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Wednesday, 14 April 2010
All Right Everyone...Time 4 Learning!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review

Do you remember back to the times that you went to school? Wasn't it always fun when you had a good teacher that made learning exciting? When your teacher said something like "All right children. It's time to get settled for class" everyone was eager to find out what would happen and what they would learn.

Well, I've found a computer program that is so fun to use that Jacob (our four year old - Yes, Jacob!) doesn't wait to be called, he comes and begs me to get on it. AND, it's educational! It's called Time4Learning and it really is a great program for preschoolers. In fact, it's so good, that Sarah and I have promised to purchase it after our trial run is over.

This program has everything. From introducing shapes, numbers and letters to teaching about the weather, food and feelings. In fact, it has twenty topics to choose from just in pre-school level one. Here's a picture of the start page minus the bottom two rows of pictures (I couldn't fit them on the screen).

You begin by choosing a category. I let Jacob pick one himself since we are just now beginning his formal learning. If you are using this to supplement your curriculum, or perhaps as your curriculum, you could do the choosing yourself. When you choose a category, you usually get a screen that looks something like this:


This is the screen for the Space subject. Almost all of the subjects have about five activities to do. Most have "Storybook" and "Showtime". They introduce a new concept in very entertaining ways. "Showtime" also has an interactive activity at the end of it. There are several other activities like "Patterns" where you have to complete the pattern and "Paint" where a picture comes up that you get to "Paint" after you pick up a color with your online paintbrush and place it where you want it to go on your picture. Several of the activities are repeated in different subjects. For example, the Shape subject also has the "Paint" activity. Some of the other activities that are used with other subjects are "Match-it", "Find-it", "Memory Match" and "Syllable Drum". All of the activities are age appropriate and fun but also very educational. When a child has completed an activity, there is a check put on the picture. In the picture above, you can see that Jacob has completed the activies for "Showtime", "Paint-it" and "Patterns". When all of the activities in a category are done, then a check is placed on the subject box in the main screen as well. Don't worry if your child has completed a favorite activity. You can still go back to that activity as many times as you want.

Now, since Jacob is so young, I am usually right there at all times to watch and help if needed, but with older kids (other, age appropriate subjects and activities are included for them) there is a special report page where parents can check on their progress in the different subjects and activities. There are also new features being added all of the time. 

When Jacob is done with all or most of the Pre-school Level 1 topics, then there is a whole set of new topics complete with different activities to challenge him. So, the neat thing about it is that he is always learning a new subject and new, very educational, activities as well. Here is a screen print of some of the Level 2 activities:

Okay! Here's the really neat part. Did you see that extra little circle with the kids playing on the see-saw? That is the playground area. I call it the "Award Area". Time4Learning has linked into a lot of great educational games that other companies and websites have produced and they allow you to play them. What's the clincher? They have it timed so that you can only play them for 15 minutes each. So, you can allow your kids to complete a Time4Learning activity then reward them with another fun educational game.

Time4Learning goes up to 8th grade. When you sign up you have to program what grade level you want your child to start in. But, never fear, if you've signed up for the wrong level, or if you child progresses quickly, they allow you to change grade levels.

As I mentioned before, Jacob asks to do Time4Learning. He loves it! And, anything educational that my kids ASK to do is worth it to me. This is a keeper. So, how much is this great program? It's only $19.95 a month for the first child and $14.95 a month for each additional child! When you think about it, it is really comparable to many of the ridiculous online games that kids play these days and, remember, Time4Learning is educational! To find out more about Time4Learning, just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Some of the other TOS Crew members reviewed other levels, so you can check out there reviews by clicking here. Since Time4Learning can be used as a supplemental resource even kids that go to public/private school can use it at home. So, instead of saying "Happy Homeschooling", today I'm going to close by saying "Happy Home Educating"!






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Posted by tink38570 at 10:12 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, 15 April 2010 1:46 PM CDT
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The Lobster Network! - What in the World is That?
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: General
Don't you just love it when I put up a teaser?
LobsterNetwork.com Item Networking 
More on this later!

