Thursday, April 28, 2016

Why I Do Not Support Target's Bathroom Policy

In the past few days, there has been much discussion in regards to the Target bathroom controversy.  If by some chance you live out away from all social media or news (although, if so, you probably wouldn't be visiting my blog.. haha), basically what has happened is that Target has made it store policy that anyone can use the restroom or dressing room that corresponds with the gender they identify as.  This is their way to better accommodate and to not discriminate against members of the Transgender community and while I can see their reasoning, I think it's the wrong decision.

This is a subject I have been fairly vocal about on my personal facebook page but really had no intention of carrying over to this blog.  Shortly after Target made the announcement, a friend of mine from high school posted that anyone who posted anything in regards to it would find themselves unfriended...

Yeah, it was pretty immature of me, but after already having 2 people unfriend me because of a picture I had posted earlier, and last summer having another friend who unfriended me because I didn't change my profile picture to the rainbow overlay to support Gay Marriage after that law past, I was seriously tired of being told what I could and could not post or that I HAD to agree with something I didn't in order to be friends.   So, I admit, I posted the post that I will also post here as a way to say "I'll post what I want"..  I did not think my post was Trans-phobic, hate mongering or discriminatory in any way shape or form but sure enough, within 25 minutes, my friend had unfriended me..

However, a crazy thing happened.. After posting my opinion, the post took on a life of it's own. Another friend asked if I would make the post public so they could share.  People started commenting that they related to and agreed with my opinion and before I knew it the post had well over 6K shares.

Last night, Facebook took my posting down and said I was in violation of their guidelines as they considered what I posted Hate Speech and Bullying of others.   I do not feel my post violated these guidelines at all but instead I feel that as the popularity of my post grew, since it was against the progressive thought of whatever agenda, they removed it.   Basically, I feel they took away my right to voice my opinion not because it violated any guidelines but instead because it didn't support LGBT rights.

I was asked to repost the posting on Facebook so that it could again be shared but I know that if I did, it would only be removed and my account suspended since I had already been reprimanded for the post.  I also had people suggesting I put it on Reddit but as I don't ever use Reddit, I have no clue how that works.  Instead, I am opting to post it on my blog, where Facebook cannot judge if it is or isn't against their guidelines. 

I am going to add one thing to this that I did not add to the original - many people said I obviously didn't care about my son since I didn't address the men's room, hence that I was just hiding behind a homophobic agenda by claiming it was "about the kids".. I have three children, the first of these are an 8 year old daughter, a 9 year old autisic son. These children do not go into a public restroom without either myself or my husband with them.  My third child is a nearly 17 year old daughter who is capable of using the restroom alone and I am not always there with her when she is at a public business.    When I wrote this, my mind was thinking about her and not my son as my son is constantly protected for the time being.

I'm all for the safety of others. People should be able to use the restroom without fear.  Other than sex, using the restroom is one of the most vulnerable activities we can do.  I do believe Transgenders should have a safe place to relieve themselves but this should not be at the expense of others.  I'm all for unisex bathrooms. I am not, however, able to support a policy that states that a women who might already have fear issues after being a victim, now has to worry about a burly man following her into a dressing room and assaulting her.  And it's not just about pedophiles and rapists - what will Target do when an ex husband or a stalker follows a woman into a bathroom in their store and leaves her dead.  Yes, these things have already happened in the past but prior to, if someone saw a man entering a woman's restroom, it would raise eyebrows and security would most likely be called.  This might at least deter this type of situation. Now, that same man can enter a woman's restroom and people will fear reporting it because they don't want to be seen as a bigot or homophobic, the two top descriptions thrown around at anyone who is opposed to these types of policies.

Equality is exactly that, two things being equal on all footing.  Equality for one group does not come at the expense at the safety of another group.  

The Original Post

As I have had in the last 24 hours a couple of people unfriend me because of the picture I posted in regards to the bathroom issue and I just saw another saying they will unfriend anyone who posts against it,  let me point something out.  Yes, I am against this whole Target Transgender bathroom deal but not because of transgenders..  If we could somehow guarantee that each XY Chromosome that entered the female bathroom believed they were really a woman, maybe it wouldn't be an issue. However, there's no way to vet that each man who walks through the door is just an extra hairy female who wants to pee and lets face it, there's alot of sick MoFos out there.  When we talk about predators, we are NOT calling the LGBT community predators, we're talking about those that your nightmares are made of.

