Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Some Days...

When it looks like this outside....



We look like this, schooling inside...

Yes- in our jammies, on the floor, by the kitchen cabinet (don't even ask!)

In jammies with sweatshirt

The one person in this family that never gets cold!

Monday, October 29, 2012

CREW Review- Travel Activity Binder

Activity Bags!  Have you seen them?  They are all the rage these days. Co-ops, play groups, friends are making and exchanging them.  The concept is fairly easy.  You gather the supplies to create a game or activity, as do a specific number of other people, and then you trade every so often, creating a rotating wealth of fun for your child.  Each activity in a bag is intended to be a kid friendly activity that they can do with little to no help from mom and dad, and are usually housed in one gallon zipper baggies.  Don't worry, there is a free coordinators handbook that will walk you through the whole process from start to finish on how to set up a swap. Cool, huh?  I have never done so, but I was intrigued by the idea so when I saw we could review for the company Activity Bags AND get to choose which ones to use, I jumped at the idea.

Since our kiddos are on the road a lot and I did not think I was interested at this time in doing a swap, I chose Travel Activities in a Bag, a slight variation on the "in a bag" concept.  Instead of housing your supplies in a baggie, you use a school binder instead.  The e-book has very clear directions on how to start a swap, with what each person will need to supply and how to put together the activities as well.   Since the activities are in a binder,  the responsibilities for a swap are simply making copies or gathering binder supplies.  I was a lone ranger in this project so I gathered all of the supplies myself- a small 3 ringed notebook, a pack of children's dry erase markers, and a cloth for erasing, dice and page protectors.  I printed the pages, stuck them in the protectors, popped them in the binder and we were ready.  Easy!
As time would have it, we have not gone on any long trips during this review period- which is what I had in mind when I asked for this review, though one is coming up.  BUT- you know moms, we are easily adaptable!  So I found a few other usage ideas-
While mom is making dinner!  I don't know about you, but that sometimes seems to  be the "haunting hour" as mom use to say, in our house for the 5 year old.  Busy time for me = crazy time for CJ!  Several times now, I have solved our problem by putting him at a stool near me and he works while I work.  I think by keeping the binder off limits except for the car and times like this keeps it new and fresh, and therefore a special treat- for him and me!
See the sheets waiting to be folded- just keeping it real, my friends!

Another time the travel games came in handy was while waiting in a doctor's office. Since the binder stays in the car now, it is an easy grab and go option for entertainment. Because the games differ in levels, it is easy to entertain and challenge different ages at once. Often opposite pages will be the same general idea, but at a harder level on one side. The page you see below is one in which you add hair to the numerous faces, a favorite of CJ's! The older kids love the stories where you write in the words with a particular part of speech and then read the silly story.


You can purchase Travel Activities in a Bag for $15.00   It will come as an e-book to download in pdf form.  One of the reasons I loved this product is that I think it can be used for any age, individually or a few children at a time.  We highly recommend this product!

To see what fellow CREW members had to say about Travel Activities in a Bag as well as other Activity Bag products, simply click on the banner below! 
Disclaimer- Our family received Travel Activities in a Binder in exchange for our honest review of the product.  Opinions expressed are our own and were not influenced by the company in any way.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fun Fridays- Mixes Edition

Well, the month is drawing to an end so here is the last mix I have to offer you.  In reality, it is not really a mix, but it does keep you from buying another little package!  It is one of my go-to recipes for Fun Fridays- add some chips and some fruit and your kiddos will think you are great!

Sloppy Joes

1 pound ground beef
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 TBSP. chopped onion
1 TBSP. flour
1 TBSP. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
3/4 c. ketchup

Cook beef, celery and onion; drain.  Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Serve on buns.

I hope you will join me next Friday when I begin Fun Fridays- Holiday edition!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

CREW Review- Sugar Creek Gang Audios

Have I mentioned I have an auditory learner in my house?  Yes?  Thought so, but it bears repeating.  I am convinced once you learn your child's learning mode, you can open a whole new world up for teaching them...and entertaining them.  My 10 year old likes to read, but he LOVES to listen- so we have LOTS of books and adventures on CD in our home.  We have recently had the privilege to add a new family favorite!  The Sugar Creek Gang Audio Series.

