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Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Forget Black Friday - The Old Schoolhouse is Having a Fantastic Online Sale!
Mood:  happy
Topic: Affiliates

I'm going to be very honest with you. I don't promote things on my blog unless I really like them. If I don't think they are worthwhile, I won't even bother with them. If you'll notice, I promote The Old Schoolhouse a lot. It's not because I kind of work for them on the TOS Homeschool Crew, I really do like them. They put out great products and are a wonderful company.

TOS is having a fantastic "Black Friday" sale. As an affiliate of The Old Schoolhouse, I get special emails from them announcing promotions. Here's a little bit of the email that I got regarding this special sale:

"The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is extending an extraordinary subscription offer to homeschool families. U.S. and Canadian residents can receive a one-year print subscription and a FREE Homeschooling with Heat tote bag, FREE Schoolhouse Planner of your choice, and FREE E-Book: Cranberry Christmas for just $19.95. One-year subscriptions start with the winter issue. It makes a perfect gift for yourself and a friend. There are a limited number of tote bags available from November 24 through midnight on November 29-once they're gone, they're gone! Hurry and grab this tremendous value today! It's over $80 in free gifts--one of them the gorgeous Cranberries & Cream tote bag."

Trust me. The Old Schoolhouse magazine is a fantastic magazine and, as I've already said, their products are well worth it. While your shopping at The Old Schoolhouse Store, check out the new "Curiosity Files" unit studies. They are fantastic, and I have just a small teeny weeny part in their development (believe me it's small, but I did have a part Laughing). To get to the great sale, just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Have fun shopping!

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Posted by tink38570 at 9:22 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, 24 November 2010 9:37 PM CST
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Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Bright Ideas Press - Once Again We Are Blessed
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review

I have written before about John Allen's history curriculum this year. Previously we have used a great curriculum that used "living books" - great historically accurate novels - as it's base and a well written guide that filled in any gaps, provided activities and asked great historical questions. Well, this year, I just didn't want go through trying to find all of the books that JA would be required to read, and there are always a lot. Also, his old curriculum was so intense that it usually took us about a year and a half to complete one year of curriculum. Well, that's ok in the younger grades, but when you are in 8th grade, and you have to cover World History in one year, that type of curriculum just doesn't work.

So, I decided to try to put together my own curriculum this year. I have researched what books others suggest (we're still using good historical novels) and I have pulled a lot of free unit studies off of the internet, and have bought a few resources as well. It worked out fairly well, but I still wasn't satisfied. Until, one day I found out that I would be reviewing Bright Ideas Press once again this year as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. Last year we reviewed a great history/geography resource book that I used extensively with Joshua. This year we were given a few choices to choose from. After much prayer and deliberation, I finally decided to choose three of their historical novel study guides and I'm glad I did.

Bright Ideas Press has a great history program called Illuminations where they, just as our former curriculum does, use "living books" as their base. These guides are studies that are part of their Illuminations curriculum. Once I decided upon that choice, another deliberation arose - which three should I order. There were so many choices, but I ended up choosing:

1. The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare Family Study Guide by Laura Reisinger

2. Ancient Greece and the Olympics by Mary Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce Family Study Guide by Maggie Hogan

3. The Jeweled Astrolabe by Jennifer Johnson Garrity Family Study Guide by Maggie Hogan


Now, let me tell you, two of these study guides are three week long studies and the other is a one week guide and we have just about six weeks to review something. I needed to order the books so that put me a week behind right there. So, there was no way that we were going to get them all done in the alloted time. So, since John Allen picked up The Bronze Bow to read right away, that's the unit study I decided to go with first. Having said that, though, I have looked over each one and can tell you that these are very well done studies.

Each study begins with a brief overview of the book to be read. I like that because it gives the student an idea of where they are going without giving away any surprises. After the introduction, the study is divided into days and you are told what to read and do each day. Nothing is left to chance. No wondering when or if you are to do something. You are given the pages to read, vocabulary words to discuss, and then activities to accomplish. These activities usually include geography/map skill exercises and discussion questions and often include a language arts activity or hands on project. I really liked the hands on projects because that is what Joshua really excels in, so I can file these studies away and use them with him in a few years.

