Come see my new children's book, FREE on Kindle October 20-24!

See my brand new children's book on Kindle!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

April Stuff to Scrap Road Trip

You've reached the end of the Road Trip!  A new month means time to download the new Stuff to Scrap Road Trip, and that's no April Fools joke!  Spring Showers and Lots of Flowers has a fantastic color palette, and if you download from all the stops, you'll have a great megakit that all coordinates.  I've got some papers for you.  Click on image to download from MediaFire.  PU/S4H/S4O.


If you haven't done so already, visit all the other travel stops on the Road Trip, starting April 1:

Created by Jill Scraps
DoubleTrouble Scraps
scraphannah
LdyMcBeth's Spot
Flower Pot Designs
AK Designs
Cami Jo Designs
Hat of Bunny
Busy Crafting Mommy
Saphira's Scraps
Queen Bee Scraps
Let Me Scrapbook!
Scrappin Serenity
The Digi Scrapping Mama
The Scrappy Kat
Eva Marina Scraps
Mommy Made This
Designs by Angel
Note-able Scraps

Friday, March 30, 2012

Easter Freebie from Dandelion Dust Designs!


You can download this cute Easter FREEBIE for a very limited time at Dandelion Dust Designs!

The Old Schoolhouse Crew Reviews

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Don't take my word for it!  Take a look at the reviews of Amazing Animals by Design by The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew!

There are twelve reviews up now, and more will be added throughout the week!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

TOS Review: Little Books from Academic Success for All Learners


One of the most daunting tasks we face as homeschooling parents is teaching our children to read.  I have alluded to this in other reviews.  A child who is a good reader will be able to work independently and excel in many subjects.  But what if you have no training in education whatsoever, and you know how to read well yourself, but you have no idea how to teach that to your child?  What if you never learned phonics as a kid, and the 1st Grade workbooks look like Greek to you with all of their symbols for various sounds?

Academic Success for All Learners has one good solution - the "I See Sam" Little Books sets.



Before beginning the Little Books series, we were given a placement test to see where our child would best fit in the series.  The child's lesson plan can then be customized to his needs.  This was helpful, since my 6-year-old is already reading and would be bored if we started at the beginning with the kindergarten readers.  He was placed in Set 4, which is just about right for his level.  The company sent me Sets 4 and 5, along with a simple set of "Instructor Guidelines."  I have heard several homeschooling parents say that it was difficult to teach phonics because they did not learn to read that way themselves as children.  The Instructor Guidelines did a very good job of explaining the phonics symbols used, how to sound out words with your child, how many mistakes are acceptable in the mastery of each book, and how to correct mistakes.  If you already read this way with your child, you will be ready to begin; however, if you have struggled with teaching phonics, this guide will be helpful.

Each Little Book begins with "Sound Practice," where you may review several sounds with your child, and then it introduces one "New Sound" to be used in that booklet.  Next is "Word Practice" with words that contain those sounds and that will be used in the booklet, and several "New Words".  After that is the story.  You may let your child read as much as he can on his own, and help him sound out words that are difficult.  Read each book for several days until it is mastered, and then move onto the next.  Small print at the bottom of some pages gives discussion questions to ask as you go through the book, so that your child is developing comprehension skills while sounding out the words.  After the story is a "Looking Back" page, where your child may review sentences from this story or a previous one, to make sure he is retaining the information.  Finally, there is a "Coming Attractions" page, with a preview of one or more words or sounds that will be used in the next book.

As your child finishes each Little Book, he or she may color in one drawing on the Learner's Chart, and when the set is completed, there is a Certificate.

I like the layout of these books and the way each book builds on those that have been done before.  They do a good job of introducing sounds and words, practicing them in a story, and then reviewing them before moving on.  I have always found that my children learn reading better by jumping in and reading actual stories rather than by studying word lists.  This method also helps them to develop comprehension skills early, as some children tend to sound out words well but never pay attention to what they are reading unless they are asked questions.

I also like the reward philosophy behind the method.  The Instructor's Guide lists the methods for keeping the learner interested:

1.  The Stories.  The Reading for All Learners stories are interesting and highly motivating.  Consistently, we have found that children like the stories.

