Planning Pack Review

 
I was recently given the chance to review a planning pack created by Steph at The Multi Taskin’ Mom. It is a fun colorful planner geared for kids in grades K-5 to help organize your month. They are written is such a way that they could easily be adapted to both older and younger students. I reviewed the November planning pack which is the first in a series of 12. Each month will be structured in the same way but will include something fun and different depending on the time of year.
 
The November Planning Pack has a Thanksgiving theme and includes…..
 
  • Calendar
  • Agenda
  • Prayer List
  • Birthday List
  • Goal Tracker
  • Letter Templates
  • Blank Recipe Cards
  • And more

You get all of that for the low price of $2.99 but until November first the planning pack will be on sale for just $.99.

So what did we think?

I think that it is a great planning tool for little ones. It is colorful but it also looks great when printed out in black and white.  I like that it includes things I often forget about, like a list of people we want to send letters to and a list for birthdays. I feel it is well worth the money and that it is very affordable since you can use them year after year. Our favorite parts were the blank recipe cards and the “Be a Blessing” page. I can’t wait to see what fun additions the December planning pack has.

 
If you have little ones and are looking for a fun planning tool head on over to The Multi Taskin’ Mom and pick up your copy of the November Planning Pack!
 
****I was given a free copy of the November Planning Pack in exchange for my honest review of the product. A positive review was not guaranteed and all opinions are my own. Your experience may vary.
 

A is for Adapting

I am taking part in blogging through the alphabet hosted by Ben and Me. Each week I will be writing a blog post that will in some way be related to the letter of the week from A to Z.

 

If you would have told me six months ago that I would be living with my grandma Monday through Friday helping to take care of her, I would have never believed it. Our family has went through a lot of unexpected changes in the last few months and that has affected our homeschool. Months before I pulled AJ out of CAVA (California Virtual Academy) I was planning our homeschool year. Picking curriculum, making lists of projects, and planning all the details for our year. I even started reorganizing my bedroom to make it an even better school room.
 
Then things changed. Grandma got sick and now requires someone to be with her 24 hours a day. Instead of doing school in the comfort of our home, we now have to do school at grandma’s house. Boy has that made us have to adapt. At home I have all of our materials, although I brought all of our school books to grandma’s, a lot of the time there are little things that we don’t have. We have needed food color, sugar, brads, cardboard, card stock and other little things that I didn’t think to bring with us. Sometimes we  push a project back a few days until I can get the material where other times we  just use the closest thing we can find. It has been an adjustment but we are making progress.
 
One of the hardest things to adapt to so far has been grandma. Her Alzheimer’s has gotten a lot worse and that makes school difficult some days. So we adapt. Sometimes grandma sits in on school work so that we are able to keep an eye on her. Other days we wake up early and get some school work done before she wakes up. Then there are some days where grandma just doesn’t sleep and we are up for days at a time. On those days we are not able to do school. 
 
I have learned that we just have to go with the flow and keep a positive attitude. There may be some days where no book work is done and we may not always be on track with where I had thought we would be, but she is learning. Learning that you take care of your family and put others first. Learning compassion, patience, and understanding. We may get to the math and the grammar a few days later than I planned but we can work on the weekends and a little in the summer if needed. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. The school work will be here tomorrow, grandma may not.



Math Mammoth Review

When I started looking for our math curriculum this year I had a very hard time choosing one. In the end I had narrowed it down to two choices, the one that I ended up purchasing, and Math Mammoth. So when I was given the opportunity to review Math Mammoth I was very excited.

 There are a lot of different products available from Math Mammoth:

 
 “ Math Mammoth Light Blue Series This is a complete curriculum for elementary grades. It includes two student worktexts (A and B), which contain all the instruction and exercises all in the same book, answer keys, tests, cumulative reviews, and a worksheet maker.
 Math Mammoth Blue Series Blue Series books are worktexts that each concentrate on a few interconnected topics, such as addition, clock, measuring, money, division, multiplication, fractions, decimals, ratios & proportions, geometry, and more. They are not tied to grade levels, and are great for review, reinforcement, filling in gaps, or initial teaching. 
 Math Mammoth Golden Series Best suited for teachers and tutors or parents who can explain math, Golden Series books are worksheet collections for grades 3-8. They work best as review or supplemental material. 
 Math Mammoth Green Series Best suited for teachers and tutors or parents who can explain math, Green Series books are worksheet collections by topics. They work best as review or supplemental material. 
 Make It Real Learning These activity workbooks concentrate on answering the question, “Where is math used in real life?” The exercises or activities in these books are taken from real life, and use real data. The series includes various workbooks for grades 3-12. “
 