For this review we were blessed to receive Volume 1; 6 stories on over 12 hours of CDs from Beloved Books.  Beloved Books is a wonderful company dedicated to bringing to your home wonderful classic stories and songs, including histories, missionary stories and even the popular G.A.Henty books!  Some of you may be familiar with the Sugar Creek series because of the more recently published books, but these sets are recorded straight from the 1939 original books written by Paul Hutchins. 

Stories included in Volume 1-

The Swamp Robber
The Killer Bear
The Winter Rescue
The Lost Campers
Chicago Adventure
The Secret Hideout

Primarily my oldest son has listened to the CDs in his room by himself, over and over.  During quiet time, while playing, at bedtime, while he got dressed.   Did I mention over and over?  The few times we have managed to get him to share we have listened to them as a family in the car as well as during some quiet, down time in our home.  From a 5 year old up to a 40 something year old ;) have enjoyed these grand adventures.  Though the gang is a group of boys, I have no doubt that girls will enjoy as well!

Listening before bedtime

Think back to the time of when families gathered around the radio to listen to a broadcast program together.  The stories are about a group of boys who are close friends and their many adventures.  Poetry, Dragonfly, Bill, Little Jim, Big Jim, Circus, and later Tom are a group of middle school to early high school kids who love to hang out together and share adventures.

Narrated by Paul Ramseyer, the story is told by "Bill". Paul's voice is smooth and easy to follow.  He changes his voice between characters, keeping you interested each minute.  He is, quite honestly, one of the best narrators I have heard in a long time.

My favorite part?  In between a fun and sometimes breath holding adventure are little nuggets of Truth from God's word, scripture and moral lessons.  Simpler times of boys fishing at the fishing hole, great advice like "work comes first then play", and often a few things to make you think make these CDs  good conversation starters within your family.  If I can have my children enjoying stories while at the same time hearing the Gospel in a fun, non-threatening way, I say send us more!

My son's favorite part?   He liked the idea that the boys had so much freedom after they took care of family responsibilities and chores.  (This gave us an opportunity to talk about how the world has changed and why in many areas in our country it is not safe for boys to just take off and do their own thing all day long.)  He also liked the adventure and that the plots kept him on the edge of seat a few times! He did voice frustration that each story left you hanging at the end, but I think that is a great way to create excitement and surely spurred him on to continue listening. 

Because they are a continuing series, Beloved Books does encourage you to listen to the stories in order.  While each story could stand alone, spiritual foundations are laid in the beginning that are built upon throughout the following stories.

You can order Volume 1 for $54.95, or all six sets that cover 36 books and over 100 hours on 72 CDs for the sale price of $279.70.  While a little pricey for many homeschoolers, I do feel like these sets are worth the money and will find themselves among your favorites for many years to come.  Think about them as an investment in good entertainment!  To try them out, you can order the first complete story, Swamp Robber, for just $4.95!  See what you think!

Also, as a special treat to my blog readers- use the code FAMILY-FAITH-FRIDAYS-20 at checkout, and get 20% off your entire order.  Happy Shopping and THANKS Heather!

To see what fellow CREW mates had to say about The Sugar Creek Gang audios, click on the banner below.

Disclaimer- We received Set 1 of The Sugar Creek Audios from Beloved Books in exchange for our honest opinion of the product.  Opinions expressed are our own and were not influenced by the company in any way.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chivalry is not dead

What is it with me and the Kroger parking lot?  I mean, seriously?  If you read this post you will remember that Kroger earned the 1st spot in my blogging career.  A YEA GOD experience.

It happened again- but this time I was just a bystander.  Worth it!

defenders,fantasy,government,households,knights,knights in armor,noblemen,persons,protective clothing,soldiers,suits of armor,warriorsI am happy to announce that chivalry is not dead.  You see, I was starting to wonder if it was.  We try to teach it here at home to our boys with a little help from King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, but in my opinion it is hard to see fleshed out in real life.  Even my daughter in a Christian college shared recently how she met a guy on a cell phone coming in a door in the opposite direction from her whom waited for her to open the door and then walked through it while she stood there, mouth wide open, holding it still open.  Really!