If you have children of various ages studying the same thing, no problem. They also have activities for older students that are more advanced than the younger students. Therefore, you can work with a vast age range of students on the same novel at the same time.

I am really pleased with these studies and am so glad that I chose them. Once again we have been blessed. God knew exactly what we needed and when we needed it. These downloadable "Literature - Family Study Guides" are $14 each and are well worth it. The three that I received to review averaged 30 pages each and everything but the book is included. Answer keys, maps, questions, handouts, etc. were all well done and ready to print out. There are dozens of titles to choose from that include all reading levels. To find out more about these study guides and the rest of the great materials that Bright Ideas Press has to offer you can click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Many of the other products were reviewed by other TOS Homeschool Crew members 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, free of charge, three Literature - Family Study Guides by Bright Ideas Press to download, try out and give an honest review on my blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 8:52 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 23 November 2010 9:55 PM CST
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Sunday, 21 November 2010
My Relative - Ben Franklin!
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: Homeschool Product Review

Yep, it's true! I heard from my cousin a couple of months ago. She's really big into genealogy and stuff like that. I dabble in trying to follow my family tree, but that's about the extent of it, but Brenda is really into it. Well, she announced that somehow we are related to Ben Franklin. I don't know how yet. I need to write to her and ask if she could send a copy of her research to me, but, sure enough, that's what she says and I believe her.

So, because of that, I jumped at the chance to review Download-N-Go's new Ben Franklin unit study and learn more about our new cousin. And boy did we learn. Joshua, of course, loves Amanda Bennett's Download-N-Go (DNG) studies, and this one was no exception. This was, though, the first real "history" unit study from DNG that we had done. The others were either science, or just plain fun studies. Now, those have a little of history in them, but this one was all history and we really enjoyed it.

This week long unit study covers everything you can think of about Ben Franklin. His childhood, what lead to his career choices, his home life, his political life, his inventions...I'm telling you it covers everything! But, as usual, Amanda Bennett has managed to make everything go together seamlessly and you don't even realize how much you are learning through the great Youtube clips, websites, worksheets and puzzles that she has you doing each day. This Ben Franklin unit study is a classic example of why I love Amanda Bennett's Download-N-Go series of studies.


Here are just some of the things that you will learn during this five day study:

  • Day 1: Who Was Ben Franklin?
  • Day 2: People and Places in Ben Franklin's Life
  • Day 3: The Accomplishments of Ben Franklin
  • Day 4: Lessons to Learn From Ben Franklin
  • Day 5: Remembering Ben Franklin

Each day is packed full of activities that cover every subject. You could literally use this study, as well as any of the Download-N-Go unit studies as a stand alone curriculum for you k-4th grader and not use anything else if you wanted. At least for the younger grades.

And this study includes the Book Suggestions section with books that fit all reading levels, the lapbook section, and the Fun Family Ideas section at the end.

Now, here's the best part. Usually the Download-N-Go studies are $7.95, but, for a limited time only, Ben Franklin is only $6.25! To purchase this study or to learn more about it, click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. To find out more about this great line of Amanda Bennett studies, click here. And, last but not least, to find out what the other great Download-N-Go reviewers thought about this study, click here. Happy Home Educating.

As a member of The Old Schoolhouse's Download-N-Go review team I was given a free copy of Ben Franklin in order to try out and review on my blog.


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Posted by tink38570 at 9:12 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, 21 November 2010 9:46 PM CST
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Friday, 19 November 2010
What is one thing I'm Thankful for this Thanksgiving? The KBTeachers Website!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review

I get aggravated during the Holiday season. It has become so commercialized. Everyone is out to make a buck and take advantage of the season. All messages have to be "politically correct". It seems like the true meaning of the holidays has been lost and therefore no one really celebrates these special days the way that they are supposed to be celebrated.

Perhaps this post is kind of like that. By the title, you would think that I'm trying to push a product on you and am taking advantage of the Thanksgiving theme. Maybe I am a little, but I am also going to be truthful in this post. I really am thankful for this website.

When I think of "Thankfulness", I think of big things and little things. I think of family and health and provisions, but I also try to be thankful for little things as well. This would probably fall in to that category.

So, why am I thankful for KBTeachers?

