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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review of 'Goodnight Ark' Soothes Children To Sleep



There’s a new child’s bedtime book that will soothe your child off to sleep with a smile. If you listen, you’ll probably hear laughter as the last sound before turning out the lights for the night. The book is Goodnight Ark by ZonderKidz, and I was fortunate enough to receive it from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

It takes a tried and true Bible story character and sneaks a peek through a fictional window during a frightful night of storms. I bet you never thought that Noah may have actually known how to calm even the largest animal.

Goodnight Ark was written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by Jane Chapman. It is a hardbound adorable book from ZonderKidz.

The story is a whimsical look to a night on Noah’s Ark when one by one each group of two by two animals become frightened by the storms and climb in bed with Noah. With the weight of all those animals, Noah’s bed was sure to break, but it was the skunk that finally stunk up the place and scared them to a haybale elsewhere. In the end, Noah soothes each paired off group to sleep with a lullabye.

Obviously, it’s not the story of Noah as told in the Bible. But, it doesn’t take away from that story, either. It is intended as an uplifted, lighthearted story to send children off to sleep. It’s humorous, easy to read, and the pictures are spectacular.

The story is told in short rhymes that make the entire bedtime story sound like your own lullabye as you tuck your little one into bed to read. It also provides a cute way to interact your child into subtle lessons of cause and effect, identifying small and large animals from snakes to elephants.

The author is a mother of two who currently lives in New Jersey, and the illustrator is a multi award-winning artist from Southern England and also a mother of two. Pick up your copy of Goodnight Ark for $15.99 at Zonderkidz.com


Monday, August 25, 2014

Celebrating Womanhood Exciting Announcement Coming

Celebrating Womanhood #selflovechallenge

For one day, we want to drown out negativity and celebrate the beauty and pride of women.
These days it seems that some people want us to be ashamed of being women. They want us to believe that we’re less: less intelligent, less important, less human. There is so much negativity out there. For one day, we want to flood the internet with positive messages about women.
For the past two years, we've let you get away with shining the spotlight on another woman. This year, it's all about YOU. As women, we often have trouble putting ourselves front and center. We're not important, not pretty, not smart, not talented. Just not enough. But that is SO not true, and we challenge you to break through that barrier. Join the #selflovechallenge on September 16, and share three positive things about yourself. If you don't have a blog, share on Facebook, Twitter, a favorite email loop (as long as they don't mind off-topic messages), or just write it on a Post-it note and put it on your bathroom mirror. Men can participate, too, but we really want women to embrace this. You are amazing, and it's time you owned it! Your three things can be just one comment each, or you can give background or elaborate in some way. The positive things can be anything: a physical trait, a talent, a facet of your personality, or anything else you can think of. The only rule is that you can't add any qualifiers. YES = I have beautiful eyes. YES = I get a lot of compliments on my eyes. NO = I have pretty eyes. At least that's what people tell me. NO = I guess I have pretty eyes, but no one can tell because of these stupid glasses. Just acknowledge and accept that you have gorgeous eyes and move on. ;-) We're not looking for afirmations here. Find three things you can love about yourself just as you are. Sure we can all improve something, but you are amazing RIGHT NOW! If you honestly can't think of anything, ask your friends and family. You should love yourself unconditionally, but sometimes we need a little help realizing that there is something about us to love. Join our Facebook page, and help us spread the word. We’ll have a linky up on the 16th for you to share your posts.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Fitness Friday: Eating Right and Working Out on Vacation

It's another Fitness Friday, and guess who is still enjoying vacation swimming?  I really need to get a pool in my house. The kids and I really love it when we are the only ones in the pool.

Another good thing about vacation time is that it allows for a lot more activity.  So far, we have enjoyed paddle boating, kayaking, walking, and fitness rooms in addition to swimming pools.

It also means that we can make choices for food.  Some places we have stayed have a refrigerator and an oven. We love those places, but they are few and far between in affordability.

So, we settle for a hotel with a microwave and a small fridge, which means a lot of convenience foods. But, we can still choose wisely.