So I loved what I saw in the parking lot of Kroger...

A woman with a cast on her leg struggling to push a cart to her car.  King Arthur, I mean, the lone man who is now a hero in my book, sprints from across the parking lot, pushes her cart to her car and unloads every last bag into her trunk.  And, of course, takes her cart away for her! 

See, they are still out there!  Men who know how to do the right thing.  Men who know how to treat a lady.  Men who would make their mommas proud!

Maybe you just have to look for them a little harder these days.  See 'ya in the Kroger parking lot! ;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Liebster Award

I was thrilled to find out I had been nominated by a fellow blogger for the Liebster Blog Award! Thank you so much to Jess at Our Homestead for Him for the nomination!  Are you familiar with it?  I wasn't until now, but what fun!

What is the Liebster Blog award?
The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have not yet hit the 200 follower mark. The award is presented by a fellow blogger as a sort of pat on the back "you've got a great thing started" type of award. "liebster" is German for "favorite"

The rules-
1. List 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.

3. Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.

4. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate.

5. Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.
6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
My facts-
I just sent my oldest to college and I am still pouting.
I met my husband in the 8th grade.
Still married to said husband- 20 years and still adore him!
We are an on-the-move military family and have loved it! Most days ;)
I love to quilt and I love homeschooling!!
My closest friends live too far away!
I enjoy the beach, but want to live in the mountains.
I wanted to be a dance teacher when I grew up.
My children make me laugh- a lot!
I am finding more joy in the blogging world than I ever thought I would.
My real joy, though, is found in the Lord!
 The answers to Jess' questions-

~What is your favorite season? Fall..or is it winter?  hmmm, one of those!
~What is your favorite dessert? honestly, just pass the chips and French onion dip. But, let's don't save them JUST for dessert!
~If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Colorado for sure!
~What year did you graduate high school? 1988, and yes, that makes me 40ish
~What is your idea of a perfect night out? Dinner out with my hubby followed by Family Movie night snuggling with the kids!
~What is your favorite color? red, or pink, or purple- so many to choose from
~What is the funniest thing you've ever done? I'm not really funny, sorry folks!
~What is the most favorite item you have in your home? My flannel quilt
~What do you enjoy most about snow(If you get snow!)? The way the sun sparkles off it!
~Who are your best friends? The people who love me despite my faults!
~Why did you start your blog? To share reviews of homeschool materials with fellow homeschoolers.  Since then, I have found I like sharing my ramblings with others who will listen! ;)
Questions for the blogs I nominated-
What is your favorite flower?How did you meet your spouse?
What is your favorite post on your blog?
What brings you joy?
Beach or mountains?
Cats or dogs?
Who inspires you?
What's one completed item on your bucket list?
Phone calls or letters?
If you had to wear the same outfit for a month, what would it be?
What's your favorite movie?

Fun Blogs I'm Nominating for the Liebster Blog Award! 

Each one is so different and holds a special place in my list (and heart) for very different reasons!  Some are fellow reviewers, some are old friends met along our journey, and some just simply inspire me.  I pray you are blessed by them as well.

Arlana at Holding the Fortress
Nicole at Journey to Excellence
Jan at Encouraging Moms Who Homeschool
Vickie at Tumbleweed News
The Castleberry Family at Farming Wisconsin
Lexi at Lextin Academy
Laura at Radical Living
Kate at Under the Sky
Leslie at There's More to Les

Thank you again Jess for the nomination, it is an honor to be one on your list!  This has been super fun and I look forward to getting to know new people along the way!  What fun is a journey if not shared with friends?!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fun Friday Mixes Edition- Hot Drinks

Yes, it is finally gotten cooler here and you might have seen me jumping up and down!  I love the cold weather!  But my kids especially anticipate the cooler weather when I allow them to break out the mugs in the morning and fix a hot drink!  OK, yes, usually in the evenings too.  But again, in my quest not to buy prepackaged stuff, I have been collecting my own mix favorites.  There is just something about scooping out your own heaping tablespoon of mix to heat with water.  The kids love it and so do I.  Are we saving money? Maybe not, but we are making memories and that counts for something in my book!  Healthier?  Maybe not, but certainly more fun!

