Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Zane Education TOS Crew Review 2012

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 When I first started homeschooling I thought it was all about the books. Never did I imagine the endless possibilities that the internet could bring to us via online curriculum. Most of the online programming we have tried so far has been Math, but with Zane Education there is online educational video programming for any topic you could want to teach. Some of us at the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given a Gold Membership, an all access pass to Zane Education.

    Zane Education caters to all students K-12 and has several different membership options depending on what you are looking for. You can do month to month or a full one year membership. Pick one topic or many or all. You decide which will work best for you and your family. We were given a Gold Membership which is a full access pass to everything we would want to learn about for a full year.

Subjects include:






Library Skills




Religious Studies

Science and

Social Studies

 You pick a subject, then a topic and then you are hooked up with a video about this topic, they are not just videos they include subtitles so that you can read along while watching the video. You can control the video at any time by using your mouse to stop, pause and start the video back up again.  Now you are probably thinking what good are these videos to my student. Well, I am so glad you asked. Not only do you get the videos, but you get printable lesson plan guides that coincide with each video. You also can access the fully interactive video word glossary, encyclopedia, thesaurus and dictionary that Zane offers its clients.

    After watching the videos and reading along with the videos you can then have your child take an online  quiz and that way you can gauge their retention and understanding of what they just watched and learned. Zane corrects the tests and supplies the correct response when a mistake was made so that the student can see where their mistake was and learn from it. This is especially helpful for special needs learners like my boys, who sometimes need that little extra reassurance.

     You can easily search upon logging in to find what topic you are looking for and to narrow it down to the grade and age range you are looking for. There are many choices, elementary, middle school, high school, college and adult.  I found the videos educational and can surely see them adding to our current curriculum. Although the boys found them a tad corny, they appeared to be a tad outdated, whether that was purposeful or not I am not sure. It made them fun to watch in my opinion. My kids kept asking if that was what TV was like in the olden days when I was a kid? Good grief I am not that old, am I?
              Now there are topics that may not be your cup of tea, but all in all there is more for good than not. There are topics of sex education and references to evolution. The benefit is you can pre screen any that you intend to use and skip the ones that are not on the same page as yourself. The boys were particularly intrigued with the Science videos as that is there favorite subject, I can see many coming to good use for us this Fall. The boys are looking forward to studying ecology and the ocean including Coral Reefs and these videos will add a new dimension to our learning.

    Zane education offers many wonderful aspects that compliment their videos, they offer each customer a comprehensive range of user guides that will help guide the parent in making the correct choices for learners on any level and that even includes the special needs learners. The other valuable asset they offer is the use of their facebook page which is not only a company page but a hub where parents can come and gain info and ideas from facilitators like other homeschool parents, teachers and so much more.  That is worth so much to us parents that sometimes need a little reassurance ourselves.

   Zane Education is also offering our reader's a special sale through the end of August, this special code will allow you the opportunity to add Zane's valuable video library and so much more to your curriculum for 35% OFF any Bronze, Silver and Gold memberships. You have to input this unique case sensitive discount code at check out to take advantage of the special pricing and you must do it before August ends. You will be so glad you were able to take this opportunity and run with it.

Monthly Subscriptions start as low as $8.99 per Subject, $12.99 per Age/Grade Level, or Full Access – All Subjects – All Videos for $17.99.

Yearly Memberships are also available, starting at $98.89 per Single Subject through the Best Value – Full Access - Gold Membership for $197.89.
  USE THIS CODE and SAVE 35% off Bronze, Silver and Gold Prices for a significant savings.
  CODE:              ZE455HSM

   Be sure to check out what the other crew members had to say about Zane Education by visiting our linky.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


Back to Homeschool Blog Hop Day 2

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                 Back today for day 2 of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop with the Schoolhouse Review Crew  to share with you our Homeschool Curriculum choices for this coming school year. We are homeschooling 8th and 9th grades this year with our eldest in Public School in 11th. This is new waters for us as it is our first year homeschooling High School.

