Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

It actually sprung a couple of weeks ago and has continued springing since. Here's a few floral pictures from the Tinkel yard that I have taken. The past couple pics were just from today. Thank you, Lord, or the spring!








Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Have You Seen This?!?

I think it's because Sarah and I work with folks that are down and out that these type videos appeal to me so much. It all started a couple of years ago with Susan Boyle on Britains Got Talent. It seems that the "Got Talent" shows bring out the best in folks that are down and out. I've featured several of them before. These two videos are from the 2012 season of Britains Got Talent. Once again they feature individuals that have faced hard times in life. They brought tears to my eyes so you may want to have some tissues handy. Of course, I'm an old softy anyway! Enjoy.




Only Boys Aloud





Charlotte and Jonathon

Monday, March 26, 2012

Action Alert

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It happens all of the time...
  • A young boy does an innocent search on his computer. When he opens one link he gets an eye full of some not so innocent pictures.
  • An impressionable girl thinks she is chatting with someone she knows. Unbeknownst to her it really isn't a friend.
Or in our home it might be...
  • A child sneaks on the computer when they are supposed to be doing schoolwork or, perhaps, even sleeping!
Things like the above happen. They have happened in my household...and I'm not talking about just the last example. Many times there are safety features built into you computer that you can use. But, many times those safety features are very difficult to use if you can even figure out how to set them up. Then, there are the products on the market made to help with these type situations. Some do what they claim and some don't. We have tried many of them and couldn't seem to find one that we liked.
Recently, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was given the opportunity to review Action Alert and found that it is the best that we have tried yet. It has some amazing features. Let me show you a list of some of them and then I'll talk about our experience using this program.

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As you can see there are several fascinating features on Action Alert. Some I have never seen before. They have the usual tools such as Site Blocking, Content Filtering and Keystroke Logging but there were a few tools that I thought were really neat.
  • Access Control allows you to access your PC remotely - even by cell phone - to see what is going on. If you don't like what you are seeing, you can shut down your PC.
  • I really liked the Activity Notification Alerts. If there is activity that seems unusual or suspicious, then an email is sent to you with details. This works even when your child is doing a search. I must warn you, though, that it is extremely sensitive. A few times I received an email that one of the boys had done a search that contained the word "a**". You know, as in another name for a donkey. When I asked him about it, he was adamant that he hadn't searched for anything like that. I was inclined to believe him. He plays several online games (all approved by me) that have acronyms and strange words in them. I don't know if Action Alert could have picked one of them up and thought that he was searching for something different or not. So, how can be so sure that he wasn't searching for that? Because of the next feature that I think is one of the neatest.
  • It's the Activity Video Recording feature. You can actually log in to the easy to use parent dashboard and watch everything that has happened on your computer for the past 60 hours! You are shown a video (that thankfully goes a little quicker than real time) so that you can see what your child (or you) have been up to. You an easily see what websites have appeared, games they have been playing, chats they have been having. You name it, you can see it. It is really a neat little feature.
  • Then there's the Time Allowance and the Chat and Email Logging feature. The Time Allowance allows you to set how long you want your child (each child has his own password) to use your PC. The Chat and Email Logging feature does just that. Logs all of your child's online chats and emails.
So, with all of these features you must think that the price would be "out of this world", but how does FREE sound to you?!? Well, you an actually get a limited version of Action Alert for free. There is also a maximum version for just $29.99. This program is by far the most comprehensive internet protection program that I have seen. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above to find out more. Other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew reviewed Action Alert and you can find what they thought by clicking here. Happy Home Educating!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a free download of Action Alert in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Poor Neglected Blog and GO TEAM!

How's that title for trying to convey two things at once?!?

Anyway, I feel like I have totally neglected my blog the past few days. I've had laryngitis...the vocal kind which has nothing to do with fingers, so you would think that I could still type posts. Nevertheless, I have been coughing and sputtering and not really wanting to do anything but sleep.

Unfortunately I have also been extremely busy so I haven't been able to sleep much until today. Which brings me to my next topic. The reason I have been busy is that John Allen and Joshua had a big shooting match yesterday - the Tennessee 4H State Championship. John Allen shot air rifle and Joshua shot competative BB gun. This was the first full competition for John Allen and he placed seventh and his team placed second. Our BB team placed first! Sarah took pictures but I am just too lazy right now to download them and post them. So, pictures will be coming!