Instant Russian Tea

21 oz. Tang
1 1/3 c. instant tea (we use decaf!)
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 pkg. lemonade mix
1 1/3 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. cloves

Mix all ingredients in glass jar.  Add 2-3 tsp. to mug of hot water.

Looks like a Walmart ad!
 Cocoa Mix

4 c dry milk powder
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. coffee creamer
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 small pkg. instant chocolate pudding mix

Mix all together and store in glass jar.  Add 1/2 c. mix to mug of hot water or milk.



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

CREW Review- WealthQuest for Teens

WealthQuest for Teens is an online program to teach kids ages 14-19 about money and all that goes with it.  Developer and teacher, Jill Suskind, uses her years of research and knowledge to teach kids to be financially fit- 
"A financially fit person...actually has great habits that produce a clear and predictable set of results- money in the bank for later, money going toward helping others and the planet, and money being spent on what matters to you."   
- quote from Jill.
When you download WealthQuest you will get access to the online program, the printable Basic Seminar QuickStart Guide (eBook) and the Parent's Guide.
Jill broke this 6 week program down for us into these parts-
Week 1- Online video and Workbook Basic Seminar- Here your child will complete the 7 video modules and the online workbook.  These modules cover topics from your money habits and attitudes to money management and require typing in some personal answers.
Weeks 2 & 3- eBook (Basic Seminar Quick Start Guide)- This printable workbook reinforces what your child has learned and in small assignments challenges them to think about how they feel, make goals and think about how they want to use their money to achieve their goals. 
Week 4- MoneyTrail Lesson- Using the recommended, and free, kids learn how to manage their money in accounts they set up.  Jill recommends 6 categories, or silos, in which to divide your money.
Week 5- Choose a book to read about money- Here Jill encourages the student to pick a book of interest about money and read it.  She later challenges you to keep this habit up at least once a year.
Week 6- Master what you have learned!  This week is dedicated to finishing the reading of your chosen book and any assignments you may not have completed, as well as making a charitable donation that you identified as an interest in earlier in the program.
How we used this program- My 14 year old went through this program, though we intend for our 18 year old to go through it as well on a college break.  While we are open about money in our home,  we have not had any formal training in that area for the children so I was excited to give this program a try.  My daughter easily downloaded the needed materials on her laptop and was on her own from there.  Every few days we discussed what she had learned and discussed her thoughts and feelings as well as added our own ideas.  The QuickStart guide mentioned weeks 2 and 3 have 30 days of assignments so it did run a little longer than suggested.  Because this is such a comprehensive course, we plan on using it as part of our Home Economics credit for high school.  While we followed Jill's recommended 6 weeks for our review, you could easily do this program in much less time, especially if you doubled up the eBook assignments.  The videos are fairly short though it can take a little more time if your child is spending time thinking about and answering the questions.
What We Thought- I very much agree with Jill that we as parents need to do more than just assume our children will learn about money with no guidance from us.  I also think she provides a great starting point for learning that also opens the path for communication between parents and children.  Like anything, I do think you need to follow closely to interject any personal family beliefs that she may not mention.  For example, one of the "silos" (categories of places to keep your money), is titled Heal the World.  While we think charitable giving is a wonderful goal, we did emphasize that for now and for our family, that was to be considered tithing.  One of the things I loved about this program was that Jill encourages you to make it fit for your family and that it will look different in every situation.  One thing that nagged on me was the word WEALTH in her title.  BUT, let me quote Jill on something-
"Wealth...means 'the amount of money you need to have the life you want and to make a difference in the ways that matter to you.'  For each person 'rich' is a different amount....It's up to you to decide what 'rich' means to you."
I appreciate her making this more clear and it was something we spent a lot of time talking about.  As Jill states "the intention of this program is to empower teenagers with habits and attitudes about money that lead to wealth"  However that may look to your family!  This is NOT intended in any way to be a get rich program.
Straight from the 14 year old- "My favorite part about this program is that it's so teen focused. The subjects in the videos were talked about by teens. The workbook was to the point so it didn't take too terribly long. I really enjoyed the program and teaching style. Like Mom already said, the only thing that bothered me was the use of the word wealth. Probably because when you hear the word "wealth" you think a greedy old miser (; But I'm changing my view on this because of WealthQuest."
The Parent Guide- This may very well be one of the best parts of this program in my opinion!  This 58 page guide discusses the need for the course, has an overview of the program so you can know at a glance what your child is learning, discusses allowances and jobs and encourages you to really think about money and how you want to teach your child.  It is well written and very informative.  It remind me that OUR thoughts and feelings about money can easily shape those of our children and must therefore be well thought out and then clearly communicated. 
I encourage you to check out the short video about Jill and her program.  I do think it is a good resource and worth the money to use!  Jill is currently working on an Advanced Seminar, one which we would be thrilled to try as well!
WealthQuest for Teens is normally $50.00 but is now on sale for $39.95. 
Disclaimer- We received WealthQuest in exchange for our honest review of the product.  The opinions expressed are our own and were not influenced by the company in any way.

