Remember the “good ole days” of flash cards?  Ten years ago, when I first began teaching my children, that was how I taught math facts.  Every day we would pull out the flash cards and drill, drill, drill.

We’ve come a long way since that time.  This month Andrew (2nd grade) has been reviewing his math facts while riding a horse called Shadow.  He has been on various noble adventures in fantastic lands.  He searches, on this math quest, for magical flowers, returns gems to elves, and seeks to rescue the princess!  All of this is done at our kitchen table while he plays MathRider.

MathRider is a math game for children who need to learn their number facts.  Drilling math facts no longer have to be boring.  Whether you child is working on addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, MathRider can make the journey fun and successful.  Each operation contains four quests, ranging from easy to master.

As part of the Old Schoolhouse Crew, I had about 6 weeks to review this product.  I must say that I’m disappointed with the short trial version.  But other than that, I’ve had a positive experience with MathRider.  Andrew enjoyed playing it very much.  It was simple to download and took just a few minutes.  At first I had trouble with the screen resolution but it was easily fixed.  I like the fact that you do not need the internet to play the game and that you can have up to 10 players.  Every person creates their own rider and the game tracks each rider’s progress and practice results individually.  Another great feature is that this program is able to custom-tailor the questions asked based on what the rider knows.  Here is the explanation from their website:

While the rider is playing, the game learns what the rider knows and what he or she still needs to practice. Every single response (or non-response) is stored in an internal database and statistically analyzed by the software. In this way the program is able to custom-tailor to each rider, which questions are asked next. No repetitive drilling of random number facts the rider already knows – but real practice of what actually needs to be practiced!

Visit the MathRider website to purchase this game for your children for just $37.00. 

To see what others are saying about this product click here.



Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received a trail version of this product in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Lighting a Fire with History

When it comes to teaching our children, what is the goal? Is it just to learn facts, pass a test, and move on to the next subject? If that is all there is to it, I believe we’ve missed the mark. Williams Yeats said, “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” I believe that this accurately describes one of my goals in homeschooling. I desire to give my children a love for learning. I want to spark their interest in education.

When it comes to teaching History, I have to be very careful to not weary them with boring names, dates, and facts. I want them excited about learning from the past. Fortunately, we are not limited to only textbooks. There are tons of resources available for parents who want to light a fire of interest in their children.

Roman Town, created by Dig It Games, is one way to spice up ancient history lessons. Our family was blessed to be able to review this product. Everyone has gotten involved in this game, even my husband. It gives the user a firsthand look into Roman life. With Roman Town you explore Fossura, which was destroyed in 79 AD by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. During the archaeological dig you can find artifacts such as pottery, bones, coins, and paintings. Then you can play games, solve mysteries, and learn all about daily life centuries ago.

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Here are some of the features listed on their website.

  •  Immersive, interactive learning environment
  • Gameplay focuses on development of analytical thinking and team building
  • Puzzles encourage problem solving
  • Authentic artifacts and realistic backgrounds
  • Accurate information about Roman Life and Roman history
  • Encompasses the full excavation experience from start to finish
  • Introduces Archaeology in a fun, manageable package
  • Fun for the whole family

Head over to Dig It Games and check out this great educational game. The purchase price is $39.95 but if you use the coupon code TOS2011 before February 21, 2011 you can get 20% off the 2010 price of $24.95. (You end up paying just under $20.)

To see what others are saying click here.

Disclaimer: As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received Roman Town Download in exchange for an honest product review. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Times Alive! Multiplication Software Review

You know a product is successful when your 2nd grader asks, on a Saturday evening, to play the “Multiplication Game”. This is the experience we had with our newest math review. I received the Times Alive download from City Creek Press.   

I was excited about the product because my daughter needed a little boost in remembering her multiplication facts. Frankly, I get bored doing flash cards and she gets bored writing the facts out. We were anxious to try a different approach.

Times Alive uses stories, movies, songs, and animated pictures to teach children the 0 to 9 multiplication facts. It is silly, colorful, and fun! My daughter enjoyed it and asked several times to play it (instead of doing her math assignments). I always tell my children that their education is not about completing an assignment or staying on schedule. It is about learning. So, I let her. I can honestly say that it has helped.

What I did not expect was my 2nd grader to enjoy it so much. I have only taught a few of the multiplication facts to him this year. But he picked right up on it and can remember as much (if not more) than his sister. Both of the children will continue to use this software throughout the rest of the year.

If you have a child who needs a creative way to learn their multiplication facts, this is the program for you! You can purchase it as an instant download for $44.95 or on CD for $48.95. The program can be used with all your children which makes it an affordable solution!

To see a YouTube Video Sample, click here.

To find out what others are saying about Times Alive click here.

