The Sojourner

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tiny Planets Review

Tiny Planets is a website that features the adventures of two cute aliens named Bing and Bong. They travel the universe on a sofa which acts as their spaceship.  The purpose of the website is to be a place where "children are encouraged to think for themselves, assume social responsibility, take care of our planet and learn about the mysteries of space."

Being geared towards children ages 4 - 12 years old, my children are a bit older than that so it wasn't really appropriate for them to enjoy.  However, I was able to spend some time on the website to see what it is all about.

There are six different facets to the website as follows:

Tiny Planets TV is where you can watch episodes of the TV show of the same name. 
This series was co-created with Sesame Workshop and emphasizes science education and early learning goals, such as social and emotional development, language and literacy, problem-solving and reasoning, knowledge and understanding of our world, and creative development. Tiny Planets is the only television program to be endorsed by Montessori Centre International, and it's been a favorite in nearly 100 TV territories around the world. 
My Tiny Planets is a virtual world and online community where kids can interact and play games while learning about space.
Children create an avatar (affectionately called their “Space Cadet”), solve galactic missions with Bing and Bong, sharpen their wits with fast-paced mini-games, navigate their spaceships and avoid wormholes, adopt and care for their own planet, and nurture exotic plants in a biodome, all the while racking up achievements and special badges for their accomplishments.
Tiny Planets Fun is a place where your child can enjoy brainy puzzle games, as well as coloring pages and comics.
Tiny Planets Books is where you will find interactive story books featuring Bing and Bong.  These are geared toward younger children.
Tiny Planets Learning is designed for parents and educators and has lesson plans that included science experiments and activities to help you know how to incorporate the different parts of Tiny Planets into your learning and teaching experience.
Tiny Planets Lab is the place where new games and ideas are tried and tested. 
 Keeping our children safe while online is a constant concern for many parents (me included!), so I was pleased to know that this website is ad-free which means your kiddos cannot accidentally access something unsavory.  Also, even though there is a social community where your kids can interact with other kids online, there is no free form chat.  Your child communicates with other players by using emoticons and speech bubbles that contain fun phrases that have been programmed into the game.  And your child chooses his/her cadet name and planet name from an auto name generator.  Tiny Planets is also certified by ICRA, a rating system provided by Family Online Safety Institute an international, non-profit organization of Internet leaders working to develop a safer Internet. 
Some of the content on Tiny Planets is totally free. So, you can try it out without any cost to see if it is something you and/or your child is interested in.  They also offer some of the content for a fee, like various episodes on Tiny Planets TV or premium avatar accessories in My Tiny Planets. "In fact, in My Tiny Planets you can really amp up the fun by “going pro” on mini-games (which puts your top score up on the leaderboard), converting your asteroid to a planet with its own location in space, acquiring spiffy spaceships, and totally decking out your planet with outrageous buildings or amazing skies."

You can unlock these special features with KEYs. To buy KEYs, you'll need to set up a parent account, and then link that parent account to your children's player accounts. With your parent account you can purchase KEYs and then allocate them to any of your children. 

KEYs are sold in packages through Social Gold.  Purchase KEYs when you need them, or opt for a monthly allotment.   The prices are as follows:
  • 10 keys    $1.95 
  • 25 keys    $3.95   
  • 85 keys    $9.95  
  • 250 keys  $25.95 
  • 600 keys  $49.95 
I feel sure that younger children than mine would really enjoy Tiny Planets and parents can feel secure in knowing that it is a safe website where their children can play games, be creative and have fun!

If you would like to see what other TOS Crew member thought of this product, click here and read their reviews.

 I received access to this website for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Tiny Planets.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Write Foundation Review

I have taught essay writing co-op classes several different times and I have used a number of different writing curriculum.  So when I received The Write Foundation's Essay Writing course, I was very interested to see what it had to offer.

At first glance, this curriculum is well laid out and detailed.  There are three different levels available:  Level 1 Sentence to Paragraph Writing for suggested ages 11-13, Level 2 Paragraph Writing for suggested ages 12-15, and Level 3 Essay Writing for suggested ages 14-17.  Each level has step by step lesson plans and can be used for one or two years, depending on the speed at which you go through the material.  There are also worksheets included with the instruction book that will help with learning the different facets of essay writing. 