Monday, October 15, 2012

CREW Review- The Pilgrim Story

Dayspring Christian Academy is a Principle Approach school located in Pennsylvania.  Children there and at 24 other Principle Approach schools in America, are taught to develop a biblical world view in all subjects with an emphasis on Christian character.  Dayspring Christian Academy also offers several online classes- one of which we have had the honor of reviewing- The Pilgrim Story.


The Pilgrim Story is a five unit online study of the Pilgrims taught by Mary Stauffer, one of the teachers at Dayspring Christian Academy, using primary sources as her spring board to learning.  Instead of the commonly used and often times incorrect facts and assumptions many of us learned in school, this class starts with teaching about who the Pilgrims were before they left England and follows their journey to the New World using primary sources as the source of information.

The class is presented in slide manner, read by a narrator, and quite easy to navigate.  Each unit is broken down into smaller lessons, 17 in all, each taking a recommended 30-45 minutes to complete.  You begin each lesson by being directed to print out a note taking sheet, vocabulary sheet and any additional resources needed for that particular lesson.  Beginning in lesson 2 each section opens with a quick multiple choice review of the previous lesson and then ends with one reviewing the lesson just completed.  The fill in the blanks notes sheet are to be filled in while listening to the lecture, with each answer being underlined in the slides as you go, making it easy for the student to copy the information asked for.

Sprinkled throughout the lessons are writing activities that challenge your child to think or research about a topic, a few craft activities and even a few recipes for food to try similar to what the Pilgrims would have eaten.  At the end of each unit is a unit test.  You can choose to take the test in essay or multiple choice form and your score is shown at the end of the test.

To round out this program is a virtual field trip to Plymouth to see pictures of many of the things learned about throughout the course- a kind of last hoo-rah to celebrate, similar to the trip Mrs. Stauffer takes her real classes on.


For this program my 10 year old and I worked together.  Quite honestly, I had intended on him doing it alone, but after watching the 1st lesson with him I decided that I did not want to miss any of the information myself!  We liked this program in the beginning- we loved it by the end!  There were two days at the end of the program that he even asked if he could do two lessons back to back because he wanted to hear more about the Native Americans.  Some lessons did take us longer than the recommended 30-45 minutes because we would stop and discuss many of the writing activities orally, but that was not bothersome for us.  By printing out the included resource pages, which are in full color and professional looking, and by filling out the note taking pages, you end up with a wonderful keepsake notebook that you can have to document your learning experience.

The downloading of this course was no problem for us, nor was navigating the site.  The resources are clearly marked and easy to run off and your students' progress is kept in chart form along with their grades. 

My son's favorite slide presentation was one in which he was allowed to click on certain items on the page to access more information- for example, the map of the Plymouth Colony.  Our favorite activity was one in unit 2 in which you get to fill a trunk with items you would have chosen to take on the voyage to the New World.  Just as the Pilgrims did,  a lot of thought was given into the amounts of food versus clothing and tools, as only so much would fit in that trunk!  SP also enjoyed the Greek translation worksheet since his oldest sister is taking a Greek class in college!  ;) Our favorite lessons were by far the ones at the end of the program that specifically talked of Squanto and the other Natives the Pilgrims encountered.  We learned several new facts and dispelled a few old "facts" we had been taught in the past.

