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Families Again
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
A Thank You Letter to Ptisco From Tipster the Cat.
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


*One December Afternoon*

Dear Pitsco,

As the head family pet, meow Tipster would like to thank you for sending the family children the Medieval Machines Homeschool Pack from your great company. Meow thinks it was wonderfully packed. Meow had a meowvelous time hiding beneath the box and Jo Jo, the family dog had a grand time playing with the plentiful packing that kept everything in the box safe. Things that arrive broken are often met with screams and yells from the Tinkel children. Screams and yells hurt meows ears. Meow does not like screams and yells.

Meow would also like to thank you for the excellent directions for the trebuchet and catapult that were included in the package. Meow does not like it when meows meowster (master - for those of you who don't speak Cat), Tim, has to put things together with unclear instructions. Meowster Tim tends to take his anger out on Jo Jo and meow. Meow does not like anger being taken out on meow.

Meow watched as Meowsters Tim and John Allen (the teenage Tinkel child) sat down together to build the trebuchet (cats are very curious, you know).They didn't know that meow was watching. They thought that meow was asleep but meow had one eye open. Meow heard Meowster Tim say that these kits were recommended for older elementary children (with adult supervision) and middle school/high school students. Meow was sure that Meowster Tim did not have to help John Allen, but that Meowster Tim was just as excited to build it as John Allen so he stayed to help. Meow was very glad that the younger Tinkel children were not present. Bored children tend to get into mischief and like to pull Meow's tail or whiskers. Meow does not like pulled tails and whiskers.

Meow was also glad you included almost everything in the kit. Only a few items were needed. Items such as pliers, super glue and a hobby knife (another reason meow was glad the younger children weren't present). If other things were needed then Meowsters Tim and John Allen would have to go and get them. That would create more of a chance that meow would get stepped on. Meow does not like being stepped on.


Meow watched as they carefully punched out the balsam wood pieces. As meow mentioned before meow was very happy that the instructions were easy to follow. It pleased meow that all pieces were very well marked. Meow breathed a sigh of relief that none of them broke and they were very easy to punch out. Meow thought that it was funny when Meowster Tim's fingers got stuck together with super glue. Meow was glad that it wasn't meow's paws that stuck together. Meow likes to laugh but does not like sticky paws.

It seemed like only a few minutes and the trebuchet was built but meow knows (cat's intuition) that it really took a couple of hours. Then, of course, the glue had to dry over night. Meow was present the next day when Meowster Tim and all of the Tinkel children tested the trebuchet out. Meow listened when Meowster Tim said to stand well back. Meow watched as they formed a small ball with the non-drying clay that meow is glad that you provided and then placed it in the pouch. Meow snickered when the first attempt fell well short of the goal that they had set up five or six feet away, but the weight was finally balanced using the mass plates that you also thankfully provided. Meow remembered to stay well back so as not to get hit by one of the clay balls. Meow does not like to get hit by clay balls.

Meow was not there when the catapult was built, but heard that it was just as easy. Meow wants to thank you for the hours of relaxation that meow has had since your Pitsco Medieval Machines Homeschool Pack arrived. Meow heard that it came with a wonderful book that provided a lot of interesting information and experiments for Meowster John Allen to perform. Meow has slept peacefully without having to worry that the Tinkel children were going to torture meow with some of their ridiculous games. Even without doing experiments the Tinkel children and Meowster Tim have spent many an hour playing with the sturdy machines that they built. Meow would like to thank you very much for that. It has kept them out of meows hair and out from under his paws.Why, meow even heard that they are going to build a real live "angry bird" set to shoot the clay balls at.


*Sudden Interruption*

Hmm?...what's that? Oh what does that dog want now. Doesn't he know I'm in the middle of typing a letter. I'm all paws at this anyway without him interrupting!

You did what:? You told them to make a pig outfit for me and put me in the angry bird set?

I knew it was a mistake when you borrowed that "Lassie Teaches Dogs to Talk to Humans in 100 Easy Lessons" course!

Remember Jo Jo, you're only supposed to use your special powers to do good! You know..."Timmy's in the well!"....that sort of thing?



*Later that Evening*

Dear Department of Paw Services (DPS),

I, Tipster, the Tinkel family cat would like to register an abuse complaint...