Congratulations Team!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why is there a huge cow sticking its head into a bus window?

We just got home from our Teach Them Diligently Conference/Vacation and I can't wait to answer the above question. Unfortunately since I am very tired it will have to wait until tomorrow. Check back then for more great pics of a great time at a great place!



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Missions In Action

I had the great pleasure of being able to chat with the host of Missions In Action today via MIA's weekly webchat. I didn't realize that they even did that until I saw it being promoted on Facebook. I really appreciate what MIA is attempting to do with their program. Their goal is to help other mission organizations by promoting them in their MIA broadcasts. They have no hidden agenda of their own. Their only agenda is to help others.

And, not only do their web episodes help others, but they are fascinating to watch. So many people are unaware of the world around them. They think that everyone lives the same way they do. They don't realize that there are folks in other countries that still live in grass huts or some other primitive means. Put away the poverty for a moment. These episodes are just plain fun to watch because it gives a glimpse of the day to day life of folks in other cultures.

Here are two more episodes of Missions In Action. Episode 14 is very touching. I pray that you will consider sponsoring one of these dear children. Just follow the instructions at the end of the videos or go to http://www.missionsinaction.tv/ for more information.


Episode 13




Episode 14

Monday, March 19, 2012

Progeny Press - Great Study Guides for Your Little Progeny!

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I have said this a lot of times before but it is worth saying it again and again. We love to read and reading is worth it. I was just at a missionary meeting yesterday and the speaker said that still, in the day and age that we are in, that illiteracy around the world is getting worse instead of better. I won't get into that right now, because that isn't what this review/post is about, but it is worth saying that making sure that your children can read, understand what they read, and just plain old read, read, read, should be one of the main goals of a parent.

Progeny Press does just that with its great book unit studies and it does it in a fun way. John Allen has enjoyed working with the unit study that we were sent and I have been really impressed with it as well. I don't usually do a "What John Allen liked..." and "What I liked..." type review, but it really fits this time around and, since I like to mix up the way I write my reviews anyway, that's the way this review is going to be written. So, here goes...


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What John Allen likes...
  • First of all, he really likes the book we reviewed. I make a lot of mistakes in my parenting and in my homeschooling. One of the things that I really am a stickler on, however, is the books that I allow my children to read. We really try to read good, "living", books. The Bronze Bow is one of those books. Elizabeth George Speare is a great author. John Allen has loved every one of her books that he has read. Again, though, this is not what this review is all about. I mention it, however, to let you know that the type of literature unit studies that Progeny Press publishes are from good literature. If you are looking for studies that go with some of the sappy, ridiculous, novels that some authors write today, you won't find them at Progeny Press. They are a Christian company, and, although they don't stick to totally Christian books, they do have standards as to what books they write study guides for.
  • John Allen also liked this unit study becuase it used the PDF format that allows you to type in the answers right on the computer. We had the option of printing out each worksheet or he could just complete it on the computer. Since he has to write in so many other areas of his homeschooling, he really appreciated the fact that he could just sit and type at the computer rather than have to use pencil. There are a few things where, if you wanted to do it completely, you had to print it out. The crossword puzze, for example, wouldn't allow you to acually type each letter in the puzzle, but you could type in your answer right beside each clue.
What I like...
  • Well, first of all, I liked everything that John Allen liked. I'm glad that Progeny Press has standards as to what books they use for the unit studies they publish. Seeing the list of novels offered made me immediately comfortable with the company even before seeing a sample of the study. I knew by the list of books that they had the same values that I do and I was not dissapointed. I also liked the PDF format. I am a firm believer in making sure that my children know how to write, but every once in a while they need a break from the pencil and paper. This provided one.
  • Another thing that I liked was that Progeny Press suggests using most of their study guides in ten week segments. This is not a quick unit study type thing. They are really thorough. If you are looking for a short literature unit study that you can do in a couple of weeks then this may not be for you. Off course, you could purchase one of their unit studies and adapt it. Homeschoolers are good at that and the Progeny Press unit studies are very adaptable.
  • Finally, I liked that this study was, as I mentioned above, thorough. It is not just a simple "so, what did you think of this book" unit study. It involves many different subjects and many different learning styles. It has the usual things that a unit study of this type has...vocabulary, reading comprehension, etc. but it also delves into creative writing, analyzation, history, Bible, and more. Now, having said that, I have to mention that The Bronze Bow lends itself to Biblical questions. Even though Progeny Press is a Christian company, I'm not sure how much Bible is in the other literature studies, but, other TOS Homeschool Crew members reviewed literature unit studies for other books and you can find out what they had to say by clicking here. Suffice it to say, though, that I was really impressed with the different subjects that were covered and the way they were covered. This isn't just a "fill in the blank" type unit study. It utalizes a lot of different methods. The crossword puzzle that I mentioned above was one of them but there was also other puzzle types as well as multiple choice problems, writing assignments, and other creative ways to keep the student excited about the study guide and the book itself. It did have some fill in the blank type things, but it certainly was not boring.
So, how much are these wonderful studies? Well, they probably aren't as much as you think. The Bronze Bow study guide is just $16.99 for a CD or a downloadable email attachment. If you don't have a computer that you can use, or if you just like paper copies, you can order the booklet for $18.99 or even a booklet and CD combo for $23.99. If you would love to do a unit study on a book that you don't own, Progeny Press even sells some of the books that they produce study guides for. I didn't click on every single study guide, but it looked like the other prices were very comparable. To find out what study guides that Progeny Press offers just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. Happy Home Educating!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free download of the study guide for The Bronze Bow in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

