Wednesday, June 27, 2012

R is for Reality. A place I don't want to be today.

Blogging through the Alphabet time again. I missed a lot.  Again.  N is for North Dakota is the last one I posted.  And now we're to R.

R?  R is for Reality.

Today, I want to live in Fantasy.  You know, where some make-believe yucky thing happen, but when all is said and done, the hobbit-hole is still there, and Sam is surrounded by his happy, adorable children.

Where the images aren't real.  You can watch horrific events, and you know that it is mostly make-up and paint creating that devastation.

I've been up for an hour.  My iPod woke me telling me about yet another Fire Danger Warning.  Yesterday, it woke me to warn me of a flash flood alert for today.

Yes.  I live somewhere where those two things can happen simultaneously.  And both have the potential to be devastating.

The sun is about to rise.  It is just about starting to peek over the horizon.  I'm sure it is another totally beautiful sunrise.  But I'm not ready.

KRDO posted on Facebook a bit ago that as soon as the sun was up, they'd get us a live look at things this morning.  I couldn't stop myself.  I posted back:  "I don't want a live look. I wanted to get up and have you tell us that we were all suffering from a group hallucination..."

We're not in danger.  We live way east of Colorado Springs.  Colorado Springs, where the images I saw last night were shocking.  A thunderstorm went through to the north, and the winds spun the wildfire into a completely different direction.  And I watched as live, on-air, the flames from the Waldo Canyon fire started descending the hills into the city.  My city.  And I refuse to post photos this morning.  Visit my Facebook page if you want to see some of those.

It was fast.  It was horrible.  Every few minutes, it seemed, they were announcing a new evacuation area.  The reports say 32,000 people have been evacuated.  I'm not sure that is accurate, as that number was being tossed out fairly early in the evening, before all of the evacuation orders came through.

Everything in the news was hitting us.  We may not live in the Springs, in the sense of it being our physical address.  But it is where we do so much.  Our city.  Our community.

Forever changed.

I was numb last night.  I woke up sobbing.  I'm back to numb.

A friend summed it up well on Facebook.
You know that happy, cozy, safe feeling you get when your family is home and you are going to bed? Don't take that for granted.
Pray please.  This fire is far from over.  And thunderstorms in the wrong places could bring even more devastation today.

It is definitely light out.  So fantasy, apparently, is not an option.

I have to live in reality.

Lord help us all...

Other people blogged about far less depressing R things... go check those out.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Geek Camp

This week's Blog Cruise category is Summer Camping.

We do the camping thing.  The boys do a lot more of it with Scouts.

But since my boys spent last week at a Summer Camp at UCCS, and the big three will have another week at UCCS in July, plus Thomas is going to Boy Scout Camp next week, I figured I'd focus on Summer Camp, not Summer Camping. 

So -- Geek Camp was last week.  Of course, that is not what UCCS calls it.  But the shoe fits.  University of Colorado - Colorado Springs has a Center for STEM Education which we lucked into learning about probably three years ago.  Connor was able to attend a two-day set of workshops that summer for middle school students, and he had a blast.  We've tried to participate since then.

This summer, we took the plunge and did the week-long summer camps for the three big boys.  And they have a new program for upper elementary kids that Richard was able to attend (HOW can he be "upper elementary"???) for just this one week.

FLITE (First in Leadership, Innovation, Technology, and Engineering) has traditionally been for students entering 8th grade and up. 

This year, they opened it up to kids entering 6th grade and up.  That meant Thomas could attend too.  We eagerly scanned the choices and signed the kids up.  Connor was going to be doing Alternative Energy research, William was going to be learning about programming apps, and Thomas would be learning about programming tank robots.

Unfortunately, the Alternative Energy group had to be cancelled as not enough students signed up.  Connor was bummed, but we were able to get him into the app programming one instead.

App Class -- William is in the plaid shirt
Other offerings included one on water science (think underwater rovers) and one on assistive technology.  Fascinating topics.

This is a YouTube video of the app class.  The instructor (Dr. Rory Lewis) interacts with William right around :56 and with Connor at about 2:25.