Well, my 6-year-old may be a hard sell on this one.  I think my other three children may have enjoyed these stories more when they were his age, but to be honest, it takes quite a story to hold his attention.  He enjoys reading, but he's not the sit-down-at-the-desk-and-master-the-book kind of kid.  He's more of the wouldn't-it-be-fun-to-blow-up-my-brother's-science-project kind of kid.  He was somewhat bored by these stories, which was the only downside, but he is still advancing through the sets.

2.  Your approval.  A smilie face with the word "Praise" under it is periodically located at the bottom of the pages in the story.  These are to help remind you to praise the learner for good reading.

Very good reminder.  Verbal praise is one of the best motivators for almost any child, and this motivation does help my son.

3.  Showing Success.  The Learner's Chart provides a visual picture of the learner's accomplishment. . . . Each time the learner completes a book, the learner should fill in the chart.  This rewards the learner for completing each book and gives the learner a sense of accomplishment.

Yes.  Rewards.  My 6-year-old likes rewards.  When we first started the new set of books, he picked up the chart, looking somewhat interested.  "So I get to color a fish each time I read one of those books?"  I nodded.  "Do I get to color the octopus at the bottom after I color all of the fish?"  Absolutely.  Coloring sea creatures appealed to him, but he still looked doubtful.

"I'll tell you what," I said.  "When you finish reading all 14 books in a set, color all the fish, and color the octopus, I'll give you a dollar."

Now I was speaking his language.

"Let's read, Mom!"


The Little Books series includes 141 colored coded readers. There are 8 sets of books from Kindergarten to a third grade reading level. Each story includes comprehension questions to use. They include inferential and evaluative questions as well as basic literal ones.  Each set is $30.  Academic Success for All Learners also carries other carefully researched materials for teaching reading, math, and even behavior concepts.  Find more information at http://www.iseesam.com.

The customer service is another plus at Academic Success for All Learners.  I did not have any problems or a need to contact them, but I received a very nice letter encouraging me to contact them at any time.  They are very encouraging and seem eager to help.  There are free resources available on the website, as well as a Facebook page and a YouTube channel.

If you are looking for an early reader program with a good succession of books to teach phonics, reading, and comprehension, and a reward component, I would recommend trying the "I See Sam" Little Books.

Other TOS Reviewers reviewed various level sets of the Little Books.  To see their opinions, click here.

Disclaimer:  I received two free sets of Little Books from Academic Success for All Learners in exchange for a fair review.  No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Winks Art Graphics on Facebook

Check out Winks Art Graphics' Facebook Page.  Here is a LO I made with their kit "All Things Bright and Beautiful":


Win a Free Kit at Secret Stash Designs - see below!


This is a repost.  Make sure you link over to Secret Stash Designs to leave your comments!


SNEAK PEEK: GROW WISE LITTLE OWL

It’s that time again! Hitting my store at Scrap Orchard this week is Grow Wise Little Owl. It’s all about raising your little ones with wisdom and encouragement. Don’t we all treasure those special “lightbulb moments” they have? The first time they count to ten or recite the alphabet by themselves, or learn to tie their shoes, or learn a foreign language, the list goes on! Whatever pops into the bright little mind of your children, this kit is sure to help you display those memories. How would you like to win this? Keep reading!
Up for grabs is not just the kit, but the entire bundle! Not shown in the sneak peek is also a 4-pack of templates, an overlays set and also a set of clusters. It’s quite a value! So here is what you have to do…
Leave a comment on this post BEFORE midnight CST on 3/28/2012
Gain more entries by doing the following…
Facebook this post
Tweet this post
Google+ this post
Re-blog this post
You will get an extra entry for each thing you do, but do make sure you leave separate comments for each thing!
One winner will be contacted via email on 3/29/2012 and announced on my fanpage and twitter.  Good luck!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Radio Interview for Amazing Animals by Design

If you missed my radio interview a few weeks ago, you can listen to it on my new website!  Check it out at

Beautiful Feet Books Giveaway!


Beautiful Feet Books, learning history and geography through literature, are one of my favorite homeschool resources.  I started using them as a supplement and have switched to using them as a full history curriculum.

If you would like to try them out, now is the time to visit their website.  BFB is holding their first ever Blog Giveaway!  Click below to enter to win TWO titles of your choice!

Monday, March 26, 2012

A League of Extraordinary Women

In researching my family history, I have realized that I come from a tradition of strong women.

My great-grandmother and my grandmother

Women who were known for their generosity and for their strength.  Women who had healthy marriages, but who were also independent.  Women who knew that it is more important to invest in the marriage than to invest in the wedding.