I have opted for guacamole and tortillas and fresh fruit and bags of salad.  Not bad for a hotel room meal.


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Find more fitness motivation at the following bloggers that are hosting Fitness Friday:

The Healthy Moms.net
Chandra Sullivan at Spark Your Motivation
Danielle Nabozny at Lip Gloss and Yoga Pants
Lisa Belanger at Inspire Me Well
Maryann Mitchell at It's Not Food, It's Me
Angela Barnets at Fit Personified
Wendi Barker at Wendi's Book Corner
Lacey Baker at Love Lacey 365
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TOS Review: UberSmart Software

UberSmart Math Facts Review
I was happy to get the chance to review UberSmart Math Facts from UberSmart Software, intended for students in Grades K-6 or any age that needs math facts reinforcement. The software sells for $24.95.
 

UberSmart Math Facts Review
The program helps students master math facts. This is software that you download to your computer and is able to be used by 8 or more students. The program requires Windows 7, 8, XP, or Vista. I ran ours on a laptop that is using Windows 7 as its operating system. Once it's downloaded, it does not require an internet connection to use. When I set mine up, I chose to include the desktop icon to make it easier to access.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
I found it really easy to use, as did my 7-year old. I enjoyed the encouragement sounds of cheers, and when a problem was incorrect, it had a nice little reminder that wasn't intimidating.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

UberSmart Math Facts Review


It is set up in a way that allows students to easily practice and then be tested on math facts using three main forms:

  • Dot cards
  • Keyboard Entry
  • Flash Cards
 


The dot cards are similar to dominoes, and the student selects the proper dot card to answer an addition or subtraction problem. Choose between math facts using 0-9.


The Keyboard Entry uses ten-key numbers on the computer keyboard that gives the child practice locating where the numbers are found to type. A number appears on the screen, and the student finds the numbers on the keyboard and types them to enter the answer.







The Flash Cards look like the regular card stock paper flashcards, but are on screen. Choose between add, subtract (Number facts 0-9) or multiplication, division (Number facts 0-12).

Some of the options of the software that you will choose from include:
  • Learn (This is not an instructional full-curriculum, teaching style of "learn" but rather a basic tutorial of sorts that shows you how to properly use the keyboard to answer on-screen work problems during the practice section.
  • Practice (Choose from the Dot Cards, Keyboard Entry, or Flash Cards at various levels of Beginner or Intermediate, from 0-9 Math Facts on Addition/Subtraction and 0-12 Math Facts on Multiplication/Division.)
  • Test (Choose between an assessment test, or an Intermediate level Mastery Test that allows you to choose from Addition (Number Facts 0-9), Subtraction (Number Facts 0-9), Multiplication (Number Facts 0-12), or Division (Number Facts 0-12).
  • Compete (You compete against yourself in time tests, trying to beat your previous score.)
  • Report (There are numerous reports available that show your child's progress in every area of practice, testing, and competing.)
  • Maintain (This is where the user information, like student's name, etc. is stored)
If you get stuck or want to know more information, all you have to do is click on a question mark icon, and there are tons of math facts helps instructions at your fingertips.









I found it to be a great review, drill type of tool to fits nicely alongside any math curriculum. It provides progress reports, some of which you can print out for your records, which is nice to have a tangible report to file away or to include in any state-required record keeping.

Please read what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of UberSmart Software by clicking on the picture below:

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Homeschool Science: The Birth of a Chicken

I know to all those who live on a farm, this is nothing new. In fact, it's probably not even anything new for those who have their own backyard chicken coops. But, for this Class A City Girl it was an amazing experience.

My kids and I visited The Farm up in Door County yesterday. While we were there, we got to witness the miracle of life: We watched a chicken hatch out of a shell. Well, ok, we mostly saw it happen.  We stood there watching it peck away at the shell for about an hour or more and then decided to take a walk and come back to see if any progress was made. We came back, and it was still pecking away. So, my kids scattered.

Guess what happened next?  You guessed it! That's when the chicken broke through and was hatched. We missed the actually bursting forth. But, we watched most of the progress. It was amazing!