I'm thankful that this great website has a lot of things that I need for my oldest child John  Allen. We are studying World History this year and I didn't have the money to buy a whole curriculum and so I'm having to find materials on my own. One of the first things that I noticed on this fantastic resource was the social studies section. I was thankful as soon as I clicked on the topic and saw all that was included. It has everything that I need to plan out my year in one place. There are items that cover every time period and they are in John Allen's grade range! Now, granted, it's not a complete curriculum, but it makes my life a lot easier.

I'm also thankful for the great pre-school worksheets that I found for Jacob. Jacob can't write his letters or numbers yet, but I found some great activities that he will really enjoy. He'll love learning how to count the airplanes, boats and cars on the worksheets that I printed out for him. These worksheets are really neat because you just click a button and the website will generate a new worksheet with different numbers. Maybe next time I'll have him count farm animals, or maybe fruits, or perhaps...you can choose almost anything to make these great worksheets.  I know! I'll use one of the holiday themed ones (see sample above). Later, when he is ready to learn to print, they have a great alphabet worksheet maker that I can customize using four different fonts and specialize depending on his level and abilities. And, even later, they have math worksheets for any math concept that I can print out.

I am thankful that I found some great craft ideas for Joshua on KBTeachers. He is a very hands on learner and these will be great. And they have crafts for all ages, so I can keep using them through the years! I'm thankful for the telling time activities that I can print out. I'm planning on making a file folder game with some of them. I'll laminate the blank clocks (see above). Then I can use a dry erase marker to write what time I want him to display on the clock. At first they'll be easy "on the hour" times, then I'll move on until I can put "to the minute" times. Thank you KBTeachers! They also have a maze generator and Joshua loves mazes! Again, you can specialize the maze with pictures of almost anything.

Wow! I just noticed the holiday invitations that you can specialize to your own needs and then print. And look at the stickers that you can print out ~ they would be great to send to my Compassion International kids. Oh, and I've got to check out the science and biology section a little more to see what they have. I've been thinking about doing a little more grammar with Joshua...I need to look again at that section. And...oh my...I never noticed that before...I'd better stop before I bust!

Yes, I know that I used the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday as a theme for this review, but I really am thankful for KBTeachers. I am so glad that I got to review this website. It has a lot of free materials that anyone can use. Some of the things that I mentioned above were free, but the premium area is fantastic and is only $29 for a year or $49 for two years! There are literally thousands and thousands of worksheets and other things that you can generate from this great site. Don't take my word for it though. KBTeachers allows you to try out their site for 30 days before you join and then, after you join, you have 30 days to cancel for a full refund. You can click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above to get to KBTeachers site. And, of course, you can click here to see what the other TOS Homeschool Crew reviewers had to say about KBTeachers. Now, this site is also great for non-homeschoolers that might just want some extra help for their kids so instead of saying "Happy Homeschooling" I'll close by saying "Happy Home Educating".

One small caveat that I feel that I must mention is that KBTeachers is a secular site. Although this doesn't affect 95% of their material, you will find some evolution in there science section. Still, all in all, I feel that this site is well worth it.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a free membership to KBTeachers in order to try out and review on my blog.


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Posted by tink38570 at 7:50 PM CST
Updated: Friday, 19 November 2010 9:38 PM CST
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Thursday, 18 November 2010
Finally The Big Bathroom Bowl Giveaway!
Mood:  celebratory
Topic: Giveaways!

I know! I know! I was supposed to have this posted yesterday, but...I did just write about taking some time off, and, since I am just getting over a cold, I decided that yesterday should be one of those days.

I remember Thanksgivings when I was younger. We would always go to Grandpa Tinkel's house in Indiana where all of the Tinkel family would meet for the holiday. We would have an early Thanksgiving meal with my mom's side of the family and Mom would make leftover turkey sandwiches to eat on the 10 hour drive from Pennsylvania to Indiana. I have sweet memories of sitting in the backseat eating those delicious sandwiches, smelling Dad's black coffee and watching the site's whiz by.

That always marked the beginning of the holidays - Christmas shopping, baking, decorating, and, of course, the college football bowl games. We loved football at our house. No, love is not a strong enough word. We were passionate about football at our house. We had our favorite teams. Penn State was at the top, of course, but also Notre Dame, since Dad was from Indiana. Many a happy time resulted from a win, and many yells at the T.V. came when our teams were losing.