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Posted by tink38570 at 3:41 PM CDT
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Tuesday, 13 April 2010
This Says It All
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: General

The following picture was taken during our visit to the Creation Museum a couple of days ago (thanks, again, for the tickets Barbara!). I'll post more pictures along with some highlights soon. For now, though, meditate on the message.



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Posted by tink38570 at 9:56 PM CDT
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Monday, 12 April 2010
What Am I? - Find out by reading this post!
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: Homeschool Product Review

No, not me personally, but the great book that Joshua and I got to review from All About Reading. It's called "What Am I?". You remember the last book that I reviewed from All About Reading don't you? You know..."The Beehive Reader". That was the one that I was so upset about because Joshua carted it off soon after we received it to read and we haven't seen it since! If you recall, he really, really liked it.
Well, "What Am I" is the next book in The Beehive Reader series. In fact, it's so new, that we got an advanced copy to review. And, they just began selling it at a homeschool convention last week. You know which homeschool convention I'm talking about don't you? The Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati...the one that we attended! I even got to meet some of the great people from All About Spelling and their companion company All About Reading ~ but, that's for another post.
This new reader "What Am I" is just as well written by Marie Rippel and beautifully illustrated by Renee LaTulippe as the first reader. The stories are very entertaining and in them you will be introduced to some interesting characters such as Ed the Elf, Matt the Musk Ox and Champ the Mustang. Take a look at some of the pages from this great book - 

For the last reader that we reviewed I posted some pictures from the website. This time I could only post pictures that were given to us in advance! Why? Because it is so new it isn't even up on their website yet. It won't be up until the end of this week.
But let me tell you in advance, just like their first book,  this book is goes right along with Marie Rippel's All About Spelling series. The first book "Beehive Reader 1" corresponded with Level 1 of the All About Spelling Series and "What Am I" correlates of Level 2 - Steps 1-14. Why only the first part? Well, I don't know if I'm allowed to tell you that "What Am I" is really just the Level 2 Volume 1 reader and the Level 2 Volume 2 reader ~ "The Queen Bee" ~ was also introduced at the convention and will also be coming out later this week. So, since I don't know if I'm allowed to tell you that, I won't mention it. You won't get that little tidbit of information out of me...my lips are sealed Sealed.
I'm not sure how much the new reader will cost, but the first reader "Beehive Reader" sells for $19.95 and I'm sure this one will be sold at a similar price. Both readers are very much worth it, however. To find out more about All About Reading's readers and the All About Spelling program, just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. To find out what I had to say about the first reader in the series - The Beehive Reader or the All About Spelling program, please click on the titles. As usual, this book was also reviewed by all of the other great reviewers from the TOS Homeschool Crew, and their thoughts are found here. Happy Home Educating!
 As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was given a free copy of "What Am I" published by All About Reading in order to try out and review on my blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 10:47 PM CDT
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Why I Love Learning & I Hope My Kids Do Too
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Helps

I wrote quite some time ago about a new venture that the Homeschool Crew was undertaking - The Blog Cruise. The Blog Cruise is where the Crew (if they desire) answer a particular homeschool question and it will be posted - weekly meme style - on the Crew Blog - the same blog that you find all of the Crew reviews for the different products we try out.

This week's question is - 

How do you instill a love of learning in your child?  

Now I have not participated in any of the previous topics, because I just don't consider myself experienced enough to answer these type questions. This one, however, really interested me. I grew up with a love for learning and try to instill a love for learning in my children as well, so I decided to participate this week.

There are four things that I remember, growing up as a child, that really had a significant impact on my learning. I'll list them and explain them in no particular order.

