Friday, February 25, 2011

TOS Review of Math Rider

MathRider Math Game Package

   When we received the opportunity to review Math Rider, I was really excited for my kids.  Who doesn't love horses, right?  Combine that with Mathematics and you've got a pretty creative motivator to get kids engaged in a subject that (speaking from experience) can be intimidating, to say the least.

Math Rider is a unique math computer game that "combines fun game play with a highly sophisticated question engine that adapts to your child."  Using a technique that "senses" your child's mathematical needs and abilities, this game helps your child master addition, subtraction, multiplication and division for the numbers 1-12.  While the game learns and records information on what your child can and cannot do mathematically, the "rider" gets to take on four different "quests" to try to rescue a princess, among other activities.  In addition, the Math Rider game gives the student and the parent/teacher feedback on progress and an "overview map" of math facts that the student has mastered.  The Math "rider" has lots of opportunities for success while playing the game, which undoubtedly builds up your child's confidence in their mathematical abilities.

Our family's thoughts on Math Rider were a little mixed.  My husband and I, both former teachers, played the game and felt that the game was fun and positively reinforcing while incorporating important math skills that many kids of all ages struggle with.  My children enjoyed Math Rider as well.  Everyone had their own rider and didn't feel that they had to compete with each other (big plus for us).  My youngest student, who is a fifth grader, enjoyed playing Math Rider most of all. She found out that learning math could be fun after all, and was pretty successful at answering the math questions correctly.  My sixth grader, who loves horses, but struggles a bit with math, was really excited about the game.  After spending some time on Math Rider, she felt like she was timed, as the horse and rider jump hurdles if the rider answers the math equation within the time allowed.  Otherwise, the game was a success for us.

If you are looking for fun and exciting ways to improve your child's math skills, I would recommend you visit the Math Rider website at   You can learn more about Math Rider, purchase it for $37.00 (with a 30 day money back guarantee) and see clips of the game at their website.

Disclaimer:  I did not receive any compensation for this review.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Life Before Homeschooling: A Journey

Has anyone else out there ever wanted to homeschool but wasn't in the right situation to do so?  I've often wondered if I was the only one who had been down a variety of paths before homeschooling became possible.  I often think about why God placed me in those situations when I knew, and He knew, my heart's desire was to homeschool my children.  But I do know that I treasure my opportunity to homeschool my children at this point in my life and I truly believe it was God's plan all along.  Just my timing wasn't his timing.

So before homeschooling my children, I held several different positions.  I've been a mental health therapist, a teaching parent at a group home, an in-home day care provider, and a middle school teacher.  All the while, my heart told me that I needed to be at home with my children.   Not a day passes by that I don't reflect on what my family's past situations have been, and how wonderful God is to have carried us through.  I am so very thankful to Him, because I know that I am a homeschool mother and stay-at home mother in His name.

Beginning homeschooling in the middle of my children's education has certainly had its challenges.  I appreciate each opportunity to work with my children and encourage them in their lives' journeys as Christians striving to achieve what God has intended for them.

If you are a parent who has had a unique start to your homeschool experience, I'd love to receive a comment from you.  I hope this brief post has been a source of encouragement and support to anyone who needs it.  Please feel welcome to leave any prayer requests as well.  And remember, I'll be praying for you!

Friday, February 18, 2011


We recently had the opportunity to use the Reluctant Reader Solution  from Kid Scoop.  This is a two part digital product that provides an online newspaper titled Kid Scoop News, as well as a digital e-book (Reluctant Reader Solution e-book).

By purchasing the Reluctant Reader Solution, you will receive 12 full color issues of Kid Scoop News online and 365 Kid Scoop worksheets.  In addition, there is also a 365 day unconditional money back guarantee.  All this for the low price of $97.00.  After using this product and exploring the vast amount of resources available, the cost is definitely reasonable and well worth it.  To learn more and to view some examples of this great product, please visit their website.