  We will start with our basic Core curriculum that we use every year. My Father's World, this year we are doing Rome to the Reformation, this will be our last year using this curriculum as next year the boys will both be in High School and this curriculum is a multi aged study suggested for grades 2-8. My boys love it and this is why we have stuck with it for this our final year since Taylor is in 8th grade. We will be adding in some extra grade appropriate things as they come up for review.

      For Math Alyx will be using Pearson Homeschool MyMathLab Algebra 2 and Taylor will be using Math Essentials No Nonsense Algebra. We are also still exploring some add on help for Math for Taylor as well.

  For spelling I think we will be going with Spelling City. You should check back soon for my review on this one, up until now I just grabbed grade appropriate spelling lists from the internet and made up my own spelling work. Looking to make my life a little easier I was excited to try this one out and the kids really seem to like it.

For our character building we will be continuing on with Apologia's What We Believe Series. We will be back tracking a bit and going back to book one in the series. We were blessed to review books 2 and 3 but feel there is something missing by not completing the first book. 

                                       We will be doing many other fun and exciting things and will be sure to post about it as soon as we complete them. Be sure to join in the fun by visiting my fellow crewmates on this Back To Homeschool Blog Hop by clicking on the links at the bottom of each post. There are some giveaways to take part in and I will host one as well on Friday so be sure to check back each day to see what we are chatting about next.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Back To Homeschool Blog Hop Day 1 Homeschooling Methods

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Well I guess I am better late than never on this one, time completely escaped me. It cannot possibly be time for back to homeschool already? Where in the world has Summer disappeared to. As most of you know we have been camping the Summer away. I am sad to say we only have one more 2 week camping trip planned until after Labor Day. I cannot believe that is even possible. We are not done camping by any means but this is coming up on last trip of our Summer vacation. Pretty soon it will start to cool off around here and before you know it Winter will sneak up on us. Cooler weather I am looking forward to, cold and snow not so much.

    Let's see I know you did not come here to hear about our camping you came to see what Method of Homeschooling we use.  This is the first day of a five day blog hop with 70+ members of The Schoolhouse Review Crew formerly known as the TOS Crew.

     This will be our 4th School year of homeschooling I cannot believe we have survived this far, although I have to say we are enjoying every minute and I wish I had done this so much sooner. We use an eclectic approach to homeschooling with a little of this and a little of that thrown in for good measure. We love hands on learning and do lapbooking and unit studies often, taking advantage of topics that interest the boys and running with them. For instance Winter Olympics, The Iditarod, Butterflies, Nascar(physics and such). We also do tons of Science experiments, thankfully have not blown anything up so far that should not have been. We do use My Father's World for our core curriculum but add whatever interests us whenever we see fit. This is why I love reviewing for The Schoolhouse Review Crew, it let's us try many things that we either did not know about or could not afford to try otherwise. We use an online curriculum for Math we have been trying many and are seeing which one will be the one we use for the upcoming school year. We do our hardcore schooling during the traditional school year, we follow my oldest son Nick's calendar for Public school that he attends. He will be a Junior this year and just started driving. Yikes do I feel old.

   We also attend an Enrichment Co-op where the boys take classes that interest them and I teach a class or 2 each of the 3 trimesters. It is a great way for us to get out and socialize and for me to have some grown up time as well. The kids have taken some unique classes over the last few years, Home Improvement, Fireman's cooking, taught by a Dad that is a local fireman, it was a boys only cooking class, Alyx loved it. There has been Karate, Miming, Art. Science and some great characted building classes. The boys love Enrich and look forward to it each week.

  We also utilize our resources surrounding us for fantastic field trip opportunities, museums, historical, natural, or even company headquarters like the Recycling plant or a manufacturing plant for foods we like. We grow our own vegetables and have a multi generational learning environment that the kids learn so much from being able to hear first hand from my 92 yr old Grandma how it was way back when.

