Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity. ~ Margaret D. Nadald

Our Father also gifted us with the nature to nurture, keen sensitivity to the Spirit, selflessness, discernment, and heroic faith. No wonder our Father placed us at the heart of the family and thus at the center of the plan of salvation. We are the Lord's secret weapon. ~ Sheri Dew

I'd love it if you would follow my blog!

20 October 2012

A Few Thoughts and What Homeschooling Looks Like Around Here Now

I had planned a grand exedous from the blogging world. Okay, maybe not grand, but you know what I mean?! And then all of my favorite bloggers all did it at the same time, so I chose to remain silent :-). SO, what am I doing now?

Well, trying to figure out life really! I used to profess to people with their kids in school away from home that their lives were busier and just thinking about all they had to do gave me ulcers. Well, it still does, but unfortunately I'm one of those people and the busyness/ulcer inducing/craziness is exactly what I had always thought it would be.... if not worse (And I imagined it was pretty bad in the first place! No joke!! People would wonder how I home schooled, I said my life was easier that way and I meant every word!)

I spend about 3 hours everyday taking kids back and forth from school, then there's homework, and getting stuff together (did you know that there's a million bags to pack for Japanese school? And stuff to wash bi-weekly... or more... including indoor shoes, PE clothes, smocks, uniforms, hats, handkerchiefs and towels, cleaning towels, silverware sets for kindergarten), and that all this stuff you ask your children about, they profess that they have everything, then you walk by a pencil box or the little vinyl zip bag that has the notebook that you send back and forth daily as communication between parents and the sensei... or I magically become in possession of 15 papers that came home from the school the day before (that I can't read). It's almost more fun then I can relate :-D. So that takes another hour or more each day and usually leaves me feeling less than overjoyed about this whole "school" business. Around all of this I feed my husband lunch everyday, somehow feed everyone else at least 3 times a day, grocery shop, and try to keep up on English studies with the older ones (cause if I don't they start writing their names backwards), the 3 at home are still trying to learn, but I rarely have time for that with running, and then cooking, we're lucky if they get naps in, which makes them oh so very cranky. The ones at school are also cranky when they get home, my daughter has more sass then is healthy for a teenager and my son is either being bullied or bullying someone to the point where we were having nightly phone calls with his sensei. They cry and whine when they're asked to pick up THEIR OWN clothes, and my head threatens exploding at least once daily :-)

In any case! I've had to revamp and rethink and try to figure out everything from square one... again. I've come up with a few previously less then ideal options that have since become golden for me!

My 4 year old wants so badly to learn, but I can't sit and do things with him because there isn't time.... it's literally ridiculous... I now know why fast food was invented, people are overly exhausted, kids don't like working, care more about friends then family, and why parents don't really like their kids. It's all because of SCHOOL!! Okay, okay, I digress. My solution has been the computer. Time4Learning and Ooka Island have been wonderful for our family. I've signed everyone up, and have dropped some of the guilt that comes from not having two seconds to think. I know they're getting information in, even the 2 year old is getting a lot out of it just being in the background.

We're also going over the Confessions of a Homeschooler Daily Learning Packets and I found a really cool other option that we're going to start implementing. My friend linked to a fantastic resource that allows me to put the kids work into binders easily. Which is great! Because we are on a perpetual time crunch this allows us to have everything for each kid all set up and ready to go (as opposed to being able to switch out things with kids and work together on the wall/board.... yes, I mourn my full-time homeschooling life... sorry...) Anyway, that site offers cheap resources and is having a giveaway right now, so I thought I'd let you know!

On top of that we try to read often. I've been reading a shortened classic each night at dinner. It's not how I want to do things, but it works :-). Trying to using my Discover the Scriptures worksheets more too. I've taken a break from them and it's time to get back into it. Our scripture study has be dismal and that plus all the kids face at school just isn't cutting it. We're going to start focusing on gospel stuff more in the morning to prep them for school and then thanks to the internet programs everyone can get in other lessons afterwards... which then frees me up a bit to teach them and help with piano.

