Monday, May 31, 2010

Great Latin Adventure

Classical Legacy Press, founded by Norman and Katherine Birkett, is ready to offer homeschool families a Great Latin Adventure. If you think the words Latin and Adventure should never be used side by side in a sentence keep reading. Fans of foreign language education will appreciate and understand Katherine Birkett's enthusiasm in writing The Great Latin Adventure curriculum designed for students as young as 3rd grade, but specifically written for grades 4-6.

"I have been a language lover since I was a girl", says Birkett. "Words, grammar, etymology, writing--I love them all. It's been my privilege to study Latin, French, and Russian under various teachers, and a bit of Greek on my own. A desire to share that love of language with children has shaped my Latin program", she said.

Birkett developed The Great Latin Adventure while teaching a homeschool co-op class. She searched for an appropriate curriculum that could meet the needs of teacher and student, found nothing and decided to write her own. GLA has been homeschool tested and approved.

The Great Latin Adventure is grammar focused, not conversational. It is also teacher intensive, but extremely easy to use regardless of Latin education background. The program is not computerized or self-teaching like other homeschool foreign language programs. It is Christian focused and does not include Roman history, culture or teachings on mythology.

The 232 page student manuals can be purchased three hole punched and ready for a binder for $15.00 or three hole punched in a binder for $22.00. Teacher's manuals are $30.00 or $40.00 dependent on presentation and come with a pronunciation CD. Classical Legacy Press accepts PayPal and credit card payments on their website.

The Great Latin Adventure is divided into two levels each containing 12 lessons. A table of contents of Level One can be viewed here. To view the Table of Contents for Level II simply click here. Each level of the Great Latin Adventure includes:
  • Detailed lesson plans
  • Built in exercises to drill grammar, translation and vocabulary
  • Vocabulary/ full chapter quizzes
  • LOTS of teacher's notes and tips for each chapter to build confidence
  • Answer keys that model the student sheets with answers
The Great Latin Adventure is divided into 12 chapters organized to take one school year to complete. It is encouraged to schedule lessons three times a week with independent study, like reviewing vocabulary with flashcards, expected. Students are expected to dedicate three, 30-45 min. study sessions per week to Latin to complete the program in a school year.

We received Level I of The Great Latin Adventure for free in exchange for this review. My 7th grade daughter Micah, a student of Latin for the past two years, helped me test market this curriculum. We found that although the 12 lesson curriculum is designed to cover 36 weeks of school we could easily blow through it in less than 6 weeks. Although the lessons are well designed, and very thorough in presentation, the material was not challenging enough to demand the amount of time allotted by the curriculum guidelines. Micah easily completed 4 days worth of work in a short one day session.

"I learned a lot from the program because there was a lot of information regarding grammar, and how many Latin conjugations there are. It seemed to be a little too easy for me, however. Too much time was spent on one particular subject which slowed me down a little too much. I think I would really like to take a course like this designed for an older student", said Micah.

Micah's summation is spot on. I loved this course for its ease of use, and detailed teaching instructions. The more notes and teaching aids I can get from a curriculum the happier I am. The Great Latin Adventure makes teaching Latin as easy as reading and following directions. Unfortunately, because it is written for the younger student it was not challenging enough for my soon to be eighth grader with two years of Latin study behind her.

Classical Legacy Press provides a 60-Day unconditional money-back guarantee for all of their products. Classical educators will want to take note of the company's Logic curriculum on their website too.

Lobster Network

Summer is a great time for homeschool families to get organized. Our family is usually so busy with school and activities during the typical school year that our house tends to suffer from "clutter-itis", "i'll deal with it later syndrome" and "throw it over there disorder". Stacks of things to be dealt with grow taller and taller on my desk and I begin to dream of long, summer days with nothing to do but, get organized.

This summer as I sit at the beach relaxing I know I have a new tool to help me re-capture order once I return. It's LOBSTER NETWORK found at Making use of the facets of this FREE website can refresh a stressed out disorganized homeschool parent just like a day at the beach.

Lobster Network, created by Canadian homeschool parents, Isabelle and Robert Lussier, is a "one of a kind item networking" system that allows you to keep track of important items, share them with friends or borrow new things from others. If you can imagine maintaining a library of valuables while networking with other like-minded families you can imagine the possibilities of Lobster Network. LOBSTER is actually an acronym for Lend it/ Organize it/ Buy/ Borrow it, Sell it, Trade it, Exchange it, Request it. LOBSTER NETWORK is like a support group, garage sale and Facebook wrapped up in one handy website.