Friday, March 16, 2012

An Argument? BRING IT ON!!!

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Do you like to argue or do you know anyone that does? Well, Sarah calls me a peacemaker, I hate to argue with folks. However, it sure does seem that my kids like to argue. They fight about everything. Just last night at the homeschool convention they argued over a piece of pizza. It wasn't even an fairness thing - each had two pieces - it was just an argument about a piece of pizza!

I'm not talking about the angry type of quarrelling, however, I'm talking about the type of arguing that folks do when they are having a friendly discussion about a difference that they may have. You know, you look at a glass of water and you think that it is half full but your friend thinks that it is half empty so you have a discussion about it. Unfortunately, some of these "arguments" can turn into fights. But, if you learn "The Art of Argument" well, having discussions with your friends can be a lot of fun.

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"The Art of Argument" is what this great course is called that John Allen and I were sent to review by Classical Academic Press. It's one of three courses that this great company publishes that has to do with the subject of "logic". If you know anything about the "classical" approach to homeschooling then you know that logic is one of the key things that they teach - along with a language (usually Latin) and rhetoric. If you are a strict classical educator then most of the other subjects (math, history, science, etc.) fall into place around those three main things. But, this review isn't about the "classical" method of teaching, it's about "The Art of Argument".

I was never taught how to "argue" correctly when I was in school. Remember, I was a child of the 60's and 70's. You know...hippies...peace...love...that sort of thing. I wish I did learn how to argue and debate correctly, and that's one of the reasons that, when we began to homeschool, I wanted John Allen to learn things like Logic and things like Latin. We are strict classicalists (is that what you would call them?) so we don't do things exactly like we should, but I was excited when we were asked to review "The Art of Argument".

"The Art of Argument" mainly talks about "informal fallacies". In fact "an introduction to the informal fallacies" is the subtitle of the course. According to this book, logic has two major subdivisions - formal and informal. Formal logic is this type of thing.

All of the Tinkel men are cute.
My boys are Tinkels
Therefore all of my boys are cute.

Informal logic, however, doesn't talk about those things. It focuses on the fallacies in arguing. I never knew there were fallacies in arguing. I never knew there was a right and wrong way to have a discussion and prove your point. I didn't know that there were sly ways that advertisers an promote their products. Ways that aren't really true or that are really poor ways to prove their point. With a little training to spot these things, you can easily begin to pick out these false ways of advertising, or the false ways that other folks like politicians, use to try to prove their points.

These false ways are called fallacies and "The Art of Argument" talks about 28 of these fallacies. I won't go into explaining all about these 28, but they are divided into three categories that I will briefly explain.