*laugh* On a happy note, we have a fantastic dog that we reduced in June (right after Grayson was released from the hospital... mommy needed a friend that doesn't go TDY or get Deployed :-D). He's been wonderful and goes everywhere. The beginning was rough since he came from a bad situation, but he's great now.

Our baby will be a year next month and just got his first haircut today... the other kids are amazing me with their ability to learn Japanese, we have a wonderful ward and it's helping me to pick up Japanese as well, Nathan's job is going pretty good. Can't really complain! Just having to take time to try and keep things moving! So, maybe I'll be back to update or maybe not, but in the meantime, know that it's been fun and I still stalk some of your blogs in the moments that I sit to take a breath :-). Thanks for your inspiration!


15 August 2012

TOS Review: Thomas Jefferson Education

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY!!! F A N T A S T I C resource. Rachel DeMille from A Thomas Jefferson Education (TJed), has put together an incredible weekly email FULL of wonderful links and information to help your family dive into history.

Over the last few weeks I've been receiving emails from Rachel DeMille that have made me wonder why I never tried this before! We love the TJed philosophy, their focus on leadership education is what caused us to commit to homeschooling 6 years ago, it just made sense! The TJed focus is more on mentoring/sharing information with your child, as opposed to a particular curriculum. Here you really get see how to put this method into work by taking one topic a day and really exploring it. Through This Week in History you and your children are introduced to cultures, foods, people, math, science, reading, poetry, history all by something(s) that happened related to that on a particular day that week.

You can see samples of This Week in History here.

Another great thing about this program is that with their archives and website options you can choose WHEN you'll get the emails, as well as research other days so that you can better prepare for the week or special day ahead.

I will definitely be adding This Week in History to our budget. I find that it's a wonderful gem because there's a collection of information all put together in one spot and presented in such a way that I could only dream of! With so many young children, and few hours of sleep, I don't really have the time to research the way that I'd like to. Here, Rachel DeMille has shared her "mission" with us and has done the work for me that I could only hope to do on my own.

As we head back into the school year here in a few short weeks I look forward to being able to scale back and just play/enjoy subjects. One days email was especially fun... it talked about a festival in Japan that involved tying streamers to trees, and that totally explained what I had seen just days earlier! It also involved links to origami instruction websites and maps of Japan. I just so happen to take that lesson to heart :-), I was living it and seeing it firsthand!

Having access to This Week in History taught me a lot about so many things that I didn't expect and it got me excited to see what was coming next. We had fun conversations about San Francisco's streets this last week after my children saw a picture of a trolley car on my email. It sparked conversation about a trip I had taken there with my mom and sister 15 years ago. From there we had many questions to ponder that were placed as prompts, there were mazes/coloring pages, and links to more things to help explore the topic. This is what education should be! And here having it laid out for me is more than I could ask for.

For the price of $10 a month you can have access to all of the amazing work that's already prepared for you. To sign up for This Week in History you can go to the TJed Website here.

To see what other crew members are saying about TJed's This Week in History, you can go here.

**Disclaimer: I was given free access to This Week in History in return for my honest opinion. I have not received any other compensation and the opinions expressed are all mine.**

13 August 2012

TOS Review: Math Made Easy

I've been really blessed with the last reviews that I've been on... I never would have thought that I needed these products or that they would be perfect, but here we are! Yet another wonderful addition to our home and I couldn't have imagined how well this would fall into place.

Math Made Easy puts out products in addition and multiplication to help children learn math facts easily. The product I received is "Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy." This book was created by Glenda Brown James, the outside cover isn't flashy (it actually feels quite 70's/80's which makes me like it even more... although, in fairness, it was originally published in 1995 and then revised in 2003), there's no tricks, it's just straight forward and fun.
I prefer hands on math... After all the years that I've been in school just so I could learn a few things that were crammed down my throat and not remember much of anything, I've always been on the look out for something different. I do own a math curriculum that I really like and fits the bill nicely, but with our move we ended up putting our children in Japanese schools and where we were with our currently curriculum wasn't cutting. Hence what I meant about the timing of this product being perfect!