Creating an account on LOBSTER network is simple and FREE. Once registered you can join "communities" or create a new community for your friends to join. The most useful aspect, I think, is the ability to inventory all of your books, cds, educational games, etc. I have homeschooled for nearly 15 years and have an unbelieveable supply of educational resources. During the summer months I generally create lesson plans and begin to develop the ensuing school year. Many times I neglect items in my vast collection of resources and regret it later simply because I have lost track of it. Utilizing LOBSTER Network in the planning process will ensure I never do that again.

If time is limited and the thought of rifling through all of your "valuables" turns your heart to ice, never fear. Simply enter a few items every day and soon a wonderful list will develop ensuring you are well underway to optimum organization. I was amazed when I used LOBSTER network for the purpose of this review how quickly and efficiently the inventory process was. I also was able to quickly glance through the needs of members of my TOS Review Crew community to determine if I could fill a need.

Since I am a member of The Homeschool Review Crew for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine a special community group was created for us to use. My youngest child will enter 1st grade next year and I am finally willing to begin to part with some of my educational supplies. I listed these specific items to be searchable in the "Marketplace" for friends in my community. This allowed my friends to search my inventory and the inventory of other connected homeschool families when shopping for new homeschool supplies. Lobster Network allows users to search for products by name, category, purpose or distance.

LOBSTER network members can advertise items to other users. This advertising can include, for sale, for FREE, for lending,for trade or "I want this"in the listing. Lending and borrowing items with other homeschool families is a great way to frugally homeschool, but sometimes tracking those transactions can turn into a major waste of time. It is at best difficult to manage. LOBSTER network allows users to easily keep track of items lent, due dates, send messages to borrowers for due date reminders and request an extension on a loaned item. All communication can be managed right on the site.
When I return from my beach vacation and begin to tackle those stacks on my desk one of my first priorities will be to add to my Lobster Network. It's free. It's fast and efficient and it will help me refresh and re-organize my homeschool journey.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kregel Publishing Books-Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure

Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure by Susan K. Marlowe is an adventure story set near Fresno, California during the time of the California Gold Rush. Thirteen year old Andi Carter returns home for a fun filled summer vacation from Miss Whittaker's Academy, a finishing school for girls located in San Francisco. She is anxious to re-connect with old friends, family and her favorite horse, Taffy. Andi, a true tom-boy is conflicted with the responsibility and expectations of a growing up in a time when women were limited in their roles.

The adventure begins innocently enough as Andi, big brother Mitch and friends Jenny and Cory take off on horseback for a 2-week camping and gold prospecting trip. The group believes they are destined for hours of riding, fishing and panning for gold. Unfortunately, innocent mishaps lead to bigger trouble and Andi and friends faith, courage and survival skills are tested in ways they could never have imagined.

Themes of adventure, courage, bravery, self-less love and Godly character are present throughout this 17 chapter novel targeted to tweens. Although Andrea (Andi) Carter is a female main character, most boys will enjoy the plot line and be drawn in by the action. Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure is the 5th book written by Marlowe for her Circle C Adventure series. Each book is available on Kregel Publications website, for $7.99 for a paperback copy. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for this review.

I read this little adventure story during a 12 hour car ride to the beach. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was occassionally surprised by plot twists and turns. As I read Marlowe's account of 13 year Andil I easily remembered the conflicted emotions and responsibilities brought about by this age. My daughter, Micah just celebrated her 13th birthday and could imagine her involved in the plot. I can't wait to give Micah this book to read and enjoy.

Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure will make a great summer read for any child aged 10 and older. Due to the frightening nature of some plot twists I would reccommend pre-reading the book for younger children. There is also a 24 page supplementary unit study guide available for free on the company website. The guide covers:

  • vocabulary
  • Discussion Questions
  • A Closer Look section for learning more about maps, California Gold Rush and Annie Oakley
  • A Nature Connection section to learn more about mountain lions and rattlesnakes
  • A Just for Fun section
  • Helpful weblinks for "rabbit trail" studies of the Sierra Nevadas, the California Gold Rush, etc.

Click here to view the guide.

