Saturday, February 28, 2009

Auralog Review

I had a chance to review Auralog’s Tell Me More Italian Instant Immersion Foreign Language program.

Let me give you the benefits of instant immersion programs:
1. More ‘real to life’ learning situations
2. More challenging than regular programs
3. Faster learning of the language may result from this program

Some neat features of this program include:
1. Voice Recognition to help you say the word or phrase better
2. Testing throughout the program to see the extent of your progress
3. Crosswords, word finds, and more to help make it more fun
4. Customer Support is there to help you 24/7 with your software and program questions

If you are the type of person who loves an instant immersion program, well then look no further because this is the foreign language program for you! But if you are like me and need a little more structure in a learning program, you may find this program hard to use and understand.

You have three modes of learning to choose from:

1. Free to Roam- You pick what you want to learn and can hop from activity to activity.
2. Guided- This guides you lesson by lesson.
3. Dynamic-This assesses your progress as you go and changes it according to your needs.

Sounds great! However upon starting each lesson, I felt like they dropped me in the middle of Rome and said, “Ciao”. Here is where those who love instant immersion will pick themselves up and jump right in. Here is where I became frustrated and confused. Despite my confusion, I started going through and learning phrases as they were said, unsure of what exactly I was saying. It did tell me what I was saying on one side of the screen, but because sentences are not formed the same way in English, I was unsure whether a word meant one thing or another in English. But I continued on and it took me to the games and the 'name that item' in the picture activity. Word finds were simple but the crossword puzzles asked me to fill in the Italian word for _____. "I haven’t been taught that", I would say to myself. Then in the 'name that item' in the picture activity, I was asked to pick the word for sweater like the girl was wearing. Unfortunately I had not learned the word sweater so I just had to guess. I continued with the program and was able to get into the glossary, but once again I needed to know Italian to figure out where to go in the glossary to find color, animal, or family words.

When I finally felt a little more confident with the program, I let my son have a try hoping that he could figure out what I seemed to fail at. Unfortunately, he learns like me and it ended in frustration and near tears after days and days in the program. For some reason, this type of approach just did not work at our house. However, just because this program did not work for us, does not mean it will not be an instant success for someone else. For those a little familiar with the language being taught and for those who thrive on a constant challenge, this program would work wonderfully with your family. I will be familiarizing myself with this program more because I do have a daughter that seems to grasp language rather quickly. She is in the midst of another foreign language program that she is enjoying so I will save this for her for when she is ready to try.
This program has a Progress Guarantee, which states you will learn or your money will be refunded (Terms and conditions apply). You will have support if you have difficulties along the way. Competitively priced at $249.99, it is a program worth trying. To learn more about this program. Click HERE.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Five in a Row Review

If you like the gentle approach to educating your children or are a fan of the Charlotte Mason style, books from Five in a Row may be what you are looking for. I reviewed their Before Five in a Row book for ages 2-4. There are 24 books, each with many activities, to choose from. Many of these books are classics. Some you will already have on your shelf and others should be easy to find at the library. Their list of books are the are the kinds of stories you will want to read over and over again.

The literature books included in Before Five in a Row are meant to be read while snuggled up with your child on the couch or in a chair. Some have text, while others are just simple picture books. The activities they have suggested to go along with these books include such things as manners, art, math, science, Bible, language arts, and so much more. These activities are just suggestions and many of them a springboard to get your started on a specific topic to learn about or just discuss. You can pick and choose what you want to use or let your child's interests lead the way.

I really enjoyed the second part of the book also. It's full of ideas for the parent to create learning readiness. This includes reading, coordination (both gross and fine motor), fun in the kitchen and at the store, activities with toys, visual arts, literary arts, and performing arts. These activities are wonderful! So many of them only require materials you will have right in your home. Other may require a trip to the library. My daughter and I really enjoyed doing these. It was nice to have a book to open up and quickly find ideas for ways to spend meaningful time with my daughter that will have a positive effect on how she views learning later on.

