Wednesday, December 15, 2010

TOS Review: Wits & Wagers Family

By: North Star Games
Price: $19.99

What is it?
Wits & Wagers Family is a trivia game the whole family can play together, either individually, or as teams.  It is recommended for ages 8 and up. 

Game contents: 
Wits & Wagers Family consists of 1 scoreboard, 6 small dry eraser boards (answer boards), 6 small black dry erase markers, 10 Meeples; 5 large and 5 small, and 150 trivia cards (300 trivia questions in all).

How do you play?
To play you’ll need 2-5 players, or up to 10 if you’re playing in teams. The game recommends having at least 3 players; however, we have played multiple times with only 2.  Each player/team receives an answer board, a dry erase marker, and 2 meeples (one large and one small) all of the same color.

Be sure to choose a scorekeeper to keep score throughout the game. The youngest player goes first by reading a question aloud. Once a question is read, each player, including the player who read the question, writes down their best educated guess on their answer board. Be sure to keep your answers hidden from the other players. Don’t worry if you have no idea what the answer is, you don’t have to have the correct answer; you just have to have the closest answer. All questions have a numerical answer. Example questions are: On average, what percentage of the human body is water? How many peanut M&M’s are in a pound? In what year did Paul Revere make his midnight ride to warn people that the British are coming? The answers are on the back of each card, along with some additional fun facts.
When everyone has written their answers, all boards are placed face up in the center of the table. The boards are to be sorted in a row from smallest to largest. Using their meeples, everyone then makes a wager on who they think has the closest answer without going over. Players can wager on their own answer if they choose. There is a board with a “1” on it that players can place their meeples if they feel all the answers are too high.
There are three ways to score points.
1 point is given for writing the winning guess (sometimes more than 1 player will get this point).
1 point is given for placing a small meeple on the winning guess.
2 points are given for placing a large meeple on the winning guess.
After each round is complete and points are noted, players take back their answer boards and meeples, and the player/team to the left reads a question from the next trivia card.
Which ever player/team accumulates 15 points first wins the game!!

My thoughts:
My family LOVES Wits & Wagers Family!  My daughters were egger to play the game from the moment I opened the package.  It has provided many hours of great family fun and I know it will continue to provide many more.  My daughters enjoy playing so much that they have asked to take it with them to many different places so they can play with their friends, too.
Wits & Wagers Family can be found at, Target, or at your locally owned toy and game stores.  Don't miss out on all the fun!  Go now and purchase Wits & Wagers Family for your family or someone else.  Be sure to check out what other games North Star Games has to offers.   

Be sure to check out what my fellow TOS Crew Members have to say.

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received Wits & Wagers Family from North Star Games in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 13, 2010


What is it?
Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn't know in a course. ALEKS offers truly individualized instruction that meets the student at her learning level and instructs her on the exact topics that she is most ready to learn. As a result, no two students will experience the same learning path while working in ALEKS. Learn more by watching a quick 2-minute video. 

ALEKS is a Research-Based Online Math Program:
  • Complete Curriculum Solution for Math with Access to Full Course Library
  • No Textbook Required
  • Artificial Intelligence Targets Gaps in Student Knowledge
  • Assessment and Individualized Learning for Grades 3-12
  • Master Account - Monitor and Direct Learning Progress
  • Unlimited Online Access - PC & Mac Compatible
  • QuickTables - Complimentary Math Fact Mastery Program for Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction

How does it work?
Once you have created an account for your student(s), as well as a master account for yourself, you choose which course each student will take. There is a LONG list of options ranging from K-12 (which is 3rd grade -12th grade), as well as several specialized courses (AP, Chemistry, etc,) and Higher Education course (Math, Business, Behavioral Science, and Science). If you're not sure which course to choose, ALEKS has course recommendations based by Grade. If you feel the chosen course is too hard or easy for your student, ALEKS does allow you to switch at anytime.

The student then completes an assessment test to see what they already know and what they still need to learn based on grade/course. Their "My Pie" will fill in based on the results of the assessment. ALEKS recommends moving your student to a higher course level if his/her pie is more than 85 percent full, or to a lower course level if it is less than 15 percent completed.

Below is an example of what the "My Pie" looks like. The darkened portion of each slice represents the topics the student has mastered and the lighter portion represents what he/she has yet to learn.


When the curser is held over a portion of the pie, a small window appears with available work options. This allows to student to decide what they want to working on.  When he/she comes across a problem they do not understand, they can click on the “Explain” button which will given them a written explanation of how to complete the problem.  Once they have mastered the concept, it is added in the shaded part of the pie and new material is available for the student to work on.  

Here is an example of what an explanation may look like. 

The QuickTables and interactive games were a real hit with my youngest daughter.  QuickTables is a math fact mastery program for addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication.  There are also printable worksheets available.  The interactive games and worksheets provide additional review.  The answer keys are emailed to the parent/teacher via our inbox within the master account.