Kregel Publications is a Christian publishing company dedicated since 1949 to meet the needs of evangelical readers. You can read more about Kregel Publications and all the books they offer at their website.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cerebellum/ Standard Deviant-US History AP prep video

Cerebellum Corporation is dedicated to helping students take the stress out of studying at Light Speed! Cerebellum Corporation, creators of Standard Deviants DVD curriculum has 25 titles in their new Light Speed collection. All titles are designed to appeal to teens as an entertaining review of various high school level course work. Light Speed videos cover topics such as Fractions & Decimals, Civil Rights, SAT Prep, U.S. Government & Politics, Chemistry, Writing, and History of the U.S.

Our family received a FREE copy of Light Speed AP U.S. History Exam Prep from Cerebellum Corporation in exchange for this review. Although no one in our home was preparing this year for the AP American History test we did think the DVD had a lot to offer. Included in the DVD package was a digital student workbook on CD-Rom to reinforce concepts reviewed by watching the video.

Light Speed AP American History Exam Prep has a run time of about 90 minutes, but provides a comprehensive review of all major events in U.S. History. The amount of time spent reviewing various topics is dependent on the number of questions a student will be asked when taking the AP Test. Watching through the DVD for the purpose of this review I found it covered:

  • Test taking tips and strategies

  • An explanation of what to expect when taking the AP test like types of questions, tips on answering essay questions, and a breakdown of subject matter covered

  • An explanation of how much time is dedicated to each part of the test aiding the student with time management issues commonly faced during comprehensive timed tests.

  • Step by step instructions detailing how to write a strong and effective essay for the essay question portion of the exam

  • A "30 in 30" portion of the video which reviewed 30 major events and facts of American History in 30 mins.

I found the "30 in 30" portion to be especially well done. Although 30 minutes is a bit of an understatement (try 60-65) an amazing amount of detailed information was presented to the student in an effective manner. Seven different college-aged young adults, who according to company description are actors, are placed in varied colorful and visually interesting sets to review pivotal events in American History. The topics are presented in an enaging and entertaining lecture format. Clever graphics, sound effects and occassional humorous commentary keeps interest and appeal high throughout the "30 minutes" of Light Speed education. There is a LOT of information in this short span of time, so most students would benefit greatest from the DVD by viewing it in small portions or reviewing its entirety several times.

If any of my children need to take an AP test or review for a College entrance exam in the future I will definitely consider taking advantage of Cerebellum Corporations Light Speed DVD's. Cerebellum sells their Light Speed collection on their website, for $14.98 each. Currently, readers of this blog may receive a 20% discount off any product purchased online by using coupon code OHS20 at checkout. That's nearly a $3.00 savings per item through December 31, 2010!

Take the stress out study and reach your 21st century student's needs at Light Speed. Cerebellum Corporation makes it easy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ideal Pre-school Curriculum

The mission of Ideal Curriculum is designed to provide a formal pre-school education at home. Complete with assessments, daily lesson plans and all the elements a classroom teacher would need I believe Ideal publishers has worked hard to cover all the bases. I received a free downloadable copy of month 1, Transportation unit of Ideal Curriculum to use with my five year old son, Aidan, in exchange for this review.

I have six children ranging in age from 20 to 5. I have spent many, many years in the presence of pre-schoolers. My oldest two children attended three years of pre-school classes at a wonderful, enriching pre-school near our home. It was a great asset for our family at the time since I was overwhelmed with other responsibilities and unable to create a formal pre-school educational environment in my home.

After those initially busy years of having only little children in our home, I never provide a formal pre-school education for my youngest four children . Their pre-school years were filled with educational toys, being read to on a daily basis and my concentrated effort to faciliate age appropriate activities on a regular basis. Simple and basic to be sure, but not a formal curriculum. My confidence that informal pre-school was enough to meet their needs only took root after my confidence in my parenting skills was built. Ideal curriculum, thorough and comprehensive, will support and build confidence in new homeschool Moms and Dads.

The following components are included in month one of Ideal curriculum:

  • Goals for the month

  • Initial assessments

  • Literacy activities complete with a sample daily/weekly schedule

  • Science/ Social Studies activities

  • Math activities

  • Calendar activities

  • Songs on MP3 files to complete activities

  • Printable resources and scripted teaching helps for activities

I administered all portions of the initial assessment with Aidan. The first assessment took a total of 8 mins. and near the end I found Aidan to be tired and distracted. I did, however, learn the precise holes in his phonics education and letter recognition skills. Since we were in assessment mode we followed with additional evaluations of his knowledge of print and other literacy skills, sight word recognition and phonemic awareness. Total assessment time was close to thirty minutes.