  • Fallacies of Relevance - Arguments that are really distractions from the main point.
  • Fallacies of Presumption - Arguments that make unwarranted assumptions about either the data or the nature of a reasonable argument.
  • Fallacies of Clarity - Arguments that fail because they contain words, phrases, or syntax that distort or cloud their meanings.
When you begin thinking about it and looking at the three above definitions, then you can easily think of two or three commercials (or politicians, or people's views in general) that really don't make sense - there is something a little wrong about what they are saying. They are probably using one of the three fallacies above (knowingly or, perhaps, unknowingly). Wouldn't you like to learn how to better spot these fallacies to better help you choose the right product or politician or learn how to "argue" better with your friend's and point out the fallacies of their arguments?

Well you can learn with this course and it's not boring at all. Although the approach might be classical, there is nothing old, outdated or boring about the way that they teach it. The authors have come up with creative methods like discussions between Socrates and a couple of modern day students or some made up (but very realistic looking) advertisements and a lot of other neat examples. Sprinkled in there are questions for the student to answer in order of him to make sure that he understands what it being taught. At the end of each chapter there are review questions and also a "Cumulative Fallacy Worksheet" that helps students review the fallacies that they have learned in previous chapters.

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For those parents who like to keep track of your students progress, there is a Teacher's Edition that is exactly the same as the student edition but has all of the answers filled in. The Teacher's Edition also has Chapter and Unit Tests that you an copy and use with your student and has separate (of course) pages with the answers on them. For those students who would rather listen into a discussion of each fallacy, there is even a set of DVD's with an instructor and four students sitting around a table and having a really interesting discussion about each one.

"The Art of Argument" is perfect for middle school students or for highschoolers that are just beginning to learn about logic (like John Allen).

So, how much does all of this cost? Really not as much as you think. The student edition is $21.95, the teacher's edition is $24.95, and the DVD's are $54.95. There is also a bundle set of all three for $88.95. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above to get to the Classical Academic Press website to read more about this and all of their products. As usual, some of the other TOS Homeschool Crew members reviewed this and other items from Classical Academic Press. Just click here to get to the Crew blog. Happy Homeschooling!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free copy of The Art of Argument student and teacher's edition along with the first 6 lectures of the DVD series in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012



We made it to South Carolina and the Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Conference! Had a fantastic time having dinner with Marcy Crabtree and her son Ben. Tomorrow it's Hollywild Animal Park (Shhhh - Don't tell the kids) then the conference starts! We can't wait. More information and pictures to follow. I love homeschooling!



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fixing Fatao's Heart

Please take time to watch these heartwarming videos of a little boy who needed his heart fixed.

 
 
 



Monday, March 12, 2012

Ministry is Just Plain Tough Sometimes!



I posted this on Facebook the other day but I thought I would share it, along with an update, on my blog for those of you who may not read my Facebook page.

 A few weeks ago there was a huge drug sting in the town where we live. Over 100 arrested. Some folks that we minister too - mostly ladies - here in the projects were effected. Most for selling prescription drugs. Some of them in order to help pay bills. Whatever the reason, whether it seemed good to them or not, it was wrong. We have reinforced that, but also loved them and reassured them that we were not going to turn our back on them. Of course, the projects have a no drug policy and they were all served eviction notices. Sarah has gone to visit the ladies in jail and gone when court dates came up. It has been a real "stretching" time for us.

Well, last Thursday morning I got a phone call that one of the ladies, Theresa, had died while in jail. She was in poor health and we aren't sure what happened. The folks in the projects are almost like family to one another and especially the ladies that attend Good News Mission, the mission that we direct. Sarah was in Knoxville taking care of Granny who just had surgery the day before, so I fielded the phone calls and visited some of the folks in order to minister to them.


There is a good friend of ours, Lori Berta, who has a Bible study with the ladies here at the mission every Thursday. She came and did a wonderful job talking to the ladies and just allowing them to talk about their memories of Theresa and how they felt about her passing. One, who lived across the street from her, recalled how she and Theresa would tease each other and call each other the "old hags" of the project. Another recalled how Theresa enjoyed collecting purses and how she always had key chains and other "dangly" things to hang off of her purse or key chain. I recalled how she always wore things that you thought would never match but was able to pull it off and make it look great. We all laughed and cried remembering our dear friend.

