Saturday, January 31, 2009

Math Mammoth Review

I had the wonderful opportunity of reviewing Math Mammoth. The products I reviewed were from The Blue Series and included Subtraction 1, Add & Subtract 2A, Introduction to Fractions, Geometry 1, Place Value 2, and Money. The Blue Series is made up of individual topics your child may be having problems with.

My son was actually quite good in math up until 2nd grade when the math facts and place value became an issue. I didn't want to hold him back with a lower curriculum and have him miss out on things I knew he could do, but I knew I had to address the math facts and place value problems or he wouldn't be able to progress in other areas. Math Mammoth Blue Series was the answer!

Each book contains explanations of how to work the problems and lots of practice. What I really like most about Math Mammoth books is the way they are set up. Each set of problems is numbered and then grouped with a rectangle around that group. For children who are easily overwhelmed by too many problems on a page, this really helps them to zone in on the ones they are working on. Working in smaller chunks is also more appealing to many children.

When my son finishes his regular math each day, I let him pick one of the blue books and he does one or two blocks on a page. This way he is reviewing foundational skills every single day but it's not overwhelming to him. He really seems to enjoy these workbooks. I usually print out about 6 or 7 pages from each of the workbooks and then put them into a binder with dividers. Then he just looks at the tabs and chooses which one he wants to do. He must pick a different one each day. This way we get in a review for 5 different topics each week. When he gets near the end of the pages I printed in a section, I print up a few more and stick them in the binder.

I would highly recommend these to any parents looking for an inexpensive and effective way to reinforce specific math skills your child may need to work on. These workbooks are very reasonably price. The Blue Series I reviewed costs anywhere from $2-5 for each workbook. There are also package deals available.

Math Mammoth has four series:
Blue Series- explanations and problems organized by topics for grades 1-5 (available in pdf download or print)
Light Blue Series- a complete curriculum for grades 1-5 (available in pdf download or print)
Golden Series- workbooks (worksheets) organized by grade level for grades 3-8 (available in pdf download or print)
Green Series- workbooks (worksheets) organized by topic (available in pdf download)

Heidi Miller-Ford

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Write Shop StoryBuilders Review

Do you have trouble getting your kids to write? Even coming up with an idea to write about? WriteShop has come up with a nice way to overcome this "writer's block" many of our children seem to have. StoryBuilders are decks of cards (in ebook format) that will spark your child's creativity.

Each deck contains four different types of cards: character, character trait, setting and plot. This gives the child the basic elements needed to complete a story on their own. There is an abundant amount of choices within each of those categories. Not only does this make it easier for your child to get started writing, but it's also fun! They suggest three different ways your child can choose his cards. We like the "Blind Pick" method. It's pretty funny to see what combinations you end up with.

My son is NOT a writer and he really doesn't even like having to tell about something. I was really hesitant about whether or not this would work. This actually helped him to come up with a story on his own. It was a small story but a story nonetheless! But what I noticed was that each time we used these cards, his story got a little longer and had a little more detail. These are definitely worth looking into if you have a reluctant writer or an aspiring writer that needs some inspiration.

All StoryBuilder decks can be used together because none of the cards are the same. They are fast and simple to use. There is not a lot of teacher preparation once the cards are printed, cut, and the child understands the concept. You can basically put out the piles and let them go on their own. These can be used from kindergarten to high school. Just vary what you require from the student. There are also some blank cards included for you to write your own words in for each category.

Some suggestions for other ways to use this product: These could be used orally in the car when traveling. In fact, my son really doesn't like the physical aspect of writing either, so I had him tell his story into a tape recorder. He thought this was neat and enjoyed playing it back and listening to it. I could then type up his story for him and keep all of them in a binder. I could also let him illustrate each story and cover art at the same time. There are several other suggestions given as well in the directions.

These decks are available in a couple of different topics such as World of People, World of Animals, Christmas Mini-Builder, and coming soon, World of Imagination.

Be sure to check out some of the other products Write Shop has by clicking here. They include writing programs for K-12.

These StoryBuilder Cards (ebook) are $7.95 each. The Christmas one is available for a limited time at $3.95 (at the time of this review, it was still available on their site).

Heidi Miller-Ford

All About Homophones Review

I had a chance to review another product by the author of All About Spelling. It's called All About Homophones. This book is a nice way to cover a topic that is often easily forgotten.

There are a lot of different ways homophones are covered in the book, from worksheets, crossword puzzles, card games to tongue twisters. Homophones are are one of those things that kids just seem to enjoy trying to find. This books makes it even more fun!

My son took an instant liking to the activities in this book. He's not a worksheet kind of kid, but he enjoyed doing these. On his own, he even started mentioning homophones he'd find to me. There is a sheet included in the book for you to list homophones. So that is what we started to do. We've got a nice list going.

