Friday, October 29, 2010

Preschool Corner ~ Pumpkins

image We have enjoyed a very relaxing week ~ filled with long walks, lots of reading, trips to two different pumpkins patches, and pumpkin carving!

Over the weekend we went to our favorite little pumpkin patch ~ which has become an annual tradition.


On Tuesday we headed to another pumpkin patch with Jolanthe from Homeschool Creations. There were lots of fun activities for the kids.

Big Wheels,


an airplane


So many photo ops and this is what I get ~ my sweet son!


Since I’m the one who snapped the pictures of Jolanthe and Kaleb on the go-cart style bikes, I just have to share them!  They were having so much fun!

IMG_4356_edited-1 IMG_4357_edited-1 

Tea Party

The kids helped make pumpkin bread and then ate almost all of it while having a tea party.  Notice the level on the table?  I showed Aiden how to use it this week ~ that counts as math, right?


Carving Pumpkins

Aiden was not a big fan of scooping the pumpkins.


Not sure why he has no problem playing in mud but he makes this face when he touches the inside of a pumpkin?


Here are some of the books we read this week:

Not much traditional learning going on, but it was still a great week!
For more Preschool Corner posts, head on over to Homeschool Creations.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our Pumpkin Patch Tradition

Every year we visit a small pumpkin patch, out in the country. 

IMG_4309It is owned by a local family who still relies on the honesty system for payment.  Going to this pumpkin patch has become a family tradition, which we started when Emily was one. 

I went past this pumpkin patch everyday on my way to work, before I had kids, and I always dreamed of the day I would be able to take my own kiddos out to find the perfect pumpkin. 

Emily loves going because she has fond memories of us tramping around look at all the different pumpkins.  If you ask her I’m sure she will say her favorite memories are when it was just her and I  ~  before her brother came along. 


Aiden loves going because they provide loppers to cut the pumpkins free from their vines, and small wheelbarrows.


I love going because now I have two kiddos to take.  Six eyes all searching for the perfect pumpkin to take home and carve!  Three people with entirely different ideas on what the perfect pumpkin is.  


Do you have a favorite pumpkin patch that you like to visit?


PG Key {Review}


Why would I need PG Key?  My kids are always supervised whiled on the internet!  That is what I thought until I came home late one night from a meeting and found my daughter playing a game on the computer.  What if she had accidently typed in the wrong address and pulled up something she really shouldn’t see?  We had a serious talk about when she can use the computer! 

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple way to monitor your kids computer use and set limits on the amount of time they use the computer?  There is with PG Key.

About PG Key


PG Key is easy to use!  Plug it into your USB Port and once it is installed, you create accounts for each person using the computer.   You can set up the following controls for each account:

  • Time allowance
  • Content filtering
  • Site blocking
  • Activity tracking
  • Activity notifications
  • Monitor chat and email use
  • Allow access to only specific websites
  • 60 hours of video recording ~ you see what your child sees!
  • If the key is removed from the computer it can’t be used by the kids.  NOTE:  If you should lose the key, you can still access the computer by using your password.  Contact PG Key’s support department and if you’ve activated your PG Key and registered the product they will ship you a new PG Key for only $10.00 plus shipping and handling.

My Thoughts on PG Key

I installed PG Key, set up my password, and started setting up basic controls for my daughter.  Set up was easy!  I blocked access to two websites and let my daughter try and access the sites.  It worked ~ she could not get to the websites!   I also set it to notify me when certain words were searched.  The program sent me an email each time I searched using those words, but it did not block me from the search or accessing sites with the words.  What does this mean?  If I wanted to block a site, I would have to have know the web address.  It does not allow you to block using a key word such as ~ all pornographic sites.

Overall, this product is a great way to monitor what your kids are doing on the computer.  For my kids, just knowing that we are monitoring their computer use would be enough! 