Last Saturday was the funeral. We decided that Sarah should stay in Knoxville where she was needed and then, later, visit with Theresa's two children and minister to them. I attended the service. It was a time of remembering Theresa and the good that she did. It was a time of reflection on how, even though Theresa made mistakes, she was forgiven by God. Theresa knew that Jesus died on the cross for her sins and had long before asked for forgiveness. And God forgave her for all of the sins that she had committed in the past and all of the sins that she was going to commit in the future. Now Theresa has a new body. No longer will she have knees that ache. No longer will have sores that won't heal. No longer will she have a heart that doesn't work correctly. She is healed and she is free. Free from pain, free from poverty and free from the pressures of this world.

Yes, ministry is tough sometimes. It's often not fun. Why do I continue? Because I know it's what God wants me to do. I want to hear those precious words someday - "Well done good and faithful servant."

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Time of Hope!


I get discouraged sometimes. Times are often rough - not just for me, but for all people. I won't lie. I have gotten mad at God before. During those tough times the last thing on my mind was to praise the Lord.

One of those tough times in life happened the other day. Not for me, however, but for many folks around me it was a devastating day. Two such folks were a friend from church, Rebecca, and her daughter, Josie. Their home was hit by, not one, but two tornados. Below, are a few pictures of what was left standing.



After the storm, Rebecca had every right to be mad at the Lord. Her loss was so much greater than my stubbed toe or lost car keys. However, instead of anger, Rebecca displayed faith.

Just to give you an example of Rebecca's faith, someone gave a testimony that, while cleaning up the rubble, Rebecca was singing and praying praises to the Lord. Between the praise songs she was thanking the Lord for neighbors who came and took her to a place of safety; that her daughter was safe and sound at a friends house when the storm hit; for church family that came to help her during the clean up.

Rebecca realizes that things are just that - "things". They can be replaced. She knows what really counts in life and collecting "things" and trying to "keep up with the Jones'" is not it. It's our relationship with Christ that really counts. She knows that if we seek God's kingdom first then everything else will fall into place.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Time of Failure


Steve was an awesome counselor. He counseled at the camp that I use to work at the first two years that I was a counselor...almost 30 years ago. That's hard to believe. Back then the camp session lasted from Sunday to Sunday. In order to wash their clothes and take care of business half the counselors got off on Thursday and half the counselors got off on Friday. We were allowed to leave right after lunch and had to be back before supper. The usual schedule was head to the "Wishy Washy", put in a load of clothes, then head over to Pizza Hut. I remember one time we were late getting back. We jumped in the car and raced back to camp. The road back was very curvy but Steve was from the area and knew the roads. Needless to say he went very fast in his small car. Martin, the other passenger, and I almost cowered on the floorboard thinking we would crash at any time. I had bought a pizza for the kids in my cabin. By the time I got it back to the campers it was a mess. They enjoyed it anyway. Those were good times.

Over the years I lost track of Steve. I heard that he had gone to college and, then, had gotten a job in social work. Later we moved to the area to work at the camp full time and have lived in this town now for almost 15 years. When we first moved here, I saw a man go into church to visit the ladies cooking for the Wednesday night supper. I thought he looked familiar. I found out later that it was Steve. I mentioned that I would have to look him up and get together with him.

We ended up joining a church and found that Steve's parents were also members. Steve had begun going to another church years earlier so I almost never saw him, but was able to ask his parents how he was doing and keep up with him. His parents always encouraged me to give him a call. Steve was diagnosed with a serious disease, but seemed to be holding his own. He was single and needed a good friend.

There were other contacts with Steve. I would see him here or there but never had a chance to talk with him. It was always someplace where we weren't able to take the time to chat. I kept saying to myself how I needed to invite him out for lunch sometime and catch up.

Steve passed away last year.

I never got the chance to get together with my old friend. I was never told him that I was praying for him. I wasn't able to encourage him. I failed.

Don't be like me. Don't fail someone else. Call that person that you have neglected to call. Whether it's a friend, relative or whomever. Let them know that you are praying for them and that you love them. You never know when it will be too late.

Tomorrow's Post - A Time of Hope

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

UGH! I am just too stressed!

So, what do you do when you are stressed?

Today has really been a stressful day. Sarah is gone to help take care of  "Granny" who is about to have out patient surgery; the boys have just been plain horrendous this evening; my candidate did well today - Super Tuesday - but didn't do as well overall as what I would have liked...it's just plain been a stressful evening.