Ideal offers lots of suggestions to the homeschool teacher of how to incorporate the curriculum into your pre-schooler's day. It is designed for formal scheduled school time or to be used subltley throughout the day and play time. Repetition is key when learning new skills and with handy sample schedules included in the curriculum, parents can be assured they are covering all elements several times whether scheduled formally or not.
We chose the non-scheduled approach to Ideal based on my previously stated philosophy of pre-school. The songs included were very easy to incorporate throughout our day. My older children and I even began to sing some of the songs to encourage Aidan to review adding to the fun and playfulness of the curriculum.
"I like the animal freeze dance. I like to make a pose for the freeze part. I like to freeze. That is really fun. I like all the songs. They are really cool", said Aidan.
I found all the worksheets, and supplemental paperwork a bit confusing to organize. Having an instant download is great when shopping plus makes storage a breeze, but be ready to become an organized publisher. It took me nearly an hour of time to print, organize, cut, staple, three-hold punch, etc. for two weeks of the curriculum even before reading through the teacher's notes and directions. This is not a grab and go curriculum. It requires thoughtful planning and organization, but once it is in place it is full of fun, games and wonderful learning opportunities.
Ideal curriculum sells for $55.00 per monthly unit for a print version and $30.00 for the downloadable version at the company website, Currently only month 1 is available as an instant download, but months 2-9 are under development and available as a pre-order. Customers wishing to purchase an entire school year of product and take advantage of a 10% discount by purchasing the package for $526.00.
For more testimonials and information regarding Ideal curriculum check the company website, read the Ideal Curriculum blog at or read reviews from the rest of the Homeschool Crew by visiting Crew blog.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

BeeYoutiful Health Care Products

Preventative health care is a hot topic. Nutritional supplements, organic products, healthy eating and exercise have become common discussion points in most families. Steve and Stephanie Walker Tallent created a catalog and on-line store, Beeyoutiful, in an effort to offer natural health, nutritional supplement, and skin care products to people all over the world. Their mission, "to do good to all men" encompasses the couple's philosphy of business and life. Stephanie also writes a blog, ,to chronicle their journey in healthy eating.

Our family received Beeyoutiful's 4 oz. Laveshmint Daily Moisturizing Lotion and a 4 oz. Laveshmint Hydrating Toner for free in exchange for this review. My four daughters and I are connoisseurs of fragrant bath products; using them daily. We anticipated really enjoying this test market experience. I gave the toner to my 18 year old daughter, Samantha, to use and I took on the task of evaluating the moisturizing lotion.

One of my favorite fragrances is lavender. I thought the lavender fragrance would be a major component of each Laveshmint product based on the label and name. Unfortunately, I had to really use my imagination to discover any lavender scent in the Laveshmint lotion. Upon opening the jar it appeared to be a bit more watery than the moisturizer I typically use and held the fragrance of peppermint. Laveshmint lotion contains peppermint and lavender essential oils that are designed to offer cool relaxation. My experience did not relax me nor offer a fragrant escape. I was disappointed.

Laveshmint Daily Moisturizing Lotion sells on the Beeyoutiful website,, in 4 oz. jars for $12.00. Besides the essential oils it contains aloe and coconut oil designed to smooth and nourish the skin.

After using the Laveshmint Toner for five weeks, Samantha had lots to say about her experience.

"I liked how it was in a spray bottle. I thought that was really unique because it made it easier and more fun to apply. The only problem with the product, however, is that I didn't feel it was strong enough for my skin. For the most part it helped with breakouts, but I didn't feel it helped me as much as my regular skin regimen I use to combat acne."

"At first when I used it, it was more fragrant than later uses. I really didn't notice any real fragrance and I never noticed it helping my mood in any way as promised by the catalog description", she said.

"I would recommend this product to someone with normal skin, but if they had any trouble with acne I think they would benefit from something else more", she concluded.

Beeyoutiful Laveshmint Toner sells for $14.00 for a 4 fl. oz. atomized bottle.

In addition to skin care products, Beeyoutiful offers a variety of nutritional supplements including vitamins, herbal remedies, essential oils, and multi-vitamins for children, men and women. Their catalog includes non-fiction books supporting natural health issues as well. Customers can order a paper copy of the company catalog or simply view the products on-line at Shipping for all products is $6.00 domestic for any size order.