*Added by Jo Jo*

Obviously you dear readers are having a ruff time reading this. Like Tipster said, he's all paws when it comes to typing and, when it comes to writing skills, well, let's just say he's barking up the wrong tree. He forgot to mention the price of this wonderful kit and where to find it. I figurrrred that would be good information to have so I thought I would add those details. After all, we don't want anyone growling to Tim about anything.  Pitsco's Medieval Machines Homeschool Pack is only $21.95 and includes a Trebuchet Kit, Catapult Kit, Mass Plates, and the Siege Machines book. The Pitsco website says that it includes hands-on activities that cover three areas:

  • Science: Tension versus torsion, elasticity, gravity and levers, and force and motion
  • Math: Metric conversion, calculating averages, and prediction
  • Experiments: Mass versus distance, testing rubber bands, targeting, and more

You can find out more about this kit and other grrrrrrrreat homeschool kits by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Other TOS Homeschool Crew members reviewed this kit as well and you can find out if any of them tortured any one of their pets by clicking here. I really doubt that any of the other crew members have pets as smart as Tipster and I...me! Well I think that's it. I'm dog tired anyway and I need to think of more ways to agrrrrravate Tipster.


Note number one - Absolutely no cats, dogs, pigs or birds were injured with any of these products. Smiley

Note number two - As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I, Meowster Tim...errr...I mean...I was sent a Pitsco Medieval Machines Homeschool Pack in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 9:57 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2011 10:47 PM CST
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Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Still Looking for A Christmas Gift? Try Bead for Life!

I've mentioned Bead for Life before. Why not consider giving a gift that will not only be a one of a kind present, but also help others as well. Watch this video to see how then click on the above link for even more information. I've bought necklaces and earrings from Bead for Life for Sarah before and she loves them. Why not check them out.

Holiday Greetings from BeadforLife from BeadforLife on Vimeo.

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Posted by tink38570 at 10:30 PM CST
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Monday, 5 December 2011
The Easy Spanish - It's...Well It's Facil!
Mood:  lazy
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


About the only thing this curriculum doesn't teach is how to type in Spanish! Fortunately, I can use online translators so I can look up words and then copy and paste them with their accents. But, let's not talk about my Spanish typing cheats!

But, speaking of the curriculum, let me think of some other Spanish adjectives I can use to describe  ¡El Espanol Facil! - The Easy Spanish! from "Great Commission Languages". How about genial (great), magni­fico (superb), and fantastico (fantastic)?!? It's all of those things and more. This is a great...um...genial program.

So, why is it so genial, magnifico and fantastico? Well, let me focus on why it is so easy - facil.

It's easy because it is flexible. This one curriculum can be used for multiple age groups. It can be used with younger students (even pre-school) and older students. It can be used with a parent/teacher (even one that doesn't know Spanish) or it can be used with an older student independently. The book has complete instructions on how to use it in different ways. It can even be used multiple ways with each group. If you have a pre-school child that you would like teach Spanish to, you can take two or three years to complete this first course. A high school student can use this book over a two year time or complete it in one year. There are goals and objectives for almost every scenario that you can think of. Since John Allen is also learning Latin, we plan on using the two year plan and alternating Spanish and Latin. Remember, though, that John Allen is in his third year of Latin, so he has a good grip on the language. I probably would not recommend trying to learn any two languages using any two curriculums if you were just starting out. I use John Allen as an example only to show how flexible this program is.

It's easy because it covers a broad spectrum of learning styles. El Espanol Facil! - The Easy Spanish was written with a Charlotte Mason approach in mind, and, if you know the Charlotte Mason, you know that she liked things to be taught using all of the senses to accommodate all kinds of learning styles. The author of this curriculum, Marie Filion, did just that when she wrote these lessons. Each of the 36 lessons begins with the student listening to a short dialogue on one of the two CD's that come with this program. The student is told from the beginning that there will be some English words in each dialogue, but there will also be some Spanish words that they will have to try to figure out the meaning of. It really isn't too difficult to figure it out though. The dialogue may go something like this:

Belicia: Marita, this is mi padre, tu tio, Senor Enrique Cordero Paco Fernandez.
Marita: ¡Hola tÃio Enrique! Hello, uncle Enrique.
Senor Fernandez: ¡Hola Marita!
Belicia: Marita, this is mi madre, tu tia, Senora Isabel Charo Viana Fernandez.
Marita: ¡Hola tia Isabel! Hello, aunt Isabel.
Senora Fernandez: ¡Hola Marita!

This is taken from lesson two. Do you see how cleverly done it is? Without knowing any Spanish at all, you could probably figure out that "Hola" means "Hello", "Tio" means "Uncle", and  "Tia" means "Aunt".

After the student listens to the dialogue, he listens to a list of vocabulary words that goes along with that dialogue. Sometimes the vocabulary list can be quite long, but that is the beauty of being able to use this course over a two or three year period. You can always cut the lessons down to do over a two to three week period if needed.