Completing a mapping activity

As a parent one of my favorite things about this program was that it concentrated on the facts and used many quotes from primary sources to back them up as opposed to the often taught school stories of the Pilgrims and Indians.  I also loved that the Bible was a key topic throughout offering a Biblical worldview.  By looking at how the Pilgrims made decisions based on their Christian beliefs, it allowed us to talk about what we believe, and how we think we would have acted based on those beliefs.  What a wonderfully refreshing way to teach history!

As the holiday season approaches what a better time to learn about our country's simple beginnings and to reflect on the values and faith that can be learned from the Pilgrims.  While this program is recommended for grades 3-6th, I do believe that younger children could benefit from the teachings.  And since the slides are read by a narrarator, your child does not have to be a fluent reader.  For younger children I would have them do the lessons without filling in the note sheets, making it an auditory experience.  Older children could be challenged by many of the writing assignments and I would personally even use the vocabulary for spelling and definition tests.  Because when you buy this program you have access to the class for 6 months, there is ample time to go at a slower pace if your family needs that time.  Want to add in some Home Ec time- assign the cooking projects to your child!

Our only complaint- we would have loved if the virtual field trip had been live footage of one of Mrs. Stauffer's classes as they toured Plymouth.  I think seeing the children interacting with their environment would have really brought it to life and been more fun than the slide presentation.  If you can't go on your own, it is fun to live vicariously through others!

Cost of  The Pilgrim Story is $99.00 and can be accessed within 48 hours of ordering it.  Again, at that time you will have access to the program any time you wish for 6 months.  There is a quick one minute video introducing the program that I would encourage you to watch.

Click on the banner below to see what fellow CREW had to say about The Pilgrim Story!

Disclaimer- We were given a free 6 month access to The Pilgrim Story in exchange for our honest review of this program.  Opinions expressed are our own and were not influenced by the company in any way.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fun Friday- Dressing mixes

Welcome back!  Moving on from Taco mix to another new obsession of mine.  Ridding the fridge of store bought salad dressings!  Have you seen the ingredients list on those things?  YUCK! 

This is a newer project for me, but so far these two are my favorite finds which I tweaked a little for our tastes.  I make both mixes in mass and then it is always on hand, ready to whip up.  There is something about using herbs you grow on your own that just makes me happy, but store bought work just as well.

Ranch Dressing Mix

1 TBSP Dried Parsley
1 tsp Dill
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Dried Basil
1/4 tsp Pepper

Mix well and store in airtight container.  To make dressing add 1 TBSP of mix with 1/3 cup of mayo and 1/4 cup of milk, whisking well. 

Italian Dressing Mix

1 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 TBSP Onion Powder
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp Parsley
2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Thyme

Mix well and store in airtight container.  To make dressing add 1 1/2 TBSP to 1/4 cup vinegar of your choice, 2 tsp water, and 1/2 cup olive oil.

Got a salad dressing mix you use?  We would love it if you would share with us!  The hubby wants a honey mustard one next!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Homeschooling and the Military Family

"For the last 14 years we have been a homeschooling family. In that time alone we have lived in Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Alabama, North Dakota, Wyoming and now Virginia. In 9 months we will be on the road again and yes, that is life in the military..."

To read my entire article, visit The Schoolhouse Review Crew site where I am spotlighted this week!


Thursday Quick Tip!

One kid or four, or experience is that the mornings you have to be somewhere are the mornings a shoe is missing or the argument about what to wear begins!

Today's quick tip- LAY OUT THEIR CLOTHES THE NIGHT BEFORE!  Whether you choose or they do, it will be ready in the morning!  Pre-planning can make all the difference in the world between chaos and peace!

Thursday Quick Tips

This post is linked to Ben and Me.  Hop over to get some other great Quick Tips!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

CREW Review- Kinderbach


Who doesn't want their kiddos to play an instrument?  Any instrument!
Fairly early on with my girls, I was successful with that goal.  Both of my girls play the piano well, while one is now also pursuing guitar and one likes to fiddle with a violin.  But the boys- well, let's just say I have been a little behind.  You know, a mom gets busy sometimes.

