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Title: Times Alive

Target Ages: 2nd grade +
Format: CD; downloadable program
Price: $48.95 CD; $44.95 download for Mac or PC

Do you remember being in about the third grade and having to memorize tables of multiplication facts? Maybe, you wrote them down over and over. Perhaps, you had to recite them to your parents or teacher. That was such a chore for me. 

Enter Times Alive!

The Times Alive program is a fun way to learn multiplication facts. The download program is based on the Times Tables the Fun Way book. Each multiplication fact is told in story and song. As the story is told, the student can read along. Each story is backed up with a catchy song and music video to re-iterate the lesson. Progress through the lessons are charted and tests are intermittent. The student can start or stop at any point they wish and return to where they left off.  

The Queen's Overall Assessment:
Since the prince is only in second grade, we have only had a brief introduction to multiplication. However, he loved this program. He could remember many of the facts later in the day and even several days later. The cartoons are entertaining and the songs are very catchy. 

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Whether you have a visual, auditory, or kinetic learner, I think this program would be useful. I plan to use it again when we get to multiplication. For now, I think I'm going to go back and check out the Addition the Fun Way materials from City Creek Press. 

You can see some of the Times Alive videos on the City Creek YouTube Channel.

Other Homeschool Crew Members reviewed this product. Be sure to find out what they thought at The Homeschool Crew Blog.

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Disclaimer: This was a review of my experience with the product described. I tried to give a complete and honest assessment. In order to review the product, I received a free trial of the program with no additional compensation. This in no way influenced my review of the product. The opinions expressed are my own and were not affected or edited by anyone prior to publishing.




The grass is green. It’s good to be
 

date Monday, January 31, 2011

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Title: TenMarks Math Program
Vendor: TenMarks Education Inc.
Target Age: 3rd grade - high school
Format: online
Price:$10 per month; $49 for 6 months; $89 for 12 months


The TenMarks program is an online math program designed for grades 3 through high school. Each week, the student receives an email to login and complete worksheets by the due date. Before completing the worksheet, the student can view a lesson about the topic. While completing the worksheet, the student can review the lesson or receive hints  as to the answer. 


The TenMarks program is available to parents, homeschoolers, and public school teachers. 


The Queen's Assessment:
I was a bit leery of receiving this product for review. Since it is geared to 3rd grade and higher, I thought that it would be too difficult for the prince who is in 2nd grade. After receiving the program, I found that we could work with it to review some topics and learn about a few new ones. 


We were able to re-arrange the order of topics to ease into the ones that we haven't covered yet. We were also able to pause the program to take a break over Christmas. We didn't have to take "homework" on our trip, and we didn't come home to a bunch of worksheets when we got back. 


The prince really liked the reward games that were built into the program. Since we don't have video games around the palace, this was his chance to play some. 



On the worksheets, you can back up to previous questions and make corrections as you go along. At the end of each worksheet, the student is given an immediate "grade" and can go back and see why they were missed and try again to answer them correctly. With the tests, this is not the case. As soon as you hit "submit" the question is gone forever. So, if you submit the answer and in that split second realize you meant "70" instead of "7", it is too late. I would like to see that differently. I think you should be able to check your work before a final grading. The tests are also timed and I think that gave the prince a little bit of trouble. He knew he had to get done before the time was up and I think it caused some careless errors.


I thought some of the visual references on the worksheets were not very helpful. Some were hard to see and some were still vague enough to not get a true answer. 


You can try the product for free here and see what you think.

Other Homeschool Crew Members reviewed this product. Be sure to find out what they thought at The Homeschool Crew Blog

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Disclaimer: This was a review of my experience with the product described. I tried to give a complete and honest assessment. In order to review the product, I received a free trial of the program with no additional compensation. This in no way influenced my review of the product. The opinions expressed are my own and were not affected or edited by anyone prior to publishing.




