Friday, May 17, 2013

My Homeschool Grades~ A Review

I live in Oklahoma where Homeschool freedoms seem pretty secure and official reporting or recording are not a legal requirement. Though I'm thankful that I don't have to check in with our local Public School authority or gain the approval of any entity before schooling my children, I have noticed the negative effects of a lackadaisical reporting system on my end.

A few years ago my teenage cousin came from Michigan to live with me. I homeschooled her along with my kiddos. When she went home, it was quickly an issue. She was doing high level work but my transcripts looked less than impressive.  Her school threatened to make her repeat courses and I quickly saw the importance of effective transcripts.

I love that with My Homeschool Grades I can easily create quality transcripts that represent my child's education flawlessly and take little time or effort on my part.

See this short video to understand how easy the process is:

Currently I'm just schooling my four, but as my oldest approached middle school I know that the importance of tracking her grades is going to be crucial.

My Homeschool Grades is a simple to use tracking service which allows you to add and record data for multiple children. List their subjects and courses as well as the grades they received. If you don't use a grading scale you can choose to record it as a pass or fail. You can also assign and track by credits which will come in handy when I'm ready to pull out my cousin's copy of Far Above Rubies to use with my oldest daughter.

My Homeschool Grades also allows you to track activities that occur outside of school to help you build a full and complete transcript that is sure to make colleges smile.

As a member of Mosaic Reviews I received Lifetime access to this amazing resources. Sorry, I can't pass along that greatness, but I can share some exciting news you will benefit from.

All subscriptions now include lifetime membership. Pay one time and keep this service forever. All future updates and enhancements will be included at no extra charge. How cool is that?

Okay, so what's it cost? Only $49.99! That's a really affordable price for twelve years of record keeping and stunning transcripts.

I'm completely impressed with My Homeschool Grades and I think you will be too.

Are you one of those try before you buy types? I don't blame you. It's a big reason why I review. Take advantage of their free 14 day trail and see how it works for you. You have nothing to lose and your children may have everything to gain.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Tiger Sized Rant!

I need to rant and after all, this is my Unashamed Diary, right? If I can't rant here where can I?

This is actually a review that I attempted to post online for Tiger Mini Storage located in Coweta, Oklahoma. Unfortunately, they only permit written reviews when followed with a four star rating or higher it seems. My one star shows up see:

but what I wrote isn't visible.I guess they think a review is only worth reading if it's glowing. I disagree, so here it is . . .

Unprofessional to say the least.

My mother has a unit and has received calls twice a month about her payments. He calls well before she's due. I just went through my caller ID and this guy has called four times in the last month! It's to the point that we refer to him as her stalker. He's seriously obsessed with getting payments.
My mom has been late once and when he called we went up and paid it for her. We have not let her fall behind.

Last month she called and told him she would need to be late and made arrangements with him. He seems to have forgotten as he's called multiple times this month already.

When she made her account she gave two numbers hers and mine. I have no clue why but he consistently calls mine. It;s bordering on harassment.

Today he called.
I answered "Hello" and he said is this _____ ________ I said no it's (my name). 
He said "Well I want to talk to ______ ______!" with a completely rude tone.
I said "Sorry, she's at work" (Where she usually is. Between her hours and their limited time open it;s a wonder he s ever been paid at all).
He said "I'm from Tiger Mini Storage and I m looking for payment" . 
I said "I'll let her know". 
Then he got real sharp with me and said "Look, I've left messages before and I don't hear back" (funny, we tried calling 5 minutes after his harassing call and he'd closed up shop). "How do I know you even give the message?"
I said  "I guess you don't. Okay, so let me get this right, you are calling my home calling me a liar? I do give her messages, but I m not your creditor! If you want to talk to her perhaps you should call her number instead of mine!

To which he said "You're quite the smart ass aren't you?" and hung up.


I called my husband immediately and asked him to go pay the jerk. He was only a block away.  Guess what? They were closed.

So how do you expect to run a storage unit when your office is only open when people are working? 
It's simply impractical to think that people will leave their paying jobs to come make a payment. 