We decided to review the light blue series which covers a full year of math. We were given a copy of Math Mammoth 5a, 5b, answer keys, tests, reviews, and a worksheet maker. The Math Mammoth products are very affordable starting as low as $34 for a downloaded version. It is a mastery based program that is common core aligned.
 
 
 
Honestly, despite all of the great reviews I have read, this math curriculum was just not a good fit for our family. I personally do not like when the same math is taught in many different ways. I know that is great for some kids but not for AJ. This course teaches multiplication in parts using partial products and then goes on the teach the algorithm. For division it teaches the algorithm and then teaches division as repeated subtraction. While I agree that understanding the “why” behind math is important, having the same math done in so many different ways was not only frustrating but confusing to my child. It got to the point where she started to dislike math and that is one of her favorite subjects.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Remember although this program didn’t work for us, it may be exactly what you are looking for.
 
There were a lot of things that we liked about the program.
 
Pros
  1. It is affordable.
  2. It is very visual and colorful which would be great for a visual learner.
  3. The instructions and examples are right in the book – great for independent learning.
  4. Plenty of practice problems.
  5. The worksheet maker makes it easy to give extra practice if it is needed in a particular area.
  6. There are numerous online resources included in the book, including links to games and videos to help with math facts and different concepts.
  7. There are a lot of great hints and tips sprinkled throughout the text.
  8. Graph paper style boxes are used for division and multiplication making it easy to keep work neat and organized.
 
I do plan to utilize some of the tips and tricks that are sprinkled throughout the book. Find out what other members of the Mosaic Review team had to say here.
 

 


iTooch 5th Grade Language Arts Review



I was recently asked to review an app called iTooch created by Edupad . I had never heard of it before but decided to look it over. Edupad has apps for grades 3 and up that cover language arts, math and science. The apps are available on iOS, Windows 8, and on Android. We decided to review the 5th grade Language Arts using the app on Windows 8.

The app sells for $4.99 and on Windows 8 it comes with a free trial. (I was not given a free app for this review, I just downloaded the free trial)

5th Grade Language Arts
 
 
The language arts section covers three sections; grammar, verbs, and vocabulary /spelling. I was excited to try out the grammar because right now we do not have a full curriculum for grammar. After playing around with the app for a little while, I have to say that I am impressed. There are a lot of different topics covered.
 

Grammar

  1. Four types of sentences
  2. Subjects and predicates
  3. Punctuation
  4. Conjunctions
  5. Nouns
  6. Common and proper nouns
  7. Singular and plural nouns
  8. Possessive nouns
  9. Adjectives
  10. Articles and demonstratives
  11. Comparison
  12. Possessive pronouns
  13. Contractions with pronouns
  14. Adverbs
  15. Prepositions
  16. “That” and “Which” clauses
  17. “Whose” and “Who’s”

Verbs

  1. Main and helping verbs
  2. Action and linking verbs
  3. Direct and indirect objects
  4. Present tense
  5. Past tense
  6. Future tense
  7. Subject-Verb agreement
  8. Agreement with be and have
  9. Contractions with not
  10. Irregular verbs (1)
  11. Irregular verbs (2)
  12. The right verb

Vocabulary and Spelling

  1. SH, CH or TH?
  2. OW/OU and OY/OI
  3. J and CH sounds
  4. Silent letters
  5. Syllables
  6. Geographic adjectives
  7. Interjections
  8. Abbreviations
  9. Homophones
  10. Word families
  11. Simple/double consonants
  12. I or me? We or us?
  13. Figuratively speaking
  14. Tone or talk
  15. Laser eye
How it works

 
 
Once you select the section you want to work on, you are given questions that go along with the topic. You have the option of reading a short and informative lesson on the topic or starting right on the questions. There is a practice section and a test section. Questions come in may forms such as,  multiple choice, fill in the blank, and highlighting parts of a sentence. I really like the fact that instant feedback is given, with both the correct and incorrect answers. AJ likes that the little guy on the bottom of the screen changes based on the amount of time it takes to answer the questions and if you get the question right or wrong.
 