My grandmother and grandfather

Women who exhibited the love of Christ, who took care of their own families, and who took care of others.  Women who sacrificed their own pleasures for others.

My mother and me

Women who had fun, creativity, and talent.

My mother-in-law

We leave to my daughters a great heritage.

Four Generations: My grandmother, my mother, me, and my children
And women who, when they are gone, will enter Grace and wait for us patiently on the Other Side.  We will see them again.


A TIME OF SORROW

Here now, I lay me down to rest
God has my soul, my life was blest

A time to mourn and a time to weep
Oh take me Lord into thy keep

In this time of mourning and deep grief
we pray your sorrow be but brief

Look up to Heaven for your strength
we know his love goes any length

Even though she's here no more
picture her at Heaven's Door

as to dust she returns to Earth
it signifies her Eternal Birth

She's standing in the arms of Grace
and looking at God's holy face

Our bodies here must pass away
her job now?  Sing Praise!! all day

Those earthy ails are here no more
she's dancing on the Golden Shore

Let her dance in your mind's eye
see her happy; don't wonder why

Memories might make you sad
remember the life she had

while you're in the midst of grief
let God's Spirit bring relief

One day you'll say, I'm doing just fine
"Beauty from Ashes" can take some time

Let this hope keep tears at bay:
Together we will be some day!

Jamie Franck Turner
© March 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

TOS Review: Action Alert

The Internet is now a part of our daily lives.  I would not want to get rid if it, as my family and I have received many benefits from the information we can glean there, the communication with friends and family, and the quick access to educational tidbits.  As we all know, however, this great tool has opened a portal of danger into our homes for both ourselves and our children.  I have tried to take precautions.  Our family desktop sits in the middle of the family room and has an extra-large screen.  I can walk by and see what my kids are up to at any time.  I limit their time on the computers, check the histories periodically, and do not allow them to take our school laptops to their bedrooms.  We have talked extensively about Internet safety.  I have let them know that nothing they can do online is completely private or secure, and because I know that other people can see these things, I will regularly read their Facebook messages, emails, etc.  They may have privacy in other areas of their lives, but privacy on the Internet is an illusion, so if they know I will see what they type or post, they will be careful what they put there.


I have found a new tool in my battle to keep my kids safe online:  Action Alert.  Action Alert is really 8 Internet safety tools in one:


I installed the downloadable Action Alert software on my son's school laptop a little over a month ago.  We just got a new laptop for my daughter, and I plan to install it there as well.  The installation was fairly easy after I read the instructions.  Once installed, it records everything my children do in any program on the computer.  I could choose whether to "ONLY" allow access to certain sites on the Internet, which I think would be a very good choice for younger children, or whether to "BLOCK" certain sites.  There is a master list of sites that Action Alert automatically blocks, unless you turn that option off, and I added some sites that I did not want my children to be able to visit.

Now, to be honest, my son is fairly responsible with his Internet activity.  Knowing that I am monitoring it helps reinforce his own self-control.  So, for the whole time I have had Action Alert installed, I have received no notifications of any suspicious activity.  Wanting to make sure the program was doing what it was supposed to, I decided to test it a bit myself, after notifying my husband that he may see a few undesirable sites on the browser history when he checked it!  I did my best to put myself in the mindset of a curious teenage boy, and I typed "pornography" into the Google search box.  The Google search screen did come up, and there are "teasers" in the first few lines of some of the sites that I would not wish my child to see, but the images were blurred, and when I tried to click on several pornographic sites, I received a message that the content was blocked.  I tried again with "Playboy" and "Penthouse" with the same results.  "Maxim" and "Victoria's Secret" were not blocked, so I added them to the list on my "Action Alert Manager."  Then, "DING!"  Two emails popped up in my inbox, telling me that my son (I) had searched for the terms "pornography" and "playboy."  Obviously, the list was not completely exhaustive, but it is definitely a good start.

I then logged back into the parental manager and was able to peruse the last 60 hours of my children's activities on that laptop.  The activity was in the form of a video that showed me every keystroke the children had made in their schoolwork, games they played, and Internet searches for the past month.  My son came in while I was watching this video at fast-speed, and he asked what I was doing.  When I told him, he just said, "Oh."  The completion of my inspection confirmed that he was not worried because he had nothing to hide.  Good to know, and I hope he stays this responsible throughout his teenage years, but I know that those temptations can become heavy even for grown men, so I will continue to assist his own conscience!