     What style curriculum do you use? I would love to hear about it. Also be sure to hop to the other blogs as there are so many styles out there, whether you are a veteran homeschooler or just getting your feet wet, or maybe you are on the edge ready to dive right in, you are sure to find something that will suit your family's needs. Be sure to check back each day for a new topic. Tomorrow is all about our curriculum and I will show you what is on our agenda for this year. As will all of my fellow crewmates.
Til tomorrow
Happy Homeschooling

Math Essentials No Nonsense Algebra TOS Crew Review 2012

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      I am a huge fan of online Math programs but sometimes you just need to use a workbook. I am pleased with our choice for Math online so far but have been on the lookout for a workbook type program for Alyx for Algebra this coming Fall. I was elated when I was one of the Schoolhouse Review Crew members chosen to review Math Essentials No Nonsense Algebra. I am a whimp when it comes to teaching my kids Math I am the first to admit it. I feel they can learn through their online programs but need extra practice putting to use what they learn online. A workbook type program like Math Essentials is just that type of extra boost I was looking to add to our current Math Curriculum for my boys.

      Math Essentials can be used as a stand alone curriculum as each lesson is accompanied by an online video tutorial. This is very helpful when your kids are visual and auditory learners like my boys. They need to see the concept performed in front of them before they "get" it.  So then they grasp the way to solve the problems and can execute it in the workbook when put in front of them.

   Algebra was never my strong suit in school I did well enough to get by. I am more of a creative thinker, writing and spelling and Science were my strong suits. Math not so much, this was the one thing that was constantly holding me back from homeschooling. I was afraid I would fall short. This is not the case when their are reliable comprehensive programs for the boys to learn from like Math Essentials. I can be confident in the fact that I have a curriculum that my boys can use that will teach them what they need to know and not just sit in front of a computer for their whole lesson of Math but be hands on in solving problems through a thorough workbook.

  My kids love that the lessons are short and to the point and they do not drag on for an hour. I like that the boys do not grumble when it is time to do their Math lesson, even though it is Summer time. We can still trudge along in our Math studies yet not spend all day doing it and be able to get out and enjoy our beautiful Summer weather.
   Math Essentials No Nonsense Algebra sells for $27.95 and includes the online video tutorials. This is a bargain in my eyes as I have seen my boys sailing through the Algebra lessons and actually grasping the concepts they are being taught and reinforcing them with the workbook pages. I have seen them not struggle so much and like to sit down and do their Math and accomplish their lessons in a short amount of time.

      If your child is not ready for Algebra their are many other choices available from Math Essentials, be sure to stop by their site and check them out. There is something there for everyone. The crew members were able to pick from many choices so maybe you should check them out to see which ones they reviewed and what they thought about it.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Super Duper Publications TOS Crew Review 2012

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                        If your family is anything like mine, you are going to love this one! Super Duper Publications has some awesome games that are learning based and lour family loves games. I love games that teach even more!! So this was the best of both worlds when it came to pleasing the whole family. Schoolhouse Review Crew members were given the opportunity to pick one of 3 games. As soon as I saw the one I was given I just knew we had to have it. The kids had been asking for a similar game in the store but I was holding off for Christmas time. We do not usually make a habit of buying toys and games just because, but if we are sent something for a review that is a whole other story, that is my way of getting around my own frugal rule.(chuckle).

      Super Duper Publications has this fun and wacky game called Jeepers Peepers, just like the party game that has been around for a while that my kids and maybe yours have been yearning for. The boys were so excited when we popped open the box, I did not tell them it was on the way, the element of surprise is half the fun.  We took it up to camp with us since we were heading up there the very next day. We have some friends up at camp that were sure to like this too. What could be more fun than putting on funny glasses and asking each other silly questions around the campfire... I cannot even think of a single thing right now...

      Jeepers Peepers comes with the following components to ensure a rousing good time of quality family fun  with a twist of education involved and is geared for sprouts K and up. Now keep in mind my boys are a tad older, being in junior high and high school but we still enjoyed it just the same.
Jeepers Peepers Includes...
6 pairs of Jeepers Peepers glasses 
"My Cue Cards" 
101 photo cards (4" x 5") 
Spinner and bingo chips 
Instruction booklet
Note: Only Jeepers Peepers laminated cards fit the Peepers slot. Normal playing cards do not. Jeepers Peepers Add-On Cards sold separately as well as additional glasses.

