Friday, February 25, 2011

TOS Review: Math Rider

My boys are in love with learning math facts. They BEG me to work on them everyday. Several times a day. Wondering how I got them to LOVE learning math facts? I sent them on a quest. To save a princess. On horseback. In Mathland.

It was brilliant really. Wish I could take credit for it. But alas, it was not I, but the amazing folks who created the math program for our latest review.

Math Rider is an interactive intelligent math game where a player completes certain tasks to earn quest points. The tasks are completed by riding your horse through Mathland. There are hurdles to jump as you make your way through the quest. The stories are cute and players can check their progress on a map after completing part of the journey. Returning a gem and rescuing a princess are much more fun than flashcards. Seriously. ;)

Math Rider adapts to what the child knows and struggles with. More difficult problems are repeated until the child answers them easily. The speed of riding changes as well depending on how fast the problems are answered. Math Rider is great for learning the all the basic math operations. Because the controls are easy (typing the answer and pressing enter) Music Man was able to handle this game easily as well.

Then the child (or mom can check the progress at the end of the run and see what was accomplished. I always have my boys call me over to the computer when they finish a run so we can talk about the problems they were struggling with. they also like to show me where they are in the quest by clicking the animated map.

The statistics screen also allows you to see the problem areas.

Practice runs allow a player to choose a specific number or numbers to practice but they do not count towards your quest. Since we started our math facts with the higher numbers rather than the lower numbers, I would have loved the option to choose in the actual quest. There are four difficulty levels with different story lines (quests) to complete.
  • Easy (0-5) 
  • Medium (0-10)
  • Advanced (0-12)
  • Master
 We worked hard to try to get to Master but never made it past 22% mastery in addition. (I think that was due to us starting with the 9s instead of the lower numbers when we began learning math facts.) I think I'll be buying this game so he can finish the quest. :) The price is a steal for the joy of watching them learn math facts on their own!!

Want to see it in action??

 From the website::
System Requirements:
MathRider uses the Adobe® AIR™ runtime. It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms. You will need about 80MB of available hard disk space on your computer and your monitor (and graphics card) need to support at least a resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels.
Order Math Rider through instant download for only $37!

And always a big plus in my book: a 30 Day Risk-Free Guarantee!!

Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew I received a two-month download of Math Rider from Sharper Edge Pty Ltd free of charge for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Freebie of the Day

If you haven't heard about Homeschool Freebie of the Day, you really need to take time to check it out! I only heard of them recently and have already downloaded some really great things. Each day a new freebie is posted on the site. You can sign up on their newsletter to receive an email on Sunday evening outlining the week's worth of freebies which is very helpful! You do have to physically go to the site each day for the freebie to download it as they do not email it out. It is a small price to pay (in time!) to do that. I just have it on my toolbar at the top of my browser so I can go first thing every morning.

NOTE: This week they are doing something a little bit different though! The email I usually get telling me what will be posted on what day was a tease about some awesome websites that would be posted. Can't wait to see what that is all about!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

TOS Review: Kid Scoop

Do you have a "Relucant Reader?" I did. Music Man came home from public school at the end of 3rd grade barely memorizing dolch words. We've worked hard to get him reading phonetically but it is still a challenge since he needs constant repetition to learn the "rules." It warms my heart to hear him reading to himself in the living room while I am cooking. Something he has always enjoyed is looking through catalogs and magazines - especially those designed for kids. Well, now he can have his own newspaper, too - one he enjoys reading!! The Reluctant Reader Kid Scoop is a newspaper for kids about topics kids love.

The Reluctant Reader Solution is a fun daily program of 365 newspapers (worksheets) packed full of fun facts, activities and games. They come in PDF format so you can print them when you need them or a week at a time. Farm Boy loves worksheets and these are great for times when he finishes his work before Music Man. I can place one in his workbox and know that he has something to do. They are also great for our car bag for both boys on orthodontics days!

