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Families Again
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Tuesday's Toolbox - This Week's Item - Relatives
Mood:  happy
Topic: Blog Carnivals!

I have always liked groundhog day. It's small, unusual, and not even really a holiday. And, it's about a rodent who usually inaccurately predicts the weather. I don't know why I still enjoy it. Perhaps it's because I used to live in Pennsylvania, quite close to Punxutawney where Punxutawney Phil lives.

Another reason that February 2nd, is a favorite day of mine is because it is also my grandfather's birthday. Grandpa Tinkel would have been 109 years old today. Happy Birthday Grandpa!

I was very blessed to have Godly grandparents on both sides of the family. I loved all of my relatives. We lived with my mother's father in the hills of Pennsylvanis for a number of years when Grandpa got too old to live on his own. I learned a great deal from that gristly but kind retired coal miner/farmer. Grandpa Schickling lived on the old farm in the same house that my mother was born in. What more could a boy ask for while he was growing up?

I remember Grandpa teaching me how to plant a garden ~ a very large garden. He taught me how to rotate crops, how to walk the pony when we plowed (yes, we plowed with a pony), how to weed. He even set me up with my own strawberry business when I was just a boy. Oh, I hated it back then, but now, I hold dear to those memories, and I realize how valuable those lessons were.

Grandpa Tinkel, on the other hand, was a retired minister/school teacher from rural Indiana. It was always an adventure going to visit him. Grandma Tinkel passed away from cancer when I was young, and Grandpa Tinkel chose to do the honorable thing and take care of his mother-in-law, Great Grandma Starbuck. No, not from the coffee mogul, but, yes, from the great line of Starbuck's that founded and still live on Nantucket and Martha's Vinyard. And, yes, from the Starbuck's that Benjamin Franklin was related to. Grandpa Tinkel lived in a great house on Orchard Street in Wabash, IN. I loved that house. What fun my cousins Deanna and Brenda and I had. Dad had two brothers and no sisters. All three brothers had children in the same year. Brenda, Deanna and I always had a blast when we were together. 

There are many more memories that I relish from my childhood and youth. I'd like to blog about them in the future. Perhaps make it a regular feature. I want to write them down for my children's sake. My brother, David, always said that he was going to give Mom and Dad a tape player so that they could record memories from their childhood. We always said that we would do it, but never got the chance. Dad passed away, mom is becoming senile, and David, himself, succumbed to cancer almost two years ago. Now, it's up to my sister and I to write down our memories. Memories of how Mom used to be able to say the abc's backward as quick as we could say them forward. How Dad used to wear only white shirts and dark suits when he preached. Until my sister was brave enough to buy him some colored shirts for Christmas one year. Those stories mean nothing to others, but are memories that I will always cherish.

Why did I recall all of that for this weeks Tuesday's Toolbox? Because relatives can be an invaluable source for your child's education. Don't wait until it is too late to write the stories down of your parent's childhood and your own. Here are several ideas on how to incorporate your relatives into your child's learning.

  • Have your children interview your relatives. Perhaps they can talk to their grandparents about what life was like when they were young. Maybe they could have your siblings write down funny stories about you from your youth.
  • Help them make a scrapbook or a journal with pictures and the stories that they wrote down.
  • Compare prices to things back grandma and grandpa were kids to what the prices are today ~ a good math project.
  •  Have your children create a family newspaper with pictures and stories from their relatives.
  • Ask the grandparents or aunts or uncles to teach your child something from when they were young. Perhaps a game, making candles or soap, woodworking or gardening.
  • Doing those things will teach your children respect and understanding of your their elders.
Have I gotten the ideas flowing a little? There are tons of ways that you can incorporate your relatives into your children's learning. If all of your relatives are gone, find someone that knew them, or that at least grew up at the same time as they did. Use your imagination. Remember, family can be a great teaching tool. Don't neglect it.

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Posted by tink38570 at 6:31 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 February 2010 9:03 PM CST
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Monday, 1 February 2010
Score High With MathScore
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I have been given a free six month subscription to Mathscore in order to try with my children
and to review on my blog.
This year, as a member of the Homeschool Crew, I have received a plethora of math products to try out. Some have been complete curriculum, and some have been review items. As I was thinking through all of the review items this evening, I had in mind what I thought would be the boy's favorites. When I asked them this evening, however, I was quite surprised at their answers. Mathscore was among the leaders for both John Allen and Joshua!

Although the website says that MathScore could be used as a homeschool curriculum, we used it as a review tool and as a tool to supplement what we were studying using another curriculum. MathScore is very much like the timed tests that we all used to take in math class. After registration, the parent or student chooses a grade level and then chooses a topic under that grade level. Students that are not used to typing are encouraged to begin on the "Copy Cat" level where they can practice finding numbers quickly. They can then progress to whatever topic that they may need help on or whatever topic that they are studying at the time.

Mathscore is a very no-fluff no nonsense review game. First you choose a topic. Let me tell you, first, about the topics. Mathscore covers everything from simple addition on up to Algebraic problems. You can literally use Mathscore from the time a child starts school through high school. The following is a list of just the first 25 of a list of about 100 on MathScore's intro page. However, that is only a small fraction of all of the topics that are included.

