Saturday, April 30, 2011

This is it....

This is my one giant look at what I accomplished post. Let me get it all out once and then I'll be quiet. I must say though I am quite proud of all that I accomplished and seeing it all finished today felt good.
I made all of these costumes from scratch... even the leotards.

First up is the evil queen ( I didn't make the Raven that was Tonya's creation)
This costume was so tedious and detailed and I just don't have a good picture to show it unfortunately. Trust me though this one has a lot of hours in it.
Jalie 2915 on top nude lycra underneath stretch burn out velvet on top, self drafted (read just very gathered) tulle skirt, darkness costume underneath which I'll talk about in a minute. Simple arm sleeves just cut out and sewn down the sides. Crown was made from wire and beads by Weylin. I added some gathered tulle to the top and tacked a tulle bow into the front.

12 Tree Nymphs
Leotards and leggings are Kwik Sew 3661 on the bigger girls and the younger girls are wearing the Jalie Unitard 2105. Skirts are just pointed strips all sewn together and the arm pieces are the strips sewn onto fold over elastic. Crowns and masks were also made by Weylin.

9 Darkness
Girls costumes are Kwik Sew 3331 with spirals sewn onto elastic for their arm pieces. Weylin's costume is a Jalie V neck shirt, a Kwik Sew knit PJ pant cut off with elastic added into the leg and a McCall cape.

4 Sunshine
I somehow missed the group pose on this one. Ottobre leotard and Jalie 2915 tutu with double the tulle layers and a layer of chiffon on top. The hairpiece is just something I copied off one we had.

2 Rainbows
I made the two in the middle. Pink costume is Ottobre Leotard and just a gathered skirt. Purple one is the Ottobre leotard minus the sleeves cut just below the bust to add the skirt. For the skirt I used the top layer of the darkness skirt pattern.

Kwik Sew Leo 3508 Jalie 2915 tutu

I made the bodies and Marilyn did the tails. Bodies are made from Kwik Sew 2711

I also made 2 guard costumes that didn't make it into any pictures.

That's 33 costumes in all.... whew I am so glad to be done. I loved every minute of it but I officially am worn out. Now it's time to clean my house and catch up on laundry ;)

That's all the showing off you'll see about the costumes, now be prepared for me to show off my kids as we go into show week!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Greek N Stuff ** TOS Review**

We received Hey, Andrew! Teach me some Greek! Level one to review from Greek 'N' Stuff. 
This program is a simple introduction to Biblical Greek. It teaches the Greek Alphabet, How to write it and the sound each letter makes.
Each  lesson starts off teaching the child how to write the letter, next it teaches how to pronounce it and the program includes a pronunciation CD so you don't have to know how to pronounce the letters yourself. Next your child will do a  review of the letters previously learned and then an activity on the weeks letter. The program also includes flash cards to review the letters.
This program is very easy to use and laid out simply enough that my 7 year old daughter was able to do this independently. She does now know the Greek alphabet and it's pronunciation.

Our Experience:
We aren't terribly interested in learning Greek at this time. If we were this is a simple way to do it. Honestly though for our family things that are too simple can sometimes be thought of as boring by my children. This program really wasn't something that was a great fit for our family. We aren't really workbook people and this was a very sit and work type program. I know that is what works for a lot of people so if your children enjoy doing workbooks and you enjoy them then this would be a fabulous program for you. It requires little to no parent involvement and it is effective. 

Level one of Hey, Andrew! Teach me some Greek! is available here

There are many different products but what we received is 
The Level one workbook $14.95
Answers only answer key $4.00
Pronunciation CD $10.00

Visit the crew blog here to see what my crew-mates thought of this program. 

I received the products listed above in exchange for my honest review of the program, no other compensation was received. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Writing Tales ** TOS Review **

We were blessed to receive Writing Tales level one and two to review through the TOS Crew.
Writing Tales is a Classical Style Composition and Language Arts program. This program teaches children from approximately 3rd grade to 5th Grade.
Writing Tales lays the foundation your children will rely on to learn how to write successfully.