Master Account:
The master account provides a great deal of information to the parent/teacher. It allows us the ability to:
• Manage each student’s account
• View progress reports
• View attendance report – giving us the ability to track the time spent working.
• View Pie Chart
• Create customized quizzes for each student
• Edit and view QuickTables
• Edit Student’s Account


What do I like about it?
My daughters worked on the ALEKS program on average 1-2 hours a day, 3 days a week. I really enjoyed seeing how far they have come in only one month. They both really enjoyed ALEKS.  I was a little concerned about whether my youngest would struggle with the program, as she has a few learning disabilities, but I was very pleased by how much she learned and the amount of fun she had working with ALEKS. 
I also really enjoyed the program. It is a complete curriculum, so there’s no need to supplement with another math program. My daughters were able to work independently, so while one worked on ALEKS, I was able to work one-on-one with my daughter.

What did I not like about it?
I would have to say the only thing I disliked about ALEKS is the cost.  The math program we are currently working through is working well for us and with two students I feel the cost is more than we would like at this time.  If cost is not a concern for you, then Aleks may be a great math program for your student(s).  I’m not saying we will never subscribe to ALEKS, but just not at this time.

Additional Information:
  • Many topics are available in both English and Spanish.
  • There are NO multiple-choice questions. Students must work out the problems and type in their answers.
  • Whether your student has been on vacation or experienced computer difficulties, the program will automatically return to the place he/she was last working.

A subscription to ALEKS is
  • $19.95 per student, per month, or
  • $99.95 every 6 months, or
  • $179.95 every 12 months
If you are registering more than one student, a family discount program is available.  ALEKS also offers a free one month trial upon request.  Click below to find out more information. 

Visit ALEKS for 1-Month Trial

Be sure to check out what my fellow TOS Crew Members have to say.

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received a one month subscription to ALEKS for free in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 22, 2010

TOS Review: Christian Kids Explore Chemistry

By: Bright Ideas Press
Number of lessons: 30
Number of Pages: 384 pages
Price: $34.95

What is it?
Christian Kids Explore Chemistry is an exciting and fun science curriculum created for grades 4–8.  There are 5 units, broken down into 30 lessons.  Within this book you will find, * fun hands-on activities, * unit reviews, * chemistry terms, notations, and rules, * coloring pages, * a supplemental book list, * and more. 

Here is a glimpse of what you can find in each unit.
Unit 1: Introduction to Chemistry, Chemistry Tools, Matter, Elements, Mixtures and Compounds

Unit 2: Atoms, Atomic Number, Atomic Mass, Periodic Table, Molecules

Unit 3: Chemical Bonds, More Chemical Bonds, Formulas, Naming Compounds, Reactions, Acids, Bases, Salts

Unit 4: Solids and Liquids, Gases, Gas Laws, State Change, Solutions

Unit 5: Hydrocarbons, Alkanes, Alkenes, Alkynes, AlcOHols, Esters, Biochemistry

What did I like about it?
I love that each lesson is short and easy to understand.  We are having a lot of fun completing the experiments.  Both my daughters enjoy the coloring pictures as well.  When I told my oldest daughter we would be reviewing a chemistry book, she was a little frightened.  But, once she was able to see what the curriculum was all about, she got excited to dive in and get started.

What I did NOT like about it?
Generally in my reviews I would talk about the things I did not like about a curriculum.  I can honestly say there isn't anything I dislike about Christian Kids Explore Chemistry.

Would I buy it?

ABSOLUTELY!  We really enjoyed this Science curriculum! I hope you will, too

If you would like to purchase Christian Kids Explore Chemistry for your classroom, click HERE.
If you have multiple children you may want to purchase the Activity Book.  By doing so, you will eliminate the hassles of trying to photocopy pages from the book.  Bright Ideas Press has taken all the reproducible pages and turned them into a printable digital download.  This allows you to print as many copies of the Review-its, Wrap-ups, Coloring pages, Activity and Experiment forms, as you need.  The Activity Book is available to only $12.95

Be sure to check out what my fellow TOS Crew Members have to say.

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received Christian Kids Explore Chemistry from Bright Ideas Press in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, November 19, 2010

TOS Review:

KB Teachers
$29 for 12 months or $49 for two years
Format: Online website

What is it?
KBTeachers is a one-click online website for printable worksheets and activities all ages, created for teacher, parents, and students. 

Description from site:
"KBTeachers brings the best the web can deliver to you and your students -- It is the one-stop destination for teachers and parents who are always on the lookout for new and engaging 21st century teaching tools and materials."

Why opt for a PREMIUM subscription?
There are many benefits to purchasing the premium membership.
* No watermarks
* No annoying ads taking up the webpage 
* Large selections of educational resources - from ABC fun to 12th grade Social Studies.
* Answer Keys
* Activities online or off - At home, at school or in study hall
* FREE Support 24/7
* Updated weekly
* Instant access - nothing to download, 
* Decorate your Blogs, websites, etc with fun clipart and graphics
* and MORE.

What did I like about it:
I love that I can go to one website and find almost anything I'm in need of for my daughters.  If I'm unable to find what I'm looking for, I can contact KBTeachers and request it.  If they don't have it available, they will create it. 

What I did NOT like about it:
I did not like that there wasn't a search option.  I feel it is much easier to search for something on a site when there's a search box to assist me in my hunt.  KBTeachers purposely left the search box function off their site.  In the FAQ's it says, "Is there a search feature? No. We believe that on a well designed website you should easily find your way around and find what you need in 3 clicks or less. Gone are the days of searching endlessly! KBTeachers saves you time and money. In the event that you do not find what you are looking for, please contact us and we will get back to you within 24 to 48 hours."

