April 29, 2014

ARTistic Pursuits (a curriculum review)

My mother-in-law is an Art Major. Both of my children LOVE doing arts and crafts. I love arts and crafts too...but I really like it better when I have "a plan". LOL! I love guided art projects and have enjoyed reviewing art books. We've learned that Baby Britches is VERY arts and craft minded--and it's not just because he is a preschooler. He would do it all day long. I was excited to have the opportunity to review an art curriculum specifically for preschoolers called The Way They See It (Preschool) by ARTistic Pursuits.
ARTistic Pursuits Art Curriculum

What is ARTistic Pursuits?

ARTistic Pursuits Review
ARTistic Pursuits is an art curriculum company believing that all children are capable of understanding the concepts of art, and enjoy putting ideas and visual images on paper. They are committed to helping children become visually aware in our world and to be able to work creatively within it. They are determined to offer parents and children a quality art education presented in an easy to understand format for both the teacher and child.

Through their program, they encourage children to look at the expressive and technical aspects of art according to their age level. The goal is for the children to be able to be free to explore their world however they see it...not the way that adults think they should see it!

April 25, 2014

Brinkman Adventures (a product review)

We love adventures and we love homeschooling...so we were pleased to be able to receive The Brinkman Adventures audio-drama about a homeschooling family and some adventures they experienced. We were able to review The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24.

What is The Brinkman Adventures?

The Brinkman Adventures is an audiodrama series that follows a family of missionaries on their journey's around the world. The family homeschool their many children--8 with one on the way--and the oldest daughters blog about their escapades. All of their journey's and many of the people they meet are based on real life experiences by Christian missionaries and modern day heroes. The Brinkman family is even based on a real family who do the voices of all the children. Throughout their adventures, the family learns more about how God loves them and how He can use them preach the gospel!

The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episdoes 13-24 can be purchased as a 4 cd set for a suggested donation of $25.00. You can also purchase it as an mp3 album for a suggested donation of $17.00.

How Did We Use It?

We made The Brinkman Adventures our special treat for lunch. The set came in a DVD package with all 4 cds inside. There were 3 episodes per CD and each episode is about 25 minutes long, which makes it the perfect story for our lunch break. I chose to listen to it using my laptop and I had no problems getting it started. We began with the first CD in the set and just kept working our way through them. We listened to 1-2 per week.

Many of the episodes were connected to the others in some way...a few were Part 1/Part 2. I think that our favorite ones were tracks #1-5 as they were all tied together as part of the story of how the Brinkman Family drives a new bus to Belize, Mexico to deliver it to a school there. The boys and I got quite a few chuckles out of the adventures with the chickens. 

What Were Our Thoughts on The Brinkman Adventures?

When I asked Little Britches which episode was his favorite, he just said "I don't know. I liked them all the same!" At first he wasn't very interested, but as they played out he did enjoy them and would ask if we were going to listen to the next one. He likes them but he's not in any hurry to listen to them again.

I thought they were well done and interesting. I enjoyed hearing the stories about the Brinkman family and how it included little parts of what it's like in a large family. I liked the role of the pregnant mother and how she reacts during their adventures. I found it interesting that there was quite a bit of history included in the audiodramas. If they mentioned a historical character, there was then a little bit of information about that person included. If they were visiting a landmark, they characters "discussed" the history of it. 

I also appreciated that there were lessons to be learned in the stories. In one of the story's, one of the older Brinkman daughters is saving money for a new fancy camera. She's always working hard and usually working with her brother Ian. Well it seems to always be that Ian gets to quit working and go do something "fun" while she has to say behind or take the lesser jobs. Through the course of the story the reward of one of Ian's jobs is the VERY camera that the sister wants. And she decides it's not fair. So it's nice to see how the mom handles the situation and how she helps the daughter to learn some lessons.

There were really only two small cons...
Our religious beliefs didn't always match the doctrines that The Brinkman Adventures included in their stories. So we spent a lot of time just talking about what we believed and how it was either the same or different...so really I wouldn't truly consider it a "con" in that it makes us talk about our faith. But it sometimes got annoying to hear things we didn't believe in when they were said all the time. But in the grand scheme of things, it's a relatively small con!

Volume. This is really more of just a personal con. We discovered that the volume was very weak when we played it on our laptop. At first this was frustrating, but we got used to it. We just had to listen carefully when the women spoke as their voices seemed to be the weakest. We didn't have any other way to play it if we wanted it portable. I tested it on our main entertainment center and the volume was loud and fine. So it was definitely just my laptop.