My father currently sits in a prison cell in Texas for being a child molester and a pervert. I can show you in a letter where he said he wishes such laws existed when he was free as he would gladly say he was a woman if it meant following a cute 10 year old in the bathroom.  I've LIVED with the type of sickos that are salivating at the chance to do exactly that. My father is not a transsexual, he's not bi sexual, he's not gay. However, he is a sexual deviant and he's more than happy to walk into a bathroom with your cute preteen daughters and he's more than happy to masturbate to your sweet 7 year old daughter.  THIS is who you're fighting to allow into your bathrooms, because the law says all he has to do is say "I identify as a woman", even though he doesn't, and he can go into the bathroom with your daughter.

It's not about the LGBT community, it's about keeping our kids safe and keeping women safe and not making more victims.  And the fact is, TRUE transgendered people are so engrossed into their lifestyle that you can't tell them from natural born men or women. Most of the trans women I've seen do their makeup way better than I do, fix their hair better than I do and wear a dress WAY better than I do. Why?? Because it is NOT a passing fad to them, it's their life.. And they aren't questioned when they walk into the women's bathroom because their outward appearance reflects the lifestyle they live. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then hell, welcome to the club.  And if that were the people we were talking about, this wouldn't be an argument because lets face it - they've been using our bathrooms for YEARS and nobody has said a word.

But we're not talking about true 100% transgenders.  We're talking about a group of people who just claim that one day they can feel like a woman, the next moment they feel like a man, and so they have been given the right to use a women's bathroom upon a whim.  These are NOT transgendered people, these are people who are trying to fight for a loophole to be allowed to prey on women. I am getting sick and tired of being told I am a homophobic bigot who hates the LGBT community - I'm far from it and I treat everyone equal. However, I am 100% against a law that says ANYONE can simply say they are trangender and walk into a bathroom without question, which is where things are heading right now. And I find it funny that many in the LGBT community are also seeing the problem with this (especially those with children), yet it's those NOT of the LGBT community that are screaming the loudest about hate. Right now businesses are taking jobs out of NC and you see entertainers punishing an entire state (and the people who live in it, who may or may not support these types of laws) for what the government does. These are bully tactics to force people to give in and threatening people that you will "Unfriend" them for not agreeing with this is a bully tactic as well.

If you want to fight for Gay rights, by all mean, do it.. If you want to unfriend me because I don't want a man sneaking in a women's bathroom after saying he's transgender, setting up a camera and recording me while I pee, so be it. (and btw, telling me "that story is from 3 years ago" when it happened WHERE I LIVE at a mall I shop at doesn't hold any weight with me).  I promise, I will survive and so will you.  But, I am not going to stand by and be told I am a bigot towards the gay community when I am seeing the opposite side of a coin and knowing ahead of time the problems that could transpire because of these types of policies.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Plant Based Beauty (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

emu oil, argan oil, beauty oils, shea butter, natural beauty, cruelty free, vegan

Last year, I had the opportunity to review a product that I absolutely fell in love with from Koru Naturals - their Grade A Emu Oil.  For the past few weeks, I've had another opportunity to try a similar product that is similar to Emu Oil but is a 100% natural blend of pure plant oils.  This vegan alternative is GREEMU from Devonian and is distributed by Koru Naturals and we were given a 4 ounce bottle for our household to review.

What is GREEMU?

emu oil, argan oil, beauty oils, shea butter, natural beauty, cruelty free, vegan

GREEMU is a completely plant based alternative for those who want the benefits of Emu oil but would prefer a product that does not contain animal ingredients.  However, until recently, there were no products on the market that met these requirements that had the same health and beauty benefits compared to Grade A Unadulterated Emu Oil.  Scientists at Devonian spent close to two years working on a formula that while completely plant based, was very close in chemical composition to what is in Emu Oil but without using animal products.