The "Philosophy of Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy" takes the stance that memorizing addition facts is essential. Over the course of 6 weeks children learn 6 facts a week, in a random order, to help them really know the addition facts without using their fingers to count... they also avoid repetition, hence there being only 36 facts (6+0 and 0+6 are the same thing, teach redundancy and leave it at that!) The learning without counting on their fingers was important to me. The curriculum we already used encouraged using an abacus and learning to visualize the problems in ones mind citing that using fingers to count was inefficient. I totally agree! With Addition Made Easy I've also been able to add to that the understanding that memorizing addition facts (as long as it's fun!) can not only help things stick, but give your child a good solid basis that will help them reach higher in math. There are drills with flashcards involved, which I told myself I would never do, but it works! And it's fun!

Okay, so the moral of my babble is that the Japanese schools keep working on addition (and subtraction), so my oldest is doing that a lot at school and then in homework.... and he gets them all right.... and he counts them all on his fingers :-). Drives us C R A Z Y, to watch him do it this way. It's not only inefficient, but it goes against everything that we've tried to establish at home. We're currently on summer break (YAY, THERE WAS AND IS MUCH REJOICING IN THE LAND!!!!), so we've been able to work with Math Made Easy in an attempt to add some of our philosophy back in with the repetitive work of the schools and the result is exactly what I've hoped for.

The book that you receive includes an addition pre-test and post-test so that you can gauge where your child is at. The instruction is to only answer the questions that are known and to not count on your fingers. From there you find that there are Lesson Plans for each day and activity sheets, as well as tests for each week. The writer recommends creating your own tests daily and says that if your child can complete the problem in 8 seconds or less that they're not counting on their fingers and will be successful in higher levels of math (I hope so! No, not cause I know math or have a burning desire to be knee deep in calculus anytime soon.... It's because I think everything is worth learning and if my children have the building blocks now that will open up the doors for great ability and enjoyment in math then I'm game!)

Okay, focusing now :-). By drawing pictures of math problems, to coloring, to word problems, to puzzles, to breaking codes, pinning hair bows on clothes pins to a card stock cut out of a girl with pigtails, spinning a wheel to answer a math fact, a "gum ball machine game, this book is full of wonderful resources to help your child memorize the addition facts. My favorite learning is the kind where you don't even know you're doing it, and this product allows for that. I'm VERY happy with it and will no doubt buy the multiplication book. Even the flash cards that are provided in the book are on good card stock and written nice and big. Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy is completely un-intimidating for parents and child and helps you to relax with your child. You can take lessons on their schedule, whether that's one lesson (or less) a day, or more per day. After using it for a few weeks I'm confident that my son will be able to step back in to the classroom and find himself making quick work of the worksheets he gets and eager to learn more!

Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy can be purchased for $24.95 from Math Made Easy. The HomeSchool Addition Book is what we have.

To see what other Crew members have to say about their Math Made Easy experience you can visit the crew blog here.

**I received a copy of this product for free to use with my family in exchange for my honest opinion.**

01 August 2012

TOS Review: Zane Education

Zane Education is a company that specializes in providing educational materials to K-12 students. Their philosophy is that visual learning helps children of all needs and background and as such, they've developed not only a large library of educational videos, but have equipped all of those videos with subtitles. Studies have shown that children learn better when having access to media presented this way... I know that I have really benefitted from subtitles here (Japan has them on pretty much EVERYTHING! And that's all we watch, so I've learned quite a bit and associate information much better than I did before). Anyway, here's more information on subtitles and how they benefit students:

*The video list under catalogue found on this page pulls up a 40 page PDF with all of the video titles in small print (there's actually 41, I'm just not counting the title page :-D).

