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Families Again
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Mathletics - Well Paint Me Green and Call Me Gumby!
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


Ok! I know! Another catchy title to try to get you to read my post. Actually, though, it does exemplify how I feel about this product.

I must admit, that when, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was given a free 45 day membership to Mathletics to try out and review it on my blog, I signed John Allen up and let him have at it. Every once in a while I looked over his shoulder, and I knew he was loving it, but I didn't really explore it or research the site...until today! And what I found did make me feel incredulous! I thought that Mathletics was just another one of those resources where my child would be challenged and race against others and get points, etc. etc. However, what I found was that it is so much more! It is a whole curriculum. Your child could use Mathletics as your one and only math curriculum! 

Now, we are on our fourth year of homeschooling, and I have probably spent $100s maybe $1000s of dollars on curriculum and resources. I know how much curriculum costs. Good math curriculum can be one of the most expensive things that you purchase each year. Let me give an example that even a non-homeschooler that doesn't purchase curriculum can understand:

You've all seen those cutsie math supplemental books that you can get at Wal-Mart. They are great to use as a supplement at home when your child is having some difficulty at school, or perhaps to use during the summer to keep information fresh. They can cost anywhere from $2 or $3 a piece on up, and are nice, but each book is usually specialized and doesn't usually cover all the things that you need. If you wanted to buy a book for everything studied in a particular school year, it would cost upwards of $40 or $50.

Those are just for those little books at the discount stores. Good homeschool math curriculum can cost two or three times that much. How would you like a good curriculum that only cost $40 or $50 that has all the books you need for prek-12th grade! Well, I don't usually publish the cost for something until the end of my review, but Mathletics is such a great deal, that I am going to tell you now. The price used to be $99, but now it is $59 for a years membership. But, let me give you secret. If you will read the rest of my review, I'll tell you how to get it for even cheaper than that! That would be over 12 years of math books! And they are great. Let me give you an example from the Fractions and Percentages book that I downloaded for John Allen:



Now, let me tell you about the main part of the Mathletics program! Yes, I said main. No, the above was not the main! The main part of the program is all on the computer and is based on points. The first thing that you do after registering your child is to pick a grade level for that child. Don't worry, because if you find that a grade level is too easy or difficult for that child, you can change it. You have six chances to change it throughout the year, so after you have gotten the correct level, if the child aces that level in less than a year, you can move him up a level. When you are settled on that, you choose a concept for your child to learn. If he thinks that he knows that concept, he can go straight to the questions or have them explained it to him. When he get to the questions, Mathletics will give him a series of 10 problems. For every problem he gets correct, he will get 10 points. His goal is to get 1000 points in one week. If he can achieve that, he earns a bronze medal. After so many bronze medals he earns a silver medal and after so many silvers he gets a gold - you get the picture.


Another way your child can earn points is through the Mathletics race section (see the above picture). He can challenge an opponent from anywhere around the world. John Allen has gone against kids from Australia, Britain, the US - all over! During the races, you earn 2 points per problem, but you answer them quickly and can do as many problems as you can within a certain time limit. But, watch out, if you miss so many in row, your part of the race automatically stops. John Allen loves this, because it's a quick way to earn points, and it also helps him with speed.

But, earning medals isn't really the big thing! You can actually be ranked in the top 100 students in the world or the US depending on how many points you have earned in one day. Your name, school and country are displayed on the Mathletics website for all to see! One of the TOS Homeschool Crew members had a child that was ranked first in the world for a little while one day, and ended up in the top 10 for that day! What a thrill!

The $59 per year is worth it just for that part, let alone all of the books that you can download. And, I haven't talked about the parent section, and the video walkthroughs and the...! I mentioned that you can only change your grade level 6 times in one year, but you can download books from any grade level at any time during that year! But wait! I said that if you read my whole review, I would tell you how to get it for even cheaper than that. Well, on the registration page, there is a special box that says "What is a calculater's favorite number?" if you answer correctly then you get a years membership for $49.00! $10 less!. I won't tell you the answer, but if you think of the number that comes after 8 you will be close. You know...that number that comes before 10 and if you turn it upside down it looks like a 6? That's the one! Such a deal. To get to the Mathletics website just press here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. To find out what the other TOS crew members think about Mathletics, click here. I think that Mathletics is fantastic. So fantastic that I have signed John Allen up for a whole year since his 45 days have expired. They have a free 10 day trial on their website. Try it out and you might be saying "Well paint me green and call me Gumby"! Happy homeschooling.