Would I Recommend The Brinkman Adventures?

It really is a well done product. I think that any Christian family would enjoy having it in their collection, especially since it is appropriate for the whole family. Would I buy more? I don't know. I might. Like I said. My boys didn't love it, so it's not something that I think we have to have, but I know we'd enjoy if we did get more as I don't think we'd listen to it over and over and over.

You can find The Brinkman Adventures on Facebook to stay in touch with their next adventures!

Well you've heard what we think about this product, why not visit some of my fellow crew members to see how their families liked it!

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Have a most excellent Friday! I'm at the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, OH today and I can't wait to share with you my adventure when I get home!

April 23, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #136

Want to link up? Click Here.
I love having a bit of ramblings during the week. Here are the questions given to us from this week's Chats on the Farmhouse Porch by Patrice at Everyday Ruralty!

Do you enjoy crossword puzzles, word finds, or any "word" activities?
Yes. I do like little puzzles like this. Especially when I'm on a trip. I like to do them. I prefer word finds to crossword puzzles. And I actually prefer Sudoku to them all.

What's on your dining room table right now?
Tablecloth, plastic bag, a box full of piano music my mom sent yesterday, a yellow raincoat and some craft supplies. It's rather a mess. LOL!

Do you like Italian food?
Love it! My favorite and something I order every time I go to an Italian Restaurant is Chicken Parmesean! Yum!

Did you ever want a brother, twin, or sister, when you were a child?
I was an only child for 10 years...so YES! I specifically thought a brother would be awesome. I prayed every night for a brother...and when I was 10, in a miraculous turn of events, my mom (told she wasn't going to have anymore children after an ectopic pregnancy threw out one tube and confirmed the other was blocked) got pregnant with my brother. I loved him so much and he and I share a VERY special relationship. He moved out to Cincinnati to go to school so instead of being 2000 miles away, he's now just 2 hrs away!

How far away is the nearest grocery store?
From the time I get in the car to the time I pull in...4 minutes. It's just a local family chain but they carry quite a bit of a variey!

Have a simply BEAUTIFUL day!

 photo namegraphic2_zps8625728e.png

April 22, 2014

CTC Math (a curriculum review)

We have been using a very good math curriculum that has been going well for us. I've not been seeking anything new, but I do like to check out new programs when I can. When I was asked to be part of the Schoolhouse Crew review of CTC Math's 12 Month Family Plan (it's an online math program), I said "Sure!" Little did I know, this was going to change my son's relationship with math.
CTC Math curriculum Review

What is CTC Math?

CTC Math Review
CTC Math is an online program designed to be used like an online math tutor. The program allows the student to work at their own pace, to stop and rewind the teacher during a lesson until you get what is being taught,  access your work at any time of the day, get caught up or even jump ahead. Each of the video tutorials is audio and visual with easy to follow explanations and animation. The videos can even be accessed on some mobile devices!

Depending on the level of the math subject, each video is followed with either online questions or an optional printable worksheets. Each answer to online questions is logged and answers are given immediately! The answers are stored so each student can see their progress!

Membership to CTC Math grants you access to every level of math from Kindergarten to Sixth, Basic Math to Calculus and Trigonometry! This allows students to fill in the gaps in their learning at any level--which means you can focus on specific lessons.

CTC Math offers a monthly, 6 month and 12 month plan. There are single student plans and family plans. The best deal is for the 12 month plan...especially the 12 Month Family Plan on sale right now (as of the date of this posting 4/22/2014) for just $118.80 This plan is good for 2 or more students. That's unlimited access to unlimited levels for all the school age students in your family. 

How Did We Use CTC Math?

CTC Math is very easy to navigate. I was able to log right in and get Little Britches set up by simply clicking "add student" at the top of the page. This all happens within the Parents' Area. I created him a user name and a password. There is also the ability to determine what I considered a "passing" grade percentage. I think this is useful as you can determine it per student. This is a great way to set up a grading system catering to each student. After I got him set up, I logged him in as a student and we visited his student page.

*Because Little Britches is in second grade, I chose to focus on using the elementary grade course instead of the individual math subjects for our review. I will mention using the program by subject near the end of my review.