There are also options within Action Alert to shut down the PC remotely, and to set time limits on PC usage.  When the PC shuts down because of being disabled by Action Alert, non-saved information should not be lost.

Action Alert has received several awards, and it is endorsed by the Child Safety Network.



At present, Action Alert only works on Windows-based PCs.  I wish there were a Mac version available, as that is what we use mostly.  We have two Windows-based PCs on which the children do schoolwork, as their curriculum also only runs on Windows, but our family desktop is a Mac, and the children have iPods.  We turn off the Internet on their iPods when we are not monitoring them, but a program like this for the iPod would be wonderful!

I would caution any parent that no software can make your computer completely "kid-safe."  As I mentioned earlier, this program prevented access to Playboy and Penthouse, but not to Maxim, which can be almost as bad in my opinion.  I added that one to my "blocked" list, but I'm sure a curious teenage boy could continue to search and find some site that neither I nor Action Alert had thought to block yet.  No software can replace a parent's vigilance in keeping the children safe, but tools such as Action Alert can certainly help.

There are two versions of Action Alert available:

Free Version - Free is always good, right??  Action Alert offers a 100% free version that many parents feel gives them the amount of protection and peace of mind they need - and for good reason!  The free version offers more protection than you would otherwise pay $40 per year for or more with other products.  It includes a web filter to ensure safe searches, website blocking that prevents access to a constantly updated list of websites, time use controls - it even sends texts or e-mail alerts when dangers are detected.  All of this PLUS free tech support where calls are taken at the Arizona based support center by the friendly staff.  

Maximum Protection - Action Alert sends a message to your cell phone or e-mail when an event occurs that you should be aware of.  This message lets parents know they should take a look at the computer and probably have a talk with their young computer user.  The Maximum Protection version simply gives parents a much more complete set of tools to see the details of the missteps their child or teen took online, or in some cases provides usable evidence of interactions when they were targeted by a wrong-doer.  From the moment the 100% free version is installed, the technology goes to work recording the computer activity of your protected user.  If needed, you can activate Maximum Protection and watch everything that happened like watching a DVR.   The Maximum Protection Version is fully customizable, offers multiple user protection, and offers full social network monitoring.

Action Alert is appropriate for any age group.  You cannot start protecting your child too young.  The Maximum Protection Plan is just $29.99 at www.actionalert.com.

No family should be without the protection offered by Action Alert.  Please go to Action Alert | Free Parental control to download yours today.

Other TOS Crew Members also reviewed the Action Alert software.  You can read what they thought about it here.

Disclaimer:  I received a free Maximum Protection version of Action Alert in exchange for a fair review. No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Miami Vineyard Live

I am running quite late with this review.  First, I received the album late.  Then, my grandmother was ill for about 3 weeks, and last week, she went home to be with the Lord; in the midst of family visits and the funeral I have gotten behind on everything.  Then, when I finally inserted the CD into my computer to download it into my iTunes, it got stuck in my computer and would not download.  Unbelievable!  (For the record, that was my computer issue and not an issue with the CD, and is not meant to reflect badly in the review.)  Do you ever have those days - or, you know, months - where you really don't want to make excuses, but the hits just keep on coming?!  Well, a death in the family will do that to you, but I am getting caught back up on everything now.  Because of the lateness of the review, I will not be giving away a copy of the CD, but it is a great CD, and I wanted to recommend it to you, anyway.

What happens when a group of 20+ musicians and 10+ songwriters steeped deep in their own musical traditions of Black Gospel, Latin, Caribbean, and Anglo come together to create a new tradition and sound? What happens when the fusion of Black, Anglo, Latino, Caribbean, and Cuban voices unite together to worship in one voice? Among the 2000 people that attend the Miami Vineyard Community Church, there are over a hundred singers, instrumentalists and songwriters that make up its eclectic worship ministry. For one night, these musicians joined together in worship and invited the church to document the sound that is uniquely MIAMI VINEYARD LIVE.
This distinctive bi-lingual liturgy is filled with many flavors, from Latino claves to gospel two-step to funk and soul to delay-laden rock guitars of modern worship, yet they all work together seamlessly to create a new sound and voice that is authentic and refreshing. From anthems of praise and proclamation to songs of intimacy and adoration, there is a common thread running deep throughout this recording and that is true worship of the Living God as an expression of His Kingdom breaking in on the streets and beaches of Miami, FL.
I truly enjoyed this album.  For me, it was a great balance of songs I knew and brand new songs to learn.  The music itself is also a good balance:  it is upbeat music with which I can enjoy worshipping, but without feeling like I have to jump up and down and dance in the aisles (although if you wish to jump up and down and dance, the beat is there, so feel free)!  I enjoy the Latino, Caribbean, and Gospel feel all combined in one album.