   One thing that I was pleased with right off the bat was that it included 6 pairs of glasses, we found a vast array of family friendly games usually are aimed at families of  4. I can only count on maybe 2 hands how many families I know only include 4 or less members. This gave Super Duper Publications a star right from the start, next was that the glasses were not too tiny to fit on older kid and adult heads, 2 stars.  The entire content of all included cards were very family friendly, there were no surprises that would embarrass myself or my kids or our friends while we are playing. So far we are up to 3 out of 5 stars and we have not even begun to play the game yet.... Not too bad if I may say so myself.

     We invited some friends over the night after we got to camp for a s'mores and game party. We told them we had a fun game and to be prepared to get a little goofy. The boys were excited to get to share their new game with friends and have a great time. Our friends arrived at a little before dusk so that we were sure to be able to see everyone's cards. We all picked a chair around the fire pit circle, (cautious to not be too close so as not to risk losing any game components into the fire. The kids carefully chose their favorite color of glasses and the parents were the referees and helpers for the younger kids. I was delighted to see that we had found a game that the younger siblings of the boys friends could play along with all the older kids and they could all still have an enjoyable time together, this earned this game it's 4th star.  The vast array of categories that are included in the cards is exceptional.

   The included clue cards worked great for the younger kids to get them headed in the right direction to get to the answer on their card.

       The older children put the glasses on first to show the younger kids just how silly they could be, the little kids laughed immensely.  The older kids took turns asking everyone clues as to what they might "be" on their card located on the front of their heads. After a few rounds it was time to switch it up and the little kids all put on the glasses. They were delighted that they figured out their card in a faster time frame than the older kids. Finally they convinced all of us adults to take a turn. We were reluctant at first but it was all in good fun and dark enough that our neighboring campers might not notice us all looking a little wacky with these bright colorful glasses on. I figured hey if they notice we will just make them join in our fun too
              After we were done playing so many rounds of Jeepers Peepers that my sides hurt from laughing we put the game away and settled in for s'mores and hobo pie making. Everyone commented that it was one of the best evenings of the Summer and asked when we could do it again. 5 out of 5 stars for this game the whole campground is chattering about it. We love it, and our friends love to come play it what could be better? I cannot think of a single thing...

     This game teaches kids to think outside the box and to use descriptive language to solve a problem. They 
have to learn to trust their opponents that they are giving them the correct answers to their questions and to also read their body language. This is something my kids need help with a lot so I think this game will be used often to work on those skills.

    Does this sound like just the type of educational family fun you are looking for to bring laughter to your family and friends? Well look no further as Super Duper Publications has offered my readers a SCREAMING COUPON, good for 30% off your very own Jeepers Peepers.  This game is sold for $29.95, so with this coupon you are saving a good chunk of change. 
Coupon Code: BLGJP30
Save 30% Expires 8/31/12

    If you cannot stop at just one new game for your family, keeping in mind it is only 5 months till Christmas you may want to start your shopping, you can visit all of the other crew members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew as everyone was given a Screaming Coupon unique to the game they chose. You will not want to miss this deal. If you are on a budget pick one now and one later as the coupons are good through the end of August. Just don't forget and be sorry if you miss the expiration date, so jot a note on your calendar to remind you of these fantastic savings deals that Super Duper Publications extended to you. Have fun and have a Jeepers Peepers party just like us. You will be so glad you did..... 'Til next time have a Super Duper day!!

 Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Knowledge Quest: Map Trek 6 E-Book Set TOS Crew Review 2012

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 History was never my strong suit in school when I was a child, either was Geography. I was good at it at the time but made no bones about needing it in real life. Boy was I wrong and I really wish I would have payed more attention in school. What I did not realize as a kid was that the two subjects truly go hand in hand. I have been struggling to teach these two subjects to my boys in a way that they will love to learn it and retain the information for all of life's purpose. This really is important stuff and I want them to know it. We use a primary curriculum that dives deeply into maps and timelines but I do not think they are taught in a way that makes it fun to learn and will make my boys want to remember the topics we cover sometimes.

    Schoolhouse Review Crew members were given the opportunity to review some material that may help with the issue at hand. We were given the choice of 2 products from Knowledge Quest, now my hardest decision was picking the one we would use the most, I really wanted both, but that was not an option, so I picked one and then wrote comments to the selector that we would be blessed by either choice and left in God's hands to decide which one was the best fit for us. So what were we given you are asking?? We were given the Map Trek 6 E-Book set which is a wealth of resources and learning fun. The other option that I am sure we would have been equally happy receiving was Time Maps, which follows more of the timeline flow of learning.

      When trying to teach History or Geography you really cannot do one without the other, they go together like peanut butter and jelly. History teaches the When, Why, Where and How? The Geography SHOWS the WHERE. This helps really imbed the details into the brain as we are learning. I know for me and my kids we are visual learners, this may be where my problem really was years ago. All books and not visual aids. I have found that this is not a conducive way of learning for my family and for many others as I often sit and chat with other homeschool Moms, many of them seem to struggle with the same issues I do. Where do we find quality learning aids to help our visual learners? So now they look to me and my reviews to help them in their search. I am excited to be able to share Knowledge Quest with them as this is just what we needed to help us "get" the whole picture of our History and Geography. To meld it together and help us SEE it.

      Now like I said we were chosen to review the Map Trek 6 E- Book set, now you may be thinking how are maps this useful. Well let me help you see the value.  These are not just Maps, there are 4 world mapbooks, and 2 US Edition Map Books for a total of 465 maps. There is a little something for every aspect of learning and homeschooling in these 6 books. Now the learning is merely not just looking at maps, there are Historical Atlas and Outline Maps, Full Color Teacher Answer Key Maps, Unlabeled Student Maps,Grid Maps and Blank Grids and then my most  favorite is the Lesson Plans . These are divided up into age categories and so it is was easy to see which would work best for us. For me it was very clear cut as my boys both fell in the same age category, although moving into Fall they will be in two separate ones so this was important to me that I am able to choose different levels for the boys to also work independently of each other in their own grade levels. This Summer we were working on Rome and the Roman Empire so this came in quite handy to finish up our studies.  The lesson plans are divided as follows, Level A grades 1-4, Level B grades 5-8,(this is the level we tried out), Level C grades 9-12 (this is the level we will be getting to this Fall with Alyx). These lessons are not a label this map, which is what our current curriculum does. The boys find this type of learning boring and it never ends well. They were pleasantly surprised to see that these lessons required them to research using the internet, and to refer back to their history book to find the answers they were seeking.  This is not merely looking at a map and saying what it's name is. It was fun to learn about the Roman empire and see where all of this actually happened not just hear about where it took place. My kids loved the historical maps as they are completely different than today's maps we often see and use. They are excited to move onto the next phase of our learning and continue on with these fun interactive maps.   The Grid maps helped us learn to label land masses and this was a new adventure for us as well. The boys found this fascinating and wanted to learn more and more.

The Map Trek 6 E-Book Download is available from Knowledge Quest for $47 and is an asset to any homeschooling classroom.  If you would rather have a physical CD version of the set you can purchase that in a 2 CD set for $49.95.  You can also choose to purchase the  World Map books separately from each other for $14.95.   You can purchase the US books for $19.95. If you would like to see a sample version of the maps you can click here and go to the bottom of the page.
 While you are there be sure to check out the vast array of other products that Knowledge Quest has to offer. You will not be disappointed that is for sure.

Do not forget to check out what the other Schoolhouse Review Crew members had to say about Knowledge Quest as we all view products from different aspects so you are bound to learn something different from each of us.

 Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.