I don't know what the best part of this whole program is, to be honest.  Here is some of what I like though:
  • My kids spent a week with instructors who know their stuff.
  • My kids spent a week doing something they wouldn't do at home, and something that totally fascinates them
  • My kids spent a week hanging out with other kids who either are also really interested in tech-y stuff, or whose parents forced them to go.  Interacting with other tech-y kids was great.
  • They did not only focus on science.  The app programming materials also included stuff on marketing your apps, for instance.  So the kids had to think broader than "just" science and technology.
  • They got the chance to start being comfortable on a college campus.  I have no idea what the future will bring, but I definitely believe that seeing campus as just another place is a good thing. 
  • All day (9-4) all week meant that they could really dig into what they were doing. 
Can't see Thomas, but this is his camp
Richard was able to go to a half-day camp.  His was for kids entering 3rd-5th grades, in a new program called STEM By Me

This happened for four weeks, but we were only able to do the one where we were already in town!  Week 3 was Computer Game Design and Animation.

(You can see why I titled this "Geek Camp" right?  All four boys were programming something....)

So Richard had the chance to play some really old video games ("They were EVEN older than Halo!!") like Frogger and Pong.  And then he had the chance to do some programming using Scratch.  It was nice, as that is something the older guys have used before.

That is this past week's camp life.

This week, Thomas is supposed to be at Camp Alexander, however it was closed because of the wildfires.  Instead, he'll be going next week to a camp in the Denver Council.  And he gets to take Archaeology.  (!!!!)  He is so incredibly excited.

The week after that, we are back at UCCS for another week-long camp for the big guys.  This one, JumpStart,  is a CSI-style investigation.  William and Thomas will be attending the middle school session, while Connor does the high school one. 

Do your kids go to any Summer Camps?  You can read what my Crewmates think about camps and/or camping -- starting tomorrow -- at the Crew page!

    Book Review: Attracted to Fire

    Attracted to FireI picked up Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills because it is part of the Tyndale Summer Reading Program.  I'm glad I did.

    I have always enjoyed mysteries and crime dramas, and the description of this book was intriguing:

    Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he’s also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect—it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it’s too late.

    I could tell immediately that I was going to enjoy the mystery aspect of this book, but it took a few chapters for me to warm up to the characters (Meghan, Ash, and Lindsay).  The pacing of the plot is excellent.  Enough little clues to help you figure out where it is going, then something hits you out of the blue...

    The characters, once you get further into the story, are fairly complex.  Even the relatively minor characters have quirks and a bit of a backstory.

    The plot kept me guessing, and the book was difficult to put down, which sounds like a perfect summer read.

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Review: Discovery Scope

    Can I start this review with my bottom line?  Today I'm reviewing a product I think every kid should have.

    Now, if you want to just trust me on it, click the banner and hit purchase.  If you want more info, feel free to keep reading.  There's some fun pictures of my kids coming, so maybe it will be worth your time!

    So what IS a Discovery Scope?  The website describes it as "a handheld, wide-field microscope" but that doesn't exactly tell the average mom what to expect.  So let me show you the basic stock photo:

    That didn't do much for me either.

    Basically, what you've got is one tough little doodad that lets you clip in something to look at through an amazingly easy to use microscope.  Here's another stock image:

    Go ahead.  Blow that one up so you can see it better.  Let me comment a bit.
    • It is sturdy.  I won't go so far as to say my kids couldn't break it... but they would have to really, really try.
    • It is so totally easy to learn to use.  Even my 6 year old (pictured below) had the hang of it after maybe 3 minutes of me showing her how to use it.
    • You get something focused, and it stays there.  You can hand it to someone else, and they can look too, and understand what you are telling them to look at.
    • It is small enough to throw in a pack and bring on a hike, out camping, wherever.
    • And it is FUN.  
    • Plus it's educational.  This is a Homeschool Crew review.  I have to mention it is educational.
    So let's take a look at some of what my kids have done with this.  Richard grabbed a shiny new penny and clipped it on.

    He was fascinated by how "not shiny" that penny looked under the microscope.

    Thomas grabbed some plant parts while he was outside, and then struggled a bit with how to clip them so you could actually see them.  So he brought some specimens inside to work with.

    He was able to see even more detail than the above images show... and we were busy identifying all kinds of flower parts.

    Trina -- princess dress and all -- ended up combining the little zippered bag (Biology in a Bag) and the Quick Slide (though this isn't exactly how the Quick Slide is intended to be used) to get up close with a grasshopper.

    We also used the Clear View Chamber to take a look at what was living in the water left standing after the severe storms we had here this past week, but I couldn't figure out how to photograph that (Dale took all of the above pictures).