  • Peace of mind knowing that I can see what my kids are seeing.
  • Being able to limit use of the computer ~ if I pull out the key the kids can’t even use the computer.
  • Being able to limit the sites my daughter can use.


  • Not being able to block sites unless I know the websites address.
  • Not being able to block access to sites based on a certain word ~ such as pornography.

Find Out More:

PG Key costs $49.99, and is available at PG Key or Amazon.  If you would like to see more  they offer a Free Trial here.


To find out what my fellow crewmates thought about PG Key click on the banner above.

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Brillkids Little Reader {Review}

Have you ever considered teaching your baby to read? I have and I have made and used flashcards with my children, so I was excited when I got the opportunity to try Little Reader Basic Software from Brillkids.   Photobucket

How Does Little Reader Teach Kids to Read?

The program, which is designed for children 3 months to 3 years, engages children with words, images and sounds to teach them to read.  Unlike flashcards, Little Reader uses multisensory lessons ~  which provides the opportunity for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning.

Each time a child sees a word it will be in a different color and font.  They will see a different picture, hear a different voice, see a different video, and be prompted to interact in a different way.   Not the same old boring flashcards!

Another feature Little Reader uses is the ability to personalize lessons by adding pictures and voices.  Imagine how exciting it is for your child to see her fathers nose! 

Little Reader uses something called Pattern Phonics to teach phonics. 

Pattern Phonics works by showing words in patterns that facilitate and accelerate a child’s natural ability to decode written language

After using the program for a year, your child will see over 1,000 words in more than 140 subject categories.

My Thoughts:

I’ll admit it, I really didn’t think Aiden would like the program, but I was wrong ~ he really enjoyed it!  We both looked forward to our time together watching the program.  The daily lessons can be broken into two session, each about 10 minutes.  The were short enough to keep Aiden entertained and engaged, yet he was learning!

I made and used flashcards for both my kids.  They never held their attention for very long.  This program makes learning words fun and exciting!  Imagine how much time it would take to make word cards in different fonts and colors ~ and add different pictures. 


  • Being able to personalize the program with pictures and voices.
  • The program encourages the child to perform actions related to the word or phrase.
  • Lessons are planned for you ~ just hit play!
  • Teaches phonics in a unique and natural way.
  • Free access to Brillkids Forum.
  • Free downloads to extend your child's learning.

Find Out More:

Sign up for a Brillkids account and get a FREE 14 day trial of Little Reader and Little Math.  Take a quick tour of the Little Reader program here.


Little Reader Basic starts at $149.00.  The Deluxe Kit for $360.00 includes:


  • Little Reader Software
  • A ready-made Reading Curriculum - 6 or 12 months' worth of lessons
  • Lifetime usage of the learning system
  • 2 BrillKids Presentation Binders
  • 40 Customizable Flap cards
  • 20 Customizable Flash cards
  • 160 sheets of word and picture prints: Content Printouts for 8 core categories
  • 5 Little Reader Storybooks
  • 2 Weekly Lesson Planners, one for each semester
  • 10 sheets of Sticker Labels for playing the labeling game
  • Everything You Need to Know About Teaching Your Baby to Read booklet (downloadable)
  • Teaching with Little Reader booklet (downloadable)
  • 8,000 BrillKids Loyalty Points


To find out what my fellow crewmates thought about Little Reader from Brillkids click on the banner above.

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rainbow Blocks ~ A Guidecraft Mom Review


Wooden blocks are a favorite in our house.  I knew the 30 Piece Rainbow Blocks Set that we received from Guidecraft would be an instant hit!  They have been played with by everyone who enters the house ~ family and friends!


What Are Rainbow Blocks?

They are great wooden blocks, with a fun twist ~ colorful windows made out of plexi glass in red, yellow, blue or green!  The blocks have hardwood frames and soft, rounded edges.  The 30 Piece Rainbow Block Set includes rectangles, squares, semi-circles and triangles in various sizes.image Our Thoughts:

The entire family has had fun building with the 30 Piece Rainbow Block Set (even Daddy)!   IMG_4299

We have sorted them by colors, sizes and shapesIMG_4303

and just had fun building colorful houses and towers.