When they log in as a student for the first time, it pulls up grade levels. They are listed K-6th and then by subject for the higher levels.
Click pic to enlarge
I clicked on his grade (2nd) and this pulled up all the math units in this level. Because we were just getting ready to start a length unit, that is the unit I chose for our first unit. Once a lesson topic has been completed it will be marked with a check mark. This makes it very easy for you to see which lessons have already been completed at a glance.

Once you pick your lesson topic, you get taken to the topic page. Each topic has individual lessons in it. Some have just 2, others have 10+. It depends on the topic.
This topic has ten lessons.

This topic only has two.
When you click on a lesson, the first thing that happens is that you will watch a lesson video. It could be two minutes long, or it could be six or more minutes long. It is a mix of audio and animation which is very useful for teaching the lesson. It's like you are watching the teachers hand.

Once the lesson is completed you can begin the questions.
Click pic to enlarge
Here are some photos of Little Britches working on the questions...

From what we have experienced there are about 7-11 questions in each set. The questions might ask the student to type in an answer, match a word to something, put things in order, or manipulated the image (like these angles) to calculate an answer. The manipulation is very easy...Little Britches had no trouble getting it to do what he needed.

Once a question has been answered, the program immediately tells the student whether or not they are correct and what the correct answers were if they missed them. This immediate confirmation is great. Little Britches could ask for help figuring out where he went wrong, or he'd just see it himself. Once each set of problems is completed, you get a summary of the set of questions.
Click pic to enlarge
There are many great things about this summary:
*You get to see ALL the questions in one place with the correct answers noted. 
*You can print out these summaries for your files. 
*They show you percentage for the set of questions.
*They graph each of your attempts on the questions, showing you the average of your three best attempts and what your highest score was.

Little Britches loved this page because he could go back and see anything he missed. He also took great pleasure in showing me his graph--especially when all three attempts were 100%! 

When you close out of the results, you have the option of doing more questions or seeing your results. I always asked that Little Britches complete three sets of questions for each lesson. If his average of those three sets was in the 90's he didn't have to do a fourth set of questions.

Whenever Little Britches logged in, it takes him straight to the topic he is working on. He can either finish the lesson he's working on, or move on to the next one. You don't have to do them in order. I want to show you a screenshot of the lessons again to show you a few great things.
Click to enlarge
At the top you can see a place where there are two tests: Standard and Comprehensive. If a student has some experience with the lessons in the topic, you can give them the comprehensive assessment. It will have questions relating to every lesson and when it's done, you will get a printout showing you if there are any areas that need review. These are good assessments to know exactly where there needs to be more attention given. I have given it before starting lessons to see if we can skip some areas, but I usually just give it at the end and then I print a copy of the results for Little Britches' portfolio.

The next thing you can see is that there is a note that Little Britches is working at a "Gold level". This is calculated by the topic average. As each lesson in the topic is completed, this percentage adjusts. The sets of questions are ranked with the first and second attempts having a higher weight in regards to this percentage. This is also determined by what you set up as a "passing grade" for your student. 

These awards are like magic...Little Britches is not satisfied unless he gets a Gold Award for each topic. There are Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum awards. A Platinum award can be reached when the average percentage is (I think) 99%-100%. Ironically, Little Britches insists a gold award is better...well because he knows what gold is and that if you are the best you get a gold medal...LOL! But the great thing is that he can look at the list of lessons and see lower percentages. He knows these are the areas he needs to work on to improve his topic average and his award. This takes the push for greater effort out of my hands and gives it to him! He can SEE immediately if he's doing better. And what he needs to do to improve. 

"Mom, I'm going to redo the lesson with just an 89% because I want my gold award."

Desiring to do more math beyond what I've assigned? Like I'm going to say "No."! LOL!

Once a topic has been completed and an award assigned, the topic gets a little check mark on the main unit page. Then you just start the process over again. At any time you can jump grades--this is awesome if it seems like your child is booking through the math in their grade level.

What Else Is There on CTC Math?

*SpeedSkills Math Games:
On the home page and the lesson pages, there is a graphic at the bottom that says "SpeedSkills". By clicking this the student can play timed math quizes. You can determine the level (1-4) and then the skill (addition, subtraction, etc). Then it asks you questions and you answer as many as you can within 1 minute. When the time runs out you get your score AND are able to view your answers. This is a great way to "drill and kill" simple math facts with your student.

Because they have to log-in to play, the SpeedSkills game scores get recorded too!

