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.