Friday, December 3, 2010

Review of The Master Ruler from Master Innovations

Master Ruler Starter SetMy family and I had the opportunity to use and review the Master Ruler, a neat and highly useful measuring manipulative from Master Innovations.  We received the standard ruler, the metric ruler, the Marvels of Measurement poster and the Master Ruler workbook.  The development of The Master Ruler came about when a teacher recognized that her students were not able to use a ruler without a lot of confusion.  The Master Ruler eliminates this confusion by giving the user a way to distinguish decimeters, centimeters and millimeters through the use of separate layers on the ruler.  Color coding and index tabs  also make it easier for the student to identify and separate, learn equivalent metric fractions, and learn to measure each part of a meter by using its own layer.  The Master Ruler workbook contains about 22 pages of measuring activities as well as an answer key.  Both the workbook and the Master Ruler are appealing and fun to use.  In addition, the Master Innovations website ( is a useful resource for learning more about using The Master Ruler and the other products offered by Master Innovations.  

Master Ruler Starter SetMy family enjoyed the opportunity to use The Master Ruler.  My husband, who is considered the math expert in our family, found that teaching math and measuring skills through estimation with The Master Ruler was useful in the homeschool setting.   Additional worksheets in the workbook would be useful for providing more learning opportunities and reinforcement of the measuring concepts.

To learn more about The Master Ruler and Master Innovations other products, please visit their website at
Measurement poster

I was not compensated for the review of this product.  

Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Collectorz Review

Book Collectorz is a downloadable program that will allow you to keep track of all your books, cd's, and dvd's.  It is a great idea for the book collector or family that enjoys reading and therefore has a lot of books that they want to keep on hand. Photobucket

 Simply entering the book titles or scanning the ISBN barcodes will record the book's information into a database for your reference at a later time.  Situations that may require you to have a list of your possessions for insurance purposes, or even to avoid buying books you already own, would make the Book Collectorz program beneficial for you.  Checking your list of books while away from home is even possible with Book Collectorz.  You can use the Book Collectorz program with a PC or MAC.  In addition, there are various other items of interest to accompany the program that are featured on the website, such as a barcode scanner, a user manual and a user forum.  The version of Book Collectorz that I was able to try was the pro version, which sells for $49.95.  You can get a trial version of Book Collectorz for free, or try the Book Collectorz standard edition.  There are also bundles that you can choose from.  Visit the website and find out more about how Book Collectorz may benefit your family!

I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PG Key Review

     PG Key is a small device that makes managing computer safety a lot easier!  When we first received PG Key, we were ready to install the key and find out how it would work.  Having tried out some other alternatives to managing the safety of our family computer, we were wondering if PG Key would be able to meet our expectations.
     Installing the PG Key was fairly easy.  It involved simply plugging in the key, installing the software and then subscribing to the PG Key website to access the full function of the device.  Next, we were able to set up blocks of websites and arrange for notifications when a user attempted to access something that was blocked.  Once this step was met, the PG Key then would regularly record all activities that took place while one was using the computer.  It supplies you with a a movie of what the key recorded, which was a very nice feature.Also, the PG Key recorded all keystrokes on an internet log, which could provide parents with useful information if they were monitoring their children's access to sites that require passwords.
     There were only a couple of dislikes of the PG Key.  Because the key is small, of course there is a concern that it may get lost.  But, the PG Key comes with instructions on what to do if this happens.  Secondly, we ran into a situation that required us to unblock a website.  The wait time for this unblock to take effect was quite lengthy, so it wasn't possible to immediately access the website although it had been unblocked.  Also, we decided to uninstall PG Key but found that our browsers didn't recognize that PG Key had been uninstalled.
     PG Key is a good program with a few minor technical issues involving its filtering features.  It would be a great piece of equipment to add to your computer.  Of course nothing is as good as the direct monitoring of your child while he is using the computer, but PG Key comes pretty close to letting you know exactly what took place during others' use of the computer.  I would definitely recommend it!
If you are interested in PG Key, please visit their website at
I was not compensated for this review.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Soli Deo Gloria Review/Young Hearts Longing for God

     Young Hearts Longing for God is a study of the book of Psalms for elementary, middle and high school level students.  In thirty lessons, the student will gain quite a bit of knowledge about the book of Psalms as well as engage in some personal reflections of one's thoughts on the Bible verses found in Psalms.

     My children really enjoyed using Young Hearts Longing for God.  It was simple but not too easy and allowed for some creativity as well.  Based on our experience, I would recommend Young Hearts Longing for God to those looking for a Bible curriculum.

     If you are interested in learning more about Young Hearts Longing for God or other resources from Soli Deo Gloria resources, please visit their website at

     I was not compensated for this review.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Schleich Review

     When we received the Schleich animal figurines in the mail, we were so surprised and excited!  The kids thought someone had anonymously sent us a present.  What a delight when we opened our package and found out that we had received these great animal figures for a review.
     Some of the animals we received were the Gnu calf, the Okapi, and the Asian elephant calf.  These figurines as well as the others that came in our package are of excellent quality.  The detail and workmanship that went into making these animal figurines is remarkable.  Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they are also fun to play with.