What is one of the things that I like to do when I'm stressed? Listen to classical music. Oh, don't turn up your noses yet! Some classical music isn't so bad. My favorite is French Impressionistic Music.

Most of you know that I used to work at Disney World in Florida. I loved going to Epcot. One of my favorite spots was the French pavilion and, specifically, their prime attraction, Impressions De France. I had the great pleasure of visiting France way back in 1979, the summer after I graduated from high school. I loved France then, so when Epcot opened, I was naturally drawn to the French Pavilion. I love everything about it - the shops, the restaurant, oh, and, I can't forget the pastry shop, and, as I said, Impressions De France, a movie that features French Impressionistic music.

The music from this attraction is wonderful and very relaxing. I originally set out to just find some of the music on YouTube, but, lo and behold, I actually found that someone had filmed the actual French music. Breaking the rules, might I say, because, of course, there is supposed to be no filming in the attractions. However, someone did, actually a couple of people, so I found the best one and decided to put it on my blog. It's not a very good copy of the movie but the music is great. So, just sit back, close your eyes, relax, and enjoy the music. You won't regret it!



Monday, March 5, 2012

K5 Learning

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I've written this before, but it is worth repeating. We are a busy family! We are constantly on the go with therapies, ministry and the like. Anything that makes our homeschooling easier is more than welcome in this family. K5 Learning has done just that. It is a computer based learning program for students in, well, K (kindergarten) through grade 5 - hence the name K5 Learning! Joshua has really enjoyed and learned a lot from this great learning tool! Now, I enjoy computer based programs because most require very little parental involvement. This program was no exception. I really didn't have to be around when he was doing his lessons. That is a plus for us. With a high school student and a learning challenged preschool student that I am trying to teach as well, having a learning tool where I don't have to be right there all of the time is a bonus. The only drawback is that it is always a fight to get my computer back!

K5 Learning doesn't cover just one subject.

One great thing about K5 Learning is that it doesn't just cover one subject. So many computer programs are just math based, or reading based. Those programs usually do their job well. However, sometimes a parent wants help in more than just subject. Instead of having a program for math and then another curriculum for reading, K5 Learning covers both. In fact it covers several areas:

  • Reading - a myriad of lessons that covers all aspects of reading from phonics to advanced reading comprehension. I'll talk more about this one later in my review.
  • Spelling and Vocabulary - the K5 Learning program either generates spelling words for you or you can plug in your own words. When the word appears, the page also displays the definition, a sentence with the word in it that you can click and hear it read to you, a button to click to see a picture of the word, or even a button to click to hear and see the word in different languages. You are given a series of words to spell if you spell it correctly, the next word pops up and you are never given that word again. If you spell in incorrectly, you are given more hints, and you can't move on until it is spelled right.
  • Math Concepts - covers everything from the basic numbers and operations to measurements and even geometry, algebra and data analysis.
  • Math Facts - K5 Learning believes that you must get the basic facts down, so they have developed a game where a student sees a math fact and has to answer it in a certain amount of time. The time is set for 2 seconds, but it is adjustable to fit each student.
Check out the following video that talks about all that K5 Learning has to offer.




One thing that I really like about K5 Learning is that it gives a parent choices.

Another thing that I really like is that it gives parents choices. If a child is right on grade level then the parent can just start him at that particular grade level. Unfortunately, when it comes to grade levels for different subjects, Joshua is all over the board. He is at one grade level for one subject, but at another grade level for another. Well, that's no problem for K5 Learning. You can assign a different grade level for different subjects.

Sometimes, though, it is hard to determine where a child's grade level is. K5 learning has assessment tools for Reading and Math that finds where the learner is and begins his learning process where he needs to be.

Finally, though, there are times where you know that a student needs help in a specific area. Like, maybe, fractions when it comes to math, or reading comprehension when it comes to reading. Well, K5 Learning allows you to look at a list of all of the lessons and assign what lessons you want for your child to learn. This is where I want to elaborate a little more.

I really like programs that allow you to fit the program to the child's needs. That's what K5 Learning allowed us to do and it has really benefited Joshua because of that.