This curriculum is ideally suited for use in a co-op setting, however, it is also suited for use with just one student as well.  Rebecca Celsor, the author of The Write Foundation, created this material while using it to teach a writing co-op class.  She includes examples, checklists and grading system, as well as many more helps.  Essay Writing incorporates creative writing, along with the more formal essay writing, too.

The Essay Writing Complete Curriculum is available for $100 and includes Spiral-bound Teacher Instruction Manuals with Lesson Plans, 1 set notebook-ready Worksheets, 1 CD with additional resources (Grading System, Grading Record Sheets, Word Games, Checklists, Teacher Presentation Sheets, Weekly Assignments, Extensive Reading list).

Something to note, you will need to be prepared to spend an initial amount of time (1-2 hours) acquainting yourself with the curriculum before beginning to teach it.  However, after that you should be able to move along with each lesson as it comes without much prep time at all.  I have found The Write Foundation's Essay Writing course to be very comprehensive, easy to use and a great curriculum to teach your high school students the basics of essay writing even if you are not a great writer yourself.   You can check it out for yourself by getting the sample pages that are available online.

You can find more reviews for this product and the other levels at the TOS Review Crew.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of The Write Foundation's Essay Writing.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Collectorz Review

If you are like most homeschool families, you probably have ALOT of books!  Have you ever bought a book and come home to find out you already had it?  Sure you can resell it or swap it, but it is frustrating when you can't remember if you already have something.  Well, I had the privilege of reviewing a really cool product called Book Collector Pro from  It is a downloadable software program that is very easy to use to catalog your personal collection of books.  Their programs are available for PC or MAC and they also have programs to catalog your movies, games, comics, music, mp3s and photos.

This program is very easy to get started entering your books.  You can just enter the ISBN and it will automatically bring up the cover and details.  If you have alot of books, you might want to purchase a handheld scanner which can make your job even a little easier.  There are many features where you can organize/sort your books by different categories like genre.

Some of the benefits of using is to have a list of all your books for insurance purposes, to keep track of books you loan out (so you can get them back) and to help you have a handy list which you can access on your iPhone or iTouch (with an additional app) when you are out buying more books. has a free trial version so that you can see how it works and load up to 100 books.  Then they have a standard version for $29.95 or the Book Collector Pro for $49.95.  The Pro version has many additional features.

Some of the things you can do with Book Collector is to browse your home library, group your books into different folders, add data and covers automatically, sort and search your database, view your data in various skins, view statistics of your database, export to your iPhone, iPad or Android, use the loan manager, and print your book data.

Available Fields

  • Main book information
    • Author
    • Title
    • Publisher
    • Publication Date
    • ISBN
    • Format
    • Genre
    • Subject
    • LoC Classification
    • Dewey
    • etc...
  • More book details
    • Series
    • Volume
    • Edition
    • Printer
    • Paper Type
    • Dimensions
    • Orginal Title
    • Original Language
    • etc...

 If you have a lot of books and would like to have them organized and cataloged, I think you will be thrilled with Book Collector Pro from  I know that my husband will enjoy entering his books and keeping track of them, too.  It will take some time to get them entered and all set up, but the benefits will make the time and effort worth it.

You can read more review of this product by the TOS Review Crew here.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Book Collector Pro from

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Professor In A Box Financial Accounting Course Review

I was pleased when I was chosen to review this Financial Accounting course from Professor In A Box because I have a daughter who most likely won't attend college and doesn't want to take advanced math courses.  I took Accounting in high school and felt that it really helped me with many jobs after high school.  So I was considering an accounting course for my daughter and didn't know exactly where to look.  Now I have had the privilege of receiving and reviewing Financial Accounting which will serve wonderfully for my daughter in a few years.