 Disclaimer: As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received the Times Alive Download in exchange for an honest product review. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids


Have you ever wondered just what the difference between a grasshopper and a locust was? 

Have you ever needed a resource for the Jewish Feasts and Festivals?  

Have you wanted to teach your children the names of God and Jesus found in the Bible?

What about looking up pictures of all those musical instruments found in the Bible?

Or, would you like a complete list with references of the parables of Jesus and the lessons He taught?

If so, The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids is just what you need.  I recently received this book in the mail from Lifeway Christian Stores.  It is a vibrantly illustrated hardcover with 224 pages.   The dictionary has 750 Bible terms with over 500 photographs, illustrations, and maps.

When each of my children saw the new book lying on the table they all responded with, “Wow, what’s this?”  This is a great resource for my children.  It makes Bible study fun and engaging and is a book we will pull out time and time again. 

By the way, in case you wanted to know, here is the list of the names of God found on page 125 in the dictionary:

  •  Elohim (Genesis 1:1)                        –        Powerful God
  • Adonai (Genesis 15:2)                      –        Lord
  • El Elyon (Genesis 14:19-20)          –        God Most High
  • El Shaddai (Genesis 17:1)                –        Almighty God
  • Yahweh (Exodus 3:14)                     –        Israel’s Covenant God (I AM)
  • Jehovah Jireh (Genesis 22:14)      –        The Lord Will Provide
  • Jehovah Rophe (Exodus 15:26)    –        The Lord Who Heals You
  • Jehovah Nissi (Exodus 17:15-16) –        The Lord is My Banner
  • Jehovah Mekadesh (Leviticus 20:8)  –        The Lord Who Sanctifies You
  • Jehovah Shalom (Judges 6:24)      –        The Lord is Peace
  • Jehovah Tsidkenu (Jeremiah 23:6)    –        The Lord is Our Righteousness
  • Jehovah Shammah (Ezekiel 48:35)   –        The Lord Is There

To get all the other valuable information you’ll have to purchase your own copy for $14.99.  For more information you can click here.

 To see what others are saying about this product click here.

Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received this book in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

I love this Bible curriculum!

When it comes to what subject holds the highest priority with this Christian homeschooling family, none can compete with the Bible.  Long ago, my husband and I determined that Christ would be preeminent in not only our individual lives and our family structure but also in the education of our children.  To know God and to learn from His Word is the number one goal of home discipleship.  Second to that would be to get a solid, biblical education.  The reason, however, might surprise some.  It is not so that my children will be successful in life.  The reason we aspire to attain a good education for my children is so that God receives glory in all that we do, to be a living testimony of Christ, and to further the kingdom of God through our work here on earth.

As a reviewer, I am perhaps the hardest on Bible Curriculums.  The reason is because you are dealing with the precious Word of God.  To take that carelessly or out of context in my mind is a serious matter that should not be treated lightly.  I have high expectations for those who will attempt to expound on the Word of God.

I was given the opportunity to review a high school Bible curriculum by Positive Action for Christ called The Life of Christ from the Gospel of John.  From the moment I saw it, I loved this product!  I received a Teacher’s manual that included teaching strategies, background information, quizzes, test, transparencies disk, and other supplemental material.  I also received a beautifully illustrated, full color student book with activities, lessons, and thought provoking study questions. 

The Life of Christ puts the reader in Israel with Jesus during the years AD 29-32.  You learn about customs, geography, and dates.  “We point out the seasons of the year, the time of day, and even the weather to help the students relive those exciting days when Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, walked the earth and ministered to the people in Israel,” (taken from the teacher’s forward).  All of this makes the story of Jesus alive in the hearts and minds of the students.  Going through this study you cannot help but relate to Christ as a visible and personal Saviour.  It is clear that Positive Action for Christ desires to present the Lord as more than a mere historical fact. 

We want the students to achieve the following objectives:

  • To see His brilliance
  • To know His compassion
  • To thrill at His courage and power
  • To weep over His death
  • To rejoice in His resurrection

They sum it up in their mission statement.  Positive Action exists to equip Bible teachers to magnify the majesty of God.  (Christian parents, you are called of God to be your child’s Bible teacher.  The responsibility falls to you, not to a school, homeschool co-op, or even the church.  All of these can be good but they should supplement what you are already teaching in the home.)

As a homeschool curriculum I highly recommend this study.  Positive Action for Christ has online lesson samples for you to download and view. 

They also have Bible curriculum for every age group which is something this family will be looking into when we complete The Life of Christ.  One of the beauties of homeschooling is the versatility. While this curriculum targets 9-12 grades it can easily be adapted to use as a family devotional.

To see what others are saying about The Life of Christ click here.

Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received the Life Of Christ in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.