*Weekly Progress:
The parent gets a weekly progress report sent to their email...or you can view it in the parents log in. This is delightful since this program is completely online. You can keep track of all your students' progress without having to sit over their shoulder! And it's detailed so you can see where they are having issues, too!

If your students has received an award, you get it sent to your email too!

*Parents' Area:
CTC Math has an excellent Parents' Area. It is here that you can keep track of all your students in one glance. Here is a screenshot of what my area looks like.
Click to enlarge
The middle portion is where you see all of your students' progress. It is separated by student. You can see that I have reports for Little Britches and Baby Britches. This tells me when they last logged in, how many lessons they have completed and what their overall percentage is. To the left there is a recent activity log. This will tell me the last thing they did. When they logged in and what their last scores were. I would also be able to see if they have done any SpeedSkills games. If you had several students using this program, you can see how it would be easy to peek at what they are working on without having to flip back and forth between accounts. 

Results Reports:
These are part of the Parents' Area and I didn't discover them until a couple weeks ago. Talk about awesome! There is a Summary Report and a Detailed Report. The Summary Report shows you all of the topics within a grade level (or subject level) and tells you how many lessons are in the topic, how lessons have been attempted, how many have been passed, the topic progress and average efficiency rating for each topic. In a glance you can see what is done, what is being worked on and what is still to be done.

The detailed report is just that...detailed. It shows you within each topic how your child did on each lesson. Here is a detailed report I pulled up for Little Britches last week:
Click to enlarge
With one document I can see exactly the areas of accomplishment, how well he did, how many times it took him to do it. 

Did I mention these are both printable? I have printed off copies of each to keep with my files for this year's math. This is something that would be incredibly helpful if you need to have portfolios for your children. And just to keep a record of their progress!

What Is Little Britches Opinion on CTC Math?

Long story short...he loves it!
Little Britches ENJOYS math. He liked it before, but now there is no fight or arguing to do math. He is eager to attempt his next lesson and strives to improve his scores and earn his certificates. He is doing an excellent job with retaining the knowledge and when, after our lesson on meters and centimeters, we jumped back to our usual math which was covering the same thing...he FLEW through it!

He gets the independence and computer time he desires and I don't have to fight with him to let me check his answers. There is no need! I get a report whenever I want it! I have found he asks for help much more willingly when he doesn't understand something, and will choose to re-watch a video lesson if something doesn't make sense. Thus he is responding to it as if he has a math teacher that is not me! And those of you with homeschooled children know that something like that makes a huge difference! 

He doesn't want to go back to our other math program right now...and at this point I don't see the need!

Cons? Well for him, I think the one con he has is when he has to count something on the screen. He sometimes counts wrong because he can't physically separate them or mark things he's counted. But he's getting better with that. Otherwise I don't think he has any cons!

What Is My Opinion on CTC Math?

*Grants Little Britches desired independence

*Provides full range of math topics for his grade level

*Immediate feedback on answers--no wondering if he got it right or not

*Easy to understand video lessons that use basic terms and fun (and cute) graphics

*Records all the work that is done

*Provides weekly updates in detail

*Very easy to navigate

*Easy to set up each student--even down to what color their screen will be

*I get to determine (and can change) the passing grade

*Breaks each topic down into bite-sized easy to master lessons

*Provides rewards for hard work and success

*Easy to complete assessment tests

*All the reports are easy to understand

*All reports are printable

*Online--so now extra materials needed

*Price--if you have 2+ kids, the unlimited access for unlimited levels for unlimited students with one price is excellent! If you are looking for a program where your child can dive into any level of math with one program and unlimited access, the pricing is also very good.

*Online--so regular computer access and good internet access is a must-have

*Measurements are done with the metric system (meters, kilometers, centimeters, etc)

*Questions do not have audio, so the elementary levels might need to be done WITH a parent to read the questions to the student (especially Kindergarten/1st Grade)

* References to Australian things like a cricket pitch or a cricket ball--Living in the US we aren't familiar with these terms and had to look them up

In summary, the pros far outweigh the cons. 

Let me talk about why I made the fact that CTC Math is an online program as both a pro and a con. 
It's a pro because it frankly just doesn't take up any space and as long as you can log in, you can use it and work on it anywhere at anytime. It even works on some mobile devices! I would make the fact that it's an online program a con because as you and I both know, computers aren't always reliable. If you lack access to one, you can't use the program. Likewise if you have a slow internet connection it might be an issue to watch the video lessons. I'm blessed with a good internet, so I didn't have this problem.

