May 31, 2013

Straight Forward Math - WHAT A BRILLIANT CONCEPT! ~~~ Recycled Post

I have decided to recycle some of my reviews in order to help out those that are looking for resources and information for the upcoming "academic year".

KM started with the straight forward math series just a few weeks ago and though she has never complained about math - besides the repetition that often occurs - she can't say enough about how fantastic this program is!

It is literally Straight Forward and to the point! It gives short descriptions of theories or principles that it wants to cover, then it gives 1 or 2 well broken down examples and 10-15 practice problems. That's it, no long drawn out situations or concepts that confuse the kids just cut and dry here is the facts and here is how it works. Concise, uncluttered step-by-step progression of math concepts.

This is from their FAQ section and really sums it up well -

What is unique about your math offerings?
They tend to be no-nonsense, straightforward presentations. No frills, no cute pictures, no minimal text or minimal practice on a page. These are the serious books which teach to mastery. Perfect for on-level students, homeschoolers, older learners needing to refresh skills, or progressive self-learners.
How is the Straight Forward Math Series orgainzed?
The simple, computational facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are highly structured drill books. Mastery of these basic facts leads to the higher level books of pre-algebra and pre-geometry, on through algebra, geometry, trigonometry, precalculus, and calculus.
From pre-algebra up, concepts are presented and explained, modeled by example, and practiced in focused exercises. Periodic review and testing help to measure attained and retained skills.
You can check out samples of some of the books HERE

The only area for the Algebra series that I do think is lacking is with word problems, so we will be supplementing with Scholastic Word Problems Grade 4-8. This should keep her problem solving skills in check.

May 29, 2013

Summer Plans

Well we have been home educating year round since we started 5 years ago and this year will be no different - although it appears it might be our last. If all goes well KM will be sitting for the GED in the fall and will be officially "graduated" by December, so this summer should be our last official "session" -- though we feel education doesn't stop just because she is getting a piece of paper, it will just look a WHOLE lot different around here.

KM will be focusing on essay writing for the GED, will be using Crash Courses to make sure any little gaps have been filled in, continuing her study of Japanese, and she has picked two new courses World Religions and Psychology. Here is a list of what KM will be using to cover these topics ---
KM will also be continuing with her Chess Club, Youth Group and will be working on her bowling skills by attending a weekly jr. league as well as participating in the Kids Bowl Free program for some extra practice. She is trying to figure out a schedule to be able to volunteer at our library again, as she really enjoyed her time there last year. 

OH I almost forgot to mention we will be taking advantage of many of the Free Fun Friday events sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation!!!

May 26, 2013

Product Review - Mission Paragraph from Hands of A Child ~~~ Recycled Post

I have decided to recycle some of my reviews in order to help out those that are looking for resources and information for the upcoming "academic year".

I took Hands of a Child up on an offer that they had made a few months back to review a project pack for them. Having used their products before I was very excited to try something that would boast KM's interest in this area. Here is my review -
I was very hopeful that my reluctant writer would really be engaged by this method of presentation. However she quickly found many issues with the product including, spelling and grammar errors, poorly written examples and while some activities were extremely simplified others were far more advanced at an earlier stage than it seemed they should be. The format has you writing full paragraphs before the process has been completely explained. My daughter became very frustrated with the pack before she was even halfway through it.

I was greatly disappointed with this product. I submitted my review to Currclick as per my agreement with the Hands of A Child representative that had contacted me. I also attempted to submit the review to the Hands of A Child site, but it is not allowing me to for some reason. I have used many other project packs from this company and have liked them all, so please don't let this one review deter you from the publisher completely!

May 21, 2013

IndieFlix & Finding Kind - Official Review ~~~~GIVEAWAY Ended!~~~

I was contacted through The Living Free Project and asked to review IndieFlix and specifically a newly released film on bullying called Finding Kind. I have always LOVED independent films, so this was a great chance for me to get a free 3 month subscription to the site and since I get to use it on my roku - it was an even better deal!!! I also have been given the opportunity to giveaway some free 2 month subscriptions to my incredible vistors, so keep on reading to see how to get in on this great offer! 
About IndieFlix - 
For far too long, filmmakers have been forced to either sell out or starve. Thousands of brilliant, creative minds submit their works to festivals, hoping to find meaningful distribution yet fewer than 1% actually do.  We’re here to level the playing field. Founded by filmmakers, IndieFlix is part champion, part curator; our mission is to democratize distribution and provide significant revenue for filmmakers.
IndieFlix is a community of independent filmmakers and fans. Through its membership-based streaming service, IndieFlix helps filmmakers translate artistic vision into commercial success, and gives film lovers access to high quality independent films not otherwise available. IndieFlix’s mission is to champion filmmakers, rethink traditional approaches to distribution, and celebrate the artistry and impact of independent film. Please visit IndieFlix at
First off we are LOVING IndieFlix! Since we are big animation fans, KM and I spent some time the first afternoon watching some great shorts and our favorites had to be Frankie Rulez, Cafe Rendezvous and Firefly and The Coffee Machine. I also picked a few web-series to try out and I enjoyed Secret Millionaires, Genrefinity, Vegan 101 and found The Crew super interesting! With channels like dark comediesmusicpolitics, family, and food, the selection of incredible films, shorts, and documentaries has something for everyone. 