    This is the kit we got:

    Beach stuff not included!
    For $40, this is something that I truly believe every kid should have access to.  Whatever their interests... plants, animals, bugs, rocks, stamps, coins, dirt, sand, their own dirty skin... just to name a few things MY kids have looked at... the Discovery Scope is a way to get a closer look at the world around us.

    Seriously.  Your child -- or a child you know -- needs one of these.

    To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about the Discovery Scope, click the banner here:


    Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I did receive products as mentioned above for the purposes of a review.  All opinions are my own.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    Book Review: Meet the Skeptic

    It's time for me to review another book published by Master Books.  This time, it is Meet the Skeptic, a fairly quick-to-read 144 page paperback book written by Bill Foster.

    From the publisher:
    Christian faith almost always meets skepticism.  Are you equipped to effectively handle the skeptic’s questions and debates?
    Meet the Skeptic is a new approach to equipping believers to engage the non-believing culture. Author Bill Foster takes the multitude of objections and reduces them to four basic categories.  Understanding these categories will enable you to effectively share your hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ and clarify the skeptic’s root objection. Foster offers pop culture references and biblical support so that you can:
    • Recognize the Red-Flag Words that prop up objections
    • Ask probing questions and acquire an ear for opportunities
    • Develop an understanding of the skeptics ideas and better fulfill the Great Commission.
    This easy to read approach to apologetics and evangelism is a field guide to faith conversations. It is written for teens, college students, and adults and can be used as a group study with the leader’s guide and workbook.
    I'll confess my thought when I saw this was, well, a bit skeptical.  There are so many titles out there already relating to apologetics and answering objections from skeptics.  Do we really need yet another one?

    Well yes.  Yes, we do.

    Meet the Skeptic is different.  Foster is just so real.  He uses lots of very down-to-earth illustrations, and encourages people to understand what their "Christian jargon" means to skeptics. 

    I was liking the book, until I got to the final chapters.  Then I was loving it.  The Scientific Skepticism chapters are phenomenal. 

    I particularly loved the section on Evolution.  It provided a quote that I am going to require my children to memorize -- the General Theory of Evolution:  "The theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form."  (Gerald A. Kerkut)

    I notice whenever evolution comes up, people try to insist that evolutionary theory relates to other meanings of the word "evolution" (such as changes over time, or adaptations within a species).  I get so frustrated when talking to people who try to use an everyday meaning of the word evolution to "prove" the theory, not even realizing that the theory states that all life comes from a rock, or goo, or some other inorganic form.

    Defining terms is so important.  

    Fabulous book.  I highly recommend it.

    Disclaimer:   I received these books for free from New Leaf Publishing Group.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.   

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    Making Plans for Summer Reading Programs

    It is time for a new Crew Year, and another Blog Cruise.  I really hope to actually participate more this year.  This year, instead of a question, we've got a basic category. 

    This week, the category is:  Summer Reading

    And since every year about this time, I sit down and make a list of the various Summer Reading Programs I plan for the kids to participate in, I figured right now is the time.

    The library is the obvious first step.  My library is amazing.  Fun programs with lot of really great prizes.  And for the first time in awhile, I don't have children who are volunteering.  Not sure how that happened.

    Richard and Trina will participate in Dream Big: Read!  They get to color in a space for every 20 minute of reading.  Prizes include a whole lotta great coupons, and a book at the end.  There is also a bonus program, which gets them entered into drawings for some big prizes.

    The other three will participate in Own the Night, the teen reading program.  This will be the first year Thomas will do this, and it is a bit of a challenge for him.  This program involves reading nine books, and prizes include coupons, a t-shirt, and a book.  Finishing all 9 also gets them into a drawing for an e-reader.  Their bonus program involves all kinds of great things, including reading more books, using online library resources, or writing a book review for the PPLD Teen site.  This also gets them into prize drawings.

    Check out your library district to see what they offer.  We always have fun playing ours!

    Barnes & Noble is hosting Imagination's Destination.  Theirs runs until September 4, so we usually finish the library one, then focus on B&N.  Read eight books, fill in a bit of information about each, and bring the sheet to your local Barnes & Noble to get a free book.  Trina can choose from books like Danny and the Dinosaur, Lego Hero Factory: Meet the Heroes, and National Geographic Readers Series: Titanic.  Richard is likely to choose The Mouse and the Motorcycle.  Thomas is likely to choose The Phantom Tollbooth.

