Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Super Duper Publications: Hear Builder Auditory Memory

Super Duper Publications was founded in 1986 by Sharon and Thomas Webber.  When the Webber's began they only had two products and two types of stickers.  Both began developing therapy materials that were easy to use.  Today they provide hundreds of creative educational materials for use with special  needs children.

One of the many programs developed by the Webber's is the Hearbuilder Educational Software series.  The series of four programs help to improve auditory listening and memory skills.  The multiple levels in the programs provide specific learning objectives, while remaining fun and engaging to children.

Hearbuilder Auditory Memory Software Program is one of the four programs in the series.  This program teaches key strategies for remembering numbers, words, sentences, stories and more.  It also provides 5 listening activities like memory for words, numbers, details, WH information and auditory closure.  Each of the multi-level tasks takes the student on the mission with Recall Agents Kim and Joey to save MemoryTown and defeat Dr. Forgetsit.

This program is created to be used with 1-4 children in grades K-8.  A parent/teacher is able to monitor a students progress and create printable progress reports for the student to record progress or share where necessary.  The interactive program allows a parent/teacher to set the program to different levels depending upon the child's needs.  Background noise is also able to be turned on and off depending on the students needs and to help the student develop skills as practice for distracting situations.

Hearbuilder Auditory Memory Software is also compatible with SMART board.  The PC version of this software, which I have reviewed is compatible with Windows 2000, XP, Vista and 7.  An Intel Pentium IV or an equal processor is required to run this program.

I used this program with each of my children specializing each to their personal needs.  All three enjoyed working through the game levels of this program, advancing at their own paces as they worked through it.  This was exceptionally good for my youngest who has auditory processing issues with her speech processing.  Even at age 4, she was able to participate, follow along and learn at her own pace without feeling rushed or like the program was too much for her.

Hearbuilder Auditory Memory Software is available on the Super Duper Publications website for $69.95 for the Home Edition or for $149.95 for the Professional Edition.  For more reviews of this software program, please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog!

*Disclaimer - This program was provided to me from Super Duper Publications and the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew for free in exchange for my personal opinion of the program in a blog post.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Knowledge Quest Time Maps

Maps that Move Through Time

Time Maps is an interactive geography program created by Knowledge Quest.  For years, people have asked Knowledge Quest to create a digital product that would allow children to view maps as they change over time.  With Time Maps, Knowledge Quest takes this request much further. 

This digital product allows the student or teacher to view a map in progression by changing the time period, selecting specifics such as population, changes in civilization, climate, land formation and more.  This allows the student to see how the world has changed over time making the learning experience more engaging.  Changes are made in your timing so that students get the full idea of how things change in relation to their studies at the time.

Time Maps also touches upon important events in history, providing information on expeditions, important people, important events and important items that relate to that time period such as ships, and much more.  Questions are provided to help build upon the information being learned or can be turned off so as not to interfere with the lessons taught.  Maps can be created in color to help aid the student in learning allowing them to view specific areas in comparison without confusion.

We used this product with our regular homeschooling curriculum.  We had been using an older version of Time Maps, along with Knowledge Quest's previous print version of it's maps in our history curriculum for the past several years.  This new updated digital version of Time Maps was impressive in it's advancements and changes.  It was simple and fun to use for both me and my children and it was able to be integrated into our curriculum fairly easily.  

Time Maps can be purchased as a boxed set or by regions.  Each set includes a full set of interactive maps for the region purchased.  The boxed set includes all available map collections in one product.  Time Maps are available online through the Knowledge Quest website for $9.95 per unit or for $44.95 for the entire collection.  In my honest opinion, at $44.95 it's fairly hard to beat in price and well worth the money spent.

For more reviews on this product please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog!

*Disclaimer - This product was provided to me free in exchange for review by Knowledge Quest and The Schoolhouse Review Crew for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Christian Keyboarding

For this review, I received a copy of Keyboarding for the Christian School, the Elementary Version in Large Font as an eBook.  Though an eBook, I was immediately attracted to the adorable cover of this book and so were my children.  We loaded it onto our iPad and began using it as soon as we found time to schedule it in.

The book is written for students in grades K-5 but even my 4 year old was willing to test it out.  The lessons aren't too hard, yet they are challenging enough at the same time.  The Large Print of this book allows students to easily follow the lessons as they learn to use a keyboard while using the computer.