There are two other options available - the Download Edition which is an individual issue centered around a theme and six Download Edition EBooks.

The Kid Scoop News Online Edition, which comes with The Reluctant Reader Solution is available to view, print it or save it for later in PDF!

If you have read my blog at all, you know I love SAMPLES and guarantees! Well, Kid Scoop has both!!! There are plenty of samples to choose from and a 365-Day Unconditional Money Back Guarantee!! 

The Nitty Gritty
Grades: Upper and Lower Elementary
Reluctant Reader Solution (365 Pages - a whole year of activities and Online Access to Kid Scoop News!!) 97.00 (That's about .25 per day!!)
Download Edition EBooks: 14.99
Download Individual Editions: 2.99

You can also sign up for a month's worth of daily "Make Reading Fun" tips!!

Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew I received The Reluctant Reader Solution free of charge from Kid Scoop for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Weaning Myself (Again)

I originally began writing this post in October but life caught up with me and I did not wean myself down. I had an almost identical experience two weeks ago and decided enough was enough. Intrigued? Read on ...


Ever have a ritual so wonderful that your entire daily routine revolves around it? To miss it means that your day just isn't a good one. If something is off with the said ritual then the whole day is shot.

For me, it is my morning coffee. I have a certain brand I drink passed down from a long line of coffee drinkers. I have a certain cup I use - a big mug with a beautiful handle given to me by a dear friend. I use only whole milk and it makes my coffee a beautiful khaki color, coined "blah blah" by a friend of my sister's. I go from a groggy unintelligible being who stumbles to the coffee maker to someone who is still rumpled, but somewhat coherent after just the first sip of my beloved beverage.

Well this morning all of that changed. We were out of coffee. I knew we were low, but I thought that meant we had one more pound of coffee left. Nope. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. I pulled out some Stash Green and White Fusion and attempted to convince my body not to rebel. I began noticing a headache. It got increasingly worse as I noticed I was also shaking. And getting nauseated. Oh yeah. It was bad. My son noticed me looking a little funny and I wondered on to the porch hoping that the fresh air would help. At this point I was suspecting a virus and actually glad I had not drank any coffee as coffee coming up is just eww. (Just being real here.) I sat outside for a bit holding my stomach and my head and trying to rearrange my very busy schedule in my head. Then it hit me. My headache was awful by this time and I began suspecting withdrawals. I quickly googled coffee withdrawal symptoms and could not believe all the info.

From what I read it is much better to wean that go cold turkey. I have had to go cold turkey several times due to unexpected pregnancies. They were not this bad though. My first was planned so I was already drinking decaf.

Fast forward to today ... 
February 17
Two weeks ago on a Sunday I slept in. It felt so good! Two hours of extra sleep. But then I woke up. And I felt it. Ugh. I knew I was going to be a little off since I was two hours overdue from my daily coffee ritual. But I did not expect what happened.

I got up, groggily stammered to the kitchen and began making my coffee. I would have loved to be in the habit of making it the night before, set it to come on and be ready and waiting for me. Since I slept in on this particular morning it wouldn't have helped to have it set to go anyway. I sat on the couch and nursed my ever-growing headache knowing that my coffee would be ready in about 6 minutes - that is how bad the addiction was. I knew how long my coffeepot took to work! So it is finally it was ready and I grabbed my mug. Sitting there drinking on the couch I was concerned that I was feeling sick. Like nauseated kind of sick. Well, I will spare you the details but I assumed I had a virus and ran to the bathroom. My family started to stir and I went back to bed, shaking with chills and feeling downright gross. They got ready and went to church and I took a nap - two hours worth. Later I got up and sipped some tea, ate a few saltines and rested some more. Then it hit me and I realized that I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms again.