It is amazing how far technology has come in just a few years.  Not too long ago, if a homeschooling parent was struggling to teach a subject to their children the only option was an outside tutor.  Getting a tutor for your child does have its advantages.  However, it can be expensive and you are locked into a limited amount of study time with a tutor.  But now, technology is such in that help can come in many forms.

This past month I reviewed ALEKS as part of The Old Schoolhouse Crew.  ALEKS stands for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces.  It is a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system.  Through an assessment test, the program determines exactly what a student knows and doesn’t know in a math course.  It then offers individualized instruction that meets the student at his learning level.  So in other words, ALEKS is like a personal tutor but with so much more.

ALEKS offers comprehensive courses from elementary school math to complex subjects such as PreCalculus.  Because all you need is a computer with internet access, it is a very flexible solution for busy students.

Here is what the ALEKS website says:

ALEKS is a Research-Based Online Program:

  • Complete Curriculum Solution for Math with Access to Full Course Library
  • No Textbook Required
  • Artificial Intelligence Targets Gaps in Student Knowledge
  • Assessment and Individualized Learning for Grades 3-12
  • Master Account Includes Quizzing and Automated Reports to Monitor Learning Progress 
  • Unlimited Online Access – PC and Mac Compatible
  • QuickTables – Complimentary Math Fact Mastery Program for Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction

I registered Aaron (8th grade) and Abigail (6th) grade for ALEKS.  Here is how it worked.  Each child took an assessment test that lasted about an hour.  ALEKS avoids multiple-choice questions and instead uses input tools that mimic what would be done with paper and pencil.  Each test asked around 30 questions.  When the test is complete, ALEKS has developed a precise picture of their knowledge of the course.  We know what topics each child has mastered and which ones have not yet been mastered.   Each child’s knowledge is represented by a multicolor pie chart.  The light areas show the topics that need to be learned with the dark areas representing what is already mastered.

This is where the learning comes in.  Each time the child logs on; they are offered a choice of topics they are ready to learn.  They are then given practice problems that teach each topic.  As new principles are learned the dark areas on the pie chart begin to fill up.  This is encouraging for the students to see how much they are learning. The progress reports are encouraging for the parent.  For the younger grades they offer QuickTables.  It is a mastery program for multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.  Abigail enjoyed using it as well as the fun games that come with it.

While I really like ALEKS, we will not continue it this year.  However, I can see purchasing it in the future as the children get older and math becomes harder to teach.  It could be very valuable those last few years of high school.  The online program is $19.95 per student per month.  They also offer family discounts on their website.


If you are interested in ALEKS check out their site for a free trial. 

To learn what others are saying about ALEKS click here.


 Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received a trail version of ALEKS in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

The Master Ruler

Being able to properly measure something is a skill that our children will use throughout life.  Due to his love for wood working, my oldest son has learned the value of being able to accurately measure.  After all, if you measure wrong you will waste a piece of wood.  Ask a seamstress how important it is to measure precisely.   

I was recently sent the Master Ruler by Master Innovations, Inc. as a product review.  The Master Ruler is several rulers in one!  I was sent a standard and metric ruler ($9.95 each) as well as their Marvels of Measures! Poster ($10.00), and a student workbook ($14.95). 

Since Aaron and Abigail have mastered measuring, I let Abigail oversee her younger brother, Andrew use it.  When measuring, it is very easy to get confused with all the lines on a ruler.  What I like about The Master Ruler is that it takes out the guess work and builds confidence into the children.  The ruler has separate layers for each fraction of measurement with each fraction having its own color.  I love how it simplifies measuring.

Master Innovations, Inc. also has The Master Clock, The Master Angle, and The Master Fractions.  You can learn more from their website here

To see what others are saying about Master Innovations, Inc. click here.

 Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received The Master Ruler set free of charge in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.


What’s the “matter”?

What’s the matter, homeschooling mother?  Are you like me?  Does the thought of teaching science to your children scare you?  The sciences in general have a reputation of being an almost out-of-reach specialty that is only for a few people.  So it’s understandably if words and phrases like: physics, atoms, electrons, extranuclear region, berkelium, gravitational force, electromagnetic spectrum, and the laws of thermodynamics concern you some.

Maybe you love teaching science.  Maybe you excel in it, therefore so do your children.  But, for the rest of us what do we do?  The reality is that science does not have to be hard.  After all, true science is simply getting to know God and understanding and appreciating His power and greatness.  What Christian mother doesn’t want to teach that to her children?

Not too long ago, I received the Christian Kids Explore Physics book from Bright Ideas Press to review with my children.  The book contains 30 weekly lessons with step by step lesson activities, coloring pages, fun experiments, Review It questions, and unit quizzes.