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Posted by tink38570 at 2:39 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, 17 December 2009 12:44 AM CST
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Tuesday, 15 December 2009
Tuesday's Toolbox - WOOD
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Blog Carnivals!


A fellow blogging friend of mine from over at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds has begun a new meme this week as well...AND, she even thought of me and designed a blog button that wasn't too feminine! It's called Tuesday's Toolbox and it invites bloggers to blog about a common household object that can also be a teaching tool. You can click on the above picture to find out more about it and read what some of the items are for this week. I thought it was a great idea, so I wanted to be involved. And my first toolbox item is...


Any item made of wood will do. Even a wooden pencil will work. I have used this as a teaching tool to explain why it is important to study. I've also used it as an object lesson to talk about how God has to reform us in order for us to be a useful tool for His use.

Let's use the pencil for an example. You see, this pencil didn't begin as a useful object...it began as a tree. If you would have asked the tree if it wanted to be cut down it would have said "NO!" right away. It didn't realize that although God can use anything in it's natural form if He wants, He often has to refine us and shape us in order to make us into something beautiful and useful for His work. The tree would have to be cut down, sawed into pieces, shaped, sanded, and painted in order to be turned into a pencil. If the wood could speak, I'm sure it would tell us that it was a very painful experience. It's not easy to be refined into something that we don't want to be shaped into. But, the Master Potter knows what we need to go through in order for us to be valuable to Him.

The athletic saying "No pain, no gain" is very true. In order to be the best that we can be, we usually have to go through much pain. It's not easy to be an A Honor Roll scholar or a star athlete. You have to sacrifice to reach your goals. Sometimes you have to go through many failures before you gain the success. It's not easy being a child of God either. But, if we want to be the best that we can be for Jesus, then we have to realize there is going to be some pain along the way. Just as the wood became beautiful and useful in the end, so we will become beautiful and useful to God...and the rewards are out of this world!

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Posted by tink38570 at 1:41 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, 16 December 2009 10:02 AM CST
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Monday, 14 December 2009
It's Here! Men's Monday Meme!
Mood:  happy
Topic: Men's Monday Meme

And the winner is - A TIE!

Yep! It was a tie between button "1 and button "2! Here they are:



I will be alternating using them as the banner for the meme each week. The codes for both of them in my sidebar to the left. Please feel free to pick your favorite and put it on your blog. Thank you to all that voted!

And now what you have all been waiting for!

The first question for the very first Men's Monday Meme!

And here it is! 

Is there a favorite holiday tradition that you had when you were young and would like to pass on to your children or grandchildren?

Here are the rules:
  1. This is a man's meme, so the answers must be the answers from a man. Either the man can answer on his blog, or a wife can interview her husband for her blog. However, if the wife puts it on her blog, she must stay true to what her husband said.
  2. You are encouraged to put one of the Men's Monday Meme buttons found to the left on your blog. Just copy the code below the button of your choice. The more folks who link, the more readers you may have to visit your blog.
  3. You may answer the question any time during the week up through next Monday. After you answered the question, add the address to your post to the Mr.Linky below. If you could, please only add the direct link to the post to make it easier for readers to find the entry.
  4. My answer along with a new question will be posted next Monday. The new Mr. Linky will be added at midnight Monday night.

Note: I have a new found respect for all of you who run a meme. I had no idea how much work it takes to get one started. Hopefully all is fixed and everything is working. Thanks for participating!