My kids enjoyed the Kid Scoop website and the online newspaper.  I would say the Reluctant Reader Solution is a versatile product since each of my students, whose grades are 5th, 6th and 8th, were able to benefit from the website, the online newspaper and the e-book worksheets.  For our worksheets, we chose The International Space Station, Owen and Mzee, and Louisa May Alcott.  Although I, too, liked the website and online newspaper, I was particularly impressed with the worksheets.  My children were not just benefiting from the product's versatility, but also from the various learning style options that are found in the worksheets.  For the visual learner, there are a lot of pictures to coincide with the written material.  There are plenty of question and answer style questions as well.  Writing, puzzles, brain teasers,  mathematics, historical facts and arts and crafts are also found throughout the Kid Scoop worksheets, making them great lessons as well as supplemental material.  All the while, the student is increasing his or her reading ability (and probably won't even realize it!)

My family would highly recommend the Reluctant Reader Solution from Kid Scoop.  Help your child improve his or her reading skills while having fun at the same time!  Visit the Kid Scoop website today and learn more about this unique educational product.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Review of TOS Unit Study Zombie Fire Ants

Recently, our homeschooling family completed a unit study on Zombie Fire Ants, part of the collection of unit studies from The Curiosity Files.  When we first began the journey of learning more about zombie fire ants, we had no idea what was in store!  I thought zombie fire ants, seriously???  Why in the world would anybody want to learn anything about those pests?  After all, our first experiences with fire ants had been nothing but annoying and aggravating, not to mention painful.  Nonetheless, we began our adventure on the learning path to increasing our knowledge of what else but the zombie fire ants.  

E-Book: The Curiosity Files™- Zombie Fire Ants
This was our first experience with unit studies, as well as with learning more about those pesky bugs.  What is a unit study?  Well, a unit study is a well-organized and comprehensive combination of various readings, worksheets, internet links and activities that are combined into a unique learning experience.  For our family of four homeschooling students (ages 14, 12, 10 and 2) the unit study is a true blessing!  After working on this unit study, we found a way to accomplish a great deal of our homeschooling work in a very timely yet worthwhile manner.  AND, EVERYONE ENJOYED IT (even mommy!).  Where has The Curiosity Files been all this time?  Yeaaaa!  I can't believe we've finally found a system that is not only educational but also fun to begin and complete for everyone involved.  I'm truly serious when I say that I did not have to prod, poke or admonish anyone into completing this unit study.  The kids truly enjoyed and looked forward to working on Zombie Fire Ants each day that we worked on it.

The actual Zombie Fire Ants unit study is 91 pages long from front to back.  It has cute and entertaining illustrations throughout, enhancing the fun of completing the unit study. Just looking at the table of contents will spark your interest in learning more about these unique little insects.  It begins with an introduction to zombie fire ants and their Biblical purpose.  This is followed by several math activities that are appropriate for all age groups.  Writing, spelling and vocabulary exercises (including word searches and crossword puzzles) are next, broken down into elementary, junior high and high school categories.  Copywork ( several bible verses that your student can learn and copy), science activities (including instructions for making your own ant farm!), arts and crafts activities, additional information on the zombie fire ants, mini quizzes and answer keys are just a few of the things that you will find in this superb unit study.  I wish I could list and describe all that you would find, but then again, that would take away from the surprise!  An additional plus to this unit study is the option of selecting what exercises/activities you want to do - you may choose to do everything in the unit study, or only a part of it.  You can also set your own pace for completing the unit study.  This makes it very easy to use as it can be modified to fit your family's needs.   Believe me, you will find it well worth your time to take a look at this unit study from The Old Schoolhouse's The Curiosity Files.  

To learn more about the Zombie Fire Ants unit study, visit the Old Schoolhouse Magazine's website at and click on the store tab.  There you will find the Zombie Fire Ants unit study is available for $6.95.  You can also explore the other Curiosity Files unit studies that are available, as well.

I truly hope that if you decide to explore the world of Zombie Fire Ants and other unit studies, you will find this review was helpful to you!  We will definitely be pursuing the world of The Curiosity Files and other unit studies in our future homeschool adventures, and hope that you will find them to be as much a benefit to your homeschooling studies as they have been to ours.

I was not compensated for this review.