Writing Tales is split into 30 lessons each focused around a short story or fable. Each story is studied for two lessons and each lesson lasts a week.
The teachers manual clearly details what you should be doing each day of the week. The curriculum is very open and go and requires no figuring out when to do things on the teachers part.

Day 1 always starts with reading the story for the week. Then you will learn about the author of the story and discuss the story, main characters, the conflict and resolution. Then your children will retell the story to you orally.
Day 2 your student will work on copy-work and grammar.
Day 3 your student will work on vocabulary related to the story.
Day 4 your student will reread the grammar lesson and do practice grammar work.
Day 5 your student will write a rough draft retelling the original story in their own words.
**For clarity's sake I'm going to call the second week of the same story days 6-10.**
Day 6 your student will review the grammar lesson and reread the story.
Day 7 your student will work on spelling
Day 8 your student will have another grammar lesson and write their final draft adding their own creative touches.
Day 9 is more grammar
Day 10 the student will copy over their final version of their story and place it in a special place for safe keeping.

Some weeks their are also games or other fun activities but your student will consistently learn grammar, writing, spelling, vocabulary and do copy-work.

There is also another section in the teachers manual that lays out a plan for using this program in a co-op setting. It lays out what to cover in class and what to send home with your students as homework.

Our Experience:
I have used other writing programs and given up on them time and time again because they were just so confusing. Writing is not a strong point for me and teaching it up until now has been nearly impossible. This program changes all of that. It is simple, clear and concise. I am never left wondering what I should teach or how I should teach it. Writing Tales never requires me to spend hours trying to figure it out. Honestly I haven't even had to make a lesson plan. I open the book and do what it tells me to do, it's really that simple.
My children and I have enjoyed every story we have read and have all had fun using this program. No one sighs or moans when it's time to do writing and often they ask if we can do it first when I let them choose what order to do our work in. Best of all my dyslexic son is LOVING writing his own stories. This from the boy who avoids writing at all costs, the boy who would rather do anything else. Last week I told him he had to write his first two sentences and I would write the rest for him if he dictated it to me. He got so involved in his story that he forgot and wrote the whole thing himself!
Writing Tales will absolutely be a keeper for our family, I only hope the higher levels are finished before we need them.

Writing Tales is available here
Level one Teachers Manual is $24.95 and the Student Workbook is $19.95
Level two Teachers Manual is $32.95 and the Student Workbook is $24.95

But wait! Luckily the Writing Tales annual sale is coming up May 2nd through 9th and you can get writing tales for 20% off plus get free shipping, so if you are wanting to give this a try now is the time to do it!

To see what my crew-mates thought of Writing Tales visit the Crew Blog here 

I received Level One and Two of Writing Tales in exchange for my honest review of their product. No other compensation was received.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nutrition 101 ** TOS Review **

We were blessed to receive an E-book from Growing Healthy Homes called Nutrition 101: Choose Life.
Nutrition 101 is an information packed health curriculum that you can use with your entire family from preschoolers up to the adults in the family.

Nutrition 101 is filled with information not only about how to stay healthy but why. It is divided by sections of the body and tells you how each part of your body works and how to keep it healthy. The sections are

  1. The Brain and Nervous System
  2. Digestion and Elimination
  3. Respiration and Olfactory
  4. Muscular and Skeletal Systems
  5. Cardiovascular and Immune Systems
  6. Endocrine System and Emotions
Each chapter starts off with a thorough description of how that part of the body works, what it needs to stay healthy and different diseases that can affect it. There are also definitions to the side of the text for the more complex words and fun little facts relating to the area being taught. 
Next there are Discussion Questions, Additional Resources if you want to learn more and activities you and your child can do relating to the chapter. 
Last each recipe has a Power recipe made from foods that are good for that part of your body. 

Our Experience:
I am truly impressed with this book. It teaches our children not only how to eat healthy but WHY which is so important. If we only teach our children how to eat healthy but not why chances are it won't mean much to them. I love that the book also teaches them how the body works, understanding what a complex system our bodies are is key in understanding why we must keep it healthy. The book is packed with great information, wonderful pictures and fun activities. The power recipes are tasty and kid approved, so much so that my kids are asking for them to be made again! I meant to get a picture of the kids enjoying one of them but honestly it was like a swarm and it was gone before I had a chance! 
 Some of the information in the book was a little over my lower elementary/preschoolers heads but I actually am thankful for that because that means the book can grow with us. We can do it now and gain some knowledge and do it again and again and learn more each time. I plan on using this as our primary health program for the remainder of our school years. The only con for me was that I truly wish I had received the hardcover book instead of the e-book since this is something I want in my hands and used repeatedly. I love it so much I'm actually considering buying the hard copy for myself even though I have the E-book. 