The first lessons are very basic and begin with how to introduce yourself. They then progress through learning Spanish words pertaining to your family, food, clothing, numbers, days of the week, animals, adjectives, and more.

Great Commission Languages - Spanish Level 1

The child listens to the dialogue and vocabulary every day during the week and also does other tasks that reinforce what is being learned. Not all tasks are to be done by all students each week (in a two to three year program, some tasks aren't even introduced until the third year) and all tasks can be adapted to fit your family. The following is a list of some of the tasks with a very brief explanation.

  • Activity - as it says, a short activity to reinforce that weeks lesson. Usually for younger students, but some for older as well.
  • Narration - a Charlotte Mason (CM) task where you recount (could be done in various forms) the story you have just heard.
  • Soy yo! It's me! - another CM method where you transfer yourself into the story.
  • CM Activity - usually done by an independent learner.
  • Teacher Helps - for the parent and/or independent learner to help them understand the lesson and language better.
  • Scripture Memory Work - ¡El Espanol Facil! - The Easy Spanish is a Christian curriculum. In fact, the company that produces El Espanol facil! - The Easy Spanish is called "Great Commission Languages" and was written to help folks learn another language so that they can have a impact on missions. Each week there is a memory verse that helps with that.
  • Cultural Notes - Just as it says, notes to help you understand the Spanish culture.
  • Trivia - Interesting things about the Spanish people or culture.
  • Notebook - Each student keeps a notebook that goes along with this course.
  • Front Cover Work - For the younger child,
  • Things to Remember - Little reminders for that lesson.
  • Everyday Vocabulary - Extra vocabulary of everyday words that a student should practice.
  • Independent Learner - These are activities geared toward the older student that is working independently.
  • Journal - Again, this is for the high school student or advanced younger student.

These are just brief descriptions of the things that might be part of each lesson. More information can be found on the website and, of course, in the book itself. Not all of these things are done every day or, even, each week. The book tells you what is to be done on what day. It's all very easy.

Another thing that is easy is that everything is contained in the two CD's and book. You need nothing else. And, everything is put together so well that there is hardly any preparation work involved. It is truly an easy program to use. We haven't been too far into ¡El Espanol Facil! - The Easy Spanish yet, but we already know that we are going to learn much from it.

Finally, one of the easiest things about this course is the price. El Espanol Facil!, Level I is just $139.95. And, remember, depending on the age and abilities of your student, this curriculum could be used for two or three years. Compared to most other complete language curriculums, $139.95 is even a great price for a one year study. Also, remember, this course can be used with all of your kids at once, or be used later with other kids if you wish. Great Commission Languages also has a Junior Spanish Curriculum if you feel like this book goes a little too quickly for your young ones. They also have a French curriculum that you can buy. Yes, there is also a Level II, available, but, to help cover the cost, Great Commission Languages has an agreement with Wycliffe Bible Translators that if you will donate your Level I curriculum to Wycliffe, you will get a 30% discount for Level II. Just click here or on any one of the links above to find out about this and all of the other "Great Commission Language" programs. Other TOS Crew Members reviewed other things from Great Commission Languages and you can find out what they had to say by clicking here. Happy Homeschooling.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free copy of ¡El Espanol Facil!, Level I in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 1:00 AM CST
Updated: Monday, 5 December 2011 1:14 AM CST
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Sunday, 4 December 2011
The Countdown Is About To Start!

The countdown to the big changeover is about to begin. Get ready!

Okay, I know this is another lame excuse for a post. But, I'm working on a review for a really good product that I will post soon, but after midnight, so it wouldn't count for today's post. Besides, I really am going to start the countdown soon, and I really do want you to get ready! If you haven't been over to visit the new blog yet, here's the address - http://familiesagain.blogspot.com . Come on over and check it out!

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:52 PM CST
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Saturday, 3 December 2011
Here Ye! Here Ye! Get the The Old Schoolhouse 2011 Christmas Edition for Free!
Topic: General

In honor of Christmas and the fantastic fact that The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is going all digital, The Old Schoolhouse (TOS) is allowing anyone and everyone to download their 2011 Christmas Edition for FREE! The 2011 Christmas Edition is full of Christmas recipes, crafts, ideas, and more...and, to top it off, many of the articles were written by folks that I am personally friends of. I feel so special :-)! Anyway, click here for the link! This is really a great magazine filled with 81 pages of great stuff. Download it today!

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Posted by tink38570 at 10:38 PM CST
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