If you are any type of worship leader or a guitar or keyboard player, there is an added bonus of a link provided on the album cover from which you may download guitar chord charts for most of the songs on the album.  That is a great feature!

If you are looking for some fresh, upbeat praise music, you should try listening to Miami Vineyard Live. You can find information and purchase at the following:


Website: http://www.vineyardmusic.com/vm/miami-live
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/miamivineyardLIVE
Purchase: http://www.vineyardresources.com/equip/content/miami-vineyard-live-cd
Video: http://vimeo.com/28995392

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or
services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it 
on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally 
and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance 
with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the 
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Slice of Spring" by Dandelion Dust Designs and Freebie!

Today is officially the first day of spring!  Though here in North Carolina, it has felt like spring since last summer, so this is not a huge change.  We had some friends over at lunch and I tried to set up a picnic lunch for all the kids outside, but all the bees seem to know it's spring, too, so the kids came running back inside with their food.

Well, if you have some new spring pictures to scrap, check out the "Slice of Spring" kit by Dandelion Dust Designs!



I just love those adorable little butterflies and bees!  The lace-ups are also fantastic for layering papers.  You can find the kit exclusively at ScrapDelicious.


To sample a little of the kit, feel free to pick up the QP and the stacked paper I used from Mediafire.  Click on images below.  PU only.




Happy Spring!  :)

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the "Slice of Spring" kit in exchange for layouts.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Molly Is Back!

Trying to save money in this crazy economy?  Molly can help!

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Why Did Jesus Weep?

When I was a kid and we were learning the Bible verses on the list at Church Camp or Vacation Bible School, one of the most popular verses to memorize was John 11:35.  Why?  Simple.  It is the shortest verse in the Bible.  "Jesus wept."  When you are getting points for your team or earning prizes per verse, this one gives you some bang for your buck.  Every kid on the team could memorize it in 2.8 seconds. 100% team participation!

I have realized over the years, however, that this short verse also carries huge significance.  Those two little words have puzzled people over the generations.  Jesus wept.  Why did He weep?

The context of the story is that Jesus just found out that His good friend Lazarus had died.  Lazarus's sisters had sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, undoubtedly hoping that after He had healed all manner of the dregs of society over the past months, He would certainly rush to heal His good friend.  I mean, there should be some perks to being good friends with the greatest Healer of all time, shouldn't there?  Jesus, however, stayed where He was for two more days, and by the time He got around to heading to their home in Bethany, Lazarus had died.  This part Jesus later explained to His disciples.  He waited so that God could be glorified when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in a foreshadowing of His own resurrection.

What I don't get is why did Jesus weep?  It was His plan to wait until Lazarus died before He went to him. He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.  Why was He sad when He knew that He could and would resurrect His friend?  Some people have suggested that He wept because He was sympathetic to the grief of Lazarus's sisters, His good friends Mary and Martha.  Maybe that was part of it, but I don't buy it.  If I could raise people from the dead and was on my way to resurrect my grandmother, and on the way I ran into my cousin who was crying, I wouldn't stop and cry with her.  I'd say, "Hey, don't cry, I'm going to raise Grandma from the dead, and everything will be fine!"  Why didn't Jesus just say, "Hey, Mary and Martha, don't cry, I've got it under control?"  That's basically what He did in Luke 8:52, when He raised Jairus's daughter.  So maybe some of it had to do with the fact that in His human life, He was very good friends with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Others have suggested that Jesus wept merely to let us know that it is OK to grieve as humans.  Maybe that was part of it.  But I think there is more.