  1. I remember my parents reading. They always read ~ especially before they went to sleep at night. Dad loved Grace Livingston Hill. Grace Livingston Hill wrote about places and times that my father grew up in as well as other historical eras. He also loved to read Christian fiction. Mom loved historical novels as well, but she also enjoyed mysteries. Agatha Christie was her favorite. Watching them read instilled a love for reading in me and that, in turn, instilled a love of learning. My first experience with reading a whole chapter book was reading The Boxcar Children and The Bobbsey Twins. I then went on to read historical novels and biographies, both of which I love today.
  2. I remember traveling. We loved to see new places ~ especially historical places and natural wonders. We went to see the Gettysburg battlefield - I have a picture of me sitting atop a cannon. We visited Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown - I bought a tin whistle in Williamsburg and still play it. Boston, Cape Cod and Plymouth hold many memories for me. Mackinac Island was a very memorable vacation. My first trip down south to Florida was a real education. I could go on and on...driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, camping, museums - all hold treasured memories. Memories that are special because I enjoyed them with my family and learned a lot. Everything we did, every vacation, was a learning experience. I loved it!
  3. Working as a family. Now one would not think that working together as a family could really instill a love of learning, but it does. When I was in second grade, we made a move that forever changed my life. My maternal grandfather was getting older and, since my grandmother had passed away several years before, he needed someone to watch out for him. So we moved back to the old family homestead, the house that my mother was born in. Now, Grandpa was an old coal miner who also ran his own small farm. He was used to hard work and he was determined to make sure that I was a hard worker as well. Almost from the start he had me working in the fields and taking care of the animals. I remember feeding chickens and collecting eggs, planting huge gardens, cutting and bringing in the hay. I didn't always enjoy it, but I now know how much I learned through my grandfather and the work we did together. At a very young age he set me up in my own strawberry business. Every summer for years I worked weekly in my large strawberry patch. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I took orders, picked and delivered strawberries. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I was down in the fields pulling weeds. And that was on top of my other chores. Even in the winter the animals needed feeding. It was certainly a learning experience that instilled a love of learning about nature and farming that remains today.
  4. Talking. Now how can talking instill a love of learning? Well, in my family we talked about everything and we we talked everywhere. We talked while eating, we talked while driving, we talked about the places that we had seen, we talked about the books that we read, we talked about what was happening in our lives, we talked about what was happening in the world...we were always talking! Talking and communicating often creates a love for learning in a child. It sure did in me.

Okay, I know that this was supposed to be about how you instill a love for learning in your children, not how a love of learning was instilled in you. It's kind of funny, though. When I was thinking about all of these things that encouraged me to learn, I called my oldest son, John Allen, in to talk. I asked him what things encouraged him in his learning. To a "T" he said almost the same things that I just mentioned above. He loves to travel...especially to historic placed and museums. He loves to read...especially historical novels and biographies...especially "Newbery Medal books" is what he said. I'm not sure that he loves the working outside too much yet, but I'm sure that it will grow on him. I do know that doing things as a family and discussing things as a family encourages him to learn more.

Now, I must admit, that growing up I went to a public school and my kids are homeschooled. But, as John Allen said, the same things that instilled a love for learning in me as I grew up are instilling a love of learning in him. There are a couple of bonus things that homeschooling does that a public school experience doesn't offer. With homeschooling I can design my curriculum around my kids. Just recently I was looking at different history curricula to use with John Allen next year. I wanted a change from what we had used. When I discussed it with John Allen, though, he said a flat out "NO". He loves the curriculum that we have been using...and, believe it or not, it is a curriculum that involves a large amount of reading! I can also cater (at least in the younger years) to the interests of my children. Who says that you can't spend a month or so on one topic if that's what your child is interested in? Let's take flying and airplanes for example. There is much to be learned from that topic...you can incorporate math, language, reading, history...and it will all be a topic that your child enjoys. Isn't that what learning is all about?

Have fun with learning. Read, talk, travel, work...be excited about the things that you are doing and your kids will be excited too. And, above all else, do all to the glory of God and He will bless your efforts.

Don't forget, this is a TOS Homeschool Crew project, so others on the Crew are also giving some great ideas. To find out what they are saying, just click on the "Blog Cruise" button at the top of the page. Happy Homeschooling!



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Posted by tink38570 at 6:11 PM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 April 2010 9:44 PM CDT
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