ABC Teach - Should I Laugh or Should I Cry Mood:
not sure Topic: Homeschool Product Review
I have come to a dilemma in my life. Recently, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was given a free membership to the ABC Teach website in order to try it out and post a review about it on my blog. But, I don't know whether to laugh or to cry! Oh, don't get me wrong! The site was fantastic! Let me try to explain it by breaking it down into two categories - the laughter and the tears. First:
I had a wonderful time with my free ABC Teach membership. ABC Teach is a website for teachers. But, before you tune me out and press the exit button, what have I always said? Even if you are not a school teacher, even if you are not a homeschooler, even if you don't have any children living in your home, if you are involved with children in any way, you are an educator. And, that's what ABC Teach is all about. It has everything you could think of to educate or help in the education of a child.
I downloaded everything I could think of.
Unit studies - John Allen was doing a Unit Study on WW II and they had everything I needed.
Math pages - Joshua is working on skip counting. They had skip counting dot-to-dots that were perfect for him. They also had math folder games, board games, higher level math helps, even high school!
Calendar and Chart helps - I found perfect chart cards for chores, our workboxes, calendars - you name it.
Science pages - I had been looking for science things for Joshua, and found some perfect things for him. Things that he was interested in and wanted to study.
History sheets - Not only do they have unit studies for history, but extra history page that were great compliments to what John Allen was studying.
Preschool - I couldn't believe how many things they had for even Jacob's age. Worksheets that go along with preschool books that we are reading. Ideas to help him learn his letters and numbers. Phonics games. You name it!
They had everything! And what you couldn't find, you could make yourself. They had worksheet makers, puzzle makers, spelling list makers, math worksheet makers, printing and cursive page makers! And I had it all for free!
I was in homeschool parent paradise. I downloaded and I downloaded. I did it as quickly and as furiously as I could for I knew my time was limited. We were only given two months to try this out. They have a free section of their site, but nothing to the extent of their member ship section. So I hoarded all that I could. And then...it happened...
...my laptop crashed ! It was only six months old. I didn't think I needed to back up my files with Mozy...but I did. My hard drive malfunctioned and I lost it all. My games, my dot - to - dots, my worksheets, my unit studies, my calendar cards...it's all gone. What I was able to print out and use was great, and the ABC Teach website was fantastic! Oh, don't feel sorry for me. The membership isn't expesive. I (or you) could have it all again for only $40 per year or $70 for two years. I can go to the ABC Teach website by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. I might even click here to go and see what the other TOS Crew members are saying about ABC Teach and to read about all of the things they are doing with their downloads. The downloads that they still have because their computer didn't crash. But I'm not bitter.
Oh well. Now you see my dilemma. Should I laugh or should I cry? Hmmm? Is anyone there? Ah well...they're gone. They've already clicked out to the ABC Teach website. I can't say that I blame them...it is a great website...I guess I'll head on over there myself. For those faithful few who may still be reading...Happy Homeschooling!
Virginia Soaps and Scents Mood:
smelly Topic: Homeschool Product Review
Granny's in the cellar
Lordy can't you smell 'er
I was thinking of that song tonight. Before I reveal why, let me just tell you that I have loved being on the TOS Homeschool Crew so far. Yes it's been hectic, and sometimes I haven't felt like writing a review, but I have met so many new friends; tried out so many new homeschool items that I would have never thought of trying; and done so many new things that, if you would have told me a year ago that I would be doing them, I would have called you "crazy".
Tonight was one of those nights. That's why I was thinking about the song. I, Tim Tinkel, yes, little old me, along with the help of John Allen and Joshua, made laundry soap! Don't get excited! I didn't destroy the house! I didn't even destroy any of Sarah's pots and pans. And, no, it wasn't really home made from scratch, it was from a kit...let me explain.
Several weeks ago, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I recieved a box from Virginia Soaps and Scents with three different types of home made soap, a home made shampoo bar, and a small kit to make home made laundry soap. I received them free of charge in order to try them out and review them on my blog.
And, boy was the TOS Homeschool Crew treated royally! All of the items in the box were especially packaged just for us, and came with a three page letter explaining the company and their products. Great treatment from a company always gets a plus in my book, so they were already ahead of the game.
Let me just preface this review before I start. We have been using home made soaps for many years now. We have a friend who also has a soapmaking business and we buy from her and have been gifted with many products from her, so hand crafted soaps are not new to us. We love using them and we love that most of them don't irritate our kids sensitive skin. But, I was anxious to see how Virginia Soaps and Scents measured up, and, the shampoo bar and the laundry kit were definitely new to us.
