Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stick with it Saturday

Well, Stick with it Saturday is here again. This was a rough week.  I needed to get my final runs in before running my first 5K (today).  I ended up doing something to my neck while running on Wednesday and have had pain in my neck, shoulder and down to my shoulder blade.  I wasn't sure I'd even be able to go.  I finally decided that I'd go even if all I could do was walk.  I was SO disappointed that I wasn't going to be able to run.  I woke up this morning with my neck really hurting a lot and almost decided not to go.  I took a hot shower, took some ibuprofen and put a heating pack on.  It helped a lot.

my shirt
picking up my t-shirt at registration

I did it!
I did it!
I ended up going and running at a 30 second ratio.  I had a problem with my 5K app at the beginning of the run and spent some time fiddling with that so I lost some time there...also had to stop to tie my shoe (I even double knotted them).  My goal was to finish in under 40 minutes.  I didn't make it.  I finished in 41:28.   But, I did it!  I'm not really in a hurry to sign up for another one, but I think I will run more races in the future.  I came in 23rd for women (not sure out of how many, but I think there may have only been one other woman runner that came in after me..the others were all walkers.)  Hey, somebody has to be last.  Once my neck feels better I plan to get back to my 10K app.

The kids had fun waiting..there was a bouncy house, face painting and a firetruck to climb into.  They also were holding a blood drive.


Ellie driving the firetruck

Ellie and Sadie
Sadie and Ellie

I was down .4 at Weight Watchers this week.  I still wish the weight would come off a little faster but every week I'm down a little so I guess I can't complain.

Goal for the week: stick to the plan!

Link up your own diet/exercise post over at Sam's Noggin.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal

I came across the Homeschool Mother's Journal link up on my friend Sam's blog and thought it would be fun to do. If I like it, I will try to link up each week.

In my life this week…

On Saturday, we took the kids apple picking. Then, I did something drastic.  I cut my hair short.  I haven't had short hair in many years.  I love having it short again.  I was a nervous wreck while it was being cut off (I meant to take a picture of all the hair on the floor but I forgot.)  It turned out good though, so I'm happy I did it.

the back of my head

Oldest and youngest at the apple orchard
This was in the morning before I cut my hair.

We went to church on Sunday morning and evening. My oldest daughter, Becca was here visiting. It was nice to have the whole family together. It had been almost a year since we took a photo of all of us.

All of us 

 On Monday, I had to take Katie (15) to the oral surgeon for a consultation for getting her wisdom teeth out.  I also took her to practice the organ and managed to squeeze in a 2 mile run in preparation for my first 5K race this weekend. It was also two of my daughter's birthdays.  Jenna turned 7 and Sadie turned 3.


On Wednesday morning, I knew that I needed to get up early to run or I would not have time.  I started out fine, but about half way through I got an excruciating pain in my neck, down my back and in my shoulder.  I ran for a bit more, but ended up having to just walk home. still hurts and the race is tomorrow.  But, I digress.  I came home and went to Weight Watchers.  I brought my "fat clothes" as a show and tell and that was pretty fun.  

The rest of the week was pretty run of the mill. My focus has been on this neck pain and whether or not I'll be able to run after months of preparation.  

In our homeschool this week…

This year Emma (9) and Jenna (7) are using Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space.  We are currently doing the second unit which is on the Lithosphere.  The chapter is on volcanoes so I decided to do Download N' Go's Volatile Volcanoes unit study.  Two years ago we used Download N' Go as our curriculum and it has been good to get back to some of that. (We finished Cavernous Caves last week.)  We did 3 days of it this week and we'll finish it next week.  

We also made some changes this week.  Katie switched back to Teaching Textbooks for Algebra II. She has been studying diligently for her upcoming PSAT which I went and officially signed her up for today.

I've also realized in the last week or so that my daughter Jenna can read. Normally, I use Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but we reviewed Reading Kingdom so Jenna has been using that on the computer each day and has really blossomed.  She read, The Golly Sisters Go West all by herself.  I am so proud of her.  I think she is seeing the fun in reading.  (At the beginning of the school year, she told me she didn't want to learn how to read.)

I’m grateful for…

So many things but with my recent neck injury I am thankful for my good health.  I am thankful that I've been able to lose over 80 lbs and be in shape enough to even consider running a 5K....just so thankful for it! I am grateful to my family for supporting me as I take the time to run each week too.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Becca and Connor on our trip to the apple orchard.