I was concerned when we first got the blocks that they might not hold up to a very rough 3 year old, but let me assure you that he has put them to the test and they are definitely durable!  He has run across them and made towers that he karat kicked, without any damage to the blocks!

Shhh…don’t tell him, but Aiden is going to be getting either the Shimmering Water Blocks or Sand Blocks for his birthday.

Find Out More:

Rainbow Blocks are available at the Guidecraft website and also from Amazon

Want to win a set?  Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler is hosting a giveaway for a set of Rainbow Blocks!  Head over and enter to win! 



As a Guidecraft Mom blogger, this product was given to me for review purposes. I do not have to return the product to the vendor and I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Friday, October 15, 2010

2010 Homeschool Blog Awards

The 2010 Homeschool Blog Awards Nominations begin today!  image

Head over and nominated your favorite blogs!

Here’s the schedule:

OCT 15 – Nominations begin
OCT 30 – Nominations end
NOV 6 – Voting begins
NOV 17 – Voting ends
NOV 19 – Winners announced


Map Skills {Review}


Map Skills by Kim Kargbo is three week study, geared for grades K–6th, which gives students a foundation in geography and map reading skills.  The study includes fun hands on activities, games, and bible activities.  This unit study is recommended to work alongside some sort of mapping skills workbook ~ a recommended list is included.

What Map Skills Covers:

  • Basic directional skills.
  • Basic map reading skills.
  • Map directions and bible related worksheets.
  • Language skills related to map reading ~ directional and basic geography.

My Thoughts:

Emily and I enjoyed the hands on activities included in this unit study.   I do think that in order for the student to have a complete understanding of map skills, one of the additional recommended resources should be added.  Overall, I enjoyed the ideas contained in this study and we learned a great deal about map skills even without the additional resources.


  • Fun hands on activities
  • The appendix includes a suggested literature list and 4 bible worksheets for review, copy work and grammar exercises, with their answer keys.


  • Additional resources recommended

Find Out More:

Soli Deo Gloria Resources sells Map Skills as an e-book for $14.  The e-book can be used with multiple students.  You can view a sample of Map Skills here and the  recommended resources that accompany Map Skills here.

You can check out other Crewmate reviews of this and other products from Soli Deo Gloria Resources.

image This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October Sensory Tub

Emily has asked every day for the past week, when I was going to put our October sensory tub together (black beans laying on the counter were a constant reminder to her).  Yesterday I had her help me round up all our Octoberish items and put our sensory tub together ~ of course I had to throw in a few surprises! 

  sensory bin

Our October sensory tub includes the following:

sensory bin

  • Plastic bat, snake, scorpion, ant, spiders and flies from Dollar Tree
  • Cat, spider and jack-o’-lantern erasers from Dollar Tree
  • Pumpkin, scarecrow, Indian corn buttons from Michaels
  • Felt owl stickers from Michaels
  • Clip on spiders from Michaels
  • Eyeballs from Michaels
  • Small tin container from goodwill store
  • Copper scoop ~ which I have had forever
  • A skeleton from ~ I reduced it 25%, laminated it and cut it
  • Black pot from Michaels
  • Black beans
  • Seek and Find cards ~ just to make it a little more educational!

sensory bin feel and find(click on the picture above to print) 

The kids (including the little furry one) have been having lots of fun exploring the sensory tub. 

sensory bin ~Cindy

Monday, October 11, 2010

Talking Fingers ~ Read, Write & Type Learning System {Review}


Is it possible for one program to teach reading, writing and typing?  We have been using Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers for the past month and not only has the program helped Emily with her reading, writing and typing, she has been having fun  learning ~ and defeating the villain Vexor!   

What is the Read, Write & Type Learning System?