To name a few from the list that may be of interest: there's Drama, Art, Understanding Poetry (this will be for my personal endeavor, I seriously don't get poetry... especially if it doesn't rhyme, I know... I know... you don't need to actually say anything about that! I'm working on it!), Math, Music, Science - Animals, Plants, Earth, Solar System, Human Body (this is more where my kids are, hence listing more of what interests us at the moment... for older kids there is more that focus on Ecology, Life Sciences and more, all kinds of History (That's where we're headed to next! Haven't had to a chance try it out on them yet, but I have no doubt that it'll be received well).

Along with their large library of videos, Zane Education also offers lesson plans and quizzes.

There is also a Study Center tab that offers additional sections of helps like: World Fact Book, Video Glossary, Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia and catalog.

I think that the Zane Education videos have the potential to be very helpful. The biggest downside to me is that there isn't a way to expand the video screen to a whole screen... with so many people needing to see, that's important to me. I also know that this program is targeted to all different settings (schools and home schools alike), and I fail to see how their format would project well. The videos may also not be that "exciting" for a lot of audiences, but we're documentary geeks around here, so they are just fine by me! If you'd like to see for yourself information on Zane Education Membership can be found here.

A Basic Membership can be purchased for FREE and gives you access to:
-demo versions of Zane's 1,000+ subtitled curriculum videos for K-12
-all non-subtitled curriculum Math videos for K-12
-all 260 online interactive curriculum quizzes for K12
-all of the K12 educational resources in the More Resources section including the World Factbook, World Leaders Guide, Historical documents and much more.
**A NOTE FROM THE WEBSITE: A Free Basic Membership only provides access to demo versions of our 1,000+ curriculum videos for K-12 for Art, Music, History, Science, Biology, Literature, Geography, Social Sciences, Library Skills, Health and Religious Studies. To use the full versions you need to upgrade to a Gold, Silver or Bronze Membership.**

Another great option to get a good look at if this program is right for you would be the A Topic Taster Membership for $5 a month. With the Topic Taster you can select a topic and watch all the curriculum K-12 in that topic as well as the Free Lesson Plan in addition to all of the above.

More information and offerings on membership can be accessed here. There are also Gold, Silver and Bronze options.... so, something for everyone!

Because it includes everything that Zane Education offers, here is the explanation of a Gold Membership:
Access to ALL of Zane's 1,000+ subtitled curriculum videos for K-12*
Access to the non-subtitled curriculum Math videos for K-12
Access to Free Lesson Plans for all 260+ curriculum Topics for K-12
Access to online Video Study Tools
Access to all 260 online interactive curriculum quizzes for K12
Free downloadable copy of Zane's Learning Video Catalogue (worth $49.95)
Free downloadable copy of Zane's Christian Home Learning Guide (worth $49.95)
Access to all of the K12 educational resources in the Study Center section including the World Factbook, World Leaders Guide, Historical documents and much more.
24-Hour Tech Support
Cost: $17.99 per month or
$197.89 per year
Either recurring payment of $17.99 per month or single payment of $197.89 per year (saves approximately 10% - you pay for 11 months and get the 12th month free).

Comment: A Gold Membership represents the best value for money providing an 84% discount (Saves $1,225) on buying the use of each video topic separately and a 93% discount (Saves $3552) on buying each CD-ROM separately.

We aren't really much for watching things on TV/Computer, but I would like to use these videos a bit more and work them into our curriculum more. I appreciate the closed captioning, and I've noticed over the last few years just how visual more children are. Being able to see a place or person/state/what have you, helps them better gel together what they're learning. So! While I don't necessarily want to use screen time too teach, Zane Education does help to reinforce information and they're lesson plans help me think through subjects that I hadn't considered/figured out how to go about.

An added bonus? I can see this program being awfully handy when anyone is sick or when we're looking to relax for a few minutes!

To see what other TOS Crew members are saying about Zane Education, feel free to go here.