For those who are put of by the original Emu oil, whether because of the fact it is made from an actual animal or because of the slightly gamey scent, GREEMU is a great alternative.  Because it is purely plant based, it is a great alternative for vegans who want their beauty products to be considered cruelty free.

The ingredients of GREEMU are Macadamia Seed Oil, Palm Oil (Organic and Sustainable Certified), Shea Butter, Sunflower Seed Oil, and Rice Bran Oil.

 What We Thought:

As both my husband and I use the original Emu oil formula on a regular basis, we decided to do a side by side comparison of the two.  Both of used both products without discussing our results until the end of our trial and the compared what we found.

We both agreed that the GREEMU oil takes a slightly longer time to soak into the skin where as the Emu oil seemed to soak in quickly. I felt the GREEMU also felt more "tacky" to the touch even after it soaked in to the skin, something I did like, especially if I was going to apply makeup afterwards.  Also, one other big difference I noticed was that when using GREEMU on my daughter's plaque psoriasis, it took a big more friction and effort to get the plaques to come off -10 something my daughter noticed almost immediately.  After the second try, she would not allow me to use the GREEMU and demanded the original Emu formula instead.  My husband found no other major differences between the two products other than the longer time to absorb into the skin and said that for him, both products performed equally.  One other difference, however, would be the smell - while the original Emu Oil formula has a slightly "birdy" smell to it (think a slight raw chicken skin smell), the GREEMU lacks this odor and both my husband and I find it to be completely scentless.  

However, even with all this said, none of these minor differences would have been noticeable at all had we not also been using the original Emu formula and if we were a family that animal produced were not part of our lives, the GREEMU oil would be a great addition to our household.  Both products work well, I just feel the original formula seem to do it just a bit better.

Two other pros for GREEMU is the price difference and the shelf life differences between both products. From a price difference, the GREEMU is going to be your better deal: a 4oz bottle of GREEMU will cost $10.80 ( and you can get an additional 20% off until May 31st by entering coupon code GN395Z10 at the Koru Naturals website) where as a 4oz bottle of Emu oil will cost $18.20.  Also, one should consider the shelf life between the two products - Emu oil has a 1 year shelf life (2 years if the product is kept refrigerated) where as nothing in my research shows any shelf life limits on the GREEMU oil.  Since neither oil requires using more product than the other, GREEMU is the clear winner when comparing these points.

Overall, we really like the GREEMU and plan on keeping it in our household.

For more information about Devonain's GREEMU as well as other products sold by Koru Naturals be sure to visit them on the following social media sites:

Devonain was generous and gave 85 members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew bottles of GREEMU to try and review.  Be sure to click the banner below to read all the other reviews.

Greemu Devonian Review

Blasting Off: Learning About Alan Shepard (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Ask a child what they want to be when they grow up and you'll hear many answers:  a police officer, a fire fighter, a veterinarian, or maybe even a doctor.  The great thing about being young is they can dream about being anything they want to be, including becoming an Astronaut.  However, for Alan Shepard, such an idea was completely out of the realm of possibilities when he was growing up. When he was 9, he never would have guessed he would one day become the first American in Space.
The last few weeks, the kids and I have been studying and learning about the life of Alan Shepard and the great Space Race while reading the book Heroes of History- Alan Shepherd: Higher and Faster by Janet & Geoff Benge from YWAM Publishing as well as using the corresponding Downloadable Unit Study Curriculum Guide.   My kids were completely ecstatic when we we were selected to review this material as they really wanted to this book for a while and they have not been disappointed one bit.

Last year we had the opportunity to review another book by YWAM, so we were already familiar with this wonderful company. For over 18 years, YWAM is known best for their biographical books ranging from their Heroes of History series and their Christian Heroes: Now and Then series.   These books weave the story of historical figures so vividly that children will discover why these were the heroes of the children of yester-years.  It also leaves parents wishing that today's "heroes" had the same values that inspired children as they did back then.

The book that are reading, Heroes of History- Alan Shepherd,  is a 240 page paperback written for ages 10+.  Written in a narrative format that makes what could be the very dry subject of history come alive,  we found the book to be engaging and even Ashleigh found it interesting and learned so much.

