Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Visit My Guest Blog

I have a guest blog entry over at Three Boys and a Dog today. Jump over and take a look. Thanks.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

College Prep Genius - Product Overview

Gone is the newborn we kept wrapped so tightly. Gone is the toddler we chased around the house trying to keep alive while he tested all the boundaries. Gone is even the child we taught to read and to write and to count. Present is a young adult who is preparing to embark on the rest of his life. And we, as his parents, are responsible to make sure he is well equipped to do so.

One way we can equip our children is to give them the tools to have a strong start. Being prepared for college is one of those tools. And that means being prepared for the Standardized Assessment Test (SAT) as well as other tests that may be required. As the mother of a high school freshman, I have not yet journeyed into the world of scholarships and college preparation. But I am finding out that those who start early have the best results. So I am indeed blessed to have received the "Master the SAT Class" DVD Set from College Prep Genius to help me get started.

Included in this DVD set are the SAT Class lecture series and the College Prep Genius Textbook and Workbook. The lecture series runs about 5-1/2 hours and includes 4 discs: Introduction to the SAT, Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. The textbook contains over 350 tips, shortcuts, and test taking strategies while the workbook contains sample PSAT and SAT problems so the student can put into practice the strategies and tips taught in the College Prep Genius curriculum.

The DVD set is currently on sale for $79.00 and upon a quick preview of the material it appears to be worth the investment. You can read the review of our experience here.

If you are like me and do not know much about the PSAT/SAT, you may want to visit the College Board website.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sense and Sensibility Patterns


My 14 year old daughter loves dresses from other eras. So when we looked at the  Sense and Sensibility Patterns website, there was much oohing and aahing. When I asked her if she wanted to make the Girls' Edwardian Apron Pattern, she was excited at the possibility. (The Girls' Edwardian Apron was created as a companion pattern to the Ladies' Edwardian Apron.)

However, the implementation of the plan was not quite so exciting. The biggest hurdle was getting past the e-pattern. I am sure there must be some positives to using one since people request them, but the negatives listed on the Sense and Sensibility website were definitely true for us. But we finally got the pattern all taped together (after several hours) and were able to get started on the actual sewing.

The remainder of the snags were due to our inexperience. The website says that this pattern is a great mother-daughter project to teach sewing. And I would agree. However, I didn't have enough experience doing pattern sewing to be much help.  And my daughter has only taken 2 basic sewing classes and has not sewn anything on her own yet. So I was a bit nervous about how this project would progress. Thankfully, the pattern itself is quite basic. But without the e-class I do not think she would have made it through. The e-class includes slide visuals in PDF and an audio class in MP3 format. When the pattern instructions weren't making sense, she would go back and listen to that portion of the class before proceeding.

The apron did turn out so we survived. But it isn't a project I would recommend for a beginner working alone. I would, however, highly recommend anyone with experience to check out these fabulous patterns. They look really fun and I can't wait until my daughter is more skilled! (Just remind me to order a paper pattern next time.)

Please take time to check out the Sense and Sensibility website and also the other Crew reviews.

Disclosure:This product was provided to our family for free as members of the 2009-2010 Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received. Reviews and opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Quarter Mile Math


Barnum Software
Quarter Mile Math
Deluxe Edition: $19.95/year
Standard Edition:


Quarter Mile Math Deluxe Edition is currently being tested at our house. And if 33 races in 5 days says anything about how it is being received by my 12 year old daughter, I would say it is a hit.

The Barnum Software website says, "The Quarter Mile Math motivates students of all ages and the broadest abilities to do an incredible number of mental math problems at their fastest possible rate."

The topics available range from Numbers and Letters to Equations and are correlated with State Standards. I can tell you from personal experience that some of those races are very challenging! The student can switch back and forth between horse and car races. And once the student has reached five top scores, he races against those scores instead of the computer.

One great feature of the Deluxe Edition is that my children can use QuarterMile Math on any of our computers. Since their scores are recorded on the Barnum server, they can be accessed from any computer that has Quarter Mile Deluxe and an Internet connection. There is also a report available for each student that shows all the races he has run and the race times.

Another great feature is the price. For only $19.95 per year (or $2.95/month), a family can have access to this challenging math aid. There is also a Standard Version available if the Deluxe does not fit your needs. Homeschoolers, make sure you check out the page just for you.

I know in our house Quarter Mile Math Deluxe Edition will continue to provide a challenge for many years to come. You can read other reviews from the TOS Crew here.

Disclosure:This product was provided to our family for free as members of the 2009-2010 Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received. Reviews and opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Do you have a student that needs the overview and input of a teacher but resists your efforts of instruction? Is math instruction not your strong point? Do you need your child to work on his own? If so, stay tuned. ALEKS Assessment not only is a tool for parents or teachers to assess their students' strengths and weaknesses, but it is a great way to put students in control of their learning. As they spend time in the Learning Mode, concepts are learned, reviewed and then mastered. But no longer are they tied to working on one topic all class period or waiting for someone to instruct them. All they need to do is log into their ALEKS account, choose from an assortment of topics, and work toward mastering the necessary material. ALEKS is not only for K-12 students but has plenty available for higher education students as well. It can be used as your main math program or a supplement.


  • K-12 Mathematics
  • Higher Education - Math
  • Higher Education - Business
  • Higher Education - Behavioral Science
  • Higher Education - Science

ACE Credit-Recommended ALEKS Courses:

  • Beginning Algebra
  • Intermediate Algebra
  • College Algebra
  • Trigonometry
  • College Algebra with Trigonometry
  • PreCalculus
  • Introduction to Statistics
  • Business Statistics
  • Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences

First things first and that is setting up the student and teacher accounts. You select the appropriate class for each student as well as customize the options for each account. You can change these settings including the class level at any time.