    Meanwhile, the older kids (and I) will be participating in Tyndale's Summer Reading Program.  The Teen program is here.  For the Teens, they read a book from their list, and write a summary.  Three books and they get to select a free one from the same list.  I will let William read a book and count it for both the library and Tyndale's program, as this is something that will be a stretch for him.  The teen/kid books include titles from the Time Stumblers series, from the Imagination Station series, from the Passages series, and others.  I am tempted to have Connor do the regular reading program also, which would involve him sharing about five books online.  Titles there include As One Devil to Another (which is on his summer reading list already!), SEAL of God, God on the Streets of Gotham, and I'm sure he could find two more.

    We are giving serious thought to participating in the Pottery Barn Kids Summer Reading Challenge.  You read all the books from one of their two lists, and bring it in for a free book.  The problem is that a couple of the titles on each list seem a bit hard to locate.  This one runs through August 31.  This one would only be for Richard and Trina.

    What do you do for Summer Reading?  You can read what my Crewmates think-- starting tomorrow -- at the Crew page!

    Review: MyMathLab Algebra 2

    The Crew had the chance to review Pearson Learning last year, but I was not a part of that.

    This year, however, I did get the opportunity to check out their new Pearson Homeschool website, and to review some of their products.

    Oh, wow!  Am I ever glad that I did.

    Connor and I have had a hate-hate relationship with algebra this year.  It isn't that he doesn't "get" math.  He does.  It isn't that I struggle with math.  I don't.  But this has been the subject where we just can't seem to make any progress.

    Until we were introduced to MyMathLab through Pearson Homeschool.

    What is it?  Basically, it is a pretty standard Algebra 2 course.  Only everything is online.
    • The textbook is online.  
    • There are instructional videos online.
    • The homework is online.
    • The reviews are online.
    • The tests are online.
    Once it was set up, we stuck with the defaults so we were able to just use it straight out of the "box."

    This means that Connor logs on, and he sees what he has to do next and he does it.  The program will not let him move on until he demonstrates a certain level of mastery.

    When he has a homework problem set, he can first view the textbook.  Then he can watch the video explanation(s).

    Or he can decide he already knows this and he can skip straight to the homework problems.  Usually, he discovers that he doesn't know as much as he thinks he does, and he has to go back to read the text and/or watch the video.  (The teacher can change things so the student is required to go it to view the text/video before they can access the assignment.  I have chosen not to do that.)

    If he is confused about a given question, he can click on a "Help Me Solve This" tab, and the computer will walk him through the problem, asking him questions along the way.  Or he can click on a "View an Example" link, and the program will work out a similar problem.  He can also click to go back to the textbook, or he can click a button and email his instructor.

    When he masters something, it moves him on.

    What we like:  he knows what he needs to do to move on.  He knows how much he needs to complete to get through the program by the time he wants to be done.

    He is finding this straight-forward, logical, and unambiguous.  He was able to keep up with his algebra while 1,000 miles away from me.  All he needed was an internet connection.  I was able to keep tabs on what he was accomplishing during that time as well.

    I asked him what he wanted to use to finish Algebra 2 this summer, and he didn't hesitate.  "MyMathLab!" he stated, emphatically.  I asked him why.

    He told me, "I don't have to wait for you to grade something.  And that means I can't use you as an excuse.  If I don't get it done, it's completely my fault.  (Well, most of the time anyway.  Having to stop doing algebra because of a tornado was a bit outside my control.)  And the computer doesn't listen when I try to tell it that I really do know the material, I just forgot that minus sign.  If I want to finish Algebra 2 (and I do!) then I need to pay more attention and stop being so sloppy."

    I am finding this to be totally easy to implement on my end.  All I have to do is to log on once in awhile, and check to see that he is, in fact, making progress.

    The computer does all the grading.  I can modify things if I want, but I haven't.  I like the defaults.

    I do have to say that the teacher side of things is not as intuitive as I would like it to be, but by spending an afternoon poking around, I found how to modify prerequisites, or change the weighting the computer assigns to homework, review and tests.

    The other frustration with MyMathLab Algebra was just the whole set-up process.  Clearly, the programming is designed for a school setting, so some of it seemed rather silly for me and my single student.  But if you carefully follow the instructions that come on the cardboard sleeve containing the class code, it wasn't hard to do.

    My biggest complaint by far about MyMathLab is simply that I don't have a "next" program to purchase for Connor to start in September when he finishes Algebra 2.  Because this works, and it works well.