The grass is green. It’s good to be
 

date Friday, January 28, 2011

Blizzard  Bloghop 2010 hosted by Household 6 Diva

No, I'm not really snowed in! We are actually having a kinda sorta moderate day compared to the last few days. 

I'm participating in the Blizzard Bloghop hosted by Anne Marie at Household6Diva.com. If you found me through that link up ... Welcome to my little corner of the blog world.

I'm The Cow QueenThe royal family is a farming, ranching, homeschooling family of four. We preside over our kingdom which is the farm where Prince Charming (that's my dear husband) grew up. Now, the prince and princess get to have fun in those same fields and on the same river banks.

I hope you spend some time and find some things that interest you. Here are a few of my favorite blog posts:

I hope you enjoy your visit through my kingdom. I'm planning a bit of a change-up in what I present here. If you have suggestions, let me know.

Remember to go back over to Household6Diva and hop around some other blogs.

The grass is green. It’s good to be
 

date Thursday, January 27, 2011




The Prince has been up to some of his funny thoughts again. Really, they are never-ending, but these stand out to me from the past week:


We were doing some Science experiments in the kitchen. The lesson was on taste buds. So, we were tasting things. A part of the lesson even involved a blindfold. After saying three times that he didn't want to be a lab rat, I thought we were doomed. Prince Charming was home at the time and made some comment about how Dr. Jekyll had to taste a lot of things for his experiments. I made some comment about how that probably wasn't the best argument for science, and continued to lure the prince back to our lab. He relented and we finished the lesson. 


It just so happened that this was also the day that we were going to have an introduction to the state of Florida (my home state). In our literature, we learned that Gatorade was developed at the University of Florida in the 1960s. The conversation went like this:


ME: Ya know what? I know somebody who tasted the Gatorade when they were first inventing it.
PRINCE: HO-LEE! Is he alive or dead?
ME: (half chuckling) He's alive.


*****


In a Grammar lesson, the instructions said to "write an argument to convince your parents to take you to the park. Use as many thinking and feeling verbs as you can."  Not wanting him to actually ARGUE with me, I paraphrased:


ME: What would you say to me to talk me into taking you to the park?
PRINCE: How do you write, 'Let's not go to the park." ?
ME: (thinking he just wanted to get out of the assignment) No, you have to write about how you would talk me into taking you.
PRINCE: You know, Reverse Biology.
ME: (really trying to keep my composure) You mean "Reverse Psychology."


As he worked on it, I ran to the other room to tell Prince Charming.
Over the last few days, we have been working on math assignments that involve adding and subtracting 2-digit numbers. One day, we reviewed the previous day's assignment of adding 2 digit numbers. Then, we started doing subtraction. The Prince was having lots of daydreams during school that day. When I finally got him to focus on the assignment, he would add instead of subtract. 

ME: We are doing subtraction.
PRINCE: UGH!! Bless you evil curses of math.
****

I'm linking to Tiny Talk Tuesday so you can see what other cute things the children are saying. 


The grass is green. It’s good to be
 

date Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Speekee
Title: Speekee TV

Vendor: Speekee
Target Ages: ages 2-10
Format: online
Price: $7.50 per month, with the first 2 weeks free




Speekee TV is the online version of Speekee's language immersion program. This program is a spiral learning program in which each episode builds on the previous one. This program is Castilian Spanish. It is the Spanish language that is spoken in Spain. The video episodes are filmed in Spain with real Spanish people ... and a few puppets. The program includes worksheets that accompany each episode and also gives ideas for parents to use to extend the learning.


The Queen's Overall Assessment:
These videos received a mixed reaction at our house. At first, everyone was excited to receive a Spanish language program for review. The videos were engaging and the tunes were quite catchy. I would often catch the prince and princess singing them as they played. I would catch the tunes running through my head as well.
Speekee logo


After we got to watching them, I'm not sure that they were such a great fit for us. Each video comes with subtitles of what the Spanish words are and what the English words are. It was difficult to hear the words and read them at the same time. Some words were not on the screen long enough for me to read them. I know that part of immersion language is that you learn by experiencing it. I'm not sure that it worked for us. Anytime that the princess heard the Spanish words for "and you?", she would reply "My name is (the princess)" -- whether that was the proper response or not. She was, however, the child who would spend the most time watching the videos. I think her attachment was to the very cute puppets and catchy tunes.