I remember keyboarding class in school as one of my favorite subjects.  My kids enjoyed keyboarding as much as I did when I was in school.  I have searched for a while for a simple, yet thorough program to use with them in order to ensure they are using the correct techniques on the computer.  This program is it!!

When students finish lessons in the Elementary book, they are able to advance to the older student's version created for grades 6 and up.  There is also a course available to teach creating Tables and another for creating Columns in Word.  All books are affordably priced.

The best thing about this curriculum is that it is biblically based, building a sound foundation on scripture as students work through the courses.  Lessons are printable or as I mentioned above, can be easily downloaded onto an iPad or similar device to use without printing since the eBooks are created to be used with a Word program on a computer.  Even parents can benefit from the lessons, practicing themselves and learning the word of God along the way.  If you would prefer a bound book over an eBook for this curriculum, they are also available for purchase through the website.
Keyboarding for the Christian School, Elementary Version in Large Print or Regular Print eBook is available online for $12.95.  It can be used with multiple students in grades K-5.  It is the Christian Small Publisher's Exclusive E-Book winner for 2012!  If you order now, you can use the code SUMMER2012 to receive 20% off the purchase price.  This code is good until August 29, 2012.

For more reviews of this product, please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog!

*Disclaimer - This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my opinion in a blog post by Christian Keyboarding and the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

The Other Side of Epilepsy

A few weeks ago we had our VEEG for Emmalee which showed us she no longer has seizures, thankfully.  In this post, I want to share my reactions to that testing and our life itself.  I've been meaning to write about it, but I keep putting it off.  Today I'm making myself tell the truth though.

It's hard being a Mom of three with one on the way and three stepkids to love too.  It's even harder being the Mom of two girls with Epilepsy.  I guess I should change that to one daughter with Epilepsy.

It's been a long road with my oldest, going through all of this for the first time as a parent and not a patient.  Watching her seize without any known cause.  Seeing her stare off for periods of time for absolutely no reason.  Taking her off her medications and praying to God every minute that she will be in control and not suffer from that.  Praying too that she would outgrow it and never suffer again every second of my normal thought-filled days.

I think the hardest part has always been leaving it up to God, placing her into His hands and knowing He would protect her.  After all, as her Mother, isn't that my job to do?  Didn't He give me that purpose in life?

When the doctor came in to our room and finally after four days of testing told me that she was perfect, she was smart, she was beautiful and a blessing, my first thought was I knew all of that already.  I'm proud of her in all her stubborness and I'm thankful to have her every single day.

When he told me she no longer showed any signs of Epilepsy my heart jumped for joy.   Really it did.  But what you don't know is that at the same time, it slammed down so hard that I thought it dropped out of me for a few minutes.  Absolute truth.

I mean I should feel so blessed by this but my only thoughts at the moment was "Thank you so much God but why not Laycie too?"  Why does one of my daughters still suffer from this while the other no longer carries the burden?  Why does my baby still have a chance of seizing while my big girl is done with it all?  What makes them so different in His eyes that He does not heal them both?

I know I am not supposed to know these answers.  Obviously, He has plans for Emmalee that require her to be well and healthy and live a long life.  And I haven't given up hope that He will completely heal my Laycie too.  I know He can make that happen.  But I couldn't help but wonder why one and not the other.

I'm human.  I have human faults.  I have human thoughts.  I control.  I am a Mother who God has graced multiply with blessings.  All of these are the reasons I immediately thought as I did.  I am not perfect and I never will be.  But He trusts me with His blessings.  He gifted me as the Mother of these girls that He allowed to be burdened and He took away the burden for one.  For that I'm am thankful, I am in awe and blessed by Him, as is she though she may not know it.

I pray daily for Laycie to be blessed in the same way but I also know that blessing may not meet His purpose for her and I have no choice but to be accepting of that.  I'm thankful every day each of my children are here to bless my life and each other.  I could not imagine having life any other way than it is with them in it, even with Epilepsy in our lives to.

I was talking with a dear friend the other day who's beautiful darling girl also has this disorder.  She was feeling things and simply needed a confirmation that she wasn't wrong for feeling them.  They were feelings that only someone in her shoes could understand and yes I thankfully did understand them.