Now your student is all set to take the assessment. This is NOT a test. It is just a measurement of what material the student already knows so he does not have to spend time studying material that is already mastered. One minor annoyance about the test is that you are not shown what problems were missed. Frustrating but definitely not a deal breaker.

Once the student has completed the assessment, he is given a pie chart showing all the topics for the course. It shows how many topics have been mastered and how many remain to be worked through. This is the Learning Mode that the student will work from each day. Each time he logs on he chooses the topic he wants to work on and goes through the problems given. The student is given instant feedback and, in some cases, suggestions for making corrections. ALEKS then determines when the student has mastered the topic. Period assessments will be given to confirm that the material has indeed been mastered. If the topic chosen by the student requires knowledge of another topic not yet mastered, he will not be allowed to work on that new topic. It is recommended that the student works at least 3 hours per week. When the student reenters the program, he is brought back to the same spot he was when he exited.

The teacher account shows how long the student has worked each day and on what topics. You can also view the progress on his pie chart. If needed, worksheets and quizzes can be printed based on the work your student has done in ALEKS. You can prompt ALEKS to schedule extra review for a student. A message system is included so you can communicate with your student electronically. You can also print a state-specific Grade Level Expectations Report for each student. State standards are correlated for all 50 states. ALEKS also emails you a periodic progress report for each student. I have mine set for every week, but you can choose to receive them bi-weekly or monthly.

QuickTables is another module of ALEKS that is very beneficial. It utilizes distributed practice and ALEKS's Memory Stacks Algorithms to assist the student in mastering all the math facts. QuickTables is complementary with all ALEKS subscriptions.

A subscription to ALEKS for an individual student is:

  • $19.95 per month
  • $99.95 for 6 months
  • $179.95 for 12 months
  • Family discounts are available.

ALEKS offers a free trial so you can see if it would be a benefit to you. Just click on the ALEKS box in my right sidebar.


ALEKS has been a hit here. I am not usually a big fan of computer-based learning. But I have been very impressed with ALEKS and it will definitely stay on my math resource list.

Disclosure:This product was provided to our family for free as members of the 2009-2010 Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received. Reviews and opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

Maverick Books - Home of Hank the Cow Dog

Maverick Books

Calling all boys ages 10 and up!!! Calling all boys!!!

The Hank the Cowdog series by John Erickson was made for growing boys who love adventure. These tales of fun and mischief provide hours of entertainment. I happen to know that even many “young at heart” folks love Hank. Now if you spend your evenings enjoying high society functions, Hank will probably not thrill you to your toes. But if down home humor fits your life, then Hank is calling your name.

If you have never heard of Hank the Cowdog you are probably asking, what is this all about? Well, I will let the Maverick Books website give you an idea.


Hank the Cowdog leads a motley crew of West Texas ranch characters through a series of hilarious adventures. When he's not patrolling the ranch, he spends his time soaking in Emerald Pond (the septic tank) or sleeping on his gunny sack bed under the gas tank. Here, from the very first Hank story ever, Hank tells readers how he thinks of himself and his job:

“When I took this job as Head of Ranch Security, I knew that I was only flesh and blood, four legs, a tail, a couple of ears, a pretty nice kind of nose that the women really go for, two bushels of hair and another half-bushel of Mexican sandburs. You add that all up and you don't get Superman, just me, good old easy-going Hank who works hard, tries to do his job, and gets very little cooperation from anyone else around here.” From Hank the Cowdog #1. The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog (Copyright © John R. Erickson)


Drover is Hank's loyal yet timid sidekick. The "little white mutt" is usually found hiding in the machine shed. He has a bad leg which -- coincidentally (?) -- acts up when the action is hot like in the following excerpt:

[Hank:] "Hang on, Drover, here we go!'

[Drover:] 'Oh, my leg...'

We zoomed in for a look. Sure enough, it was Tuerto of the Gotch Eye. When he saw us streaking towards him, he tossed his head and stamped his right front foot. It was pretty clear at this point that he had no business in our home pasture.

'Hank to Drover, over. Confirm visual sighting at eleven o'clock.'

'I thought it was only ten o'clock.'

'Roger, but suspect has moved one hour to the south.'

'Time sure flies when you're scared.'

'Roger. Suspect has invaded our territorial territory. Prepare to initiate Growling Mode!'

'Hank, let's don't growl at him. He might think we're being unfriendly.'

'That's the whole point, Roger.'

'I'm Drover.'

'Of course you are. Ready? Mark! We have initiated Growling Mode One and are proceeding toward the target!'" From Hank the Cowdog 8. The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse (Copyright © John R. Erickson)


  • Hank the Cowdog Books
  • Hank the Cowdog Audio CDs
  • Hank Music Tunes
  • Hank and Drover Plushes and Puppets
  • The Tornado Game
  • Sweatshirts and T-shirts
  • Poster, backpack and more . . .


Our older girls have been reading and listening to Hank for several years. They find the stories very entertaining. Though the escapades sometimes seem impossible, the thread of reality that runs through the stories makes a connection with the reader. Even my husband likes them. They don’t do much for me but then I don’t have much of a sense of humor either. Our 5yo daughter is enjoying listening to the audio stories and playing the Tornado game. This game brings back memories of the old time game of Sorry and has been much enjoyed by our bouncy Kindergartner.

Many libraries have Hank the Cow Dog books so if you think your family would enjoy these, check them out. You might find you want to have a collection of your own. The audios are great for road trips or for home enjoyment too. The inclusion of music and character voices adds much to the stories. You can read here to see if Hank has been a hit or a miss for other families.

Disclosure:This product was provided to our family for free as members of the 2009-2010 Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. No further compensation was received. Reviews and opinions expressed in this blog are my own.

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