Electronic Version- $79.95
Hard Cover Book- $99.95
Combination of Both- $129.95

Growing Healthy Homes has made a special offer to readers of the TOS Crew for 15% off of their products using the code TOSCREW11 

To see what my crew-mates thought please visit the TOS Blog Here 

I received an e-book of Nutrition 101 in exchange for my honest review of their product. No other compensation was received. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Back to life as we know it.....

The costumes are almost done, the house is put back together and the laundry is in the process of being done. It feels so good to have some semblance of normal back in our life. I thoroughly enjoy doing the costumes but I am more than ready for some free time and our normal routine.

The kids are eating breakfast right now and then we will be doing school. After that I may see if I can finish up the 3 costumes I have left so I can really be done. I counted them the other day and realized I have made 32 costumes completely from scratch. Leotards, skirts everything... that's quite an accomplishment. I did have some help from wonderful friends and from my kids but still WOW I'm amazed at how much we got done in such a small amount of time.

Now that we're back to normal life I'm sure I will post more often again and take more pictures but for now this little update will have to do.

Here is the information for the show.....Please let me know if you would like a ticket. We would love for you to come see the show.

(yes I realize it says insert your info here, I can't figure out how to change it so my info is Angel 283-9250)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

All About Reading ** TOS Review**

Our family was so very blessed to be chosen to review the All About Reading program for the TOS Crew.
We are already quite familiar with All About Learning Press through All About Spelling which we have used for years and love. Our expectations for this program were quite high and I am happy to report we were not at all disappointed

We were given the deluxe package of All About Reading Pre-Level 1. The deluxe package includes

  • Teacher's Manual (208 pages)
  • Student Material Packet
    • My Book of Letters and Sounds Activity Book (192 pages)
    • Picture Cards
    • Letter Sound Cards
    • Capital Letter Alphabet Chart
    • Lowercase Letter Alphabet Chart
  • The Zigzag Zebra: a rhyming alphabet hardcover book
  • Lizard Lou: rhymes old and new hardcover book
  • Divider Cards (keeps your Picture Cards and Letter Sound Cards organized
  • "Letter Sounds A to Z" CD-ROM. 
  • Ziggy the Zebra puppet
  • a charming Activity Box to hold your student's learning cards
  • All About Reading tote bag to keep your components organized

I also purchased an additional student workbook so I could do it with 2 kids at once.   A quick note in case you are familiar with All About Spelling and are using one student pack with multiple children, you cannot do that with All About Reading. There are daily activities in the workbooks that are consumable so you will want as many student packs as you have students.

I originally intended to use this with my 4 year old and 6 year old but when I received it I realized it is a little young for my 6 year old. My 3 year old however LOVES it. It is really just perfect for preschool or a kindergartener who does not yet know their letters. My 6 year old is a pre-reader but she has a pretty decent grasp on her letters and letter sounds so while she sits with us and enjoys the program I would not purchase it for her.

All About Reading starts by teaching upper case letters. Each lesson starts with the alphabet song and finding the letter of the day on your corresponding poster. There are 2 posters one for uppercase letters and one for lowercase.
Then you will read part of a story in one of the readers to your child about that letter.
Next is the craft sheet for the day's letter. It is an outline of the letter along with a cute animal picture that begins with that letter. On the back of each craft sheet is instructions for how to decorate your letter. I won't give away their ideas for the letters but I will say that is my children's favorite part of the day. It's fun, memorable and easy to do for Mom.
Next you choose from a list of activities what you want to do for the letter that day. I love that aspect because some days I want to choose a simple quick activity and other days I have time to spare so I  choose something more involved.
Next you will play a game with your child either with the student cards or the zebra puppet. The games are designed to teach your child skills that they need to learn to be a successful reader such as letter knowledge, phonological awareness,print awareness,listening comprehension, and motivation to read. These are the big 5 skills that All About Reading is trying to teach your pre-reader in order to help them achieve reading success.
Lastly you are encouraged to spend 20 minutes at some point during the day reading to your child.