Rozzie, our school mascot, reading Heroes of History: Alan Shepard - Higher and Faster
 In addition to the book, we also were asked to review the Downloadable Unit Study Curriculum Guide.  The 84 page guide is filled with comprehension questions, quotes perfect for copy work ideas, printable activity sheets, vocabulary and creative writing activities,  suggestions for tying subjects such as art, geography and math lessons in with the story and additional book and movie suggestions to go beyond the book.

We really enjoyed using many of the ideas that were suggested by the curriculum study guide, which takes students beyond just a story in a book and could easily make a solid unit study.   My children enjoyed mapping Alan's military journey (which also included a couple of test flights here at Edwards Air Force base which was called Muroc Air Base at that time), drinking Tang out of bags with a straw like an astronaut would, eating freeze dried ice cream, and watching The Right Stuff.

The book itself works well for families who follow a Charlotte Mason style curriculum and would easily be considered a Living Book.  Great depth is given to even the most trivial of information, such as how many miles worth of hallways are found in the Naval Academy in Annapolis or the details as to why the USAT Holbook is called the Stinkin' Old Holbrook.  Every chapter is filled with these details in regards to locations,  aircraft and people and the kids and I were constantly looking up things on Google so that they could actually see things that sparked their interest.  One chapter had us learning in depth about arresting landing on air craft carries  while another chapter we were learning about mid-air refueling of aircraft.   So while we're learning about the life of Alan Shepard, we are also learning about various other topics such as the history of aviation, World War II, the breaking of the sound barrier, the Space Race, Sputnik 1 &2, Yuri Gagarin and the Mercury 7.

The book is pretty short and easy to read, consisting of eighteen chapters. The chapters range from about 10-16 pages each which makes it easy for us to read one chapter a day and then dedicate a bit of time to discussing what we read and doing additional activities.

YWAM publishes some wonderful books and I plan on purchasing others in the near future (at the time of this writing, they are having a sale and many of their books are priced at $7.50/each).   These books would make great supplemental reading for many American History and Religions History topics as well as great independent reading for students who enjoy biographies.

For more information about YWAM Publishing be sure to visit their website or on one of these social media platforms.

YWAM Publishing was very generous and gave 100 members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew their choice of 28 different book titles from both the Heroes of History and the Christian Heroes series along with the corresponding study guide.  To read those reviews, be sure to click the banner below.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

Saturday, April 23, 2016

What Am I Reading?

This month, I've been reading a bit different then my normal fare of reading materials.  Instead of the typical fiction, I have been really looking to more self-help, self-exploration books.  This month, I've had a really great opportunity to read and review some wonderful books geared towards spiritual growth of women as well as accepting and loving who we are, inside and out.

5 Habits of A Woman Who Doesn't Quit
By Nicki Koziarz

 The author is a self proclaimed quitter and that this book almost wasn't finished because she nearly quit (multiple times).  Nicki Koziarz is very down to earth and a wonderful story teller.  Using her own stories along with the story of Ruth, you'll find yourself motivated to do something - I'm not exactly sure what but you'll want to do it and you'll want to finish it once you start ;)    It is not a "how to" book with step 1, step 2 ect that is going to walk you through how to micromanage a task but instead helps you stay on course by changing your attitude about how you approach a goal, a relationship or a tough situation.  Instead of taking the burden on yourself and holding the weight of it all on your own shoulders, Nicki explains how allowing God to take the burden by using these 5 steps will help you go from wanting to throw in the towel to persevering til the end.

I REALLY enjoyed this book a lot and I cannot wait to get my hands on the Bible Study that accompanies it. 

Beauty Begins: Making Peace with Your Reflection
By Chris Shook and Megan Shook Alpha

Prior to reading this book, I was already a fan of Chris Shook, wife of Terry Shook of Terry Shook
Ministries. If I still lived back in Texas, I would most likely be attending Woodlands Church as it was right down the road.  However, I was completely shocked to see that Chris and Terry had a daughter old enough to be married and co-authoring a book.  Chris does NOT look her age!! 