This was just the first book in their series. They have Five in a Row (5-8 yrs. old), Beyond Five in a Row (8-12 yrs. old) and Above and Beyond Five in a Row (12 yrs. old and up). Be sure to check those out as well. All of these books range from $19.94-$24.95. They also have Character and Bible Study Supplements for some of the books and cookbooks as well.

This book is all about creating a love for learning while sharing some quality time with your child. These early experiences are so important and will influence how your child views learning later on. Make them fun, special, and memorable.

To visit their site, click here.

Heidi Miller-Ford

Monday, February 23, 2009

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 their second Storytime Writing Contest! They 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 their 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.

They look forward to reading your entries!

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

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

Saturday, February 21, 2009

MathTutorDVD.COM Review

Have you ever tried to teach your child something in math and he just wasn't getting it? Or maybe you couldn't remember how to do some of the math you needed to be teaching and wished there was someone else who could teach it to your child? Well now there is a way. is a company that offers DVDs for basic math through all levels of Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Physics, and Probability.

Jason Gibson is the founder of and the teacher in all the videos. What started out as Jason tutoring some friends, has now turned into a way for anyone to be tutored by him in their own home at an affordable cost. I reviewed The Basic Math Word Problem Tutor and The Algebra 2 Tutor DVDs.

When you turn on the video, you will find a very simple setting with just Jason and a white board. There are no distractions in the background. Jason is a very easy person to watch. His presentation style is calm and direct. He very quickly gets into working out the problems and there is not a lot of lecturing. In both videos, there are a lot of problems worked out on the board. He explains each step as he works through it. There are plenty of problems to make sure your child understands the concept.

What's covered on The Basic Math Word Problem Tutor:

Disc 1
Section 1: Adding Whole Numbers
Section 2: Subtracting Whole Numbers
Section 3: Multiplying Whole Numbers
Section 4: Dividing Whole Numbers
Section 5: Adding Decimals
Section 6: Subtracting Decimals
Section 7: Multiplying Decimals
Section 8: Dividing Decimals

Disc 2
Section 9: Adding Fractions
Section 10: Subtracting Fractions
Section 11: Multiplying Fractions
Section 12: Dividing Fractions
Section 13: Percents, Part 1
Section 14: Percents, Part 2
Section 15: Ratio and Proportion

My son really liked this course. He kept asking to watch it every day. He is not a child to sit still and he never moved from the couch while watching this. He even got some paper and a pencil and worked out the problems with Jason. He would ask to pause the video to get his answer first before it was given.

While my son is only in 3rd grade, and we spent most of our time reviewing The Basic Math Word Problem Tutor DVD, I did watch The Algebra 2 Tutor one as well. I wanted to see if the same simple approach was used for higher level math. And the answer is yes! Jason still breaks everything down into small simple steps and it is easy to understand.

What's covered on The Algebra 2 Tutor:

Disk 1
Section 1: Graphing Equations
Section 2: The Slope Of A Line
Section 3: Writing Equations Of Lines
Section 4: Graphing Inequalities
Section 5: Solving Systems Of Equations By Graphing
Section 6: Solving Systems Of Equations By Substitution
Section 7: Solving Systems Of Equations By Addition

Disk 2
Section 8: Solving Systems Of Equations In Three Variables
Section 9: Simplifying Radical Expressions.
Section 10: Add/Subtract Radical Expressions.
Section 11: Multiply/Divide Radical Expressions.
Section 12: Solving Equations With Radicals.
Section 13: Fractional Exponents.
Section 14: Solving Polynomial Equations.
Section 15: The Quadratic Formula.

There is a companion CD that goes along with this video. It is strongly recommended that you get it because it contains the worksheets to use along with the course.

These DVDs are worth the money if you are looking for a different way to teach math in an area your child is not grasping. These are not going to be fancy, entertaining videos. But they will be thorough, easy to follow, and effective. Which is more important?

Each course is about 8 hours in length and most cost $26.99. This is a real value! And for a limited time, each new Math Tutor DVD customer will receive 60 minutes of FREE live online tutoring available 24/7. This is a $35 value! If a course does not improve your child's grades, there is a money back guarantee.