The next section covers the lowercase letters in much the same way as the first part.
The third and last section of this level covers the sound of the Letters.
This section will teach your child the most common sound of each letter. The program also includes a CD-ROM of the  correct pronunciations so you can be sure your child is always hearing the right sound.  All About Reading uses a multi-sensory approach to teaching these sounds  making it easier for your child to remember them. There is once again an activity sheet for each letter and corresponding games and stories for each letter as well.
The books that you use throughout the program are also available on an audio CD  for independent listening, review or to save Mom's tired voice.

Our Experience: 
I love everything about this program. I intend to use it through every level with my three younger children assuming the levels are ready when we are. The approach is perfect for what I believe my children need. It is simple, fun and engaging. My children beg to do this, if I am busy they will talk their 14 year old brother into doing a lesson with them. Also the teachers manual is so clear and easy to implement that my 14 year old son or their Dad has no problem just picking it up and doing a lesson with them. There is no preparation involved at all.
I wasn't sure at first if I would use the Zebra with them because it seemed a little silly but the zebra is a must I have discovered. The zebra is such a good teacher for my little girls. They love him and never tire of listening to what he has to say. I have never been able to hold their attention for so long before Ziggy began teaching. They love him so much he's even started teaching their math as well... and if I'm not careful he goes missing every chance they get.

The workbook itself is well made and the pictures and craft ideas have been a lot of fun. We actually removed all of the pages from our book and put them into binders so that we can easily save all of our letters to review later. This is also something easy and sweet to keep as a reminder of my children's early schoolwork.

I have been so impressed by this program that I will be recommending it every chance I get!

All About Reading Level Pre-1 is available here.

You can purchase the Basic level for $79.95 which includes everything you need to teach one student or the Deluxe level for $119.95 which also includes the zebra puppet, a box to store your cards in with dividers separated by lesson and a tote bag to help keep you organized. Additional student packs are available for $24.95 each and are the only consumable part of the program.
One of the great thing about All About Learning is that they offer a 100% 1 year guarantee on all of their products. That means there is absolutely no risk in purchasing this program. If you buy it and it isn't a good fit for you or your child simply return it and they will refund you 100%. You really can't beat a guarantee like that!

I do have one  thing I would love to see changed about the program. I would really appreciate an option to only buy the student workbook. It is a pricey although worth every penny program so I would love to see a more affordable option for replacing the consumables to use with other children or adding students. I really don't want to buy more posters or cards because I don't need more than one set of those.

All About Reading has a special offer right now where you can go here and download two FREE All About Reading books that you can do with your children! They also have samples available here at the bottom of the page so you can look before you purchase. 

To see what my crew-mates thought about this program visit the TOS Blog here.

I received a free deluxe set of All About Reading Level Pre-1 in exchange for my honest review of their program. No other compensation was received.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Snow White.... better known as why I've been absent.

Our ballet studio that the kids dance at is doing a production of Snow White. All six kids will be dancing in it... and I am sewing a lot of the costumes!  Between rehearsals and costumes I have been quite consumed.
I am relieved to say though the end is in sight thanks to some fabulous friends and my wonderfully understanding and helpful family.

I was going to wait until professional picture day to post pics but I just can't wait so you're getting a sneak peak ;)

The Evil Queen

(there are 9 of these total)

Tree Nymphs
(12 of these) 

My little Bunny

There are also 4 Sunshines, 2 Soldiers, and some other random small projects that I don't have pictures of quite yet.

Want to see what my living room looks like in the midst of making 30 some odd costumes from scratch.......

 Thank Goodness I have such an understanding husband!