 
This app provides learning in a fun and exciting format. My little one actually enjoyed working on the app and that says a lot because language arts is her least liked subject. Normally I don’t purchase apps unless they are $.99 or less but I am considering purchasing this one. I feel that it would be a great supplement to our current curriculum. If you are looking for a good quality educational app that is affordable, you should check out the iTooch apps relevant to your child.
 
Check out what other reviewers had to say here.
 
 

Homeschool Programing – Review


When I was in school there was a required class called Computer Lit. Basically it taught you how to use a word processor, make spreadsheets and do power points. That was the only computer education I ever had, everything else was kind of trial and error. I know that in todays world that will not be enough for my little one. When I was given the opportunity to review a program that was designed to teach kids and teens computer programing I was excited. Homeschool Programing is an amazing curriculum written by homeschool parents. The curriculum actually teaches kids (and their parents) how to write their own computer programs, games and websites. There are a variety of courses available.

  • KidCoder Beginning and Advanced Web Design
  • KidCoder Windows and Game Programing
  • TeenCoder Windows and Game Programing
  • TeenCoder Java and Android Programming

    We were given the opportunity to review the KidCoder Beginning Web Design Course.

    The KidCoder Web Design course is for kids in grades 4 to 12. It is a year long course (2 semesters)that teaches in a step by step way, how to use HTML and how to design a web page. The course can be purchased a semester at a time for $70 for the course only, $85 for the course and videos, or $20 for just the videos. As of the writing of this review, the KidCoder advanced web design is not available yet, but it is coming soon. Click here to see sample pages and here to see sample videos.

     
    The course comes with a textbook and a course cd. For this review however, I received everything downloadable on the computer. Along with the course there are solution manuals and help available if you need it. The best part of the program is that you don’t have to be a computer wiz to teach it.
     

    How did we use it?

     
    For each lesson you read the lesson in the textbook (and watch the video) and then do the activity. My little one is in 5th grade now, but she is not a confidant reader so I read through the lessons with her. For a strong reader there probably would be no problem, but my little one found the vocabulary used in the lessons and the amount of reading to be a bit overwhelming. We continued to push through and honestly she showed little interest in the program. When I told her she was going to learn how to make a website she thought that she would just get to pick colors, fonts, and pictures, not actually learn how to write code and learn the wonderful information that was being taught.
     
     I decided to complete a few more lessons on my own. I found the lessons to be very interesting and overall very helpful. At first I was a little overwhelmed by the thought of learning how to write computer code, but I learned a lot of things that I hope will help me to spruce up my blog. When I first downloaded the program the videos were not yet available. Once the videos became available I had AJ watch some of them and she did enjoy them. The videos definitely add a great element to the program and were helpful for a visual learner. If I were to purchase the program in the future I would buy the course and video option.
     

    What did we think? 

     
    Overall I think that the KidCoder Beginning Web Design course is a great course. My little one is just not ready for it yet and that is okay. I think in another year we will try it again. With the ever changing technology in todays world there is a great need to know and understand how computers work and this course will help her to learn a lot. I feel that it is a good, program that is hands on, easy to teach, and very informative. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a way to teach your child more about computer programing.
     
     

    One Day at a Time

    Grandma soaking her feet in the pool

    It is so hard to believe that a little over 2 months ago my grandma was fairly independent. She would walk to her neighbor’s house, take out her trash, and pretty much was able to walk and do most anything. In the last two months she has been in the hospital and a nursing facility, been put on and then taken off of oxygen, and gone from being unable to walk in a wheel chair to walking with little assistance. Each and every day is a new adventure. Here is a little taste of the last few days.

    We went home on Friday evening for some much needed rest. Friday was a bad day. She was feeling better so she didn’t think that she needed her walker, but she did. She didn’t want anyone at her house and was angry all day. She got so mad at the fact that there was a potty chair in her bathroom that she slapped me hard right across the face. I know that it is not her, that it is the Alzheimer’s, but it definitely doesn’t make it any easier.