In 2008, the homeschooling Spargur family was doing a unit study on Colonial Life in Virginia and, lo and behold, what should be included in the study? Soapmaking! The soap was a success and they continued experimenting until, six months later, Virginia Soaps and Scents was born. They vowed from the start that everything about their new business would be done in house, from the soap to the printing to the web site, and they have stuck by that vow.
So how did their soap stack up against our friends soap? Very well.
The Virginia Soaps and Scents website says "Our soaps are made with all natural oils – no chemicals. Each bar is hand cut, so no two are exactly the same." I am not a smelly soap type of person, so I chose the Oatmeal, Milk and Honey bar to personally use. It was the most manly smelling of the bunch that we received . I really liked it! It lathered well and did it's job. According to the rest of the family the rest of the soaps were a hit as well. We set the Coconut Lemongrass bar by the sink, and John Allen, just today, said to give the soap two thumbs up. If my thirteen year old son likes it, it's got to be good!
Now for the Shampoo Bar. I was a bit skeptical of this one. Some of the other members of the crew received their packages before I received mine, and their was quite a lively discussion about the Shampoo Bar on the crew forum. Most liked it, and said that even their husbands used it. That piqued my curiosity, and I was anxious to get the package. I was not disappointed. The letter claimed that all you had to do was wet your hair, rub the bar over it a couple of times, and "you'll have lather clear to your toenails". And, they were right. It did lather well, and got my hair just as clean as using shampoos with a bunch of additives that aren't needed. The Virginia Soaps and Scents site says that their shampoo bars are made with "no added color - only a light oil-based fragrance or no fragrance at all." They also claim that, depending on your type of hair, you may not have to use conditioner anymore after using their Shampoo Bar. John Allen tried it out and gave it two thumbs up as well. He's really getting into this homeschool review stuff !
Finally, the Laundry Soap. We were sent a kit that made half of a gallon of the liquid soap. Their normal kit, however, makes two gallons. The boys and I had a blast making it. It came with simple instructions and you use everyday pots, spoons and buckets to make it in. The final product is heavier than most laundry detergents, and finally thickens into a gel like substance. But, the litmus test was whether it got our laundry clean or not. I tried it with a bunch of towels first. I measured the required 1/2 cup in the washer, and put the towels in. Sure enough, the towels came out clean and fresh. It was also unscented which made it excellent for our boys who, as I mentioned, have sensitive skin. And, once again, we gave this one two thumbs up.
Wow, three out of three isn't bad! Virginia Soaps and Scents is a hit in our book. And their prices are a hit with us as well. Their 4.5 oz. soap bars sell for $4.50 a bar, 3 for $12.00, or 10 for $35.00. They also have a special - buy 4 bars and get one free. Their larger 5.5 oz Shampoo Bar sells for $5.50 for one or two for $10.00. According to their letter, each bar should give you as many washes as a regular 32oz bottle of shampoo. Finally, their Laundry Soap kits sell for $4.95 or six kits for $25.00. The website says that "you should get 64-72 loads for less than seven cents per load."
Please check out their website for these and many other products. You can find it by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. You can also check out what the other TOS Homeschool Crew is saying about this product by clicking here. And, finally, as the Virginia Soap and Scents Website so aptly puts it "Happy Lathering"!
Recently, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was sent The Amazing Bible Timeline for free in order to use and review on my blog. I found that it did indeed live up to its name. It truly is amazing!
The Amazing Bible Timeline is a huge chart that tracks history from creation through modern time. It's colorized depending on genealogical lines (i.e. descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth), civilizations (i.e. China, Japan, Europe, America's) or church history (i.e. the reformation). The only drawback is that it is so large it is hard to find a place to put it.
You may ask why all of the above questions are important in the real scheme of things. Let me try to explain with this little example. One thing that I learned was that Abraham was born while Shem was still alive. Many people wonder how accurate the first books of the Bible could be. Forget the fact that God breathed them and that makes them just plain accurate for just a moment . Some folks say that being passed down over that many years, the real stories of creation and the flood had to have been distorted. But when you realize that because man lived longer before and right after the flood, then there really weren't that many hands that the facts passed through. Abraham heard them from Seth, who heard them from his grandfather Lamech, who heard them from Adam himself!
And, The Amazing Bible Timeline goes from the beginning of time up through present day. It really helps to know how those bits and pieces of history that are floating around in our heads go together. Or, it's interesting to find out what was going on in the Orient and in Europe at the same time. Or...I could go on and on! I can't wait to use this with the boys in homeschool. It's too bad that we aren't doing world history this year.