Financial Accounting is a CD course by Michael P. Licata, Ph. D.  It is comprised of 12 chapters and includes everything you will need for the entire course on 4 CDs.  Students can take the course over an entire academic year by working one lesson per week for 28 weeks or take the course in a traditional college semester format working two lessons per week for 14 weeks. 

Financial Accounting is a first accounting course for homeschool high school students, and can be taken by any high school level student with basic math skills.  Each chapter has flash lectures in 2 or 3 parts plus lecture slides that can be printed by the student for later reference.  There are also Key Terms and Concepts for each chapter, as well as Chapter Problems  and the solutions to them.  Every 4 chapters there is an Exam.  On the Instructors Disc, there is a very comprehensive syllabus, as well as overviews of each chapter and much more.

This Financial Accounting course is taught in a non-traditional format, having no textbook with long, boring chapters to read.  Personally, this is a big plus because I have a hard time understanding something written in a textbook.  However, when each concept is shown to me as in these slide presentations, it is much easier for me to comprehend new material.

With this course, students learn financial accounting in four simple steps:
1.  Watch the Flash lectures for a chapter which include important concepts and demonstration problems.
2.  Work the assigned homework problems.
3.  Compare the homework problems worked to the solutions file.
4.  Take the exams.

Michael P. Licata, Ph.D. is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Accountancy in the Villanova School of Business2 at Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Professor Licata has taught the financial accounting course dozens of times in his 24 plus years as a Professor at Villanova University.

You can purchase this entire Financial Accounting course from Professor In A Box for only $99.95, which also includes content coverage for the new CLEP Financial Accounting Exam, so your student can get college credit if they take the CLEP test.  They also offer a Principles in Marketing course for $89.95 and will launch an Entrepreneurship course in 2011.  In my opinion, this is a great price for a complete college-level high school math course.

You can read more review of this product by the TOS Review Crew here.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Professor In A Box Financial Accounting.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TOS Review: Lanschool

Lanschool is a classroom management and monitoring software that can be used in the classroom setting, or in the homeschool setting.    When I found out that I would be receiving this software to review, I wasn't sure how I felt about it.  However, when I received it, I was very anxious to find out how it works.  My husband downloaded it and set it up on my computer as Teacher and on the computer on our flat screen TV as Student for our kids to use.  He said it was VERY easy to download and set up!  In times past, he said that programs like this were very difficult to get up and running and had alot of glitches.  However, he was very impressed with the ease with which Lanschool was up and ready to go.

We use the computers very seldom for our homeschooling, but with my kids being teenagers, they like to go on Facebook, iTunes and check their email.  I have a laptop and often sit in the living room, while my kids are in the family room.  With Lanschool, I can monitor their time online very simply and easily from my laptop.  When they are supposed to be writing essays, I can make sure they are not on Facebook.

I was actually able to uncover some activity of which I did not approve by one of my children and able to address an issue I was unaware of because of having Lanschool installed on our computers.  It saves me alot of time and energy having to constantly go into the family room to check on what my children are doing, and even that was insufficient because one of them got quite good at "flipping" the screen so it would look like they were doing what they were supposed to be doing when I came in.  However, with Lanschool, I was able to discover that there was definitely an issue that we needed to deal with and can  block that child from accessing things that are not approved.    

I received Lanschool Home v7.5 and here is what they say about it:

"Parents today are faced with the challenge and opportunity of using technology in the home.  Computers are amazing education and entertainment tools, but they can also be a huge distraction and danger to kids."
"Lanschool Home v7.5 allows parents to easily keep track and restrict what happens on the family computers."

"Lanschool Home v7.5 helps parents:
Monitor real-time thumbnails of monitors of their home computers
Limit distractions such as the Internet, games and instant messaging
Track Internet history
Log every keystroke typed on a computer
Limit computers access by locking out the computer
Provide help through remote control
Chat with family members"

There are so many different ways in which you could utilize this incredible software in your home, especially if your kids do alot of their homeschool work on the computer.  You can even view a YouTube video together on several computers at the same time.  As the Teacher, you can show websites to your students from your computer onto their computer to help them with research online or other homeschooling applications.  Lanschool will make teaching your children HOW to use the computer and Internet for online research and more SO much easier!