    After we left for the weekend my aunt stayed with her. On Saturday and Sunday she refused to eat or drink. She only has one kidney so if she isn’t drinking it makes her very sick. She ended up wetting herself and throwing up. After she was cleaned up she ended up wetting the bed. By the time we came back on Sunday evening she was in very bad shape. She was still refusing to eat or drink and was not making sense when she was talking. She was babbling and just staying, “no, no, me oww, no” She wasn’t able to move at all. She looked so helpless. After hours of coaxing we finally got her to open her mouth so we could drop water into it. After a while of doing that it almost seemed as if she snapped out of her delusional state. She recognized me and said how she liked my curly hair.

    The next morning she still couldn’t walk and she had wet the bed again. After she got cleaned up she ate a really good breakfast and had a serene attitude. We ended up putting her in adult diapers and overall the day went well. Then when night hit things changed. She thought we were trying to poison her and wouldn’t eat her dinner until we all ate it first. She thought that some big catastrophe had happened and that we were all sick in a hospital most of all she didn’t like the fact that AJ was with us. Then she wanted to go home. We explained over and over that it was her home, but she insisted that we were not at her house. By bed time she was able to walk to her room with the walker.

    She got up about three different times through the night last night because she thought that someone was knocking at the door. At 8am we found her about to go out her back door to check if someone was in the back yard. All day she has been agitated and very confused. At one point she thought she was in jail. Then she said we had to hide everything in the house so that the neighbors don’t come in and rob us. Right now as I am writing this post she is in bed wanting to know who the dog in her room belongs to and why the cats are chewing on the snakes. (She doesn’t have any animals.)

    Each day when she wakes up it is a surprise as to how her brain is working. Her mobility, attitude, and aggression level vary day by day and sometimes hour by hour. She can be so sick one day and then the next day be okay again. Some days she is so mean and then other times she is nice. It is a big job to stay with her and answer her never ending questions but the few good days make the many bad days a little easier. I do have a feeling that tonight is going to be a long night.

    Pop Tarts are Healthy?

    The other day when we went shopping AJ declared like she does a lot of the time, “I am going to stop eating junk food and eat healthy foods only.” She actually eats fairly healthy and loves fruits and vegetables. She loves candy and sweets though and would eat them all the time if I let her. As we were shopping she handed me this box of Pop Tarts and said, “These are healthy, will you buy them for me?” I laughed so hard. Then I asked her why she thought that a pop tart was healthy. She went on to tell me how it was made of real fruit so that meant it was healthy.


    Indeed the box did say it was baked with Real Fruit. That statement of course was followed by an *. So I took that moment to explain the meaning of the little sign. We then looked all over the box and finally found out that the filling is made with equal to 10 % fruit.

    We then looked at the long list of ingredients which included corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar. Then we looked at the nutrition facts and learned that for just 1 pop tart it was 38g of carbohydrates, 200 calories, and 16g of sugar.

    After reading the box completely I asked her if she still thought the Pop Tarts were healthy. Her response was, “No, but the box made it look like it at first.”

    We went on to talk about how in advertising they put what they think you want to know in big writing and make sure it is visible. Where the information they hope you skim over or that they don’t wish to advertise they put in smaller writing and make you look for it.

    I love those times when life gives us the chance to learn about something that I hadn’t even thought about.

    Ancient History Go Fish Game – Review

    History has never been my strong suite. In school I remember reading out of the book and then having to answer questions. In fact the only year I actually liked history was in seventh grade. I had one of those teachers who brought history to life. That is something that I am trying to do this year with AJ. We play games to learn in math, grammar, spelling, and vocabulary, but I had never thought about using games to learn history. Prior to this review I had never heard about the Classical Historian but they offer quite a few different products including:

    • Online classes
    • Curriculum
    • Go Fish History Games
    • Memory History Games
    • Constitution Game
    • and more

    The Go Fish games come in three different versions, Ancient History, Medieval History, and American History. The memory games come in the same versions. We were given a set of the Ancient History Go Fish Game. It retails for $11.95 and right now they have a deal if you  purchase all 6 history games it is only $59.99.

    The Ancient History Go Fish Game comes with 48 jumbo cards featuring different topics.