Yes, they do have a drop box, but with such unprofessional business tactics who would consider leaving one there?  Not me.

So yes, we are making room in the garage. Tiger Mini, you just lost a customer.

The Waterproof Bible~ A Review

Have you ever heard of a Waterproof Bible? I hadn't.

Why would anyone need a Waterproof Bible?
Imagine you are camping out and it starts to rain, you want to stay faithful to your daily devotions, but can't risk damaging those thin rice paper pages that curl and stick together then bleed and destroy the page. You miss your devotion.

Imagine you have four little kids (like me) and the only privacy you get in the day is behind the closed bathroom door. You know that if you begin your Bible reading out in public you will re-read the same sentence eight times over the sounds of bickering and baby voices. Whatever bits you retain are miracles. You'd love to read your Bible in the tub but you've tried it before and it was a massive bummer. The corners of the pages are still marked from your wet thumbs.

Back to those adorable kiddos. They mean well, but their new fascination with coloring has covered every surface of your home. Now it's on your Bible. Their name written large (and backwards) in red marker now fills the cover. You try to remove it but to no avail. You try to convince yourself that it will be a memento of their childhood, but it still eats at you.

What do you need? The Waterproof Bible by Bardin & Marsee Publishing.

This bible is so durable it even survived a trip through my dishwasher! It doesn't balk at rain, pages never stick, tear, bend or bleed. It is perfect for the bathtub and even floats! I challenge a child to scribble in this book. Their artwork just rinses right off (you may need to use your nail if they used crayon).

I was extremely impressed with this Bible and excited to take it with me places my Bible usually doesn't go.

Imagine the witness when you are sweating on it in the gym or reading it in a hotel pool. People ask about it and it opens doors to talk about our greatest love, God.

Are you a note taker? One of those people who likes to highlight and write in your bible? You can still do that. Just use a dry highlighter.

For this review I requested the NLT version with the New Testament and Psalm and Proverbs (priced at $24.95). I'd like to purchase one with the entire bible (Old and New Testaments) too.

You never know when we may be in survival issues or a location that the standard Bible isn't suitable. Now we have no excuse for leaving God's Word behind. The Waterproof Bible is our solution.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ooka Island Adventure Review

My family was extremely eager to review Ooka Island Adventure, a game based reading program for ages 3-7. To begin our experience with Ooka Island we had to receive the software and download it to  my PC. It's always available for MAC users.  I could not download it fat enough for my little ones.I have four children, but my 5 year old girl and 9 year old son were most excited about this program. My son has special needs and can always benefit from review so I put him in charge of being his little sisters helper as she explored Ooka Island.They generally began by logging in and selecting the "play" option (there is also a "read" option). It didn't concern me that they leaned toward play as the games themselves are very educational.For example: Alphabet Mountain allows the player to jump from letter to letter in alphabet order until they reach the top of Alphabet mountain. Then they hop on a skateboard and go down the mountain jumping ramps and hearing each letter of the alphabet spoken aloud.The Glass Bottom Boat invites children to rescue a book from the ocean floor and carry it to the Popcorn Library to read through it.Stories include a variety of characters but the prominent characters are 6 year old twins Kayla and Jayden along with their friendly teddy bear friend, Boo.    Pop and Drop quizzes the child on each book after it's read. They click on the bubble with the correct answer to pop and drop it into place.Word Ball is my son's favorite game. During this game each ball is marked with a word or a word bit. The player must kick the ball into one of two nets according to what it is. Cave of Sound is another fun one. The player has to listen to the sound and click to get through a toll booth.As incentive children can earn stickers or purchase things in the Mist Mall
My son loves his Zopet (an adorable  robot style dog) best of all and actually made me take a picture of it on my phone so he could take him everywhere we go. 

During play there is a beach ball in the top left part of the screen. As time goes by the color in the beach ball
disappears acting as a timer guiding the child to choose activities wisely before time runs out.