Now let's talk about the pricing. 
For this review I was given the 12 Month Family Plan which granted me access for as many children as I had. This is what is available for 2+ students and it is on sale for just $118.80 (as of 4/22/2014)!! (That is 60% off their regular price!) I have many friends who are homeschooling 3+ kids. They have math curriculum for each kid. That seriously adds up. With CTC Math, a family with 3+ children can pay one price and have access to all the levels. Each child can move around within the different levels, never required to stay in their grade level. That means NO EXTRA CURRICULUM! When you toss in the Parents' Area and all the reports available in one spot...this is a serious savings for an excellent program. If a family wouldn't need a 12 Month Family Plan, they could use the 6 month plan and get the same access for $78.80. If they want to give it a go for just a month...just $15.97. Seriously. $15.97 for all your students to use this program for a month. Incredible!

Again...that's unlimited access to all the grade levels and math subjects, at any time...with the extras I mentioned above. Seriously. That IS a good deal.

But what if you just have one student? The 12 Month Single Student plan is $78.80. And like the Family Plan, there are 6 month and 1 month options too. It is a great deal any way you slice it!

In my opinion, if you have 2+ students in grades K-6th, CTC Math is an excellent price for the quality and quantity (in regards to what is included) of the product. Especially because I think you can use what is supplied in those grades as complete curriculum. I would absolutely recommend it to those with larger homeschooling families. These sale prices are incredible and 60% off the regular prices, so they really can't be beat for the awesomeness that is CTC Math whether you have 1 child or 12!

What about me? Well for me, I have two students and after using the curriculum, I think it is absolutely a great idea for our family to use the 12 Month Family Plan and will be investing in it when our reviews free trial is completed. 

A Few Final Thoughts

*As I mentioned above, I focused my review on the grade level math. For curiosity sake more than anything I even set Baby Britches (Age 3 1/2) up with an account and he and I tackled some of the Kindergarten level math. We mostly just worked with basic numbers and counting.

How did it go? "Me want to do maff!!" Yep, even the littlest is enamored with the program! He watched the videos and counted along with the teacher. He smiled at the little animations and then eagerly hunted for the right numbers for the questions. Sometimes he could do it without my help (like clicking on the right number of objects), but I always had to read the questions to him and help him count items on the screen. But he LOVES it. With him, though...this is where the lack of audio on the questions is a con. I (or Little Britches) had to sit with him and help him with everything. But after just one week, he could count from 1 to 10 and can now identify his numbers 1-11. This is why I am definitely keeping this program around since I can get both of them in with one program.

*CTC Math is called an "online tutor program" because it first and foremost is designed to help students address the sticky spots in math. I would say it is only a math curriculum for the grades K-6th. I believe (after checking out and working through the 2nd grade and Kindergarten levels) that you could use them as a complete curriculum without supplements. 

If you need your child to spend focused attention on an aspect of math--REGARDLESS OF THE GRADE--this is an excellent program. You can take it right down to lessons within a topic and allow them to spend time mastering it. There is no pressure. They can basically do it indefinitely...until they get the hang of it!

*CTC Math has their program separated into grades for K-6th, but also into specific areas of math. If your child needs to work on just Algebra, they can work on Pre-algebra, Algebra 1 or Algebra 2! Within each of these Algebra is separated into parts...and with in each part is different topics and within each topic, different lessons. It's Algebra class separated into bite-sized pieces! It is here that you will find how CTC Math really works like a tutor. If there is a part of Algebra your child struggles with, you can have them work--just on that part! This is useful whether you homeschool or not! 

I recommended CTC Math to a friend who has a daughter moving to a more advanced grade level in public school. She was most worried about her daughter being a little behind in math and was looking for something to help her be where she needs to be over the summer. I explained how CTC Math worked, and she claimed that it was just what she was looking for and felt that paying the one month fee would be ideal to get her caught up in whatever area she had gaps.

After playing around with the math subjects, I noticed that the questions were done differently. There is an worksheet with the assignment to view (or print if you want)--then there is a place to enter your results of the worksheet into the program. I suspect that this allows for calculations that need pencil/paper. Once the results are entered, you can click "view solutions". This STILL is going to record all of your students work for your records.


Would I Recommend CTC Math?

I'm sure you have guessed by now, that I wholeheartedly recommend CTC Math! We WILL be continuing to use it for our family. If you have 2+ students doing math (especially in the K-6th grades) or have students who need focused attention on certain aspects of math, you really need to check this program out. Paying one price for unlimited access to unlimited math levels for unlimited number of students is unbeatable!