Would I purchase a subscription?
I have mixed feelings about whether I would or not, but I'm leaning towards yes.  $29.00 for a one year subscription is fairly inexpensive and it would eliminate the stress of searching the internet for activites, worksheets, and such, I'm in need of.  If the subscription cost was less, I would definitely say yes.   

If you would like to purchase a subscription with KBTeachers for your home or classroom, click HERE.

Check out what my fellow TOS Crew Members have to say about

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received a 2 year subscription to in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TOS Review - The Write Foundation

The Write Foundation  
Number of lessons: 30

What is it? The Write Foundation is a writing curriculum for homeschool students (in-home or co-op) designed as a "grab-it-and-go" curriculum.  It is available in three different levels in-order to teach mastery.

Level 1: Sentence to Paragraph Writing Suggested Ages: 11-13 
Level 2: Paragraph Writing (Suggested Ages: 12-15)
Level 3: 
Essay Writing (Suggested Ages: 14-17) I choose Paragraph Writing (level 2) for my review.

Description from site:
Many writing curricula focus on the different types of writing, such as creative writing, story writing, poetry writing, persuasive writing, argumentative writing, informative writing, descriptive writing, book writing, fiction writing, novel writing, but the basic foundation of writing is assumed. The Write Foundation begins with the writing process, how a student formulates a topic, then a thesis, then supporting points, and by incremental teaching drills in the basics. In most grammatical subjects, we have found that failure is almost totally because the basics have not been learned.
The Write Foundation writing curriculum is a result of 8 years of successfully teaching homeschooled students in a one-day-per-week co-op setting. It has been adapted for a homeschool and used by numerous homeschooling parents to give their own children the tools of how to quickly organize and write an essay with excellence.

What did I like about it:
I like that this curriculum is designed to teach writing piece by piece.  In level two, the students begin with learning how to create block outlines, and in the end they will have learned how to construct proper 5 paragraph essays.  The students learn how to - * take brief notes, * write proper sentences using good quality adjectives, adverbs, and descriptive verbs, * write detailed paragraphs with good introductory, supporting, and concluding sentences, * sequence order, * indent, proper type form, etc, * and SO much more. You can view the syllabus here.
My daughter dislikes handwriting, but she does enjoy typing.  So, she was thrilled when she learned TWF requires completed assignments to be type and not handwritten.  I'm thankful I've heard very little complaining during write class, using this curriculum.

What I did NOT like about it:
I had a hard time in the beginning trying to understand how to use the curriculum.  I feel the directions are not clear enough for easy understanding.  The introduction on the website, does states that it is best to spend 1-2 hours prior the first instructional day reading through the overview in order to fully understand how the curriculum works, and to be prepared to grab-n-go.  Although, I feel if the how-to instructions where a bit more clear cut, it would be less stressful and smooth sailing during the class time.  However, I will say that after slowly working through the first few lessons, we eventually got into the rhythum of how the curriculum works, and then it was pretty easy to follow.

Who could use this and would I buy it?
I feel The Write Foundation is a great writing curriculum for any parent who wants to give their children a solid foundation in writing.  I give it thumbs up and I would definitely purchase this writing curriculum for my own children.  I'm greatly to have been chosen to review this product.

If you would like to purchase The Write Foundation for your classroom, click HERE.  Be sure to check out what my fellow TOS crew members have to say about The Write Foundation.

If you're interested, there's a yahoo forum available.

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received The Wrtite Foundation (lessons 1-15) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fit Mommy Friday - Week 1 Update

I should have posted this update yesterday, but I haven't had time until now.  (I actually should be working on review I have due next week.)
I didn’t reach all my goals as I had hoped, but I feel over all I did a pretty good job this week.

: I met my goal of 70 oz most days. However, drinking so much water makes me feel incredibly full all day, which leaves very little room for food. Not sure if that’s good or bad, haha :-)

Nightly vitamins: I remembered to take them every night, but one.

Not eating late at night: I did ok with this most of the week. When I did eat later at night, I was sure to eat only fruits :- )

Exercise: I failed at sticking to a 4 day, 30 minute minimum, most days. But, I feel I definitely made up for it yesterday and today. Yesterday (Friday) I worked out for 30 minutes with the Biggest Loser – Cardio Blast DVD, and then went for a 3 mile run. Today my oldest daughter and I ran our very 1st 5k! During this new adventure today, I learned two things - 1) there’s definitely a very good reason why they call it Hillsborough. My Oh My, there were an incase amount of large hills! and 2) I was told that the road track we ran today is the LARGEST track in North Carolina!  I felt defeated that I couldn’t run the 5k (3.106 miles) in the same amount of time as I ran 3 miles yesterday, but the 5k road track had a LOT more hills to contour than where I normally walk. Yesterday’s run was completed in 22 minutes, but today’s 5k was completed in 45 minutes, which I was told was pretty amazing for my 1st 5K, expecially on the track we ran. (Plus, it was 40 degrees outside, very windy, and a little rainy.) All in all, I really enjoyed the run and will definitely do it again!! 