The only real issue that I have with IndieFlix is that on the Roku there is no way to know what the maturity level of the programs are before watching them. On the website itself, you can filter into 3 categories - All ages, Ages 13+ and Ages 17+. Now for our household, having just a 15 year old, these categories are fine, but if I had the Littles here I don't know how comfortable I would be showing them anything that I hadn't prescreened as there is a big difference in material I would allow a 4 year old to watch compared to a 10 year old. 

About Finding Kind -  
In February 2009, two young women, Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson joined forces having both been affected by female bullying throughout their youth and decided to create change by giving females a platform to speak out about this universal experience. What began as an idea for a documentary about girl-against-girl bullying, ultimately became Kind Campaign, an internationally recognized movement, documentary, and school assembly program based on the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime.”
In this endearing documentary, a pair of best friends (who happen to be queen-bee pretty girls, but no matter) travel the country speaking with middle and high school girls about their pain and the pain they’ve caused others. It’s a sweet, earnest addition to the current anti-bullying movement. A few confessional scenes—little girls in braces pouring their broken hearts into the camera—will stick with you. LINDY WEST (the Stranger)

This film should be mandatory for every female to watch! I don't say that lightly, but I will say it again -  This film should be MANDATORY for every female to watch! Within minutes I was on the verge of tears. This is a film that every girl, teen, woman regardless of race or economic status can relate to. It was really interesting to see the historical footage and to see that this has been going on forever. This is not a new phenomenon, but it needs to end! Girls need to realize that they are not alone. They are not the only ones being treated this way, but also that that fact does not make it okay. Mothers need to sit down and watch this with their daughters, discuss what is going on with the child, what has gone on with the mother and what you can do to change this horrific ongoing issue. We all need to realize that we are the only ones who can end this! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~GIVEAWAY Ended!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Now for the giveaway --- be one of the first ten to pass this on through google+ or twitter and mention me - @fairiemom78 & @kindcampaign -  then send me an email directly at I will send you directions on how to get a 2 month free indieflix subscription! 

May 20, 2013

Another Bowling Season Finished Up

This was KM's third year participating in the local juniors ten pin league and her team took 1st place for the 2nd half of the session! Not too shabby!

They had a lot of fun at the end of the year pizza party playing Funny Bones Scotch Doubles - where they had to do such crazy things as bowling between your teammates legs, skip with your teammate as they bowl and bowling with their feet!

We love this league! It has great kids and an incredible coach, but we will enjoy the 1/2 Crazy summer league as we won't have to get up early on Saturdays for the next few months!!! 

May 18, 2013

Frog Hatchery - One Year Later

So it has been just over a year since the frogs' legs sprouted out of their little tadpole bodies. We still have one left - it is often debated if it is Charlie or Bert - I think it is Charlie, but we will never know for sure. Recently we redesigned the terrarium to give him a bit more land - 
Charlie-Bert seems very happy and enjoys resting just on the edge of the bark. As I said before this is one of the most interesting projects we have ever done and it continues to be.

Design Squad Nation - New Educators Resource and Guide!

New Online Resource and Guide for Educators!
Blast off into space with Mission: Solar System, the latest resources from Design Squad!

mission1 2

Inspired by NASA's Year of the Solar System, Mission: Solar System brings kids fun, hands-on ways to think like NASA engineers. Designed for kids in school and afterschool programs, Mission: Solar System's resources bring to life NASA's Year of the Solar System.

You'll find: 
* 5 new hands-on engineering activities. Each challenge provides an engaging way to integrate science and engineering into your science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program.

* 5 Do-It-Yourself videos. Each activity has its own three-minute DIY video featuring kids doing the activity and talking about its science and engineering and its connection to NASA missions.

* 5 video profiles of NASA engineers. These three-minute videos feature young, dynamic engineers who tackle interesting problems related to NASA's solar system missions. Each profile also comes with discussion questions and follow up ideas to help kids make connections.

* Wall poster. This full-color poster gives kids a dramatic visual guide to NASA's Year of the Solar System missions with fun mission facts, solar system destinations and images of spacecraft.

* The guide also contains leader notes, kids' handouts, standards alignments, assessment rubrics and more

Find the Mission: Solar System resources on the Design Squad Nation website.
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NSF, Northrop Grumman Foundation, S.D. Bechtel, JR. Foundation, United Engineering Foundation (ASCE, ASME, AIChE, IEEE, AIME

May 16, 2013

Doodle Dice - Review ~~~ Recycled Post

I have decided to recycle some of my reviews in order to help out those that are looking for resources and information for the upcoming "academic year".

KM loves any kind of game! Card games, board games, Wii Games, etc.... whatever it is wants to play! So I saw Doodle Dice when I was randomly browsing through Rainbow Resource before the Holidays and thought - "Hey that looks kinda cool!" BOY WAS I RIGHT!