     My kids are ages 14 to 1 1/2.  Believe it or not, all four of them were interested in these animals and have enjoyed playing with them.  Even us parents have found the animals to be fascinating and fun.  One additional positive note for those parents with special needs children is that the animals are softly textured and feel really good to the hands.  Not only would they encourage pretend play, but they would also help improve on fine motor skills.

     From a homeschool standpoint, the Schleich animal figurines could be used in a variety of ways.  Your students could look up information online about each animal, or use them to tell a story.  They could also be used as manipulatives in math.  Basically, the Schleich animal figurines are can be used for educational purposes in any way you choose.

     If you are interested in learning more about Schleich products, you can visit their website at  On the website, you can use the store locator feature or place an online order.

     I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Salem Ridge Press Review: From Bondage to Freedom, Marie's Home and Before the Dawn

     I had the exciting opportunity to review three books from Salem Ridge Press.  The titles we received were "From Bondage to Freedom", "Marie's Home" and "Before the Dawn".

     Salem Ridge Press is a publishing company founded by Daniel Mills.  The books published by Salem Ridge Press are generally Christian oriented.  They are geared towards providing the reader with historical information on Christianity and it how it existed in history.    They could serve as supplementary material to your homeschool social studies curriculum or bible curriculum, making the books versatile for the user.  

     Salem Ridge Press has high standards for its published material.  It follows the bible verse taken from Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren,whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

     The book titled "From Bondage to Freedom" is a nicely bound book that was written by Emma Leslie.  It begins with a preface, a listing of helpful historical notes, important dates, a table of contents and a table of illustrations.  Throughout the book are multiple footnotes giving the reader definitions for unfamiliar words.  The language of the book made it difficult for my 8th grader to read, however.  He continues to work on reading the book, as he is an avid reader.  

     The books titled "Marie's Home" and "Before the Dawn" were e-books that we received.  "Marie's Home" , written by Caroline Austen, begins with a publisher's note and a table of contents.  "Marie's Home" is easier to read and follows the author's connection with the past as she receives her grandmother's journal.  "Before the Dawn" was written by Emma Leslie.  It depicts the struggles for religious freedoms in Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries.  "Before the Dawn" is similar to "From Bondage to Freedom" as it begins with a publisher's note, a preface, multiple historical notes, important historical dates, and several maps.  The book also provides the reader with explanations of unfamiliar words through the use of footnotes.  

     The books that my family and I had the pleasure of exploring would be a nice and informative addition to a homeschool library.  As a parent, I know that these books would be clean and safe material for my children to read.  If you are considering purchasing these books, plan to read them over an extended period of time with opportunities for you and your children to discuss the books in small increments.

     I received these reading materials for review purposes only.  I was not compensated for reviewing these books.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Math Essentials Review

My family had the opportunity to try out and review Math Essentials.  Found at the web address,  Math Essentials is a good addition to your homeschool curriculum.  The user can access many written exercises  for basic math through algebra.  There is an interactive feature as well, where the invisible tutor demonstrates the steps to solving a large variety of math problems while talking through the solution process.
We immediately jumped at the chance to try out Math Essentials and began using it as soon as our homeschool began this year.  All three of my children (who are in grades 5, 6 and 8) used the website tools and found them to be very helpful.  Although getting started was a little difficult, once each of them got used to the website's features, they found it had many uses.  We were able to use the demonstrations as reviews for previous math skills already learned, as well as to help with learning new skills.  Having the math tutor demonstrate the steps as he talks the student through the process was helpful, as were the corresponding math worksheets.  So many options, and so little time!  What  time we did get the privilege of using Math Essentials was well worth it.
I would recommend Math Essentials to those who need a supplement to their current math curriculum.  It would also work well for a student who is able to stay on task and work well independently.  My oldest child had some difficulty with staying attentive while observing the math demonstrations, but did well when I sat with him and watched the short clips.  He benefited from using the website as a tool for review as well as to learn new math skills.
If you are interested in Math Essentials, you should check out their website mentioned earlier, at  For $195.00, you will receive a one year subscription to the website along with the worksheets and other helpful features.  Good luck in your homeschool adventures and enjoy Math Essentials!

I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Vantage Learning My Access! Home Edition Review