For more information, you can take a guided tour and view their brochures at the Lanschool website.  Lanschool Home is only $99, and three years of technical support and three years of major upgrade protection are included.  This will support 3 Student computers, plus the Teacher.  They also have licenses for classroom use - see their website for more details and prices.

Here are the SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS for Lanschool:
LanSchool Home v7.5 supports any combination of computers running Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP-32, Windows Vista-32/64, Windows 7-32/64, Mac OS 10.4 and higher.
The only exception is the LanSchool parent console for the Mac, which will only run on Intel-based Mac hardware running OS 10.5 and higher.
Listed below are the minimum requirements necessary to run LanSchool v7.5 on both the parent and family computers:
166 MHz Intel® Pentium® processor or faster
48 MB for Windows 98 
96 MB for Windows 2000 
128 MB for Windows XP 
256 MB for Windows Vista 
512 MB for Mac OS X
All computers must be configured with TCP/IP 
802.11 wireless is supported

For more reviews, check out the TOS Review Crew blog.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Lanschool.

Friday, October 1, 2010

TOS Review: Foundlings, Book One of The Peleg Chronicles

Foundlings is Book One of The Peleg Chronicles by Matthew Christian Harding.  It is set in the time just after the Tower of Babel dispersion and brings to life those characters and creatures that may have existed in that time period.  The paperback book has 239 pages and is geared towards 10 to 12 years old and up.

When I first received this book to review, I was a little skeptical because I have read my share of Christian fiction which falls short of excellence.  However, I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing and the depth of the character development in this book.  Here is a summary of the book provided by Mr. Harding:

The story begins with Lord McDougal and his faithful shield-bearer, Fergus Leatherhead, departing their lands with giants at their backs, while before them lie in wait denizens of the bog-and and forest.

Ever ready to protect and serve others, they gather in tow an assortment of displaced adventurers and find themselves embroiled in a mysterious search for the Foundlings:  Orphaned Thiery with his companion Horatio the white wolf, and Suzie who has been deceitfully retained by the thieves Elvodug and Flemup.

Others also seek the Foundlings, and their purposes are most sinister - Dragon Priests who practice cozen sacrifices, and their leader Count Rosencross who is town by his God given conscience and his pursuit of personal glory.

Onward toward the city of Hradcanny they travel, meeting with treachery, beast attacks, camaraderie and psalms of praise with an eye toward the gospel.  Though their battles are at times fierce and the outcomes uncertain, the author maintains the integrity of these noble characters, who through weakness are made strong by Him in whom they trust.

Foundlings weaves together the Biblical principles of chivalry, truth, courage, duty, faith and love within the framework of Genesis, and a gold adherence to its historicity.  It's an exciting page turner that leaves you wanting more, but more importantly it leaves the reader with Godly heroes to think on and emulate, and a young earth creationist view of the history that conforms to the Word of God.

What I found most fascinating in this book is the way that Mr. Harding weaves into his story the characters and creatures that are mentioned in the book of Genesis, but most fiction has hesitated to try and describe or include.  The long lives of mankind before and even after the flood, as well as dinosaurs, mastodons, mega-fauna, giants, dragons and how the ice age fits into history are all incorporated into the story line to help us gain insight into that time period of history.

I have learned a wealth of information through historical fiction over the years, but very few books attempt to cover this time period.  So I was genuinely interested and intrigued with Mr. Harding's book.  No Evolution - No Humanism - No Magic!  That's their motto for their Creation Fiction - Young Earth Dragon Fiction.

I had intended to read this aloud to my two teenagers, however, we were in the middle of another book, so I just read it myself.  There is one reason I am glad that I did not read it aloud - it leaves you hanging at the end and you HAVE to read the next book, Paladins!!  My kids would not be happy if I read this one to them without having the next book to read right after.  So I will put this in the lineup after I can get the second book.

So, I am sure by now you are wondering how to get the book for yourself.  Well, you can order the book directly from Zoe & Sozo Publishing for $11.95.  The second book, Paladins, is also available for the same price.