Counting Squares
Fast Addition
Fast Subtraction
Mixed Addition and Subtraction
Basic Word Problems
Telling Time
Odd or Even
Number Comparison
Addition Grouping
Patterns: Shapes
Tally and Pictographs
Bar Graphs
Understanding Multiplication
Beginner Multiplication
Arithmetic Word Problems
Odd or Even Theory
Place Value to 1000
Order Numbers to 1000
Fraction Pictures
Fraction Simplification
Multiplication Facts Strategies
Fast Multiplication
Fast Division
Rounding Numbers
Long Subtraction

After you choose a topic, you can either click on "sample problems" to see ahead of time what you are expected to do or you can go right to the "worksheet". But, beware, if you choose worksheet, the time will begin right away. Generally you have a certain amount of time to complete a set of problems. The time depends on how many problems there are as well as the difficulty of the problems. The amount of problems also vary and can span from around 3 at a beginning level to 30 or more at a more advanced level.

The problems are presented one by one and to answer, all you have to do is type your response and press enter to go on to the next problem. A timer below the problems counts down and tells you how many seconds you have left to complete that worksheet. I thought that this would really effect Joshua because he gets very frustrated doing timed tests. It did at first, and then I found the handy dandy "padding" button where the parent can pad the time for a student and add extra seconds per problem for their student. I upped Joshua time to where he could feel success from the start and build his confidence. As you progress through a topic, the problems become more difficult and there are more of them to do in a required time period. If the child is still getting frustrated after adjusting the time, no problem. Just print out some of their fully customizable worksheets for your student to do untimed until he is ready for the timed online worksheets. 

The following is a sample of some of the simple algebraic problems that they may have to complete.

Complexity=5, Mode=1

1.   f + 3 = - 5
f =
 2.   c + 1 = 9
c =
3.   t + 1 = 3
t =
 4.   3t = 18
t =
5.   - 3 = q + 1
q =
 6.   3g = 3
g =

Complexity=7, Mode=2

1.   38 = 7q - 4
q =
 2.   6t + 6 = - 48
t =
3.   4w - 5 = - 41
w =
 4.   5w + 5 = - 30
w =
5.   7k + 4 = - 31
k =
 6.   3e - 6 = 0
e =


As a student moves through a topic, if he is having difficulty, the worksheets and problems will move up in small increments. If a student finds the problems easy, then the next worksheet may skip a few levels and advance the student further. Students also get points depending on what level they are on. As a child gets more points, he achieves different ranks - beginning with "Trainee" and ending with the very hard to achieve "Fleet Admiral". Let me warn you, though, that Fleet Admiral takes many years to achieve and by the time the student achieves it he can definitely work complex high school problems and, according to the MathScore website can pass any high school math achievement test. Here is what the website stated about the Fleet Admiral ranking ~ "Student is highly self-motivated and might be a genius." There are also 14 trophies that can be unlocked if you complete certain prerequisite topics.

As I said before, this is definitely a no-fluff curriculum. There are no graphics, no cutsie cartoons, just problems. For some reason, even without the glitz, my kids both loved it. Maybe it's the challenge of making a good score or moving up a rank. Perhaps it's the goal of unlocking a trophy. Whatever it is, I like it. They are learning math, and learning how to think quickly! What else can a parent ask for?

Having given all of these praises, however, let me give one slight warning. I feel that MathScore is an excellent tool for review or supplement, but not as a complete curriculum. Although the site says that MathScore can be used as a complete math curriculum, it only has what they call "Sample Problems",  They are just what they say, sample problems with not much, if any, explanation. I feel that another curriculum would need to be used to supplement MathScore.

After saying that, though, again I will say that as a supplemental tool, MathScore is fantastic and has a fantastic price. It offers a free 2 week trial to try it out. After that, it is $9.95 a month for the first child, $5.00 a month for the second child, then $3.95 for each child after that. Such a deal! You can even pay a certain amount ahead of time and they will just credit the amount of months you want to pay for. You pay for and get what you want. You can check out their website by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. To find out what the rest of the TOS Homeschool Crew thinks about Mathscore, just click here. Happy homeschooling.

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:55 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 February 2010 12:14 AM CST
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Sunday, 31 January 2010
Man can do nothing on his own!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Ministry

I have often tried to forge ahead on my own when it comes to my Christian walk and ministry. Sometimes it works for a while, but soon enough, your ministry becomes dry and lacking. I blogged a few weeks ago about the old Larnelle Harris song "I Miss My Time With You". If I don't have my time with Jesus, things do not go right. Perhaps that is why is seems that things don't go right more often than they do Laughing. I have been taking the time these past few days to catch up on my reading and notes from the New Thru 30 challenge that I began toward the beginning of the month. I have been blogging about it on my blogspot blog. Please join hop on over their and read my notes and pray for my journey. Just click here to go to my New Thru 30 journal.

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:53 PM CST
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Saturday, 30 January 2010
Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow - And a great new website!
Mood:  chillin'
Topic: Family

We don't get this kind of snow here in Tennessee very often. I think that the 7 or 8 inches that we got is the most snow that our kids have ever seen at one time. We had a blast. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

A fellow TOS Crew Mate introduced me to this awesome website that makes really neat slide shows that you can put on your blog ~ Thanks Laura. I have no idea how the song got on there, but it really kind of fits. I like it. The website is www.slide.com.

BTW, my wife, Sarah, was obviously the one that made the comments on each picture. Just wanted to make sure that everyone figured that one out Laughing.


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Posted by tink38570 at 4:27 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, 7 February 2010 9:47 AM CST
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Another Way to Join the Families Again Facebook Page
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: General

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Posted by tink38570 at 1:53 AM CST
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