Weightloss: I'm not sure if I've lost any weight, as I don't own a scale.  My hubby won't let me own one, because I'm addicted to what it says.  However, whenever I go to my parents, I make a beeline to their scale :-)  I doubt it's has actually moved any, since I'm having a hard time staying away from cheese and margarita pizza. YUM!!     

I'm hoping I can do much better this next week!  Good luck to all the other wonderful ladies who are also involved in the FMF :-)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

FREE online freezer cooking classes

For a very long time I’ve wished I could master the ability of what is called Freezer Cooking. The premise is to cook meals in advance and freeze them for later, quick access. However, for one reason or another, I’m perpetually messing something up, because they NEVER turn out right once removed from the freezer and then cooked. Well, Malia Russell over at Homemaking 911 has shared with her readers about her friend Shelley, who is offering FREE online video lessons all about freezer cooking. Each video is broken down into step-by-step lessons to show us how to successfully use our freezer to help us make meal preparation easy.

I signed up earlier in the week, but I've only had time to view a couple of Shelley’s videos.  I’ve enjoyed what I’ve learned thus far. There are a handfull of videos available so far. If you’re interested, go check her out at One Roast Vegetable.  The more people that sign up to watch her videos, the more videos she'll make :-)

I receive Malia’s newsletters and have enjoyed watching and learning from Shelley’s videos. So, I wanted to share with ya’ll. Enjoy!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fit Mommy Friday - Commitment

Have any of you heard of the Fit Mommy Challenge? It was created by Denise over at Chai Mommy, with the help of Mrs. White at The Legacy of Home. I have decided to jump on board and join the others participating in the 10 week Fit Mommy Challenge. It officially began October 25th and ends December 31st. However, I’m a little late in the game, so my challenge will be 9 weeks, beginning today November 1st.  

My goals for the next 9 weeks are:

1. Workout in some form or fashion at least 4 days a week for no less than 30 minutes. My ultimate goal is tone, baby, tone! and maybe loss about 5-10 lbs.   
2. To STOP eating unhealthy foods so late at night.
3. To bump up my water intake to at least 70 oz of water a day.
4. To remember to take my vitamins at night and not just in the morning.
5. and of course to eat more fruits and veggies.

Here's to a healthier me!! Wish me luck!
If you would like to join in, step on over to Chai Mommy to read about the guidelines, and then swing over to The Legacy of Home to view/print a 10 week check-list Mrs. White has created for us all.

Check back Friday to see how I did my first week :-)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!!

Fun Halloween comment

I enjoy Halloween for a number of reasons.
I love the cooler weather.
I love the excitement my children have in when deciding what to dress up as, and of course the actual dressing up.
I love to see all the creative costumes.  
I love to see all the houses decorated in a fun, spooky manner.
I love seeing so many families out together having a good time.
I love my children's enthusiasm over carving the pumpkins.
I love to cook and eat the pumpkins seed. YUM!
I love the sheer enjoyment of being a kid again.

Now, my children haven't done the traditional "trick or treating" in a couple of years. Our church puts on a Fall Festival every year that is open to the community and the kids have an absolute blast! There’s costume contest, bounce houses, foods, candy, trunk or treat, carnival games, and more. My oldest and the rest of the youth group work the festival, which they really enjoy. Then, towards the end of the night when things slow down some, they get to go out and 'play' till closing time.   

This year my oldest is dressing up as a black widow, which we've had to alter a bit to make the costume appreciate for a young girl. And my youngest is dressing up as Cheshire, the cat from Alice in Wonderland.

 I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I’m IT!!

No, not the “scary”, crazy clown from Steven King’s horror movie, I’m 'IT' in the game of BLOG TAG!

I used to love the game of tag as a kid. What better way to chase the cute boys around, and have them chase you around then a good ol’ game of tag?! Albeit, this game of tag is a little different, but it can be just as FUN!

I was tagged by my friend The Queen over at The Cow Queen. I’m sticking with the 8, 8, 8 rule. Which is, answer the 8 questions asked, tag 8 others people, and then ask 8 different questions.

1. Do you plan to homeschool "forever" or just for a season?
My intention is to homeschool “forever” and I’m praying that is God’s plan, too. It was His plan that started us on this homeschool journey to begin with.

2. What is your biggest homeschooling challenge, and how do you handle it?
My biggest challenge is staying organized. As for how I handle it, hahaha, I’ll let you know when I figure it out. I have a few things that I use to help me attempt to stay organized, but I usually fall through the cracks. It’s me, not the products :- )

3. If you have multiple children, how do you find one-on-one time for instruction? (I mainly mean for younger children and reading.)
I can’t answer how to find time to read one-on-one with younger children, as mine are in 5th and 7th grade. However, in order to have one-on-one teaching time with both my children, I become pretty good at juggling. Shoot, maybe I should join the circus! On a typical day, I assign my oldest her assignments for the day and once she gets started on her first subject, then I sit down with my youngest. After working with her for a while and she’s on a roll, I go back to work with my oldest, and so the cycle continues until all the assignments are completed. Of course, there are also subjects the three of us work on together.