Read, Write & Type Learning Systems by Talking Fingers is a fun interactive program that builds reading and phonics skills while children learn to write and type.   In the program, which is for grades K-3, the villain (a hot tempered green blob) named Vexor tries to steal the letters and prevent the storytellers from writing down their stories.  The student is guided by two helping hands, Lefty and Rightway, who help them defeat Vexor as they work through 40 levels. Photobucket

As the student goes through the program they build hundreds of sentences and stories.  They receive certificates of advancement after every four letters, which can be printed ~ and proudly displayed.


The program takes the student through 12 steps:

  1. Children connect sounds with letters ~ learning to type each letter.
  2. Children look at a picture, identify the sounds, and type the required letter or letters.
  3. Children begin to build words by typing sounds.
  4. Children start to read and write simple stories.
  5. Children begin to create their own stories.
  6. Children can send messages using the simulated email feature.
  7. Children build on typing skills by playing games.
  8. They play the Sound Game where the child practices sound recognition.
  9. The Reading Game provides extra help in reading comprehension.
  10. Children play the Spelling Game.
  11. Provides practice on any activities the student needs to practice.
  12. Print out reports showing students progress.

My Thoughts:

Emily and I have both had fun playing with the program.  I loved seeing her excitement every time she saved a letter from Vexor or received a certificate.   The program contains great graphics and sound, but what impressed me the most was ~ the fact that the program kept Emily’s interest.   She was able to login and start working on the program without much assistance from me.  I did find that I did needed to check on her frequently just to make sure she was placing her hands correctly on the keyboard and not “picking and pecking”.  

IMG_3831This program has delivered all that it promised and has helped Emily with her reading, writing and typing!   It has been a great addition to our language arts program.

To Find Out More:

Visit Talking Fingers, Inc. to check out a free Sample Lesson, which gives an overview of the activities in Read, Write & Type, and a free Demo that lets your child test drive the first 8 lessons.  While you are there check out some of their other products, such as Wordy Qwerty or JingleSpells.

Prices for the Home Edition:

Want to save 20% off your order? 

Join their mailing list and answer a couple of questions to receive a 20% discount code you can use on your next order.  See more information here.


image To find out what my fellow crewmates thought about Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers click on the banner above.

  This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Digital Frog International ~ Digital Field Trips {Review}

Digital Frog Intl Logo

Our family loves to take field trips, but it really isn’t possible for us to hop in the car and visit the Wetlands, the Rainforest, or the Desert.  With Digital Frog International’s Digital Field Trips we were able to learn about and explore all three locations, while snuggling on the couch ~ no bug spray required!

Who is Digital Frog International?

Digital Frog International is the creator of award-winning natural science educational software ~ which they have been creating since 1995.

From Digital Frog International’s website:

We’re passionate creators of nature science software.  We’re teachers of dissection and anatomy and ecosystems.  We’re savers of frogs and inspirers of learners.  We’re believers that you can’t care about a world you don’t understand.

The Digital Field Trips:

The Digital Field Trip Series includes three digital field trips, using QuickTime Virtual Reality to explore:

The Wetlands

Digifrog Wetlands

What does it cover?

  • Wetlands Field Trip – uses virtual reality technology to allow the student to explore the Cloud Lake bog in Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada.
  • Study of a Bog - includes the bog food web game, plant and animal adaptations, formation and succession, and a study of photosynthesis.
  • Wetland Types - covers the similarities and differences of the different types of wetlands.
  • Wetland Mechanisms -  covers topics such as nutrient cycles, erosion, groundwater, productivity and flooding.
  • Our Endangered Wetlands – talks about conservation, habitat and pollution.

The Rainforest

Digifrog Rainforest

What does it cover?

  • Rainforest Field Trip - explore the twenty eight posts alongside Blue Creek.
  • Rainforest Study – learn about animal and plant characteristics and dependency webs.
  • Rainforest Types – learn about a different types of rainforests, which are scattered around the world.
  • Mechanisms  - learn about what keeps the rainforest thriving.
  • Our Endangered Rainforest – learn about the biodiversity of both plants and animals within the rainforest and why the rainforest is vital to the world

The Desert

Digifrog Desert

What does it cover?