I think Jesus wept because Death is not natural.  We've all been taught that it is.  Death is a natural part of life.  Everyone dies someday.  The only things we can be sure of are Death and Taxes.  The truth is, we only think Death is natural because it has happened to almost everyone in the past 6,000 years.  But it wasn't part of God's original plan.  God did not create people to die.  He created us to live forever with Him.  Death came to the first man and every one since (except for a few exceptions like Elijah and Enoch - yeah, I think they are the only ones) as a result of sin entering the world.  It is a punishment that we brought on ourselves, one about which God warned us and which He allows us to suffer, but not one that He wanted.  It was not part of His original perfect plan.  And so when Jesus encountered it as a human, He wept.  He wept because it made Him sad that people had to die, He was sad for the other people who were affected, and He was sad that He would have to undergo it Himself in order to pay the punishment for our sins.  It is a horrible separation from God and from our loved ones that truly made Him sad, just as it makes us sad, even though He knew that He had power over it and would eventually conquer it.

My grandmother died this morning.  She was 90 years old.  She was a lovely, strong woman.  She lived a good, long life, and there is nothing for us to regret.  We know she is in a better place.  So why are we so sad?  Because we miss her - that's part of it, of course.  Our grief is more for ourselves than it is for her.  But we also grieve because Death is, by its nature, sad, and it causes grief.  We long for the Day when it will have power over us no more.  We long for the Grave Robber to come like a thief in the night, when Death will finally die.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory."  I Corinthians 15:54 NIV



There's a step that we all have to take alone
An appointment we have with the great unknown
Like a vapor this life is just waiting to pass
Like the flowers that fade, like the withering grass

But life seems so long and death so complete
And the grave an impossible portion to cheat
But there's One who has been there and still lives to tell
There is One who has been through both heaven and hell

And the grave will come up empty-handed that day
Jesus will come and steal us away

Where is the sting, tell me where is the bite?
When the grave robber comes like a thief in the night
Where is the victory, where is the prize?
When the grave robber comes and death finally dies.
--Grave Robber by PETRA

TOS Review: Art of Argument


I was thrilled to receive the Art of Argument Teacher and Student books from Classical Academic Press, and even more thrilled once I started using them.  My husband was also drooling over them, and I thought he might just take over that part of the homeschooling class, as this is the type of thing he loves and that he loves for the children to learn.  I also received a sample of the instructional DVD.

Since this is an election year, I have been talking to my kids about some of the issues, and I have been taking advantage of the charged atmosphere to teach my kids about debates, advertising, and thinking for themselves.  I want to teach them to look past the emotional draws, the biased statistics, and the artful smokescreens that are so prevalent not only in politics, but also in every advertisement that accosts us from the TV screen or the magazine pages, and to be able to find the facts at the heart of the matter and make an educated opinion.

The Art of Argument was exactly the text I was looking for!


The Art of Argument: An Introduction to the Informal Fallacies is a textbook and workbook combined, and it is an excellent introduction to debate, analyzing advertisements, and critical thinking for students from the seventh to the ninth grade.  That grade range is considered the "logic stage" in the classical trivium.  The text may also benefit high school students who have not been exposed to logic before.  While I am using it chiefly with my eighth grade child, I am including my younger children in the discussions.  I think they benefit from it even if they do not understand everything, and I like having several students involved in logic and debate discussions to bounce questions and ideas off of each other.

The book discusses the main questions of:
--What is the issue at hand?
--Relevance - Is the argument relevant to the issue at hand?
--Presumption - Is the argument assuming something illegitimate?
--Clarity - Is the argument clear?

Through clear explanations and a variety of interest-holding tools such as cartoon drawings, sample advertisements, and dialogues with the imaginary present-day Socrates, the children learn about logic and common fallacies in arguments.  They learn how to guard against being tricked by appeals to emotion and how to watch for red herrings.  They learn to argue well and to not be tricked by those who are not arguing well.  Vocabulary words that may be new to the students are written in bold letters and are defined in the glossary in the back.





The accompanying DVD contains two adults and several students discussing several of the fallacies.  The bundle, containing the student and teacher books as well as the DVD, gives you everything you need to accommodate students with different types of learning.

The Art of Argument is one of my must-haves for middle school students among the homeschool items I have reviewed.  Whether you do unit studies and would like to use this for one, or whether you use a standard curriculum throughout the year and could use this to supplement your other subjects, if you have middle school students, you need to work through The Art of Argument with them.  I have not found a better logic text.

You can find more information and purchase The Art of Argument at the website for Classical Academic Press.  The bundle is $88.95, or you may purchase the parts separately.  This is more than I generally have budgeted to purchase one supplement, but it is well worth it.

Also check out CAP on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/classicalacademicpress, and the
Student Support Site at http://www.headventureland.com/.