To read more reviews about this book, go to the TOS Review Crew.

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Monic Vocabulary Cartoons SAT Word Power

When I received this product in the mail, I had no idea what to expect.  However, the minute I opened the book, I knew this was an incredible tool!  New Monic Vocabulary Cartoons are books full of mnemonic rhymes and cartoon pictures to aid the student in remembering the meaning of vocabulary words.  The SAT Word Power Book 1 that I received, contains 290 of the most common SAT vocabulary words to help increase your student's SAT score.  For a nominal price of $12.95, you can provide your student in 7th to 12th grade with an awesome tool to help them with their preparation for the PSAT and/or SAT.  
"In independent school tests, students with Vocabulary Cartoons learned 72% more words than students with traditional rote memory study materials and had 90% retention."

Here is a sample of how this book works:
The main word is followed by the phonetic pronunciation, part of speech, and a definition.  Then it lists a link word which is a simple word or phrase which rhymes or sounds like the main word.  A caption connects the main word and the link word in a sentence and is illustrated in a bizarre or humorous cartoon which incorporates the main word and the link word into a visual mnemonic.  They then include two or three sample sentences to help with usage of the word.

I absolutely love this book!  I have always tried to come up with little sayings or rhymes to help my kids remember things, so this is right up my alley.  And with the silly cartoons and rhymes, it is very hard to forget the words.  There are also 29 quizzes to help you be able to assess your students knowledge and retention.

My husband and I both have very good vocabulary and my kids have always made comments like, "How do you know so many words?"  So now they have access to a great tool with the SAT Word Power Vocabulary Cartoons to increase their own vocabulary.  My son is going to be taking the PSAT in a month and he is very grateful to have this tool to enable him to feel more prepared.

New Monic also has a Vocabulary Cartoon book for younger children for the same price of $12.95, as well as a second SAT Word Power Vocabulary Cartoon Book 2, with even more common SAT words.

You can read more reviews of this product over at The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew review site, too.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of New Monic Vocabulary Cartoons.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Math Tutor DVD Review

Math Tutor is a company that has produced DVDs to assist with the learning of higher math concepts, like Algebra, Trigonometry, Physics, Probability & Statistics, Calculus, and more.  The instructor is Jason Gibson, who has worked at Texas Instruments and NASA.  He says,

"I personally get a thrill out of making seemingly complex topics suddenly easy to students.  I have found over the years that the easy way to do this is to learn by working example problems, beginning with the easier ones and gradually progressing to the harder ones."

So he has put together a number of Math DVDs to do just that - tutor students in math.  I received The Pre-Algebra Tutor Volume 1, which is a 5-hour video tutorial covering the following topics:

Disk 1
Sect 1 – Real Numbers
Sect 2 – The Number Line
Sect 3 – Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To
Sect 4 – Absolute Value and Adding Integers
Sect 5 – Subtracting Integers
Disk 2
Sect 6 – Multiplying Integers
Sect 7 – Dividing Integers
Sect 8 – Powers and Exponents
Sect 9 – Order of Operations

The price for this set of DVDs is $26.99 and can be ordered here.

My daughter is currently studying Pre-Algebra Math, so I sat down with her to view these lessons.  After watching, I believe this DVD set would be the perfect review before launching into Algebra 1.  Mr. Gibson goes over every basic concept of Pre-Algebra math in a very thorough and easy to understand manner.  He works a number of problems demonstrating ability in each area.  He breaks down the concepts in easy-to-understand language and obviously enjoys math tremendously!

Although I feel there is still a need for a curriculum that provides written instruction and problems to work out on paper on your own, I think this DVD set would be SO great to use as a review of all the basic concepts before embarking on Algebra 1.  That way, you could be certain that your student was really ready for the more complicated concepts of Algebra.

I also received The Texas Instruments TI-83/TI-84 Calculator Tutor 3 DVD set which includes 8 hours of video tutorial.  Now, I have never used one of these calculators and neither of my students is there yet, so this video was a little over our heads.  However, I believe that Mr Gibson's method of explaining these complex topics in a very easy-to-understand manner would be very helpful for someone needing to learn how to use this calculator.  This DVD set also sells for $26.99.