4. How do you find time for your own pleasure reading?
I do most of my reading at night before I go to bed. If only I would remember to go to bed a bit earlier, I might get a little more ready done before hubby comes to bed.

5. How do you find any time for yourself?
I don’t usually have a much time to myself, but I try to take the smallest moments and make the most of them. Such as, the rare time alone in the car, when my children are outside playing, while I’m in the shower, etc. Strangely enough I don’t miss it. I’ve been blessed beyond measure to be able to stay home with my children since birth, so I’ve become accustom to “alone time” being a thing of the past. This wasn’t always my feelings. I can remember crying on many occasions, because I desperately needed time for myself. But, when my children started public school, and they were actually away from me, then it was a whole new ball game. I needed them close to me, and I felt empty when they were away. Now, they're rarely ever away from me.    

6. What is your favorite kid-friendly recipe? (you can just put the title, if you want -- I know where to find you ;) )
I don’t really have any kid friendly recipes… Hmmmmm… Well, my kids really enjoy my homemade baked chicken tender/nuggets (whichever you want to call them).
This is how I make them. First, I take boneless, skinless chicken breast and rinse them well in cold water, then cut them into whatever size pieces I want. In one bowl I mix 2 eggs and a bit of milk (like I’m making scrambled eggs) and in another bowl I have Italian style bread crumbs. I take a couple pieces of chicken at a time and dip them in the egg mix, and then put them in the bread crumbs until completely coated. Afterwards, I shake off the excess, put them on a foil lined baking pan, and bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. I do 99.9% of my baking in a convection/rotisserie oven, so you may have to tweak the temp and time based on your oven.

7. Why do you blog?
I actually started blogging as a requirement for the TOS Crew. I have high hopes to find time to blog a lot more often, and about things other than completed reviews. After all, my blog name is The Joys of Homeschooling. Baby steps… taken baby steps…

8. Boxers or briefs? Just kidding ... sweet or salty ... your favorite snack.
Boxer! No, wait, briefs! Wait, both! Hahaha!
So, salty or sweet? I will have to choose… BOTH for this too :- ) I really do enjoy both, although my belly says differently. I have a sensitive belly and it doesn’t like sweets most of the time. If I had to choose a favorite, it would have to be something like chocolate covered pretzels. YUM!! Or maybe trail mix. I also really enjoy salted cucumbers!

It's your turn ladies, you're now “IT”!

 My questions for these lovely ladies are…

1. How do you stay organized?
2. What is your favorite curriculum and why? (Ex: Apologia, Life of Fred, etc.)
3. Do you notebook or lapbook? Do you have any successful secrets to share to a lapbook newbie?
4. What kind of fieldtrips, or outings do you go on for school enrichment?
5. Do you have any awesome science experiments to share?
6. What is the best website, book, etc; you have found that has helped you through your homeschool journey?
7. Within your homeschool, what is one thing you could never live without?
8. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever heard from a non-homeschooler? It can be something from a child or an adult.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TOS Review: PG KEY

Title: PG KEY
Price: $49.99 + shipping
Compatible with: Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7

What is it?
The PG Key is a flash drive that plugs into your computer’s USB Port. While the KEY is connected to the computer it does a multitude of functions to help keep your children safe while on the internet. Once the KEY is installed and a user is created, the PG Key offers the parent or guardian some peace of mind.

Description from the site: “PG KEY is a patent pending, award winning device that simply plugs into your children’s computer’s USB port and immediately creates a safer and more "kid friendly" online environment. PG Key was designed and endorsed by a team that includes internet security experts, law enforcement, educators, and children’s and family psychologists to give parents the tools they need to keep kids safe online with one simple device.”

Access Control: Control computer use by inserting or unplugging PG Key

Time Allowance: Decide the amount of time the computer can be used daily.

Content Filtering: Eliminate unwanted results from innocent searches.

Site Blocking: Block sites you decide are inappropriate.

Activity Tracking: Review all activity on the PC with a DVD-like interface.

Activity Notifications: Be informed via text message or e-mail of any flagged activity.

Chat and E-mail Logging: See both sides of chat and e-mail conversations.

Computer Configuration: Properly configure all users of the protected PC.

User Name and Password Logging: Keep track of user names and passwords.

Inappropriate Activity Evidence: Use video recording to show obvious or suspected inappropriate activity

What I LIKED about it:
The internet offers a wonderful wealth of information, but can also be a very scary and dangerous 'black hole.'  With online predators, adult material, online bullying, etc, parents need to be aware and involved when their children are online.  I really like the peace of mind PG KEY offers.  I was able to see actual video snap shots of everything my daughter did while using her computer - music videos, games, yahoo chat messenger, internet searches, web activity, etc.  I changed the snapshot recording to 1 second intervals, rather than the default 5 second intervals.   
When the computer is in use, whether online or offline, the KEY has the capabilities to continually record up to 60 hours.  When the KEY is about full, it will begin to record over what was previously recorded.
It offers a safe search engine, so I don't have to worry about what my daughter may stumble upon when searching for something.
If the KEY is removed from the computer, the screen freezes and the admin password must be enter before moving on. 
Another great feature is it's ability to block programs from being installed or uninstalled without the admin password.  This helps to keep the computer safe from viruses and/or spyware.         