The show will be May 6th at the Bentonville High School and 7th at the Springdale High School.
If you would like to see the show please let me know. I will have tickets available soon for $10 per adult or $5 per child. It will truly be a fabulous show that you can enjoy even if you aren't related to any of the performers by blood!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Science Weekly ** TOS Review**

Science Weekly is a multi level monthly science newspaper targeted towards children in grades K-6. 
Each edition of the newspaper covers a different topic. There are six different levels available to meet your child's needs. Each level covers the same topic so you can use this with all of your children at once and teach them all the same thing at their individual levels. Your individual subscription includes a teachers guide that covers all of the levels on one convenient sheet.

You can view sample newspapers here and here. There are also five subjects available in their new interactive format here

 $19.95 per student for less than 20 subscriptions
 $4.95 per student for 20 subscriptions or more. 

One teachers guide comes with each set of 25 subscriptions.

Our Experience:

Our edition of Science Weekly was on composting. Composting was something I have always wanted to do but lacked the motivation to get started so I was excited to get this edition. We got one of each level on the subject so all of the kids had their own Science Weekly to look at and work on. I was even able to get my teen involved and enjoying it.
Each level shares age appropriate information on the subject and has activities for every child to complete. They also have experiments in every level starting at very simple to the more complex ones for your older child.

All of my children learned a lot from this and enjoyed the activity. When they were done with their Science Weekly they all went and found a container to use as a compost bin and have been diligently composting ever since..... when we remember. I'm sure our garden will thank us for our effort soon and thanks to Science Weekly we all know a lot more about composting and why it helps our garden. 

I would love to be able to subscribe to Science Weekly for my children. They really enjoyed it and learned a lot. Unfortunately at $19.99 a level I just cannot afford it. I would love to see an option available to coop the magazines possibly through your local homeschool coop. I plan on calling them on Monday to discuss this and see if it's a possibility. I will update this as soon as I know. For now we will be utilizing the seven different issues they have available for free on their website and hoping that we can become subscribers in the near future. 

To see what my crew-mates thought of Science Weekly visit the TOS Blog Here

I received one of each level of the Composting edition of Science Weekly in exchange for my honest review of their program. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

KinderBach **TOS Review**

We had the opportunity through the TOS Crew  to review an online music program called KinderBach.  KinderBach is a program that teaches children ages 3-7 basic music theory and how to play the piano. It currently has six levels with a seventh in the works.
Each level includes ten weeks worth of lessons doing four lessons a week. You can choose to have an online membership and watch all of your videos online or you can order DVDs of the lessons. Whichever works better for your family.

Each lesson includes instruction from the teacher and some sort of activity. The activities vary from lesson to lesson. Some days it's a coloring page and other days it's doing rhythms on pots and pans or marching high and low to songs, you just never know what kind of fun activity you will get to do. 
Kinderbach also provides PDF workbooks and coloring pages for you child to accompany the lessons. 

Kinderbach uses fun characters to help your child learn like Dodi and Frisco.
The characters seem to keep the kids engaged and really help them learn through fun little memory tricks.

Our Experience:
I started off with the intention of doing this with all 5 of my younger children from 3-9. I was quickly informed however by my 9 year old son that it was just too young for him. My 8 year old enjoyed some things but not others. I can say the three younger children who are 3,4 and 6 loved everything about this program.

The younger girls loved doing the activities and often after doing the days lesson begged to do another. They understood the concepts and remembered them later. I was a bit skeptical about a video piano program but thus far it really does seem to be working and the kids love it!

We will continue to use KinderBach for as long as my children enjoy it and continue to learn. I just can't get private lessons for the price of KinderBach and I honestly think it will provide them with a great base before we begin lessons out of the home.

Online memberships for the video's on the computer are $95.88 annual or $19.99 monthly per family. The yearly membership ends up being only $7.99 a month for all of your kids!I know I couldn't even cover my gas to lessons much less the actual lesson fee for that!
DVD packs are $40.95 per level. Depending on how many children you plan to use it with over what space of time this may be the more cost effective method for your family. I'm still trying to decide what would be the most economical for us. 
The best part is you can try KinderBach totally FREE before you commit just by visiting their website here. There's no risk to you by trying it out for free and then you can decide if this program is right for your family yourself. 

Visit the Crew Blog here to see what my crew-mates thought of KinderBach. 

I received a three month subscription to KinderBach in exchange for my honest review of their product. No other compensation was received.