The new baby chickens were in an incubator, so it was rather hot to stand there and watch. But, it was so cool.

We didn't realize how much work it is for a chicken to peck through the egg shell. We only have experience with the eggs that are not fertilized and have no baby chicks inside. These eggs are so easy to crack.

But, when there's a baby chick inside, the lining is so thick that it's tough to peck through from the inside out. It looked almost like a hard boiled egg white but contained life inside.

After the chicken breaks free, it flops around and looks rather wet and helpless. It almost looks as if the chicken is not going to make it.

But, then after several minutes, the chicken is up on its two feet and hopping around. It begins to eat part of the egg shell that provided life to it for the past 20 days.

At times, it almost seemed as if the older chickens who had just hatched earlier that day, were acting as a sort of midwife. They would come over and sit on the hatching egg or peck to help the chicken inside get out, or bump into the egg and turn it, cracking it slightly.

After several more minutes, the chicken looks less wet and more adorable with fluffy feathers.





















The newest chick almost completely hatched is in the center of the picture, laying on its back. There is another one trying to hatch toward the bottom center of the picture.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TOS Review: Happy Kids Songs

Happy Kids Songs Review
I was happy to review Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-On Activities to Build Character, Social And Emotional Skills (Retail price $13.95, currently available for $12.56)
Happy Kids Songs Review
from Happy Kids Songs. Additionally, I received 15 songs total as music downloads from three of their eight available CD sets. The music is by Dr. Mac and Friends and are sung by children and adults. Each set is available for $4.95, or .99 per song:

Happy Kids Songs Review
Friends and Sharing (Set 1)

Happiness and Attitude (Set 5)

Happy Kids Songs Review

Manners and Character (Set 6)

Happy Kids Songs Review


The book and CDs are geared toward children ages 3-8, but don't be surprised if children 0-9 also enjoy them. I used it with my 7-year-old daughter.

Happy Kids Songs Review

We especially enjoyed the Six Little Kids song on the Manners & Character CD, which is basically the story of the blind men and the elephant, where each describe the elephant as something different based upon his perspective.






The rest of the songs are as follows:

Friends and Sharing (Set 1)
  1. Sailing on the Seven C's - This is a catchy tune that talks about the ingredients of friendship.
  2. Everybody Wants to Find a Friend - This song is about reaching out to others.
  3. Sharing Friends - This song is about including others in play time.
  4. Happy as Happy Can Be - This song is about being happy with a friend.
  5. Together - This song expresses how to say good bye.

Happiness and Attitude (Set 5)
  1. Shake it Out and Dance - A song about developing an "I can" attitude as opposed to saying, "I can't".
  2. Who Knows What's a Kudo? - Learning how to give a compliment.
  3. I Don't Understand - Learning to understand and how to handle limitations.
  4. Be Good To Yourself - A song about kindness and learning the steps to being happy.
  5. Better Together - A relationship song about preferring to be with a friend than being alone.

Manners and Character (Set 6)
  1. H-O-N-E-S-T-Y - This song expresses the value of honesty.
  2. The Magic Word - This song is about learning manners.
  3. Quirks - This song is about learning to appreciate differences.
  4. The Golden Rule - This song is about consideration of others.
  5. Six Little Kids - This song is about honoring other perspectives.

I don't know if it's true in other homeschools or just ours, but the big SOCIALIZATION word makes me cringe. One thing that these songs are great for is that they are a fun way to help our children reach out and really be a friend to someone and hopefully make a friend in return.

Another nice thing about the songs is that they are not all the same tempo, rhythm, genre, or style. Some of the songs have children singing them, which give them a sound off of a kids' show, but the styles are really varied. There are some that have a bluesy or jazzy feel while others are more of rap, hip hop, Broadway musical, techno or even a folksy feel.

    


   


The approximately 80-page workbook was really fun as well and has activities that corresponds to the songs to reinforce the lessons learned about character, friendship, manners, sharing, talking, and listening and more appropriate social behavior and socialization skills. The workbook covers all eight albums, including a total of 40 songs.

Find Happy Kids Songs on Facebook, Twitter @Howsyourfam and YouTube.

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