You can find CTC Math on Facebook where you can follow them and keep up to date on their latest information and sales!

You've seen my thoughts on the program...why not check out what my fellow Schoolhouse Crew members thought after using it with their families?

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer
 photo namegraphic2_zps8625728e.png

April 18, 2014

Random 5 on Friday for April 18th

The Pebble Pond

1. We have gone from 80 degrees to snow in a matter of 2 days this week. That is just messed up. LOL! Fortunately, it was a one-day wonder and we have been steadily increasing in temperature back to the 70's for this weekend. I would be very happy to not see snow again until...oh, November or so.

2. I love seeing garden sprouts! We've been growing tomato seeds in peet pots on our window sill and I love seeing them. They are about 3" tall now. I'm hoping we will get our garden prepped on Sunday because I've got things I need to get in the ground ASAP!

3. I really like Starburst Jellybeans. This is the time of year when they show up for just $1.50 a bag. So I always grab them. Did you know Jellybeans are my favorite candy?

4. I have been enjoying having a modified spring break this week. School until lunch and then the afternoon off. It's been spending more time outside to soak up the sunshine. We will have our second week next week before we dive in to finish out our year.

5. I'm itchy for next Friday. It's the big Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati! I won free tickets last fall...but I was going to go anyways. I am making my list of companies I want to visit. And I'm tickled that I will get to meet up for a brunch with other ladies of The Schoolhouse Review Crew that morning! So nice to put faces with names and blogs! We even get a little name badge to wear at the convention. I'm going to feel all official! LOL! If you are going to be at the convention on Friday, maybe I will see you...somewhere in the 10,000+ people. You never know! LOL! I had such an amazing time last year that I'm just dying to get back! One of my good friends (and fellow homeschoolers) is going to ride with me so we will be able to gab and giggle.

Have a beautiful weekend!

 photo namegraphic2_zps8625728e.png

April 17, 2014

Fresh from the Bookshelf: Love Comes Calling (a book review)

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links.
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

It's the Roaring 20's in Boston. Meet Ellis Eton. She has the best of intentions. She has her heart set on Hollywood. She's also broke. But no worries, she just agreed (accidentally though it might have been) to fill in for her look-alike friend Janie as a telephone operator for two weeks. So what if she's never been able to finish anything she started...it's just for 2 weeks. Besides, it will help her practice her acting skills and earn money for her train ticket west to become a movie star. What could possibly go wrong? I was tickled to be able to review Love Comes Calling, a fast paced and fun newly released historical inspirational fiction book by Siri Mitchell.

April 11, 2014

Curiosity Quest (a product review)

Are you a fan of "How Is It Made?" or "Dirty Jobs"? Do you like shows where you can go behind the scenes to see how simple everyday things are made, collected, produced, etc? Our family is. We LOVE these shows. Today I have a product review from Curiosity Quest--a company who puts together DVD's on these type of questions! 
We were blessed to receive the DVD Combo Pack-Produce and DVD Combo Pack-Swimmers of the Sea to review with our family.

What is Curiosity Quest?

Curiosity Quest is a PBS series that explores what viewers are curious about. The main host, Joel Greene, addresses a question that a viewer has written in about. The episode takes the viewers on site to find answers to the question in a great hands on educational experience. Each episode is about 30 minutes long. These DVD's are geared toward the 7-14 age group and each of the DVD Combo Packs that we reviewed sell for $24.95.

How Did We Use This Product?

There are three episodes on each of the DVD's. Swimmers of the Sea has the episodes Salmon, Penguins and Sea Turtle Rescue. Produce has the episodes Mushrooms, Orange Packing and Cranberries. The boys decided they wanted to watch the Swimmers of the Sea DVD first and then they proceeded to watch every episode in one sitting. 

Curiosity Quest Review
The boys learned about why salmon swim upstream, that they "smell" the water to find their way back to their start, and much more. We visit my parents in WA regularly and the last time we did, we were fortunate to go to Bonneville Dam and see the salmon swimming the fish ladders. We were able to reference this when we watched the video.

Sea Turtle Rescue:
Little Britches especially enjoyed this episode as he took an online class on turtles last spring. We learned that there is such a thing as a turtle hospital. The boys have decided they would like to visit one. They are hoping we will be able to visit the special Sea Turtle center in Jekyll Island, GA if we go this fall.