The children and I have both really enjoyed studying physics.  The scientific terminology is explained in simple, easy to understand terms.  For example:

Physics – The study of matter and energy in great detail

Matter – Things that we can see or touch, have weight, and take up space

Energy – The capacity to do work

Because of the simplicity of each lesson all my children, regardless of age, can grasp the scientific facts with confidence and assurance.  However, there is enough information in each lesson for continued learning if you choose.  That is one of the reasons I like this curriculum.  It is easily adapted.  Another reason I like this curriculum is because of the authors statements in the introduction.

“The important thing to keep in mind is that God is at the center of everything – including the study of physics.”

Last week while learning about the lithium atom we made atomic cookies.  All you need are three protons, four neutrons, and three electrons.  Amazingly enough, cookie dough and M&M’s work wonderfully well! 


Andrew’s lithium adom model wasn’t edible but he still had fun making it.

You can purchase Christian Kids Explore Physics for $34.95 for their website.  To see what others are saying about Bright Ideas Press and their products click here.

Disclaimer:  As a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew, I received the Christian Kids Explore Pysics in exchange for an honest product review.   I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Tempus Fugit

I have never met a person who at the end of their life said, “I sure wish I had not wasted my life by spending so much time with my family.”  Sadly, when I speak with people the antithesis is always voiced.  With regret in their voices I hear phrases like,

  • “I’ve spent my entire life focusing on my work.  Now that work is gone so is my family.” 
  • “I’ve neglected my wife and children all these years.”
  • “We never did make time for that family vacation.”
  • “I was always too busy to tell my parents just how much I loved them, now it’s too late.”
  • “Life was hectic.  I never took the time to stop and talk with my children.  Now they won’t talk to me.”

Tempus Fugit.  In Latin it means, time flies.  Oh, how true it is.  Just yesterday I was holding my beloved’s hand and saying, “I do and I will till death do us part.”  Now, nearly 18 years and three children later I ask myself, where has the time gone? It seems as though just yesterday I was holding my first born in my arms, singing sweet songs, and rocking him to sleep.  Now, 14 years later and towering at 6 feet tall, he could rock me.  Where did the time go?  Just yesterday I was opening that first box of homeschool books as we began our journey to home educate our children.  Now, the path is well worn and I’m looking back over years of discipleship with my children.  There are just a few years left.  Again, where has the time gone?  And I know in my heart that years from now I will be looking back at even this season in my life and asking the all too familiar question of where did the time go?

The Lord answers our question.  In Psalms we are told why time files so quickly.  “My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass,” Psalm 102:11.  Life is short.  Therefore, I should be as the Psalmist and “remember how short my time is,”(Psalm 89:47).  In the book of James we are reminded again just how short life is.  “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away, (James 4:14).

When my children were younger, I would teach them during science about the three stages of water – liquid, solid, and gas.  We would put a cup of water in the freezer so it could freeze then we would put a cup of water on the stove to watch it evaporate.  As we watched the steam rise one reoccurring thought was that it vanishes so quickly.  And while that is true, when steam (vapour) is channeled properly it can be put to great work.  Consider the steam engine.    Steam engines were the first widespread engine type to be used.  They were the foundation of the industrial revolution.  They powered all early locomotives, steam boats, and factories.  Even today we see that steam is one of the most widely used commodities for conveying heat energy.  Because water is plentiful and inexpensive, steam is efficient and economic to generate. 

Now consider this.  Our lives are but a vapor.  They appear for a little while and then vanish away.  Therefore, our lives can be wasted and allowed to drift aimlessly like a vapor in the air until they are gone or, if allowed to, they can be channeled properly by the Holy Spirit and accomplish great things for God while here on earth.  

So, in reply to tempus fugit I will say to the Lord as the Psalmist did to, “teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom,” Psalm 90:12.  In answer to the question of where time has gone, I will say that it’s gone to afternoons of walking hand in hand with my husband.  It’s gone to playing a board game with my children.  It’s gone to holding my children on my lap and reading story after story.  It’s gone to baking cookies with my daughter to take to a lonely widow.  It’s gone to hours and hours of teaching my children math, science, and history.  It’s gone to daily Bible instruction as we all learn together the ways of God more perfectly.  It’s gone to smiling, laughing, and giggling with my family.  It’s gone to singing old hymns around the piano.  And so much more.

But, time has also been given to days of sadness, frustration, anger, and worry.  Time has gone to fighting and an unforgiving heart.  Time has been wasted on frivolous actions that will never matter in eternity.  Time has been given over to selfishness more times than I care to count.  Time has been wasted.  Life is short and we cannot afford to waste our life.  Lord, help me to invest my life in those things that are eternal, like my relationship with You and with others.  Help me to apply my heart to wisdom and teach me to number my days.