Some of my fellow TOS Reviewers reviewed this product, and some reviewed The Argument Builder from CAP.  See what they thought of both products at http://homeschoolcrew.com/784685/.

Disclaimer:  I received the above products free from Classical Academic Press for the purpose of a fair review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Radio Interview for Amazing Animals by Design

The radio interview for my first published book, Amazing Animals by Design, went great.  The kids got to come into the studio with me, and they each got their own microphone.  When I told the talk show host, Ben Ball, that one of my daughters wants to be a talk show host some day, he gave her a chance to ask me some questions on the show.  Living out the dream at 8-years-old!





Friday, March 9, 2012

"Snack Attack" by Dandelion Dust Designs

Almost midnight and I feel that snack attack coming on - oh, but let's not scrap THOSE pictures!  We'll scrap the ones of the kids!!



The "Snack Attack" kit by Dandelion Dust Designs is perfect for scrapping your snacks, picnics, BBQs, and cravings!  Available exclusively at ScrapDelicious.


Grab your free QPs from Mediafire by clicking on the images below!  PU only.



Happy Snacking, I mean, Scrapping!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the "Snack Attack" kit in exchange for layouts.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

TOS Review: K5 Learning


The past several weeks, we have been given the opportunity to review K5 Learning.  K5 Learning, found at http://www.k5learning.com/, is an online supplemental study program for kids in kindergarten to grade 5, to build reading, math and study skills.  It can be used as a homeschool supplement or as an after-school program.

There were pros and cons to the K5 Learning program.  I tried to use it with both my 3rd-grade daughter and my 1st-grade son.  The program starts with an optional assessment test in both math and reading to see where your children would best be placed in the program.  I wanted to do the assessments because since we often work with homeschool materials from different grade levels, I wanted to see where my students would best fit into this particular program.  I started with the reading and math assessments for my daughter, and they did not go well.  The program lost her work several times so that she had to start over.  I contacted the company and was assured that the program had gone through extensive use and testing and should not have malfunctioned, so my daughter must have taken a long break without saving her work or must have done something else that caused the problem.  After my daughter had taken the test 3 times and was becoming very frustrated, I finally just took it myself.  The program lost my information as well.  After several attempts, I was able to convince the company that the problem was on their end, and they started a new account for me, transferring my children's information over.  After that, things worked fine, and I appreciated the customer service I received at that point, but I felt like it was a long time coming and that I really had to argue to get help.  My daughter was quite frustrated with the program and did not want to do it any more, so I used it with my first grade son.

The assessments went fine with my son and probably placed him at a level that was slightly too easy for him, but that is fine because it is not a problem to move him up, and he could always use some review.  The program contains lessons in math, math facts, reading, spelling, and vocabulary.  The lessons are material-based, not game-based, so they are good for someone who really just wants to drill the facts and not waste a lot of time on games.  They do, however, contain fun colors, sounds, and graphics, so they are able to hold my son's attention and appear "fun."  There were a few isolated things I did not like.  One was that when he started the math lessons, the character on the screen introduced herself in Spanish ("Hola.  Me llamo ____.") My children are learning Spanish and I suppose that could be a good way to reinforce the lessons, but I try to keep Spanish separate from their other subjects so that they do not get Spanish and English words and grammar mixed up.  I prefer not to have something introduced in Spanish unless the entire lesson is in Spanish.  Another problem was in the vocabulary words.  You can press a "hear word" button to hear the pronunciation of the word, but the pronunciation is often so fast that it is difficult to understand.  One word was "the first note in the diatonic music scale. . . equivalent to the tone C."  The screen shot is below.  The answer, of course, is "Do," pronounced with a long "o."  When I pressed the "hear word" button, however, the computer voice pronounced the word "do" that sounds the same as "doo," as in, "I DO like your hair."  This was just incorrect and misleading to the student.


K5 Learning is designed for Kindergarten through 5th graders.  If you are interested, I would recommend getting the free assessment for your student and then trying the 14-day free trial.  If you do like it and wish to continue, pricing is as follows:

Pricing
Monthly Subscription
First Child.......................$25
Additional Children..........$15

Annual Subscription
First Child.......................$199
Additional Children..........$129


To see what other TOS Reviewers thought of K5 Learning, click here.

Disclaimer:  I received a free subscription to K5 Learning for the purpose of a fair review.  No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.