If at any point you have any issues with the KEY, tech support is available via email or telephone.  When I contacted tech support via email for a problem I was having (see - What I did NOT like) Mark was quick to return my email offering me support.  We emailed back and forth a few times, and on his day off I received an email from Justin, who was stepping in to assist.  To my surprise, Justin actually offered to call me, since we couldn't work out the problems I was having via email.  After two hours on the phone with Justin, the problems were fixed, and I was ready to dive in and see what the PG KEY was all about.          

What I did NOT like about it:
There were a few things I didn't like the PG KEY.
A) When I first opened the PG KEY box I thought it was going to be 'easy as pie' to install and begin using the program.  Boy was I wrong. The box contained the flash drive, a double sided piece of paper with advertisements, a single sided piece of paper with testimonies, and a small (8" by 7") double sided paper with instructions.  According to the instructions you 1) plug the key into USB port, follow the install prompts, and 2) protect - which means to create a user account and password, and you're done. You are then supposed to be able to move on and view tutorials, change options, etc.  However, this was not the case for me.  I installed the program as instructed, but nothing would happen. My Program File showed the PG Key was installed, however, I couldn’t register the KEY, create a user; I couldn’t do anything at all with it.  A small icon should have been appeared in the icon tray on the bottom right hand side of the desktop, but it wasn’t there.  This icon is important in using the program.  I uninstalled and reinstalled the KEY several times to no avail. I attempted to “reboot” the KEY as directed by Mark (tech support).  A day later, during a two hour long conversation with Justin (tech support) trying to debug and trouble shoot the problems we were having, he ended up correcting the problem via a remote access website.  As I said previously, I’m not a ‘techie’ kind of girl, so I honestly have no idea what the actual problem was, but once Justin was finished, the PG KEY program ran smoothly.    
B) I didn't like that the KEY could ONLY be registered to one computer.  If your children all use the same computer, then you simply create a user for each child. However, if you're like us and each of your children have their own personal computer, then you'll need to purchase a PG KEY for each computer.
C) I wasn't pleased with the 'black screen of death' as I call it, when the computer is shut down or rebooted with the KEY in the USB port.  It not really a big deal, but the black screen says, "No operating system found," as well as a lot of other things a non-techie like me doesn't understand. However, simply remove the KEY from the port, and reboot your computer as normal.    

Who could use it and would I buy it?
Although PG KEY has some kinks it needs to work out, I feel over all it would be great for any adult who has a child; younger or older, they wish to help keep safe while on the internet. 
If I didn't already own the PG KEY, I would purchase one for my home.  However, I personally would only purchase one KEY and have my children share a computer.

If you would like to request a free trial or purchase PG KEY for your home, click HERE. 
Be sure to check out what my fellow TOS Crew Members have to say about PG KEY.

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received the PG KEY in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, October 1, 2010

TOS Review: Foundlings

Title: The Peleg Chronicles book one - Foundlings
Publisher: Zoe and Sozo Publishing
Number of Pages: 256
Price: $11.95
Format: Paperback

          Foundlings is the first book of The Peleg Chronicles series. It’s written by Mathew Christian Harding, who is a homeschool father of four. The story evolved as a unique way of sharing biblical history and God’s amazing love with his children during that special time with Mom and Dad that all children love so much - story time.

Foundlings is a historical fiction that unfolds during the Peleg period, shortly after the scattering of the tower of Babel. Within the story you’ll become acquainted with many different characters, such as dragons, dwarfs (small humans who were forced into slavery), giants, and false priest; some are good and honorable, while others are mean and deceitful.

Mr. Harding has found a thrilling way of teaching others the importance of having a strong Christian walk with God, no matter what you may be going through. While teaching the significance of biblical principles such as, bravery, faith, honesty, worship, responsibility, and loyalty.

What we thought of the book: When I first began reading the book, I found it a bit challenging to keep up with the characters and the storyline. But, when I went back through the previously read pages, things became a bit clearer. This style of book is new to me, as it’s not the type of book I typically read. However, I do feel it would be a fascinating book for anyone, young or seasoned, who enjoys adventure style stories. My oldest daughter (12 yrs old) read the book, she really enjoyed it.  I’m delighted Foundlings is a Christian book and is appropriate reading for all ages. Mr. Harding does, however, recommend readers be at least 7 years old.

To purchase your own copy of Foundlings: The Peleg Chronicles click HERE. The second book in the series, Paladins, is also available. Book three will be released May 2011.  Both books are also available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.       

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received the Foundlings – The Peleg Chronicles series book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

     When you think about teaching your children math, especially the higher levels; do you begin to panic a little? Does your heart beat faster? Do your palms sweat? Well, no worries. I guarantee you, you’re not alone.

It’s time to hire a tutor! We all know how costly a weekly tutor can be. But, what other choices are there? Well, thankfully I have a wonderful recommendation for you! His name is Jason Gibson with Through the wonderful world of technology, you can have a highly experienced math tutor in your home, teaching you and your students how to learn and enjoy math. Math Tutor DVD offers an array of different math levels to choose from.  Mr. Jason Gibson is the instructor throughout all of the math tutor series. Click HERE to see what DVDs are available.