The boys "ewwwwwww!" was classic as they watched them prepare the food for the penguins. Baby Britches kept saying the birds wings were too small and that they barked. This was a great behind-the-scenes episode for a penguin exhibit! I had no idea they had to log every single fish they gave the birds.

The boys were excited to dive into the next DVD and we proceeded to watch DVD Combo Pack- Produce in one sitting too.
Curiosity Quest Review
Orange Packing:
Little Britches thought the coolest thing was that the bad spots on an orange glows-in-the-dark. I admit that was very neat. I thought it was interesting to watch the whole process from picking to packing. It was fascinating that they use MASSIVE fans to keep the frost away just by blowing air down into the trees.

The boys were fascinated with the idea of using tractors to harvest cranberries. I guess I didn't realize that they flooded the patch to make the berries float to harvest. I guess I always thought they just grew in water like rice...until I realized the rice paddy gets flooded too. LOL! The boys were excited when they talked about the bounce of cranberries as we did experiment with that when we read Cranberry Thanksgiving. 

This was the one BY FAR that fascinated us the most because we were CLUELESS about how mushrooms were harvested and grown. The boys loved seeing the different stages of hay breaking down. They giggled when the host kept commenting on how stenchy it was. We were amazed at the size of the huge mushrooms and thought it would be fun to try our hand at picking them from the trays. Little Britches refers to the mushroom episode to anyone who talks about mushrooms. He told his Papaw (my father-in-law) about it and was intrigued to learn that they used to grow mushroom locally in a cave. "To control humidity just like the show we watched, Mommy!"

Our Thoughts on Curiosity Quest

Long story short...we loved all the episodes! They were very detailed and informative. I considered myself fairly knowledgeable about Salmon, Sea Turtles and Penguins thanks to various studies...but I still learned new things! I think we as a family learned the most from watching the DVD Combo Pack-Produce episodes. We found the Mushrooms episode especially fascinating and I can tell you I will never look at mushrooms in the store the same way again!

I see these videos as excellent for unit studies. There are so many books, science units, etc where they could be used to take a subject further. I wish we had the Swimmers of the Sea DVD back when we were studying Penguins and Sea Turtles in Kindergarten! I plan on pulling these DVD's out again when they fit into something we are learning!

Would I recommend Curiosity Quest?

Yes! I think they are excellent quality and very well done. There are lot of "silly" things included on the DVD's which relate well to children and the host is very personable and fun. My Little Britches is thinking up questions for me to submit in hopes of getting his own letter/email published and turned into a show!
You also can't beat the price. Each of these episodes as solo DVD's is priced at $19.95...with three episodes per DVD in the combo packs you are getting three for just a little more than the price of one! 

As I was looking around their site, I discovered that you can join their CQ Homeschool Monthly Membership where they will send you two new episodes a month for just $24.95 (or annual membership for $264) AND will even include homeschool appropriate curriculum to go with the episodes. I am strongly thinking about getting at least one months worth. Having the curriculum to go with the episodes would be ideal--and really the only thing I would improve on the already incredible product!

Well I hope you enjoyed my review of this fabulous product! I am hoping that Curiosity Quest will show up on Netflix one of these days! I'd love to be able to see ALL the episodes!

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

5 Days of Favorite Family Recipes: Easy-Peasy Pizza Crust

Thanks for coming back here for another day of favorites! Do you have a weekly pizza night? We do. It's every Thursday here. Some weeks we order takeout and other weeks I make it myself. I have an awesomely simple pizza crust that is a big hit every time I use it.

pizza crust recipe

This is an excellent recipe for a few reasons:
1. It is a quick dough...short rising time
2. This recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas.
3. The dough makes a crispy crust!

This recipe is also nearly fool-proof. It's that easy. I hope you will give it a try so you can enjoy a homemade pizza that is awesome. My husband says it's the crust that makes it. I just know that it's good.

pizza crust recipe

I'd love for you to check out what some of my fellow crew mates have written for their topics! Feel free to click the banner below to check them out!
April Blog Hop

To make it even easier, here are some of the ladies who are participating with me in this great series this week--if you start with them, I know you will find something that is interesting for you!