Link up your own Homeschool Mother's Journal post.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Music Together

Music Together is an internationally recognized early childhood music program that we have had the privilege of reviewing in our home over the past 6 weeks.  Music Together was first introduced to the public in 1987.  While you can find a Music Together center to attend a class, you can also purchase materials for use in your homeschool. We received the Music Together Family Favorites CD and the Music Together Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers.


We started out by just listening to the CD at home every day.  We have mostly used the CD, but I play the guitar so sometimes I pull that out and we sing (and dance) without the CD as well.  It was great to have the songbook so that we are able to do that.  We have also enjoyed listening to it in the car.

Singing together in a circle

The Music Together Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers has music with guitar chords for each song as well as multiple ideas to use with the songs. The book is soft cover and spiral bound.  The only problem I've had with it is that it isn't really sturdy enough to stand up at the piano without something behind it.  You can see how it bends back a little in this picture.

One handy feature is that in the upper corner of the page with the music is a picture of a CD
with the track number of the song so you don't have to find the case
to find the track you want on your CD.

The songbook is divided into 3 sections:

The Opening Section discusses the fundamentals of the Music Together approach including an introduction to their philosophy, a discussion of types of songs and activities, how to work with instruments and props along with adaptations for children with special needs.  I really would have loved to have this on hand when Connor was in Early Intervention. At one point, we were in a class on a farm that I led music for. This would have been perfect for that. (20 pages)

Connor dancing to one of his favorite songs

The Middle Section is the bulk of the book and contains the nineteen songs with the CD track number as mentioned above.  Each song is introduced by a personal note from Ken Guilmartin (founder and director of Music Together) and is followed by several teacher pages that include ideas for use with 4 different groups: All ages and settings, infants, preschoolers and older children and children with special needs.  You will also find a box that lists titles of activities, the music details (key, starting pitch and meter) and finally a list of the instruments used for that particular recording). (80 pages)

The Final Section is a reference section that includes information about the Music Together program and how to become involved with its licensed applications.  Reference material include a glossary of music terms used in the book and a guitar chord chart. (12 pages)

I have found that my children love these songs (and I get them stuck in my head too...right now I have Biddy Biddy in my head.)  They love to listen and sing. They love to use rhythm instruments to play along and they love to run and dance to the music.

Dancing with Teddy (the kids LOVE this)

Let's all click our sticks today!

More stick clicking
Music Together Family Favorites CD  includes a 32-page booklet with fun music-making activity suggestions. The booklet (pictured above) is attached to the CD case.  Each page has simple ideas to use with each song.  For example, with Playin' in the Kitchen there are suggestion for making your own rhythm instruments.

The booklet in the CD

In our home, we have some purchased rhythm instruments and I've made some for the kids to use as well.  Music together sells lots of rhythm instruments and how cute are these castanets?  They also have drums, percussion sets, shakers and tambourines.  (I would love to have them all!)

I'm thinking Family Favorites 2 and the Lullabies CD will make great Christmas or birthday gifts for my younger children.  (Along with a collection of rhythm instruments.)

Take some time to listen to song samples and see what you think.  We highly recommend this CD.  I recommend the book to those that would like to have the sheet music and additional ideas for the songs. Some of the instructions are really more geared to a classroom setting, but there is plenty you can find to do with your family as well.

 Though this is a recommended for early childhood (up to about age 7) we are finding that we all enjoy the variety of songs.  I even hear my 12 year old singing the songs as he is sitting at the computer.  Fun for the whole family!

Purchase Music Together Family Favorites CD for $14.95 or download mp3's for $9.95. Individual songs may also be downloaded for $.99 each.  The Music Together Family Favorites Songbook is $29.95 or save $5 and buy them as a set for just $39.95. Use coupon code “Schoolhouse” at checkout on the Music Together store, and save an additional $2 the combo purchase.


See what others are saying about Music Together on The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


Award-winning CD:

A Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award

Earlychildhood News Directors’ Choice

Earlychildhood News Judges’ Selection

National Parenting Center Seal of Approval

NAPPA Gold Award

iParenting Media Award
Learning®Magazine 2008 Teacher’s Choicefor the Family
Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice
Children's Music Web Award
Mom's Choice Gold Award
Parent-Tested Parent-Approved Award


disclaimer: I received  Music Together book and CD in exchange for an honest review

Monday, September 24, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

It was so good to have a meal plan last week even though I only followed about half of it.  It just makes life so much easier if I at least have an idea of where to start.