**I was given free Gold Membership access to Zane Education in return for my honest review of their product.**

23 July 2012

TOS Review: Knowledge Quest Maps

When asked if I wanted to review a product that would offer Maps that helped overlay History and Geography... and I could have 6 sets that included the US edition... there was really no question!

Knowledge Quest Maps offers several different products either in CD-ROM or e-book form to help you in teaching your children about time periods throughout history. In their words:

"Map Trek is an atlas plus historical outline maps that allow you to teach geography alongside history. This is a resource that any homeschool parent can use with brilliant success, even if you don't remember a thing from your history or geography classes in public school."

I LOVE history, but I'm relearning everything and then some. On top of that my children are pretty quick and asking lots of questions so that I'm constantly trying to keep up with them. We're currently working through a states curriculum from a different source, but being able to pull out more specific maps and see changes that have happened over time has been really handy. With the MapTrek US Edition I have 53 historical maps, 50 state maps, 3 full U.S. Maps, 109 student maps and complete lesson plans at my disposal at any time. I also like that I don't have to scour the internet for a clear map... please tell me that I'm not the only one who's done that?! Seriously, I can't tell you how many google searches I've done in hopes of finding the perfect map that's in my head. These are nice because they aren't overly detailed and the main ideas that I'm trying to get across are clear. The main objective of this company is to enhance learning, and I think that they complete this pretty successfully.

A Sample Map can be downloaded from here. There are only 4 provided here, but at least you can see what some of the maps look like.

If you'll notice, the maps are designed to not eat up too much ink, which is a bonus, and it allows you some freedom in how you/your child chooses to color the map. I find it a lot more effective in teaching geography to let my children fill in the details they thought pertinent (i.e. if they want to use it to draw the topography then great! OR the state flower and bird, or main commodities, whatever! Here they can fill in what's important to them, and I like that :-D).

Map Trek can also be easily used along with many curriculums like A Child's History of the World, Story of the World, Veritas Press, Streams of Civilization, TruthQuest History and more. You can find free curriculum integration guides for FREE here.

The Map Trek products can be purchased here. The Ancient World, Medieval World, New World, and Modern World can all be purchased for $14.95 per e-book or as a complete CD-ROM collection for $39.95. The US Edition CD-ROM or ebook is $19.95. Or you can purchase a 6-EBook Set (that includes the US etc) for $47.00... which, I think, is the best value.

To see what other crew members have to say about MapTrek you can visit the crew blog.

*As a member of the TOS crew I was given a copy of MapTrek in exchange for my honest opinion. I have received no other compensation.*

20 June 2012

TOS Review: Creation Illustrated

Creation Illustrated is a magazine put out quarterly by the Ish family for the last 19 years.

I wasn't too sure how these would work in our home... it didn't have as much photography as I'd expected (But what is there is impressive), and it has quite a bit of advertising (which is understandable, I can't imagine the overhead costs of publishing a magazine as a family).... but then in the Fall 2011 issue I learned that cheetah's are, in fact, not he fastest land animal (hello, when did a prong-horn attain the same speed and how did I not know that they could keep it up longer than the cheetah? And gazelles can out run cheetahs? Yes, this mom is once again humbled and needing to brush up on her science) So, learning something new made me see more of the benefits of having these magazines around.

I like that the covers of the magazine, as well as the pages, are printed on good thick glossy paper. I can see these standing up through the punishment of being in a home with little ones better than other subscriptions that I receive. Inside Creation Isslustrated you'll find a table of contents breaking down the selection into the sections of:
-"... In Nature",
-."... In Scripture",
-"... In Living"

All of the portions of this magazine hit on Christian principles put into use, which is expected, and teach valuable lessons that relate to our lives. I liked that aspect of things. Admittedly, the scripture section doesn't fit our beliefs or how we explain things, but it does give the children something and I to talk about... I don't know that I'd be reading it verbatim out to my little guys, but when they're older/motivated to read those sections on their own, we could discuss them in more depth. For now, I kind of skip it or give a summary of the information in better alignment with our belief system. This alone wouldn't deter me from purchasing the magazines, since the in nature section is pretty awesome and informative and the recipes provided in "... In living" are fun!