The prince would watch the videos and participate, but didn't seem as drawn to them as the princess was.


I haven't decided if this is a product that we will continue to use. It is Castilian Spanish and that isn't a language that is used much around here. While some will argue about dialects and nuances of language, I think that learning the Spanish spoken in Latin American would be more helpful for our purposes.


Speekee also offers a DVD version of this program. Should you choose to buy these videos, keep in mind that Speekee is a European company. You will need to make sure that your DVD player is PAL-compatible to play these DVDs.

Other Homeschool Crew Members reviewed this product. Be sure to find out what they thought at The Homeschool Crew Blog.

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Disclaimer: This was a review of my experience with the product described. I tried to give a complete and honest assessment. In order to review the product, I received a free trial of the program with no additional compensation. This in no way influenced my review of the product. The opinions expressed are my own and were not affected or edited by anyone prior to publishing.




The grass is green. It’s good to be
 

date Friday, January 21, 2011

PhotobucketTitle: Peter and the Wolf

Target Ages: ages 5 and up
Format: CD
Price: $16.98




The Maestro Classics offers audio recordings of classic stories. Each story is accompanied by orchestra music to help build excitement for the program and an appreciation of music. Bonnie Ward Simon and Stephen Simon at Maestro Classics have developed a product line of classic story recordings that will expand listening horizons, develop listening skills and accumulate musical memories, and encourage adults and children to listen to music together.


We reviewed the cd of Peter and the Wolf. Sergei Prokogiev composed Peter and the Wolf in 1936. This cd includes his composition performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It is conducted by Stephen Simon and narrated by Yadu.


The Queen's Overall Assessment:
We really liked this story. We could listen to the music and try to pick out the instruments that were played. We could recognize the instruments when we heard them played in other situations as well. 


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The CD is packaged with a full-color booklet of information and activities to use with the cd. There is a dot-to-dot, crossword, match the instruments, and other games. There is also information on the composer, narrator, and instruments. The prince and the princess enjoyed these activities.


Maestro Classic offers a great selection of classic stories.  Be sure to check them out. As of this writing, there is a special price if you buy 3 cds. You can also hear samples of the story cds online at Maestro Classics website.

Other Homeschool Crew Members reviewed this product. Be sure to find out what they thought at The Homeschool Crew Blog.

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Disclaimer: This was a review of my experience with the product described. I tried to give a complete and honest assessment. In order to review the product, I received a free cd with no additional compensation. This in no way influenced my review of the product. The opinions expressed are my own and were not affected or edited by anyone prior to publishing.




The grass is green. It’s good to be
 

date Wednesday, January 19, 2011

PhotobucketTitle: Early Modern History (Explorers to 1820) Schedule

Target Ages: K-6th grades
Format: Notebook or digital file
Price: Notebook $35.95; Digital File $29.95




The Early Classical company offers complete schedules, main schedules, history schedules, and science schedules.  The Early Modern History (Explorers to 1820) schedule is based on Susan Wise Bauerʼs book The Well-trained Mind: a Guide to Classical Education at Home. This 36-week History schedule includes activities in reading, writing, geography and hands-on projects to re-inforce the lessons. Each weekly schedule includes comprehension questions WITH ANSWERS and a supply list for the next week. The schedule also includes icon reminders to do certain activities throughout the week like mappings, narrations, summaries, and songs.


The Queen's Overall Assessment:
This is review of the SCHEDULE from Early Classical. The schedule comes with a list of resources to use with the schedule. Since I didn't have the resources on-hand, I have to base my review on what I perceive from the schedule.