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: Sweet and Sour Chicken with rice

WednesdayFluffy Cheese and Greens Frittata (from Sept/Oct Weight Watcher's magazine)

Thursday: Creamy Butternut and Penne with ricotta from Weight Watchers I ♥  Leftovers

Friday: Spaghetti

Saturday: Creamy Cheddar Soup (from Best Darn Food Ever!) and bread

Sunday: leftovers

Link up your own menu plan at This week is found here. (Or just find great ideas from other bloggers that share their menus.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stick with it Saturday

Today is Stick with it Saturday  I had a good week. I finally saw the scale move again. I am up to 83 lbs lost.  It is amazing to me how motivating it is to keep seeing that scale move.  I get so easily discouraged when I hit a short plateau (even though I know better).  I earned my 10% keychain at Weight Watchers this week.  I joined in late April I believe, so I lost 10% of what I weighed when I started.  Now I have to set some new goals.  I have some milestones coming up that I'll share about when I reach them.

Last week I said I thought I might sign up for my first 5K which I did right after I posted.  I will run in my first 5K race next Saturday.  This morning I was supposed to go on a long run but I woke up with a sore throat and didn't think I was up to it.  I decided I would just run 3.1 to see what my time would be.  I hadn't done that in a long time.  I ran the first two miles in 26:00 which is the fastest I ever ran the 2 miles on that route...but I got a stitch in my side and had to slow it down for the remainder of the run.  I ran the whole course in 40:18.  My goal is to finish in under 40 minutes next week.  I've had some leg pain this week so I'm nervous that between leg pain and getting a stitch I won't  have a good run, but I really want to try.

Goal for the week: stick to the plan!

Link up your own diet/exercise post over at Sam's Noggin.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

It has been ages since I have made a meal plan.  I hate not having one so I hope to be posting them again regularly. I had no idea what I was going to have for supper tonight until LATE this afternoon. I don't want that for the remainder of the week, so here is the plan.

Monday: Spaghetti and bread (I ate leftover chicken, string cheese, and made some broccoli.)

Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie Soup and biscuits (This is a Weight Watchers/dieter friendly recipe and it's so delicious...check it out.)

Wednesday: Baked Potato soup for the family and  Baked Potato Soup (made with cauliflower/potatoes) for me..probably with some homemade bread or rolls

Thursday: Sweet and Sour chicken and rice

Friday: Birthday party for 2 of our daughters.  Not sure yet what we're having.

SaturdayAmy's Minestrone and bread

Sunday: leftovers or pancakes

Link up your own menu plan at This week is found here. (Or just find great ideas from other bloggers that share their menus.)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stick with it Saturday

Stick with it Saturday
 is here again and I'm actually posting on time!  I had an OK week.  I'm feeling OK just kind of stuck at a bit of a plateau and hoping for some new loss this week.  Over the last 2 weeks I've only lost .4 lbs (point 4 in case it looks like a 4).

My running is going great.  I still love it. I'm still using my Jeff Galloway 10K app.  I ran 6.1 miles the other day (with walk breaks)...the longest I've ever run.  I love my long runs.  I also had a personal best time for a 2 mile run this week.  This morning I had a 2 mile run planned and then I was going to walk home but I ended up running a lot of it.  I'm a little more sore than usual today but I'm OK with that.  I also did a Leslie Sansone video this week on a non-running day. (boring to be honest...I'd rather run.)

I guess I'm going to sign up for my first 5K.  I'm nervous because I'm not fast and I don't want to embarrass myself and be last.  (Someone has to be last though, right??)

My goal for the week is just to stick with the plan. (like usual) Pretty boring but it works. :)

Link up your own diet/exercise post over at Sam's Noggin.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Family Time Fitness

If you follow my blog or know me at all you know that I have spent the last 2 years (almost) losing over 80 lbs and am currently working on getting into shape (and still losing more weight).  I was so excited to have the opportunity to use Family Time Fitness with my family.  We received the Fitness 4 Homeschool Core 1 Curriculum for K-8.


The Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum allows homeschool parents to teach physical education without previous knowledge of physical education and athletic development. Our program, designed by experts in fitness training, nutrition and body movement, is designed to suit every age and ability level while affordably fitting into your budget. Our program combines flexibility and fun with a comprehensive curriculum to give your children a foundation for strong bodies and minds.  -from website

If you are like me, you probably think that physical activity is enough for PE class.  Family Time Fitness asserts that Physical Education (PE) is structured physical activity that develops an organized mind and body for students.  Activities like one day co-op play, Wii Fit, Wii sport and individual sports are not considered physical education because they do not comprehensively teach and manage physical fitness in students.  This program was started because of a lack of PE programs for homeschools.

I think we all know there are benefits to physical education. Here are a few that I find so important: Childhood obesity prevention (I have been obese for most of my adult life and some of my younger years- I do not want this for my kids!), Diabetes prevention (Diabetes is in my family.  Again, this is not something I want my kids to have.), and weight management. Other benefits include improvement of gross motor skills, better self-confidence and increased energy and focus for academics.  These are just a few of many that I chose to highlight.

Family Time Fitness should be used a minimum of three times per week but they strongly recommend using it five times a week. Each lesson takes 30-45 minutes to complete.  I honestly have not figured a way to schedule that much PE into our week.  We are fitting this in wherever we can.  I put it on the kid's schedules every day but we don't always get to it.

The Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum includes a startup guide, PDF lesson plans, video demonstrations, assessment tools, reminder emails, lifetime curriculum and video updates, access to online webinars and certificates of completion. One curriculum purchase can be used for all your children, with no subscription or renewal fees.  I have 6 children in 8th grade and below.  For me this program works out to be less than $10 per child and I can continue to use this for the remainder of our homeschooling years. I think the price is very reasonable considering all that you get.

There are 260 lessons, printable charts for assessments, a grocery list, a nutrition log, meal planner and a daily food diary.  

Here are the details:

Startup/Training Guide - The Startup Guide is a guide for parents and includes an introduction to physical education, information on what to expect from the program, safety information, how to integrate physical education into your curriculum, teaching tips and equipment information.

Lesson Plans
– Each of the 260 professionally planned lessons arrives in PDF format and includes a List of Supplies, Warm-Up, Activity, Cool Down and Suggested Outdoor Activity. Each exercise is described in a detailed, user-friendly format for easy access. Each lesson provides 30-45 Minutes of physical activity. If you do all the activites that is over 7800 Minutes of activity a year! If you do the suggested outdoor activity you get an additional 10-15 minutes of physical activity.

A clip of one lesson

1-Page Summaries– Each lesson has a One-Page Summary to facilitate easy printing and portability. The summaries keep you from printing all 900+ Pages of Lesson Plans.

A clip of a one page summary (same lesson as above)

Video Demonstrations – Each exercise includes a demonstration video with real kids doing the exercises. There are over 200 instructional video demonstrations available to you with this curriculum, and you are guaranteed lifetime access to these videos as we update them.

This is a sample of one of the video demonstrations.

Assessment Tools – They provide tools to help track progress of the basic fundamental movements. Other downloadable tools include nutritional logs and meal planners for a comprehensive fitness approach.
a clip of the meal planner

a clip of the nutrition log

Encouragement Emails – During the first year of your course, they send you reminder emails each week day to keep you and your children motivated on your fitness journey. They also always include nutritional and fitness tips in the emails.

Online Webinars – You have access to  regular online webinars and webinar archive for further in-depth instruction and tips on the curriculum.

The 260 lesson plans utilize repetition, but they are also progressive and sequential. The program is designed for all age levels and abilities, and because they believe that the learning process is most valuable with family engagement, the lessons are designed so that the whole family can join in the lessons. View the Scope and Sequence.

One of the really unique aspects of this program is that all of the lessons can be done inside!  Seeing that much of the year it is just too cold here to do PE outside, this will be a real blessing.  I also love being able to put the lessons up on the computer and instruct the kids from there.  I will be honest, I have not been participating with the kids.  I have my own exercise plan, so I just direct the children as to what they should do.  Sometimes I can just describe what they should do, other times I might watch the videos ahead of time so I can demonstrate it quickly or just show them the video so they can see what to do. Although this picture was taken outside, we mostly have been doing this in the house.