Joshua, as most of you know, has aspergers syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum. One of the typical problems with many aspergers kids is that they don't understand things like idioms and inferences. It's hard for them to "read between the lines" so to speak. Since K5 Learning allows you to pick out the different areas that you want your child to focus on, I chose all of the reading comprehension lessons from drawing conclusions to context clues to cause and effect to getting the main idea. You name it, if it involved reading comprehension that's what I assigned to him. Joshua really enjoyed the lessons with the modern "hip" characters. And, I really liked it because, although the characters were a little more modern and different than some programs use, they weren't disrespectful or they didn't say anything inappropriate or weren't dressed inappropriately.

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Finally, K5 Learning has great progress reports for parents. Almost everything that you can think of is listed if you want it to be. You can access basic reports, or you can access more detailed reports. It's all up to you. Isn't that neat?

So, how much is all of this (plus other things like printable math worksheets that I didn't mention because it would make this review way too long)? A monthly subscription to the K5 Learning website is $25 for the first child with each additional child $15 per month. An annual subscription is $199 for the first child and $129 for each additional child. Now, I know that these prices may seem high. I can attest, though, that because of the TOS Homeschool Crew I have reviewed many online programs and this is a great price for all that you get. Remember, you aren't just getting ,math or reading, you are getting math, reading, spelling/vocabulary and math facts. If you were to purchase a separate curriculum for each one of these things, it would often cost much more. And, for those of you who are looking for extra help for your students, remember, a one hour session with a tutor often costs much more than $25. The $25 you will spending per month for K5 Learning gives you unlimited access. Don't take my word for how neat this program is, though. Try K5 Learning's free, no credit card needed (that's always a plus for me) 14 day free trial. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above.

As usual, other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew reviewed K5 Learning and you can find what they had to say by clicking here. Happy Home Educating!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a free limited time subscription to K5 Learning to try out and give my honest review on my blog.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March 2, 2012 Tornado - The Aftermath!

As I mentioned last night, we are all fine. No damage at all to our house or the mission. Much damage and destruction all around us, though. A dear lady and her daughter from our church lost their home. Here are a couple of pictures of their house.






That is not a blue ceiling in the first picture. That is the blue sky! Please be in prayer for Rebecca and Josie.


Bend of the River, the range where the boys shoot, was also hit hard. Here is a slide show of the damage and some of the work completed today.



The Aftermath Mar.3, 2012 Slideshow: Charlie’s trip from Cookeville, Tennessee, United States to Bend of the River PSC, Tennessee (near Rickman) was created by TripAdvisor. See another Rickman slideshow. Take your travel photos and make a slideshow for free.


John Allen (and perhaps Joshua) and I are going to go out next week to help some of the folks with the clean up. That's one of the benefits of homeschooling. We can go when others aren't able. Thanks for all of your prayers.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Prayers for all those in the storm's path!

We are all fine here. No damage to our house or the mission building. We had 16 folks that attend the mission in our basement. All were safe and their homes were OK. I don't think that there was much damage in Livingston itself, but much damage surrounding Livingston. Tomorrow we will really be able to see the destruction.  Will update everyone tomorrow or very soon. Pray for all of those whose lives were changed forever because of today's weather.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I'll Take A Dozen Eggs Please...Reading Eggs That Is!

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You are reading that right. I'm not talking about chicken eggs. I'm talking about Reading Eggs. Reading Eggs is a great online program that we were given to review and Jacob absolutely loves it.

At the beginning of the year we tried to start kindergarten homeschooling with Jacob. Why not. He's five and that's the typical age to begin school. Even though John Allen and Joshua both began school when they were six, we thought Jacob was ready. We bought a great reading curriculum for him and there were even a couple of review items at the beginning of the year that went along great with what he was learning at the time, but, he just wasn't ready to begin "formal" kindergarten. Of course children are always learning, and homeschool around our house is never "formal", but you know what I mean. We did continue to teach him. Just not by using a curriculum.

Well, along came interest form for Reading Eggs. It looked like something that Jacob would be interested in so I decided to choose the "Pick Me! Pick Me!" button when filling out the form. The "Pick Me! Pick Me!" button is the one that you select when you are kind of begging to review a product. Really, I can't even remember if I clicked that button, but, anyway, we got Reading Eggs to review anyway. And I am so glad that we did.