I like another game after the reading portion called Seashell Words. The child is told a word. They then must read the words on each shell and select the word that was spoken. As each word is selected a sentence is formed. During some games (like memory) the child will play against Zobot. This gives a great practice for the child when Zobot wins (yes, this can happen). Losing in this safe environment allows a child to practice winning and losing skills of sportsmanship. This was especially good for my son who didn't do so well at memory but loved Zobot so much he couldn't bring himself to throw a fit in front of his robot friend.The only thing I disliked about Ooka Island was the intro where it looks like you are flying over Ooka Island  and it twists and turns all over. It actually goes super fast. I get motion sickness very easily and  it makes me dizzy so I have to look away or skip it. Usually I just hit the skip button.A few things to note: I realize some families may be opposed to fantasy elements in education. If your family feels that way, you may wish to know that Ooka Island does have blue ooka elves and flying pigs. Neither really impact the learning or play a major role in anything. They are more of a visual feature than anything else. They participate as a cheering section when the child succeeds at something. There is no magic in this program. Personally, I had no problem with the elves since they are such a minor a role.Another thing is that this program does follow Common Core which is something I know some homeschoolers are watching very closely. You will have to personally decide your stance on that issue.My final thoughts: In one play session of Ooka Island Adventure your child can  recognizing the alphabet, expand their  word recognition and actively read and form sentences. That's pretty impressive. Now, imagine a reasonable price (the home edition is $19.95/ month for a family of four or $149.95 annually see other pricing here) and some scientific research like the Eye/ Ear Reading method (developed by Kay MacPhee the founder and President of Ooka Island Adventure) to back up their effectiveness and you'll see why Ooka Island Adventure has earned itself a gold star from my family.Order Ooka Island Adventure HereAttention: My readers have been invited to take 30% off any annual or monthly subscription to the Ooka Island Learn-to-Read Adventure! This offer is valid until June 1st, 2013.Special thanks to Ooka Island Adventures for providing this program for my family to review and to Mosaic Reviews for providing yet another fun review connection.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spanish for You!

As a member of Mosaic Reviews I was blessed with the opportunity to review Spanish for You.

My family received the digital edition of Estaciones (Seasons)

Everything included in the package centers on the theme of Seasons. 

Spanish for You has three themes to choose from: TravelsCelebrations and Seasons.

The PDF files I received included:
  • Flash cards (see their post on how to use and store flash cards here)
  • Activity pictures
  • The Lesson Guide (mine contained 26 lessons)
  • Self-checking worksheets arranged by grade level
  • Audio files of the entire book 
  • Plus, an ebook
Spanish for You is geared towards 3rd-8th grade students. My children are in Kindergarten, Second Grade, Third Grade and Sixth grade. 

Once I received my materials (valued at only $64.95) I began downloading and printing materials. Since we were all learning the language for the first time and we do most of our work as a family anyway, I have decided to work mostly with the Grade 3-4 Lesson Guide which provides a guideline for 26 weeks of study. You can do multiple grades at once if you desire. 

We are enjoying working with the audios which are extremely helpful. Debbie Annett, the creator of Spanish for You, is not a native speaker and this makes her pronunciation much easier to hear and helps beginners like us distinguish the sounds so we can repeat and practice them together.  I think this is my favorite aspect of the curriculum because it takes the fear away from learning a new language because I don't have to figure out the words around a thick accent.

Another big draw for me was that it includes assignments to look at, draw or write words as they learn them. This is all done in Spanish of course which emphasizes knowledge and recognition of the verb command and the new word plus gives a hands on approach that my squirmy children really need.

The illustrations in Spanish for You are done by the creator's daughter. They are the basic, simple, drawings of a child that add a friendly feel for children using the materials. They immediately recognize the drawings of a fellow child and feel more confidence proceeding with the materials. The added benefit of using these basic illustrations was that it keeps the cost of producing the curriculum very low. I mean, $65 for an entire year's worth of language study is exceptional.

In my opinion,Spanish for You is an extremely accessible, affordable and educational beginner-friendly Spanish curriculum.

I'm happy to recommend Spanish for You to any parent wishing to expand their child's foreign language experience in an easy and fun way.

You can see examples of the curriculum here.

View free worksheets and mini lessons.  

You have to appreciate a curriculum that strives to create both affordable and quality materials. I sure do.