As a Mom of a child with a disorder, we tend to feel alone - as if no one else understands our feelings and everyone else is tired of hearing them.  That simply isn't true.  God allows us to walk these similar paths and become friends with each other to help as we walk through these things.  I share this story because my friend brought it to my attention that she felt alone and that no one truly understood.  I encourage other families to share so that other's know they are not alone in their feelings, in their joys and disappointments and their fears.  There are others who do understand what you go through.

We have come a long way in finding ways to connect through this disorder and ways to change to help each other.  Keep going at it.  I know I will.

Apologia's Who Is My Neighbor?

I think everyone who knows me knows that I absolutely LOVE Apologia's curriculum.  When I began learning about homeschooling in 2004 when my son was only 4 years old, I attended a class on How to Homeschool.  One of the top recommended curriculums at the time was Apologia.  At the time, it was a relatively new curriculum but it quickly rose to the top of the list thanks to it's Christian approach to learning.

Today, Apologia still meets the same standards for curriculum that it began with many years ago.  Apologia strives for excellence in learning with a Christian approach provided throughout all of it's curriculum choices.  If you are looking for a secular curriculum, Apologia is definitely not it, but if you're looking for a biblical based curriculum that provides a structured and fun approach to learning then Apologia is the curriculum for you!

The What We Believe series continues this style of learning, providing a structured base for Biblical Worldview study for ages 6 - 14.  Biblical Worldview allows children to take a look at the world around them, presenting daily truths against God's word so that children learn to discern the truth of the Word instead of the deception the world tends to present.  Each of the What We Believe books represents a different aspect of the world and our children's view of it.

Currently there are three available volumes of the What We Believe series with the fourth and final volume expected to be released sometime this year.  The volumes are as follows:

Volume 1: Who is God? (And Can I Really Know Him?)
Biblical Worldview of God and Truth

Volume 2: Who Am I? (And What Am I doing Here?)
Biblical Worldview of Self-Image

Volume 4: What On Earth Can I Do?
Biblical Worldview of Stewardship 
(Not yet released as of July 18, 2012 - the time of this review)

Each volume is created so that it can stand alone with a complete course of study, much like the science curriculum provided by Apologia but the courses are most effective if taught in order since each volume builds upon the last with a minimum of repeated material.  The explanation provided by Apologia is this:

You must first know God to know yourself.  You must understand who you are and how to be more like Jesus before you can serve others.  You must understand a servants role and how this relates to you in order to learn how to work together to care for others and the Earth in order to bring the message of Salvation to the world and use the gifts God has given you to bring God Glory.

Each book will take anywhere from 4 - 9 months to work through depending on the schedule you choose to use and the age of your children.  Lessons are created to follow a students pace so that it can be customized to your child.  Some lessons will go quickly while others take more time for a child to work through and digest.  

Lesson preparation is fairly simple.  Older children can complete the series on their own, while younger children will need to follow along with an adults help.  Some of the book's activities do require the parent's help but many can be completed with minimal input from the teacher/parent.  As always, Apologia provides additional activities on their book extra's site.  In order to access these you will need to follow the instructions and enter the password provided in the textbooks introduction.

Book extra's include Teacher Helps for the lessons, blank notebooking pages, and the printable House of Truth graphics for use with the course.  Teacher Helps include lesson overviews, lesson objectives, lesson vocabulary, memory verses, activities for the lessons, child-directed discussion questions and a reading list for deeper study of the course themes, people and places discussed within the text.

Additional products that can be purchased for use with the series are a notebooking journal and a coloring book for younger kids to keep them involved while using the courses.  An audio soundtrack is provided for volumes 1 and 2 of the series but is not yet available for volumes 3 and 4.  These additional products are not necessary for completion of this course though and are simply fun extras provided for teaching the course.

I know I have spent a lot of time discussing the complete course for this series above but for this particular review, I was provide materials for Volume 3: Who Is My Neighbor?  Needless to say, I was extremely excited to receive this product as my children and I have been using this series for a while now.  We really love all of our Apologia curriculum and books.  So we were all very excited when the Apologia box finally arrived!

Inside we found the Who Is My Neighbor? textbook, the Who Is My Neighbor? Notebooking Journal and the Who Is My Neighbor? coloring book.  I am honestly thrilled that Apologia created the additional coloring book for this series since it allows me to include my 4 year old into our studies by providing her with a simple coloring sheet with the lessons biblical verse included right on the page to do while the older kids work on the coursework.  The older kids enjoy the coloring pages too!