So that very minute I decided my coffee habit was not worth it. If that is what happens to me when I don't get my coffee fix, how bad is it for me on a daily basis. Now I am on week two of weaning.
My Weaning Plan
  • 2 of my big fat cups in the morning (down from a shared-with-my-husband 4-5 POTS a day) for 2-3 weeks
  • continue to research additional helps (including amino acids) 
  • find more teas that I enjoy that are caffeinated since most of the teas I enjoy are herbal. Eventually I plan to get completely off the caffeine but for now, I am weaning down slowly
  • Sub one cup of caffeinated tea per cup per week until only drinking tea
  • Once I am only drinking teas, sub one cup herbal tea per cup per week until only drinking herbal teas
So we will see. I'll update in another month of so and let you know how it is going.

Has anyone else weaned yourself off of coffee? What did you do different? 
Are you still coffee free??

Monday, February 14, 2011

Anti-Valentine's Day Cupcakes from The Cupcake Project

Seventeen years ago yesterday Jay and I started "hanging out." We boycotted Valentine's Day the following day since neither of us were dating anyone. We wore all black and baked  devil's food cupcakes with cream cheese icing with sprinkles (a la box mix and canned icing.) For many years after that, we did the same thing (baking the cupcakes, not wearing black.) It was a comical way to begin our relationship and we always get a good laugh when we talk about it. Wish we had thought about an Anti-Valentine's Party. That would have been hysterical!! Want to join in the Anti-VDay fun? Check out Anti-Valentine's Day Cupcakes from The Cupcake Project

Friday, February 11, 2011

TOS Review: The Curiosity Files™: Blue Diamond

TOS Review: The Curiosity Files™: Blue Diamond

Children are by nature curious. Boys, I think, get a double gene for curiosity. :) Farm Boy has always had a great interest in learning in general but science in all forms really excites him. He loves nature, loves geology, and especially loves rocks. He was totally psyched when we were able to choose from a variety of  The Curiosity Files™ eBooks and was completely awed by the Blue Diamond.

Explorations With Professor Ana Lyze—Expert in Outlandish Oddities
A FUN unit study for kids ages 8–13
Professor Ana Lyze (love the play on words!!) is the main character in The Curiosity Files™ eBooks. She is funny and straight to the point. Each of nine-eBook series is full of factual information and funny descriptions that really help paint a picture for kids. (I never would have imagined that you could liken the formation of rocks to baking a cake but it really made my boys -and me- understand how it works!)  
The Curiosity Files™ eBooks are a complete unit study curriculum! Unit studies are a great break from our regular homeschool schedule. We really enjoy the hands-on activities and learning experiences. (Melting crayons is always fun!) Mom will appreciate how the projects lists use easy-to find items and tell you very plainly how to do it and the kids will enjoy how Mom isn't stressed about how and when to do the "fun stuff." (That NEVER happens here, lol!) 

The Curiosity Files™: Blue Diamond is packed full of content including:  
  • hyperlinked contents pages and websites throughout the eBook
  • Everything You Never Wanted to Know About the Blue Diamond
  • In the Beginning (Bible)
  • Figure It Out (word problems, measuring, graphing)
  • The Write Stuff (essays)
  • Spelling and Vocabulary (lists and activities such as crosswords)
  • Copywork for printing and cursive
  • In the Lab (geology experiments and hands-on activities like making molten rock from crayons)
  • Let's Get Creative (arts-and-crafts projects)
  • Read All About It (book lists)
  • Hands-On Activities
  • Wanna Learn More (links to other information on blue diamonds)
In short, The Curiosity Files™eBooks are designed in a fun, fresh format like no other homeschool unit studies I have seen. I personally LOVE them and I think you will too! 

Check out a sample of or purchase your own copy today! 

eBook Format $6.95
9 Pack eBook Bundle $46.00
9 Pack CD Bundle $49.00

Check out the Homeschool Dollar Store at TOS for several of  

Did you know all E-Books published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine come with a 7-day, 100% money-back guarantee?! Amazing!

Legal Disclaimer: I received The Curiosity Files™: Blue Diamond free of charge from The Old Schoolhouse for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received and opinions expressed are my own. 

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