This is a very quick and easy book to read.  It's not very deep but more a look into why women chase after societies definition of "beautiful" and instead learn to accept that true beauty comes from inside, the way that God sees you.  This seems like such an easy concept but I think this valuable lesson gets lost when women are bombarded constantly by the fashion industry and a male driven definition of what a woman should look like.

I will be the first to admit I hate looking in the mirror.  Now, I have a few different verses on my mirror to remind me that regardless of what I see in the mirror, God sees me as the beautiful creation he made me to be. Through the use of these verses, positive reinforcements and questions for reflection at the end of each short chapter, Chris and Megan help you to make peace with the reflection staring back at you, wrinkles, double chin and all.  It also explores how the definition of beauty has changed throughout history and how it will most likely change in the future.

I plan on passing this book on to my teenage daughter as there are many lessons among the pages that I think she could learn before society causes her to dislike the perfectly beautiful young woman she already is.

You're Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You To Be (LifeGrowth Guide)
By Holley Gerth

This book is the six session workbook to work in conjunction with the book by the same name and allowing women to dig even deeper into their lives as they explore beyond the book. 

The theory is pretty simple - God made you who you are and because of your identity through him, you are already amazing.   The author, Holley Gerth is a bit too "hip" for my 40 years but overall, I found this workbook (and the book) both to be uplifting and a great reminder that I am a daughter of God and that no matter what the world around me thinks, He thinks I'm amazing and his opinion is what counts most. 

The workbook is filled with plenty of quizzes, self reflection questions, journaling pages and coaching tips to help guide you to realizing your personal strengths, your emotional crutches and your passions as you develop a personal statement to achieve your goals. 

Pressing Pause:  100 Quiet Moments For Moms to Meet with Jesus
by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk

This is another great book that I really enjoyed.  Taking only a few moments out of your busy day,
this book is filled with 100 quick stories that provide inspiration and encouragement through scriptures and personal stories.   If you are familiar with Proverbs 31 ministries (which Karen Ehman is a part of) and their short daily devotionals then you'll be very familiar with the format of this book.  These are nice "feel good" devotionals that share in the difficulties, trials and triumphs of being a wife and mother while also being a daughter of Christ.

Each devotional starts with a verse to reflect upon, followed by a personal story and then follows up with a few personal questions to help you reflect on your relationship with Christ. Even if these are the only moments in your busy day that you can devote to him, you'll still walk away feeling spiritually refreshed as well as feeling comradery with the authors as they describe both good and bad days that you can relate to. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Pleasure Faire

This past weekend, we loaded up in the car and headed to Irwindale, California to spend the day at the Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire.   While it's not near as awesome as the Texas Renaissance Festival back home in Plantersville, Texas, it is a decent substitute and a fun way to get out of the house for the day.

This year, Charles was the only one who got dressed up as it was decided he would wear his kilt.  The night before, we looked everywhere for the Jacobite style shirt that we had bought him the last time we went to the Pleasure Faire.  We tore our closet completely apart searching for it and after an hour, we gave up.  I just happened to look behind one of Alyssa's dresses hanging in our closet and found the shirt had fallen off it's hanger and was between the wall and the dress.. So, yeah, Charles got to wear his shirt.. lol

Since Charles has begun wearing a kilt, it has made us very aware when we see others wearing a kilt.  You can always tell when someone wearing a kilt actually wears a kilt on a regular basis as part of their Scottish ancestry or if they are wearing it just as a costume and they think it looks cool.   Charles wears his as part of his heritage and as such, he tries to make sure all proper rules to wearing it is observed.

When we first walked into the fair, there were a few displays set up to watch house people did various crafts during the Renaissance time.  The first guy we saw was working a shuttle loom and the kids got to watch as he ran the shuttle back and forth through the loom and then switched between the warp and weft.  It was really neat to watch as we know that the tartan that Charlie's kit is made with was produced much the same way in Scotland by Lochcarron.  Since the kids were so interested in what he was doing, he allowed them to both come up beyond the fencing area to get a closer look as he worked the shuttle and then he showed them how he worked the pedals with his feet.