Yells at the T.V. were the extent of the physical action that emitted from the Tinkels, however. We were mostly couch potatoes when it came to football. Oh, I played football with my friends, and was on a grade school flag football team for two games... before the coach quit. But that's a story for another time. Anyway, anything beyond that was non-existent when it came to actually playing football when I was younger.

Joshua being teased by Tennessee Tech's eagle mascot.

Now days, of course, it's a lot different. Both John Allen and Joshua have played Upwards flag football and loved it. John Allen aged out two seasons ago, but Joshua is still playing and Jacob is even talking about playing next year. And, of course, we still watch a lot of football on T.V. The Fighting Irish and Nittany Lions are still at the top of my list, but, the University of Tennessee Volunteers are now right up there with them.

Joshua is probably our biggest football fan. He lives and breaths football. He plays flag football. He plays football on his Play Station. He watches football on T.V.. He practices in the yard and makes up his own plays. He has even made his own referee flags and knows all of the referee hand signals. Just this evening he was all dressed up in his football garb complete with helmet, jersey and wrist band with all of his plays written on it.

Joshua's enthusiasm for football was what led me to sign up for this great giveaway. It's called the...

Yep, you are reading right! It's actually the Clorox Toilet Bowl contest and giveaway!

First the contest. How many of you have been unlike the Tinkel clan and had your own Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day or even maybe New Year's Day family football game? How many of you would like to start that tradition? Well, Clorox is having a great contest this year that will help you do just that. Two lucky families are going to be chosen to take nine people (yes I said nine!) on a three day, two night vacation to New Orleans! That's not all, though. While in Louisiana, they will have the opportunity to play in a family flag football game with non-other than former NFL quarterback and now ESPN analyst, Jesse Palmer, to be your team's quarterback for the game! I'm planning on entering myself. Can you imagine Joshua's face if we win?

It's real easy to enter, but it involves a little more than just entering your name. You have to do things like describe your family football tradition in 100 words or less, upload a photo of your family, pick a mascot and colors and stuff like that. After you enter all of the information, Clorox will pick eight semi-finalists to be voted on by the public. Then, the two finalists will be announced and you're on your way to New Orleans for a show down at the "Clorox Toilet Bowl" to be held on January 13, 2011! Wouldn't it be cool if someone that entered because of reading this blog won? Please let me know if any you entered. All of the official information can be found by clicking here - http://www.facebook.com/odetothecommode .

Okay, now for the giveaway! In honor of this years "Clorox Toilet Bowl", I'm giving away a Clorox Toilet Wand - you know, one of those cool toilet bowl cleaning wands with the disposable cleaning head - and an official branded "Clorox Toilet Bowl" football! So, even if you can't go to the big game on January 13, you can still use the football to have a big game of your own, and use the wand to have a clean bathroom for the halftime restroom traffic. Below is a list of ways to enter my giveaway. I'm going to draw the winner on Dec. 1, so you have almost two weeks to enter. May the best team...err...I mean person win!

1. Check out the "Clorox Toilet Bowl" website and tell me why you would like to win my giveaway or the big contest if you decide to enter it - don't worry, it doesn't have to be 100 words long! Wink(worth one entry).

2. Subscribe to my blog by clicking on the subscribe button at the end of this post and then leave a comment saying that you did (worth one entry).

3. Subscribe to my blog by clicking on the Networked blog button or the Google friend requests in the left column and then leave a comment saying that you did (worth two total entries - one entry for each).

4. Become a fan on my Families Again Facebook page by clicking here and then leave a comment saying that you did (worth one entry).

5. Follow me in Twitter by clicking here and then leave a comment saying that you did (worth one entry).

6. Twitter about this give-away and leave a comment with a link to the post(s) (worth one entry per day. Must make a separate comment each day).

7. Blog about this give-away and leave three comments with a link to the post (worth 3 entries).

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Clorox and received a gift code, toilet wand and football to thank me for taking the time to participate.  

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Posted by tink38570 at 10:08 PM CST
Updated: Thursday, 18 November 2010 11:20 PM CST
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