Overall, I liked the layout of the schedule. I like that it is broken down by subject and that you can see the week-at-a-glance. I like that the comprehension questions are at the bottom of each weekly schedule page. I REALLY like that the answers are there too! Too many times, you only get the comprehension questions and you can't comprehend what they are asking. With the answers in place, your job is much easier.


I also like the "sticky note" at the bottom of each page that gives the supply list for the following week. It makes that last minutes shopping list so much easier to create.


One part that I would caution you about is the amount of reading. According to the schedule, all of the reading is on Monday. That can be up to six CHAPTERS on a single day. Without the resources on-hand, I can't be sure of how long the chapters are. It just sounds like a lot, especially for younger students. The author is all for tweaking the program to work for your student. I would be curious to see how it works to spread the reading throughout the week and still get the other subjects (like writing, for example) completed.


Like I said, we didn't have the resource materials for the review. So, we didn't actually use the schedule. I plan to pull this schedule out again as we move on through our history studies.

Other Homeschool Crew Members reviewed this product. Be sure to find out what they thought at The Homeschool Crew Blog.

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Disclaimer: This was a review of my experience with the product described. I tried to give a complete and honest assessment. In order to review the product, I received a free download of the schedule with no additional compensation. This in no way influenced my review of the product. The opinions expressed are my own and were not affected or edited by anyone prior to publishing.




The grass is green. It’s good to be
 

date Monday, January 10, 2011

See n Read


Title: See-N-Read Reading Tool

Target Age: any
Format: hand-held aide made of PET film
Price: prices vary based on size of product and quantity ordered
         See-N-Read prices are here
         Memory Mark prices are here
         eSee-N-Read prices are here
See n Read


The See-N-Read is an aide for reading. It is a piece of PET film that is mostly gray with a window for viewing the printed page.  The original See-N-Read is the full sheet of plastic. The Memory Mark has an open window to allow for highlighting or making notes in the window without losing your place. The eSee-N-Read is a downloadable component for your computer.


The See-n-Read and Memory Mark come in a 5-1/2" x 3"  book size and a 8-1/2" x 3" document size pieces.


To quote the See N Read website:
Practical design is based on extensive research in the fields of reading, dyslexia, ophthalmology and visual and cognitive processing. It offers a proven solution to tracking, fluency and comprehension issues that may surface during the RtI review process.
SEE: Helps readers to concentrate on and track text with their eyes and to smoothly move between words even when changing lines, thereby increasing fluency and comprehension.

FOCUS: The clear reading window helps readers control their fields of vision and focus on each line of text. The tinted transparent area around the clear window reduces distractions on the page and allows readers to move smoothly to the next line without stopping. It also enables them to re-read without moving the tool in order to keep their place on the page.
REMEMBER: Improved control of field of vision helps readers concentrate on content instead of constantly using mental energy to track the location of words on the page. 
There is a lot of research information on the company website.




The Queen's Assessment
I really liked this product. The prince used it at first for some reading, but I'll admit that I used it for a lot of things too. 

I'm not really sure that I noticed a big difference in the prince's reading or fluency while using this product. His stumbling blocks seem to be the words on the same line, not on adjacent lines. If there were a slide on it that would reveal one word at a time, I think he would really benefit. 


I used this on our road trip to Florida. We were reading a book aloud while en route. While bouncing in a Ford F350, I was able to use the See-N-Read to keep my eye on the line much easier. The page seemed whiter in the vision box of the Memory Mark guide. A whiter page made the words seem darker and clearer. I think this helped reduce eye strain too.

I also used the Memory Mark and eSee-N-Read upon our return to work on our end-of-the-year bookkeeping for the farm. I had journals on the computer to read and apply to a printed page that I had on the desk. The eSee-N-Read marked my place on the computer screen and the Memory Mark allowed me to mark things on my printed sheet. The vision window was great for keeping lines of type distinguished for me and allowing me to highlight and underline text. 


Other Homeschool Crew Members reviewed this product. Be sure to find out what they thought at 
The Homeschool Crew Blog.