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Posted by tink38570 at 5:07 PM CST
Updated: Monday, 14 December 2009 7:40 PM CST
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Sunday, 13 December 2009
Help Us Donate $10 to a Great Cause! No Purchase Necessary!
Topic: General

BlogFrog holiday challenge

Most of you know the trials that Sarah and I have gone through with our children. Because of John Allen's retinoblastoma (rare childhood eye cancer), Joshua's asperger's syndrome and our challenges with Jacob, we have been blessed by two different Children's Hospitals - Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, and Erlanger Children's Hospital in Chattanooga. Recently, as a way to promote my blog and to interact with other bloggers, I joined BlogFrog. In t BlogFrog, you can set up your own discussion groups and join other people's discussion groups. The owners of the BlogFrog website have generously set up a challenge for the discussion group owners. For every group that has 20 new people join in a discussion or start a discussion on someone's group, they will donate $10 to The Children's Hospital Foundation. Children's Hospitals are near and dear to our hearts and we would love it if you would join in a discussion on my group by the end of the year, in hopes that we will gain 20 new folks and $10 will be donated! Just click here to go to my discussion group and you'll see all of the topics that you can add your 2 cents to. You don't have to join BlogFrog to join in a discussion, and it's an easy way to help promote a good cause. I've even started a new discussion for those of you who can't find another topic to add something to. It's the top one - you'll see it when you click on my page!  Thanks for helping!

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Posted by tink38570 at 9:31 PM CST
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I'm Not Too Pooped to Peep!
Topic: The Kids

Ok! I know! It's a catchy title to get you to read my funny story. However, recently, my "First Mate" (group leader) on the TOS Homeschool Crew sent us all a link to a blog post that she had written a couple of years ago. Penny, also has a child on the autism spectrum and she used a funny, but great illustration to talk about the challenges of autism. It seems that a neighbor had put up a lovely light display on his home. Unfortunately, the trees between Penny and the neighbor turned his light display into something completely different than what it was intended to be. I won't tell you anything else, except that it has to do with the word "poop". You'll have to read Penny's blog to find out what I'm talking about! Here's the link - http://notnewtoautism.blogspot.com/2008/12/view-from-my-kitchen-window.html.

Anyway, her story inspired me to write my own post about Joshua, our asperger's child, and the word "poop". Some of you have kept track over the past year of our quest to find ways to help Joshua. It was almost exactly a year ago that Joshua was diagnosed with asperger's syndrome, which is also on the autism spectrum. Some folks classify asperger's as high functioning autism, while others put it in a totally separate category. Whatever the case may be, "aspies" are very challenging to raise. No two aspies are the same, they each have their own peculiarities, but one frequent tendency of aspies is phobias. Although he still has a few, thankfully, Joshua has outgrown many of the fears that he had when he was younger. Some fears that he had were common, like being afraid of bugs - we had to create names for them like "Oh that's just Martha Moth. She would never hurt you. And look! There's more of her family!" or "Look at Betty Beetle. Isn't she cute?". To this day, whenever Joshua sees something flying out of the corner of his eye he'll say "Oh, there's Martha's brother. He won't hurt you."

But, some phobias were completely odd. Like his phobia of bird poop on the car. We used to attend, as a family, a Bible study that had a homeschool group for the boys to attend while the adults were in their own class. One day we were running late so we chose the closest parking space. A parking space that was right under...you guessed it...a tree with beautiful red berries on it. Joshua must have been 4 or 5 years old at the time and when he came out of the Bible study, he would NOT  set foot in the car with all of the bird droppings on it. There was nothing we could do! He screamed, cried, ran...he was terrified! Thankfully, we had a good friend that went to the same study. She finally offered to take Joshua in her car and follow us to the local car wash so that Joshua would be able to ride in a clean van while we continued to run errands around town.

As I said, Joshua is doing much better, now, but he still has his moments. We have learned how to spot things that might cause a "meltdown" and stop the situation before it gets out of hand. Now we have Jacob, our youngest. He is beginning to display some of the same tendencies that Joshua did at this age. Thankfully, however, we now know the signs and caught it early and we are in the process of getting him tested now. As I've said before, there is never a dull moment in the Tinkel household. Ah well, at least we don't have to worry about poop on the car anymore but, tomorrow is another day.

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Posted by tink38570 at 8:12 PM CST
Updated: Monday, 14 December 2009 12:04 PM CST
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