Although I enjoy having these around for the kids to thumb through, I don't know if I'm all that sold on buying more right now. They don't pick up the magazines as much as I thought they would, but maybe they will when they're a bit older?

Creation Illustrated is available to purchase here in 3 different options:
1 year (4 issues) - $19.95
2 years (8 issues) - $37.95
3 years (12 issues) - $53.95

and will ship to Canada for an additional postage fee of $5.00 per year, or for foreign purchasers it's $10 per year.

There is a special being offered now for a $5.00 discount for subscribers and.... of course, my personal favorite thing a company can offer.....

A FREE INTRODUCTORY ISSUE FOR BLOG READERS. I LOVE when you can try out something free of charge to see if it's a fit for you. Here's the fine print on the free issue:

"YES! Please send me a Free Trial Issue of Creation Illustrated (retail value $4.99). I understand that my order will be placed as a subscription, and I will receive a notice with the opportunity to pay and continue receiving Creation Illustrated. If I like it, I'll pay just $19.95 for a full year, 4 more issues, PLUS my Free one makes 5! If I choose not to subscribe, I can write "cancel" on the bill, return it, and owe nothing. The Free issue is mine to keep."

Go check it out, what have you got to lose? With a free copy it might be what you're looking for to keep around the house to help inspire your children's curiosity in the world around them.

To see what other crew members are saying about Creation Illustrated you can go here.

**As a member of the TOS Crew I was provided with a free year subscription to Creation Illustrated in return for my honest review of the product.**

11 June 2012

TOS Review: Rainbow Sentences

Mobile Education Tools sent our family a link for their "Rainbow Sentences" app to review recently. Our iPad has been doing quite a bit of world traveling over the last month with my husband, so he ended up playing around with the app for this review more than anyone else in our family :-).

Rainbow Sentences is a product that is made for the iPad and specifically targets special needs and then general education students. The recommended ages are 3-6 and 6-10, but we disagree. While many of the parts of the program have the ability to "speak" this app isn't really going to help a child who can't read/doesn't have a good idea about words. For example, while the words that you're moving to make a sentence are said, if you don't know that there's a horse in the picture, you won't be able to build "the horse is jumping." It would also be nice if the pictures were interactive. We can see this app being a good one to supplement whatever teaching is being done at home/school for special needs children, but given a few hours our 6 and 7 year olds could complete all of the sentences this product has to offer while our 4 year old (with Aspergers) would find this difficult.

This program works by providing 3 levels of learning where they build pre made sentences by looking at a picture, then dragging jumbled words from the bottom of the page to the blank lines on top. In the setup for the app you're able to turn color coding of the words on and off... which also adds a degree of complexity since you can go through the product with the words and lines color coded, then go through again having turned one or both sets off (I hope that makes sense!) The visual support is nice and is potentially very helpful.

Along with this concept we learn that "the who" of the sentence is red etc. While this feature is great, at no time do we actually connect that this "who" is the subject of the sentence. This one thing was my husband's biggest issue with the app. He wanted to hear at least a mention of subject, noun, verb, but only got "who, what, when, where, why" and that bothered him. A connection between what is being learned visually with the word that is used in real world application would be great! While you could get away with this method of introducing sentence parts in homeschool for a while, in our minds you would need to at least throw out the word "subject" just so that the child at least hears the word in relation to what they're working with. Just a thought :-)

This video provides an overview of the product (I'd skip ahead to about minute 2 to see the app in action):

The other thing that I would tweak would be to add the ability to have students create their own sentences, or at least add updates for free that would allow children more practice. As it stands right now there is an end to Rainbow Sentences, once all the sentences/levels are gone through there isn't any more that can be done with it. While this probably wouldn't bother me if the app cost was cheaper, I think the price (listed below) begs to have a littler more versatility or added lifespan of use. Personally, at the given price I wouldn't be interested in the product, but then again, if my older children that are in a position to use this app currently, had special needs I would probably reconsider. Many of the current reviews on Rainbow Sentences state how wonderful it has been for many children on the Autism spectrum.