Here is the list of topics included:
Disk 1
Section 1: Overview of the Calculator
Section 2: The Mode Menu
Section 3: Basic Arithmetic and Exponents
Section 4: Logarithms and Square Roots
Section 5: Sin, Cos, Tan
Section 6: Scientific Notation and Storing Variables
Section 7: The Math Menu and Catalog Menu
Section 8: Convert between Fractions and Decimals
Section 9: Finding the Min and Max of a Function
Section 10: Calculating Derivatives and Integrals
Section 11: Absolute Value, Rounding, and Integers
Section 12: Converting between Degrees and Radians
Section 13: Working with Complex Numbers

Disk 2
Section 14: Using the Equation Solver
Section 15: Graphing and Tracing Functions
Section 16: Using Tables and Split Screen Modes
Section 17: Find the Exact Value of a Function Using Graphing
Section 18: Finding the Zeros of a Function using Graphing
Section 19: Finding the Max and Min of a Function using Graphing
Section 20: Finding Intersections of Functions using Graphing
Section 21: Finding the Derivative of a Function by Graphing
Section 22: Calculating the Definite Integral by Graphing
Section 23: Drawing on a Graph
Section 24: Graphing and Tracing Sequences

Disk 3
Section 25: Graphing and Tracing Parametric Equations
Section 26: Converting between Rectangular and Polar Coordinates
Section 27: Graphing and Tracing Polar Equations
Section 28: Permutations, Combinations, and Factorial
Section 29: Working with Histograms and Box Plots
Section 30: Graphing Statistical Scatter Plots
Section 31: Calculating Mean, Median, Standard Deviation, and more
Section 32: Performing Statistical Regression
Section 33: Calculating with Matrices
Section 34: Solving Systems of Equations with Matrices
Section 35: Calculating Interest Rates
Section 36: Calculating Mortgages and Loans
Section 37: Calculating Savings and Investments

"This 8 Hour comprehensive 3-DVD course teaches you how to use all of the major functions of the TI-84 / TI-83 graphing calculator by working example problems.  In this way, the student "learns-by-doing" rather than a long dry lecture or with the "aid" of a dry printed manual."

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of Math Tutor DVDs.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Access! by Vantage Learning Review

My Access! Home Edition is an online writing program by Vantage Learning. I have to admit I was very skeptical at first, especially not wanting to add more writing to my teen's already full academic schedule. However, I cannot adequately express how impressed I have been with this program. But more than that, my daughter is LOVING it! I have to tell her to "stop writing" and do something else. Let me try to explain what this program does and why it is so wonderful.

First of all, when you purchase My Access!, you can go online and set up your accounts - one for you, the parent, and one for each of your children. Then you can select writing assignments in different age groups for each of your children. And they have very interesting topics like "Adopting a Zoo Animal" as a Persuasive Essay in the 8-10 year old group or "What If You Never Slept?" as an Informative Essay in the 22-14 year old group. There's also the thought-provoking "The Value of Sacrifice" as a Narrative Essay in the 15-18 year old group. But not only do they give you a large number of essay ideas to start with, you can create any other topics/assignments that you wish to go along with whatever you are studying in other subjects.

Now, not only can you assign different topics to each student, but you can set goals and rewards for when they reach those goals. Just to start out, I decided to reward my kids with a ticket to a movie when they reached a certain number of points. But the possibilities for rewards are as many as you can possibly imagine!

When your child logs on to My Access! website to being the writing process, they can take a Guided Tour which shows them all the aspects of the program. They will have a Writing Dashboard which gives them a quick view of their overall writing progress, or they can view a Progress page which shows them each writing assignment and it's progress. On the Writing Topics page, they can start a new assignment, resume an assignment in progress, or start a revision of an essay previously submitted.