To find out more about these DVDs, click here and be sure to check out the sample videos available online for you to watch.

Heidi Miller-Ford

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bible Story Songs Review

Bible StorySongs is a company that has music to teach your children about the Bible and Bible characters. The CD I reviewed was called The Bible. It contains 32 songs about Gods' Word and is one hour long. That's a lot of music! My two year old absolutely loves the music. Every time we get into the car, she asks me to put it on. This is a great way to bring Bible stories and truths into your home and the earlier the better.

The music is very calming, which I appreciate, when so many other children's CDs that are out today are chaotic and difficult for the parent to listen to over and over. There's some good content in these songs and I believe they can really show a child what the Bible is about and why it's important to us.

There were a couple of things I wish had been different about the CD. I found it difficult to understand some of the words on a few of the songs that were done in a round. Also on another song that teaches the books of the Bible, it was a little difficult to follow because there really wasn't much of a pause between the books being said and I'm not sure a child could learn them easily. They all just seemed to run together. It was especially difficult to understand during the not so familiar books. However, the lyrics are included and you can look them up and figure out what is being said and teach those few songs to your children if necessary. Once they understand the words, they would have no problem singing along.

Despite those few things, there were a lot of good songs on the CD and all in all I'd say we've enjoyed it and will continue to listen to it. Any music that is wholesome and tries to teach my children about the Lord is a plus with me.

One thing to note, there are a couple songs that quote scripture and are not true KJV. They have been modified to fit into the song. This may bother some people and I thought it worth mentioning. One example is a song that uses the scripture Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

The lyrics to the song are,
"Let the word of Christ dwell,
Let it dwell in you.
Richly in all wisdom,
With psalms and hymns and songs,
Teaching one another,
Singing them with grace
In your hearts unto the Lord,
Colossians 3:16."
Others songs that refer to scripture are giving a general idea of what the scripture is about and not quotes.

CD's are $9.99 each.
Other CDs Bible StorySongs offer are:
Matthew (Vol. 1 & 2)
Matthew for Young Singers
Moses (Vol. 1 & 2)
Moses for Young Singers

They also offer E-Sheet music, E-Color N' Sing Song Book, and E-Puzzle Pages which can be used with the CDs.
To find out more about this company and their products, please CLICK HERE.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Heads Up! Review

Heads Up is a company that was created to give educators and parents with struggling learners the information and products needed to help each child feel successful. These materials can be used by homeschooling families, occupational therapists, speech therapists, teachers, and specialists who work with children who have developmental delays, learning disabilities, autism, and other special needs.

I reviewed their Heads Up! Frames, Readers, Top of the Line, and Double Time. These products help a child to focus in on what he is reading. They can be used in a variety of ways. The frames put a box around the text the child needs to focus on, while the others provides a line for the child's eyes to follow and not lose his place. They are very effective.

For some children, many math problems or text on a page can be overwhelming and they simply can't focus to even begin. When these Heads Up! Frames are laid down over a section of the page, it becomes so much easier for them to focus and a lot of times they will finish a page in no time at all. They come in two different sizes depending on whether you need them for text on a reading page (4" x 9") or a smaller area (4" x 41/2")

Children who have tracking problems can greatly benefit from the Heads Up! Readers, Top of the Line, and Double Time. The Readers have a brightly colored strip in the middle. The dark color above and below the area where the text is, really makes the text stand out. Top of the Line is a bigger reader with the transparent strip at the top. This helps to block out more text below and only show the line the child is reading. Double Time is the same thing except the strip at the top is wider and allows for two lines of text to be seen at a time to remind the child to continue to the next line. They are all about the width of a standard paper (anywhere from 8"-9") and easy to hold and move as the child reads.

These can be used for any child with focusing problems. Not just children with special needs. They are a very simple and inexpensive way to make reading and focusing a little easier for your child. They are sturdy and can be used as a bookmark also.

All Heads Up! Frames, Readers, Top of the Line, and Double Time are $1.00 each.

To learn more about other products Heads Up! has, please click here.

Heidi Miller-Ford