Thanks to KinderBach and their newly released iPad app, I am on the way to catching up! 
I was first exposed to KinderBach during the summer when I had the chance to explore the first few lessons in test mode.  Can I just tell you how hard developers work to go from a good theory to a workable and enjoyable app?  LOTS!  There were many downloads and reloads.
Since releasing their final product I have been able to review the whole program through Schoolhouse Review Crew.  The finished project is even better than I had hoped for.
Here's how it works-
There are three levels with 10 Lessons each.  You choose which level to start with and which lesson, which will bring you to a screen that looks like this-
From here you watch each short lesson and follow along.  That simple!  The intro video for each level reminds you of what will be taught in that particular level. Karri Gregor, the gal you see pictured, teaches a lesson, shows you keyboard information, sings, and teaches fun games to follow along with.   There are also numerous hands on activities you can do with her by simply hitting the print key.   If you are not able to "air print" you can click on the ? button on the bottom of any lesson page which will provide a link to download books from their website. PDF books are also available at a small fee.
Here is what an activity page might look like-
Another button you see is the Game button.  This takes you to six games at varying degrees of difficulty for your child to play.  One particular game, the train game, has had a few glitches in it, but Apple is working to resolve those now.  Each game provides practice for the concepts taught and gets progressively harder.
I have used this mostly for my 5 year old at this point.  My 10 year old looked at it some, but felt like the activities were too young for him.  (KinderBach is geared for children 3-7, but I was hoping I could talk the 10 year old into it.  Can't hurt to try, right?)  The 5 year old however, loved it!  One of his favorite activities was the hi low game, in which you squat down when you hear low notes and grow bigger with high notes.    It was one of the first activities he did, but it has remained his favorite throughout the program.  He also loved the characters Karri uses to introduce concepts, especially Dodi, the donkey that lives in the two black keys!

What did I like?  This is a fun interactive program.  Despite the fact that it is a iPad app, it encourages singing and lots of movement.  When a keyboard is required, one is displayed at the bottom to use and sounds very much like a real piano.  Oftentimes, CJ would use the keyboard when using the app, but later go to our big piano to see if he could do the same activities.  Who knew music could be portable?   I also love that the print button is easy to use and allows your child to follow along with the video.  Karri is energetic, easy to listen to and fun for the kids.  It is like having your own music teacher right in your home...or car!  Each lesson is quite different from the other, which allowed my son to keep engaged and not become bored.  He tends to be one to just keep hitting buttons on apps and I saw very little of that when he was playing with the Kinderbach app. 
About the only thing I would love to see updated is the ability to automatically go back to where you left off after each lesson.  My 5 year old could not always remember what he had done last, and I had to keep a note for myself as to what lesson and video we were on.
So, do I like it?  Another thumbs up here!  Combine learning and fun with a portable app for music and they have my vote.  You can try the first two lessons for free if you want to see if it is a good fit for your family!
KinderBach School Version App, which I reviewed, can be purchased for $26.99 at the App store.  The School version allows you to purchase all levels at once, a year's worth of lessons!   According to their Facebook page, this may go on sale Friday, so keep your eyes open!  There is also an online version if you are interested.
Update!  Receiev 30% off any order by using Coupon Code: TOS_crew2012
Expires: 12/31/2012

Also the KinderBach App is on sale This Friday, Oct. 19th, 2012 ONLY. The
app will be discounted over 50%, down to $12.99! No code needed just the
link to the Classroom KinderBach app in the App store:
To see what fellow CREW members had to say about KinderBach App and the online version as well, click on the banner below.
Disclaimer- I received KinderBach iPad app in exchange for my honest review of the product.  Opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by the company in any way.

Monday, October 8, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things...

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For those of you who know me, you know I do not care for summer, or heat.  I am a cool weather kind of girl!  Yes, a true southern traitor who misses the mid west!  So I am happy to announce that at least for this week- fall is in the air in Virginia.  Don't get too comfortable because I think the warmer weather is supposed to come back next week, but this week, I am in heaven.  Let me show you why...

Open Windows
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Fall colors
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Warm socks
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Hot chocolate
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Yes, getting ahead of myself on a few of those last ones, but see, now don't you feel comfortable, and snuggly and content?  Go find someone to enjoy it with!