As part of the TOS Crew, I had the pleasure of using the Pre-Algebra Tutor: Volume 1 and The Texas Instruments TI-83 / TI-84 Calculator Tutor with my oldest daughter.

I’ll begin by telling you a bit about the Pre-Algebra Tutor: Volume 1 DVD.  

This course is a 5-hour (2 set DVD) instructional program that is broken down into individual videos. Real Number * Number Lines * Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To * Absolute Value and Adding Integers * Subtracting Integers * Multiplying Integers * Dividing Integers * Power and Exponents * Order of Operation.

No one enjoys sitting through a boring instructional math video, or any boring video at that. Sadly, my girls and I have seen our fair share of them in the past. Thankfully, I’m happy to report that Mr. Gibson is not boring at all. Each video shows Mr. Gibson in front of a large white board talking to you. He’s very informative, and teaches the student by example – completing numerous problems. He takes the time to thoroughly explain everything in detail. My daughter was a little annoyed with how long he explained things, as she said he was “way too repetitive.” However, I feel that would be of great value to a student who needs the repetitiveness. When defining something, he uses catchy useful tips (association), making it easy to remember and understand. Ex: when teaching the difference between less than and greater than (< >), he explains how the smaller number goes on the small end of the arrow, while the larger number goes on the wide (large) end. Another ex: He explains negative numbers, by saying you owe someone something. If you have -7, it means you owe someone 7 pencils (or whatever you wish).
The Texas Instruments TI-83/TI-84 Calculator Tutor DVD is a bit different, because rather than seeing Mr. Gibson in front of a white board, you see a large view of the calculator. This allows you to see and follow along.
  This instructional program is 8-hours long (3 set DVD), consisting of 37 different videos, such as: Basic Arithmetic and Exponents * Sin, Cons, and Tan * Convert Between Fractions and Decimals * Calculating Derivatives and Integrals * Absolute Value and Rounding * Graphing and Tracing Functions * Find Exact Value of a Function by Graphing * Find Intersections of Functions by Graphing * Calculate the Definite Integral by Graphing * Graphing and Tracing Sequences * Convert Between Rect and Polar Coordinates * Permutations, Combinations, and Factorials * Graphing Statistical Scatter Plots * Calculating with Matrices * Calculating Interest Rates * Calculating Savings and Investments.

For those of you who may want (or need) help with several different math levels, you’re in luck! You can join for $20 a month, which allows you to watch all the courses online – anytime, download worksheets, save 25% on DVD’s, and more.  To join or find out more information – click HERE.

I was very pleased with Mr. Gibson's teaching techniques, and I highly recommend him and Math Tutor DVD to anyone needing additional math help. To learn more about Mr. Gibson, his credentials, and available math courses, check out  The Pre-Algebra Tutor: Volume 1 and The Texas Instruments TI-83 / TI-84 Calculator Tutor are available for $26.99 EACH.    

Click HERE to read what the rest of the TOS crew has to say about Math Tutor DVD.

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received the Pre-Algebra Tutor: Volume 1 DVD and The Texas Instruments TI-83 / TI-84 Calculator Tutor DVD in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner for School and Home

Title: The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner: Making a Plan for School and Home
Publisher: The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Number of Pages: 614
Price: $39.00 E-Book 
$44.00 CD 

It’s extremely important, for sake of our sanity, to have a good planner to help us organize and plan our busy homes and classrooms. However, finding a planner that helps us organize it all, is nearly impossible to find. Thankfully, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (TOS) has done the leg work for us. TOS has created what I call the ultimate “all in one planner.” This planner has virtually everything you need to organize your home, life and school.

And guess what?!
Not only is it 614 pages long, (yup, you read it right, 614 pages), but it’s ONLY $39.00!
You can’t beat that price!

The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner: Making a Plan for School and Home offers -

To organize your home and life..

Chore list * Daily to do list * Car maintenance reminder * Craft planning * Multiple recipes – including many GFCF recipes * Meal Planning forms * Budget forms * Party planning forms * Website password reference sheet * Natural cleaning recipes * Informative articles * Multiple links for creating more natural cleaning products * Homemade soaps recipe * Housekeeping Pages * Schedule Forms * Shopping/Meal Planning Pages * Chore list forms * Budget forms * Party Planning and Gift-Giving * Gardening * and SO MUCH more!

To organize and enrich your classroom…

2010 – 2013 calendars * High school transcript forms * Alphabet writing pages * Daily & weekly schedule * Assignment charts * Unit Study forms * Science lab pages * Bible study * Report cards * Writing prompts * Education websites * Timeline of Jesus Christ’s life * Modern art movements * * Informative articles *Animal classification chart * Different branches of government * US Presidents * US States and capitals * Countries and capitals * Scientists - their discoveries and timeline of inventions * Bodies of Water * Multiplication Table * World Geography * Basic information about the planets * and MORE!

Since the planner is 614 pages, some printing options for you could be -

• Print out all 614 pages, allowing you to physically touch and flip through planner - deciding as go, what you wish to use and when.

• Print out only the pages you wish to use each month.

• Print out only the pages you wish to use each month for each student.