      I had the great opportunity to review the My Access! Home Edition writing website.  I was excited to incorporate this into our daily homeschool routine, as writing is an important part of our school day.
     My Access!Home Edition has some great features.  It allows for each student who uses the program to log into their own personal writing page.  It also gives the parent/teacher the same option so that you can monitor the progress of each user's writing skills, as well as make writing assignments.  In addition, a parent's guide and a student's guide are also available on the website.
     We used My Access almost every day.  My children thought it was fun to use the website as a way to record journal entries or to write book reviews.  The My Access!Home Edition was best suited for my two older children, who are in grades 6 and 8.  I was curious to see how much progress these two would make in their writing abilities, as they both struggle with writing somewhat.  Although it took several attempts to get started, they were both able to utilize the features of this writing program and save their work relatively easy.  On the following days, it was somewhat difficult to find a way to start writing about a new topic, as opposed to having an assigned topic given to them.  (I chose this option to provide extra encouragement and incentive to get them writing).  However with some perseverance, we were able to pursue a daily writing routine using My Access!Home Edition.  I chose to track the kids' writing progress by reading and critiquing their writing samples myself, as opposed to the website's feature of generating progress reports.  This seemed to fit my needs as the teacher better, but the option of tracking progress through progress reports is available.
     I would suggest that if you are considering using My Access!Home Edition writing website, you should explore the website and all of its features prior to introducing it to your students.  Your familiarity with the website will make it easier to be the navigator for the writers.  Also, consider it as an option for any grade, but  in our situation it worked best for middle schoolers.
     If you are interested in learning more about or purchasing the My Access!Home Edition writing curriculum, you can get additional information by visiting  The cost of this program ranges from approximately $90.00 to $130.00.
     I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Travel Kits Review

I was curious to learn more about the e-book titled "Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others" when I was assigned as a reviewer. Written by Donna Rees, "Travel Kits" is well written and entertaining as well as informative. It explains how one can prepare and give a variety of gift ideas to someone who is traveling.

      Anyone can put the ideas and suggestions for making travel kits to use if you follow this guide.  Ms. Rees begins her e-book explaining the basics of her travel kit idea.  She then explains how to compile the items for the travel kit based on the traveler's needs.  For example, she explains how to prepare travel kits for families with small children or older children and even mom and dad.  Ms. Rees also gives suggestions for how to prepare travel kits for the traveling individual.  It becomes clear as you read further into "Travel Kits" that the author has thought of every possible situation that may call for a travel kit.  She also shares with her readers her numerous ideas for what to include in a travel kit, from special toys to books on tape/cd to resources from the department of tourism.  Games, snacks for mom or dad, and gifts for grandparents are also in the list of suggested ideas.  As if that wasn't enough, Ms. Rees also provides an abundance of suggestions on how to package the gifts appropriately, depending on the receiver's traveling situation.  Big budget or little budget, crafty or not, this e-book is a great idea for anyone who is interested in finding unique ways to bless others.

     I really enjoyed reading the e-book "Travel Kits".  I found it to be entertaining and personal, both which contributed to its ease of use.  Scattered throughout the e-book are various stories of the author's and others' experience with giving and receiving travel kits, and pictures to demonstrate.   I look forward to the opportunity to put what I learned from"Travel Kits" to use for someone and see how it turns out!

     If you are interested in purchasing the e-book "Travel Kits:  A Simple Way to Bless Others", visit the website

     I did not receive compensation for this review.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Travel the World Review

I have had the great opportunity to review the product titled "Travel the World", which is a part of The 2009 Schoolhouse Planner (June 2010 module). "Travel the World" is an e-book that can be transformed into a lapbook as well as used in other forms depending on what best suits your needs. You will need to have a globe and a world map available to you while working on "Travel the World". (Globes and maps can be accessed at your local library if you do not own your own.)

The "Travel the World" e-book is comprehensive in that it covers geography, social studies, bible, reading, writing and spelling all in one. The e-book has a variety of links throughout that will give the reader and user the opportunity to explore various topics in depth, if so desired. "Travel the World" is appropriate for upper elementary through high school level students. There are approximately 52 pages in this e-book, all of which are full of great information that will spark the interest of any learner. In using "Travel the World", you will need to review the e-book prior to starting the lesson with your students. A detailed Table of Contents at the beginning is a great way to get an overview of "Travel the World". A considerable amount of reading of geography is required at the beginning of the e-book, but the reader will find plenty of useful links to click on as well as a mixture of motivational, thought-provoking quotes and bible verses scattered throughout the text. Colorful pictures throughout the e-book provide some visual explanations of the material as well. Sections titled "What is Geography?", "What's an Accurate Model of the Earth?", "What About Maps?", "The Land and Waters", and "Continents" provide detailed information that will be useful when compiling information for this lapbook project. Your students will also find fun worksheets such as fill in the blank, crossword puzzles, word scramble, rhebus puzzle and word search included in "Travel the World". There is a section on how to complete a "My Travel Book" as well as a high school expander that make it possible to use this e-book for a variety of grade levels. Because this e-book is accessible through your computer, it would benefit the student who loves to work at their own pace. The student can be an independent learner, or one who needs a lot of guidance. Basically this product will work for a variety of situations and can be manipulated to suit your student's learning needs.

"Travel the World" would be a useful addition to your homeschool curriculum. Although there is a considerable amount of reading in the beginning of the e-book, the clickable links throughout the text break it up. The reading was enjoyable for the most part but not for the student who is below upper elementary grade level. The worksheets and "My Travel Book" are fun to use and make the completion of the lapbook less tedious. In addition, there are numerous links and suggested resources as well as answer keys that are helpful.

If you are interested in learning more about or purchasing the e-book "Travel the World", you can find it at the website for $7.95.

I received this product free of charge for review purposes.