Queen Elizabeth and her Court 
Next there was a woman using a peg loom to make a really thick rug.  This was really neat (and I really wish I had gotten pictures of all of these displays) and really made me think I might have to make my own peg loom and make some of those beautiful thick rugs. They were so plush and warm, and I can only imagine walking on them would be like walking on a cloud.   She allowed the kids to touch a sample of what the finished product would be like.

The last display was a woman making thread with a spinning wheel.  Of course, the only exposure the kids have ever had to a spinning wheel is in watching Sleeping Beauty.  Once again, since the kids were showing so much interest in what she was doing, she allowed them to come closer and feel the unspun silk.  First, she just told the kids it was made from "bug spit" but when they realized it was silk threads, Ashleigh quickly remembered that silk came from the silkworm because we had studied about the Zhou dynasty and silk making.  I think the woman was honestly pretty impressed that Ash knew that.

Two of the Three "Tortuga Twins"

We ended up watching a couple of different shows - the first being the Tortuga Twins comedy show.  This is three guys, who are obviously not twins, who do a rather PG-13 interpretation of Robin Hood.  While many of the more "adult" jokes were over the kids heads, there really wasn't much to this show to hold their attention and they were rather bored.  Charles, Alyssa and I did enjoy it for the most part as they were pretty funny but it's not something I would care to see again.

Garrett, who can hear me opening a piece of candy from the other side of the house, instantly heard bagpipes and wanted to find them. None of us heard them at all until we were much closer but sure enough, he was right, there was a bag pip show going on.   We were very lucky to catch "The Freestylers of Piping".  WOW!!!   Usually, when you think Bagpipes, you might think of Amazing Grace..  However, this pipe group is like nothing you've ever seen.  I can only call it a fusion of Punjabi meets Scotland.   It was absolutely amazing!!   Afterwards, we went up to speak to one of the young men who played the pipes so that Garrett could see them and we talked to him for a few moments.. A really nice young man, We ended up buying one of their CD's for Garrett (Garrett wants to learn to play the Pipes).

Then, of course, there's all the wonderful costumes..  We saw so many.  The kids would get so excited when they saw something they recognized or just something that caught their fancy.

Nymphs hiding under a tree

This guy loves to be on his soap box.

A living breathing Dandelion. 

Even Death comes to have some fun. 

The Mad Hatter

Garrett's Favorite.. The Headsman

Taken Prisoner by the Romans 

And while we missed Bill and Ted, the Kids DID get to check out their "Totally Rad" time travel machine and meet the one and only Beethoven.  I think the time traveling got to poor Ludwig though, as he tried to play Fur Elise for us and it was really terrible LOL   However, Ashleigh did think it was really cool to meet Beethoven and tell him how much she likes his music (However, she told me two days later that she knew that really wasn't Beethoven.. lol)

Garrett Checks out the Time Machine while Beethoven looks on.

All in all, the kids had a great time.  I think we will start making the Pleasure Faire a yearly thing for us as it's really such a unique experience each and every time we get to go..

Alyssa watching the Tortuga Twins

All Smiles 

Enjoying the Sights and Sounds
And hopefully, next month, we will head over to Costa Mesa for Scottish Fest :)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Dollars, Cents and Telling Time (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

I've mentioned a few times before, my kids are not the biggest fans of math. Things have started to get much better now that we've found a curriculum that seems to be a much better fit for us but there are still things that I feel they either need help with or need to get caught up with.  This is why when I was given the opportunity to review the new Math Mini-Courses offered by A+ Interactive Math, I was pretty excited.

Mini Courses are great ways in which to work on a particular area that your children need extra help with without having to buy an entire curriculum.  A+ Interactive Math was extremely generous and allowed us to review not just one but two of their courses. We opted to try to Money and the Time courses because both were areas that Ashleigh really needed some extra help with, however, there is a huge selection of 20 different classes we could have selected from.