    At $49.97 for a student license that lasts 18 months, and $30 for a teacher account, this is something I will be looking seriously at for William for Algebra 1, possibly this fall (I won't need to purchase a teacher account, as my current one will work for both courses/children!) I asked Connor about this, as he is generally a great judge of what will work well for William.  He feels that Pearson MyMathLab Algebra would be fabulous for him.

    Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had the chance to work with  Algebra 1 or 2, enVision Math, Reading Street or myWorld Social Studies.  To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about these, click the banner here:


    Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I did receive products as mentioned above for the purposes of a review.  All opinions are my own.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

    Sunday, June 10, 2012

    Book Review: Growing Up Ziglar

    I don't remember when I first heard of Zig Ziglar.  I suspect when my mom was so very sick (I was in junior high/high school then) that one of the bazillion "think positive" books that we read was by him.  I'd guess his was one of the more uplifting and helpful ones. 

    I know I listened to cassettes of some of his motivational talks in college/early in my CPA career.  And I know I have heard him on Focus on the Family.

    He is someone I truly respect.

    So when I saw his daughter was writing a book titled Growing Up Ziglar, I was hoping it wasn't going to be something that would tarnish that image.  The smiling faces on the cover reassured me.

    And I have to say that I am so glad I requested this book.

    From the publisher:
    Julie Ziglar Norman often says her dad is the king of 'doing life right' and she is the poster child for 'doing life wrong.'

    For over a quarter of a century she lived every day with regret, shame, guilt, and depression. But she was the daughter of the motivator's motivator, Zig Ziglar, and knew that she needed to be positive. So she gathered up all her negative self-talk and squashed it deep down inside where it couldn't ruin the bright and practiced smile she presented to the world.

    'People might assume Zig Ziglar's daughter would automatically grow up to have a positive attitude,' Julie says. 'For a large portion of my life, I was just positive I was miserable!'

    Her powerful and heartwarming story will move readers to laughter and tears. Mostly it will renew their faith in God's power to redeem all the wrong choices and bring them full circle to hope and healing. Julie urges readers not to settle for okay when God has true joy waiting for them. She shares tools to equip them to make the changes needed to find true freedom in every area of life.
    This description doesn't do the book justice at all.

    Julie describes herself as the poster child for 'doing life wrong' and this book certainly gets into some of that, without a lot of sordid detail.  Enough detail that she just sounds like someone I'd love to know.  Julie is far from perfect, having made a lot of bad choices in her life.  And a few really good ones.

    It was so easy to relate to so much of what she wrote.  She's just so very real.

    I cannot convey what I want to in this review.  But I finished the book, and immediately turned back to the beginning to read it again.  I never do that.  Especially not when there is an about to topple stack of other books I'm supposed to be reviewing.

    I need to read it again.  I need her messages to sink in. 

    And I'd highly recommend it for you, too.

    Disclaimer:  I received this book through LitFuse Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.   

    Saturday, June 9, 2012

    Review: Rainbow Sentences App

    I love having an iPad.  Okay, so it is a first generation iPad, and it belongs to the kids.  So it doesn't have a camera, and it is definitely not as up-to-date as it could be.

    But it runs almost every app I've wanted it to.  Including those by the newest Schoolhouse Review Crew vendor, Mobile Education Store.

    This is not a company I had heard of before.  They are fairly small, and only have a handful of apps available at this time.  But from what I've seen, the ones they have are quality ones.

    This review is about one called Rainbow Sentences, which is available for the iPad only.

    I don't often quote the website when doing my curriculum reviews, but this time I'm going to.  Here is what they say about their product:
    Rainbow Sentences is designed to help students improve their ability to construct grammatically correct sentences by using color coded visual cues. The who, what, where, and why parts of sentences are color coded to help students recognize and understand how combinations of these parts create basic sentence structure.
    Students will learn how to recognize the parts of sentences such as nouns, verbs, and prepositions, improve their understanding of how combinations of these parts create basic sentence structure. Students have the opportunity to record their sentences in their own voice to improve their receptive and expressive language skills. 
    While this is recommended for elementary aged students, this is something I had all five of my kids do.  One great aspect (as opposed to almost all free apps and many paid ones) is that you can create users within the program, so each of them can go earning puzzle pieces on their own, and I can get in and see how they are each doing with the program.

    Here you can see that it came up with Richard's username, but if you click the "Not you?" button, you can either choose a different user or create a new one.  Love being able to do that.
    Another thing I love is that there are so many options to customize this.  That means my 6 year old can get all kinds of color-coding help with figuring this out, but the 15 year old doesn't get that kind of hint.

