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

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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.**