Doing a ball activity
You do need some equipment but it is very basic and you can improvise too.  You will need playground balls (or other ball), jump ropes (either commercial or something you make yourself), bean bags (or a small ball or even a rolled up pair of socks), foam balls (or a beach ball), a stop watch (I use one on my iPod touch or laptop), measuring tape, cones (or something you already have to use as markers), and hula hoops. They also list an exercise mat as an optional item.  We don't have one of these. I had to purchase hula hoops and I did buy a jump rope too.  It was under $20 for everything I needed because we had everything else already.

The kids are having a lot of fun with this.  We learned that some of our kids are really good at hula hooping.  Emma's record is over 40 minutes.  My record?  Less than 4 seconds.  I cannot hula hoop at all.  I am extremely pleased with  Fitness 4 Homeschool Core 1 Curriculum  .  If you want to help your children or your whole family to be fit (or meet PE requirements in your homeschool), I highly recommend you give it a try.

Family Time Fitness also offers:

High School Fitness/PE
Learning the Language of Fitness and Nutrition Activity Workbooks
Basketball Sports Development Module
Online High School Health Class

Purchase Fitness 4 Homeschool Core 1 Curriculum for K-8 for $57 or upgrade to the Platinum package for $137.  They do offer a free 2 day trial so you can see for yourself what it is like.

Find Family Time Fitness on Facebook and Twitter or sign up for their free newsletter.


See what others are saying about Family Time Fitness on The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


disclaimer: I received Fitness 4 Homeschool Core 1 Curriculum K-8 in exchange for an honest review.

Lots and Lots of Penguins

Several weeks ago we received a DVD set Lots and Lots of Penguins by Marshall Publications. This set includes 2 full length DVDs and a bonus DVD with the animated song Party Like a Penguin. Marshall Publications has been in business since 2007 and has the goal of providing "lots and lots" of media fun for everyone through award-winning DVDs, Books, CDs, CD-roms, broadcast and internet programming that will amaze, amuse, entertain, and educate.
Last year, I was able to review Lots &  Lots of Firetrucks and George Washington Carver DVDs.  I was excited to get the chance to see Lots & Lots of Penguins.


The First DVD I received is:

From emperors and kings to fairies and rock hoppers, these cute and cuddly tuxedo look-a-like creatures are everybody favorite birds and you'll love watching them over and over again in this brand new DVD collection! It features award-winning musician, James Coffey and a fully animated penguin music video, Party Like A Penguin! This video features video footage of penguins in their natural and captive habitats. You will hear their calls and cries and learn interesting facts and trivia about all 17 kinds of penguins from around the world. Also, as a special bonus you'll see other cold-weather creatures like polar bears, seals, and wild birds, and youll also see rare views of the majestic scenery of Antarctica.
-adapted from the website description

This video is a lot of fun and features penguin video set to music alternating with a narrator (with a kind of annoying voice) giving facts about all of the different kinds of penguins.  I had no idea there were so many different kinds of penguins!  This also includes the fun animated music video, Party Like  a Penguin that my kids just adore.

SECOND DVD IS: LOTS and LOTS of Penguins In the WILD

In this DVD you will see penguins up-close and personal in their natural habitats in the wilds of Antarctica, Australia and other scenic penguin areas in the Southern Hemisphere. See a bird's eye view of what its really like to be a penguin.  Professional cameramen go face-to-face to see what it's really like to be a penguin. You will see penguins nurturing their babies, feeding young, building nests and habitats, playing, swimming, hopping on rocks, waddling around more. You will hear singing, squawking and grunting of these incredible creatures and other animals that share their territories. There is no narration or music...just penguins in their natural habitat.
-adapted from the website description

This video did not hold the attention of my kids (not any of them).  The video is of penguins in the wild. There is no music or narration.  

The bonus DVD features the song Party Like a Penguin which is a lot of fun.  My kids really enjoy this.  The DVD just has the music video which they will play over and over and over.....

On the website, you will find an extensive list of penguin facts that you could use as a study guide or the basis for your own unit study of Penguins.

For us, this is the kind of video we will only watch once or twice, but I think it would make a wonderful addition to a unit study on Penguins (or any of the places where Penguins live etc.).  It would also be great for Penguin lovers of all ages.