The textbook begins with the Table of Contents, followed by a textbook introduction of How to Use This Book describing notebooking, lesson structure, lesson plans and why you should teach Biblical Worldview in your studies.  This section is thorough but short allowing you to jump right into the study with Lesson 1.  Each lesson builds upon the last, providing The Big Idea (lesson summary), a biblical verse relating to the lesson, plenty of colorful stories and photos, questions to keep your children thinking, vocabulary for the lesson, and much more.  A prayer is also provided at the end of each lesson to help encourage a stronger relationship of faith and with God.

The Notebooking Journal provides activities related to the book.  An additional and more thorough lesson plan is presented to be used with the textbook and journal together.  Colorful pages for questions, words to know, the Hide It In My Heart bible verses, stories, fun games and more are provided in the journal.

This series and it's accessories are available on Apologia's website. The Who is My Neighbor? textbook is available for $39.  The Who is My Neighbor? Notebooking Journal is available for $24.  The Who Is My Neighbor? Coloring book is available for $8.  Audio cd's for the first two volumes of the series is available for $19 but audio is NOT available for The Who Is My Neighbor book at this time.

For more reviews of this product from Apologia, please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog!

*Disclaimer - This product and it's addition accessories was provided to me by Apologia Educational Ministries and by the Schoolhouse Review Crew for free in exchange for my honest opinion in a blog post on my website.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Professor B Math

Any homeschooling Mom knows that Math can be one tough subject to teach but Professor B Math does it's best to make Math easy to teach and easy to learn.  Professor B Math is an interactive Math program, created to help educators create a strong foundation for students.  It's structured to provide a math education that teaches math as a flowing and connected story as a process.

Professor B Math provides truth in Math too, showing students a less complicated system of learning math facts and problem solving.  This allows for a more thorough understanding of math and it's concepts.  It also helps to expand the students mental capacity while learning math.

Professor B Math is for students in grades Pre-K through 8th.  It helps provide a thorough math education through simplifying mathematical methods and facts.  You can purchase Professor B Math products online through the website by individual book, from addition all the way to Algebra.

You can also purchase a membership to their e-Learning program on the website in three levels: Level I - Pre-k through 2nd and remediation of older learners, Level II - 3rd through 5th and remediation of older learners, and Level III - 6th through 8th and remediation of older learners.  Professor B provides a placement test so that you don't waste money where it isn't need and can place your child at the correct mathematical level in the e-Learning program.  You can purchase one level of Math for $20 a month, add an additional level for another $15 a month and a third level for another additional $10 a month.  Or you can purchase 3 years of use for this program for $100 by calling Professor B Math at 678-765-6655.  There is also a free trial available by calling for those who would like to try out the program before purchasing.

Each level of e-Learning provides you with an Instant Master Teacher workbook and answer key, video's to help teach the lessons with you as the narrator, as well as a completion certificate.  Because you are the teacher, Professor B does not provide sound with the lesson videos.  The workbook contains the student lessons and printable worksheets for student usage as they learn the lessons.  The exercises are simple, yet fun.  Student concepts are slowed down in comparison to other math curriculums, yet they do throw in a few exercises that challenge the student at the same time.

I found this program to be fairly good.  It seemed a bit remedial and in workbook style educationally but was honestly a great edition to our homeschooling curriculum.  I will most likely continue to use this program as a beginning math for my pre-k'er and also as extra practice for my older students as I found it helpful for all in some way or another.

You can read more reviews of this program on the SchoolHouse Review Crew blog!


*Disclaimer: A subscription for this product was provided to me free by Professor B Math and the TOS SchoolHouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest opinion in a review.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Great News from Our Recent EEG Study with MUSC

Earlier this month, Emmalee and I went to MUSC for a four day Video EEG study to see if she showed signs of Rolandic Epilepsy or Epilepsy in general or if she had outgrown it.  It was a long week for both of us but in the end we discovered that Emmalee is officially seizure-free!  I am so very thankful for this blessing in our lives.  We have been assured her brain is perfect and working great, with beautiful waves.  According to her doctor she is an extremely smart little girl, but I already knew that!!

This doesn't mean we are done with Epilepsy in our lives.  Laycie still has to take medication to keep hers in control.  Emmalee must be careful of stress and traumatic accidents that could trigger Epilepsy in her again, as once you have Epilepsy it can easily be triggered unexpectedly at any time.  It does mean I can relax and not be overly cautious with her as she grows though.