Anne Marie @ Future.Flying.Saucers ~ Christian Worldview 101
Marya @ Suncoast Momma ~ Homeschooling Special Needs
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break ~ Ordinary Homeschooling
Dawn @ Double O Farms ~ Helping Your Struggling Learner
Gena @ I Choose Joy! ~ Homeschooling Middle School
Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews ~ Free and Frugal Homeschooling
Monique @ Living Life and Learning ~ Homeschooling with Lapbooks
DaLynn @ For the Display of His Splendor ~ Diagramming the Proverbs


April 9, 2014

5 Days of Favorite Family Recipes: Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

So far this week I've share recipes for Australian Damper Loaf and Beef Tacos w/DIY Taco Seasoning...but today I'm going to take a step back from food and share with you a Favorite Family Recipe that is good for you...to clean with!
homemade all purpose cleaner

We threw out our store bought cleaners, once I started making my own versions with MUCH healthier and safer ingredients. I've discovered that my cleaners work just as well (and sometimes even BETTER) than anything that I've used before. And they still smell good and are good for sanitizing my home! After looking at several different recipes and trying out different ingredients, I recently came up with a *favorite* ingredient combo for a Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner that I want to share with you!

homemade all purpose cleaner

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

The best place to find the large 28-oz empty spray bottles is a dollar store--they have them at Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree. WalMart is another option or any other grocery store with cleaning products. But the best price is going to be your dollar stores. Make sure you label it after it's filled up so you don't forget what is in it! Especially if you have several of them with homemade mixes!

To fill the bottle, I suggest a funnel. It offers you the highest chance of success...take this advice from one who had to clean up her counter when she tried to "freehand" the pouring of the liquids. LOL! 

I have tried recipes that call for vinegar and not the alcohol. They work good. But there is something about this one that seems to work better on my counters for taking off dried yucky stuff. You could use Vodka in it's place if you so desire.

You can buy a box of washing soda at most grocery stores in the laundry detergent section. This recipe calls for a tiny amount, but washing soda is in a lot of other homemade cleaners AND you can use it in my Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent recipe too. It's also great as a general add in for laundry.

Liquid castile soap can usually be found in stores with organic or natural food and body products sections. I know you can get it at Fred Meyers, Kroger, Jungle Jims, and Trader Joe's to name a few. I like to use the citrus scented one in my cleaners, but any will work.

I have tried a LOT of different essential oil combinations in my cleaners. The main ones that you find in recipes across the board for homemade versions are usually Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon and Tea Tree. This is because these are disinfectant wonders! Not only do they have incredible anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties, but they smell good too!

If you count up the drops of essential oil it adds up to 25 drops of oil. If you don’t have some of these that I have listed, you are more than able to change them out for what you do have! Simply adjust the number of drops for the oils you have!

Here are some other anti-microbial essential oils that you could try too:
Basil, Bergamot, Eucalyptus, Fir, Juniper, Lemongrass, Orange, Oregano, Peppermint, Pine
If you have a name brand oil blend like Thieves (Young Living), Purify (doTerra), or something similar, you could use that too! I like to swap out the Lemon and Lime, replacing them with 5 drops of Purify when using this recipe.
Are you seeking a supplier of essential oil--maybe even looking for organic essential oils? I have nothing but good to say about the quality of the essential oils I have purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs
Organic herbs, spices, teas and oils.
They are one of the few companies that carries certified organic essential oils. They are very high quality and I have purchased nearly all of my single oils from them. Their price is very reasonable and you can order straight from their website. They carry a wide range of oils--including the exotic ones.

Enjoy using this fresh smelling and disinfecting all-purpose cleaner for your counters, cabinets, refrigerator, blinds, tile, sinks, tubs...just about anything with a surface that needs cleaning! 
(Except laminate floors. It's too harsh for that. Trust me on this one.)

Print the recipe for Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

I'd love for you to pop over and see what other things are going to be covered by our crew this week!
April Blog Hop

To make it even easier, here are some of the ladies who are participating with me in this great series this week--if you start with them, I know you will find something that is interesting for you!

Anne Marie @ Future.Flying.Saucers ~ Christian Worldview 101
Marya @ Suncoast Momma ~ Homeschooling Special Needs
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break ~ Ordinary Homeschooling
Dawn @ Double O Farms ~ Helping Your Struggling Learner
Gena @ I Choose Joy! ~ Homeschooling Middle School
Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews ~ Free and Frugal Homeschooling
Monique @ Living Life and Learning ~ Homeschooling with Lapbooks
DaLynn @ For the Display of His Splendor ~ Diagramming the Proverbs