Purchase Lots and Lots of Penguins for $19.95 (regularly $39.90) and free first class shipping by entering: TOS27 at checkout. They also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied with any item you may return it within 60 days for a full refund or exchange (less the original shipping & handling charges). You may also call to order 1-888-300-3455 between 8am and 8 pm CST Monday-Saturday.


See what others are saying about Lots and Lots of Penguins on The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

Other videos being reviewed include: The History of the Oregon Trail & The Pony ExpressThe Historic Expedition of Lewis and Clark – We Proceed On!, and The History of America in the 1880′s – A Decade of Progress  Be sure to check out all of the videos that Marshall Publishing has to offer, from Monster Trucks, to Planes and Trains to Educational history videos.


disclaimer: I received Lots and Lots of Penguins in exchange for an honest review

Monday, September 10, 2012

Math 911

Math 911 software was developed by Professor Martin Weissman who has over 50 years of teaching experience. Professor Weissman's Math911 is a downloadable math program which has full courses in Introductory Algebra and Intermediate Algebra with lessons in College Algebra, Trig, Pre-Calculus and Statistics. There is also an option for Algebra on a flashdrive as well.


All problems are algorithmically generated. 
10 minute learning curve. 
Step by Step solutions. 
Only Free-form answers. 
Dynamic Grade reports on all screens. 
Needs no internet connection. 
Can be networked. 
Free Home Use For Teachers 
Free Upgrades 
Free Install on New PCs Purchase

Math 911 is a free download. You don't need to use a credit card or enter a code or anything.  You just download it and get started. The entire Algebra I course is FREE.  If you want to use this for more than one student you will need to upgrade to the Premier version.  At that time, you will need to enter codes that you get from e-mailing Math911.  It's easy enough to do, it just takes a few minutes.  Once you have it installed, you click on the Math911 icon on your desktop to begin. 

Once logged on, the student can choose the section and level they want to work on.  This is a screen shot of what they will see:

screen shot of the main screen
Below is a close up of one part of the main Intermediate Algebra screen.  This shows the sections of the program that have been completed (green) and in progress (red).

The white spots in the first chapter do not indicate sections that are not completed.
The sections just do not exist.  I would prefer that they be in a different color or not be there at all so that when you finish the chapter it actually looks like it is finished.

This is the close up of the lesson part of the main screen.  This chapter is completed.
This chart matches the one above with white boxes that indicate sections that do not exist.  

Once the student clicks on a section, algorithmically generated problems will appear:  The problem or equation is on the top bar (under the header) but the directions are in the large white box on the bottom of the page.  This can be frustrating and depending on what you're working on can tend to slow you down a bit.  The answers go in the box in the center of the page.


If the student doesn't know the answer they can click to get a new problem or click the green "see all steps" button to see the answer in the second white box in the green section.


Once they see the solution, they can continue to click on the "see all steps" button and the steps will come up one at a time.

Topics are arranged by chapter, section and levels. Within each level are all the types of problems that identify the concepts that your students must know in order to be successful in Algebra including Graphs and Word Problems.

As you can tell from the screenshots, the program is very basic in appearance and the graphics are a bit outdated looking.  So, if you're looking for something fancy with bells and whistles this isn't it.  As seen below in the disclaimer, the focus is on mathematics, not games.


Introductory Algebra
 has 11 chapters

Chapter 1 Pre-Algebra Review
Chapter 2 Variable Expressions
Chapter 3 Solving Equations
Chapter 4 Polynomials
Chapter 5 Factoring
Chapter 6 Rational Expressions
Chapter 7 Linear Equations in Two Variables
Chapter 8 Systems of Linear Equations
Chapter 9 Inequalities
Chapter 10 Radical Expressions
Chapter 11 Quadratic Equations

Intermediate Algebra also has 11 chapters

Chapter 1 Review of Real Numbers
Chapter 2 First Degree Equations and Inequalities
Chapter 3 Linear Functions and Inequalities
Chapter 4 Systems of Equations and Inequalities
Chapter 5 Polynomials
Chapter 6 Rational Expressions
Chapter 7 Exponents and Radicals
Chapter 8 Quadratic Equations
Chapter 9 Functions and Relations
Chapter 10 Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
Chapter 11 Conic Sections

Initially, I had some trouble getting Math 911 set up.  I contacted tech support and I have to say that the customer service is probably the best I've ever received.  E-mails were answered promptly and issues were dealt with accordingly.  I even received a follow up e-mail a few days later to see if everything was going OK.  Later we had some issues with run time errors and again tech support was excellent.  Just this week we started having run time errors again, but with the free upgrade on the website we got it running again.  Unfortunately, we have had a few more run time errors which I will be contacting tech support for.  I have no doubt that tech support will be able to help me.  I do think these problems could be my computer so don't let that stop you from trying this.  IT doesn't cause any computer issues.  It just doesn't run properly when I'm getting the errors.