    Here you can see that for Richard (at this point) we have it set to read to him (audio instructions) and to give him reinforcement when he is correct.  It does not give him the choice of recording his answer.  He's trying to do Level 3 (more on that later).  The lines are color coded, but the words are not.  Nor are the words "grouped".  More on all of that below too.

    The basic idea is that a picture is presented, with words underneath.  You are to create a sentence from those words that describes what is happening in the image.  When you pick up a word (or word group), the iPad will read that to you (so a child who isn't reading well can still use this!).  Once you complete the sentence, the entire sentence can be read to you, or you can record the sentence yourself.

    This screenshot shows the words being color coded and grouped.  The sentence can be put together by a child simply by matching the word group color to the colored line up on top.  Obviously, this is the easiest level! 

    For a child who isn't reading much at all, this is still a great way to be introducing the concept of a complete sentence.  The sentence needs a blue part (subject) and a red part (the verb).  And usually there is a bit something else that describes things more.  In this case, the pink part tells us WHAT he threw.

    None of my children are actually using it at this level. 
    Trina does have color coded words, though, but they are not grouped.  So if she got this sentence, she would have to place "the" and "ball" separately into two pink lines at the top.

    This image shows the app at level one, but without color coded words either.  Obviously, this is a bit more difficult.  The colored lines help to tell you which part is the subject, and which is the verb.  But with the words all being in black, they don't give clues.

    Well, not true.  The first word is capitalized.  The last word has a period.

    At first, that bugged me.  Then I realized that every single one of my children, when writing, has struggled with the idea of capitalizing the first word of a sentence.  And most have struggled with remembering ending punctuation.  So them getting that "clue" in here?  Yes, that works for me.  Start to get it ingrained that the sentence starts with a capital.  Who knows if it will translate to their own writing.

    Here is an example at level 3.  The color coded lines are still there, but the sentence is clearly far more complex.

    My older three (ages 11, 13 and 15) are mostly working at this level.  The 15 year old finds it really easy, but my severely dyslexic 13 year old has to work at it a bit.

    I like the reinforcement he gets with it.

    Even if he doesn't love it.

    As you go through the program, you earn puzzle pieces.  Once the puzzle is complete (supposedly... I haven't seen it yet!) the image does some fun little animation or another.

    What do we think?  

    This app is never going to make it into the top ten "Favorite App of All Time" list for any of my kids.  That being said, they are all willing to use it, and once they get started, they will play with sentences for quite some time.

    I think this is a very solid app.  I have the ability to go in and see how they are doing, which is not the case with most of the free apps we've tried.  Like I said above, I also love that we can have multiple users.

    It is well designed and well thought-out.   The younger kids are definitely learning from it, and the older ones are getting some good reinforcement.

    I am impressed enough that I am looking at some of their other apps.  Like Preposition Builder.  Because we definitely need that one.

    Rainbow Sentences is available in the iTunes store for $7.99.

    Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had the chance to work with this or another app called Story Builder.  To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about these, click the banner here:


    Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive products as mentioned above for the purposes of a review.  All opinions are my own.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

    Bountiful Baskets -- June 9

    Bountiful Baskets time again!  Our site needs more participants so that we get everything... but regardless, I loved our basket today.

    I got two baskets, and a flat of strawberries.  Yummmm

    Lousy photo though.  This is one basket:

    • Two heads of kale
    • Two heads of lettuce
    • 7 ears of corn
    • Two acorn squash.  Though three are in the photo.  Oops.  One lady there gave me hers.
    • Two cucumbers
    • Five tomatoes (the other basket had four)
    • One melon
    • Five mangoes
    • Thirteen plums.  And they are yummy.
    • Six apricots
    • Five bananas
    • Thirteen granny smith apples (the other basket had one more)
    What is the plan for all of this?
    • I'll be making corn for dinner twice.  
    • I'll be making squash for dinner twice. And probably freezing some.
    • We're going to be trying kale chips.
    • If kale chips aren't a hit, we'll be doing some potato & kale soup
    • We'll be doing a whole lot of salads.
    • Melon for breakfast a couple of days
    • Loads of smoothies, as that is what we do with mangoes.
    • Lots of fruit for snacking (bananas, plums, apricots, apples)
    • I'm making some dill pickles.
     Unless someone else has some fabulous suggestions for me!