Additional features on the app include:
*the ability to record your voice, or child's, saying the correct sentence and then save it for later use.
*statistics (how many tries it took to get the sentence correct)
*the ability to email statistics
*a simple reward system of getting a puzzle piece for completing a certain number of sentences, and then at level completion the puzzle is finished and does a short animation (this is neat, and I like that it's rewarding without being lavish... one thing that would be nice is to say the goal "get 5 sentences correct for a puzzle piece" otherwise, again, the non-readers are left out if mom and dad aren't right there).

My husband happily reported the design is SOLID. He spends quite a bit of time helping developers to improve their app designs, and this is one that he enjoyed from the aspect that it didn't have any crashing issues and that it performed exactly the way that the information page said it would. All that means a lot coming from him! (I've seen the back and forth emails between him and programmers :-D).

While we do have some things that we would change about this app, and most likely won't give our older children a lot of time with it without being nearby to throw in additional information (like what parts of speech are actually called), this is probably a great app for those looking for something more to help their children with basic sentence structure. As my 4 year old gets a bit older I may find that this is perfect for his needs and I'll be sure to update this accordingly :-). As with anything else, it's worth going to take a look!

Rainbow Sentences can be purchased from the iTunes app store for $7.99

To see what other crew members are saying about this app you can go here.

**This app was provided to me free of charge for my honest opinion. No other compensation has been received.**

30 May 2012

TOS Review: Dive Into Your Imagination

Hi there! The latest obsession of my family is nature documentaries… (we don't normally watch much of anything, but we've needed lots of distractions lately and nature documentaries not only provide entertainment but they're also educational! :-D).

Annie Crawley with the Dive Into Your Imagination company sent us a great ocean DVD for kids. I was slightly nervous at first to watch a show entitled "Dive Into Diversity", thanks to how the term has been used to push other agenda's, but with a little research I was soon excited with the opportunity. Annie Crawley's knowledge of sea life, and her ability to capture what happens under water with a camera, is pretty amazing. Not only did the DVD contain information perfectly suited towards children on the topics of sea life, but there were also segments that showed and explained the equipment used in the making of the film (scuba gear and an underwater camera…. which thanks to the video I now know works similarly to the eye, i.e. needing a pocket of air in front of it… no, I did not know that before, please keep your laughing to a minimum! *laugh*), as well as a look at how a musical score is made (WHAT A COOL JOB!). For your knowledge, diversity is addressed a like so: "Diversity means variety. It means differences in shapes, sizes, skills, and colors. Diversity in nature helps protect the balance that is necessary in the world. In the animal kingdom, animals rely on their distinguishing features in order to survive.
Some animals might be fast, while others are slow. Some might be long, while others are short. One might be purple, while another is green.
Can you think of one way that you are different from another person? This is diversity." Later in the same tidbit in the written material (which I talk about further down)... not the video.... it's briefly mentioned how there a couple different fish that are born one gender and then turn into another. That's all that's said, I'm not going to try to read too much into the mention of that... it's a true fact, so, that's that :-)
I LOVED the segment of the DVD that goes over sea life that are out at night. We were all pretty captivated by the amazing color show that happens underwater! I felt like we learned a lot and got to enjoy some great filmography. I'll definitely be buying the other DVD's in the series: What Makes a Fish a Fish and Who Lives in the Sea? Older kids may not enjoy these as much, but I found them interesting and so did my little guys. Personally I didn't need to see video of kids swimming etc., but I know younger children like the correlation between what they see and personal experiences.