Jacob is absolutely loving it and he is really learning with it. He even asks to do it. I am really excited. And, let me tell you, I've seen a lot of online reading games and/or programs over the years and I really like this one. Let me give you a few reasons.

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  1. There is no choosing or deciding what to do next. - Some parents and children like it when there is a choice given as to what next to learn. If they want to learn what the "s" sound is all about, then go to "S Land" or whatever it may be called. Or maybe we should go to "B Island". If you like that type of program, then Reading Eggs may not be for you. Reading Eggs is very sequential. Each "map" has 10 lessons with a quiz at the end. You have to pass the quiz to get to the next map that contains 10 more lessons. If you can't pass the quiz, you can go back and redo the lessons for the sounds that you got wrong in the quiz. Being sequential with no surprises and no decisions is important to us because Jacob is a special needs child that needs order. Reading Eggs is wonderful in that area.
  2. Each lesson is very well (and might I say cleverly) done.- The first few maps, which is what Jacob is on, teaches you the letters and the sounds. Each time a sound is taught, the first thing the student learns is the letter and the sound. The student learns to identify the letter by itself, and then within a word. Each time the child clicks on the correct letter, he is rewarded with a "well done", "that's right", a bell, a whistle...you name it. Each reward and each game fits a theme - that's where the clever part comes in. It's very well done. Next, the child learns how to make the letter - yes, I said make - usually using a dot to dot method. Jacob really likes this and he is learning his numbers as well. Then you learn ti identify the sound within words - first by hearing the word and identifying the sound, then by seeing and hearing words. Finally, he "reads" a book with that word in it.
  3. Each lesson is rewarding. - I've already talked about how a child is praised when he chooses the correct answer. As well as the answer praises the child is also given golden eggs after each task is completed in a lesson. The eggs can later be turned in to play fun reward games. Jacob loves the reward games. That is the one time that he can choose which game to play - and there are a lot of them! There is also a fun character that comes out of an egg at the end of each lesson. It always has to do with the letter learned. For example - the letter B egg had a bumblebee bear (whose name escapes me at this moment) hatch out of it.
  4. Each lesson is very entertaining. - I mentioned how the lessons are sequentially done and well put together by a team of educational professionals, but, what I haven't mentioned is that they are just plain fun to do. There are fun songs between tasks, fun characters, and the pictures are great. I have worked with curriculum that has confusing pictures. You know, they show you a picture of a partial leg and foot and you don't know if they are talking about the toe, foot, ankle, heel, or even leg. With Reading Eggs the pictures are well done and not confusing at all. And, another neat thing, at least for us it is neat, is that some of the characters have British accents. Don't worry, the sounds are very well done and there is no confusion, that part is clear. When some of the characters sing or are doing some non-essential talking, they have an accent. I believe Reading Eggs was developed by a British company and that is why. However, I did not hear an accent at all with the actual sounds when pronounced for a task. For us, the accent during non-learning times is a bonus.
  5. Reading Eggs goes on and on. - I don't mean the lessons. They are just the right length. I mean that after learning the sound, a child goes on to building words and eventually switches over to another program called "Reading Eggspress". The 100 lessons in Reading Eggs is perfect for children ages 4-7 and Reading Eggspress is great for kids ages 7-13. Of course younger children that are advanced can work with Reading Eggspress and older children that may need some remidial help can work with Reading Eggs. There is even an placement test that can help you put your child just where he needs to be if  you are unsure. We didn't use the evaluation test so I can't vouch for that. Neither did we work with Reading Eggspress. However, many of the other TOS Homeschool Crew members worked with Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress and some had their children take the evaluation. You can find out what they had to say by clicking here. Which leads me into the last section of my review...
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How you can find out more about this great product. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above to get to the Reading Eggs website. There you will find that you can purchase a subsription to Reading Eggs for $75 a year, $49.95 for six months or $9.95 if you would rather purchase on a monthly basis. This one is a keeper for us. We have already made sure that Jacob has this for another six months and will make sure he has more if needed. Reading Eggs also sells physical games and books that go along with the online program. Still not convinced? Reading Eggs has a no obligation 14 day free trial program that you can register for to try it out with your child. Trust me on this one - I don't think you will be dissapointed. Happy Home Educating!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a free limited time subscription to Reading Eggs in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.