My 15 year old, Kaitlyn has been using the Intermediate Algebra course. Unfortunately, she really doesn't like it.  However, she doesn't enjoy Algebra in general and she doesn't like doing math on the computer so, it's hard to say whether she doesn't like Math911 or just Algebra on the computer. I have also used it a bit on my own and find it frustrating to have the answer box in the middle of the page and I dislike having to mouse over to the new problem button.  It interrupts the flow of working and I feel that it slows me down. (Katie agrees.)

Math 911 states:
Math911 is for students who believe that Algebra must be a struggle, difficult and complicated. Math911 is the easiest and most economical solution for Algebra students. The Math911 approach is what learning Algebra should be: quick, fun, and easy. Math911 will let you absorb Algebra effortlessly.

Unfortunately, we didn't find this to be true.  Katie isn't having fun and doesn't find it easy.  Perhaps a self-motivated math loving student might have a different opinion, but our experience hasn't been effortless. One of the things we struggled with was that there really is no instruction or lesson.  Students are presented with problems.  If they don't know how to do a problem they can click on the "see solution" button for the answer and then for the step-by-step process for solving the problem.  However, for someone that doesn't understand the problem, just seeing the step by step without any explanation often isn't enough.   I have  had to spend a lot of time helping Katie with her Algebra.  I am comfortable with this because I majored in math in college.  I'm not sure I would know what to do without that background.

With a Mastery Learning approach your students are never graded for wrong answers, only correct responses; they work at problems until they ‘get it.’

I really do like this aspect of the program.  Problems are generated until the student masters the concept. In a few cases, we found that the program would not accept correct answers.  The answer provided did not match the solution in the step-by-step solution either.  This was a problem in that in order to complete the section the same problem would come up repeatedly.  Eventually, we started writing down the incorrect answer that was shown and just entering it the next time it came up.  Math 911 does regular updates to their software so I imagine that errors such as this are being corrected.

Overall, I would like to see the appearance of Math911 updated and some of the capabilities improved.  For instance, besides the things I've already mentioned, there is an onscreen calculator that students can use, but they have to close it before entering the answer in the box.  Also, once you complete a problem you have to mouse over to the "new problem" button instead of just hitting the enter button.

I think Math911 would be best for a self-motivated student that has a strong desire to learn Algebra. I also think it would make a great addition to an existing curriculum for lots of practice.

One final note is that you will find some really nice Algebra 1 pdf lessons which are free to download and a free Laugh with Math cartoon e-book you can download.  Both are well written, very instructive and entertaining.  I highly recommend you check them out. (You will find these in the left hand column by scrolling down.)

The Standard Version of Math911 is a free complete Algebra One Course and can be downloaded from the website. No credit card, rebate or coupon code is needed.

The Premier Version costs $49.95  The Premier Version includes Introductory and Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra, Pre-Calculus topics, Trigonometry topics and and an Introductory Statistics course. Premier Version users will have free lifetime updates, free technical support as well as access to additional Mathematics Courses with separate grade reports for all family members.

How to activate with Activation Codes for Premier, Premier Password, Network Password:
Upon purchase ($49.95) you should:

1. Click on Register button and email the Registration Codes to
2. Identify yourself as a homeschooler.
3. You will receive a reply email with ALL Activation Codes for all versions listed below:
a) Premier Version (one user, no password)
b) Premier Password (Multi-users with passwords)
c) Network Version (Multi-users with passwords)
4. Users can switch between versions by clicking the REGISTER button and entering the codes for the desired version.
5. Passwords are generated by the software.

