop. Being the mostly-child-let-fab-teacher-mama that I am, I longed for a "play all" button. But alas, there isn't one. So, after teaching my five year old how to click on the letters himself to start each segment, I sat down and relaxed to watch the video too.

Ms. Marnie is definitely funny to my 2 and 5 year old viewers. They laughed as she wore a veil and went "off to Vegas" (v). I'm not sure if I was excited or not having to explain what a belly dancer was for b. And they informed me that water was wasted during the washing of hands for w. I was pretty concerned that for m, marshmallow was misspelled.

Middleman asks to watch Alphabet Beats often, pulling out his dry erase markers and board to practice his letters. He occasionally uses the rhymes from Alphabet Beats. He sometimes disagrees with the rhymes, and tells me that's not how he does it! There were a few rhymes I didn't quite get either, like those for s,w and p. Babyman will often be heard chanting "up ound, ittle a."

Overall, we have really enjoyed Alphabet Beats, and I know my littles will continue to watch it. As for teaching Middleman to write, I can't give that credit to Alphabet Beats. I still think he learns better with one-on-one Mommy instruction, and Alphabet Beats has not made him any more interested in writing than he was before. However, the program has given me little tips for teaching printing, at least for some of the letters. Thankfully, I received the DVD to try out, because I probably would not have purchased it myself. It's a little expensive for our budget.
You can download free activity sheets and lined writing paper that go with the videos here. For a demo, click here. You can purchase Uppercase or Lowercase Alphabet Beats for $35 each. Or purchase the set of both for $64.99.

If you'd like to read what other reviewers thought, you can do that right here.

In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of the DVD Alphabet Beats writing lower case letters. I received no other compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Time 4 Learning

Middleman was so excited when he first sat down to help me review Time 4 Learning.

Time 4 Learning is an interactive "online curriculum for pre-K to 8th grades." When you subscribe, you'll have "access to 1,000+ Student-Paced Lessons, Math & Algebra Tutorials
& Worksheets, Language Arts, Phonics & Grammar Lessons, Science & Social Studies for Most Grades, Detailed Reporting for Easy Record-Keeping," and "Lessons Correlated to State Standards."

To Middleman, who assisted my review of the preschool level, all the above mouthful just added up to lots of fun! Time 4 Learning has been a great supplement to our everyday learning. He began his journey with 20 different preschool themes to choose from (colors, shapes, numbers, food, vehicles for example). After choosing an area, Middleman could read along with a story, answer questions, write his own stories, or play a variety of games. He also took advantage of the idea book, that gives suggestions for hands on activities. He had fun making colored ice cubes and putting them in his water!

Time 4 Learning has a parent resource section as well. There, I found the Getting Started guide, which gave me suggestions for how to use the program. The lesson planning section might be helpful for parents that aren't sure what portion of the program to use each day. I didn't use it at all for the preschool level. I did peek at a few of the other levels' plans, and those would probably come in handy for us.

A parent is supposed to be able to view a child's progress. Although I didn't find that on the preschool level, I'm assuming that it's there on the other levels. I think preschool is pretty new, so maybe that part is under construction!

We have really enjoyed our review period with Time 4 Learning. I wish I had been able to review other levels in addition to preschool. Middleman really liked the learning games with their cool sound effects and very well done graphics.

If you'd like to subscribe to Time 4 Learning, you can sign up right here. They offer a two-week money back guarantee if you're not satisfied. If you want to see some demos of the program first, just click here.

I received a free 30 day trial subscription to Time 4 Learning's preschool in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed herein are my own. I was not compensated in any other manner.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Terrestria Chronicles

Hero (my hubby and homeschool Daddy) and I are editors. There have been many books that we think are important to read aloud to our children. Sometimes, however, the writer's choice of wording must be changed slightly in order to be appropriate for our family. It's not unlikely in our house to walk by the door and hear that a ferocious lion has injured or wounded his prey, rather than killed him. We are very cautious about the subject matter that we choose for our three precious boy minds. Sometimes, especially when dealing with the classics, for example, it's imperative for the book to be read aloud, instead of handing the child the book, in order to protect their young minds and hearts.

"The Terrestria Chronicles allegory series was written with a three-fold purpose: to honor Jesus Christ as King, to challenge young readers to love and serve Him, and to teach them to guard their hearts for Him. The focus of the series is always on the King. " Now I think that's a noble cause if ever there was one, however...

After reading the first two paragraphs of chapter one outloud from The Sword, The Ring and The Parchment, I emphatically decided that this book is not appropriate as a read-aloud for my children. In fact, I came to the conclusion, that I, alone would review the first two books in The Terrestria Chronicles series.

The reason for my decision: Chapter 1. Ed Dunlop goes into great detail describing the horror of being a slave to, who else, but the devil. This allegory by Ed Dunlop, goes on to tell the story of a young man learning to live his life serving King Emmanuel. Now, after laying down the background of the young Josiah, the book does get better. I have really enjoyed the second book, The Quest for the Seven Castles. It tells of the travels of young Josiah, who is tested many times over by King Emmanuel. In fact, I can see allowing my boys to read the books after they turn, maybe 13 or so.

Now remember, I agreed to write this review in exchange for free copies of the two books. The opinions expressed are mine. You may or may not agree. You can read excerpts as well as purchase each of these books for $7.99 by going here. If you'd care to read what other reviewers thought, simply click the banner below.

All About Reading

One of the hardest things for me as a mommy is to see my boys arguing. However, and don't take this the wrong way, but there's something almost special about them fighting over a book. So when this piece of art came in the mail, and the boys were "Mine, all mine." "No, it's mine, just like the first one," I had to smile on the inside while reprimanding on the outside. We have had the priviledge of reviewing the newest reader in the All About Reading series. You may remember my review of the All About Spelling Program and the Beehive Reader (being retitled Cobweb the Cat). What Am I contains ten wonderfully illustrated short stories that fall right in line with All About Spelling's Level 2 curriculum. However, you certainly don't have to own AAS to enjoy this hardback reader.

This book is sturdy and the pages are well made for beginning readers. The stories are interesting. They're not stories you'd find in your average reader. They hold my boys' attention, even Butterbean, who's not a beginner anymore! And I must stress that the illustrations are beautiful. They are what captured my attention the most.
Middleman loved finding out what happened when
"... a boy visits an elf in the Alps
...a broken robot throws figs
...a smelly musk ox goes for a swim
...a family of skunks moves into the shed
...a bunch of snakes escape their cages"
I knew What Am I had to be good when my boys argued over who it belongs to. I can't promise that yours will fight over it, but I do believe they'll enjoy reading it! If you want to read what other reviewers thought, go here. If you want to order What Am I, you can go to the All About Reading website right here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Family Mint

Family Mint is a web based money appreciation program. It's "a mixture between a personal money management tool and an online bank." From their website...

Kids manage their money by setting goals and entering transactions.
Parents motivate through interest rates they set, ...automated allowances... and matching deposits. It's a fun system that makes it easy to see... where money came from, how much they have... and what they want to use it for.
So basically, if children earn an allowance, receive gifts of money, or have money through other means, you can enter their totals into your Family Mint family bank. Then as they use money, you can track it together through the parent and kid interfaces.

I think the concept is a good idea. However, money really doesn't exchange hands around here. We haven't gotten much use out of the Family Mint program thus far. I can see how it might work should my children ever handle their own money and need to learn to manage it.
Find out more for yourself here. The membership is free! Read what other reviewers thought here.