    • Ancient Asia
    • Roman Empire
    • Mesopotamia
    • Political Leaders
    • Seven Continents
    • Rivers of Early Civilizations
    • Native American Homes
    • Ancient Hebrews
    • Roman Republic
    • Pre History
    • Ancient Greece
    • Ancient Egypt

    Each topic has four cards and a different color. There are four different games you can play with the cards. AJ has never learned about Ancient History before so I was a little skeptical of how she would react to the game. She loves it and asks to play every day.

    We started by playing Go Fish. It is Just like the regular version except you have to ask for the category instead of the number. (Do you have any Pre History?) The goal is to collect all four cards in a category. While we had fun with the game I didn’t see too much learning. Each card has a picture, the word and three hints about the word on it. The issue I saw with that was that the hints didn’t really explain much about the topic.

    Take this card for example. If you had studied Ancient History before then you might know what the Celtic Village is, but if you had not then the hints would not explain it. The only thing that you would know is that it is made of stone, it is in Europe, and it has many families. On the other hand the lack of information in the hints could lead to further discussions and learning. Some of the cards are more helpful with the hints, such as Cave Paintings.

    The next game we played was Collect the Cards. Basically one person reads the hints on the cards and the other player tries to guess what the card was. We only played this game a few times. The second time that we played AJ was getting almost every card right, then I discovered that she could see through the cards. I think with the Go Fish game and this one, if you had previously studied the period in history it would definitely be a learning tool.

    Then we tried the Continents Game. In that game the player that can put the cards under the right continent the fastest wins. We took a different approach. We went through the cards and tried to figure out with her prior knowledge where each card went. She knew that Egypt was in Africa so then she knew that the Nile River would go in the Africa pile. I think by far this was the most educational game. She had to use critical thinking skills and really think.

    The last game was the Chronology Game where you have to put the events in the order as they happened. We couldn’t do that so instead we used the answer key and learned the order that things happened.

    Over all I think the game is worth it for $11.95. I would have liked to see a category card for each category (like the instruction cards) that gave a little more information about the cards, that way even if you hadn’t studied the era in history you could still play and learn. If you are planning to study the era in history it will add a bit of fun to your studying. We will not get to Ancient History for a while but when we do I think these cards will be used a lot.

    My Home School Grades – Review

    I am still fairly new to home schooling, and very new to having to keep track of all the work my little one completes. Even though the state I live in doesn’t require records to be kept, I think it is important to have some kind of a record of all the hard work we do. AJ is in fourth grade so although the need to make a transcript is quite a few years off, it is something I will need in the future.

    I was given the opportunity to review My Home School Grades. It is an online program that lets you keep track of your home school in one place. You can keep track of grades, extra curricular activities and even create a transcript. It is very simple to use and has four different videos that explain how to do everything.


    The set up is very simple. You impute basic information and create your student. You can even upload a picture of them. Then you add a class for the student. Here you are given numerous options. You can select the school year, if the class was an entire year or semester, and if the class was an honors course.

     
     

    The next step is to decide how to grade the class. There are many options here as well. You can select to just enter a grade for the class, make the class a pass or fail class, or enter in each lesson and have the system calculate the grade for you. If you use a well known program to home school with such as: Math U See, or  Apologia,  you are even able to import the lessons so that all you have to do is enter the grades. There is also the option to ask for a curriculum to be added to the list. Right now I don’t use a program that is listed we are doing a lot of work books, and next year we will be doing a unit study. I was able to put in my own lessons. It did take a little bit of time, but I entered each lesson into the system and now when AJ finishes an assignment I can enter in her grade. Even entering a grade has options. You can type in the grade (A, B, C), a numerical score (100, 95, 87) or the fraction they got correct (8/10, 51/60). No matter how you enter it the system will change it to your default setting for the class. Once you are ready you can also print out a very professional looking transcript.

    Once you have the system set to your liking entering grades is quick and simple. You can create a different student for each of your children and have all your information in one place. There is also a screen to enter all of the extra curricular activities that your child participated in that year.

    My Home School Grades is still being improved. One major improvement that is being worked on is a place to record attendance. I can’t wait for that to be finished.

    You can access My Home School Grades from almost any device that connects to the internet, so not only is the program simple it is also portable.