When they begin a new assignment, they will get a few paragraphs that describe exactly what the assignment entails. Then they can take a interactive Writing Course which walks them step-by-step through the process of writing this particular type of essay. It is set up like a job at a newspaper, where they are training to become a reporter. It is very detailed and takes the student through all the steps to effective writing, including planning, organizing, writing first draft, revising, editing and publishing. It helps them learn how this program works, how to effectively write, edit and revise their writing and how to evaluate the work they have done.

My Access! will take their work when they submit it and evaluate it, grading it according to the rubrics that apply. They then have the opportunity to improve their work and increase their points, by resubmitting the assignment after more revision and editing.

I am sure, like me, you are wondering just how a computer can effectively evaluate writing, which is such a subjective thing. Well, here is how they explain it at Vantage Learning:

At the center of MY Access!® is IntelliMetric™, an artificial intelligence scoring tool. This tool instantly evaluates student writing against a standard rubric and provides students with suggestions to improve their writing. All of its feedback is aligned to the core traits of writing: Focus, Organization, Content Development, Language Use, and Grammar.

Around this intelligent core, MY Access!® incorporates instructional courses for each genre at each age range, an in-depth writing manual, organizational resources, and a host of word-processing tools.

Although I thought the price rather steep at first, after using the program and seeing how much my daughter enjoys writing using My Access!, I have changed my mind! $99.95 for this program that can support up to 6 different students is a bargain! And it does almost all the work for YOU, the teacher! Think how much easier your job would be if someone else would evaluate and grade your child's writing! And the stress that comes from having to go over your child's work with them and point out things that need worked on or changed is now not a burden for you. The program objectively evaluates their work and gives them feedback on how to improve it.

Vantage Learning has some other products that might interest you, too.  They have a College Edition of My Access! that will help your college students with their writing assignments for $89.95, as well as some Add-On Packs to go with your My Access! Home Edition.  These include an SAT Prep Pack for $49.95, a Picture Prompt Pack for $29.95, a Faith and Values Writing Prompt Pack for $29.95 and a Business Writing Prep Pack for $49.95.

If you would like to read more reviews about this product, check out the TOS Review Crew's reviews HERE.

I received this product for free in return for an honest review. I have not received financial reimbursement for my review of My Access! Home Edition.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

TOS Homeschool Planner

This is NOT your average homeschool planner!

This is a  

You will be amazed!  
You will be encouraged and inspired!
And, yes, you may even be overwhelmed at first!

For each month of the year, there are articles and charts, information and resources.  And there are even recipes!!  Yes, recipes to help you with ideas for your meals and snacks!

Here is a sample of what just ONE month includes: 

July 2010
  •  Bible Must-Know List
  •  Timeline of Events in the Life of Jesus Christ
  •  Top Five Tips for Managing Your Homeschool While Managing Your Home
  •  Sites to Help You Organize Your Home
  •  Geography Family Fun
  •  2 Resource Lists (Bible and Organization)
  •  7 scrumptious-sounding Recipes!!

 There are also over 25 lists and charts of educational information
"must-haves" from previous years included!!

And then there are calendars and planners galore!  Over 120 pages of blank, reproducible and interactive forms to help you organize your homeschool!

"From scheduling and planning forms to nature journal pages and forms that help you keep track of library books and homeschooling supplies, we have a form for everyone!"  
2010 Schoolhouse Planner

And Household Planning?  Well, there are over 80 pages of organizational tools for your home, too!  Have a need for a planner, chart or list to help you be organized?  It's in there!!

You can use the forms right on your computer by filling in the information on the interactive forms, or you can print out just the pages that you want in your personalized planner notebook.  You can also print the entire book out if you prefer to have a paper copy in your hands to write in.   

This planner is SO flexible, it will meet your needs no matter what your preference!!

And now the most amazing feature of all....drumroll please....the cost is.....

Yes, that's right, you get the monthly resources, the additional educational resources, the calendars, over 120 pages of homeschool planners AND over 80 pages of household planners for the low, low price of $39!!  All this, plus encouragement and inspiration to last a whole year and then some, for one low price!

Don't wait another day, order yours now!!  
And you, too, will be inspired and organized in ways you never even imagined!

I am a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew and received this product for my use in writing this advertisement.