Along with the DVD I was sent a link to the PDF Educator Guides that are meant as a companion for each selection. All of the guides are around 300 pages long and are full of additional information, pictures to color, activities, and additional photo's for grades K-6. As with any material, there is need to make sure that you've done your homework before presenting it to your children. The educational guides are not from a Christian perspective, but they're not really evolutionary either... on page 116 of the guide under "Imagination Value" the idea is to visit a kelp forest in your mind (which is a pretty cool idea), but then it says "Remember to give GRATITUDE to our Ocean... (all capitalization came from the guide there, nothing tweaked by me, so yah, I think Ocean with a capital "O" isn't what we'll be discussing :-). For us it'll be thanking our Heavenly Father, but I can't really blame the curriculum itself for those issues I suppose). These guides are also geared toward a classroom setting, but could easily be changed for a homeschooling environment... as said above. The introduction of new vocabulary and new animals with pictures to color is fun and I really like the projects.... I DON'T, however, like that they cater to "common core curriculum", but that's another story in and of itself, and doesn't really effect this guide from what I've seen so far (I'll let you know if something comes up in the future, but for now, what I see is easily adaptable and safe for your home).

The Dive Into Your Imagination DVD's may be purchased here for $19.95. There is also FREE SHIPPING for the month of June for our readers.

The guides are available as a printed version for $299 (for the whole set of them) or as individual PDFs for $69.95. As a special for the Homeschool Crew and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and followers Annie Crawley of Dive Into Your Imagination, she will gift you a set of PDFs with purchase of the DVDs. When you place your DVD order, just let her know in the notes that you are a Homeschool Parent!

I would definitely take advantage of the free educators guides by buying a DVD now. As packed with information as they are, I wouldn't actually buy them myself. I'm happy that I have them and I'll be using quite a few things again over the years, but the pricing is a bit steep for us, and I'm not 100% sold on everything in it enough to make the kind of investment that the printed matter or PDF's require. I'm sure it's not that big of a deal for a school district, but as a homeschooler who'd have to do quite a bit of changing here and there, I'd probably look elsewhere.... the DVD is great though!

To see what other Crew members are saying about this product please go here.

**As a member of the TOS Crew I was provided a copy of Dive Into Diversity and access to the educator guides free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. I have received no compensation for this review.**

27 May 2012

And.... We're back!

What happens when your husband goes TDY back to the states two days after your two oldest children end up having surgery (for tonsils/adnenoids + tubes because of severe hearing loss).... well, your two year old develops a high fever that you stave off valiantly but he's still miserable and you're up all night with him AND your 6 month old who must be teething, of course! A few days after all this begins you take said two year old into the doctor because even though he seems to be feeling better things aren't quite right (like he moves his whole body instead of just moving his neck when trying to look at something). Long story short, you think you're maybe going to get antibiotics.... then you may have to be at the base hospital a day or two.... then you end up in a Japanese hospital in Tokyo for a while and your son needs surgery (and dad is still back in the states for 3 more days). Anyway!!! I have about a thousand people to thank for keeping my older kids and for coming traveling two hours each way to hold my baby round the clock (because he was not allowed in the ICU but still needed to nurse every 2 hours), but we're finally home! Craziness! In any case, we're home, not quite normal but at least happy that we're all here together! The two year old was relinquished to the base for recovery (which is a whole other story! I was persistent and MANY prayers were offered... said two year old was supposed to still be sedated and intubated in Tokyo as I type this, but instead he is resting comfortably in his bed... yes, I'm feeling VERY blessed!) So, I have a few reviews for you, random thoughts and just a need to write/type in general! For now, it's time to get ready for bed and set things in place for tomorrow! Thanks for hanging in there! ~Cherie

09 May 2012

Blogger Question

All of my posts are coming out as one long novel despite them being broken up by paragraph when I write them. Are there any suggestions out there? This didn't happen pre-blogger changes. I'm using a Mac, does that effect anything? Any suggestion will be helpful! As you're aware, my posts are a little lengthy at times, it's nice to have them broken up so they aren't so intimidating... and feel less like the run-on sentences that they are. :-D Thank you!