    You can get a lifetime subscription for My Home School Grades for only $49.99. That price includes all future updates to the program as well. I think that $49.99 for a complete record of your home school is a very reasonable price, but they are giving a FREE 14 day trial so that you can check it out for yourself and see if it is something that will work for your family.

    I really like this product. I love the fact that all of my grading records can be kept in a safe place. One thing that I really liked was that you can enter information from prior years. We started home schooling mid year so it was nice to be able to input the grades that she received from the other school. I also liked that there were so many different options because no two home schooling families are the same. I would definitely recommend this program.

    Spanish for You! – Review

     

    Living in California, there is a great need to be fluent in Spanish. Spanish is everywhere and my little one has picked up a lot of words and phrases, but she needs more. For the last two years she was taking a Spanish course at school and while it was great for vocabulary, that was about all that it taught. Now that we are traditionally home schooling I have been searching for a good Spanish program that teaches more than just vocabulary. I wanted a program that was not all on the computer and one that taught conjugating verbs. I found a few programs that fit my specifics, but they had very high price tags. Then I was given the opportunity to review Spanish for You.  It seemed to meet all of my needs so I was very excited to try it.

    Spanish for You is a Spanish program designed for kids in grades 3 – 8. It comes with a soft cover book, downloadable worksheets, downloadable flash card pictures, lesson guides, and MP3 downloads that have the author reading the pages in the book and a native Spanish speaker reading as well. It also includes downloadable self checking worksheets.

    There are three different themed books; Fiestas (celebrations), Estaciones (seasons), and Viajes (travel). At the time of this review Viajes is not quite finished and will be available soon. The books can be used in any order as they are not leveled. The interesting part of this program is that the same book can be used for your child in third grade and your child in eighth grade. There are lesson guides to use for grades 3/4, 5/6, and 7/8. While your students in different grades will be learning the same things, there are worksheets available that will be at each ones grade level. I only have one child and we used the 3/4 lesson guides but I did look at the higher level worksheets and they looked grade level appropriate.

    I was given Estaciones to review. It contains 5 lessons; The Calendar and Weather, Fall and School, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Each lesson covers new vocabulary, verbs and how to conjugate them, and grammar. Each lesson takes about four to six weeks to complete depending on the child and the pace you take. The lessons are short and to the point following a four day a week schedule.




    I have to say that I really like this program and so does my nine year old. She actually asks to do Spanish now. I like the fact that while there are some worksheets to complete there is not an abundance of writing. A lot of the work has to do with memorizing the vocabulary and there are quite a few fun games suggested in the book to practice the vocabulary. I think my favorite part of the program is that they are learning the Spanish language not just select vocabulary. On the second week they are already learning how and why to conjugate verbs.


      My little one is learning things that I didn’t learn until high school Spanish, but the learning is being done in a way that is easy for me to teach and for her to learn. Each page in the book is read by the author as well as by a native Spanish speaker so that there is no confusion on pronunciation. I liked having the opportunity to listen to both recordings of the book because I felt that it gave a solid understanding of the pronunciation of words.

    There is not much prep time needed to use the program. Each week I printed the lesson guide, printed any worksheets that needed to be printed and found which audio files we would need. I would say it took less than ten minutes to prep for the week and I found the program self explanatory and easy to use.



    The program has a few different pricing options shown here. The entire program for a single grade level (3/4, 5/6, or 7/8) is only $39.95 while the entire program with all grade level lesson guides is only $64.95. I feel this product is definitely worth the price. It is a solid Spanish curriculum that I think most anyone would benefit from. I feel it would also be great for those older than eighth grade who were looking for a way to learn Spanish that wouldn’t break the bank.

    There was only one small thing that I wish was different when it came to this Spanish program. I wish that there was an option to purchase the audio downloads on a CD and the workbook pages in a workbook so that they didn’t have to be printed. I understand that it would cause the price to increase, but I personally prefer to buy real books and not print page by page. There was not a lot to print, but if that option was available I would definitely choose it when I purchase our next set.

    This program has been great and we will continue to use it next year when we start school again in the fall. I feel that this review came at the perfect time as I no longer need to search for the perfect Spanish program, for us this is it.