Create a ‘doodle’ with a few rolls of the DOODLE DICE™. There's a different doodle pictured on each card in the deck. When you build a doodle that matches one of the cards , you take that card. Block an opponent's turn or take one of their cards away. Collect one card of each color and you win! It's the fun challenging way for everyone in your family to a be a ‘doodle artist’!

This game is so much fun. We spent hours playing it the day we opened it and then on New Year's Eve the adults and the kids were arguing over who was going to get to play it first!

The coolest thing about this game is the different chance factors that go along with the strategy! The rules are fairly easy to remember and it is just FUN. It is fast paced, so that no one loses interest and you never know what is going to happen next.

Here are some pics -
KM liked that as a bonus she got to practice her Spanish!

May 11, 2013

Ken Robinson: How to escape education's death valley - TED Talk

Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish -- and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.
Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence. Full bio »

May 10, 2013

Janice VanCleave’s Presents Science Projects that Really WORK!!! – Official UM Review -- Recycled Post

I have decided to recycle some of my reviews in order to help out those that are looking for resources and information for the upcoming "academic year".

Science was always my worry area. I didn't enjoy it in school and feared havingto take the responsibility of ensuring that my VERY science minded daughter was going to get all that she wanted out of our science education at home. I bought all sorts of kits and checked out every project book I could find at the library until I came across Janice VanCleave. If you have never heard of her, then you have never read some of the most concisely written science experiment books I have ever encountered and you and your kids are truly missing out!

Although I have enjoyed each of her books that I have read The Science For Every Kid series is a favorite in our household. In this series she covers everything fromChemistry to Food and Nutrition to Geometry, cohesively covering topics so that the kids can clearly grasp the material. This series could easily be used as a spine to jump off from, as a full science curriculum or a supplement for labs and projects. For example in Food and Nutrition for Every Kid VanCleave has each chapter set up as follows:
  • What You Need to Know - here terms are explained and background information is given
  • Exercises - the learner is presented with questions to be answered or situations that need to be resolved utilizing the information they read in the previous section.
  • Activity - a project to allow the application of the skills in a real world situation.
  • Solutions to Exercises - she not only gives the answers but lays out step-by-step instructions for solving each exercise.

With over 50 best-selling science experiment books that span an audience from toddler to mature adolescents, this is one author you will want to remember. Not only have I never had a single failed experiment from her books, she gives explanations that make sense. Though we have come across a few materials that we had to do a bit of digging around for the majority of materials you will need can be found in your home or in a quick trip to the local grocery or hardware store, making it convenient on a rainy day or spur of the moment. I can't say enough about these fabulous resources.

To see some more of our successful science experiments from Biology for Every Kid check out my blogposts - HERE and HERE.

You can learn more about Janice VanCleave as well as take a look through the plethora of tips, ideas and projects at her site - JVC's Science Fair Projects.

May 9, 2013

Join the Atlas Shrugged Summer Reading Program

The Ayn Rand Institute is offering a fantastic summer reading program and if you order soon, you can get a free copy of Atlas Shrugged to use during the program. There are also a number of other free resources to do in depth studies of her work.

Welcome to the Atlas Shrugged Summer Reading Program

The Ayn Rand Institute would like to invite you and your students to participate in a new Atlas Shrugged Summer Reading campaign.

While Atlas Shrugged is widely recognized as Ayn Rand's must-read masterpiece, it's often overlooked in the classroom, in part because not all teachers have the time to teach it. To help encourage its reading, we are offering a 10-week guided reading beginning on June 12. Each week, we will assign the next reading schedule, provide some study questions to focus thinking, recap the previous week's reading, and present a featured resource to highlight some relevant aspect of Atlas Shrugged.

It is our hope that this reading program will help further cultivate an interest among your students in Ayn Rand's novels that you have already begun developing. With your students in mind, some featured resources will be designed to help assist them in preparation for the 2013 Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest. The reading will conclude in August, which will give students one month to write an essay by September 17, the deadline for the contest.

Finally, we hope that you will consider participating in this, too! We are offering a free copy of Atlas Shrugged to all educators with an interest in participating.

To participate, please sign up at We hope you will share this opportunity to read Atlas Shrugged with your students. Should some of them be interested, please have them sign up at


Matthew Morgen
Teacher Outreach

May 3, 2013

Professor Noggin's Card Games - Official Review ~~~~ Recycled Post

I have decided to recycle some of my reviews in order to help out those that are looking for resources and information for the upcoming "academic year".

Our family has been using these games for years and they are a fun, entertaining and exciting way to learn a number of subjects in numerous categories from Science to History to Art to Geography. These fun games can take your family to the far corners of Outer Space and deep into the Ocean. You can find a complete list of titles - HERE

Each game comes with 30 cards and 1 three numbered dice - meaning a six sided die that has 1, 2, & 3 on two sides each. Each card has 6 questions - 3 easy and 3 hard - which makes it fantastic to play with the whole family regardless of the amount of knowledge individuals may have in each area. Questions come in the form of true or false, multiple choice or trivia. I truly can not say enough about these fantastic product!

Here are the titles we have on our bookshelf -