  • Desert Field Trip – visit five North American desert locations; the Sonoran Desert, the Painted Desert, Big Bend National Park, the Black Rock Desert, and Death Valley.
  • Desert Types -  learn what makes a desert a desert and about al of the world’s major desert regions.
  • Desert Mechanisms -  Discover the process that formed and shaped the deserts. 
  • Desert Study  - learn ways desert plants and animals adapt and survive in arid regions.  You can also create your own desert ecosystem in the Build-a-Desert game.
  • Human Impact -  learn how human impact and desertification shape and distort deserts.

Each field trip also includes:

  • An interactive map
  • Definitions of every word and pronunciations of scientific words
  • Ability to bookmark favorite screens
  • Online updates
  • workbook materials

My Thoughts:

WOW ~ this DVD includes a lot of information!  We could have spent hours exploring and learning about the different locations.  We didn’t even get to the workbook materials that are available.  Emily and I both enjoyed the DVD.  We spent most of our time exploring the rainforest.  Emily’s favorite activity was discovering bugs and animals that were camouflaged in the rainforest. 


  • Being able to explore the wetlands, rainforest and desert anytime I want.
  • 360-degree panoramas ~ Emily was able to look at the clouds in the sky as well as the ground.
  • The amount of information provided.
  • The DVD is educational and fun!
  • The use of games throughout the DVD ~ once again, added fun.
  • Ease of use ~ I popped in the DVD and we started exploring.
  • Though they are designed for the 4th grader and up, each field trip contains resources for students K-3rd.  My son who is 3, enjoyed exploring the different areas with us.


  • The cost ~ $125.0o for all three field trips.   That is a lot of money to spend on field trips, which I consider to be enrichment activities.

For More Information:

Visit Digital Frog International. Demo versions of all of Digital Frog International's products are available for download for free here or you can order a demo-ware CD-ROM for $5.00.

Individual field trips can be purchased for $60.00 each. 
Purchase the Digital Field Trip Series DVD (home license), which contains ALL THREE field trips (the wetlands, rainforest and desert) for $125.00. 


To find out what my fellow crewmates thought about Digital Frog International’s Digital Field Trip Series click on the banner above.

This product was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Preschool Corner ~ Seasons

image I had grand plans for the week ~ but sadly Aiden had other plans!  He REFUSED to most of the activities that I presented to him this week.  We did manage to do a few activities Wednesday and Thursday.

Our theme this week was seasons.  We read Seasons by Ranida Mckneally and It’s Fall by Linda Glaser.

Aiden sorted pictures of clothing according to what season it is worn.  I found this free printable at Montessori For Everyone.  I was hoping that Aiden would realize he can’t wear shorts when it is 50° outside.  As you can tell from the rest of the pictures, he is still insisting on wearing shorts.  This is a case of picking my battles ~ I can live with shorts until they are washed and {ahem} disappear!IMG_4205

I put items in a bag and Aiden felt inside, trying to guess what the item was.  Then we sorted the items by season.


The bag included the following items:


  • Spring:  umbrella and a flower
  • Summer:  sunglasses and a seashell
  • Fall:  Leaf and acorns
  • Winter:  Gloves and mittens

Aiden did enjoy the button activity I made. 


This was one activity I didn’t have to ask him to do!IMG_4216

Aiden sorted items that were magnetic and non magnetic.   IMG_4199

I gave him a pair of scissors and the newspaper and let him have fun cutting out pictures.  He kept bringing me pictures of blowers,  saying “Daddy needs one of these”.IMG_4224

That was our week!  The good thing is I don’t have to plan anything for Aiden next week, we can just do the things I had planned for this week ~ unless Aiden has other ideas!  To check out more Preschool ideas and activities visit Preschool Corner!


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