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Disclaimer: This was a review of my experience with the product described. I tried to give a complete and honest assessment. In order to review the product, I received each item for free with no additional compensation. This in no way influenced my review of the product. The opinions expressed are my own and were not affected or edited by anyone prior to publishing.




The grass is green. It’s good to be
 


date Friday, January 7, 2011

Yesterday, I told you about the Christmas trip home to visit my family. I think somebody forgot to tell Central Florida that we were coming and to roll out the sunshine.


I also told you about the prince taking a trip with his grandfather. They were going to visit the local strawberry growers. This is what they found:
That's ice!!! In Florida!!! The strawberry farmers are in the midst of harvesting their berries. To protect the crop, they use overhead irrigation when cold weather threatens their production. This was the 8th or 9th freeze this year. They will lose all the ripe berries, but the ice "blankets" will save the plants to continue production.


Prince Charming was able to go back a few days later. He spoke to the farmer and learned more about his production of 200 acres of berries (compared to our one acre).

I'm linking to A Beautiful Mess, Miles to Go, and Five Minutes for Mom.
The grass is green. It’s good to be

 

date Wednesday, January 5, 2011

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Title: Math Facts Now
Target Age: anyone who needs helping learning or reviewing math facts
Format: downloaded program
Price: $15.95 for download or $15.95 + s/h for cd 
This program gave individual lessons for students to complete online. Parents/teachers may choose which math fact operations to review (multiplication, division, addition, or subtraction) and at what level of difficulty. Parent/teachers can also change settings to allow for a certain number of problems to be completed in a lesson period. They can also select what to do when a problem is missed. How many times will the student have to type the correct answer before being allowed to proceed to the next question? When the same questions are revisited, the program warns the student to be careful. 


At the end of each worksheet, the parent/teacher can see a report on how well the student did with the assignment. It gives perfomance reports, but also tells the reviewer which problems were difficult for the student. There is also a section to allow for parent/teacher-led rewards for attaining certain levels of completion.

You can try it for free here
The Queen’s Assessment:
I liked this program for the review aspect. I liked that it would give the student the opportunity to re-type the question and answers that were missed. I liked that it gave the opportunity of selecting only one skill at a time and for choosing the level of difficulty.
The prince did not find it engaging enough to complete more than a few problems.  
When we first received the product, the minimum number of problems to complete for each lesson was 50. Many reviewers (and students!) thought this number was high. The   company was quick to respond to our concerns and lowered the minimum number. This is a big PLUS in my book. Not only did this make the program more appealing to users, it showed that the company has concern for its customers.

Other Homeschool Crew Members reviewed this product. Be sure to find out what they thought at The Homeschool Crew Blog.

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Disclaimer: This was a review of my experience with the product described. I tried to give a complete and honest assessment. In order to review the product, I received a free download of the program with no additional compensation. This in no way influenced my review of the product. The opinions expressed are my own and were not affected or edited by anyone prior to publishing.




The grass is green. It’s good to be
 

date




On Christmas Day, we got up bright and early and left to visit The Queen's family for a few days. The day-long trip would take us to "Sunny Florida." We opened gifts along the way to keep things interesting. 


On Tuesday, the prince grabbed a biscuit and juice and ran out the door for an adventure with his grandfather. He invited Prince Charming to go too, but Prince Charming just said to report back to him. So, they left. When they returned, I asked the prince what he learned. He said, "Grandpa knows more than you think he does."  


*****

On the return trip, we again left early. We skipped breakfast and were going to get it on the road. As we got about 5 miles into our trip, Prince Charming and I were discussing if we wanted to get fuel and food before or after the big metropolitan area. We already decided that we wanted to get through that town before rush hour traffic. Then, the princess said, "Can we just get to Georgia already??"

*****

The next morning at breakfast, the prince asked, "When are we going to Florida?" Say what???? 




I'm linking to Tiny Talk Tuesday so you can see what other cute things the children are saying. 



The grass is green. It’s good to be
 

date Tuesday, January 4, 2011