Currently available for Mini-Courses are:

  • Counting and Identifying Numbers (1st-3rd) - 15 lessons
  • Place Value and Number Combinations (1st-3rd) - 15 lessons
  • Naming, Comparing and Arranging Numbers (1st-3rd) - 17 lessons
  • Early Elementary Fractions (1st-3rd) - 10 lessons
  • Early Elementary Addition (1st-3rd) - 17 lessons
  • Early Elementary Subtraction (1st-3rd) - 15 lessons
  • Elementary & Middle School Multiplication (2nd-6th) - 13 lessons
  • Elementary & Middle School Division (2nd-6th) - 15 lessons
  • Tables, Charts and Graphs (1st-6th) - 17 lessons
  • Elementary Geometry (1st-4th) - 19 lessons
  • Elementary Algebra (1st-4th) - 27 lessons
  • Advanced Geometry (4th-7th) - 35 lessons
  • Advanced Fractions (4th-8th) - 26 lessons
  • Decimal Numbers (3rd-7th) - 20 lessons
  • Percentages (5th-8th) - 13 lessons
  • Time (1st-4th) - 20 lessons
  • Money (1st-5th) - 18 lessons
  • Number Types and Conversions (3rd-6th) - 35 lessons
  • Ratio, Proportions, Probability & Statistics (3rd-6th) - 14 lessons
  • Measurements and Conversions (2nd-6th) - 23 lessons

After having previous experience using the A+ Interactive Math format, we were quickly able to navigate through the menu and get started.  Since Garrett does really well with math and numbers but Ashleigh seems to struggle a bit more, I decided to allow Ashleigh to work on both classes.  (Although part of me was almost tempted to allow my 16 year old Public School Junior to take the time class, as reading an analog clock is not something she was taught).   I typically get her to do two to three lessons a week, switching back and forth between the two classes.

The first thing we noticed was that it's hard to just pick up and return to where you left off because it doesn't seem to keep track. Instead, you have to actually go in and complete the lesson once you finish it.  Many times we would forget to do this step and upon returning would be completely lost as to where we were in the lessons.  This also makes it near impossible to allow Ash to do the classes independently as she couldn't ever figure out how to clear out the completed classes.

One we do figure out where to pick up, the lessons are great.  The audio and visual lessons are clear and easy to understand and do a great job of explaining each concept. After each lesson, students are able to complete an interactive quiz that contains 7-15 questions (depending on the topic) to see how well they understand what they have just learned.   Also include is a digital worksheet generator where students can answer even more questions for even more practice if necessary.  Through the parents portal, parents are able to see their child's progress as well as how they have performed on the interactive quizzes and worksheet practices.  A PDF version of the lesson is also available to print out as a study sheet for offline use.

The Money Mini-Course was a lot more in depth then I was expecting.  Starting with counting coins and moving on to dollars, the course starts off much as I would have expected.  However, through the course of 18 lessons, it gets into more complex lessons such as calculating salaries, commissions and interest rates.  This will probably be slightly more than what Ashleigh will need to know for 2nd grade, however, as this course is for grades 1st thru 5th and is appropriate for 5th graders.

The Time Mini-Course follows the same format as the Money course but covers topics concerning time.  There are 20 different lessons for the Time course, starting with the very basic concepts of Days, Weeks, Months and Years, the seasons, and then covering reading time on a clock. Higher concepts such as adding elapsed time units are also included.  This course is designed for grades 1st-4th but very little of it seems to be too advanced for Ashleigh, so I found it to be an overall great course for her and she is learning much from it.

Most classes are designed to be completed in 2-3 months, however, we have gone through it at a much slower pace.  We like the idea that we have access to the mini-courses for a full year because this means we can watch the lesson multiple times so that I know that Ash is getting a solid understanding of what she is learning (this is especially true with the money course as we have not covered skip counting 25 yet and so she is struggling with counting multiple quarters at this point).

Priced at $9.99 to $19.99, I believe these courses are priced nicely, especially in comparison to purchasing a full math curriculum and I hope to see more courses added in the future.

Learn more about A+ Interactive Math by visiting them on the following social media sites:

Members of the Review Crew were given the opportunity to try all 20 Mini-Courses available from A+ Interactive Math.  Click the banner below to read what others thought of the courses they reviewed. 

Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Making Fingers Talk (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

I'm going to show my age here for a moment.  Back in the day, before computers were a thing, I took typing class.  It was during my 6th grade year of middle school.  Each day, I would walk into a classroom with rows of tables that had nothing more than an (even then) old fashioned typewriter, a stand to hold your document or book and that was it.  Day after day, I went though repetitious drills of  learning the home row of keys and then learning to type "The quick fox jumped over the lazy brown dog".  Before the end of that class, I was able to type over 50 words a minute.  These skills have stayed with me throughout my life, putting me at an advantage when it comes to doing things on the computer, and even today I can still type well over 70 words per minute.
phonics phoneme awareness early writing and spelling keyboarding vocabulary reading
The way of the typewriter has gone to be wayside (and to be honest, many students today would have no clue what it was if they saw it) and while computers and texting are big in the lives of today's students, very few of them actually learn how to properly place their fingers on the keyboard or even know what the home keys are.  I doubt many even notice the textured line or bump on the F and J keys or why it's there.  I knew I wanted my kids to learn the skill of typing properly so I was very excited when I was given the opportunity to review Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers Inc., a program that not only teaches typing but also reading and spelling.  For this review, we were given a one year subscription to Read, Write & Type for both Ashleigh and Garrett.

What is it?

phonics phoneme awareness early writing and spelling keyboarding vocabulary reading

Read, Write & Type is an online browser based reading software for children 6-8 years of age. While also teaching the proper placement of letters on the keyboard, Read, Write and & Type uses language arts such as phonics, spelling, and punctuation to take students grades K-2 from phonics to fluency.  As children hear individual phonetic sounds, they begin to associate that sound with both the letter as well as the letter's placement on the computer keyboard.  Multi-sensory learning is accomplished as students being typing the letter when they see and hear it, creating a tactile learning path in addition to just audio and visual. The program contains over 40 lessons to help develop reading fluency through this researched approach.

phonics phoneme awareness early writing and spelling keyboarding vocabulary reading
Lefty and Rightway help Students save the Story Tellers from the Evil Vector
The program itself is very cute.  Taking roughly 15 minutes to complete a lesson, students become part of a superhero team to help the story tellers that have been captured by the evil computer virus, Vextor. The story tellers each live in one of two houses which are represented by the left and the right hand of the keyboard.  With the help of two "helping" hands named Lefty and Rightway,  students work through each lesson to help save one of the story tellers and return them to their room in the house they live in.

The graphics are very colorful and slightly rudimentary, almost like a throwback to the graphics that were on some of the very first computer games like Kings Quest III back in 1986  (I told you I was old!!).   The story line and characters are engaging and even I found myself from time to time sitting beside my daughter as she works through the letters to hear the story from each story teller. After every 4th story teller rescued, students receive a certificate of completion.

phonics phoneme awareness early writing and spelling keyboarding vocabulary reading

For ESL students, there are options for language help available in 9 different languages.  Extensive voice over help is available for the lessons in Arabic, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish and Tagalong, making it a perfect program for teaching English Literacy in other countries and for non-native English speakers.

phonics phoneme awareness early writing and spelling keyboarding vocabulary reading

Learning Proper Fingering of Keys

For this review, I mostly used this program with Ashleigh, my 8 year old, although Garrett has played around with it and done a few lessons as well but because of his autism, it just didn't hold his attention.  However, Ashleigh found the program to be fun and engaging and I ended up having to limit her time with it after she spent a number of hours in a row on it. She really likes the characters.

After her marathon, I began to limit her to 1 lesson every other day.  Which means every other week, she would receive a new certificate which made her pretty happy.  There were times I had to correct her on using the proper hand placement on the keyboard, which I felt bad because her hands look so tiny on such a bit keyboard and she would occasionally try to "1 finger" it, but after a bit of time she began to get the hang of it.

Ash's Opinion:

"It's cool!  It's got talking hands and they are funny.  I don't like Vector, he's a mean, gooey alien something.  I like the story tellers. They tell nice stories.   I like saving them. And I like getting certificates."

Ashleigh with one of her certificates

For more information on Read, Write & Type, visit Talking Fingers Inc. on one of their social media sites. 

85 members of the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to use Read, Write & Type with their families for the review period.  Click on the banner below to see what the other members of the crew thought of the program. 

Talking Fingers Inc. Review


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...