After I printed all the pages I wanted to use from the planner, I placed them all in a three-ring binder with dividers. This helps to keep everything neat, in order, and in one location. Once you purchase the planner, it is yours to what you wish. So, do whatever is most convenient and useful for you.

Go NOW and purchase your own copy of The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner: Making a Plan for School and Home.  At ONLY $39, you CAN NOT go wrong!

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. Although I do USE and LOVE the 2010 Schoolhouse Planner, I created this posting as part of a GC drawing for the crew.   

Friday, September 3, 2010

Time 4 Writing

Title: Time 4 Writing
Created by:
Cost: $99 for 8 weeks
Format: Internet Course

We all know how important it is to have good writing skills - it’s just as important as having good math skills. Nearly everything we do involves writing in some form or fashion - writing thank you notes, sending emails, handwritten letter, job applications, etc. Writing comes naturally for some people, while others find it challenging. I was thrilled when asked to write a review about Time4writing, as it thought it would give me the perfect opportunity to see what another teacher thought of my daughter’s writing abilities.

“What is,” you ask? It’s an online writing course that offers many different class options for your elementary, middle, and high school students. There are 4 teachers on staff - one will be assigned to the student once registration is complete. During the registration process, you create a user name and password, and choose which course you feel best suits your student.  For a detailed list of available courses, click HERE.  You receive a confirmation email shortly after registration is completed, allowing you begin the writing course right away.

No need to worry if you’re having a hard time deciding which course will most benefit your student. You have 2 weeks from the date of registration to change courses if you choose to. Once a few assignments are completed, the teacher may recommend a course switch if she feels it will be beneficial. Within those first 2 weeks, if for any reason you are not completely satisfied, Time4writing offers a full refund. Once the 2 weeks is up, you are locked in for the remaining weeks.

I choose MS2 – Essay (Middle School 2 – Essay Writing) for my daughter. The primary objective in the MS2-Essay course is to create narrative and expository essays. The course is 8 weeks long - broken down into units. Each unit has between 4 - 10 assignments. As the assignments increase in difficulty, fewer assignments are due each week. The assignments include such things as, quizzes, writing paragraphs, writing essays, etc. The quizzes are scored immediately, allowing you to move on to the next assignment. Other assignments require the student to submit their work, and within 24 hours they will receive feedback, as well as a grade from the teacher. The parents receive an email notification when an assignment is graded, in addition to any other interactions between the student and the teacher. If the parents or student have any questions regarding assignments or progress, they are welcome to send messages to the teacher via

Over all, my daughter enjoyed the course. Some of the things she and/or I liked where,
  • Being able to type the assignments rather than completing them the traditional way, with paper and pencil; which is something she wishes I would allow less of.
  • The writing prompts that were provided, such as “If you could visit any state in the United States, which one would you choose and why?” or “Why weekends should be longer.”
  • The quick response to our questions and grading completed work. We always received an answer to our questions, or a grade, by the next day (within 24 hours).   

There were, however, a few things she and/or I disliked. 
  • Submitting completed work -
    We searched all over the site to find directions on how to submit the assignments once they were completed, and all we could find was a “save work” option at the bottom of the work page. We eventually learned that when an assignment was saved, it was also submitted to the teacher. If the assignment wasn’t completed, then the student typed “unfinished” at the top of the page.
  • Finding grade once feedback was received from teacher -
    The Grade page doesn’t list the assignments and grades in order. As you can see in the photo below, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the order the assignments are listed. 
  • However, we eventually realized the grades are listed in order (minus the quizzes) on the Assignment page. Having the grades listed in correct order made it much easier to keep track of which assignment she was working on.
  • Little teaching (instruction) involved -  Each unit begins with a brief explanation; this is where the lessons are introduced. The student can either read or listen to the information given, which is followed by a short quiz. The student then moves on to the next assignment, which is usually a writing task of some sort. Each writing assignments give instructions on what to write about, such as, “Funniest Incident Ever,” or “Most Disgusting Meal,” however, no further explanation of what is expected is given.
  • Having a clear understanding of what was expected -
    Once the assignment is turned in, feedback and a grade are given. However, I felt that the feedback given didn’t allow my daughter to learn and excel on the next assignment. The feedback given, although always kind, consisted of something to the effect of, “Great job! I made a few corrections, please look them over and let me know if you have any questions.” Sometimes she would add, “Make correction and resubmitted for a higher grade.” However, there were several times when my daughter had corrected the errors and resubmitted the assignment, but was given a lower grade than she started with. I feel the feedback would have been a bit more helpful if it were along the lines of, “Great job! Be sure to add or omit commas after ….” or “I added a semi colon after ____. Remember we use semi colons when ….”

With all that said, I’m very grateful to Time4writing for their generosity in offering my family a free 8 week course of our choice.  And although I feel wasn’t a good fit for my family, I do feel it would be a great fit for a self-motivated student who has already mastered the basics of which ever course chosen (ex: paragraph writing, essay writing, etc), or for the natural writer looking for an enjoyable writing course.  
If you would like to sign your student up for one of Time4Writing’s courses, click HERE

Go see what other TOS Crew members had to say about

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received a free 8 week course of my choice with in exchange for my honest review.
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