I am, as always, thankful to God for answering this prayer in our lives and allowing my daughter to continue her life normally.  We are currently going through genetic testing to see if there is a trait that is carrying through since we have spent 5 generations dealing with this disorder.  Though we haven't been able to pinpoint anything as of yet, we are hoping with the new seizure panel that is being developed, that we will be able to locate something.  I will update as we find out more.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Take On Magic Mike

There is a lot of controversy in the book and movie industry right now.  Both 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Mike have the world astir with right and wrong.  It's a touchy topic that quickly flames out of hand in most situations.

50 Shades of Grey is not personally something I care to read.  Not that I consider the book bad or people who read it to be wrong.  I am simply not into reading stories about bondage and extreme sex.  It's just not my thing.

I do openly admit that I, along with Josh and two of our close friends, went to see Magic Mike opening weekend.  Reason number one that I watched it was that honestly there wasn't much else to see that looked remotely interesting and I was in the mood for an adult movie.  Reason number two for watching it was that we have several friends and family who do work in the adult industry in some way so it's not a shocking expose for us to see or hear about.  Frankly, it was kind of nice to see the male side of stripping presented instead of the female side for a change.

Truth as I see it is that there are times when these men and women have no choice but to do this type of work to provide themselves an income, a roof over their heads, food for their children and the basic needs.  Yes, they could probably find other ways to make money but they could also find seriously worse ways to make money than dancing erotically in front of people willing to pay them for the show.

Magic Mike is filled with sex, drugs, alcohol, gyrating movements and more but underneath all of that is the story of Mike, a man with a dream who is working his ass off to make it happen.  Mike works several jobs to make money to pay for his home, car and begin the business of his dreams.  He's turned down by bank after bank for loans to begin his furniture business and because of this, he continues to work in the industries he can to make the money he needs to fund his dream.  Mike meets Kid, who he teaches the industry when Kid begins following him around.  He sees a lot of himself in the Kid and takes him under his wing, showing him life and bailing him out when Kid gets in over his head.

There are many situations in the movie that can be frowned upon: sex, drugs, drinking but the truth is these are the things that happen to people even in office jobs each and every day.  It's true life shown in Hollywood imagery and in my opinion, in order to change, it needs to be seen and not ignored.

In the end, Kid stays with the industry out of his own grown choice and Magic Mike quits.  He gets the girl of his dreams and begins a normal life continuing to work towards his goal of his own business.  The story doesn't tell you if he makes it, but it leads you to believe he will which is what the movie is set to hope for all along.

Though I know there are about 75% of my readers, friends, and family who disagree with this movie, I found it to not be as bad as it's made out once I looked past the sexual publicity and into the storyline itself.  I'm sure someone will completely disagree with what I have written here and by no means am I saying go out and see this movie yourself but I am saying never judge a book by it's cover, or a movie by it's scenes.  It is what it is and overall the movie wasn't half bad.  But once again, that is just my opinion.


Forgot to add this originally so I'm editing it to add it in:
Josh and I went to see this movie together, as a couple, with another couple who are good friends of ours.  The theater was filled with women who went with their girlfriends to see it and I don't know the boundaries and expectations of their relationships but I do know mine.  There were a handful of men in the theater and it was completely sold out.

Josh's take on the movie was much like mine.  He's been into strip clubs before he met me.  He knows many people who make their living there.  Some are close friends and family who mean the world to him.  We respect the fact they have a job and take care of themselves in any way when they could be living with no job, struggling to make ends meet everyday.

I didn't come home from watching this movie thinking about Tatum Channing in my bedroom or any of the other actors in the movie.  I didn't come home hot and bothered wanting to have sex with anyone except for Josh.  I, personally, don't work that way and neither does he.  We talk about movies like this, about sex and about things we like and dislike sexually and it creates a stronger bond in our relationship.  We don't need to see a movie or read a book to make that happen.  It's just there as it should be.

Now this is all probably a little TMI for some of you, but I wanted to make sure it's understood that seeing this movie, for us, was not a sexual exploit in any way.  It was a choice to see a movie about a man who works as an exotic dancer to make ends meet.  It was a choice to view something to better understand things we already know and are exposed to in our life.  And as always we came out laughing and joking and sharing with each other, making our relationship stronger in the end.



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