The card games are very professionally done. The only downfall is all the printing and ink you will need to use. But I think the benefit of the games far outweigh the ink and paper you will use. Also, if you are considering the ebook, it is 240 pages long. Don't let this turn you away from the ebook format because of its size. You will only need to print the pages for the grade level you are working on. There's not a lot of other on screen reading you will need to do.

If you are looking for an easy way to incorporate homophones into your curriculum, this is the way to do it.

This book is available in two formats and covers grades 1-8. :

Softcover format: $29.95
Ebook format: $27.95

BUT to celebrate the new book,
they are giving you $10 off!

Just enter the coupon code "FUN" in the customer code box during
checkout. The coupon code is good for one week, now through
Monday, February 2, 2009.

For more information on this product, click here.

Heidi Miller-Ford

Thursday, January 15, 2009


We are preparing the Remember Me Pocket- February file. I am so excited about all the activities we have included. Be sure to check out the blog just for this line. The link is to the right.
We are in the deep freezing weather right now. The rolling hills of Northern West Virginia received a coating of snow and everything looks beautiful.
We are now close to being in convention mode....the Lord has blessed and we are able to get bigger booth space and have workshops. I can't wait to show people all the tips we have for using our products. Being frugal ourselves and understanding that every child is wired differently, we can tweak some things from each line for each child. Many will learn to get the most BANG for their BUCK. I will be posting some of these tips here on the blog. Anyone who has our products will benefit from this.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Creative Nature Study Book Review

Creative Nature Study is a book soon to be released by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. From the moment I started reading this book, I was so inspired. It made me realize what I have been missing out on for years. Yes, we take occasional walks and observe things, but it's always back to the "classroom" to finish the curriculum I have bought. Deep down I think I have always wanted to use Charlotte Mason's methods but I just couldn't let go of traditional school. This comes from teaching in the school system for eight years. I'm always afraid my son is not really learning in this type of environment or it won't be the right information he's taken in if others ask questions about what he's been learning. Now I realize it's the opposite. I have been holding him back in so many ways. It's time to change that and get out and explore nature the right way!

This book is a must have if you have ever had the desire to do nature studies. There's something in here for everybody. All types of learners! Even those who have allergies to the outdoors. This book is a very easy read, which is really nice when you get a new book and can't wait to dig in and find out what you need to be doing right now. There are so many suggestions, ideas, and resources included. You will be able to walk away and start some sort of nature study right away. In fact, I plan on trying out the wonderful idea of keeping a nature journal through a perpetual calendar this week!

The end of the book includes a wonderful list of books, internet sites, and materials available for sale at the TOS store. This book will be a great resource to me for a long time.

Storytime Writing Contest by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Exciting News from TOS!

Attention writers!
Grab your pencils and get those creative juices flowing!

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is hosting our second Storytime Writing Contest! We have two creative fiction categories: adults (16 and up 2,500 words or less) and children (15 and below 1,500 words or less). Deadline to enter is March 16, 2009. $7.95 fee per entry.

Grand prize winners in both the adult and child categories will receive prize packages valued at over $1,000, publication in the Summer 2009 issue of TOS, and publication in our Storytime 2009 Compilation E-Book. Eleven Honorable Mentions from each category will also be included in the E-Book in addition to receiving gifts from top homeschool companies.

We look forward to reading your entries!

For a detailed list of prizes, official contest rules, to meet our judges, and to upload your story, please visit:

Need help teaching writing? We have over 200 writing products in the Schoolhouse Store!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

KinderBach Review

KinderBach is a music program developed for 2-7 year olds. It will teach your child rhythm, note reading, singing, keys on a keyboard, and composition all online. It is also available on DVD and in a classroom curriculum.

As I reviewed this program with my 8 year old son, I noticed one thing for sure. My soon to be 2 year old daughter gravitated to the computer and soon became obsessed with KinderBach. She would climb up in my lap and move to the beat of the music or try to sing along with the songs. She became particularly attached to Do-Dee the donkey (one of the many characters used to introduce music concepts) and begged to see him everyday. My son (even though he was a little older than the age recommended for this program) sat still and watched the videos also. The format is similar to Blues Clues with a person standing in the middle of a cartoon like scene. This made it fun, easy to watch, and very attractive to a preschooler. The music is catchy and the lessons are short, which we like in our household! I have a mover and a shaker and sitting for too long would not go over well.

Along with the videos, there are games and printable worksheets that go along with many of the lessons. Every concept is introduced in a very simple format and reinforced over and over. They are presented in a visual, auditory, and kinesthetic format making it a multi-sensory approach. The only materials needed are a keyboard, occassionally a homemade instrument (such as a wooden spoon and a bowl or a shaker of some sort), and the printable sheets when necessary.

I would definitely recommend this program to families with children in the preschool age range. It's a wonderful way to introduce music concepts and build a foundation for future skills. If you are not sure this is something your child would enjoy, they have a no risk trial offer. This is something I appreciate! I think you will be surprised how much your child enjoys this program and how much he learns. Music is something that can sometimes be overlooked and this is a great way to incorporate it into your week.