I would encourage you to see what others are saying about Math 911 on The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.  I also would encourage you to download Math911 and give it a try.  It's free so you have nothing to lose and it might be just what you need in your homeschool.


disclaimer: I received Math 911 Premier version in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stick with it Saturday

Stick with it Saturday on Sunday.:)  I had a very busy day yesterday and didn't have time to post.  This has been a difficult week eating wise.  I really want to eat (and eat).  I'm still sticking to the program just feeling tired of it.  I am up a tiny bit from my lowest which is typical for me after a week with a big loss.  I know it will come off.  I just get discouraged....yet,, I press on.  I'm also having trouble getting my steps in every day.  My goal is 10,000 a day but with so much to do with homeschooling I am struggling to find the time to exercise and do everything that I need to.

I am still really loving my Jeff Galloway 10K app.  My next run is going to 5.68 miles.  I am really looking forward to it but a bit nervous too.  That is the furthest I've ever attempted to go.

My goal for the week is just to stick with the plan.  Pretty boring but it works. :)

Link up your own diet/exercise post over at Sam's Noggin.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Spanish for Children-Speekee TV

Speekee TV is fun way for your children aged 2-10 to learn Spanish.  We've been using this for about the last 6 weeks.  The kids love it.  Speekee is the character you see below.  At first I thought Speekee was a bit creepy, but she grows on you. There are also two puppets, Dino and Lupi, the other characters are all real adults and children.  Some animation is included too.

Speekee utilizes the immersion method.  It is entirely in Spanish. There are captions in English and Spanish which is helpful to me since it's been over 25 years since I had Spanish in high school. The captions can be turned on and off with the click of a button.


Speekee is a 10 episode program that includes 40 weeks of lesson plans. The lessons are found on the website and can be sent to you each week by email.  Below is a clip of 3 different weeks of lessons.  By clicking on any of the daily lessons, it opens up to a full lesson plan page giving you full details of what you can do.  You will find ideas for activities, worksheets and flashcards to print.

clip of the lessons for each week

This is a clip of the actual lessons for week 5.
Links to the print outs that go along with the lessons are found in the margins.

Emma working on a worksheet about colors.

Watch this clip of one of the songs:

All of the songs are catchy and fun. I get them stuck in my head and I often hear the kids singing them.  The kids age 2, 4, 6, 9 and 10 all watch this just about every day.  I've been scheduling it in for every day.  The lesson plans are for a 4 day week.  We've mainly just been watching the videos and I try to speak Spanish to them every day (that I'm learning from the videos--ahem--re-learning from high school Spanish).  Even my 12 year old said he is learning more from Speekee than he is from the Spanish curriculum I have for him.  This is probably true because it is so much fun.

I have printed out flashcards (2 per sheet, I didn't want full size flashcards) and laminated them.  We haven't used them much though because most of the kids enjoying this either can't read yet or are just learning.  I do wish they had an English translation page for the teacher.  Without sitting down and watching the videos myself I don't know what everything on the cards mean.

A few of the printables

The children earn points from watching videos and there is a "mercado".  They can make a sock puppet avatar but I didn't tell the kids about it because there is only 1 sock puppet avatar and 5 kids using this.  I think you will understand why I didn't tell them.  I've tried it myself and I kind of don't get it.  I'm not really sure if you can do anything else with the points.  There is another screen that pops up with a picture of Speekee and blocks of color you can buy, which I have done BUT I don't know what I'm "paying" for really.

Each episode is between 16 and 20 minutes long.  There is a total of over 150 minutes of video.  The kids enjoy watching these over and over.

I had a tiny bit of trouble finding the lessons in the beginning. At the bottom of the video screens there is a link to FastTrack that contains all of the lessons.  Now that I know where to look there is no problem.  It's actually set up in a very easy to use format.  It's also great that they email you the plans for the week (only if you sign up).

Speekee, Dino and Lupi

I highly recommend Speekee.  It's not often that the kids enjoy learning this much.  You can try it free for 2 weeks and I recommend that you do!  We really, really love Speekee!!  I think this would be a great introduction to Spanish for any child under the age of about 12.  I probably wouldn't buy this for kids in the older category if I didn't have younger children as it really is geared toward the younger ones.  The older ones will enjoy it though.


Purchase Speekee TV for $7.50 a month or $60 for a full year.  The first two weeks are free and you may cancel at any time. They also have DVDs that can be purchased but they are not made in the US and may not work on your player.  More information about that can be found on the website.


See what others are saying about Speekee TV on The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


disclaimer: I received a 6 month subscription to Speekee TV in exchange for an honest review
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