I do want to caution anyone who buys this timeline to be careful. Several years ago, the makers of this chart made a version containing Mormon church history. Unfortunately, some of the Mormon facts made their way onto the original version through some printer errors. Although every effort has been made to correct the mistakes, there are still one or two references that have not been removed. Also, some of the Native American facts I feel could also be controversial. I will use the timeline with my children under strict guidance. The makers site excellent resources that they used to make the Bible section of their chart and as far as I could see, that section is very accurate. A pastor friend of mine also looked it over and came to the same conclusion.
I think the timeline can be a great homeschooling tool or just plain Bible scholar tool for those who don't mind the couple small problems that I mentioned above. At $29.97 it is a great bargain as well! Along with that, you get a whole bunch of downloadable freebies after you order. You can check out The Amazing Bible Timeline by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Don't forget to check out what the other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew are saying about this. You can find their reviews by clicking here. Happy homeschooling!
Sue Patrick's Workbox System - Why We Love It! Mood:
happy Topic: Homeschool Product Review
Since we first began to homeschool, I have been looking for a method of homeschooling that would work for us. At first, I would sit at the table and teach John Allen one on one. Then, when Joshua began kindergarten, Sarah would sit on one side of the table with him and John Allen would be on the other side. Unfortunately, Sarah and Joshua were too much of a distraction for him, and so that had to change. Later, when Sarah's ministries with her ladies increased, I took over homeschooling both of them. I would give John Allen an assignment and then begin to work with Joshua. If John Allen had a question, he would either have to wait for me to finish what I was doing, or I would have to interrupt my one on one with Joshua to help him. Neither solution worked. Either John Allen would become frustrated or Joshua, whose attention span was short anyway, would suffer. But, still, we struggled on.
When I was first selected for the homeschool crew, I noticed that one of the things that we were going to review was Sue Patrick's Workbox System so I did a little reading up on the idea. I immediately realized that this could be the answer to our problems and couldn't wait to recieve her book. I was not disappointed. The workbox system is exactly what we needed.
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was sent the ebook edition of Sue Patrick's Workbox System's User Guidefree of charge to try out and then write a blog review of our experiences. One of the first things that I read was the philosophy of her system and knew that it fit our situation "to a T". According to her ebook, the seven points to the Workbox System's educational philosophy are to provide:
1. Structure 2. A firm foundation in discipline 3. A clear and visual presentation of their curriculum 4. A way to present expectations for their curriculum in a clear and logical way 5. Fun and interesting materials 6. Important educational repetition 7. An expectation of greater independence
Two of the points struck me right away. Joshua certainly needed the structure, and John Allen needed to learn to work independently.
The Workbox System is very easy to use and to set up. You simply put all of your child's work in numbered boxes (or in our case baskets) with everything they need to do that assignment and a piece of paper telling what is to be done. You always put his core subjects in the boxes as well as a few supplemental but fun assignments. The student then works through his 10-12 boxes in order. That way, he can see the fun things that are interspersed throughout, and is more motivated to work diligently in order to get to those fun things. He also has a clear picture of what he has accomplished and how much more he has to do until he is finished. There are always certain things that need to be worked on with the teacher, but you wouldn't believe how many things can actually be done independently, even in the younger grades, with a minimum of parental help.
The first day we tried the system, both boys loved it. Joshua was indeed motivated to work diligently and stay on task because he knew what to expect, and had everything he needed right in front of him. It was amazing how John Allen got down to work and was able to do many things without asking for help every two minutes. I was also thrilled at how much got done! Now, I won't say that every day using this system has been that easy. The newness of the system eventually wore off, and they aren't always as eager as the first day, but the core philosophical goals are still there.
There are other things that you do that make the Workbox System very easy and effective to use, but I won't divulge all of the secrets because I want to encourage you to buy Sue Patrick's ebook. But, I do want to reemphasize that it does work! Sue encourages you to try to do things exactly the way that she has written to do them, but sometimes that is impractical for some families. We were not able financially to purchase all of the things that she recommends to begin the system, but we still go by the basic principals of her system and love it. I would encourage you to buy the ebook and try to implement the system the way it is to be done, with the understanding that if you need to tweak it to fit your children's (and your) needs, then you can.
But, by all means, purchase the ebook! It has totally revolutionized our homeschool for the better. It sells for $19.00 for the ebook or $19.95 for the hard copy version. You can access her website by clicking here, or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. The website has all kinds of other items that will assist you in implementing her Workbox System, so have fun exploring. As usual, you can also check out what the other TOS Crew Members are saying about this product by clicking here.
BCM International - Core Ministry - Church Planting Mood:
a-ok Topic: Ministry
This is the last installment of the BCM Core Ministry videos. Most of BCM's church planting efforts are overseas. As you are watching the video, please be praying for our BCM church planters, especially those in countries that aren't always favorable to Christians.